Hey you!
Yeah, YOU!
READ THIS FIRST!
***

If you have not read 'Down With the Sickness' and 'Perfect Insanity' (in that order) PLEASE read those stories first! This story you see before you is the 3rd part in a series... If you proceed on you will be ridiculously confused, and you will not get the full experience of the story. You have been warned...


A baby's cries wailed over the noise of the heavy, bass filled music blaring from room 34, and the stairs creaked as the heels of her black, knee-high boots hit the dirty and worn carpet. The aroma of freshly baked bread coming from room 45 took up the entire section of stairs as Willow Fox rounded the corner, and she took a deep breath in, realizing finally just how hungry she was. She rounded the corner of the stairs once more, and as she started down the small hallway to room 57, she rummaged through her small, black bag for her key, unsure if she'd be coming home to an empty complex or not. Below her, the bass music thumped on as the baby's crying started to fade away due to its mother's soothing, the smell of bread no longer as potent, and as Willow stuck her key into the lock of the door to turn it she could hear the TV from within. A small headache of sorts had begun to form, but this was easily ignored, and was simply routine, as it had been for the past couple of months.

Willow pushed open the door and stepped inside to the small, one bedroom, one bath apartment complex, and she gently closed the door behind her, locking it afterward. The complex was dim, as it always was, and she set her bag down on the floor next to the thick, brown door with a loud plop! In the living room, the large TV caused a pale, blue light to flicker all about, and sitting in his normal spot on the couch, next to the lamp on the end table, was none other than the Joker. As Willow rounded the end table to step in front of the couch, she reached for the red feather headband she had forgotten was on her head, and with a sigh she placed it on the coffee table as she plopped down next to Joker. He bounced slightly in his seat, but he remained staring at the knife in his hands as he continued with sharpening it, his face expressionless.

"How was work?" He finally asked a moment later, his bland inquiry prompting another sigh from Willow as she leaned back into the dark tan couch, the cushions engulfing her as she stared at the neat line of freshly sharpened knives on the coffee table.

"Annoying," she complained. "Embarrassing, and hot," she finished. Next to her, a small smirk of sorts appeared on Joker's face as he nodded slightly.

"As it always is," he noted, bringing the knife closer to his face to inspect it. He tested the blade with his thumb, and once satisfied he leaned forward to add it to his row on the table before leaning back and finally looking over to Willow. His eyes traveled down her body, taking in the obnoxious red and black lace costume she wore, his eyes lingering on her knee high boots. "New costume?" He observed.

Willow nodded with another sigh. "It's itchy."

Joker laughed slightly as he shook his head. "Wasn't it designed to be stripped off anyway?"

"Hardly," Willow answered as she rolled her green eyes to the ceiling. "I never take off anything more than the gloves and this... skirt thing. It's stupid."

"Pity," Joker said. "I believe it would look better on the floor." He grinned wickedly as he reached out for her, and a small grin appeared on Willow's glossy, red lips as she climbed over to straddle his lap, inhaling his strong scent of cologne and cigarettes. She placed her hands gently on either side of his face, and she ran her thumb over the small, raised scar just near Joker's right eye, a result caused from the razor he had taken to his face the night he had tried Jonathan Crane's drugs. The scar, starting at the corner of his eyebrow and stretching a short centimeter and a half long downward, disappeared completely under her thumb, and her eyes wandered all around his face, bare, as it had been for a while, of any clown face paint.

"I agree," she replied just before pressing her lips gently against Joker's, and she ran her fingers through his dirty blonde hair, the green color completely faded out. His bare hands traveled slowly from her hips and up the side of her body until his fingers found what they were looking for: the zipper in the back of her top. He bit her lip gently as he slowly brought the zipper down, and once the top was undone he grabbed the bottom to help her slip it off and throw it behind her carelessly. He pulled away slightly to let his eyes travel down to her slim, soft and tan body he had come to appreciate, and he gently trailed his fingers up her stomach and over her pierced nipples, prompting a small moan from Willow.

She grinned against his lips, Joker's fingers on the top of her fluffy, lace skirt now, and she leaned up to place her feet on the floor as Joker began to slide it off her, the obnoxious garment falling to the floor as it made a slight swooshing noise. Joker's hands found her hips again as he anticipated for her to sit back down, but she never did, and instead she gave him a final kiss before pulling away to rest her forehead on his own.

"What do you want for dinner?"

Slightly frustrated, Joker brought back the kiss, but Willow stubbornly held her ground with a grin. "I don't care," he finally answered once he realized their time on the couch was up. With a final peck to his lips, Willow leaned off of him to grab her skirt and top from the floor before scurrying out of the living room and towards their bedroom to change, Joker watching her go with narrowed eyes all the while until he finally turned back to the TV with a loud, audible growl.

After changing into a pair of shorts and a large, black t-shirt, Willow made her way from the bedroom towards the kitchen, her stomach growling. She immediately opened the small pantry to glance inside, her eyes instantly falling to the container of garlic powder, and she reached for it, deciding garlic bread sounded perfect.

While Willow busied herself in the kitchen, pots and utensils clanking, Joker remained seated in the living room as he gently cleaned the blades of his knives with a soft, red cloth. On the TV, the male anchor had begun a segment reporting on the latest fiasco at the Detroit City Courthouse, but Joker easily tuned this out as he finished the last of the knives, which happened to be Willow's. With slightly furrowed eyebrows he folded in the blade, and stared at the tribal design on the black handle before finally setting it down on the coffee table with the rest of the collection. He tossed the rag onto the table and was just about to lean back and change the channel when the delicious aroma of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich surrounded him, and before he knew it was he standing to investigate his way to the kitchen.

He stopped at the small pass-through to the kitchen, and he stood in between two stools as he folded his arms on top of the dark wood counter, watching Willow through the window-like hole in the wall, her back to him as she stood at the stove. His eyes sleepily wandered down the back side of her body, his eyes lingering on her legs before they wandered back up just as she stepped over to the counter next to the stove. A short second later Willow turned around, a plate in her hand, and Joker eyed the large, thick ham and cheese sandwich that sat upon it, the bread toasted to perfection. Just as Willow placed it on the counter in front of him the buzzer to the oven began to sound, and as Joker sat on the stool to his right he watched as Willow pulled out a small loaf of garlic bread.

"Is that really all you're going to eat?" He asked as he watched Willow set the foil wrapped bread on the counter across from him, and she leaned on it as she picked off a piece of bread from the loaf.

"There's nothing else," she said. "I need to go shopping. And we're a day late on the rent."

Joker took a bite of his sandwich. "Better get on that," he said simply in an uninterested tone, leaving Willow to roll her eyes. An odd feeling came over Joker, as it always did when he and Willow discussed rent or grocery shopping, and he turned away from her slightly as he dragged his plate along with him towards the edge of the counter, his shoulders slightly hunched as he stared blankly at the TV. He took another large bite as he went to wonder when, exactly, he and Willow had become such comfortable roommates, and when they, or more importantly, he had fallen into such a predictable routine.

His mind took him back three months ago to Joey's house, where everything had seemed so... right. Willow had easily been put in her place as his property, his object that obeyed him, and now suddenly it was as if she was some sort of housewife who could think for herself. Joker wasn't complaining too badly, for he could always rely on Willow to keep him fed and the apartment clean. Rely, Joker thought back to himself sourly. When had he made the mistake of letting them get so close?

After fleeing Joey's, a short, two day road trip stretched before them. Once Joker had received the tip of the police knowing his location, he had instantly made up his mind to travel back to what he deemed as his hometown, Detroit Michigan. Once Willow had finally calmed down, Joker had been eager to get back to Detroit, and he eagerly awaited a change with a bouncing knee. While Willow had complained constantly of her lack of shoes and hunger, Joker had tuned her out, his mind forming a plan, and he made it to the city in a straight shot.

From there they rented out a cheap apartment deep within the city with the help of two of Joker's old buddies, Riggs and Blasko, and while everything had gone good in the beginning, Joker failed to realize the comfortable routine he and Willow gradually began to slip in to. Within the first couple of weeks, Willow's boredom had taken a toll on her, and she landed a job at a nearby club, but regardless of Joker's somewhat threatening "advice", Willow was not an exotic dancer, and rather she began her training in Burlesque.

"Burlesque?" Joker had questioned with a disbelieving laugh as he followed her into the bedroom. "You're joking, right?"

"No," Willow had answered after her first, official night, and she began the process of taking off her costume. "I'm not."

"Joey would hate you," Joker humorously pointed out as he stood near the bed, watching her. "He hates Burlesque."

And that had been it. After Joker mentioned Joey, Willow had immediately withdrew herself from the conversation, and after showering she hadn't said much the rest of the night, or week for that matter. But as the weeks went on, their days were planned, and it went the same everyday. They'd wake up together, and Willow would be the first out to brew the coffee. Joker typically left sometime around lunch to do his random deeds of the day, leaving Willow at home to do whatever she saw fit. At five, Willow would leave the apartment for work, Joker arriving home an hour or so prior, and once Willow arrived home around ten she would cook a late dinner before they went to bed.

Thinking back, this had not been the change Joker had wanted upon leaving Gotham. He was the Joker. He hadn't lived in a set routine since he was a teenager, and all this time spent cooped up the apartment reminded him on why he had always hated it. But it wasn't like this arrangement was permanent. He had never intended for it to be, and he still had a few tricks up his sleeve. But now, as he glanced back over to Willow to watch as she finished up the last of her bread, he realized the main problem he had was her comfort level around him, and he hated himself for letting things escalate to that level. As Willow collected their dishes to place them in the sink, Joker tried to remember when the last time he had seen pure fear in her eyes was, but the closest date he remembered was the day they had fled Joey's, and that fear hadn't even been inflicted by him. Clearly, this was subject to change. It had simply been much, much too long since Willow had been forced to constantly deal with the elements of surprise and confusion, and Joker missed it dearly.

Willow, oblivious to Joker's devilish thoughts, went about rinsing the dishes, and once she had loaded them and a few extra utensils into the dishwasher, she turned around to face Joker, who remained seated at the pass-through, his eyes on the TV.

"I'm going to bed," she told him as she stretched her arms in front of her. "Are you coming?"

Joker bit his tongue as a feeling of slight irritation came over him, and he turned his head to her to flash her an evil, toothy grin. "I'll be in soon," he told her in a smooth, low voice. Willow, mistaking his grin for that of kindness, smiled back at him.

"Okay," she answered simply, and she turned on her heel to head around the corner and into the bedroom, Joker watching her go all the while. He felt odd, for he hadn't felt this type of energy in a while, but once he heard the bathroom door close he immediately stood to collect his knives from the living room.

After brushing her teeth, Willow comfortably situated herself on her side of the bed, and she cuddled closer to her pillow as she shivered slightly. She knew better than to go to bed right after eating, but sleepiness had overcome her as she and Joker silently ate their dinner. She took a deep breath in as she bent her legs, bringing her knees to her chest, and she gently slid her eyes closed. Shortly after, she listened as Joker made his way into the bedroom, the rest of the apartment dark behind him, and she listened further as he placed all his clean, sharpened knives in the top drawer of their dresser before heading into the bathroom.

From within, Joker washed his bare his face as his mind went wild with random thoughts, and after brushing his teeth and changing into a pair of sweat pants, he opened the door to step into the faintly moonlit bedroom, easily finding his side of the bed. He pulled back the blankets and plopped down, the bed bouncing slightly, and he turned his back to Willow before laying his head on the pillow. Behind him, Willow opened her eyes, the orbs easily focusing on Joker's shape from underneath the blanket through the dark, and with a sigh she knew quickly that it was going to be one of those nights.

It had started out random enough, but by the third or fourth time Willow noticed a pattern. Each and every time she had to bring up discussion of rent or groceries and supplies, Joker seemed to instantly shut down and tune her out. More often than not, Willow could always excite herself over the opportunity of sleeping as close to him as she could, his arm placed securely around her as he laid close behind her, and more often than not she'd always wake up just as close, his chest warm against her back. But whenever she mentioned anything remotely close to their living arrangements, Joker would distance himself, and he'd say little to nothing to her the rest of the night and during the majority of the morning. At first, this had truly bothered Willow, and she'd spend the entire night awake trying desperately to understand what his deal was. She was always scared his sudden change of moods would lead him to do something drastic to her, and had it been in the past she could bet her life that he would have, but now, ever since arriving in Detroit, Joker never so much as flicked his knife open at her with threat in his eyes. Now, Willow felt she had nothing to worry about. The most severe thing Joker ever did was simply leave the apartment, or ignore her for a while, until he was forced to say something to her, thus bringing him back around to what she considered as his new 'normal'. It had been odd, but seemingly for the first time since being taken by him, Willow felt as though she no longer had to tiptoe.

And she figured the reason behind Joker's mood changes were because of this. Living in Detroit had forced them to succumb to a type of husband/housewife relationship. Since arriving to the city, Joker had only killed two people during the entire three months they had been there, but seemingly, in the city of Detroit, two measly murders meant nothing. Their odd, but strong relationship had once been so unpredictable and dangerous, but now it was simple and predictable. To Willow, it seemed as though they had gone from a couple in deep lust, to a married couple who no longer desired each other. All they were missing, surly, was the burden of a child.

Willow sighed as she gently turned her body away, her back to Joker, and she told herself to just forget about it and go to sleep. She figured Joker would be over it by the afternoon, and from there she knew the rest of the week would go smoothly. Besides, tomorrow she had her salon appointment and from there she'd be able to enjoy a night off from work. She just hoped she was right in hoping that Joker would be in a better mood. Even though they had fallen into a predictable life style, Joker was still, and would always be, a very, very unpredictable man...

It was as if Joker had heard Willow's thoughts that night. Rather than being the first up, Willow woke up to the aroma of coffee, half of an empty bed stretching before her as sunlight eased its way through the slightly parted curtains into the room. With a yawn, Willow tossed the blankets off of her and made her way out of the bedroom and toward the living room and kitchen. Stepping out of the hallway, Willow's eyes immediately focused on Joker's still frame on the small balcony through the sliding glass doors in the living room, and she watched him. He stood leaning against the railing, a mug of coffee next to him on top, and she watched as he lifted his cigarette to his lips to take a long, much needed drag, the thin stream of smoke disappearing into the gray sky. Joker stared off into the busy city, watching the people walk about on the streets, and he tiredly watched a cop car speed down the road, sirens blaring. Finally, Willow stepped into the kitchen to pour her own mug of coffee, and just as she finished stirring in her vanilla creamer and sugar Joker stepped inside, sliding the door shut behind him. Willow was standing at the counter in front of the coffee pot once he made his way into the kitchen, and Joker didn't bother to look at her as he headed to the sink to place the empty, white mug inside.

"Are you, uh... going to the store today?" Joker forced himself to say, his back still turned to her. Sensing his distant tone, Willow took the first sip from her mug as she kept her own back to him.

"I can," she answered. "Is there anything specific you want?"

"No," Joker said, finally turning away from the sink. "I'm going to Riggs' to give him the rent deposit. Just put the money on the table." A small wave of cold air blew past Willow as Joker quickly moved his way past her and out of the kitchen, and she listened as he closed the bedroom door. After taking another sip of coffee, Willow slowly made her way towards her abandoned purse by the front door, and she picked it up before heading back towards the small kitchen table. She placed her coffee on the table before zipping open the bag and she reached in for her small wallet, counting out the amount due for rent. With a sigh she placed the small stack on the table, just as Joker had said to do, and after taking hold of her coffee mug she headed out towards the balcony to enjoy her own morning cigarette.

The air was bitingly cold as Willow stepped outside, and after lighting her cigarette she stepped forward to stand where Joker had been, and like him she glanced below and past the railing towards the rest of city. A bus drove past on the street, and Willow's eyes followed it until they narrowed on two black girls who walked quickly on the sidewalk, chatting, one girl's hand waving vigorously. She sighed before she took a drag from her cigarette, and she folded her arms on the railing as she rested her chin on them. She blew out the smoke as she wondered what Joker saw in this particular city, and why it had been so easy for him to come back to it. When the time came to leave Joey's, Willow had just been happy and completely relieved to see that Joker had not chosen to leave her behind again, but she hadn't been prepared for life in Detroit. To her, the city was dirty and full of disgusting people, and she had the misfortune of having to walk nearly everywhere. Granted the club she worked at was literally down the street, she could see it from where she stood, and the salon she liked to visit was directly next door to the apartment building, a feeling of caution always flooded her as she made her journey. But regardless of her concern and nervousness, Joker seemed confident in the fact that she'd always make it to her destination safely. Willow knew all she had was his word on that, and she had no choice but to take it.

After finishing her morning cigarette and coffee, and after placing her mug in the sink, Willow ventured towards the bedroom for a shower. But just as she pushed open the door to step inside, her eyes instantly fell on Joker standing by the dresser as he adjusted his suspenders. He glanced over at her before his eyes went back to the mirror that stood near the dresser, and he cleared his throat.

"I sharpened your knife," he stated simply. "It's in the top drawer."

"Oh, okay," Willow said in a quiet voice as she stepped towards the bathroom door. "Thanks."

Joker didn't answer, and instead he raised his eyebrows to himself through the reflection of the mirror, and after Willow disappeared into the bathroom he grabbed his black coat from the coat rack next to him and the empty envelope from the dresser, and left the bedroom to head into the kitchen, where surely enough he found the money for rent on the table. He smirked slightly as he picked it up, and after counting it he tucked it away in the envelope before placing it into the inside pocket of his coat.

After a quick shower and after dressing in a pair of jeans and a black, long sleeved shirt, Willow double checked the amount of money she held in her purse, Joker watching her all the while from the couch silently. His head turned towards her with his elbow resting on the armrest, his hand placed loosely in front of his lips, his eyes roamed down her small frame before traveling back to her face just as she zipped closed her purse.

"Going somewhere?"

Joker's voice broke the eerie silence, and Willow quickly turned to face him. "Yeah," she answered. "I have an appointment at the salon."

"Ah," Joker replied as he nodded slightly, and he watched as Willow instinctively reached down to her pocket to make sure her knife was securely placed within.

"I'll be back in about an hour," she felt the need to say, and without another word she opened the front door to step into the hallway to began her short, but slightly nerve-racking journey. As Joker listened to her footsteps fade away, he sighed gently from his nose as he slowly rose from the couch. He rotated his head around, cracking his neck a couple of times as he made his way towards the balcony, and he calmly slid open the door. Patiently, he stepped forward, and he reached out, placing his palms on the old wooden railing as he peered down to the sidewalk three stories below. Five... four... three... two... and–

His eyes immediately fell on the tiny, ant-sized figure he recognized as Willow, and his dark, glazed eyes followed her as she walked down the sidewalk, her hips unintentionally swinging. A short second later he focused them on a rugged man who had started past Willow, and he narrowed them on the man as he turned his head back to look at her ass, but once Willow had gained enough distance, he turned away as he continued down the sidewalk, and Joker's eyes went back to Willow just as she stepped into the safety of the salon. Joker's gaze found the scruffy man's frame again, and once he was satisfied he would not turn around, Joker took his hands from the railing and turned to step back into the warm apartment. One hour, he repeated Willow's words to himself, and he plopped back down on the couch.

"Willow, hey! Come, come come, sit, sit, sit!" Aubrey, a talkative stylist who had immediately came to love Willow since the first time she had ever stepped foot in the salon, was eagerly motioning Willow over to her chair towards the back of the salon, her eyes wide as she chewed hard on her gum. With a small grin Willow made her way past two other clients and plopped down in the big, black chair, and Aubrey instantly threw a black cape of sorts over her and began to tie it in the back.

"So, Willow," she began. "What are we doing today, baby? A shoulder length cut with layers? Highlights? A new color all together?" Aubrey began to instantly mist Willow's long, brown hair with her spray bottle as she ran a comb through the long locks. Willow was grinning as she looked at herself in the mirror.

"Just a trim," she said simply. "About two to three inches from the bottom, and I want to shorten my bangs."

"No highlights?" Aubrey confirmed as her bright gray eyes met Willow's in the mirror, and she blew out a piece of her wild, red curly hair from her face with her pink, glossy lips. Willow shook her head with a smile, and Aubrey instantly reached for the scissors. "So," she began in her high pitched voice. "How's life treatin' you?"

"Okay," Willow answered truthfully as she watched Aubrey cut the first strand of hair. "What about you?"

"Well," Aubrey began. "I broke up with the boyfriend, he was beginning to get a little too clingy. And I'm going to get a tattoo!"

"Oh yeah?" Willow asked. "What? Where?"

"Well, it's going to be a tribal butterfly of sorts, and I'm gonna put it right here on my shoulder." Aubrey smiled proudly, for it had just been last week when Willow had visited to buy another bottle of nail polish that Aubrey was telling her about her low tolerance for pain and needles. "I figured why not, you only live once, and I've always wanted one. Do you have any tattoos?"

Willow's mind instantly flew to her small, silly and meaningless pot leaf tattoo on her hip, and memories of the countless amounts of times Joker had "offered" to remove it for her came to her mind. In particular, she thought back to one of the first nights in their apartment. They had been in the living room, the lighting was dim, as always, and she pictured how Joker had looked kneeling down in front of her, his head resting against her bare stomach while his left arm was wrapped around her waist. He held his knife in his right hand, and he evilly smirked up at her as he gently traced the circles over the tattoo with the cold tip of his favorite knife.

"You sure you don't want this gone?" Joker had asked in a deep and dark voice. "I could, uh... take care of it, right here and right now."

"No," she had answered, not exactly prepared to feel the pain of him cutting the tattoo from her skin.

"Hmm, I think you do," Joker argued, and ever so slightly he applied pressure to the top of the tattoo, rupturing the skin, and Willow jumped as a thin line of blood trickled past the tattoo and down her leg. "Look, we're already a sixteenth of the way there."

A small smile of sorts appeared on Willow's face, but regardless she shook her head, figuring it was best to add on another lie to the list she had already told Aubrey since meeting her. "No," she finally answered. "I don't."

"Aw, shame," Aubrey said. "Maybe you'll change your mind."

Willow found it bewildering that nobody in the salon, or at the club, knew who she was. She had always thought Joker to be a pretty well known guy, and upon arriving in Detroit she expected everyone to immediately not only recognize the Joker, but her as well, for being the girl who had been held hostage by him and later sent to Arkham. But nobody said anything, and when she made the mistake of telling Aubrey and Janet, the owner of the salon, her real name, a look of shock did not overtake their faces, and they did not jump back with horror. But to be on the safe side Willow didn't tell them much truth from her life's past. Instead, she informed them she was from Colorado, and had moved to Detroit with her brother in order to care for their sick father. She told them nothing of Joey or her career in stripping, and instead told them she had once worked as a secretary of sorts for her mother's private company back "home". She never told Joker the lies she created, for he had never asked about her experiences and encounters with people, but she liked to believe that he would be proud at her for so stubbornly protecting his secret.

"So, how's your dad doing?" Aubrey asked now, nearly finished with the trimming.

"Oh," Willow started. "He's fine. He slept most of the time we visited him."

"That's good," Aubrey said with a nod. "Do you miss Colorado?"

Colorado, to Willow, was code name for Gotham. "Yes," she answered truthfully. "So damn bad." Her gaze dropped from her own eyes in the mirror to a dark blue hair dryer that sat on the table in front of her. She thought back to Joker's old apartment, and all the times he had saved her, unintentionally or not, from Loc. She thought back to the first time she had met Joey, and she smiled upon the thought of realizing how much their friendship had grown. She thought back to his giant, gorgeous house and his dog, Arlo, and her smile widened upon remembering the time his brother, Dan, had visited, and it was tempting not to laugh when she tried to figure out what Dan must have thought about Joker and his eccentric ways. She thought back to Line of Jewels, remembering how fun dancing had become and how great it was to piss off the bartender, Britney, but most of all she remembered how wild and fun her life had come to be. Now, it seemed to be nearly the direct opposite.

"Whatchya' thinkin' about?" Aubrey pondered as she spun Willow's chair around to fix and cut her bangs accordingly. "I just saw you make like fifty facial expressions."

Willow forced that smile back to her face. "Nothing," she answered. "Just thinking."

The hour seemed to pass quickly, and at one fifteen Joker had made his way back onto the balcony for another cigarette. The sun had come out from behind the feathery, dark gray clouds, and it shone brightly down onto the city. As Joker took one of the final drags from his cigarette, his eyes focused onto the entrance of the salon, and once Willow pushed open the door to step outside his gaze followed her as she walked the short distance from the salon to the entrance of the building, her hips swaying, as always. Once she had disappeared from his view, Joker blew out the last puff of smoke before he flicked the cigarette over the railing, and he stepped back into the complex. He had just collected his keys from the end table when Willow opened the door, and as the ever so observant Joker glanced over at her, he immediately noticed that her bangs were slightly shorter, but he said nothing to acknowledge that he noticed, and he was thankful that Willow was not the type of girl to get angry over such a foolish issue.

"I didn't think you'd be here," Willow said as she closed the door behind her with her foot, her purse falling to the floor. "I thought you were going to meet Riggs?"

"He just called," Joker answered. "He and Blasko had gone out to Rob's." This was a total lie, but Joker was not exactly prepared to admit that he had wasted an entire hour of his important time to make sure Willow got home safely. Fortunately, Willow, completely unaware of the rather kind act he had done for her, and always did for that matter, nodded as she stepped further into the apartment, and she looked at herself in the small mirror that hung on the wall adjacent to the door, and she brushed some of her bangs from her face. "You have work tonight?"

"No," she answered as she turned to him now, her green eyes electric, even in the dim light.

"Okay," Joker answered as he moved towards the door, his tall frame directly next to hers. "I guess I'll see you when I get back." Had it been any other time, under a pure action of habit, he would have waited for Willow to raise onto her toes and kiss him goodbye, as she always did when he was leaving, but he didn't give her the chance to try, and instead he immediately opened the door to step into the hall, quickly closing it behind him. With a sigh and realizing what he had just done, Willow turned around to lock it behind him, and she started towards the balcony for another cigarette.

Once Joker had ventured through the parking lot and gotten into his green Tahoe, he immediately started the engine and backed out of the space with ease. He put the truck into gear and pulled onto the two lane road to begin his short, five minute journey to Riggs' house, a destination he could have easily walked to, but he wasn't exactly keen on the idea of walking anywhere at that current moment. His mind had continued to race with various thoughts, and this time around Willow's talk of rent had really taken a stronger toll on him than ever before. While it was so easy lately to act so comfortable around the girl that had once been his property rather than his fellow and equal being, Joker, deep down, was constantly annoyed and disgusted with his behavior. All Willow had ever known of him was the monstrous side of him, the unpredictable nightmare that was capable of anything, at any time. But now she had grown comfortable with and accustomed to the human side of him, the part that had no desire for surprise lately. It was a wonder she continued to call him Joker rather than Jack. But fortunately on her part, she didn't.

With a low growl rumbling from his throat, Joker turned down the radio as he approached the small, rundown square shaped house that belonged to Riggs, and he swiftly pulled into the driveway, taking the keys from the ignition afterward. He placed them into his coat pocket as he stepped onto the tiny, cracked, concrete porch, a breeze blowing past, and he opened the broken and torn screen door to knock on the heavier, metal door. As he waited, he leaned back onto the heels of his black shoes before he leaning forward again with a bounce, his mind instantly bringing back his thoughts. Clearly, a drastic change was way past due, and after all the nights and lonely hours Joker had thought about it, the clearer his plan to kick start the modifications became.

"'Ay, Jack," Riggs instantly began once he opened the door, and he leaned over the porch as he held open the screen door for his long time friend. "I thought you were suppose'ta be here aroun' twelve?"

"Some things came up, Riggs," Joker answered as he stepped into the dirty, but warm, house. Riggs closed the door as Joker ventured through the kitchen and into the living room, where he was fortunate enough to notice Blasko sitting on the couch. He looked over and raised his black eyebrows to Joker, his blue eyes glowing, as his way of saying 'hello'. Joker returned the look, and he turned to Riggs once he had made his way into the living room.

"I believe this is for you," he said as he handed Riggs the envelope of rent money. "Drop that off early, if you would. It's already a day late," Joker added with a growl.

Riggs grinned as he tossed the envelope to Blasko, and he gathered his dirty blonde, messy and greasy dreadlocks behind his head as he fell onto the couch. "Uh-oh," he started in his deep, white boy style, wanna-be-black-man's voice. "Looks like 'yuh girl's slippin' outta liiiine." Next to him Blasko laughed as he glanced up to Joker, and he shook his head as he leaned forward, running his hands through his jet black, messy spiked hair.

If there was anything Joker loved more than anything, it was Willow being referred to his as girl, and Riggs had made a career out of doing it. "She's not my girl, Riggs, as I've told you a countless amount of times," Joker started calmly. "However, if you'd both shut your mouths for just a moment I could inform you of the job I have for the both of you... you interested?"

"Yeah, we're inner'ested," Riggs said as he nodded his head up at Joker, and he touched his hand to his small, dirty blonde goatee.

"What is it?" Blasko chimed in as he cocked an eyebrow.

Joker grinned down at the two boys. It was about time that he had corrected the mistakes he made, and he was ready to make everything right again. He longed to create chaos, he was desperate to break out of routine, and he was ready to see that fear in Willow's eyes again. And the first step to gaining back his unforeseeable, chaotic life? Breaking Joey Wallace out of prison...

First, I'd like to thank you for reading! Hopefully, if you read the warning above or if you're just that awesome, you have read the first two stories in the series, and I'm really happy that you're still with the story. I enjoyed writing this chapter, and so far this story is off to a great start. There is much more exciting things to come, so prepare yourselves. Please leave me a review if you love Willow and Joker!

-CQ'69