Disclaimer:Highlander: the Series, the characters of Cerdwyn and Paolo, as well the concepts of Immortality, themes, events, belong to Rysher Television; their respective creators and producers including Gauamont, Panzer/Davis Productions, and do not belong to me. I am only borrowing them for the story.
2nd:Batman: the Animated Series are the creation of Bill Kane, DCU comics, the WB television network, and their respective creators and producers. Again, I do not own anything here, and no money is made from this.
Author's Notes: This is the combination of responding to two story challenges that were posted over at the message board of the 7th Dimension Highlander fanfiction Archive. Challenge 1: Feature an female Immortal that is a Highlander but not related to Clan Macleod dating from the 17th century Jacobite era now a cop in a mythical American city. Challenge 2: Write a crossover with the DCU universe./pTruly, Madly, Deeply by Karen Prologue
Adriana Donnelly, as Cerdiwyn now called herself, felt there was something both intriguing as claustrophobic about being surrounded by Gotham City's elite, the rich and famous. She tugged at the white gloves that covered both arms to the elbow and glanced at her reflection in the floor to ceiling mirrors lining the ballroom's elegant walls. It was as if some wealthy if bored millionaire had visited the Versailles Palace in Paris, admired it so much that he/she had put some thought into recreating into his/her own home. Though it was elegant, some of the essential detials had been omitted. Or maybe, he/she didn't bother to check the blueprints of the original architect. To her discerning eye it appeared they had simply carted the whole thing over, lock, stock, and barrel.
Turning this way and that, she glanced at her reflection in the mirrors; more by accident than design, her blue velvet gown she had chosen for the evening was the same shade as her eyes, and looked marvelous on her. Her police badge, indicating her chosen profession: law enforcement, was securely fastened to the front of her gown. She hated dressing up. It had been almost five years since her last mandatory presence at one of these formal affairs, and that had been in Paris with her late husband, Steven. She gave herself a mental kick, and told herself that she could not afford to get weepy and sentimental mourning Steven's death. Going on the warpath and avenging his death had gotten her in more trouble than she was willing to admit to anyone; even if she could now admit that to herself. It was too late to do anything about it.
"Damn ye, Macleod, why do you always have to be right?' she thought to herself, and shoved to the back of her mind. She took her attention off the mirrors, and gave the ballroom a 360 degree inspection, trying to gauge the mood of the guests/hosts, watching for undercurrents of tension or danger.
Just then, her partner, Colin Farrell came up beside her, holding two champagne glasses in his large hands. His black skin, the same shade as the ebony keys on her favorite instrument, the piano. He was tall, broad shouldered, and his skinglistened with a light coating of sweat, but he looked good in a tuxedo. He waited until she had finished whatever she was doing, and handed her one of the champagne glasses. "So, do you think anything will go down here, or are we just the window-dressing?"
"Thanks for the bubbly," taking it from him, and sipping from the glass. "Maybe it's just me, but it's a terrible thought, to wish that something dangerous would happen.
"So, you're bored," Colin shrugged nonchalantly, the movement sending the long ponytail of black hair rippling down his muscled back. He had very broad shoulders, and a wry grin he displayed when he found something amusing, or when he was being sarcastic about the ineptitude of the bureaucracy. Steven had been one of the first and few husbands that she'd had in her centuries long life, and he had been mortal.
All the same, Cerdwyn did not believe she was mentally or physicaly ready to take her relationship with Colin farther beyond being friends and partners. He was very handsome. She sighed and wondered why she had 'a thing' for men in uniform, not that she'd turn up her nose at men in formal wear either. Looking at Colin, Cerdwyn found herself remembering her last husband, Steven. Colin caught her approving glance and winked those big brown eyes at her. In that exchange of glances, he seemed to share her opinion of the proceedings as well.
She almost jumped out of her skin when she felt a gentle touch on her shoulder. A very tall man, with dark hair and eyes, loomed over her. He was broad-shoulder and very imposing, with an aura that surrounded him of wealth, power, and authority. "Over-confident, and arrogant,"she thought to herself. A woman could get lost in those eyes, Note to self: I don't even know him, and already I know I don't like him. Men like that think too much of themselves, and that can be dangerous" Aloud, she said: "I'm sorry, Sir, you seem to have the advantage of me."
"Pardon the interruption," he said. "Allow me to introduce myself, Bruce Wayne, and I couldn't help but notice you standing over here, all by yourself."
"Nice to meet you," she replied. ""I'm Officer Adriana Donnelly, she added, "This is my partner, Colin Farrell."
"Might I have the pleasure of this dance?:
Colin sighed. "Okay, I can tell when I'm not wanted. I'll just take myself elsewhere. And I'll find myself another dance partner, eh, partner?" he added, making a mock gesture of nudging her in the ribs."You do that,"she laughed.
"Is he always like that?" Wayne asked.
"Pretty much," she replied.
To her surprise, Wayne proved to be an excellent dance partner. He was a little too tall for her to comfortably fit into the circle of his well-muscled arms, and she was glad her adopted son, Paolo, had convinced her to wear the blue high-heeled shoes instead of leather pumps.****
Later that same evening, Cerdwyn had the cab-driver drop her off on the curb near the two-story house that she shared with Paolo. She adopted him, and was still working out the exact boundaries of their relationship. The kid knew how to play on an adult's sensibilities. He still hadn't quite forgiven her for his brother, Mario's death. He was fond of her, but that one area stood out like a the gap where a missing tooth had once been. While she was distracted, a figure jumped out of the shadows by a clump of bushes lining the driveway to an attached garage. At the same instant, she was unlocking the door. "Paolo!" she screamed. "Cerdwyn!" he yelled almost knocking her over with an enthusiastic bear-hug. A few seconds of mutual untangling, they stared at each other. Cerdywn was the first to recover the use of her voice. "I told you to call me Adriana now."
"Must've slipped my mind. How come you came up with a new identity, and why'd you pick that one?"Paolo asked.
"Might we discuss this inside?&"
"Oh, sure" he replied, and led the way into the living room.*** "How was the charity ball?" Paolo asked once they were inside and comfortably seated on the leather sofa in front of the wide-screen television set. He grabbed the remote and flipped through the channels until he came across the last heat of the NASCAR extreme car racing. "Boring. Overblown,"t; Cerdwyn absently replied, kicking of her high-heeled shoes, sinking gratefully into the cushions of the sofa, her feet propped up on the coffee table.
"What about Colin? I thought your partner was the cynical one."
"And to answer your question. I liked how "Adriana' sounded, and it fit my needs at the time. It's not a new identity per se, it's still me inside the dress. I'm still the same person I've always been. It's just that given the whole Immortal thing, every hundred years or so, you have to learn to recreate yourself, and move on."
"And have you? Uh. Moved on?"Paolo asked, raising one black eyebrow.
"More or less." She sighed. "Speaking of which, Paolo empty your pockets."
"Because I know you." Cerdywn rose to her feet and planted herself directly in his line of sight, fists on her hips.
"You're blocking the screen, Cerd, you make a better door than a window." Paolo complied and proceeded to empty out the contents of his baggy blue jeans, jacket, and duffel bag. Cerdwyn shuffled through the ever-growing accumulation of junk: leather wallets of varying descriptions, keys, dashboard ornaments, pens, pencils, used chewing gum wrappers, wads of loose cash in denominations ranging from ones all the way up to 100 dollar bills.
"I could have you arrested for stealing, pick-pocketing and jumping cars. Those are serious charges, and they are against the law."
"But MA!" Paolo tried for a half indignant, half- pleading tone in his voice.
"Don't you Ma me, I could have left you to fend for yourself or leave to you the mercy of the foster-care program, or even to the mean streets of Paris. How long do you think you would have lasted?:
"Me and Mario, all we had was each other but we made out okay. Why did you have to go and kill him?" Paolo yelled, sounding whiny even to his own ears.
"We've been through this before, his buddies killed Steven. I admit I made a mistake by going after the entire gang."
"Mario wasn't the one who shot him,"Paolo whispered.
"No, but he didn't try to stop Gaston. He just went along with it. Look, Paolo, I'm sorry about Mario, I made messed up. It's over and nothing we do will bring Mario or Steven back. So, the best thing to do is move on with our lives. Okay?"
"What about that Macleod guy?"
"What about him?"
"He would have taken me in."
"I doubt it," Cerdwyn sighed. "Boy Scout that Macleod is, even he has his limits, and if I recall correctly, you were already testing them. Besides he already had another charity case on his hands, and you're not a pre immie."
"It's about that Game of yours, the one you're trying to hide from, the one where other Immortals come after you for your head!"Paolo yelled, pointing a dirty finger at her."Put that away," Cerdwyn sternly said. "Which brings up another important issue, I want you to swear on your life, that you will not breath a word of this to a soul, about my being Immortal. You understand me, Paolo?"
"Yes. I understand," Paolo replied, sinking back into the sofa. "I'm not stupid. Does Colin know?"
"No, Maybe. Have you eaten dinner yet? It's late. I'm tired, hungry, and in no mood for this,: Cerdwyn said.
"No. Is there anything in the fridge," Paolo replied."Let's go see. And just so you know, popcorn and leftover pizza do not qualify as dinner." Paolo led the way, rolling his eyes at her; he led the way into the kitchen, and brought out a cardboard box of leftover pizza and several cans of soda. "It's all we got." "It'll do. Paolo, do the honors."/p "Why me?"
"Just do it. Or for you, it's either no dinner or eating it cold."Elsewhere
Midnight. It was his favorite time of day, dark and mysterious and reminded him of the time he spent in solitary confinement at Arkham Prison. The dark held no terrors for him, it was his friend, his ally, his retreat when the bright lights of day dazzled his eyes. The Joker leaned back in the moth-eaten leather reclining chair and absently stroked the heads of the chained hyenas that lolled greedily at his feet."Those utter fools. They think they have me beat, think they can rehabilitate me HAH! HAH! HAH! Good joke. Wish I had thought of first. HARLEY! HARLEY! Come here!"
"You shouted, puddin?" Harley Quinn murmured in his ear, jumping up from the hiding spot she had chosen, trying not to disturb him; while learning the plans for their next big heist. The hyenas strained at the ends of their chains, and sniffed at her ankles. She ignored them and their whining, staring with adoring eyes at her 'Puddin.' She yanked at the bells in her red-white diamond patterned bodysuit and wondered if she dare sit in his lap."I did,"the Joker replied. "And I've come up with a brilliant scheme. One guaranteed to be fool-proof." He trailed off and sighed happily until a few seconds later they heard sounds of a struggle and shots fired from a gun in rapid succession. "What the hell?"The Joker shouted, abruptly standing and sending Harley tumbling to the dirt floor of the warehouse. "You the one they call the Joker? A man came in through the back door of the abandoned warehouse. "Who wants to know?"Harley demanded, pulling a weapon from its holster and pointed the business end at the intruder.
"Well, since you asked so politely,"he bowed.
"What the hell do you want?" The Joker screamed./p"I should think that would be fairly obvious," he said. He pulled a sword out from underneath the white duster that covered him from head to feet leaving only his white sneakers showing. Ignoring the peals of laughter that came from Harley when she he was armed with a sword. Upon closer inspection she saw the white duster was torn and bloody, and had rents in it from being unable to stop bullets from going into him./pShe was amazed he was still standing much less still threatening them. He should have been dead, or at least, unable to move around. His lank blond hair plastered to his face by sweat, his blue eyes hard and icy. "Send the doll-face away, you reject from a circus carnival, and face me like a man. Or if that's too much for you to handle, we'll make this easier." He glided forward, sword leveled at the Joker, slashing away like mad. "You remember me? Or maybe you recall the young man you killed?" he shouted a few nights ago? My student? Jamie Guzman."
"Your student?" The Joker gasped, fending off the accurate, furious blows. "Oh, him. Dark hair, medium height. I told him I'd decided to back out of the deal. It was his dumb luck he got killed. It was just business. No need to go all to pieces over it."
"So is this," Caith replied. "That's just what I had in mind."
"Not gonna happen, big guy," Harley Quinn shouted, jumping up and began lobbing a pair of exploding chattering teeth at Caith, distracting him and throwing his the timing of his swings off balance. Seeing the way the wind blew; he hit her with his free hand, then darted for the nearest exit out of the abandoned warehouse.
"I will avenge Jamie's death, and when I do, Joker, you'll get what's coming to you,"Jerome Caith tossed over his shoulder."It's not about the money we owe you," The Joker shouted back, trailing off into silence. "Yeah, because we're broke," Harley whispered. ***
The next morning, Cerdwyn waited for Colin to pick her up in his car and drive her to the station. Another trait she admired in her partner, was that, he was always on time. When he arrived, the driver side window was rolled halfway down, and he stuck his arm out to wave at her. He kept the motor running on idle. She waved back, and made sure everything in the kitchen was spotless, after having made a brown bag lunch for Paolo to take to school. He had seen to it that he boarded the bus, given that it was really past time that he get a decent education; something that had been woefully neglected as of late.****
"We have a problem," Commissioner Gordon announced, after they filed into the station's briefing chamber.
"Oh really?" Colin said, sounding bored, but that was misleading. He was like a cat on a deceptive prowl, in that way."Yeah, really," Detective Bullock echoes, chewing on the toothpick he made a habit of keeping in the side of his mouth. His big-boned frame with it's beer-belly overlapping the sides of the metal folding chair and he nearly tumbled out of it. Darting dagger glances around at his fellow police officers, daring them to laugh at him. Achieving the rank of detective, he didn't feel like it was his job to put up with wise-cracking rookie cops or junior officers. There were more occasions than he would like to admit that Officer Farrell's sarcastic tongue grated on his nerves. His partner, Officer Adriana Donnelly, wasn't much better, except that was too gung-ho and enthusiastic at times. Although, he thought to himself, that was a good thing. "Table that cynical attitude, Officer Farrell. At least, until I've had a chance to explain matters," Gordon said. "Or check it at the door along with your gun," Officer Montoya said. "To continue," Gordon continued, dimming the lights and turning on the overhead projector, "If you all would turn your attention to the screen, I have something to show you."
The image on the screen was grainy, but they all could make out the body of 5"8 Chicano male wearing faded denim jeans a baggy blue and red striped running suit; his body outlined in the white chalk outline of a crime scene. Despite the dim lighting in the briefing room, they could all see that there were all the classics signs of a violent death, but there was one glaring omission; the body was missing its head.
"Ugh, I've seen my share of dead bodies in my time, all in various states of rigor mortis, but how ended up without their heads?" Bullock stated, almost choking on his toothpick.
"Looks like the perps left their calling card," Colin remarked, pointing to the tell-tale rectangular shape of playing card lying next to the dead body: a stylized Joker."Why would the Joker leave such an obvious sign behind?" Gordon wondered. "That's not usually his style."
"For an egotistical, megalomaniac, The Joker's MO has always been one that 's damn hard to predict. He may be insane, but he's nothing if not inventive," Montoya said.
"You sound like you admire that in him," Adriana Donnelly said."I don't," Montoya defensively replied, "It's just never wise to underestimate your opponent; that's my motto: Always know beforehand what's you're up against."
"Good motto," Bullock muttered."Shut up," Montoya snapped at him.
"Look, kids," Gordon interrupted, "I want this handled by the book, professional, clean, and objectively. Got it?"****
They found the abandoned warehouse down by the docks, and it matched exactly the description given in the police report. Supported on either side by equally seedy neighbors, it gave every appearance of falling down around their ears at any moment; or of a pair of drunks leaning on each other's shoulders to keep from collapsing.****
They cautiously entered the building,in formations, guns at the ready checking all the possible hiding places for ambushes and hidden traps. It never hurt to be overly cautious. At least, it was protection against the unknown. It was dark inside and the building had few in the way of windows to allow the moonlight to filter in. Using flashlights, they searched the building and it was on the second floor near the freight elevator that tripped the first series of traps. Officer Colin Farrell cursed to himself when he caught the tip of his boot in the teeth of one of the Joker's red chattering exploding teeth. Untangling himself, a bullet shell whizzed right over the space where his head had been seconds before. "We found them."he shouted to the other police officers.
"So you did!" The Joker cackled.
"I think I had pretty much covered Gotham City's rogue's gallery of super villains, but how did I miss these nutcases?" Cerdwyn asked.
"Beats me." Bullock shrugged. "Maybe he was one of this weeks's particular megalomaniacs that works in cycles. We'd be in real trouble if all the nuts locked up in Arkham got out at the same time."
"All right, everyone! Freeze! You're under arrest. Put down your weapons and come out with your hands up!" Officer Montoya shouted."You wish!" Harley Quinn shouted, pulling out a hand gun, priming it, and making sure it was loaded, before she aimed the business end at the uniformed officers. "Hey, flatfoots, why dontcha ya come and get me. If ya have the guts! Cause I don't think you do!"
"How come they never do what you tell him on the first try?" Bullock sighed.
"They just want to make it harder on us,"Montoya replied."I got this one," Cerdwyn whispered to Colin, pointing to where Harley Quinn stood.
"You sure about this?" he whispered back.
"Yeah. You deal with the Joker and the rest of his armed goons."
"Let's not be a hero."Colin warned, a glimmer in his eye.***
"So, you think you can take me," Cerdwyn challenged the other woman. She gave the red and white diamond bodysuit a glance, "Dressed like that?"
Huh? Harley gasped, checking to see if her gun was still loaded.
"You heard me," Cerdwyn evenly replied. "Surrender and I will go easy on you."
"Not on your life, babe!" Harley Quinn shouted, dropping the now useless gun to the floor and sprang toward Cerdwyn, lashing out with fists and trying to land drop kicks at her. Cerdwyn, no stranger to hand-to-hand combat, had to admit the crimminal had the speed down, but not the finesse Cerdwyn lashed out with a fist and used the other woman's own momentum to flip her over her shoulder. Harley landed with a thud and a roll. Cerdwyn whirled around and used a uppercut to Harley's jaw. On the follow through she snapped Harley's head back with another blow and danced back out of range of the clumsy return blow. The girl was way too skinny, but she was stronger than she looked."Huh, can't keep this up forever," Harley panted.
"You'd be surprised," Cerdwyn replied.
Harley gathered herself on the balls of her feet and took a running start towards Cerdwyn, and ran headfirst into Cerdwyn, in the manner of a bull in a meadow. Cerdwyn misjudged the angle and she was hurtled back a good five feet, as the hurtling crimminal smacked into her; Cerdwyn came to a halt against the side of a packing crate. With the wind knocked out of her, she failed to dodge the stray bullet that ricocheted off the walls and lodged itself in her shoulder blades.
"Hah! I've got you now!"Harley shouted, curling her fist and leaned down over her. Gasping, as she felt another presence behind her. "Don't mess with my partner," Colin warned, his gun pressing into her back, "Don't move and nobody gets hurt. "Now turn around and step away from her."
Harley did as she was told, while Colin slapped the handcuffs on her, and then was led over to where the Joker and the remainder of his henchmen were being held until the vehicles came to take them away.*** "We've got the Joker and his goons on the ropes," Officer Montoya shouted. "How you two doing over there?"
"Fine,"Colin shouted back, turning back to his partner."Taking a bullet meant for me," Colin said, "That was darn nice of you, partner," as he leaned down on one knee beside her prone form. "Don't try to move, I'll call for help." Turning to the other officers "Hey, Montoya, call for backup! Tell'em we've got an officer down." "Gotcha you covered," Officer Montoya replied, rushing over to where the police vehicles were parked covering the short space in record time; she half-yanked the driver side door open and grabbed the radio and called in for emergency backup. *** Conclusion
"Later, after Cerdwyn had been released from the hospital where she'd been rushed in an ambulance lying prone and strapped down to a stretcher, all the while protesting that her injuries weren't as serious as they looked. That the bullet had missed hitting anything vital, and the bleeding would soon stop.
"I hate paperwork," Colin muttered staring at the mounds of paper stacked upon his desk. He propped his feet up on its polished wooden surface. "It's my firm opinion, proved by empirical evidence, that people don't realize how much police work involves paperwork."
"You've got me convinced." Cerdwyn/Adriana shuffled her stack of documents and manila file folders. "Speaking of which, how much of what went down last night is going into the official report?"
"Dunno. The report to our mutual superiors or yours?" Did you know the Immortal the Joker murdered?"
"Never heard of him before. I don't pretend to know what kind of bone he had to pick with the Joker; but it's entirely possible he me have come to Gotham hunting for me."
"You know, I've been thinking, and it occurred to me, that Harley Quinn managed to get her strength and resistance to toxins juiced up by the mad plant-lady, Poison Ivy, a while back. Maybe that's given her some advantage to match up with your...ah, strengths as person with an extremely long life-line."
"I still can't figure out two things: One how you knew I was an Immortal. Or how I could have missed that you were my Watcher." Cerdwyn shook her head. "Okay, we're working together in a professional capacity. Will that jeopardize your assignment?"
"You know me better than that." Colin replied, stretching out his arm and turning it over to show her the Watcher's tattoo on his right writst. "No one ever told me back when I took this assignment that we could become....'attached' to the subject under observation. The Watchers. Well, let's just say that an agent in the field is allowed a certain amount of leeway."
"It's those gray areas I'm worried about. The Rules say that Immortals and Watchers are like oil and vinegar; they're not supposed to mix, much less cross that unwritten line in the sand."
"Well, as your friend, partner, and Watcher, not necessarily in that order," Colin replied. "I'd like to venture an opinion" Seeing her nod, "You are very good about obeying the Rules when you want to. When you do not want to, you bend them. Why change the habit of several centuries?"
"Yeah, I thought by leaving that all behind me, I could avoid the Game, or at least avoid participating in it. Out of curiosity, how did you know I was Immortal, much less what they were?"
"I was recruited into the Watchers over five years ago. It was only recently that I was given this field assignment. I used to be in the strictly research angle of things, and the Jacobite area has always been of my favorites."
Oh Heaven forbid, that had to come up." Cerdwyn thought to herself.
"I used to think that Gotham City earned its well-deserved reputation as magnet for loonies and a center for weirdness, the caliber of The Joker, Harley Quinn, Posion Ivy, and they're just the tip of the iceberg."
"I'm saying that your kind of Immortals: people living for centuries, going after each other's head for some elusive cosmic Prize; well, it ain't the strangest thing that I've encountered during my career with the Gotham City PD. To borrow a quote from the Immortal Bard: 'There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies, Horatio,'" Colin finished.
"So now what?" Cerdwyn asked.
"We file the report, and life goes on." Colin smiled.