Warning: PG for some violence
Spoilers: Nolanverse (TDK. And BB)
Characters: Joker with mention of Jonathan Crane and Harvey Dent
Disclaimer: I don't own these guys.
Beta: The ever-busy lenaf007
Summary: Although the Joker was arrested, Gotham remains fascinated with the madman.
Although the Joker was incarcerated, his impact on Gotham City was felt for months afterward. Local and national television programs, from talk shows like Good Morning Gotham to the Gotham News Network, spent their time coming to terms with the doings of the madman the only way they knew how – dissection via discussion. Experts from all over were suddenly scheduled to appear, specializing in childhood trauma, serial killings past and present, the effects of socioeconomic downturns on the lower and middle class, advocates for pharmacological therapy, and all matter of others. Books on madness, clowns, and Gotham's negligent healthcare system flooded the market along with memoirs such as H.L. Ginty's I Stood Alone: One Convict's Choice During the Gotham Ferry Experiment and Sara Gilespie's News From Below: An Account of the Terrorism of July 2008. The Joker was the hottest thing to hit Gotham since the Batman.
When the Joker had been declared insane after a two month intensive study headed by Arkham's finest psychiatrists instead of being given the death penalty, the gardens outside the ancient hospital's doors became a local gathering place for curiosity seekers and crazies. Anywhere the police had taken the lunatic had been swarmed by angry citizens, ACLU advocates, and folks just wanting to catch a peek at the real man without his trademark clown makeup. Rumors circulated wildly: he was a former Navy Seal horribly mutilated as a POW in Iraq, he was a stand-up comedian who had finally snapped and mutilated himself, he was the child of Charles Manson who had been smuggled out before the compound was been overrun back in the 70s. Everyone had a theory and, because the Joker himself refused to do more than laugh or roll his eyes whenever someone asked how he'd gotten his scars, all theories were fair game.
The man himself was a model patient, engaging the staff and doctors in animated conversation about politics, the environment, and even showing great enthusiasm for learning how his doctors planned to cure him. Not that anything was wrong with him, he laughed, but he did enjoy watching them try their hand at rationalization. It took him only a few weeks to charm many of the staff and most of the patients. Because of his good behavior, he was allowed access to the Recreation Room and could be seen talking with Dr. Jonathan Crane, watching as the latter bested opponent after opponent at chess, checkers, and Mahjong. When Joker had asked about Harvey Dent, everyone lied as instructed and claimed he was dead. No one wanted a scandal should anyone have found out Dent was receiving one-on-one therapy with Jeremiah Arkham himself or that he was forbidden any contact with other patients. When Harvey Dent's funeral had been aired, Joker had watched with disinterest and requested cartoons instead. He had not asked after Dent again and the staff was pleased, glad to see him shaking off old fixations and moving toward something new. Perhaps both men would have a fighting chance for rehabilitation, despite Dent's notorious lack of cooperation and the Joker's lack of progress in therapy.
It was not until the following February that they realized how horribly they had underestimated their star patient.
Dr. Edwin Thomas had been assigned to the Joker case since July and had enjoyed many long though uneventful conversations with the man. He liked to think they'd developed a rapport during the many moths of bi-weekly sessions. He no longer insisted that the Joker be handcuffed, nor that any guards loom inside the room – he hoped that making Joker comfortable would encourage cooperation. He'd taken to sharing tea with the man during their sessions, Thomas' favorite Darjeeling blend, and had noticed that Joker responded favorably to a comfortable, nurturing environment. He still found himself staring at the scars that marred the man's otherwise rather handsome young face, but he had been quite sure his patient didn't mind.
The vomiting had begun after only a few sips of his rather bitter tea, and just as he was processing the fact that he'd been poisoned he felt Joker removing one of his polished dress shoes. It didn't take long for him to die from the blunt trauma, bludgeoned with his own hard-heeled shoe. The guards outside the door were luckier, for Joker had found the pistol Thomas always carried in his coat and, using said coat wrapped around the barrel, shot them both in the face. Thomas' key card was gone and, on further inspection, his car keys as well. A sweep of the institution proved that Joker was not the only escapee – Dent and Crane had also vanished. There was no sign of forcible entry on their cell doors, and the last person to swipe their key card had been Dr. Edwin Thomas.
The uproar was immediate. Why was someone like the Joker allowed to move about unobserved? How had he been able to overpower a large man like Dr. Thomas who was also armed? How had he found Dent and Crane's cells to free them? And most importantly, at least to the Arkham staff, why had Joker murdered his doctor? He'd seemed like such a nice young man.