Disclaimer: I am not Christopher Nolan (director of The Dark Knight) and so therefore, I do not own his works. What I add into the story is mine (example: different characters, the plot, etc.) but the original themes, ideas, plots, characters, etc. are solely the works of this awesome, famous person and his associates.

Author's note: Hi everyone! This is just a little one-shot tributing to the Joker's (Heath Ledger's) terrific performance during the movie The Dark Knight. I wanted to try to capture the essence of Heath's character, and I hope I've done him justice! It's only a snippet of the movie, and I may have tweaked the characters and dialogue a bit, but I just love the Joker's appearance. So, enjoy!


Ultimatum

Definition: A final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in retaliation or a breakdown in relations


The television in the centre of the room blasts out light as a face appears on the screen. Slanted eyes, olive skin, and dark hair, the man is clearly of Asian descent. Dressed in a crisp grey suit, his speech is well educated. "As you are all very aware," he begins, clasping his hands before him in a manner of importance, "one of our deposits was stolen...A relatively small amount: sixty-eight million."

The small group surrounding the cheap television murmurs discontentedly. A man seated directly in front of the small screen, placed at the head of the table separating the conference listens quietly. Beside him sits a man of foreign descent, his co-workers call him Gambol and he speaks heatedly, "Who's stupid enough to steal from us?"

"I am told the man who arranged the heist calls himself the Joker."

"Who the hell is that?"

A tall, dark-skinned man behind the seated leader cuts in quickly, "Two-bit whack-job who wears a cheap purple suit and make-up. He's not the problem – he's nobody. The problem is our money being tracked by the cops."

"What stops them getting to you?"

"Somebody called Ra's Al Ghul–"

From the back of the room comes laughter. It advances through the darkness, growing and rising until it fills the space. The men's hands snake to their belts, guns are drawn and a figure shifts in the shadows. The form steps forth.

"Joker..." Gambol hisses. Sweaty white clown makeup covers his face, highlighting the running black stars around his eyes and the cracking red paint over his lips. His mouth is stretched in a permanent ghoulish Glasgow smile, and his appearance sends uncertainly through the crowd.

"And I thought I told the bad jokes." he grins as he saunters forth, yellowed teeth flashing an odd grotesque beauty. Vivid blue eyes sweep the room, cautious and deceiving.

"Give me one reason why I shouldn't have my boy here pull your head off!" Gambol snarls. The Joker smiles again, teeth hidden behind red-painted lips, and reaches into his coat pocket. A pistol clicks somewhere discrete in the room, and he sighs, pulling back his arm to reveal a pencil. He raises his brows innocently – which crinkles the skin on his forehead – and twiddles the pencil between his thumbs. He licks his lips compulsively, hunching his shoulders in delight, but his eyes convey anything remotely close to innocence.

They spark deception.

"How about a magic trick, hm?" he slaps the pencil down on the table, digging it into the wood and forcing it to stand upright. He keeps his eyes down as he speaks, but his voice plays on them, "I'll make this pencil...disappear!"

"That's it!" a bodyguard breaks away from the mob and the Joker straightens slowly. He holds up his hands in a calming gesture, but it only provokes the man further.

"Now, now–"the Joker grunts as his arms are seized, and the man frowns. Before he can react, however, the captive twists his wrists around rapidly and jerks his arms back. Sidestepping, he grabs the man's hair and slams his face down against the table. The man goes limp, the Joker releases him and the victim slides to the floor – dead, the pencil gone.

"Magic!" the clown cackles, bowing and grinning at Gambol. His smile is rogue, ugly and terrifying. "And by the way," he continues, straightening to tediously inspect his nails, "This suit wasn't cheap...You should know, you bought it."

"Enough of the clown!" Gambol leaps to his feet, but his Boss quietly holds him back with an outstretched arm.

"I want to hear his proposition."

"You see..." the Joker starts, bending over to rest his palms against the desk in front of his knees. A nervous jerk causes him to repeatedly lick his lips and open his mouth wide. A small red dot on the wood catches his eye – blood – and he wipes it with his index finger. "A guy like me–"

"A freak."

His eye twitches and his face contorts. His lips pucker as he glances at Gambol irritably, but otherwise ignores the insult. "A guy like me has an idea." Discontented murmurs circle the room, and his eyes darken, "It's simple, really."

"...What?"

"You kill...the, uh. Batman." his words are broken, his speech impaired, and his voice brusque. But the men understand him, some even laugh.

"If it's so easy, why haven't you done it already?"

"My mother once told me," he pauses, eyes flickering up from the rough dry skin of his hands to stare Gambol straight in the eye. His forehead creases and the black ink of his eyes bleeds beneath the eluding light of the room. "If you're good at something, never do it for free."

"What's your price?"

"Half."

Riotous voices erupt through the room and Gambol grins, but the Joker leaves his face unreadable.

"Kill him."

Men move toward the intruder, but he backs up briskly and opens the left side of his purple coat. Dynamite sticks line the inside and a thin metal ring is attached to his thumb, which lightly tugs on the safety pins of the explosives but does not dislodge them. "Uh, uh, uh," he begins warningly, wagging a finger, "let's not blow this out of proportion..." He licks his lips again and the men freeze. People murmur uncomfortably, the room grows tense, and somebody whispers, 'he's insane!'

That brings a smile to his face, distorted and hideous. He slides something out from under his sleeve – a game card.

"If you want me," he begins, placing the laminated paper down on the table and tapping it with a finger. "You know how to call."

The men remain where they are, passive enough not to walk up and inspect his item. As they wait, he draws back from the gathering, eyes constantly alert, coat constantly open, and thumb ready to pull. Nobody moves – nobody makes a sound – and as he reaches the far wall, he slams his foot backwards. The cool steel door flips open, and within the blink of an eye he slips through and vanishes, swiftly and silently.

Gambol snarls as the door swings back into place and strides over to the Joker's previous position. Picking up the card, he snorts sardonically, and when he flips it around for the rest of the group to see, multiple brows draw together in confusion.

It was a black joker.


Author's note: Thank you for reading, reviews are welcome! :)

~Shakaka