A/N: Written for the "Arkham Asylum" theme for the Nolanverse Challenge at Batfic-Contest on Livejournal.

Doubling Up

Batman couldn't believe it.

Or rather, Bruce Wayne couldn't believe it—after all, he'd been caught, unmasked, tried, and committed. All of Gotham knew he was Bruce Wayne now.

But of all the indignities, all the humiliations, all the heartache he had suffered, nothing had been so bad as the sight that greeted him now.

"Oh, no. Oh, no no no. Not him. Anyone but him. You can't put me in here!"

"Quiet, Wayne, and stop struggling or I'll sedate you right now. This is the room you were assigned and this is the room you get. There's no changing it."

"Heeey, Roomie, you look upset," the man in the padded room greeted him after the guard pushed him in, straightjacket snugly secured. "Whyyyy soooo seeeeriousss-suh?"

There was a pause as the ridiculousness of the situation sunk in around them, and the Joker began to snicker, snorting, his laughter growing to a cackle until finally he guffawed like it was a riot.

The guard eyed Arkham's latest addition sternly as he began to undo his straightjacket. "We have strict rules here at Arkham, Mr. Wayne. You will not harm the Joker in any way. Normally patients are confined alone in the Maximum Security Wing, but currently we're overstuffed, underfunded, and quite frankly, pushed beyond our limits. You're the only patient we'd even dare to risk putting in with him, but there's nothing else we can do. You give us any trouble and we can make things very difficult for you, Mr. Wayne. So no funny business!"

And with that, the guard slammed the door shut. It locked automatically behind him, leaving Batman—because let's face it, even without the cape and cowl, even locked up in the bowels of Arkham Asylum, even if the doctors and the judges and the police and the media and the city thought he was crazy, he was still the Batman—confined with his greatest nemesis, the Joker.

"'No funny business,' he says!" the Joker howled, bent over, slapping his knee, laughing his head off.

"Can it, Clown." Batman slunk down against the empty corner of the padded wall, opposite the one with the cot bolted down to the floor.

"But can't you see the humor in this moment? This is material comedians can only dream of. Why, it's exactly as I described it to you the last time we met. Sure, it may have taken longer than I might have hoped, but Arkham's finally doubling up after all."

"Shut. Up."

"Oooo, testy!" The Joker sauntered up to Batman, whose head was lowered, examining him from every possible angle. "You know, Bats, now that I can finally see your head without that pesky mask in the way, there's something I'm just dying to do…"

Without warning, Joker grabbed Batman in a headlock and began rubbing his fist into Batman's perfectly coiffed billionaire playboy brown hair. "Noogie noogie noogie!" the Joker yelled triumphantly.

Batman flipped the Joker over his head, throwing him onto his back. He was about to land a punch in Joker's face when the clown wagged his finger admonishingly. "Ah ah ah, nothing that'll leave a mark! You haven't been here long enough to learn Arkham's secrets. The doctors like to perform illegal surgeries on the more troublesome patients, the ones without living relatives to visit them, you see… hmm, much like yourself. You get uppity and you'll wind up with a lobotomy. So play nice."

Batman paused, lowered his fist. The Joker loved to lie. It was his trademark. Somehow he didn't think he was lying now. Batman pushed the Joker away from him, and retreated to his corner.

The Joker straightened out the mussed collar of his orange jumpsuit, the standard Arkham uniform.

After several minutes, Batman hadn't moved. He just sat in the corner with his head down. Joker stared at him.

"Geez, Bats, you're about as fun and exciting as a cemetery, you know that? And here I was so happy about getting a roommate. How about you help me with my crossword puzzle?"

Joker picked up the newspaper, one of the items deemed safe enough for him to have in his cell, and flipped to the crossword. There were no pencils in the cell—they weren't allowed after the Joker had decided one night to put on an impromptu magic show for a guard. Instead, he lifted the only writing utensil he was allowed to wield.

"A crayon?" Batman wondered aloud.

The Joker decided to demonstrate. He raised the crayon in the air and smushed it into his own forehead. It snapped in two harmlessly. "See?" he said.


Joker took one of the crayon ends and began tapping it against the crossword puzzle thoughtfully. "Hmmm…" he said. "What's a ten-letter word for someone who doubles up even when they're alone? Oh, wait! I know! H-A-R-V-E-Y-D-E-N-T!" The Joker laughed and laughed.

That did it. Batman dove for Joker, tackling him to the floor, choking him.

"Just kidding," Joker struggled to speak. "I know he's dead. But can you imagine?"

Batman banged Joker's head a few times on the—sadly—padded floor, and let him go.

"Boy, you sure know how to hold a grudge," Joker said, rubbing his neck. "Okay, crossword's out. How about cards?" he said, pulling a deck out of his pocket.

Batman stared at the cards as Joker began shuffling them. So this was how his life was going to be? Stuck for eternity in a room with his most hated enemy, the man who had caused the most destruction to his city, to his life? Forced to pass the time playing frivolous games with a madman?

"Okay," Batman sighed, and snatched the cards out of Joker's hands. "But I'm dealing."

"Whatever you want. Just as long as I don't have to play Solitaire anymore. One more day of that and I really would go crazy."

They sat on the cot and one by one, Batman dealt out the cards between them. This was his life now, sharing a cell with the Joker. He might as well get used to it. At least things couldn't get any worse…

Suddenly it dawned on him. "Hey… wait a minute…" Batman said slowly. "Where's… my… cot…?"

The Joker giggled so hard he had to bite the insides of his cheeks to stop. "Don't you get it, Batsy? Arkham's running short on everything. Doubling up rooms… doubling up cots…"

Batman threw the cards up in the air and leapt off the mattress. "Nope. No way. Uh-uh. Not. Gonna. Happen."

"Oh calm down, sweet cheeks, I wouldn't dream of it. Not before marriage. By the way," the Joker said, "you might want to invest in a pair of good ear plugs. I've been told that I'm a snorer."