A/N: This is just an idea I had after going to see the film and I wanted to see how it unfolds.
DISCLAIMER FOR ALL CHAPTERS: I do not own Batman or any of the characters within the franchise. I own the original characters and the plot. Well, the parts that weren't in the movie anyway.
"Hello, this is Alice speaking, how may I help you today?"
She had said that nearly thirty times so far and it was only two o'clock. Barely listening as the man spoke in her ear she watched the clock on her desk tick down, each second seeming slower than the last. She sighed, still three more hours before she could get out of there. She made a mental note to pick up bread and milk on the way home as the man enquired as to why his computer kept freezing, she replied with the generic answer and two minutes later, he was thanking her. Looking at the date she suddenly remembered that she needed to buy a birthday present for her niece too, adding it to her mental shopping list.
Alice had never actually met her niece; then again, she hadn't seen her sister Sarah for almost ten years. When their parents died, it fell on Sarah's shoulders to look after her only sister, help her with her homework, and make sure she was clean and fed. They had moved in with their Grandmother but she was far too old to properly care for the pair of them. Only a few years later Sarah married, aged twenty-one and too young in her grandmothers eyes, but as soon as the ring was on her finger she left Gotham and never turned back. Alice had sat with her grandmother and cried for hours after.
Her sister hadn't been there for the chaos of the joker, but Alice had. She had watched the horror unravel on the news, receiving daily phone calls from her sister begging her to move away from Gotham and to Indiana to live with her and her husband. As much as Alice wanted to she couldn't leave her grandmother, and her grandmother would never leave Gotham.
As soon as she graduated high school, she found a job, working in a small cubicle answering customer complaints. She had thought about college but in the end didn't see the point. They needed money to pay the bills and while she was at college, she was never going to earn enough. It wasn't necessarily a bad job. Mainly customers just shouted at her down the line while she rolled her eyes and sipped her coffee, talking in a sweet voice whilst wishing something large would fall on their heads. She had been at that job for six years now, and although it was dull and nothing every changed, it paid the bills that seemed to keep piling up.
She looked up to Brian who sat across from her. Dear sweet Brian with his shaggy hair and permanent cheery attitude. He smiled at her when he caught her eye and Alice couldn't help but shoot one back.
The phone beeped again and she answered quickly, putting on her cheeriest voice. She had already been given several warnings about her tone not being pleasant enough, and was sick of being called into her manager's office. "Hello, this is Alice speaking, how may I help you today?"
Alice sat near the front of the bus ignoring all the noise and shouts around her. Getting public transport during rush hour was never a good way to travel, she just wanted to get home and make dinner and wash the dirt off that she could feel sitting on her skin. She buttoned up the top of her jacket as she stepped off at her stop, making her way quickly through the cold streets, hugging her jacket tighter around herself. She didn't like being out in the cold, especially when the nights were turning darker even faster. Gotham wasn't exactly the nicest place in the world to live, and being out by yourself late at night was never usually the smart choice.
She was walking quickly through the empty streets, turning a corner past an empty alley when she heard it. Breathing. Hard…uneven. She froze for a moment and looked around but there was no one insight. When she started to hear it again she felt her blood run cold.
First instinct was to run in the other direction but it was so laboured that she was certain she could hear the pain that coursed through it. If someone was hurt, she couldn't just leave them, that was something she could never do. Later on, she would hate herself for not being able to just walk away.
Alice followed the noise down the alley, instantly regretting it. It didn't take long for her to find the cause of it though, slumped in a corner, chest rising and falling at an exceled rate.
"Excuse me? Are you alri–" She almost gasped when she saw the mask but managed to keep it down. It covered most of the persons face, only showing his dark eyes and the sides of his head. Even his ears were covered by it. She stayed at a distance, feeling her mouth grow dry as she looked down at him, her eyes fixed on the claw like pieces of metal that were his mouth should be.
Alice pulled out her phone dialling nine one one, but out of the corner of her eye she saw his hand weakly rise up as she pressed the phone to her ear, and for a moment she forgot what she was meant to be doing. "I do not need – medical attention – little one. Just – assistance." His voice was unlike anything Alice had heard before. It took a moment for what he said to register because she was too memorized by it.
"Gotham Emergency Services, what is your emergency?" Alice ignored the voice coming from the phone as she lowered it from her ear. "Pa – pardon?"
"My mask – I need you – to restore it."
She stared at the web on his face and gulped. Four of the little legs were loose but the rest were fixed in place. The piece covering his mouth looked scarier the closer she edged to him, as if it was going to bite her as soon as her hand came close enough. Alice looked down to the entrance of the alley wondering if she could make a run for it. However, this man…he seemed to be in so much pain…and as much as she wanted to run, she found herself quickly kneeling next to him, shutting off the call while she shoved the phone back into her bag. His dark eyes were fixed on her, watching her curiously as she worked and trying to figure out how each piece connected. She finally realised that she only needed to screw them in, each making a small noise like pressured air being released when they were connected properly. When she was done, she remained in front of him, watching as the pain left his eyes and relief started to wash over him.
"Are you ok?" She asked. Her voice was too soft, too quiet. Like her.
His eyes rose to her and he could see the terror there, how her hands were pressed against the floor ready to push herself up at a moment's notice. Silly girl. Even if she attempted it he could grab her at a seconds notice, snap her arm if he so wished. She was nothing extraordinary, un-impressive really. He assumed she had no muscle and wasn't prepared for an attack. How foolish she had been to help him in the first place. Probably too sweet natured for her own good. He straightened his back as relief flooded back to his muscles. He rose then and taken back she scrambled away from him, obviously terrified of his large frame and overbearing height. His hand came out, offering itself to her, but she only glanced at it before pushing herself up without his help.
There was a glint of amusement in his eyes as he studied her. She dusted the dirt off her jeans and tightened her jacket around herself as she raised her head to him. "Your name, girl?" he asked. Now that the mask was fixed, it seemed even more terrifying than before.
She furrowed her brows and replied quietly. "Tell me yours first." There was a sudden shot of confidence in her tone and Alice set her jaw as she waited for an answer.
"My name is of no importance at this moment, you will know it soon enough. Your name however…I am waiting for your answer."
She licked her bottom lip nervously. "Ann – Annabelle." He knew it was a lie as soon as it fell from her lips. That's when his hand shot up, tightening around her slender neck and forcing her body back against the dirty wall. She didn't scream or cry out, she didn't even seem as terrified as any normal girl – woman should be as this was happening to them, but he could see the nerves settling in her and a slight fear creep into her eyes as her hands came up to clasp around his wrist, some pathetic attempt to pull his hand from her throat.
"Why did you help me, little one?" He asked. Alice choked as his strong rough fingers tighten around her throat. "Answer."
"Be – cause, you – were hurt." It came out strangled, raspy. He could see the tears leak from her eyes as she struggled for breath. He heard the kicking of her feet against the wall and was only just aware of the fact he had lifted her a foot from the ground as he pressed her into the cold wall.
"But you were scared. You contemplated leaving. Why help when you're terrified of what lies before you?"
She tried to speak but nothing came out, so he loosened his fingers and felt her throat twitch as she gulped in air. "It's the – right thing."
He thought for a moment, just a jerk of his hand and he could snap her neck as if it were a twig. Her eyes were wide, the green glinting from the wetness of her tears. He could feel them warm against his hand as he trickled down her face, her body heat rise as she continued to struggle. Her fingernails were digging into his arm, although he couldn't feel it, as any other man would. That's when he let go. Alice dropped harshly to the floor, chocking and spluttering as she grabbed her throat and sucked in oxygen. Her lungs hurt and her chest was on fire as she coughed and cried and attempted to breath normally again.
He crouched down next to her, watching her as she sobbed and breathed in the much-needed air. He rested one hand on his knee and waited patiently until her coughing subsided before used the other to powerfully pinch her chin, forcing her face towards his. He took note of how her body froze as soon as his skin encountered hers for the second time, possible out of fear that he would do it again. "Your foolishness almost cost you your life. Tell me; are you pleased that you assisted me?"
She raised her eyes to him, red rimmed, full of tears and anger. "Next time – I come across someone –I won't save their life." She managed to choke it out, only gasping for air a few times as the words came out horse and dry. The masked man let go of her then, almost gently, letting his thumb graze against her chin. She pulled back, pressing herself against the wall as she felt the vomit rise from her stomach. She couldn't hold it in any, moving quickly onto her knees she leaned over, emptying her lunch onto the ground.
"Do you feel lucky that I spared you, little one?"
She was too busy vomiting to answer.
He watched her throughout the ordeal, not a second of it affecting him in the least. When she was finally done, Alice leaned back against the wall, feeling like someone had drained all the energy from her body. Wiping her swollen lips against the sleeve of her jacket, she finally looked at him again, even though the act of just raising her eyes took far too much effort. "Just go away." She begged, as her voice grew thick with tears. "I only tried to help. Please – just leave me alone."
She could feel him staring at her, his eyes burning as he watched on. Alice squeezed her eyes shut in some poor attempt to shut him out, but the sound of his breathing was making every part of her tingle with fear. Her head was slowly dipping as she started to fall deeper. The pain in her throat, chest, and head overwhelming her too much. Soon the uneven deep breathing escaped from her lips and it wasn't long before she slipped into unconsciousness.