Tricks and Treats
Characters and Pairings: Harvey/Joker, Crane, Batman
Summary: Halloween in Gotham attracts some strange characters. This is sort of day-in-the life, I'm just exploring the characters and seeing where they take me.
Disclaimer: I own none of the characters used here.
Halloween had always been his favorite time of year. It wasn't because of the fact that he could walk around unnoticed or that he could get really into the stabbing and no one would care about the screams. No, it was the candy. He was a sucker for candy.
It was relatively easy to find a suitable candy bucket – the one with Batman's face worked just fine. Those surprised eyes were just mmmMMMmmm … tantalizing! Not that there was much of a likeness, but fans can only be so picky. He'd decided to be a clown for the occasion since he already was a nightmare and didn't particularly need to dress like Freddie or Jason to get a, hehe, rise out of folks. He'd found the nicest purple and green glowsticks and had strung them together in a necklace.
He didn't get much of a reaction, which for once was just fine. "Ooh! Ooh! Trick-or-Treat, lady-lady!" He held out his plastic Batman head and smiled.
"Oh, aren't you frightening!" The old woman was laughing nervously, picking out a few chocolates and plunking them into his bucket – first candy of the night. "In my day you'd be too old to go door-to-door like this, but I love seeing your costumes."
"You're never too old for dress-up, I always say."
The woman chuckled a bit, "Horrifying what happened this summer, though. I don't know why you young people insist on dressing as that horrible man."
"Well, he's uh pretty scarey. Don't you think he's pretty scarey, ma'am?" He was already fishing out one of the miniature candy bars and munching on it contentedly.
"You'd have to be crazy not to." She was shaking her head. "You be careful out there. There are dangerous people around."
"Oh, I will." He beamed as she shut the door, then headed back down the driveway. A pair of costumed kids raced past him, Jack Sparrow and Cinderella by the looks of them, with only the slightest glance. As he passed their mother at the end of the driveway she looked him up and down and winked, "Wow, nice costume."
He gave her his toothiest smile, "I like to go for, uh, realism. Very important, you know."
"You've got his voice right. Would you mind posing with the kids when they get back? They'll be the envy of the other kids, getting their picture taken with the Joker for Halloween."
He felt the weight of the many knives in his pockets but didn't even bother with them. A few teenagers were screaming and laughing at the end of the driveway too but he didn't have much desire to go for them either. Nah, the killing could wait. At least 'til the neighbors ran out of candy. The Joker laughed long and loud, "Sure! I'd just love to make the kiddies smile!"
Halloween wasn't his favorite time of year, but he didn't hate it either. Once upon a time when he'd had steady employment and the safety of the university and then Arkham Asylum, he'd enjoyed the holidays because they rendered the work environment so vacant. With no one around, just about anything could befall, say, a young intern on his way out after staying late to finish the filing or an inmate who had been screaming for days in a vain attempt to frighten others (how impudent). Nevertheless, he did enjoy the holiday. It was a time for celebrating fear after all. He could never complain about that.
He allowed himself to be the Scarecrow on that evening, slipping about in the shadows and experimenting with some of his latest batches of new toxin. The first three caused death far too swiftly to provide any useful data, but luckily the fourth maintained an acceptable level of terror while inducing paralysis and the fifth served as a super concentrated form of his usual toxin. It was a fruitful venture, and he made a note in his log as the homeless man rolled about shrieking like a screech owl. He made several more attempts throughout the night, catching individuals unawares for independent work or assaulting one in every pair with the toxin and another with plain water to see if the placebo produced similar effects due to proximity. He had pages of notations by the end of the evening, and retired around three in the morning to type his findings and reflect. He still had a great deal of work to do and the passing of another Halloween meant less time remaining for completion.
Harvey hadn't wanted to go out, and so he had remained in the makeshift home watching the news and drinking beer as he mired himself in depression. Chance. It was everything. He'd wanted so badly to believe in the purity of human laws and human ideals that he'd been blinded to the fact that every person had a dark side to complement any goodness. He rubbed the scarred side of his coin anxiously with his thumb. It was getting late but there were no explosions so far. Halloween was a time to be respected for its symbolism: the dark side of men rising to greet the world, dark creatures preying on the unwary in the night, and the dead returning to commune with the living. No, he wouldn't hurt anyone on a night like that.
He'd lit a candle by a photograph of Rachel but the wick kept drowning in its own wax.
For the Batman there was no rest. Halloween was a particular headache: every idiot in the city would choose this time to pull dangerous pranks, and the amount of people wandering about made the citizens of Gotham a little more daring than was safe. He'd stopped the usual pushers and thefts, but had also caught a group of teenagers who had poured a bottle of vodka on a five-year-old girl and lit a match ready to catch her aflame. He'd set out to do good, but the more he saw the more he realized that he could never really save Gotham as either Ra's or Harvey had wanted to do in their own vastly different ways. There was good in the city, but there seemed to be an overwhelming amount of evil as well. His best hope was probably to even the odds as long as he was able. At least he could give the decent men and women of Gotham some breathing room and perhaps a chance to set things right on their own.
With Harvey gone, though, that task felt further away than ever.
The destruction of the Tumbler was a shame, but the Pod was easier to hide, allowing Batman to soar between skyscrapers and rooftops unnoticed. When he heard a pair of shrieks that could have summoned demons, Batman began moving toward the source of the commotion, weaving between buildings in the heart of the Narrows. There was truly no time for rest, not on Halloween.
When he reached the source of the screaming, it took a few seconds for him to register what he was seeing: a pair of women obviously fresh from a nightclub Halloween party, one in a revealing devil costume and the other in the guise of a scantily-clad angel. Both women were in a panicked state, the devil was watching her companion and sobbing helplessly. The angel was shrieking, clawing at a filthy red brick wall with bloodied fingernails. At first Batman assumed they were reacting to some trauma. He alighted near the women, searching for a body or some evidence of an assault. His appearance, though, only made both women scream in unison. Both women backed away from him, pressing themselves against either side of the alleyway, the angel curled in on herself on the refuse-strewn asphalt with her bloody nails curled painfully into the stone wall and the devil watching him wide-eyed, chest heaving. It was then that he remembered where he'd seen such a reaction before, though in a more muted form.
The devil blinked, "Batman?" Then louder, "Batman! Help her, please!"
He pitched his voice to a low snarl, "Tell me what happened."
"Someone came out … out of the shadows and … his face was all stitches and … and he misted me with something then, then misted Sherri with something and … and she started screaming and…" She was sobbing again, "Please she's been screaming and I just, I can't take it anymore … it's horrible!" She began pulling helplessly at her own short blonde hair, "I don't want to be like that! I don't want to!"
"Stay clam. That's the first step. The toxin moves more quickly through a panicked blood stream." The woman nodded and breathed deeply, attempting to compose herself as she swiped tears from her eyeliner-smudged cheeks. Batman was already reaching for a mini tranquilizer gun, fully focused on the woman most obviously suffering from Crane's toxin.
When he attempted to grab the woman's flailing arm, she shrieked helplessly, "Get away! Leave me alone! Don't touch me!" Behind him, the woman in a devil costume turned away and began sobbing brokenly. It took three tries before he managed to hold the woman's arm still and jab the dart into the vein at her inner elbow. The first priority was to make her calm, next would be transportation and an antidote.
As her eyes began to droop and her cries quieted, he reached for his communicator. He would have to get a message to Gordon that there were victims of the Scarecrow, one of his fear-inducing toxin and the other of something as yet undetermined. Crane wouldn't have sprayed her with something that didn't have dire effects. Then he'd need to contact Lucius, wake him and get more of the anti-venom synthesized. Watching the angel begin clawing at her own face with her bloodied fingernails, he knew that this version was far more concentrated. Crane had been working, which meant Batman would have to work even harder.
It was late when he came home. He pulled off his gloves and flexed the fingers of his right hand. There was some pain there where the bones had healed a little oddly, but he relished in the pain. It reminded him of how far he'd come. It reminded him of Batman.
"You were out late," the husky voice curling from deeper in their den. "If you did anything spectacular, it wasn't enough to make the news."
"Oh Harvey, goodness no, I was out getting supplies!" He slipped into the room, glancing at the television and, seeing only the endless stream of GNN, clicked his tongue. "You know you'd get more out of Beverly Hillbillies reruns, right?"
Harvey sighed, "It's the same old thing." He clicked the remote and the grainy screen darkened to a pinprick of white and quiet. He turned, watching as the clown picked his way through the detritus of their home – the pizza boxes, old socks, and newspapers – to collapse on their sagging couch. "What did you bring me?"
"We-e-ell…" He held up a plastic Batman head overflowing with candy and a bit blood spattered. "I have candy!"
"Big surprise. Anything useful?"
Joker frowned, an odd gesture for someone whose face was carved in a constant smile. "Candy is useful." He was quiet for a time but finally sighed, "Ok fine!" and fished a newspaper and a can of instant coffee from his candy bucket. "You're no fun."
"Good, you got the Mocha Hazelnut."
"Don't you want any candy? I got some especially for you. I was trick-or-treating for ages then just decided to play tricks. They're loads more fun, don't you think Harvey?" He was munching on a bit of yellow taffy, chewing in his odd way.
Harvey selected a butterscotch, carefully to select one not drizzled with blood. He unwrapped the clear yellow wrapper and popped it into his mouth. "See any good costumes?"
"You mean, was anyone dressed up like us?" Joker giggled, sorting through for another bit of taffy. "I saw lots of me and some of you and a slew of Batsys all over the place!"
Harvey chuckled, allowing the hot bundle of mad energy to curl against him on the couch. "New me or old me, babe? There's a big difference."
"Hmmm…. Definitely old you, not a single half-assed zombie Dent anywhere."
"Bet you were disappointed." He moved a bit of greasy green and blond hair from his face. At least it wasn't getting stuck in his teeth.
Joker nuzzled closer, rubbing his scars against Harvey's good ear as he smacked his taffy. He smelled of blood and bananas. "Oh Harvey I was devastated! They missed out on the best costume of the year!"
He shrugged, "Eh, there's always next year, baby. They can dress up like me all they want once I get a little tv time. There's the Thanksgiving Day parade tomorrow morning. Could be interesting."
Joker looked up, eyes wide and black-rimmed as he stared into Harvey's ruined face, and he smiled. "Oh baby, now you're talking! I've never been in a parade!"