A/N: Well, we have arrived everyone. It's the last chapter of Part 5. I am so amazingly, profoundly indebted to everyone on this site who keeps reading this fic and offers me such generous compliments about my characters and my writing. I am in complete disbelief that this story has become what it has become; I've been writing it since I started college, and here I am, about to begin my second semester of grad school. So much in my life has changed and these changes have been exhibited in this story. It has made my writing style so much better and so much more than I ever imagined it would be. I keep holding on to my dream that maybe someone will see this and give me millions of dollars, but for now, your support and readership is more than enough. Keep a lookout for Part 6, Watch Me Burn! ~Kelztastic
Chapter 18: Time to Begin
It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bigger, but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am
"It's Time", Imagine Dragons
I heaved my 7 and a half-month pregnant self out of bed one morning, and stretched my arms. I looked out the window and smiled widely. I still hadn't gotten accustomed to the sight of Venice in the mid-morning, around 10:30 to be exact. The streets were filled with people, the boats moving lazily along, docking along the piers. The people of the city smiling, drinking their coffee, checking their watches, hugging and kissing their friends. We lived in a little ranch-style house, very small and economic and basically on top of the other houses around it, like the Europeans all do. It only had one bedroom, one bathroom, and a small living room and kitchen, but I never felt more comfortable anywhere else before in my life.
I had to steady myself because my lower back was sore and achy; it had become like that in the later stages of my pregnancy. I had stopped vomiting frequently (now just once a day) and mostly had taken to wearing summery, flowered maternity dresses that I had seen all the Italian women wearing on the street. I always enjoyed just walking around the city, shopping in the market, trying on expensive shoes, and taking like a thousand photos with my new, hi-tech camera. The Joker pretty much hung out around the house, but he started running every morning before my lazy ass got up; he was tanned and looking so much healthier than I had ever seen him. I think the move was doing us both good.
I came downstairs and saw the Joker reading the paper in his sweatpants, his brow still a little damp from his after-run shower. He looked up as I walked into the kitchen, and made a move to stand up. I said irritably, "I can move on my own. Calm yourself, buddy."
"Babe, you're almost at 8 months. We have to be careful."
"I know how far along I am." I said, opening the cabinet to get some oatmeal, "I'm doing fine. I don't think I could be doing any better than I am right now."
He settled back into his chair and said reluctantly, "Ok…"
"Dude, I will let you know if I need to go to the hospital. It'll be alright." I sat down, eating my oatmeal and just straight-up dumping cinnamon in it.
He raised an eyebrow at me, "Are you sure that's good for you?"
"Hasn't hurt me yet," I said with my mouth full. I'm a real classy lady, I promise.
"Once you're done unhinging your jaw to eat that oatmeal, how about we got for a walk? We need some fresh vegetables for the salads I'm going to make later." He suggested.
I stared at him, "Do you listen to yourself when you talk? I'm not marrying a hipster."
He laughed, "Alright, sorry, I realize that was a little over the top. I just feel like we're real people here, just living a normal life as a normal couple. It's still weird for me, to be completely honest."
"Yeah, me too," I admitted, "But I kinda like it."
"I thought I would be totally lost being in this place, but I'm so happy. It's just…that I've never really been truly happy ever. I've suffered for so long and maybe all those years of being beaten down have actually built up some good karma or something."
I put my bowl in the sink, "I think it has, but somehow I always feel like something is amiss in the universe. Whenever we're doing really well, someone is doing really horribly. It never works out where everyone is happy."
"You're being paranoid." He stood up, "You want to get dressed?"
"No, I think I'll just walk around in my fucking pajamas and disheveled hair. That seems like a great idea." I don't think I need to tell anyone that that was sarcasm.
"Ha ha," he said, equally without mirth, "Obviously you'll look beautiful no matter what, but I prefer that you don't look like a hobo."
"You, sir, are the hobo." I declared, and walked away before giving him a chance to respond.
I dressed in a flowing, ruffled blue summer dress and navy blue and tan wedge sandals. I quickly fixed my makeup and threw my hair up into a loose ponytail. I deemed myself acceptable for human contact and went back downstairs to meet the Joker, who was waiting for me by the front door.
"Ah, now that's better." He smiled, extending his arm for me to take.
I stuck my tongue out at him and followed him out the front door. He locked it and we went on our merry way. We walked at a steady pace down our usual half a mile stroll to the main market in the city. I looked around me in wonderment at the amazing scenery and architecture. I had been to every museum and historical churches and sites at least three times each, but I couldn't get enough of it. I'm sure all of this would become routine eventually, but I loved that I still was awed by everything. Me and Mr. J's relationship had improved drastically, but sometimes I had moments where I didn't feel 100 percent at ease with our situation.
Needless to say I wasn't that worried about cops finding us; the Joker had our identities locked down solid, but I did worry that he'd miss the criminal life and the business and want to go back and resume our life in Gotham. I worried that Pam and Selina were being tracked by Bruce, the repercussions of our bloody scene at the docks…it felt like years ago, so far away and in another place, literally and metaphorically, I guess. I looked up at the Joker, who looked so content; he hadn't worn his makeup since we had left the states. He had started putting some healing lotion on his scars so they weren't so noticeable. It was really strange, seeing him look like a totally normal human being; of course I knew he wasn't like that on the inside, the external appearance was deceiving, as with all people in the world. He was so handsome when he smiled for real, the small dimples that formed at his lips.
Everything was too perfect, I would soon come to realize.
We went shopping at the local produce market, trying to barter a little with the vendors, who didn't speak English too perfectly. They were used to dealing with Americans so you would think it wouldn't be too difficult to get your message across, but they had never met the likes of me and Mr. J, who were both geniuses in our own right. Yeah, you know how humble I am. Deal with it.
A few touristy women stopped to coo over my very round stomach; I did the usual feigned joy and gushed about my pregnancy, and when they asked what I was having, I merely shrugged and said, 'it's a surprise, sorry'. And, as most people do, they told me that it was so great that I was leaving it a mystery and they wished that they had when they were pregnant, on and on. Honest to Jesus, the only baby in the world I cared about was my own, and to paraphrase Miranda who so eloquently described my feelings on this on Sex and the City, every other child I would come in contact with was still going to be a puke machine or a dirty little thing. Sorry I'm not sorry.
"We could still find out." The Joker squeezed my hand.
"Yeah, but see, then we would know."
"That's the point."
"I told you that I don't want to know. If you would actually come to the doctor's appointments, you could make your appeal to the gynecologist and then maybe we would find out. But you don't really want anything to do with it except see the ultrasound pictures." I said with mild exasperation.
"And I told you that the gynecologist freaks me the fuck out."
"Then we still won't know." I said firmly.
After a couple hours, my back and feet were beginning to ache terribly. I turned to my boyfriend, "Babe, I'm getting a little tired and pretty hungry. Could we stop somewhere for a while and have some lunch?"
"Yeah, that's fine." He said amiably, "Where do you want to go?"
"Doesn't matter," I shrugged, "Where are we closest to?"
"Well, we've got the place that has the really good gnocchi or the place with the really good deli sandwiches." He pointed them out as he spoke.
I paused, pensive, "Yeah, I'm feeling pasta."
"Sounds good to me." He agreed, and we walked into the restaurant. The waiter took us to a 2-person table near the balcony on the second floor. The restaurant was small and quaint, with cute vines and flowers adorning the ceilings. It was very open and airy, which I liked because I had hot flashes every 5 seconds, and the service was excellent. The waiter took our drink order and the Joker and I took to perusing the menus. He surveyed the restaurant absent-mindedly, and then he suddenly froze. It took me a minute to realize what he was doing because I was having a staring contest with my menu, so he tapped the top of my menu to get my attention. "What?" I asked.
He said nothing, but gestured something that I couldn't quite figure out, like he was playing charades.
"Babe, you're being weird." I said, rolling my eyes.
He lifted his finger slightly, and pointed behind me. Furrowing my brow, I turned my head to see what he was getting so worked up about. My eyes widened in complete and understandable shock.
Three tables behind us sat Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, baby Edward sitting in a high chair next to them.
She said I can't take this place
I'm leaving it behind
Well she said I can't take this town
I'm leaving you tonight