Title: Everything Burns
Rating: T (for now, may increase later…)
Warnings: Mild language; Angst; Violence; Gore. Read at your own discretion. This isn't for children guys.
A/N: First things first, this is a sequel/follow up to my oneshot "According to Plan" and it would probably be beneficial to you if you read that first.
Secondly, to everyone who reviewed/favorited "According to Plan": THANKS! I seriously did not expect such a response to it. I was aiming for 3 or 4 reviews and I got 30. So you guys made my day. And I am thrilled that you all liked it. Several of you wanted me to continue it, so… here it is.
Be warned that I have not read a Batman comic since I was probably 8 or 9, so my memory may be a bit fuzzy on some aspects. However, since this is technically set in the "Nolanverse" that's almost kind of irrelevant and I've seen "The Dark Knight" several times.
Now, onto more important things… Once again, this is set somewhere in season 7 (BEFORE the episode "True Genius" because I haven't seen any episodes after it) for "Criminal Minds" and I'm going to guestimate about 5, 5 and a half months after the end of "The Dark Knight".
And yes, Bruce Wayne/Batman will be in this fic. However, since I have never written him before, I'm counting on you guys to tell me how good/terrible a job I did.
There will be lots of focus on the Joker (because he is my favorite Batman villain and… actually, my favorite villain period. Tied with the Master from Doctor Who of course) and Reid, because, if you've ever read anything I've ever written then, duh. :P
I apologize for the horrendously long Author's Note, hopefully you'll enjoy the read, PLEASE REVIEW! I thrive off of opinions, lol.
You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain
-Harvey Dent, TDK
Chapter One: Out With a BANG!
"Agent Morgan and I will probably be back tomorrow," Reid said, once again catching the Joker's eyes. "And we will find out who you are," he assured him, "It's only a matter of time."
The Joker laughed, shaking his head, "Oh, Spencey," he said again, as if he were a parent admonishing his child, "You and I will have suchfun… I really, really like you!"
Bruce Wayne sat in the living room of his pent house, blue eyes focused on the television screen in front of him, a cup of coffee resting, nearly forgotten, in his right hand as he listened to the GCN newscaster speak.
"-Commissioner Gordon has confirmed that agents from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit arrived yesterday to interview the Joker. The agents hope to find out more about the mysterious mass murderer and perhaps get a peek inside his mind. What exactly they hope to find, time will only tell, but taking other such attempts at analyzing the Joker into account, these agents will be spending a lot of time at Arkham.
In other news, the bounty upon the infamous vigilante, Batman, has increased to three hundred thousand dollars. Mayor Garcia reports that the Gotham Police are working diligently on the case and –"
Bruce sighed and muted the TV when Alfred walked into the room to stand beside him, carrying a tray with his breakfast on it. The older man smiled to himself and shook his head, "Watching the news again, Sir?" he asked as he sat the tray down beside the younger man.
Bruce's smile was slightly bitter, "Did you know about those FBI agents coming?"
Alfred glanced back at the now silent television, watching the captions run underneath the reporter's face for a moment before answering. "I hadn't heard, but it's not surprising, Master Wayne. They've had psychologists from all over the country flying in to talk to the Joker,"
Bruce nodded absently, "Sometimes I think the only person who can understand the Joker is himself," he said. Though it had been months since the Joker had been apprehended and locked away in Arkham, Bruce still couldn't rid himself of that persistent, paranoid feeling that the murderous clown wasn't finished with Gotham – or the Batman – just yet.
"Well," Alfred said, turning his attention back to the young billionaire, "He's Arkham's problem now, Master Wayne. The streets have been much quieter with him locked up."
Bruce looked up at his butler, meeting the man's eyes and smiling faintly, "Maybe, but the mob's still out there. And with Harvey gone and Batman being hunted down…" he trailed off, his blue eyes getting dark. The streets of Gotham had been dangerous enough without the Joker and in the madman's absence, things hadn't changed all that much. Despite his best efforts, being a hunted man – a seriously hunted man – made his life as Batman far more difficult than it had been before.
Alfred smiled reassuringly down at Bruce, nodding, "Things will improve, Sir. The city just needs time to readjust, you'll see. Soon, the Joker will be a long forgotten nightmare and they'll remember why they need Batman. One day,"
"I don't know what you really expect to get out of him, Agents," Commissioner Gordon said, sitting across from the two FBI agents who'd arrived the previous day to speak with Arkham's infamous inmate. "He said about all he has to say yesterday."
Derek Morgan shook his head, "We can get him to talk," he assured the commissioner, "And if he still wants to, we can't just turn him down."
Gordon almost snorted, looking down and flipping through a few sheets of paper – notes that the young Dr. Reid had written and given him after their first interview with the Joker the day before. "I can't imagine why not. The Joker is a madman, he killed and threatened the lives of thousands of Gotham's citizens. We don't have to cater to his whims."
"I agree," Morgan nodded, "But studying the UnSubs like him is what we do in the BAU. It's how we develop profiles and help catch criminals."
Gordon frowned, lifting up one particular sheet of paper and staring at it for a moment before looking back up, nodding. "I don't see what you think you'll learn, but your welcome to try as long as Arkham will allow it. The Joker's been visited by so many college psychology students and doctors that he's becoming his own tourist attraction." The commissioner sneered at the thought, annoyed at the nearly worship-like level of fascination so many people held for the terrorist who'd nearly destroyed his city.
After a moment's pause, Gordon looked up from the paper in his hands and over at the younger FBI agent who'd so far been silent in this meeting, "Why do you believe the Joker's past is so important?" he asked him, nodding to the notes which contained several questions and theories about exactly who the Joker may have been.
"His past can tell us a lot about who he is," Reid explained, shifting in his seat, "Maybe even why he does the things that he does. The Joker didn't just wake up one morning and decide to become a mass murderer. Something happened that created him."
Gordon frowned, looking back down at the notes, "His scars…" he mused quietly.
Reid nodded, "Knowing how he got those scars is probably the biggest piece of the puzzle,"
At that, Gordon did laugh, a faint, half-laugh. "Good luck with that, Doctor," he said, "By our accounts, the Joker's told several different versions of that particular story."
"And none of them are likely true," Reid told him, "Although, they may hold elements of the truth, it's doubtful that even one of them is entirely accurate."
Gordon pursed his lips, thoughtfully eyeing the agents, "Then how can you trust that what he tells you is going to be true?" he asked.
Reid glanced at Morgan briefly before answering. "We don't,"
It was nearly noon when Reid and Morgan once again found themselves in Arkham Asylum, being led by a guard – a different one from the previous day – down the stained white halls to the interrogation room, which, incidentally, was also where one-on-one therapy sessions were held. And where the Joker was currently being interviewed.
The guard that led them to the room punched in the security code to open it and stepped inside, glancing toward the Joker's doctor, Dr. Tatum McGuire, a middle-aged balding man sporting a pair of half-moon spectacles that gave him a scholarly and owlish look. He was standing in the room, looking somewhat tense due to the close proximity of his patient, behind a young woman with blond hair who turned, with wide eyes, when the door was opened.
"Dr. McGuire, the BAU agents are here," the guard reminded the doctor.
The older man blinked for a moment and then nodded, "Of course, of course, Miss Quinzel, you'll have to finish your interview another time, I'm afraid."
The young woman pouted slightly, looking reluctant to stand from her seat, but at a sharp look from the guard she did so, glancing back at the Joker, who smiled widely and winked at her. The girl blushed and turned away, following Dr. McGuire and the guard back into the hall where she nearly ran right into Reid.
"Sorry," the young doctor blushed and stumbled back slightly as the woman brushed a fallen strand hair out of her face. She was a pretty woman, her blond hair short and pulled back in a somewhat messy braid, her wide blue eyes sweet and kind.
She smiled up at Reid, a bright, dazzling smile, "It's my fault," she said, brushing off his apology, "Dr. Harleen Quinzel." She introduced herself, holding her hand out to the agent. Reid awkwardly took it, his palm slightly sweaty. "You can call me Harley,"
"Dr. Spencer Reid," Reid stuttered through his own introduction, mentally screaming at himself for being so ridiculously hopeless around women. He removed his hand from hers, resisting the urge he had to wipe his palm on his pants.
"You seem young to be a doctor," he noted.
She smiled, dimples popping in her cheeks, "I just graduated," she admitted, "Gotham State… And I could say the same about you."
Reid could feel his face heating slightly and he shrugged it off, trying to remind himself that she was just a women. An attractive woman with big blue eyes and a beautiful smile… He almost had to shake his head to regain his train of thought.
Morgan grinned, watching the two of them before taking Reid's elbow gently, "C'mon, Pretty Boy, we've got work to do," he teased, pulling his young colleague forward.
Harley winked at Reid, "Nice to meet you, Spencer," she called after him as she followed Dr. McGuire down the halls, escorted by the guard, to speak with his other patients. She looked back over her shoulder as the door closed and sighed heavily, her blue eyes sad.
Back inside the large, grey interrogation room Reid and Morgan approached the grinning Joker. He looked the same as he had the day before – dirty blond hair, still faintly tinged green, falling near his shoulders in messy, kinky curls that looked as if they needed to be washed; gruesome scars etched across his face sinisterly; eye wide and bright as they fell on the two agents, a grin spreading and stretching his marred features.
"Spencey you came back!" He grinned wide, staring directly at the younger man as he took the seat that Harley had previously been sitting in. Morgan took the opposite seat, this time opting to be closer to the Joker's level when talking to him.
Slowly, the Joker turned his head to stare at the dark skinned man, his face somewhat sour when he eyed him.
"And you brought your friend again," he said, almost pouting as he glanced back at Reid, "Y'know, Spencey, to be honest, I was kinda hoping it could just be the two of us again. Mr. Serious over there doesn't seem to like me much."
Morgan growled low in his throat, knowing that he shouldn't let this man get to him, but there was just something about him that got under the agent's skin. Maybe it was that arrogant grin, that intense look in his eyes. Or maybe it was the manic laugh that really got on his nerves. Either way, he didn't like the feeling he got being near him.
"Plus," the Joker continued, grinning wide at Morgan's glare, "I was, uh, in the middle of something, y'see. Harley was talking to me…" he paused for a moment, his eyes sparkling, "She's a nice girl. Not too bright through, if you ask me. Got a few screws loose, poor thing."
Reid's brows scrunched together in confusion and Morgan frowned, "You're one to talk," he told him.
The Joker gasped, looking hurt and frowning at Morgan, shaking his head. "Derek, I'm… I'm offended. I told you yesterday, I'm not crazy," he grinned suddenly, turning his attention back to Reid and leaning forward, propping his head up with his chained hands, elbows resting on the table.
"Soooo, Spencey," he let the 'y' drag out like he had the previous day, his red tongue darting out to run across his lips and trace the jagged line of his scars. "You just couldn't stay away, could you? I knew it." He giggled, his eyes wide and staring right into Reid's, "I knew you'd be back."
Reid tilted his head, once again having to remind himself to stay calm and not react as he stared back into the monster's eyes, feeling oddly as if the Joker could penetrate his very thoughts with that look.
"That's because I told you I would be," Reid countered coolly, never once looking away.
The Joker let out a barked laugh, abruptly shifting in his seat and banging his hands on the table a few times, grinning at Reid as if he'd just told him the funniest joke he'd ever heard. "You did tell me that, didn't you?" he beamed at him, "But I wasn't so sure, Spencey. I didn't know if you could be trusted or not."
Another half-giggle bubbled past his scarred lips and he tilted his head, still staring intently at Reid, something akin to fascination in his eyes. "And now I know you can. You are a man of your word, Spencey. I like that," Another fit of giggles threatened to attack the madman and he grinned even wider.
"Does that mean you'll tell me who you are?" Reid asked, raising a brow as he watched the Joker.
He looked thoughtful for a moment, still smiling at them, "Straight to business then…" he mused, sitting back in his chair and letting his shackled hands fall over his stomach, fingers lacing together. Reid raised a brow at him as he made a show of pondering the question.
He sighed heavily, giving Reid a regretful look as he pressed his lips together somberly, "'Fraid not, Spencey," he said, holding his face in that sad expression, "I still don't reeeaaallly know you, kiddo… My mommy always told me to never talk to strangers."
For a moment, his lips twitched and Reid and Morgan watched as he suddenly burst out laughing again, his entire body shaking as he fought to catch his breath between bouts of his delirious fit. His eyes were watery and faint tears were trailing down his cheek. He promptly wiped them away with the back of a chained hand and took several deep breaths, composing himself, sitting up and leaning forward, once more placing his elbows on the table.
Reid was afforded another extremely close up view of the madman's scarred face. His hazel eyes fixed on the dark, jagged lines and the Joker grinned widely when he noticed. He lifted his shackled hands and traced his index finger along the scar on his left cheek, "Frightening, aren't they?" his voice was surprising soft.
Reid tore his eyes away from the marks and met the Joker's dark, incredibly intense eyes. The murderous clown leaned in closer and Morgan fought the urge to shove him back, watching the interaction silently, tensed in case he needed to do anything.
"Do you wanna know how I got 'em?" the Joker asked, wide eyed, no trace of a smile on his lips as he nodded slowly. Reid didn't answer, just staring into his eyes, finding himself wondering exactly what was going through the man's mind as his lips parted and he leaned up a bit, starting to tell his story.
His eyes roved upward to the ceiling briefly and then dropped back to Reid, "One night me and my wife were walking home from the movies," he said, something in his eyes that made both Morgan and Reid frown thoughtfully. "She was beautiful…" and there it was again. Reid realized that what he was hearing was sincerity. Of course, that didn't mean that the story the Joker was telling was true, but it did mean that some part of it held some connection to him. Reid was willing to bet it was the "wife" he mentioned.
"It was late, and you know how this city gets dangerous when it's dark out. Well, we ran into these thugs and they started hassling us. My wife, she was crying and I had to be the man, I had to protect her. So I gave 'em my wallet and told 'em to leave us alone."
And something dark passed over the Joker's face and he leaned in very close again, his tongue darting out to lick his lips, still unsmiling, "They laughed. Told us we needed to relax, smile a little… Then one of 'em comes after my wife with a knife. I stepped in to stop him and he didn't like that…" he trailed off thoughtfully, lifting his hand once again to trace the scars, left to right, "He does this to me, his friends all laughing while he does it and he tells me to lighten up, it's just a joke."
He leaned back again, watching the agents, his eyes still riveted to Reid, waiting for their reaction to his tale.
Reid tilted his head, trying not to think of the images that had just assaulted his mind as he'd thought about the horrible story that the Joker had just told him. He forced his voice to remain even as he spoke, "And that's how you got those scars?" he asked.
The Joker nodded, "Yep," he said, grinning now, letting the 'p' pop in his mouth.
Reid glanced to Morgan and then shook his head, "I doubt it," he said, watching while the Joker raised a brow and sat forward again, curiously waiting to hear what Reid had to say next. "Although, since that's the second time you've told that story and included a wife you were probably married at one point… Do you think she'd like to see you now?"
The Joker's grin widened and he chuckled, "You're a smart one aren't you, Spencey?" he asked teasingly, ignoring the young agent's question altogether.
Reid frowned, "Why won't you tell us about your past?" he asked, "Why tell all these different stories? Wouldn't the truth be easier?"
The Joker looked thoughtful once more and he smiled brightly, leaning forward, "Well, Spencey, not really," he admitted finally.
Reid's brows scrunched together, confused by that statement. Morgan leaned in, staring at the terrorist, "Why not?" he demanded.
The Joker turned his eyes away from Reid briefly to look at the agent, his dislike clear in his dark eyes even as he grinned bright. He looked away just as quickly and turned back to face Reid, letting out a small giggle before he answered, "Because… sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!"(1)
And yet another fit of giggling gurgles escaped the Joker's torn lips, his eyes shining brightly as he doubled over, clutching his stomach with his chained hands. His insane laughter went on for a long minute before he finally leaned up, gasping and wheezing slightly, trying to catch his breath.
Morgan frowned at the clown distastefully, shaking his head as he sat back up fully, calm once more and grinning like the madman he was. "You done?" he asked… well, snarled.
The Joker paused, tilted his head and frowned mockingly, "Hm, I don't know, Derek… lemme see…" the Joker held his breath for a moment, his eyes wide, and then he nodded, "Yep. I think so."
He paused for a second, his face uncharacteristically serious and somber, before he tilted his back, an ear splitting grin stretching his face, and laughed a loud, raucous and obviously fake laugh. His eyes sparkled as Morgan clenched his fists and growled low in his throat as the Joker's demented laugh echoed through the room.
"Ahahaha he ho, hee-haha, ooh, ho-ha, ah-ha…" The laughter seemed to radiate from within an endless recess inside the Joker's very soul as the fake laughter slowly became a deranged fit of giggles and the man doubled over once more, clutching at his sides as if trying to hold his body together.
"Haha!" He breathed between laughs, sitting up and grinning at Morgan, "Oh, A-gent Morgan! You- Your f-face! I'm – i- in st- stitches!" The Joker's chains were rattling and clanking together as he laughed and laughed, apparently unable or unwilling to stop the insane fit as it washed over him. Reid watched in silence, not entirely sure if the fit of laughter was voluntary or some strange form of seizer.
Morgan had had enough and slammed his fist down on the table, shaking it and causing both Reid and the Joker to jump in their seats, startled. Morgan's dark, narrowed eyes glared at the murderer.
"Enough!" he snapped, the skin on his knuckles tight as he glowered at him. "If you aren't going to take this seriously, we can leave, Joker." The FBI agent warned, "We don't have time to waste over this nonsense."
The Joker stared at him, that wide, insane grin still in place and he leaned forward very slowly, getting as close to Derek's face as he could, "Serious?" he whispered the word, lips twitching as he staved off another giggle-fit. "Oh, Derek, I am taking this very sear-ee-us indeed. You have no idea just how sear-ee-us this is…"
There was a dark, malicious glint in his dark eyes as he smiled, more a knowing, taunting smirk than a smile now, and leaned back in his chair, turning that sharp gaze back to Reid. He regarded him silently for a moment before taking a deep breath.
"Do you have the time?" he asked suddenly.
Reid and Morgan frowned, glancing at each other with furrowed brows. "The time?" Reid asked, raising a brow quizzically, "Why do you want to know that?"
The Joker's sly smirk grew and he shrugged nonchalantly, but his eyes burned into Reid's with all the intensity of a man with a purpose. "Welllll, I've got another ap-point-ment to be getting to soon. Wouldn't want to be late, now would I?"
"What other appointment?" Morgan demanded.
"11:56," Reid said at the same time, pausing a moment, glancing at his watch and looking back up, "11:57."
The Joker frowned, sitting back in his seat and shaking his head, "Can't rely on anyone these days," he said with a humph, "When will people learn that being pun-ctual is something to be valued? Time is such a precious thing and they go and waste it."
He clucked his tongue and Reid and Morgan glanced at one another anxiously, not entirely sure if they were witnessing some schizophrenic laps in the Joker's mental processing or if he was simply trying to put them on edge.
A moment later a loud alarm sounded, blaring through from the speakers outside the room and the Joker's grin stretched to impossible proportions, a strange, manic laugh bubbling up out of his chest.
"Here we go!" he practically shouted over the alarm as Morgan and Reid both jumped from their feet and raced across the room the door, trying to get it open as Reid held his hand down on the alarm that was supposed to alert the guard outside that something was wrong.
"What's going on?" Morgan demanded, peering through the window and seeing an empty hall. The guard that had once been posted there was nowhere in sight and the hall was entirely empty all around them.
Reid took his hand off the buzzer and turned back, brows furrowed in confusion and fear. He met the Joker's gleaming eyes and saw an excitement there that sent chills down his spine as the other man grinned and his red tongue darted out of his mouth to lick his lips. Morgan was banging on the door, trying to pry it open and silently wishing he had his gun – he could just try to shoot through the metal then.
Slowly, Reid stepped away from the door and back toward the table where the Joker sat, chained and grinning like the madman he was, dark eyes fixed on the young agent. Somehow, Reid knew that whatever had happened, the Joker was behind it. He wanted nothing more at that moment than to tear his gaze away from the other man's as his eyes seemed to burn into his very soul, but he couldn't seem to look away.
"What did you do?" he asked, his voice surprisingly calm given that his heart was apparently trying to make a mad dash from his chest.
The Joker just smiled, raising his brows and throwing his chained hands up defensively, "Me?" he asked, his voice pitched slightly higher than usual, eyes shining, "What could I have done? I've been, uh, tied up lately, Spencey."
Reid shook his head still staring into the clown's eyes, "That doesn't mean you didn't have a part in this," he said slowly, "What's going on?"
"What'ssssss going on?" The Joker repeated, tapping his chin thoughtfully, dark eyes still riveted to Reid as Morgan slowly turned from the door to watch them. He looked between the Joker and Reid and couldn't help but think it was like there was some sort of invisible string linking the two of them together.
The Joker tilted his head, "You got the time?" he asked again.
This time, Reid didn't bother to ask why he needed it, he just glanced down at his watch and then back up at the Joker. "12:01," he said.
The Joker grinned, laughing softly, "Well then, Spencey… What's going on is that this place is about to go up. I'd… hold on to my head if I were you!" He burst into another delirious fit of laughter that echoed around the room, but the sound was quickly drowned out as the ground seemed to quake beneath them and the two agents were thrown across the room as a huge blast from behind them sent the door and wall flying.
The Joker's hair was blown back as debris from the bomb flew by his and the table and chair were knocked backwards, tipping him over in his seat. His manic laugh echoes, chillingly, down the halls of Arkham as his head landed with a thwack on the floor and a burst of flame nearly blinded everyone in the room. He continued laughing, unable to stop as the chaos around him grew to epic proportions and somehow the sound of that laugh was even worse than the explosions going off periodically throughout the building.
A/N: So, there it is. The first (loooong) chapter of "Everything Burns". Hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
(1) This line isn't mine, it's from "The Killing Joke" where they give one of the Joker's many possible origins. It's one of my favorite lines and it just seemed so appropriate here, so I used it.
Alright, a bit more info real quick: I'm going to explore the Joker's origin a bit in this fic (if not a lot). Seeing as no one (not even, apparently, the Joker) really knows who the Joker was before he was The Joker, I'm going to take a little bit of liberty here and considering this is the origin for the "Nolanverse" Joker where literally no one knew who he used to be, I think that's fair, right? I will use the name Jack Napier for the Joker's former-self. It's pretty much accepted that that was his name before he became who he is, so it makes sense that that's who he'd be here too. (But exactly who Jack is, that I shall have fun developing).
And yes, I included Harley Quinn ;) I kind of had to. She's not in the Nolanverse but she'd have to show up eventually if they put the Joker in Arkham. So, yes, she shall be in this fic a fair bit, but I don't know how big her role will be (if all goes 'according to plan', she'll be a nice supporting character with a big part to play). And I'd like to point out, again, having not read a comic in years I'm basing her off of fuzzy memories and internet searches, so if she's a bit OOC I hope it's forgivable. And I'm taking liberties with her character anyway, this is my version of Harley and she may be a little different from the comics (or the cartoons, come to think of it).
Anyway, sorry for yet another terribly long author's note, just wanted to get that out there real quick.
Hope you guys enjoyed the chapter! Please let me know what you think!