((Advanced apologies for my TERRIBLE Harley Quinn portrayal. If ever anyone wants to collaborate with me for her character, please, please volunteer. x3 ))
Less than five minutes prior, a certain ring-bearing hero passing on the outskirts of Gotham received an urgent call.
"Lantern, Flash here. We're picking you up just outside Gotham, need you to get your glowing butt to a bit of a, well, break-in a few miles west of your location."
"All right, any idea on who's behind it?"
"According to security equipment? It's everyone's favorite birthday clown reject."
"...great. Batman on it?"
"He's still looking into that City business. Trying to reach him, but he's in full skulk mode, so..."
"All right... I'm in the area, I'll swing by to take care of it."
"Got it. Oh. Word of advice? When you nab the guy, gag him before you bring him back to the Asylum. Trust me, MUCH easier that way. This is not the sort of guy you want to let talk, ever."
"Come on, it really can't be that bad,"
"Oh, trust me; I got him to the Asylum in seventeen seconds last time I had to bust one of his stunts. Was sixteen and a half seconds too long. You'll gag him sooner or later."
"Sorry, Flash, but some of us are just made of sterner stuff. I can handle whatever some nut in a purple suit tries to toss at me."
"Bet you can't."
"Ha! Next three midnight monitor shifts says I get him to the Asylum without a gag?"
"Oh, you're going to regret this. You're on!"
"Piece of cake."
"Why hello there!" Rather than dismayed, the villain seemed nothing short of delighted by the newcomer's arrival, and didn't seem remotely bothered by the fact that he was bound from the neck down in shimmering emerald energy. "I was actually kind of aiming for He Who Shall Not Be Maimed, but I suppose you'll do in a pinch!"
"Afraid your usual dinner date's running a little late, Joker," the Green Lantern replied wryly, even as he kept a wary eye on the clown; "I'm going to be your designated driver."
The various minions and murderers were subdued even faster than their boss, and soon weresprawled in various states of senseless about the room; sirens in the distance promised imminent police arrival, but the Lantern wasn't going to take any chances with letting them handle the Joker's arrest. Even with the strange lunatic immobilized, he wouldn't have put it past the clown to pull some gadget out of God knew where... when he was certain no gases, acids or shocks would be forthcoming, however, he settled for coating the villain in a second layer of pulsing energy before lifting them both into the air, flying making a quick exit through the same side door Lantern had used to get inside.
In no time at all, captor and captive soared high into the sky, aimed towards the Asylum.
There was a brief silence then, almost as if the Joker was trying to figure out some appropriate conversational topic with a hero he had probably only encountered a handful of times, at the very most. When he spoke again, though, he sounded perfectly cheery, despite the fact that he was being carried thirty stories above the ground.
"So what's shakin'? Play God lately? Or was that one of the other chisel-jawed ring jockeys zipping around? Which one are you again? I mean, at least Twinkle Toes Number One had the decency to get himself vanished 'fore Twinkle Toes Number Two sauntered up to the plate! Don't get me started on Three... then two came back... or was it one... for a two-bit chump chowder, you've got a lot of wannabe chump chowder chompers, don't you?"
"You're just sore because you went down faster than a purse snatcher. Could I do that if I was a chump?"
"Don't kid yourself Bling Boy; when it gets right down to it, you're only saved from the bottom of the pile by Aquaman, and you know it." Giggling between his teeth, the clown went on; "Super shiny alien technology, all that fanciful training, all so you could become one of about a bajillion other members of your little fan club."
With every word, the clown's voice was changing, subtly, losing its light fluff and growing more dire by the second, and despite his earlier intentions, the hero was getting increasingly unnerved. "When you were a brat, it was decoder rings at the bottom of a cereal box; this isn't any different now, is it? Suuuure, the rings today were invented in another galaxy and can call a giant green pair of sissors out of thin air, but without it... what'd you be? Least Bats can throw a punch! Face it, kiddo, if the League of Do-Gooders were the Beatles, well, you'd be Ringo."
Joker sounded like he was going to go on, but he suddenly halted mid-word, giving out a long peal of laughter.
"RINGO! I didn't even consider how perfect that was! Bwaaahahahahaha!"
"Oh, for..." it was pretty clear that Lantern was beginning to regret the little bet he had made, but he remained stubborn, a bit of a smirk crossing his face as he kept his eyes pointed, determinately, towards the horizon. "We'll see if you're still lauging when you see what they've got waiting for you back at the Asylum."
"See if I'm still laughing?" Joker paused to consider that before adding with mild suspicion; "You didn't bother reading up my file, did you?"
"Tried it," Lantern snapped, "Got bored somewhere around the fourth origin story."
"Oh, ouch!" Had he any mobility in his arms, the Joker would have pressed a hand to his heart. "Someone's feeling catty, and without the leather suit to match no less! C'mon, Bats would've worked out eighteen different ways to try and crack my nemesis nut by now! Not that any of them'dve worked, but this is just lazy! Interrogate me! Demand to know my plan! Don't be coy!"
"All right, well?"
"What's your damn plan?"
"Going right for the grope on the first date? Tsk, come on! Gotta warm me up first! Try a threat!"
"How about I just drop you from fifty stories up, then?"
"I always wanted to try skydiving!"
The blonde bombshell moving down one of Gotham's streets had eyes only for the small, black device she clutched in one hand, not even bothering to glare at the whistles and catcalls that greeted her passage. Stinky men. Sure, some've em were kinda cute, but what did cute guys matter when she already knew she'd found her true love, anyway? Nothin', that's what, and she wanted little more at this point than to have him there to snuggle and cling at so everyone could see just how much their lives sucked cause they didn't have-
Her starry-eyed thoughts were rudely interrupted by a harsh 'beep' as the small handheld device flashed urgently, a small arrow lighting up just as she passed by an alleyway. Pausing and fidgiting just a little, the blonde turned at a sharp, ninety-degree angle and slipped into the shadowed alcove; normally a bad idea for so pretty a thing...
But anyone who might have thought to follow her with dark deeds planned would have been in for a nasty shock.
It took her a few minutes of rooting around- the tracking beacon wasn't very accurate- but she finally what she sought in one of the open dumpsters, a joyous squeal passing her lips as she reached inside to pull out... a very familiar, oversized yellow shoe. Bouncing around a little, she quickly reached inside the novelty footwear and began rooting around, soon tugging a small, wrapped bundle that had been taped inside the toe.
"Mista J's gonna be so thrilled! Maybe he'll forget 'bout that lil' boxing-glove-gun thing 'n what I called his tie!" Sighing, the woman popped open her oversized purse and pulled a large white box from within, tugging aside the tattered ribbon and popping open the lid. "Whaddya think, Beats?"
Inside was the token of affection that gorgeous guy had used to win her back... sure, it was starting to smell kinda funky after being in a box for a week, and yeah, it wasn't so much red anymore as green and bloaty, but hey, the thought that counts, right? Perfect white teeth flashing in a big smile, Harley dropped the bundle into the box, closing it and giving it a brief, enthusiastic hug that crumpled the cardboard just a little.
"I'll keep it close t' my heart, Puddin'! You'll see!"
"Ahhh, Home Sweet Maximum Security Isolation Containment!" As a thoroughly aggrivated Lantern began to slowly lower the chattering villain towards the pavement, medical personnel were already gathering below, the usual full-body restraints prepared. "Gotta thank ya for the lift, Lightbulb! Ever consider getting out of this namby pamby hero work and opening your own airline? 'Fly With Lantern Airlines And Gawk At My Chiseled Jaw!'"
"Reading from the Killer Croc manual of comebacks, eh?" The Joker didn't even twitch as he was released from the emerald energy restraints, only to be grabbed by a pair of burly orderlies and none-too-gently shoved into the restraints. "You don't want to know what he uses for ink..."
Anything the increasingly agitated Lantern might have said in reply was cut off by a very familiar, decidedly discomforting voice from directly behind him.
The emerald-clad hero nearly jumped in place, but even as he spun around, the delighted Joker cooed out.
"Baaats! Didja miss me, my glorious glowering glee-gobbler?"
"B-Batman. How did you know we were coming?"
"Watchtower got through." Sweeping across the lot, head tilted about as far as the cowl would allow, Batman studied the merry maniac solemnly, starting from his green hair and working downwards. "Good you thought of bringing him back to the Asylum... would rather keep him out of the new facility as long as possible. Did he cause any trouble?"
"'Course he did, but wasn't anything I couldn't handl-"
"He's not wearing shoes."
Snorting, Lantern gestured to the seated clown, who was by now gleefully watching his own toes wiggle in their mismatched socks. "The bane of all humanity over there squirmed around too much on the way here and they flew off... considering the size of them, surprised he doesn't lose them ten times a day."
"His shoes fell off... high above the city... and you let them fall to the ground. Uninspected." It wasn't a question, and with every word, the Dark Knight's voice grew colder, sharper. "Unsearched."
"Well, yeah, I-" Rayner's reply trailed off as his voice died, bit by bit, his eyes widening. Jaw slackening just a little, his head swiveled between the stoic (yet somehow still glowering) Batman and the Clown Prince of Crime... who had turned his attention from his own feet to grin up at the flabbergasted hero. "You... YOU..."
"I tell ya, Bats," the clown chirped cheerfully, "the border security around here is just pathetic! Anyone could smuggle any old thing out these days!"
"I'm gonna-!" Mouth working furiously, Lantern's head swivveled from the clown to the Bat once more, even as he spoke hurriedly to the latter; "Look, I can find the shoes, I know where they fell off, I could sweep the entire block in less than an ho-"
Suffice to say, Lantern didn't stick around much longer. As the embaressed hero streaked into the air, leaving behind a trail of glittering energy, the Joker turned his cheerful grin to his usual nemesis, waving with one of his restrained hands as he was slowly wheeled back into the Asylum. Just before the massive security doors slid shut, he called out to the Bat one last time;
"So which one was he again?"