R/L/A/N: Hello, readers, happy Holidays! I was just working on my other stories when I found this lying around. I wrote it for my friend's Birthday a couple of months back and...well...to be honest, I haven't heard anything from him since. So I might as well see if other people will like this one shot. So now for the acquired disclaimers:

I don't own Batman, that honour is held by DC Comics, and anything else in this one shot

I hope you enjoy what I've done :)

Two Anything

Somewhere in the dark, gothic streets of Gotham City, a huge, sleek, black vehicle was speeding through the night's gloom; like a bullet shot from a silenced gun. The Batmobile lazily, yet elegantly, skid across the old, cracked tarmac; the neglected roads quivering under the charge of the caped crusaders.

In the passenger seat of this silent beauty was a young child who had the mentality of a young man, along with the bizarre taste in fashion. His black hair slicked back so as not to dangle in front of his mask; Robin was dressed in his usual red, yellow and green uniform that couldn't decide if it wanted to make his wearer look like a bull's-eye or a turkey. Weary from the long night he had spent with his mentor, knocking out muggers and avoiding being kissed by Poison Ivy, the Boy Wonder looked forward to returning to the Bat Cave; for he was itching to beat the final puzzle on the Portal 2 multiplayer mode and finally shut up GLaDOS for good.

While he rested his head against the cold window, staring lazily at the manky buildings that whizzed by; the stern, unyielding eyes of Robin's mentor kept themselves fixed on the road. And while the Boy Wonder's thoughts mulled on silly video games, the calm and focused mind of the Batman—the Dark Knight—remained firmly on the matters of crime. Wearing his trademark uniform and armour, along with his humourless and strict face, Batman reviewed the events of the night's patrol for the hundredth time in his head.

Only fifteen muggings accrued tonight; which is five times lower than yesterday's patrol. This is likely due to Poison Ivy's attempted robbery of Wayne Corp. Robin almost got kissed again and got whipped in the backside two times. He needs more training and I should ask Barbara to find him a date... or at least get him away from his X-Box 360.

Batman gripped the steering wheel and gritted his teeth. Though it was good that Poison Ivy was back in the hands of the police and that her crime had been the only super crime for the past few months; the Caped Crusader was still agitated that the Joker hadn't shown his bleached face tonight. He has been on the run for three months and no one, not even Harley Quinn, has seen a strand of his acid green hair or purple silk suit. This was unsettling to Batman, for he knew that the Joker could never keep hidden for this long without sending the Dark Knight a videoed death threat or clue to his next over-the-top and insanely devised plan. With Gotham nearly devoid of super criminals, it was not like the Joker to keep himself in the shadows and not grab the brightly lit spotlight that was practically begging to be filled.

He may not have appeared tonight, thought Batman as he turned around the barren street corner. But it won't be long before the Joker strikes. And when that happens, I'll take him down...

His self-spurring monologue was interrupted by the bored-toned drawl of Robin, who had raised his head off the window so he could glare irritably at his mentor. "Batman, when are we going to turn in for the night? Nothing has happened since we arrested Ivy, so why don't we head home already?"

"Criminals don't sleep," grunted the Caped Crusader; who didn't humour Robin by even twitching a muscle to his question.

"Maybe they do," retorted the Boy Wonder; who was feeling brave enough to talk back to his mentor tonight. "Not everyone can afford the caffeine that must be keeping you up for nights on end. Hell, even Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy must need beauty sleep once in awhile."

"This would explain why you can't keep your eyes off her."

Robin blushed furiously and quickly turned his head away to hide this fact...to no avail. "W-what's that supposed to mean? She's a criminal, plus she would rather feed me to a Flytrap than date me."

"Who said anything about dating?"

The Young Detective went even redder. "T-that's not what I meant. I'm fully aware she has a track record for seducing men with her charms and then screwing them over when she doesn't need them anymore; and not in the good way, either."

"The vein marks on your buttocks say otherwise."

His cheeks were now perfectly matching with his uniform, but they died down as Robin fired a quick retort to that statement. "Coming from the man who had whip lashes all over his back just the other night? You're hardly the one to criticize me for falling for a criminal, Bruce."

Batman didn't move or twitch to that accusation, though you could hear that his tone was a shade more defiant than before as he muttered: "I haven't had any contact with Catwoman for months, Robin."

"Was it Wonder Woman, then?"

Robin's smug smile lasted for a few seconds, before it quickly melted off his face like ice cream on a hot day. This was due to the cold sideways glance that Batman made for a fraction of a second, though it was enough to freeze his partner with spine-chilling fear. Returning his eyes back to the road, the Dark Knight bluntly changed the subject as he pushed down on the gas pedal. "The Joker hasn't been seen for three months. I won't let my guard down until he is back in Arkham."

Having recovered from Batman's glare, Robin shook his head and began repeating the same thing he had been stating for the 100th night in a row. "Bruce, we haven't heard hide or hair of the Joker and probably won't until he calls us out."

"Probably isn't good enough."

The Boy Wonder, who was preparing for the dull and pointless conversation that was about to begin, took a deep breath...which was interrupted when the Batmobile suddenly screeched to a halt. Robin didn't have time to process what had happened until he heard Batman slam his door shut. Realising that something was happening outside; the Young Detective hurriedly unbuckled himself and clambered out the vehicle into the cold night air.

Straitening up, while adjusting his utility-bet on his hips, Robin turned to his mentor with his question poised and ready. "What's up, Batman?" In response, the Dark Knight jerked his head to the building that was behind Robin.

It was an old, derelict Opera House. Its walls were covered in veins and creepers that seemed to be determined to cause the building's destruction, while the many shattered window panes that remained in place glinted in approval. The front porch that may have been once fine and grand was now rotting, the door hanging open like it was a drunken man clutching a lamp post to keep himself steady.

After a quick examination of the derelict building, Robin turned to Batman with another question lined up for the answering. "No offense, but how is this building different from the others in this neighbourhood." To back this, he pointed over his shoulder at a row of buildings that looked like they were glued together and held up by matchsticks.

Without making a sound, Batman pointed at the tatty canopy that was hanging above the Opera House's front porch. It took the Young Detective a short while of concentrated starring to see what had brought the Capped Crusaders to a halt. Embedded on the rotting, wooden frame that made up the canopy was a small, neon green symbol of a hand of cards; all of which had a little J on their top right corners.

Without another word, the Dynamic Duo made their way inside the Opera House; both preparing themselves for the inevitable encounter with the Clown Prince of Crime. As they entered the stuffy, rubbish strewn lobby where tickets and snacks were once sold; both Batman and Robin began reaching for their Batarangs.

While Robin was fighting to keep his mind off the tiredness and video game needs that had been dulling his concentration, the Dark Knight was wondering about what plans the Joker had in store for them. Obviously he will ambush us, thought the dark-capped man; as he and his sidekick made for the auditorium's entrance. He will wait until we are in the theatre room before springing his goons on us.

Or...Joker might have rigged the door with a trap!

His eyes widening in realisation, Batman automatically reached out a hand to stop Robin from opening the auditorium's door. But his muscles were not as quick as his brain, as his fingers only managed to wrap around the Boy Wonder's wrist until after he had push the door inwards. Cursing in his thoughts, Batman pulled his side kick behind him—earning a sharp "Hey, what gives"—as he prepared himself for the inevitable explosion.

For a few moments, the door continued to swing inwards; creaking like a chorus of old bones. It then stopped still, leaving the path through the doorway open for even the widest person alive. Seeing that there was no danger, Robin rolled his eyes and strutted past his mentor. "Don't be so uptight, Batman," chuckled the Young Detective. "If there really had been any danger, I would have noticed it."

Highly doubting that bold statement, the Dark Knight followed his partner into the auditorium. It was almost pitch black, darker than the night outside, and it was with difficulty that Robin managed to avoid bumping into the edges of the rows of ripped and tatty seats that lined the lower floor. Batman, on the other hand, could see the bottom of the higher podium that sported the seats that had once been designated for the richer members of the audience.

As they carefully made their way down the empty isle, a nagging thought began to bite at the Great Detective's mind. If Joker is the one who's going to spring a trap on us, why didn't he make it more obvious that this building was his hideout? He would have gone out of his way to alert me before hand, or would done a lot more that just embed a small hand of joker cards into the building's facade. In fact...He stopped a few feet away from the edge of the stage, his frowning face becoming even more serious than ever. ...Joker would never have made his hint so tiny, he would never settle for something so minute. Does that mean...?

His thoughts were interrupted, not by Robin—who was investigating a few rows away from the stage—but by a familiar high-pitched voice that was laced with a crazed and fake-polite tone, which Batman knew too well.

"Hey, Batsy, is your sonar not working or are you just ignoring me?"

The Dark Knight didn't even hesitate as Joker ended his sentence. With the speed of an eagle, Batman leaped onto the dark stage; his eyes glaring at the pale skin that was looming out of the shadows. The moment his heavy feet landed on the surprisingly strong planks of wood, he knew that he had made a terrible mistake.

The darkness of the auditorium was banished in an instant, as lights burst into life from every corner of the room. Blinded, Batman raised his cape to reduce the stain on his eyes; his vision distorted by blurry images.

Meanwhile, Robin managed to avoid much of the backlash to his eyesight; though he was still taken aback by the sudden change himself. From his position in the third row, the Boy Wonder could see how much trouble his mentor had jumped into. The stage, which looked like it had been refurbished recently, was scattered with a number of large machines and objects; some of them being a Grand Piano, a Satellite dish and a water tank. Beside one of these objects, wearing his usual purple silk suit and twisted smile, was the Joker; his dark, beady eyes rolling upwards in their sockets.

"Bravo," mocked the Clown Prince of Crime, who was clapping slowly and deliberately. "Bravo, Batman, you show once again why you are the 'world's greatest detective'. Now we're both trapped."

The Dark Knight, who had recovered by this point, gave the clown a hard, quizzical glare. "What's that supposed to mean," growled the Capped Crusader; though he had a gut feeling of what it was.

Sighing, the Joker shook his head while massaging his bleached left cheek; deciding how much condescension he was going to put in his next sentence. "Gee, I don't know. How about the fact that I'm here, by myself without goons, within punching distance of you? Not that I don't mind punch lines, but I'd rather not be on the receiving end."

"How about I skip right to it, then," threatened the Dark Knight, who began raising a clenched fist.

Lifting his hands in mock fear, the bleached comedian let out a forced laugh. He opened his mouth and was about to counter the Bat's words, when—

"I'm afraid that is not an option, Dark Knight."

Both Batman and Robin—who had kept quite all this time—recognised the voice that was booming out of a hidden stereo system; for only one person had such a smug, self-confidant tone that dripped from every vowel he pronounced.

The Boy Wonder, who was deciding if he should leap forwards to join his mentor, heard a large amount of footsteps thunder from the seats placed high up above. In a split second decision, Robin began clambering back over the rows of seats towards the auditorium door, so he would not be visible to the crowd of thugs and goons that were spilling amongst the rows of elevated seats.

While Robin retreated into hiding, both Batman and the Joker stood tall as they watched the bald, ugly and tattooed punks fill up the seats; some of them having the guts to point and laugh at two of the most dangerous people in the whole of Gotham. While this happened, the Dark Knight also noticed a large TV screen that seemed to have been installed recently and clumsily; since it was tilting slightly to the left on the wall behind the punk's seats.

When all the thugs had sat down, the screen began to flicker into life. After the crackling static died down, an image of a man remained; a man who wore an emerald green leather suit and matching bola hat, along with a purple tie that was marked clearly with a green question mark. Twirling a long wooden cane that was also shaped like a giant question mark, the Riddler's narcissistic sneer loomed over the heads of his hired goons; while his bespectacled eyes leered down at Batman and the Joker.

"Well, well, well..." began the Riddler, his smirk still brandished on his face. "...What to de we have here? A little bat and a washed out comedian, both standing on a stage that so happens to be rigged to explode." He then raised his other hand, which was armed with a small detonator. "I must admit, Dark Knight, that I thought even you won't be dumb enough to fall for my trap."

Batman didn't move a muscle, not wanting to give the Riddler any satisfaction by taking his gloating bait. In his mandatory serious tone, he asked, "What do you want, Nigma, and how did you get out of Arkham?"

While placing the detonator onto an unseen surface, the Riddler shook his head and tutted. "Oh, isn't it obvious, Dark Knight? All I want from you is to answer a riddle. And did you really expect those buffoons at the Asylum to be able to keep me, the Riddler, under lock and key?"

"Only when they start locking the garbage shoots," Suddenly shouted the Joker, who had lazily walked next to Batman's left shoulder. He turned to look at Batman and began whispering, loudly, "It's not the most glamorous escape route, Batsy, but a guy like me needs to makes do. That is when it's not being hogged by overly proud bozos like him..." He gestured to the Riddler on the TV screen. "...Who thinks rhyming takes intelligence. Obviously he's never heard of Snoop Dog."

"Quite, Joker," snarled the Riddler; who immediately snatched up the detonator again. "Don't forget that I can easily press this button and send you, and the Batman, to Bludhaven in an ash tray. In fact..." A cruel smile danced across his face. "...What do you call an explosion, which a duo has willing chosen?"

The Joker raised an eye brow, puzzled by the riddle, before letting off a cry of terror; as the Riddler's thumb began to bear down on the switch of the detonator. Scared out of his wits, the clown jumped into the air and landed in Batman's unprepared arms. Though stunned, the Dark Knight somehow managed to keep his arch nemesis aloft without even thinking about it; as he watched the Riddler smash the detonator's red button.

The Joker screamed once more and closed his eyes, waiting for him and Batman to be blasted into bits.



"...A climax..."

Surprised by the random sentence, the clown prince of crime opened his eyes to find that he was still alive...and also that he was in the arms of the Dark Knight. His dismay was quickly remedied, to be replaced by pain because Batman dropped the Joker flat on his back. What truly hurt was his pride, as he heard the cat calls and jeers of the punks sitting in the elevated seats; all laughing at his moment of weakness. His face strained with anger, the bleached comedian leapt to his feet; brushing himself off while glaring daggers at the Riddler.

Speaking of him, the green clothed man had thrown away the fake detonator; his face beaming with the satisfaction of embarrassing the clown while his eyes glowered angrily down at Batman, annoyed that he had solved the riddle so quickly.

"Yes, Dark Knight," said the Riddler in a patronising tone. "The answer is just that, a climax. Congratulations, you managed to outsmart the resident five year old." This earned another ripple of laughter from his goons. "For you see, we haven't even reached the main event, let alone the climax."

The Joker, who was already bursting with rage, stomped his feet and roared: "What do you mean we haven't reached the main event! And why did you tell me, when you brought me here, that you would detonate the stage if I tried to get off it; when you've just shown that there are no bombs!" He gritted his teeth and began marching to the steps that lead off stage, while growling though his gnashes, "You should damn well know that I'm the one who makes the bad jokes around here, Nigma."

"The only joke that's going to be told..." snorted the Riddler, who was straightening his glasses with spurious gusto. "...Is when the shrapnel from the stage's explosives rip right through your back like a failed exam paper." This stopped the Joker as he was just a foot away from leaving the stage. "Oh yes, I did not jest about my threat. There are bombs placed right under the floor boards of the stage."

Batman, who has remained stock still since the moment the Riddler had appeared on the screen, looked down at the floor boards. Between a small gap in the planks was thin hole, a hole that gave the Dark Knight a glimpse of a real bomb. He also noted, as he screwed up his eyes behind his cowl, that there seemed to be some kind of microphones attached to them.

Before he could deduce a reason for this addition, the Riddler drawled on with his speech; trying to rub every word as smugly as he could into his opponent's ear drums. "Now, if you can listen closely..." Riddler extended his hand to an object that was off screen. This caused a subtle sound, which nobody had noticed before now, to turn into a clear jazz and piano ensemble; where the jazz stings and brass trumpets melded with the crisp movement of the piano to create a haunting yet enchanting song.

Batman, whilst noting the high quality of the music, was not distracted from discovering the secret of the bombs. "I see," spoke the Dark Knight, who raised his voice above the enchanting score of the trumpets and stings. "The bombs are tuned to the frequency of the music. As long as it continues to play, they won't go off. But all you have to do is turn it off from your end and the bombs will blow us to pieces."

The Riddler stifled a growl of fury, angry that Batman had been one step ahead of him again. In an attempt to hide his moment of recovery, the green clothed man brandished his biggest smirk yet. "Once again, Dark Knight, you state the obvious..."

The Joker snorted. "Obvious be damned. Only an insane man could figure that out..." His eyes widened in horror. "Oh god, I must be turning sane!" The clown grabbed fist full's of his hair, bent to his knees and began rocking back and forth; muttering all the while: "I'm turning sane, I'm turning sane, I'm turning sane..."

Batman and the Riddler ignored the clown and continued to glare at each other; the green clothed man still spouting his insidious plot at the Capped Crusader. "...And that won't help you with my final test. Not unless that blithering fool can help you." He sneered at the Joker, who was still perturbed by the recollection of his marbles. "For you both need to find the answer to my riddle that is hidden amongst the objects that litter the stage..." He pointed to the place that lay behind the Dark Knight, where the cluttered mess of random machines and objects lay. "I will give you a total of five minutes to solve my riddle. If you don't come up with an answer within the time limit, you both die. If you present to me the wrong answer..." He twirled his cane in his hand, his face filled with disgusting levels of smugness. "...Then you both shall die."

The Riddler gave one last look down at Batman, who was returning a stone-faced glare to the green clothed man, before he finally asked:

"Riddle me this: Name what connects us to the unseen, but condemns our pockets of lesser green."

The moment the timer was set, the Riddler vanished from the TV screen; replaced by a collection of green digits that quickly slipped to 4:59. Without pausing to think, Batman turned on the spot and strode across the stage to the Joker; who was still mumbling, "I'm turning sane, I'm turning sane..."

Glaring down at the nervous wreck of a man, the Dark Knight leaned over the bleached comedian and roared, "GET UP, YOU LUNATIC! STOP WASTING TIME WITH YOUR SNIVELLING!"

Upon hearing being called a 'lunatic', Joker stopped rocking backwards and forwards. With a single bound, he leapt to his feet; shouting, "Well why didn't you say so, Batsy! Let's solve us a riddle!" He then charged at the crowd of objects, cackling madly as he tackled a Grandfather clock to the ground with a resounded crash. Sitting up from the floor, with one hand stuck through the clock's face, the Joker turned to look at Batman; his face puzzled and bemused. "What was the riddle again," he asked with mild enthusiasm.

Resisting the urge to punch the bleached criminal in the face, Batman scowled as he explained, "It was 'Name what connects us to the unseen, but condemns our pockets of lesser green'." He then glanced over his shoulder at the auditorium door to see what had become of Robin. To his surprise, the Boy Wonder had vanished.

The Joker pushed himself up, pulling out his hand from the Grandfather clock's face. "What the hell does that mean?" He paused for a second, his face wrinkling with deep concentration. "Ah," he cried. "I got it! It's a bottle of scotch!" He quickly spun around, eyeing up all the objects that surrounded him. "No, scratch that, it's those knickers I bought Harley!" This earned a rare incredulous look from the Dark Knight. "What? They weren't cheap and they'll be easier to tear off when—" He stopped, due to the piercing glare Batman gave him that clearly asked for no more information. Shrugging, the Joker muttered," Jeez, why so serious?"

"Because we're going to die in four minutes unless we hurry up."

"Point taken," agreed the clown; as he distinctly noticed that the jazzy music was started to quieten down a little. They both then went their separate ways; Batman examining objects that were linked to music and machinery while the Joker run amuck amongst the house-tailored machines. While they examined every nook and cranny, they noticed that punks had moved from the seats up above to the seat down below. They did this because, if the duo heard correctly, they wanted to see the 'dork knight' and the 'mocker' blow up as close as possible. Granted they weren't as thick as to sit in the front row, just dumb enough to sit in the middle row and not consider the possible distance of the aftershock.

As the timer fell to three minutes, which caused the jazz and piano ensemble to go a little quieter, the Joker lost his funny side and began to get impatient. As he tore open a washing machine, the clown called out to the Capped Crusader with an irritated shout. "Batman, have you figured it out already? Because if we die thanks to you not being able to outsmart that riddle obsessed toss pot, I'm gonna to drag you to hell with me. Failing that, I'll make sure we both haunt Harvey Dent. Goodness knows he needs another couple of voices in his head!"

Batman ignored the bleached criminal as he examined a Jukebox. It was in good condition and it seemed to be operating; though the volume dial seemed to be stuck a quarter away from maximum volume. Chances are that one of the punks, whilst they had set up the stage for him and the Joker, must have got it working so that they could listen to music while they worked. The record was poking out of the slot, its label reading—

Why am wasting my time on this? Thought the Capped Crusader. I should try and work out the riddle, then find the object that matches it.

Let's see...Something that connects us to the unseen...Maybe a religious answer; helping to connect with God? But how does that match with 'condemns our pockets of lesser green'...Pockets...Green...Pockets are usually lined with...Money! And money is often referred as green, like green dollar bills! So that must mean that whatever helps us to connect with the unseen costs money to use...connect with the unseen...That's it!

With his answer in his mind's eye, Batman spun round towards Joker's direction. "Joker," he shouted; while he heard the music starting to get quieter and quieter.

"Yea, what," grunted the clown as he kicked over an ornate chair.

"Look for a payphone," ordered the black cloaked man. "I think that is the answer."

Not wanting to complain, the bleached criminal began spinning his frantic eyes in every direction; trying to spy a visible payphone. Batman also began to search, but he was interrupted by the buzz of the head set that was built into his cowl. While trying to disguise this from the crowd of punks, and maybe the hidden cameras of the Riddler, the Dark Knight pressed the small button that was built into the side of his cowl and whispered, "This is Batman, over."

"Batman," came Robin's quite voice; which sound scared and worried. "I've managed to find where the Riddler is hiding; he's in the old booking office just off the lobby. I've just heard him talk to one of his lieutenants. He said that there's no answer to the riddle on the stage, he's just playing with you two before he kills you both!"

Batman took a deep, exasperated breath. So, trying to get rid us with a fake riddle, eh? I never thought the Riddler would try something like that. "Was he lying about the bombs being in tune with the frequency of the song?"

"No," muttered the Boy Wonder. "That wasn't a bluff. The same lieutenant who asked Nigma about the riddle asked about the bombs. The moment the music stops, the bombs will blow up." The Dark Knight clenched his teeth, which Robin heard over the head set, causing him to hastily mumble. "I could try and take out the Riddler, but there are too many thugs between me and him and if I try and charge him—"

"He'll just turn off the music," finished the Capped Crusader with a dreary tone. He looked up at the timer, which read one minute thirty seconds. There's seems to be no way out...Batman clenched his fists. No, there's always a way out. He spun on his heels and began scouring the stage with his vigilant eyes, determined to find something that could save both himself and the clown.

As his eyes lingered over the Jukebox, the Riddler's smug voice crackled from the hidden stereo- system. "One minute to go, Dark Knight. Why don't the both of you just give up now and accept that I'll be singing the last tune."

The last tune...pondered Batman, thoughtfully. As he continued to be intrigued by those words, his eyes slipped down from the top of the Jukebox to the record that was poking out from its slot. An idea bloomed into existence, an idea so crazy and stupid that it might even work. Wasting no more time, the Capped Crusader quickly shouted, "Joker, get over here!"

The clown prince, who was starting to sweat with desperation, responded to the request instantly and shot straight in Batman's direction. "Have you found the answer," asked the Joker; his voice quivering with hope.

"There is no answer," stated the Dark Knight bluntly. "Riddler is just toying with us. He always intended to kill us both, he just wanted us to suffer and make a fool of ourselves first."

The bleached comedian's face managed to turn even paler at the news. "Then its over," moaned the green haired man. "The curtains are closing on us for the last time, Batman. And in some random, rotting pile of sticks to boot. Oh, we had a good run, you and I, but we always knew it had to—"

"Be quite," hissed the Capped Crusader; while the timer dropped down to thirty seconds. "Look, do you know this song?" He pointed at the label of the record that was poking out of the Jukebox.

After a quick read of the label, the Joker looked at his arch nemesis with a confused look. "Yes, I know this number. Quite a favourite of mine, to be honest."

"Good," muttered Batman hurriedly; as the timer landed onto twenty. "Because we need to play this song as loud as we can. If my hunch is correct, the bombs will mistake the frequency of this song for the one Riddler has control of. Our best chance is too make it loud and clear, but it can't reach maximum volume."

"So what do we need to do?" Asked the clown; as the green timer fell to fifteen. In reply, the Dark Knight whispered directly into the criminal's bleached ears; which earned a look of dumb shock and disbelief from the Joker. "Are you crazy, Batman!? There's no way I'm doing that!"

"It's either that or death, Joker." Snapped the Capped Crusader; as the group of punks began to chant the remaining seconds left until the explosion.

The clown had a million questions running through his mind: Is this really happening? What will happen when the song runs its course? Did Harley finish baking that pie...Wait, what was I thinking about? But as he heard the thugs shout 'five', the criminal knew he had no choice.

Gulping—'four'—knowing that he would regret this—'three'—the Joker shot his hand towards the Jukebox—'two'—and pushed the record into place; while Batman—'one'—braced himself for the horror.

"ZERO!" Roared the gang of punks as they raised their hands in celebration; whilst the enchanting melody of the jazz and piano song instantly died. For a brief moment, all that could be heard was the deep breaths of anticipation from the thugs; who were waiting for the grand explosion that was about to happen.


"Anything you can do, I can do better!"

The expressions of utter, dumbfounded surprise fell upon the face of the thugs, just as a trumpet blast boomed out of the Jukebox.

Batman, who face was twisted with a tortured grimace, took a deep breath as he continued to sing, his deep, carrying voice shaking the air around him. "I can do anything better than you."

The Dark Knight, as the piano and jazz score of the song started to kick in, aimed an irritated glare at the Joker; who was still recovering from the sight of his rival actually complying with his crazed and desperate plan. For a short second, it seemed the clown was too stunned to play his part. But his twisted smile soon returned, as he let off a bark of laughter before singing, in a high, scratchy voice: "No, you can't."

"Yes, I can." Sang back Batman; who's hidden embarrassment was replaced by jubilation. For the previous music had ended, and the bombs had not exploded. It was working!

The clown quickly realised this as well. So to celebrate this, he decided, there and then, to kick back and enjoy the destruction of his reputation.

"No, you can't." He bellowed, ignoring how his voice was starting to grind into the ears of the baffled punks; who were still too scared to react.

"Yes, I can," retorted the Dark Knight; who was already begging for this to end, deep down inside.

"No, you can't"

"Yes, I can; Yes, I can!"

The Joker, whilst smiling madly, spun on the spot and began walking away from his foe; right in the direction of a water tank.

"Anything you can be, I can be greater." Chimed the criminal, as he stylishly spun on his heels and leaned against the water tower; his face beaming with self-confidence. "Sooner or later, I'm greater than you."

"No, you're not." Objected Batman; whose deep feeling of shame was starting to turn into a deep feeling of enjoyment.

"Yes, I am."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am," Half growled, half sang the Joker; who pushed himself off the water tank like the Dark Knight was truly attacking his pride. Standing up straight, his beady eyes burning marks into his nemesis's cowl, he belted out the rest of his verse like he was firing a warning shot; singing, "Yes, I am!"

While Joker had been so wrapped up in the song, the Caped Crusader had paid attention to his surroundings as he sang his 'No, you're not's. The Riddler's voice had leapt out nowhere and over the volume of the duo's song, his tone both angry and scared. "Stop them, you stupid buffoons," were the words he barked at his collection of thugs. "Silence their music, or I'll silence you!"

It was only until Joker belted his last line before the punks began to take action; clambering over the seats as quickly as they could to stop the Joker and Batman from performing any more. This went by unnoticed by the clown, who continued his next line with a boastful gusto: "I can shoot a partridge, with a single cartridge."

But the Dark Knight, as he retorted to the criminal's verse—"I can get a sparrow..."—reached for his utility belt and snapped off a smoke bomb. Continuing from that movement, the Capped Crusader threw his weapon at the oncoming thugs. His lip twitched as he sang, "With a bow and arrow," whilst the punks began to choke and wheeze at the clouds of thick smoke that was enveloping their eyes and mouths.

The Joker, who was still oblivious to the oncoming danger, folded his arms impressively as he chimed, "I can live off bread and cheese."

"And only on that?"


"So can a rat."

Arms were violently unfolded, as the clown made to strangle his opposing singer having full submerged himself into the competitive theme of the song. Being so immersed, the bleached criminal forgot that he was facing off against Batman. But Batman decided to be merciful—not really a surprise when it comes to this insane killer—by simply swatting down that hands that were trying to strangle him. While the Joker was off balance, the Dark Knight grabbed the edge of Joker's purple suit and wheeled him around to face the haggle of punks that were still lost in the clouds of smoke.

It took a few seconds for the clown to recover, in which the song's jazzy beat continued to play, and when he did...

"Any note you can sing, I can sing...Lower!"

Wow, he's really into that song isn't he?

While glaring infuriately at the green haired fool, the Dark Knight continued the ballad that was keeping him alive; despite the fact that a word and pitch was changed. Hoping against hope that the bombs wouldn't detonate due to the change of tone. "I can sing any note lower than you."

"No you can't." Vocalized the Joker; whose high voice was trying to descend into uncomfortable levels.

"Yes, I can." Countered the Detective, his gritty voice only needed a small nudge to sound deeper than before.

"No you can't."

"Yes, I can."

"No you can't."

"Yes I can."

And it went on and on, each voice dropping key by key until the notes started to drop out of the air and vibrate on the ground. The Joker, whose vocal chords were straining under the effort, cried out once more in a tone that impressively mirrored Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"No you caaaaaaaaan't!"

Throwing back his head, his face full of calm and superiority, the Dark Knight eased out a sound that would put the lowest key on a piano to shame.


If the song hadn't kept playing or if the bombs had detonated due to the crushing pressure of that note, there would be stunned silence filling the auditorium right now. The thugs, who had managed to escape the tendrils of smoke that had been burning their eyes, were paralyzed by the blatant ear rape they were subjected to.

The clown, despite being the closest to the source, was the quickest to recover; singing his question with actual curiosity. "How do you sing that low?"

"I'm Batman."

It wasn't the line itself, but the way the corner of the Dark Knight's mouth twitched in amusement, that made the bleached criminal roll his eyes; and not because he was abashed at being out done with a bad joke. But like before, the Joker recovered fast like the actor who steps in to save his comrade who forgot his epic, story changing line that stopped the awkward slapstick routine.

"Anything you can say, I can say softer." Sang the clown, whose smile widened at the prospect of dipping into his element.

The Capped Crusader's cowl crumpled in distain, as he hid the doubt in his heart when he replied, "I can say anything softer than you!"

"No ,you can't," slickly oozed out the words from the criminal's mouth; his soft yet sharp voice layering his verse like delicate icing that was sprayed over a disgustingly sour cake. But since this cake sounds like something I would eat eagerly and then regret later, the Joker watched with enjoyment at the Dark Knight's attempt to tackle this foreign tactic.

"Yes, I can," he grunted dismally; his attempts at 'soft' being so bad that he had to forced it out once more. "Yes, I can."

"No, you can't," responded the clown; his words so very silky yet very sharp like a knife that gracefully plunges into your back and sends you away with ease.

"Yes, I can," mumbled the Capped Crusader; whose last ditch attempt made him sound like the awkward virgin asking a girl out for the first time...on a dating simulator. So before he lost anymore dignity, Batman squared his shoulders and belted his next verse with every last drop of his gruff nature he had: "YES, I CAN!"

As the Dark Knight finished singing/screaming his outburst, his crime fighter instincts managed to pull him out of the song when he heard a number of footsteps cause the stage's steps to creak. Tearing his eyes away from the Joker; the Detective saw that about half of the punks were running up the steps, their intent to kill the song at any cost.

While Batman prepared to defend himself, while keeping in mind that he needed to do this and sing to keep himself alive, the bleached criminal wondered off up stage; unaware of the oncoming punks as he sang his next verse:

"I can drink my liquor," he chimed as he stopped and knelt down before an old fashion safe. "Faster than a flicker."

"I can drink it quicker," responded the Dark Knight; while he buried his fist into the first punk's liver. "And get even sicker."

"I can open any safe," boasted the criminal; who was indeed proving his bold statement by effortlessly tracing his fingers over the lock-box's dial.

"Without getting caught?" Asked the crime fighter musically, as he grabbed another thug by his shoulders and kneed him in the kidney.

"You bet," smirked the Joker as he leisurely pushed the safe open. He then also, to the Dark Knight's surprise, gave a large bow and made a sweeping gesture that looked like he was inviting a stranger into a high class guest room...and not a cramped, iron box.

Realising what the clown meant, Batman planted his feet on the stage while shifting his hold on the goon; masterfully transferring his hands from the shoulders to the collars. Whilst aiming at the open safe, the Detective's mouth twitched for the third time this evening as he sang:

"That's what I thought, you crook."

With that, the punk was shoulder thrown into the air; his yells of pain lost under the sway of the music. This did not change when he landed head first into the open safe, not even when the Joker lazily slammed the door on the punk's exposed fingers.

As the thug's cries of agony were confined in the steel box, the clown hoisted himself up and sat on top; giving him a perfect view of the fray of punks that were trying to overwhelm the Batman. Having shown he was not ignorant of the small, yet possible, danger these goons posed, it was strange that he was still smiley so widely.

"Any note you can hold, I can hold longer," sang the criminal; as his beady eyes examined the ripple effect a punk's skin made when Batman slammed his fist into a certain skull.

"I can hold any note..." sung the detective gruffly; while grabbing an incoming fist and pushing it back into the face of the attacker. "...Longer than you."

"No you can't." Taunted the Joker, who knew that the bat couldn't possibly be able to keep a note while being swarmed by the bugs around him; for even a seasoned diva can break a song if a wasp flies into her gapping mouth.

"Yes, I can," grunted the Dark Knight; while karate chopping a punk's neck.

"No, you can't."

"Yes, I can," repeated the Detective; who unleashed two separate elbow strikes into two unpaired rib cages.

"No you caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa—" Began the bleached criminal; who managed to reach his highest note in his attempt to out shine his rival.

"Yes I can," grunted the Batman; who didn't begin his performance since a leg had tried to bear down upon his pelvis. To counter this thug's crude attempt to ruin the Bat's pride; the Dark Knight grabbed the thug's ankle and tried his best to crush it beneath his tight grip. However, before he let go, an idea popped into the fighter's head.

Keeping his hold firm, Batman began to spin around on the spot; whilst he began to project his own performance against the Joker by singing: "Yes, IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII—"

Amazingly, and to the bleached criminal's dismay, the Capped Crusader had found a way of sustaining his note while keeping the thugs at bay. By simply spinning round and round like a spinning top, a spinning top that was armed with a blunt weapon that was knocking all who were close to it into the air, then into a surface and then into unconsciousness.

Though he was dying to know how his rival was keeping this up without being violently sick, the Joker concentrated on sustaining his note; determined to come out on top. But just as the last punk was knocked off the stage and into an already broken seat, the clown's voice gagged and died. And as he coughed and spluttered into his hands, the Detective kept on signing, kept on spinning.


After what seemed an age, the Dark Knight released the punk he had been using as a weapon; who has been put to sleep by the constant assault on his noggin. Thankfully, he did not awake as he collided into the small pile of his peers. And still Batman was sustaining his note.




Finally, the torture had ended. And it was for this reason that the Joker, though having been out classed by his nemesis's performance, sang his next line with such gratitude and thanks; happy that the long, rocky and drawn out voice had finally died down.

"YES YOU CAN!" Boomed the clown; who for reasons written earlier didn't try and sustain a single word. He then leapt down off the safe, his bum having gotten cold during the long interval of Batman's verse, and continued:

"Where do you keep all that air?"

In response to this question, the Dark Knight didn't bother using words. He just starred darkly at the clown, like he also wanted his recent act ridden from his memory and ear drums.

Taking a hint, the bleached criminal quickly launched into the next verse; which was ironic, given the contents of what he was about to sing. "Anything you can say, I can say faster."

"I can say anything faster than you," retorted the Dark Knight; whose face clearly showed the expression of a man who wanted this farce to end. For a small space of time, they tried to outdo the other by delivering their verse as fast as they could; though one put more effort in then the other.

But more interestingly than that, the auditorium doors suddenly burst open. Through the door frame ran the Riddler, his glasses eschew and his cane mislaid. His appearance went unnoticed by the Joker, who seemed to have returned into the sway of the music, but not the Batman. But even he couldn't hear the frantic and terrified mumbles that were dribbling from his mouth:

"No, no, NO! How did my genius fail me? My plan's been ruined, my henchmen are down and I'm going to be caught by the Boy Blunder! I will not be caught by him, I won't!"

While the Riddler hurriedly and blindly ran down the isles, Batman and Joker continued to sing; though not out of the fear for their lives.

"I can jump a hurdle," sang the clown; who was still going along with the song for the fun of it all.

"I can wear a girdle," replied the Detective; who was not even trying to hide his desire to slam his foot into the Jukebox—

"I can knit a sweater."

"I can fill it better." –Despite the fact that it was the one thing keeping the bombs from exploding.

"I can do most anything!" Proudly sang the criminal; who managed to reel in Batman's attention by the amount of self confidence he had put into that verse.

"Can you bake a pie?" Inquired the Capped Crusader, his tone actually coming across as one of his usual cynical putdowns.

For a second, the Joker seemed to falter; torn between choosing the proud banter he would usually fire at his nemesis and the actual lyrics of the song. Despite his nature of rebelling against the rules, the clown confined himself to the true words of the music, singing:


Despite this simple word, the weakness implemented in that single verse, a weakness that the Joker hated to show in front of his enemy, managed to tickle something inside the Dark Knight's soul. This caused his lip to curl the most it had done all night, even more than it had in months.

So when Batman responded to the clown's honest reply, his voice went as soft as he wanted his voice to go when he fenced off against the Joker.

"Neither can I."

This took the Joker just as off guard as Batman had been. He gazed into the hard, humourless eyes of his nemesis. As well as the small spark of insanity, an insanity that matched the Joker's even though Batman didn't want to admit it—which was the biggest joke of all time—, the clown saw something else...


The duo broke eye contact at the sudden noise. Standing at the top of the stage's steps, his face wild with fear was the Riddler; who had been so desperate to escape Robin he had blundered into the trap he had created.

Batman's mouth fell back into its stoic position, while the Joker's twisted itself into crazed glee. While they both starred at the petrified Riddler, the clown continued the song into the final batch of lines:

"Anything you can sing, I can sing sweeter."

"I can sing anything sweeter than you," replied the Dark Knight; who began to take a step towards Nigma. But as he was about to step his foot out, he felt the Joker's hand clamp onto his shoulder.

"No, you can't," sweetly sang the clown; as he reassuringly pated the Detective on the shoulder whilst he glared hungrily at the frozen, green man. The criminal then casually strode around the hulking crime fighter, his beady eyes still aiming at the spot he wanted to punch the Riddler first. But he was stopped as well by another hand.

"Yes, I can," sang the Dark Knight; who surprisingly managed to pull off a sweet sounding tone despite his deep voice. But unsurprisingly, he copied the clown's exact movement and strutted past the criminal; his face showing an expression that can be summed up with the words: 'He's mine'. But the Joker ignored this.

"No, you can't," repeated the bleached face man; whose song voice became even sweeter than before. And like before, he moved ahead of Batman.

"Yes, I can."

"No, you can't."

"No, you can't."

"Oh, yes I can."

As each line was sung, the level of sweetness and sugary tones raised higher and higher as each attempt to overtake the other singer became more physical and violent. After singing his last line, Batman dug his fingers into the clown's purple suit and was about to push him back when a realisation came to him.

With his hand still clasped on the Joker's shoulder, the Dark Knight walked right up to the criminal's side. This unexpected movement caused the clown to look round at the Detective, his bleached face's expression clearly wanting answers. When the duo's eyes met, an understanding was silently made.

Releasing his shoulder, both the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime moved as one towards the Riddler; who was still too shocked to move. When they became level with the green clothed man, the Joker began to sing again; his tone dropping all attempts at sweetness as he slowly raised his fist.

"No, you CAN'T..." The Riddler screamed in pain as the Joker poked him in the eyes—"CAN'T"—and then elbowed him in the jaw—"CAN'T!"

The green clothed man barely had time to recover as the clown grabbed the green fronts of his suit; the criminal's bleached face alive with malice and satisfaction. But having remembered his agreement, the Joker spun the spectacled man round—whose glasses were now broken—and pushed him in the direction on the Dark Knight.

As the Riddler stumbled, Batman began to sing; his firm tone unable to hide the anticipation he was feeling. "Yes, I CAN..."The Riddler yelped as the Detective planted his fist into Nigma's nose—"CAN"—and then kicked him in the gut—"CAN!"

Bruised and confused, Riddler crumpled to his knees; his weak, sickly body showing the usefulness of his so called 'intellect'. His vision blurred by the pain, he barely made out the images of Batman and the Joker as they stood side by side in front of him.

As one, the duo raised a fist and spouted the first note of their final line, their finishing crescendo.

"No/Yes—" They sang, their voices strong and defiant—"You—" Which timed perfectly with the impact of both their attacks upon the green clothed man.

As he fell backwards onto the stage, his eyes puffy and blood shot, the duo began to naturally raise both their arms into the air as they delivered their last, most powerful note to finish their breath taking performance.


And as their combined chorus shook the very air of the auditorium, the life saving music climaxed into a spectacular, astonishing finale that seemed to last for a life time.

But like real life, the song bids its fair well and the jukebox fell silent; its record grinding to a halt inside the machine. Batman and Joker were both breathing heavily, as they now felt the exhaustion that the music had magically kept at bay. As the beads of sweat began to roll out from under the Dark Knight's cowl, the Detective noticed that the music the Riddler had been playing had been turned back on.

Judging by the fact Nigma ran into here... thought the Capped Crusader as he stared at the unconscious, green clothed man before him. Robin must have chased him out of his hiding hole, and turned the music back on in the process.

He was prevented from focusing on this subject as a voice sounded from a few feet away from him. "Well, Batsy," said the clown with his usual slyness; as he backed away towards the stage's left wing. "I must thank you for helping me knock that silly, white trash rapper in his place. We must arrange another karaoke session some time, might even arrange it and hand out invites."

He chuckled raucously as he continued to back away into the crowds of household objects. As he continued to speak, the criminal began discreetly trying to pick up a piece of loose piping that was poking out of a random cleaning appliance. "I can just see it now. You and your little side kick will be singing 'I Kissed a Girl'—which doesn't really fit you, unless Robin is actually a broad. And me and Harley will sing 'Bat out of Hell'..." He giggled, insanely. "...Because it's about time you went back there!"

As finished his sentence with a cackle, the clown's fingers folded around the loose pipe. He was about to pull it out and fling it at the Dark Knight, as one of the latter's batarangs cut through the air and knocked the piece of piping from the criminal's hand.

Scared, the Joker froze in place; waiting for the Batman to throw some other item named after him. But after a few seconds...

"Get out..."

The bleached criminal blinked, his ears not quite believing what he was hearing. "What?" Said the green haired lunatic with a startled tone.

"I said get out," grunted the Dark Knight; who had turned on his heels and began walking off the stage towards the auditorium's main door. "The police will be here in ten minutes, so start running."

The Joker was baffled by this turn of events, by the Capped Crusader's blatant actions that didn't involve punching him in the face. But then a knowing smirk crept upon the bleached face. "I see. Giving me a head start to make the chase more interesting, eh?"

"No," shrugged the Dark Knight as he descended the stage's steps. "I need to get home before morning. I have a feeling I'm going to get black mailed into playing Portal 2, and I want to get it over with as soon as possible."

The criminal, who couldn't tell if that was an attempt at a joke or not, sighed and began tutting at Batman's retreating back. "Tut-tut, Batsy, it's not healthy playing video game past your bed time."

"And it's not healthy waiting here all night, unless you want to sleep in a cell."

This was a valid point. Though still stunned that the Dark Knight, the Capped Crusader, was letting him off scotch free; the clown began walking towards the stage's left wing. Just as he was about to disappear off stage, the Detective called back from his spot by the auditorium door:


The bleached criminal halted, his curiosity overpowering his natural urge to run away like he was being chased by a tax collector from the IRS. "Yes, Batman?"

The Dark Knight turned his head slightly to look back at his rival, his face blank and passive.

"...Get some sleep. You look like you need it."

And with that, Batman walked out of the auditorium; leaving a very confused and scared criminal. For despite the strange sentiment, those words were going haunt the Clown Prince of Crime's dreams for many nights to come. He could deal with the humiliation, deal with having to work with the Capped Crusader...but he couldn't deal with his worst enemy, his only rival, saying anything with that frightening and surreal tone that can only be described...as friendly.

Outside the derelict theatre, Robin was waiting beside the Batmobile; anxious for his mentor's return. This soon occurred, as the Dark Knight slowly walked out of the rotting structure. The Boy Wonder, glad to see his superior, quickly burst into speech: "Batman, thank goodness you're okay! I managed to beat up the Riddler's goons without getting a scratch on me and I sent Riddler on the run!"

"I wished you could've done as well against Ivy."

Robin had been prepared for such a low blow, so he quickly skated over his mentor's jab and asked, "Why didn't the bombs work; Riddler turned off the music before—"

"You know damn well why they didn't go off."

The Boy Wonder's face blanched at the sudden, harsh accusation. Hurriedly, he mumbled, "I don't know what you—"

"Don't play coy with me!" Barked the Capped Crusader, who was starting to bear down upon his sidekick. "If you were in Riddler's control room, you could see what Joker and I were doing. And since you stopped chasing the Riddler into the auditorium, I can safely bet on what you were doing since then." He stopped right in front of the young boy, his harsh eyes glaring down with a cold fury burning brightly. "Where's the footage." He demanded, every syllable dripping with darkness.

Backing away from his mentor, Robin tried to keep his face from showing the fear that was coursing through his body. Gulping, the young man slowly began to speak, saying: "Deleted from Riddler's computer..." Batman continued to stare, unblinkingly. "...And transferred to my home computer, with orders to be put itself on YouTube in half an hour. Unless..."

His voice trailed away into nothingness, as Batman's glare intensified a thousand fold. The Boy Wonder felt like he was being speared by a thousand fiery arrows...no, that would be a picnic compared to suffering under the Capped Crusader's stare. For a long time, Robin felt like the Dark Knight was going to murder him on the spot. Until...


To Robin's surprise, and relief, Batman turned on his heels. He yanked open the Batmobile's door with a calmness that didn't match his still ragging eyes and sat in the driver's seat. The Boy Wonder let off a sigh of utter relief. Few, thought the Young Detective; as he began to shakily climb into the Batmobile. He fell for my bluff. As long as I keep the camera hidden, I'll be able to sneak this back home and black mail him anyway.

Fantasising of all the things he could get out of his mentor using his slice of leverage, after the collaboration in Portal he had been denied for so long, Robin was starting to feel pleased with himself as he settled into his seat. He was about to truly relax, until he became conscious of something beside him.

Turning his head, the Boy Wonder saw that Batman's hand was flat and outstretched; waiting for a certain something to be placed in its palm. It was with a painful tug on his heart stings that the Young Detective caved into his mentor's demand. Sadness and resentment didn't come close to what he felt as he pulled out the camera—that held evidence to the embarrassing event—and gave it to the Dark Knight.

"So, you won't play Portal 2 with me?" Asked Robin dismally, as the Dark Knight held the camera up to his eyes for examination. He stared at the machine that could so easily be destroyed with his bare hands and annihilate the evidence forever.




Robin's ears almost exploded once he realised that those words were actually genuine. He smiled at his mentor, who was reaching over to the glove compartment that was in front of the Boy Wonder, and gushed with excitement, saying: "Really? You mean it? Thanks, Bruce, I own you big time."

"Next time," he replied, roughly; as he pried open the glove compartment with his free hand. "Don't try black mailing me."

Robin chuckled sheepishly, scratching the back of his head nervously. While this happened, Batman carefully placed the camera into the glove box. The Boy Wonder was about to ask why he was doing this, since the content on it was...well...shocking.

But that question remained unasked, along with tons of other questions; like where did the Joker disappear to. Despite these things, Robin kept quite. He had pushed his luck already, no need to push it any more. So he leaned his head against the cold window once more, hoping that this would keep him awake until they returned home to the Batcave. And Batman, as he started up the Batmobile's engine, kept his emotions hidden away from mortal eyes; his mind protected against any little peak.

But one thing's for sure, as the black car drove off into the night; the unconscious bodies of the punks and thugs—the Riddler especially—would be awakened and greeted by the harsh hands of the law. And no matter how hard they were questioned or interrogated, they would never tell a soul what they seen and heard.

Because really...who would believe them?