A/N: So, the Joker is supposed to be terrifying right? Right. But the Joker in Young Justice? Less terrifying, more pathetically lame. I was not impressed.
However, I was finally talked into watching Batman: Under the Red Hood the other night, and THAT Joker was deliciously insane and perfectly deranged. I decided that I had to have him pay a visit to the Young Justice universe. I was pretty surprised when Jason Todd decided to tag along because, as anyone whose read my profile knows, I hated him as Robin. But Jason Todd as Red Hood? Hell yes! Besides, I really want to have him and YJ's whelmingly brilliant little Robin butt heads over the Joker. Played around with physics and this is what came out.
Feel free to hate on the Joker, he does some pretty nasty things in this story.
"Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and if you're just a reflection of him?" Calvin and Hobbes.
Jason could feel anger pulsating through him as he raced down the corridor. The Joker's mad laughter echoed somewhere in the distance and he pushed himself to run faster. Blood pounded in his ears.
Ever since the Joker had escaped from Arkham last week, he'd been listening in on his police scanner, waiting for a sighting of the maniac. He'd been somewhat surprised when the first sighting of the Joker had turned out to be at the Gotham Planetarium; the Joker didn't exactly strike him as the stargazing type.
His scepticism didn't stop him from checking it out though; Jason wanted a second crack at the man that killed him, and this time he wasn't bringing Batman along to stop him. It had paid off when Jason spotted two thugs that worked with the Joker from time to time loitering outside. He had wasted no time in dispensing with them and getting inside the building.
The first place Jason had checked for the Joker was the research labs. He figured the clown was here to steal something chemical or explosive, something that could be used to wreak havoc. But the laboratories had been dark and silent. Double checking his weapons as he traversed the dark hallways, Jason started to wonder if maybe the tip had just referred to the Joker's goons. Then he heard it. Laughter. Subconsciously he clenched his fists; he would recognise that high pitched chuckle anywhere.
The echoing laughter seemed to be emanating from the domed room in the centre of the building and as he hurried in that direction, Jason wondered what the Joker was doing there. Other than blowing up the Planetarium – which was on a hill outside the city of Gotham and therefore unlikely to reap the chaos or casualties that Joker so loved – there was very little damage the Joker could do.
Does it really matter? Anything the Joker wants can't be a good thing, he reminded himself harshly, coming to a stop outside the main door that led into the planetarium and listened. The hum of equipment, the sizzle of electricity and the laughter of a mad man trickled through the door.
For Chrissakes, he's really just here to watch the show?
If he lived to be a hundred, he would never understand how the Joker's mind worked. He checked his gun one last time before pushing the door open slowly and peering into the room. What he saw made him stop in his tracks.
The Joker, his back to him, was operating the projector. But it didn't look like any projector Jason had ever seen. For one thing, a bright white laser was projecting upwards into the ceiling, while a small hole appeared to be forming in mid air. Jason blinked but the hole didn't go away.
Well, that can't be good!
Jason fired once at the centre console, sending a whoosh of sparks shooting upwards while a sizzle of electricity hissed in the air. The Joker spun around, his annoyed glare changing to one of malicious pleasure when he saw who was standing there.
"Look who it is, the dead birdie! Not with Batsy tonight then, mmm?"
"Step away from the computer," Jason ordered, gun cocked and aiming at the Joker's head.
The Joker's eyes widened in an expression of exaggerated innocence and he pressed his fingers into his chest as if to say, 'who, me?'
"Cut the crap!" Jason snapped. "You know I won't hesitate to put a bullet in your skull the first chance I get!"
"Oh, Bird Boy, I get all tingly when you take control like that," the Joker chortled gleefully, then ducked behind the console as an angry Jason discharged his gun.
"Temper, temper!" the Joker called from where he was hidden behind the console. "Rash decisions can get you killed, you know. Oh wait, one already did!" The homicidal clown howled with laughter and Jason fired another shot at the console.
"I wouldn't do that, Bird Brain," the Joker's sing song voice echoed up maddeningly from behind the console. "You blow that fuse like you're blowing your own and you'll never be able to shut down the portal!"
"Portal?" Jason paused from where he had been advancing forwards. "Who are you trying to kid, Joker? There's no such thing as portals!" Jason wasn't sure who he was trying to convince; the Joker, or himself…because that hole hovering fifteen feet in mid air was pretty convincing.
"Oh yes there is! I made a new friend the other day who told me aaaall about them. Of course, I had to break a few fingers first, but he gave me the 411 eventually!"
More cackling laughter followed this pronouncement and Jason became aware of a third person in the room. A small, spindly little man in a tweed jacket, his glasses askew, was propped on the floor against one of the chair rows, just a few feet from Jason. Blood was blossoming on his white shirt. Swearing under his breath, Jason hurried to the man.
"Okay, its fine, you're going to be fine," he told the man, as he shrugged off his jacket and bunched it up against the wound, careful to keep one eye on the console that the Joker was crouched behind.
Sweat beaded the man's forehead and his eyes were taut with pain as he gasped out, "You have to stop him!"
"Just let me worry about the Joker, you concentrate on keeping pressure on that wound," Jason replied, trying to force one limp hand to keep the jacket in place. Instead, the hand seized his wrist with surprising force and Jason looked at the man.
"You don't…understand," the man wheezed his eyes wide. "Anything…could come through…you have to…close it."
"You've got to be kidding me! Are you saying that thing really is a portal?!"
One shaking finger pointed towards the console Joker was crouched behind. "Deactivate…the particle accelerator…" the man coughed and a thin red line dribbled out the corner of his mouth.
"C'mon, man, that thing is just the planetarium projector," Jason said, not quite able to believe this was happening, yet simultaneously becoming aware of a slight breeze whipping around them. He glanced back at the hole and was startled to see that it had almost doubled in size.
He turned his attention back to the man whose eyes were now closed. Jason shook him. "Hey, HEY! How do I close it?" The man didn't respond and his head rolled to one side. "Peachy!" Jason groaned.
He glanced back at the console; the Joker had gone suspiciously silent. But that didn't matter, Jason was the one with the gun and he had to close that portal. Springing to his feet, he dashed to the console, keeping his gun aimed as he peered around the side.
The Joker was gone.
With a snarl of frustration, Jason turned his attention to the computer console. The keyboard was completely fried from where he had shot it with the gun. Smooth move, Einstein!
The air was whipping around him more fiercely now and a crackle of electricity sounded above his head. He looked up and saw coloured lights forking across the now enormous hole.
With no idea how to stop it, Jason dropped to his knees and pulled the security panel off the console. He reached in and started pulling out wires.
The sudden shriek sounded behind him and something smashed into him, knocking him sideways and sending his gun scattering across the floor. He twisted, just in time to see the Joker bringing down a crowbar and caught it before it could hit his chest. His legs kicked out, knocking the clown to the floor. Together they wrestled for mastery of the crowbar, rolling over and over.
"Just like old times isn't it, Kid?" the Joker yelled over the howl of wind.
"Go to hell!" snarled Jason through clenched teeth. He kept one hand locked on the crowbar while the other scrabbled on the floor for his gun. The Joker was on top, using it as a weight advantage to try and press the crowbar into Jason's throat. You are not doing this to me again! Jason thought, angrily bringing both hands back to the crowbar and using all his strength to smash it into the Joker's face.
The clown instantly released the crowbar and clutched both hands to his nose where Jason could see red trickle through his white fingers. He used the momentary distraction to swing the crowbar into the Joker's side and shove the man off him before rolling for his gun, twisting as his fingers closed on it and lunging to his feet.
He didn't have time to use it. There was a loud crack and Jason found himself being flung violently backwards by a blinding white light.
Something sharp was poking him. That was the first thing that occurred to Jason. The second was that people were shouting somewhere near by. Snarling slightly through clenched teeth, he opened his eyes. The first thing he saw was stars. He blinked.
Uh, how did I get outside?
He reached around to yank out whatever was poking him in the back and pulled out a snapped tree branch. Irritably, he tossed it aside and sat up, groaning slightly. He was in the middle of a dense thicket of trees and somewhere on the other side he could hear shouting and the crackle of flames. Cautiously, he got to his feet and climbed the nearest tree for a better view.
Through the tree branches, he glimpsed the Gotham Planetarium – or what was left of it – being devoured by flames. There were three fire trucks and several fire-fighters battling to get the blaze under control. Several police vehicles were parked a little further back and Jason could see Commissioner Gordon amongst them, arms crossed and brows furrowed. Jason hissed and shifted further backwards into the gloom of the trees. If Gordon was here checking out the mess left by the Joker then that meant…
There he was. That large looming shape striding out from the shadows was impossible to miss. Officers jumped aside as Batman approached Commissioner Gordon, and behind his mask, Jason scowled. It was always the case that others scattered for Batman because Batman sure as hell moved for no one.
Jason decided he had seen enough. The Joker was long gone and he was not in the mood to tangle with Batman tonight. In fact, Jason had gone out of his way to avoid Bruce since their vicious showdown almost two months ago, and he wasn't about to change that now.
He gripped a large branch and was just preparing to swing down when his attention was caught by a small shadow moving after Batman. Something tightened in his throat and his heartbeat quickened.
It can't be…
Everything else blurred around him. The only thing Jason could focus on was the small shape now standing beside Batman while he conversed with Commissioner Gordon. He was surprised by how hard he found it to just breathe.
It felt like an eternity before Batman nodded to Commissioner Gordon and left, the small shape moving silently after him. Jason's breathing hitched and he swung to the ground. Not caring if someone saw him, he dashed through the trees in the direction that Batman had vanished.
It's not possible! He couldn't…he wouldn't!
His mind whirling and heart pounding, Jason crashed through the trees in the general direction of where he guessed the Batmobile must be parked. He got there just in time to see a small, slight figure jump into the car. The flash of red and yellow as the cape flared up was unmistakable and Jason stopped dead, feeling as though he had been socked in the chest.
The car moved off, and Jason watched the smooth exit without really seeing it. His whole body was trembling. He couldn't have seen what he had just seen, it wasn't possible!
And why the hell not? An angry voice awoke in the back of his mind. You're alive. It doesn't matter that you died because you're not dead anymore. Clearly Bruce has decided that Robin can be resurrected just as easily.
"That stupid son-of-a-bitch!" Jason swore loudly. Rage and hurt were pounding in his ears. Was he so easily replaced? Was it so easy to forget what had happened to him just because it turned out he was actually alive? And what about the kid? Had Batman really gotten so careless that he was willing to let the boy out after just two months of training?
Maybe he thinks its okay now because any dead Robins can be just dropped in Ra's little fountain of youth! thought Jason bitterly.
But Jason would be dammed if he was going to let history repeat itself. He'd spent the last two months avoiding Batman, but now it was time that Batman was reminded of the consequences of his actions.