AN: Thanks so much for those that reviewed! Glad you like it so far.
Rated M. I own nothing.
Frankly, he's starting to wonder just how long he can ignore it.
As he roughly shoves the newest low-life into the waiting hands of Commissioner Gordon, it does not escape Batman's notice that all the police officers are strangely quiet. And he feels the inside of his cheek twitch when one smothers a laugh as an attempt at coughing.
He's Batman, he knows the difference.
He resists the urge to narrow his eyes at the unsuspecting Officer that has caught the attention of Gotham's Dark Knight.
"Great work as usual Batman," Gordon tells him with sincerity and Bruce relaxes under his cowl slightly. However the look of embarrassment stops Batman from replying too quickly.
"He won't be the last," he rasps with dignity and finality.
"No, sadly he won't be." Gordon turns and barks a few order for a couple of officers to take the thug in for processing. The white haired man turns back toward the vigilante with some hesitance. "You uh…you have a package. The bomb squad already checked it over once we saw who it was from."
Bruce could swear he feels his eyelids twitch in agitation. However, Batman calmly extends his hands for the box which has been resting benignly at Gordon's desk. It is simple enough. A plain cardboard box, with red markings which on closer inspection turn out to be insane smiling lips and someone scribbled in teeth. It reminds him of the cover of 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' and for a moment he doesn't want to open the thing.
He wants to set in on fire, burn it, douse the ashes in lighter fluid, burn those, and final sprinkle what's left of the ash into the sewer system where it likely belongs.
Deftly he opened the top, still convinced something is going to explode in his face when he sees purple and green tissue paper.
Please God, whatever it is don't let it be something inappropriate or dead. Or some nauseating mixture of the two, on second thought burning it was sounding like the more rational approach to this situation.
Slowly, he parted the tissue paper and gazed inside. A card lay nestled inside on top of an object he couldn't identify yet. The card, in sloppy writing and what looked like lipstick-what was with this guy and makeup?- were the words 'Let me put a smile on that face'.
Dark eyes narrowed as Batman nudged the card to the side and looked fully upon a lasso. That was it. A lasso. Batman looked up at Commissioner Gordon who appeared to be as confused as the caped crusader.
However, it did get the gears in his head turning as Bruce puzzled over what it could mean. What significance did a lasso have? Was this to say he caught Owlman? Was there some sort of nefarious and dastardly plan where people were going to die by droves if he didn't hurry? Deciding it had something to do with the latter; he quietly closed the box and tucked it under his arm.
"I'll have this analyzed," he rasped out to Gordon with his concentration already back on the mad clown. "I'll let you know if it needs your attention."
"Or yours," Gordon supplied with a knowing look.
Batman turned to leave and caught more than one leering cop snickering to themselves. It wasn't funny. They were dealing with someone as equally likely to kill as to be the clown he dressed up as. Joker demonstrated a strange sense of hyper-awareness. Batman could see it from the times they had dealt with each other. No, something was going on. Joker took pleasure in killing, most times. There were one or two exceptions that he'd witnessed and those had left him as equally perturbed as when Joker went on his rampages.
No, this was…
Well, he wasn't sure what it was just yet, but he was very good at solving puzzles and this is what the 'case' with Joker had just become.
He wasn't concerned about Dr. Quinzel. No, she was exactly the type of woman the Joker would have found. One that was a simple, hop, skip, and jump away from belonging in Arkham asylum instead of working there. He knew Joker, had studied him long enough to understand that Joker got some sick thrill out of proving that people were just like him. Which, it saddened Batman to accept that in some cases the murderous clown was completely correct. There was only so much the Dark Knight could do, and taking away the free will of others was not on the list.
Bruce Wayne had a legitimate reason for visiting this Insane Asylum anyway. His company made many large charitable donations each year, and there was nothing wrong with wanting to know what they had done with his millions of dollars. He was in his playboy persona. Bruce was all smiles, ease, and grace. Just the way he liked the world to see him as; some empty-headed trust fund baby without a care in the world.
It made things much simpler.
So therefore, he was there for a completely logical reason and not to scope out his competition. Because she wasn't his competition, never was or would be. And, he only cared at all because he wanted to warn her away from the dangerous path she was walking. Because that was Batman's duty and obligation so therefore Bruce had to oversee it with a burning passion.
He looked at her attractive figure, combined with her sweet face and her lovely blonde hair. Bruce disliked her immediately. She was supposed to be a doctor capable of withstanding the corruption of the criminally insane just as he did. Just as Gordon did. However, Batman reminded him that every situation was always far more complex than it seemed and Joker really was a force to be reckoned with.
"Dr. Quinzel," he flirted suavely, "how are you enjoying your position here at Arkham?"
The blonde smiled slightly, and a soft blush splayed across her cheeks. "Very much, thank you Mr. Wayne," she said shyly.
"Please, call me Bruce," he murmured as he brought her hand up to his lips for a chaste kiss across the back of it.
She giggled quietly to himself.
'Yep, she has the crazy eyes,' he thought to himself a little unkindly. However, Batman had seen more than his fair share of insane people and they all had a pretty similar look about the eyes. And he was seeing it right now in Dr. Quinzel.
Or as Joker had called her, Harley Quinn. 'Yeah, ha ha freaking ha,' he thought with irritation.
He wasn't here for pleasantries, not really anyway though Bruce did love a bit of flirting now and again. No, he was here to see what this newest development in Joker's insanity could possibly mean for Gotham and by proxy, for Batman.
"Perhaps," he smiled winingly, "if you have time, you might give me the Grand Tour? So to speak anyway."
She didn't look too thrilled about the idea, and Batman couldn't help but echo the sentiments, but Bruce had a reputation to uphold. Damned if he wasn't going to do it now. The last thing he needed was tabloids screaming he'd lost his edge. He already had to deal with non-existent children, someone who claimed her was part of the 'New World Order', and some vague story about having spotted Sheepsquatch.
Actually, the last one hadn't been all that amusing. Gotham, a city he loved dearly, had the nasty habit of craning out the strangest things for him to fight. He already had Clayface, Croc, Penguin, Catwoman, and really did he need something like Sheepman? The Baaad-lamb? Ewe-ella? Hm, he could actually work with that. How horrible did a name really have to be before he stopped taking it seriously?
If he looked at it strictly as a rhetorical question…
"I'm sorry Mr. Wayne, but I do have patients to attend to," Dr. Quinzel replied demurely.
Well he'd dodged a bullet there. He wasn't entirely sure he wanted to tour this place since he knew it forwards, backwards, and because it amused him… in French.
Strangely, he could still see glimpses of compassion in her eyes and face as she spoke of her patients. That gave Batman a moment's pause. She still had the crazy eyes, that hadn't changed, but she seemed oddly normal. At least by Arkham's standards, anyway. Bruce teetered on the edge of indecision. He could not allow the good doctor to fall into Joker's hands without warning her or attempting to save her at the very least.
Then again, the treacherous human nature side of him wondered how bad it could possibly be to let Joker obsess about some blonde vixen with a degree in psychiatry. Luckily the Dark Knight in him slapped him mentally hard across the cheek to remind him that anyone in the Joker's clutches was a bad thing and in 9 out of 10 cases would lead to someone's death.
Surprisingly it was never the Joker's. Really, he'd reign in his shock at the last one.
"Another time then?" It is a non-committal reply, the kind he gives a hundred times a day at his business. A feel-good cop-out and she responds with a polite head nod coupled with a fleeting smile of relief.
He waits until she is just out of sight, half hurrying across the nearly empty hallway before he slips into his other persona and goes hunting for the information he needs. There would be no more damned songs playing in corpses!
It doesn't take long or much effort to break into the Head psychiatrist office for the records he's looking for. Though he does notice with a slight groan that Joker's file is about four times the size of anyone else's' and he doesn't have the time to read it all right here. Bruce pulls his watch out from his suit sleeve and takes some pictures. He would have to wait until he was back at his computer to look over and decipher this brief glimpse into one of the Joker's proffered psyches. When he is finished, he places everything back as he found it. Down to the last detail and locks the room as he goes.
It was time to go back and look like a bored billionaire on a charity check.
Though it occurs to him later, as he walks from the Asylum, the Joker does not have horrendous taste in music.
Awkwardness. Bruce had foolishly assumed he was over that at 15 years old. Apparently he's not as analyzes the lasso, box, and tissue paper for any unusual signs. They are all standard, noting special about them in the slightest. That is until he placed them under a black light. On the back of the card was a residue in the shape of human lips, and he doesn't have to guess whose. They are coated in what he's named 'Joker venom' which is highly toxic and has killed a few citizens in Gotham two years ago when Joker decided to go nuts and place them into an aerosolized version making a neruo-toxin gas.
Yeah, that had been a barrel of laughs that one.
That would have been strangely in character for the joker to try and kill him. That was part of their dynamic, no it was the 'For you Batsy' written in disappearing ink that bothered him
What the hell?