A/N: So this is going up earlier than I had planned because I watched Batman Begins and felt obligated. This is the first of a few short stories I have drafted to keep my little universe going until the official Paradise Lost sequel: Apocrypha. Now, by 'short' this is by no means a true 'short' story, but considering how long my stories run this is short. Now, the main comic villain in this story is not in Nolanverse at all, but I'm giving him a shot I made him pretty damn spooky. I also tore a page from Nolan's little Inception book so this should be fun : ). Happy reading lovelies- xoxo Vermi

Carnival of Rust

Gotham had been plagued by thunderstorms for at least the past week; the skies blanketed a consistent gray and flash flood warnings all over the place. Naturally such weather had kept people inside with the exception of the citizens holding black umbrellas to represent the sad, sad city and all that went with it. Crime, corruption, villains, vigilantes…clearly Gotham was not considered a point of interest for vacationers if they valued their lives. Heaven opening up and pouring onto the surface of the earth didn't just keep all but the working class inside; ironically the crime rate lowered during inclimate weather. Even the likes of Joker and Minx were confined to Mindy's penthouse in the building next to her legal husband's, Bruce Wayne. Boy was he regretting that marriage, yet his mission in life seemed to be revolved around getting her back so maybe it wasn't such a disappointment to him. Considering that he channeled everything towards her estranged husband who was declared dead over twelve years ago.

Instead of being annoyed at the weather for confining him to his significant other's (of twenty-six years since they were five-years-old) penthouse, Joker was kind of taking the time to unwind and pace about the fifteen-thousand-square-foot mod-inspired residence his popstar wife had purchased on her own accord before they officially got back together. Practically everything was white, pink, or black granite since she designed the place, but he didn't really care.

The war paint had been long-washed from his face to allow the aggravated scar tissue to breathe on his cheeks while his skin regained its lightly tanned pigment his Australian heritage had brought him. Sleeping problems still plagued him, but Mindy had forbid him from taking any sort of pill due to his severe tardive dyskinesia he got from abusing her antipsychotics twelve years ago. Instead, after he was sure she fell asleep he would make himself endless cups of black coffee and smoke cigarettes all through the night; mainly trying to plot for when the weather cleared up or staring out one of the many glass windows. Occasionally one or a few of his four daughters (all under the age of eight) would stay up with him and talk about nothing for hours. It was mindless he didn't mind being mindless when there was nothing better to do. He had to ensure his wife slept though; the antipsychotics and antidepressants for her paranoid schizophrenia could make her really sick. She was a tiny thing as it was; only four-foot-ten and around ninety-five pounds with half that weight being breast implants. He didn't want to waste his suit either so he just put on one of his old plain dull red t-shirts and gray sweatpants since he hadn't left the penthouse in nearly a week.

Admittedly he was stir-crazy, but his attention was zoned on the downpour and the serene chill it brought in the dead of night. Moments of peace in this madhouse between Mindy and the girls were few and far between, and that greatly annoyed him; yet at the same time would feel weird if it all were to stop. He hated it, but there was no way he could really live without it…the bitches had wormed their way under his skin. Times like this made him think how different their lives would have been if their only son was still alive…but his death was necessary to make her come back to him. Carly though…the one who should have been their oldest three years before Amber (their eight-year-old) was born, died in utero due to his involvement with the Red Hood gang. That was the biggest blunder of his life, why everything was what it was now…but there was no use crying over spilled milk. Things were what they were; in fact, he never actually recalled the past life until a time like this.

Sniffling quickly he took a long drag of his cigarette, keeping his pensive stare out the window when his six-foot-three frame was hugged from behind. The arms were short, pale, and stubby.

"Kitten…" he knew.

"I could not sleep," the high-pitched thick Canadian accent pouted, making him have to smile endearingly though she couldn't see from behind, "Come to bed, Jax."

"I can't," licking his lips he shook his head and made no motion to return her embrace at first, but her head nestled into his lean back and he had to do something at this point. Reaching an arm back he pulled her beside him and kissed the top of her head, "I gave you Nyquil you should be out COLD,"

"There was the Floor Man under the bed…" ice-blue eyes lifted and she nodded at him worriedly, absolutely petrified of her schizophrenic hallucination he was familiar with, "You have to make him go away,"

"Oh?" licking his lips and grimacing his eyebrows rose, "But if I know the Floor Man he would try to pull your ankles and rip you under the bed the moment your feet touched the floor…" he smirked smugly, "how did you get here, Kitten?"

Mindy floated about three inches in the air and he nodded before running his fingers through her hip-length frizzed (from not straightening) wavy, dyed-raven hair.

"Ah," he smiled thinly and nodded, "I see…" raising his eyebrows and turning his gaze back towards the window he stuck the cigarette between his lips and puffed.

"Whatcha doin'?" pouting her collagen-fused lips and squinting Mindy shifted from foot to foot impatiently and tried to see out the window when he shrugged.

"It's hard to tell NOW…" licking his lips he bent to her eye level and motioned with a lithe hand out the window, "but," his tone had changed back to his deep, husky native Australian accent subconsciously, "when it gets light out, I'll show ya…the sky might be all gray and dark, but the COLORS…" grinning a bit he flashed his cigarette-stained teeth to her and rested the side of his face against hers, "everything looks so much more vibrant, it's beautiful."

Placing her French-manicured, child-sized hand to the side of his face she nodded a few times like a toddler before craning her neck so their lips brushed. She kissed his lower lip, paying special attention to a scar right on and below.

She grinned coyly and rubbed her narrow pointed nose against his, "Who are you and what have you done with my pain in the ass?"

His eyebrows rose at that and he curled his lips, "WELL…" sighing he ran a hand through his recently-washed poorly dyed green hair with long blonde roots, "HE'S been sardined into a pretty pink PENTHOUSE for over a week and in dire need of a life,"

"What are you, a plant?" smirking she shook her head and tried not to laugh, "You need the sun for photosynthesis?"

He gave her a disbelieving look, speaking in his high-pitched Joker voice yet again, "Do YOU even know what 'photosynthesis' MEANS, Kitten-doll?"

"Sun makes chlorophyll!" grinning widely now she beamed like she expected a dog treat or something for that answer.

"Which is…?" he waved a hand in a circular motion, clearly looking for more when she gave him that signature blank stare and he could only roll his eyes, groan, and kiss her forehead, "Why don't you get to bed?"

She frowned and now scoffed the ground with her bare little foot, "Alone?"

"I leave EVERY NIGHT and you don't realize it…" giving her a look he sneered, "just PRETEND, like you do everything else in your life,"

Scowling now she barred her teeth and smacked his arm, "I do NOT pretend SHIT, Jack! YOU are the pretender always making LIES about ME and US and YOU and EVERYONE because you are a BULLY! And I do not like you! I do not care if I never see you again because all you are is MEAN all the time MEAN and," starting to cry now she hugged herself and stamped her foot, "I LOVE YOU, Jack!"

"I'm sure," he rolled his eyes and wrinkled his nose before gritting his teeth to try and pull himself through the episode without strangling her.

The thin, barely visible scars shooting up from the corners of her mouth at his courtesy had moved with her expression, making her smile despite the fact that she was so angry.

"You hate me, don't you?" shivering now her gigantic blue eyes had nearly bugged out of her head and she cried, clutching her temples and stamping her foot.

He could only shake his head in bewilderment, pouting his lips and furrowing his brow, "How do you even draw a LINE to that? YOU know I need pills…" stalking closer now he wished he had a knife on him to whip out and scare her, "YET…" backing her against a far wall he threw his cigarette in an ash tray and pinned her arms with both of his, "YOU…" his head cocked, "for some unknown reason…" he scowled and tried to shrug it off, "refuse to let me have ACCESS over a PETTY fear that already HAPPENED so-"

"YOU HAVE TARDIVE DYSKINESIA I AM NOT MAKING IT WORSE!" shrieking she barred her teeth and wanted to smack his face but he held her arms down. He was no idiot he knew all her little moves at this point, he knew what she would do next…twenty-six years of relationship prepared him for that.

"ANTIPSYCHOTICS, MIRANDA MARIE!" he barked and shook his head with a scowl, "Ambien is a SLEEPING pill! I CAN'T SLEEP, KITTEN! AT ALL!"

"So?" shrugging she sniffled and tried to squirm out of his hold, and he did let her go but she didn't move from the wall, "Take fuckin' Nyquil! It knocks ME out,"

"It's not STRONG enough for me, Kitten…" he grumbled, trying to contain his anger but it was incredibly hard, "You're the size of my LEG; of COURSE it knocks you out!"

"So WHAT?" she shrugged nastily and placed her tiny palms to the white wall behind her, "You are telling me you can only take HARD shit? WHY?"

"BE-CAUSE…" he growled now, cocking his head dangerously and licking his lips, "Kitten…"

"So stop drinking COFFEE and SMOKING," shrugging again she folded her little arms across her broad chest, "Of course you cannot sleep all you consume is CAFFEINE! IDIOT!"

"I can't deal with this…" shaking his head and raising both hands in surrender he pulled from the wall only to be tugged right back by his long right arm, that made him snap right in her face, "WHAT? WHAT'S YOUR ISSUE NOW?"

"JACK!" whining now, she hugged his arm and swayed waywardly, "I cannot SLEEP! I NEED you, I do! Just lay and PRETEND!"

"That's BORING," scowling he shook his head when she leaned down and sat right on his foot, making his dark eyes widen and he just stared at her on his foot, "Kitten?"

"Nope," being obstinate now she shook her head and huffed, "Not moving."

"Oh my god…" tempering himself miraculously he lifted her right off his foot and swung her little body over his shoulder like a bag of apples, "Stop this, alright? Let's just—OW GOD DAMN IT, KITTEN!" normally he was immune to pain, but she bit his ear so hard he had to yelp and nearly drop her.

Hissing like a feral cat she nodded satisfactorily and he couldn't take it any longer.

"You want a god damn milkshake?" that was the key to making her take her prescriptions. He had to somehow concoct a milkshake with all seven of her medications cracked open and poured inside so she wouldn't taste it. It was a schizophrenic trait to avoid taking pills. He would know, he had the exact disorder but at nineteen years old abused the hell out of her pills thinking she had left him forever during a large misunderstanding, and gave himself tardive dyskinesia on top of paranoid schizophrenia. The rest of his issues including the Joker stemmed from there.

She leaned and kissed him, which he took as a yes and sighed while holding her in a wedding carry now.

"Alright then…" it was too early for her pills, but clearly she needed them something scary. Shaking his head he licked his lips and tried to remind himself she wasn't like this all the time. They saw eye to eye, they had FUN, she was a musical prodigy as well as possessing a highly impressive intellect, and the zaniness was just part of her obnoxious personality.

He sat her down on a counter, checking back several times to make sure she stood put…and she did. Patiently she sat there, twirling her hair and singing to herself while watching him lovingly. Admittedly he liked her eyes on him, though still he clicked his tongue while shaking his head.

"You SLAY me, Kitten…" shaking his head he finished cracking and mixing her pills in before handing the glass over. Squeaking like a mouse of some kind she made him jump while tearing the tall pink-stained glass from his hands and drinking. Instead of walking away like his initial plan was, he placed his hands over her knees and watched her take her antipsychotics.

Looking at him with wide eyes she leaned forwards and they kissed, she already expecting him to take it further but he didn't. Instead he shook his head and pet her face quick.

"Once tonight was enough, Kitten, I'm not a machine"

"But I love you, Jax…" pouting her plumped lower lip she leaned in and kissed him deeply, and though she was waiting for the mutual response from him she got nothing.

The disappointment was tangible, so dropping his eyes he turned and left.

"Bruce would have told me he loved me…"

That set him off in a way she actually gasped at.

"Well you KNOW WHAT, Kitten?" scowling he slammed a fist to the counter and barred his teeth, going to say something completely vulgar but he didn't. Turning his back he left for the stairs and stormed right up into their now-shared bedroom, throwing on his purple suit and applying his makeup before moving right back downstairs to see her worriedly standing there waiting for him.

"Jack…!"

Shaking his head he scowled and went for the door even though she grabbed his arm, "You want the Batman so desperately take a WALK next door because I am fucking DONE."

No he wasn't. He liked scaring her though. Leaving her crying in the foyer he slammed the door shut and left for the elevator.

D' you breathe the name of your saviour in your hour of need,

And taste the blame if the flavor should remind you of greed?