The Joker watched with a false grin as his little companion jogged around the greenhouse.
It had been a couple months now since he had chosen to steal Lamb away from Arkham, and without being able to find a proper doc, they were making due. A bit of creativity, Scarecrow's unwilling help, and Ivy's knowledge of biology had turned into an exercise program of sorts, and the girls had turned finding nutritional things the white haired boy could eat into a competitive game.
Right now, the Joker had told Lamb to run around, and so he jogged. But already his limbs shook and he gasped in shaky breaths. His steps began to falter, and the Joker knew that if he allowed it, Lamb would run until he collapsed. He had done that before. He tended to do things like that when the Joker asked something of him.
His need to please might surely be the end of him.
"Enough. Come here." Immediately, Lamb stumbled over to him, and those strange purple eyes looked up at him, mouth morphing into an slight, approval-seeking smile. He bared his teeth in a mockery of a grin, still hating how weak his Lamb was despite the improvement. "Well done." The answering expression stretched Lamb's threads and they tugged his mouth tightly.
The Joker laughed and began to lead his little puzzle away by the hand, singing as he went.
"Joker had a little Lamb, little Lamb, little Lamb. Joker had a little Lamb whose hair was white as snow. Everywhere that Joker went, Joker went, Joker went, everywhere that Joker went, his Lamb was sure to go. He followed him to work one day, work one day, work one day. He followed him to work one day and watched some things explode!" Lamb giggled, and the Joker's smile grew more natural.
He led Lamb outside and into the rain. Rain wasn't all that common in Gotham, but neither was it rare. It rained, on average, 30 days out of the year. Joker didn't care for it all that much however, as it smelled horribly when compared to the vague memories he held of sweet rain mixed with freshly cut grass, a plant that didn't seem to really exist in the majority of Gotham at all.
Lamb's footsteps patted after him obediently, though when he looked back he saw the boy looking up at the sky with his hands out as he walked. He stopped walking, and Lamb, distracted as he was, ran into him. He caught him before he fell, pulling him close so that they were chest to chest.
"Do you like the rain?" He didn't nod, but looked up toward the dark clouds above them and grinned. It was wide, showing clean, white teeth, and he didn't even flinch as the threads tugged and began to bleed again. Joker began to frown, and then grinned widely, falsely, and tugged the other into a waltz.
If Lamb was bothered by the dance, it didn't show, and though his movements were sluggish, tired as he was from his run, he knew the steps. He was graceful. Joker's grin weakened a bit. His Lamb had been taught this dance at some point...
It didn't matter though, he decided, as he saw the happiness in those violet eyes peeking through the wet white bangs the rain had plastered against his skin; turning them a light grey. His Lamb liked to dance in the rain with him, and the rest didn't matter.
He stopped suddenly, Lamb's steps faltering and the young man falling into him. Lamb's smile vanished, replaced by a curious expression as he looked up at Joker, making no move to pull away though they were flush against each other.
Joker stared down at him, usual grin in place and eyes wild. His lamb was a strange little thing wasn't he? The clown prince had a tendency to pull him close, into hugs and casual touches, but Lamb never reacted as expected. He never looked uncomfortable, or even interested. Joker was used to extreme reactions to his touch.
During his schemes, he sometimes pulled strangers close, and they always looked even more terrified by being so near him than they did by the possibility of their own deaths. Harley, on the other hand, was always extremely delighted by his touch, and would immediately flush and, when alone, try to seduce him into sex with her.
Lamb, who never reacted any differently to his touch then he did to anything else, was incredibly strange by comparison.
"You hungry?" Joker asked suddenly, pushing those thoughts aside. Lamb smiled slightly, and nodded. "Good. Let's get some applesauce."
He led the white-haired young man away by the hand, Lamb allowing himself to be dragged along, and Joker decided it was kind of nice to touch someone and not have them fear him or lust after him.
It was, much like Lamb himself, a novelty.
The Joker watched in silent contemplation as Ivy showed Lamb how to tend to one of her plants; one of the moving ones, which had little vines that occasionally came out and petted the soundless youth. Lamb, for his part, seemed to be enjoying himself, and would smile and pet the plant back whenever this occurred. Joker sat a ways away, foot jumping up and down irritably, his green eyes occasionally falling on the dark purple bruise on Lamb's cheek and narrowing in anger.
They had tried, he and Ivy and Harley, to teach Lamb how to defend himself. He had gotten a little better with his runs and exercises, and had gained enough weight that, though he was still thin and bony, his ribs and spine were no longer so clearly defined, and his cheeks were simply bony rather than sunken in. So they had tried to move on to teaching him defence.
He had obediently copied all the movements they demonstrated to him, shifting his body gracefully into each defensive pose with an occasional silent giggle, as though it was a game. He had done well; every motion perfect. Joker had felt a swell of pride at his little Lamb's excellent learning ability.
But then, they had tried to teach him how to use those maneuvers on a real opponent. He had done so well against the dummies. His blows hadn't been very strong, but they had been precise, and Joker just knew he would be great in a real fight.
That is, if he would willingly attack another person.
But he wouldn't. When they had moved on to real people, Lamb would not raise a hand against them. He made no motions to defend himself against Joker, or Ivy, or even Harley. At first, they had believed the matter was as simple as that he cared too much about them, and was afraid of hurting them.
So Joker had called in one of his minions. The faceless idiot had attacked Lamb with the intent of the young man reacting to defend himself, but Lamb's arms had remained at his sides, and he had accepted the punch that came at his face without fighting back.
Thus the bruise. And the bloodstain on the warehouse floor from when the Joker had angrily killed the man. And the rotting corpse in a dumpster somewhere; or wherever it was his other minions had carted it off to.
No matter how great he could fight in theory, Lamb was unwilling to raise a hand against another human being.
It was sweet in its' own way. Joker found he wasn't even particularly upset with Lamb about it.
The problem was, he was tired of these long-distance games between he and Batman. It had been just over three months since he had last taunted the caped crusader face-to-face, and he was getting antsy; just itching for a proper confrontation.
His leg bounced faster.
Lamb would be alright? Wouldn't he?
Joker's eyes fell on Ivy.
She could look after him. And it wasn't like Joker got caught every time he fought the bat. There was always the possibility he would get away without a stint in Arkham. And if he didn't, Ivy would be here to take care of Lamb until the next time he busted out.
He would be fine.
Unwilling to acknowledge the tiny sliver of doubt in his mind, the Joker grinned, and stood up to go off and plan.
He would need to do something big for his bat, after how long it had been.
Batman grit his teeth as he looked through the files. He had, after hitting a literal dead-end with the murdered officers, decided to look closely at them with the intention of figuring out who it was that had, either paid or threatened, them into bringing the John Doe to Arkham.
What he had found angered him.
The officers were so obviously dirty, he couldn't understand why no-one had ever picked up on it. There were several payments of various amounts from various sources, some of which had been easily traced back to known criminals or criminal organizations. It had been child's play to look into the details of their lives and see how close they were to being criminals themselves.
Yet no one had noticed.
He sighed and ran a hand down his face. There were too many dirty cops for the commissioner to catch onto them all, and they were dead now, so it made no difference. The only reason he was this angry about it, was because he couldn't trace all the payments, and had found himself no closer to learning why they had brought the John Doe to Arkham, or who he was, than he had been a month before.
Suddenly, an alarm sounded out, echoing around the cave. Batman looked up, and began typing quickly. He grit his teeth and put his mask on.
Looks like the Joker was back to his old tricks.