Disclaimer: I own neither 'Batman' or 'Castle', and the original idea for this story was inspired by a piece of fanart created by AwsomeGeek and is used with her permission
Feedback: Feel free
AN: This chapter was inspired by the suggestion of Sean Malloy-1, and takes place a couple of months after the last one; hope you like the result (This guy is NOT easy to write, to say the least)
War of the Daughters
Looking at the city spread out before her, Kate wondered what it said about her that she only seemed to come here when Gotham was in peril.
Admittedly, the argument could be made that it just reflected a flaw in society as a whole- Gotham had done a lot of work on rebuilding its reputation in the last few years, but it had mainly done that work on its own, rather than receiving any help from the rest of the country-, or it could be said that Kate preferred to focus on preserving New York given her own family ties to the city, but that didn't change a rather depressing fact about human nature; people so often only noticed that there was a problem when it was virtually past the point where anything could be done to stop it.
Her father's attack on Gotham had inspired a wave of public interest, and the Joker's crime wave eight years ago had prompted a similar public outcry even before Harvey Dent's death, but when those problems had gone by the rest of America had been content to leave Gotham to cope with its problems on its own. She'd taken the occasional look at the news to see how things were going, but even that had mainly been motivated out of concern for Bruce rather than concern for the city; she'd wanted to know how he was doing, and looking at how his city was coming along was just a necessary part of that.
The fact that she was here now might show that she actually cared- even if she attracted some stares from those who knew who she and Castle were despite their efforts to keep their identities secret; she'd heard some people speculate that they had some secret pipeline out of the city and were planning to write a book about their experiences in Gotham after a few months-, but what did it say about her larger priorities if it took something this drastic to make her take an interest in how far Gotham had fallen?
She and Castle had saved New York at least once in their time as partners- and they may have even prevented World War Three during that whole incident with the sleeper agents attempting to kill the Chinese diplomat's daughter, but she still had her doubts about the feasibility of calculating real-world responses to situations like that-, but their primary focus had always been on their city rather than helping others.
Was it possible that she should consider... expanding her remit when she got home?
After all, it wasn't like she was a cop any more, but she did still have some interesting skills, as well as an intriguing example of what she could do with herself...
Further thoughts on that topic were cut short when she saw someone sneaking along a street, wearing a purple coat and with hair dyed a sickly green colour that set off warning bells in her mind.
It couldn't be...
Then again, it wasn't like anyone actually knew where he was- after the chaos he'd caused in Gotham, special precautions had been taken to ensure that nobody could break him out, to the point that even which prison he'd been sent to was unknown to all but a few and even those few weren't announced-, so it wasn't impossible to assume that he'd managed to escape...
Refusing to wait for clarification one way or the other- she didn't have the time to reach anyone else and if this wasn't the man she thought it was she'd waste others' time for no reason-, Kate ran for the nearest fire escape, hurrying down it as quickly as possible, before she reached the street and began to run after the man in question, only to come to a halt when the man she was pursuing turned to look at her despite her attempts at stealth, revealing a face that left Kate feeling like the blood in her veins had frozen.
She'd never seen even a photograph of this man, and all reports about him had been read after he'd been captured- she'd seen no reason to pay close enough attention to Gotham's criminals knowing that Batman was there to stop them, but after she'd heard about the accusation that Batman had murdered Dent she'd gone over everything related to that incident with a proverbial fine-toothed comb-, but there was no mistaking that face-paint and the Glasgow smile.
Instinctively Kate lashed out with a kick that nearly struck the Joker before the clown neatly sidestepped the attack, a crowbar suddenly appearing in his hand as he looked at her. Unable to draw her own gun- Kate guessed that the bar had been up his sleeve or something like that-, Kate lashed out with a desperate punch, but the attack was intercepted when the Joker struck the arm with the crowbar.
Despite the pain in her arm, Kate took the offered opportunity and grabbed the extended crowbar in her uninjured arm, yanking it out of the Joker's grip and striking him in the side just under the ribcage. The force of the blow sent the Joker to the ground, temporarily gasping for air as the blow expelled the oxygen from his lungs, leaving Kate to tighten her grip on the crowbar and move it into a position just beside the Joker's head, glaring at the other man in a warning manner; he might be fast, but he wouldn't be fast enough to evade her if she tried to hit him in the head with this object.
"Well well well," the man referred to by some as the Clown Prince of Crime said, kneeling on the ground and looking at her with a smile as she clutched at her injured arm while he tried to control his gasps for oxygen. "The big bad bat sends his associates out to get me?"
Kate didn't take long to work out what the Joker meant by that; she and Bruce had been shaped by different sources- Bruce by whatever hand-to-hand training he'd gone through before joining the League of Shadows, her by her training at the police academy-, but they each shared a teacher who'd been a prominent figure in their development, so it wasn't a significant stretch to assume that they shared a similar fighting style.
"You could say that," she said, looking grimly back at the Joker, focusing on not showing the fear she felt at just the thought of facing someone this twisted by keeping the crowbar close to his head; she acknowledged that she was up against a man who had nearly driven the entire city to the brink without any sign of a definite, coherent plan behind everything he did- some of what he'd one could have been a plan and the rest could have been improvised-, but that didn't mean that she was going to just break down in fear. "We don't collaborate much, but we... had the same teacher in a few areas."
"Ah," the Joker said, 'smiling'- as much as his facial condition would allow, anyway- at her in understanding. "Don't suppose you'd be willing to tell me when he'll be back on the scene, would you?"
"All I can tell you is that he's currently being held in a virtually inescapable prison in a location that I couldn't direct you to even if I wanted to," Kate replied- the man before her might be unpredictable, but she felt that she could 'trust' him with that much since it was nothing that Bane's men probably wouldn't know already-, looking resolutely back at the Joker, even as another thought began to occur to her.
Now that she thought about it, even if she would never ask him to help them out officially, there might be another way that she could use this particular encounter to the advantage of her side, rather than just trying to go through all the hassle of keeping the Joker contained so that he couldn't cause any more trouble...
"Sorry to disappoint you, but that's the truth," she said, smiling slightly at the man in the white make-up. "Bane beat you to him."
"In what way?" the Joker asked, looking at her with a curious expression that might have been a smirk if it wasn't for the fact that the scars made it hard to determine what kind of expression he was making with his lips.
"Well, from what I heard, it was all about the contest for you when it came to Batman, wasn't it?" Kate asked, looking back at him with a slight grin of her own as she kept a tight hold of the crowbar (If she focused on the impression that she wasn't too afraid of him, maybe he'd let her off somewhat easily), allowing herself to indulge in some of the more elaborate analogies Castle sometimes used in his absence from the current scene. "He was the order to your chaos, the knight to your mercenary-"
"The dark to the light?" the Joker asked, looking at her with a smirk even as the contemplative expression in his eyes suggested that he was still interested in what she had to say.
"Well, you certainly have a more interesting dress sense than he does," Kate said, indicating the Joker's colourful attire with a slight smile before she looked more seriously at the twisted maniac. "But the point is, in the end, Bane didn't use any kind of finesse or elaborate test to stop Batman; all he did was lure him into a trap and beat him to a bloody pulp."
"Bit basic," the Joker admitted, nodding at her in acknowledgement of her statement. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Well... couldn't it be argued that Bane's just trying to enforce his own authority on the city?" Kate asked; she had read as much about the Joker as she could, but whether that information would be any use to her in this situation was another matter. "I mean, it's not the kind of order that Batman wanted to establish, but at least he allowed some liberty; these days, if you aren't doing what Bane wants, you're automatically an enemy of the city with just two versions of capital punishment awaiting you if you're caught."
"True," the Joker said, looking contemplatively at Kate. "So, with that in mind... you're telling me this because you're asking me to... what?"
"I'm just... asking if you'll... cause a little chaos for Bane, along with the rest of us," Kate said, shrugging in exaggerated nonchalance; if this gambit didn't pay off, or if the Joker took what she was 'suggesting' the wrong way, she had few illusions about what would happen to her. "Create a bit of chaos for him to deal with after all the chaos he's given us, shall we say?"
"Stir up the situation for the big man in the mask, eh?" the Joker said, looking amused at the thought. "The Bat's partner, encouraging my work..."
"Just so long as you're clear that this is only a temporary state of affairs," Kate said, knowing that what she was about to say would help her as much as any of her earlier offers, even as she lowered her stolen crowbar; the Joker had received enough food for thought at the moment that she doubted he'd try and attack her now. "I'd prefer you over Bane, but if we meet once this is all over, I want you to know that I will do what it takes to take you in."
"Wouldn't have it any other way," the Joker said, smirking at her before he indicated the street behind her. "Anyway, I'll just go off and find a few little strongholds, shall I?"
"Try around the stadium," Kate added. "I've heard Bane's taken to keeping his weapons in that area."
"Take them off the board, eh?" the Joker asked.
"So long as Bane doesn't have them, that's the main thing right now," Kate said; she would obviously prefer it if the weapons ended up with the GCPD, but she wasn't going to try and issue too many ultimatums to the Joker considering his temperamental state of mind.
"I'll... keep that in mind," the Joker said, grinning at her with his disturbing smile. "Interesting to meet you, Bat-ette."
Kate didn't bother correcting the description as the Joker turned and walked away; she might be asking him for help, but the last thing she wanted was for the Joker to learn her real name.
What she'd just done might not be the safest method of taking action against Bane, but considering the unprecedented situation they were currently facing, she would just have to keep quiet and hope for the best...
God, she hoped that she hadn't underestimated the Joker's psyche; the last thing this city needed was that lunatic at large once again.