A/N: I've decided to list this story in the Arkham Asylum section because even though I based the look of Riddler from the 'Hush' comics, this fic was inspired by the awesomeness of Riddler's voice/character in Arkham Asylum & Arkham City. Plus, I've stolen two lines from the Arkham Asylum Riddler interview tapes :)
I also would've been more than happy to use The Riddler's look from AA & AC if they had just made him look a little less… like an old, homeless nut-job. Don't get me wrong, I know he's insane and everything, but the concept art from Arkham Asylum had him looking so cool and then… they made him look like that?! I mean, I still love the game but The Riddler in the comics/cartoons was always such a classy-looking guy and he was young and cocky and arrogant (fair enough, they got the last two down!)…
Oh well, hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: Don't own any recognisable characters, only my OC, and I'm getting no richer from doing this either…
Hey diddle, diddle, time for a Riddle...er
Annabelle Gray breathed a sigh of relief as she finally reached the top of the staircase and saw her apartment door. After being on her feet all day, the last thing she needed was to then walk up five flights of stairs. But since the elevator in her building was almost perpetually broken down, she had no other choice.
She rubs a tired hand over her eyes and bats an annoying curl out of her face before reaching for her keys. One of the hallway lights above her flickers before going out altogether, leaving her with only the streetlight drifting in through the window to see by. It doesn't faze her as she systematically roots the keys out from the bottom of her handbag and inserts them into the lock.
She slips inside, already feeling a hot bath and early night calling for her. She lets her handbag clunk to the floor as she shuts the door behind her. Her hand reaches out to flick the light switch–
–And then she is being slammed back against the door by the tip of a metal cane digging painfully into the centre of her chest.
"Riddle me this," is spoken in a resonating voice of utter arrogance as her hand automatically grabs hold of the thin steel that seems to be restricting her breathing, trying to pull it back slightly but failing miserably. The voice continues,
"Two in a corner,
1 in a room,
0 in a house, but 1 in a shelter. What am I?"
She closes her eyes and forces herself to take a deep breath, prying her mind away from the automatic fear to focus on the challenge that she really needed to answer, the stress and suddenness of the situation doing nothing to help… As it never did.
She systematically analyses the words, going over them in her mind in order to determine the common denominator. Then, between the panic and the metal pressing itself against her lungs, she grits out,
"…The letter r."
She opens her eyes again to land on the figure nonchalantly standing just a few feet away from her, watching her like a cat watches a mouse. Dressed in a tailored green suit – the jacket having been discarded (probably over the back of her couch) – and a dark grey shirt, sleeves rolled up to expose lithe forearms, he certainly would be described by most as a striking figure. In fact, if it weren't for the maniacal gleam in his eyes, one might even say handsome. Purple leather gloves covered his hands, matching a tie of the same shade that was expertly knotted at the base of his throat, a black question mark clearly printed front and centre. A fitted green waistcoat completed the extravagant ensemble, effortlessly highlighting a toned stomach and muscular chest.
Striking indeed, and let's not forget that other important little facet: Certifiably Insane.
"…Correct," the man before her finally says, begrudgingly. Then his tone lightens almost immediately to mocking, "Well, Annie, it looks like you'll be having the pleasure of my company tonight."
"Oh goody," she mutters under her breath, really not in the mood to be threatened and belittled in her own home, but having no other choice in the matter. Like always.
"What was that?" The cane is suddenly pressed in harder, indenting the skin underneath her red and white waitress uniform. She gasps in acute discomfort,
"Nothing," she answers, her voice now whimpering quite pitifully, any previous sign of angry strength vanishing as cold blue eyes glare down at her.
After a long moment, the pressure is released as the cane is removed. She breathes as sigh of relief and her hand reaches up to rub at the sore spot.
Without warning, the man before her steps closer and her head jerks to look up at him in surprised apprehension.
"Second riddle," he intones, peering at her. What?! she thinks. He'd never asked her a second riddle before. She felt her mind faltering at the unexpected turn of events. "What is five and five, has a question mark on the front and goes 'ompf'?" He looks at her with malicious expectancy.
Huh? What kind of riddle was that supposed to be?! she wonders wildly. 'Has a question mark on the front' – would that be him? But what's with the fives and the 'opmf'?!
"Time's up!" he declares.
She gasps in panic but in the next moment–
–He has affixed his mouth to hers, pressing hard, dry lips against her own whilst his cane-free hand anchors itself on the back of her head, holding her firmly in place. Her mind can't even comprehend what's just happened but without hesitation her hands reach up to beat on his chest. The effort is futile.
Her lungs start to strain as he refuses to let her go. She feels his tongue inside her mouth and moves her teeth to bite it but he gives a cruel yank on her hair, clearly telling her that that really wasn't a wise course of action.
She finds herself simply standing there, pushing uselessly on his chest as he deprives her of air and choice.
Then, finally, he lets her go.
She sags back against the door, feeling weak and trembling. The hot burn of humiliation and anger was there too; it was just buried beneath the fear.
"What kind of riddle was that?!" she hisses once she's able to speak again.
"A remarkably simple one," he retorts condescendingly.
"You didn't even give me a chance to think!"
"You should have been able to get it immediately. Since you didn't, I had to answer it for you," her unwelcome guest proclaims.
She feels her brain stutter again and her forehead crease,
"'Answer it for me'? You didn't answer anything – you kissed me!" she snarls, though to her chagrin, the words still hold more anxiety than anger. He'd never done anything like that before and it had thrown her severely off-kilter.
"Well, that was the answer to the question," he enunciates with deriding contempt.
She blinks as her frown deepens. She finds her mind going over the 'riddle' again: five and five – dammit, that was her height. And yeah, okay, the 'ompf' was self-explanatory (though it remains to be seen whether she still would have made that noise if he hadn't assaulted her) but–
"I don't have a question mark on my front," she protests. That's you, she thinks, glancing at his tie, but doesn't quite have the confidence to voice the thought.
Without warning he raises his cane again and she flinches back against the door, but all he does is hold it up perpendicular to himself so that she can see… the question mark that's been embossed on the bottom of the tip. As if invisibly connected, she feels a responding twinge in the centre of her chest.
She refocuses on him as he looks back smugly. He lowers the cane to the floor again, before turning away and strolling into the sitting room.
"So, Annie, what's for dinner?" he calls back over his shoulder.
For a millisecond the idea of running back out the door flashes through her mind, but it's discarded just as quickly. She knows for a certainty that she wouldn't get more than a few feet.
Resignedly, she trudges after him.
This had been going on for two years now. It had all started because The Riddler had attacked the hardware store where she'd been employed. His goons had charged in early one morning – him following sedately behind – and started threatening and shouting, getting everyone to kneel in the centre of the shop, hands behind their heads. Then they'd started looting the shelves, filling huge bags before lugging them to the waiting van parked just outside the door. Once they'd evidently finished taking what they wanted, The Riddler had taken the stage and announced to the trembling hostages,
"Now, should I leave you all to go about with your insignificant little lives or should I send the moronic Gotham Police Department a little memento…" he'd eyed each of them with scornful contemplation. "I know," he continued, "Let's make it interesting. If one of you lowly cretins can answer my riddle, I'll let you go. If you can't, well…" his gaze wandered over to a thug whose hands tightened in anticipation on his semi-automatic, "Some of you may live to see another day."
"So," he paced a few steps with his cane, "Riddle me this:
Five hundred begins it, five hundred ends it,
Five in the middle is seen;
First of all figures, the first of all letters,
Take up their stations between.
Join all together, and then you will bring
Before you the name of an eminent king...
And I should warn you, the first answer is the only answer that will be accepted and since we haven't got all day, there will be a time limit of ten seconds starting… Now!"
The workers and shoppers had looked at each other with nothing but terror and dread on their faces. Annabelle could see a few frowning in concentration as they tried to figure out the answer. She herself narrowed her eyes at the ground and had attempted (in what would turn out to be the first of many experiences) to focus through her fear.
"Five seconds, monkeys," The Riddler had declared smugly into the silence.
"It's David… in Roman Numerals." She'd said it quietly, but still loud enough for him to hear.
The green-suited man had blinked and then immediately his eyes had honed in on hers, displeasure clear across his features.
The next thing Annabelle knew, he was marching up to her, sending the other captives scuttling out of the way in haste.
He'd whipped his cane under her chin, pressing it into her windpipe and forcing her head back to look up at him,
"How did someone like you know that?" he'd demanded.
She swallowed and then, with as much confidence as she could muster (which unfortunately had been hardly any), had replied, "What? Just because I work as a salesclerk means I can't have had an education?"
He'd narrowed his eyes menacingly. Obliviously, that was exactly what he had been thinking.
He'd opened his mouth to retort but just then there'd been the distant wail of sirens and a thug had charged in from outside,
"Boss, the cops are on their way!"
The Riddler had glanced at him and then glared at her even more fiercely.
In the next moment the cane had vanished from under her chin and The Riddler had been hurrying out the door, closely followed by his goons.
Everyone had breathed a huge sigh relief. None more so than her…
At the police station, as they'd all been milling around waiting to give their statements, several people had thanked her, making it sound like she'd saved their lives. It had made Anna extremely uncomfortable. She hadn't been thinking of anyone but herself at the time; had only been desperately trying to work out the puzzle in order to just get out of there in one piece.
She'd hurried home when the police had finally let her go… Only to find a black box bearing a large green question mark on the front sitting on her coffee table.
She hadn't opened it. She'd stayed across the room staring at it with her heart in her throat for a long while. Then she'd very carefully tried poking it with a broom. When it hadn't blown up, or done anything else, she'd slid it off the table and into her trash… Then she'd taken the trash bag three blocks away.
She'd quit her job and started looking for a new apartment the next day. Call her paranoid, but she'd lived in Gotham nearly all her life and she did not in any way want to be on the receiving end of the attentions of a super-criminal.
Had she been able, she would have left Gotham for good – again call it paranoia, but she'd rather be well and paranoid, than dead and lackadaisical. She'd seen on the news how these maniacs tended to get quite irate when something didn't go their way. But there had been one problem: Her grandparents. The ones who'd taken care of her since she was fifteen, when her mother had died in a car accident, her father never having been in the picture to begin with. Her grandparents who'd spent their whole lives in Gotham and who weren't going to move no matter how many psychopaths threatened its populace or how much their granddaughter tried to convince them it was a really good idea. The grandparents she couldn't leave behind and she most certainly couldn't tell about her being threatened by a criminal, just in case said criminal decided to take revenge on them…
A week later she'd come home to find him lounging in one of her armchairs. She'd run. He'd effortlessly caught her. She'd begged him to not kill her, had practically been in hysterics as she'd told him she hadn't told the police anything about his 'gift'. She'd explained through her distress how she hadn't meant to offend him, but the risk of imminent death had forced her to speak up.
In response to her state, he'd done what any gentlemen would do when faced with a woman in near-hysteric's… He'd given her another riddle.
He'd waited, more or less patiently (more of the less), while she'd once again marshalled her panic-drenched cells to figure out the answer. She'd got it right… Again.
He'd gazed at her in something like disgusted astonishment, acting like it was completely inconceivable for her to know to the answer. She'd tried to tell him it really wasn't. She'd tried to explain that it was only because she'd enjoyed puzzles as a child, and now that she was an adult with jobs that on good days could only be described as mind numbingly boring she'd kept up her interest in order to keep her brain from rotting, nothing more.
He hadn't said anything. He'd just got up and left in a huff. She hadn't hesitated in looking for a new apartment. Again the thought of going to the cops had entered her head, but she'd seen how ineptly they were able to deal with these super criminals and, in all honesty, she was worried what would happen if she angered The Riddler even more.
She'd moved again, raising concerned enquires from her grandparents as to why she'd suddenly felt the need to keep hopping from place to place. She'd mumbled something about plumbing and heating systems failing and had then quickly changed the subject.
A week after she'd moved in, he found her again.
"I like this one better than the others," he'd announced from his customary recline on her armchair, cane swinging idly, "You'll stay here from now on."
He'd got up and walked towards her, smirking at the alarm so clearly written on her features...
He'd given her another riddle…
Which she'd answered… Again.
And so that was what had set the pattern for the months to come. He would show up without clue or warning, would throw out a riddle, which she would then get right. Then he'd either get mad and yell at her for cheating and storm straight back out or he would sulk for several minutes while she'd stand awkwardly by, hoping against hope that he'd leave. She kept up even more with her puzzle interest in lieu of his visits. She'd see him on the news being hauled off to Arkham and she'd breathe a sigh relief, then a few months later he'd be back in her apartment as though nothing had happened.
Gradually his visits had become lengthier, as though it was some kind of 'reward' for her continued success at solving his riddles.
At one point, he caught her in the middle of making dinner and had self-assuredly sat himself down and proclaimed that he was hungry too (after she'd gotten the obligatory riddle right, of course).
And so it had continued…
All in all, it left her… frazzled. Frazzled on a good day, and fearful for her life on a bad day.
In reality, she knew it could be a lot worse. She was still alive after all and her grandparents were safe, never mentioning anything about receiving visits from green-glad villains. All she had to do was hide him out when he deemed it necessary, or endure his company for an evening while she cooked him a meal or he paid her a visit just for the hell of it.
The highly disturbing fact was that if he was less… homicidal, she may actually enjoy his company. While unbelievably arrogant, he was stimulating to talk to… once you got him away from the mindless ranting about how he was better than everyone else and particularly how he was better than 'that incognisant fool, Batman' – he could go on about that one for hours. And sadly, stimulating company was rather lacking in the life that she lead.
Working as a waitress wasn't exactly what she'd hoped for when she'd completed her tenure at Gotham University with a major in History. But jobs weren't that easy to come by and she'd felt the need to let her grandparents enjoy their retirement rather than having her under their feet the whole time, so she'd taken whatever job she could to support herself and had moved out on her own.
Once she'd realised that The Riddler wasn't actually all that interested in killing her as much as he was in testing her, or using her current place of residence as a hideout, she had stopped planning elaborate escape routes and running from one job to the next and from one apartment to the next (he always managed to track her down anyway) and pretty-much accepted his unannounced appearances in her life as just, well… part of her life.
Despite all this though, that didn't mean that she was in anyway okay with what had happened earlier. She had never found having a choice taken from her to be remotely acceptable. There was also the fact that despite her occasionally wayward feelings, she knew that he had absolutely no interest in her beyond a plaything that he batted around until he found something more exciting to occupy his time with. And he most certainly had never shown interest in her in that sense before, forcefully or otherwise.
She slams down the chopping board and searches out the vegetables and rice for the Risotto. She knows without even looking that he's lounging comfortably at the wooden table at the other end of the kitchen. She really should calm down. Normally she was too scared to be anything but docile in his company but his actions tonight had her ireful… And it was an ire that had been building for a long time with regard to him.
"You're being awfully unwelcoming tonight, Annie," he chides from behind her.
She continues viciously slicing the peppers as she retorts,
"Are seriously expecting me to act like that didn't happen earlier, Mr Riddler – you assaulted me!"
"It was hardly an assault," he drawls.
She whips her head over her shoulder to look at him. He gazes indolently back.
"As far as I'm concerned it was," she states forcefully.
He lets out a deep breath, "You are frustrating, Annie," he complains, propping his elbow on the table and leaning his head on his hand, gazing at her contemplatively.
"How?!" she exclaims with unconcealed incredulity, "I cook for you, I give you a place to stay – with no thanks from you, I might add! – and I answer all your stupid riddles," she sees his eye twitch at this but plows on regardless, "And I've done all this for the past two years without complaining. How am I frustrating?" She's never spoken to him like this before, always being far too concerned with keeping on his good side but it seemed truth was to have its day. She just hoped it wouldn't cause her to have her last.
He stares back at her for a long, scrutinising moment before answering in a somewhat resentful tone,
"You never respond how I expect you to respond. It's very frustrating… Like a riddle that doesn't have a single answer," he muses, almost to himself.
"What?" she retorts in disbelief, "Are you telling me that you actually thought I'd react differently when you decided to force yourself on me?!" That's absolutely insane.
On the other hand, she thinks, when you consider who she was actually talking to…
She snorts, both at her own stupidity and his, and turns back to her chopping board.
"How'd you even get here anyway?" she enquires, "You were only arrested less than a week ago."
"My dry cleaning's due for collection tomorrow," he explains absentmindedly, obviously viewing this as a perfectly justifiable explanation for breaking the law.
She shakes her head and continues aggressively hacking at the hapless vegetables in front of her.
After a minute or so, she turns her head to the side to look for the frying pan and startles as she finds his face incredibly close to hers. Her eyes meet the calculating blue of his. He moves his head that bit nearer.
From such close quarters she couldn't help but notice just how incredibly smooth his skin was. Not a blemish marked the unwrinkled paleness. She wondered if he used any type of face cream… and whether she could borrow some...
"Riddle me this," he murmurs and immediately she attempts to move away – the memory of his last 'riddle' still hauntingly fresh in her mind. But he counters her step with one of his own and places his arms out on either side of her, effectively trapping her against the counter. She really didn't like where this was going…
"Riddle me this," he says again, lowly,
"What is said but often denied? What can build bridges and heal on both sides? What can be true… but is often lied?"
She breaks away from his gaze as she tries to think. He's so close now that she can feel the warm puffs of his breath flowing over her lips. It's distracting, and not solely for the sensible reasons it should be. Then something in her brain clicks. She looks back to him,
"…An apology." she answers.
"Correct," he states, then gives her a significant look. It takes a while before her brain clicks again: Wait, was he apologising to her?! The Riddler – the psychotic, criminal mastermind – was actually apologising?! To her?!
"…That's a rather crappy form of apology," she whispers, daringly but truthfully. She waits anxiously for his reaction. His eyes bore down at her, unreadable but thankfully not angry. At least, she didn't think he was angry...
"Well, I've never given one before," he finally says, with a rather large dose of sulky resentment.
Almost against her will she feels her lips twitching upwards – seriously, what was wrong with her?! This guy was demented, not to mention she still had a significantly question-mark shaped ache in the middle of her chest and now she was finding him funny?!
She turns her head away, looking down to her side, reasoning that this was the wisest course of action she could take in her present injudicious state. She startles again when she feels thin lips lay the softest of kisses on her cheek, just below her right eye. She has no idea what to do, so she ends up just standing there frozen as the lips linger for an excessively long moment before finally moving away.
He turns and walks back to the kitchen table, seating himself comfortably once more, looking terribly unfazed by everything.
She goes back to her task, carefully trying not to notice the way her hands are trembling or the heat that seemed to have suffused her skin. This guy was really messing with her head. Had he been taking lessons from Scarecrow or something?
There is a heavy silence while she finishes cooking. Not heavy as in scary, but heavy as in: He normally never stops talking, so when he does the absence of sound seems even more pronounced.
She serves up the risotto into two bowls and places them on the table. He digs in, still without saying anything. She almost swears that he's acting… tense.
Finally, once they reach the end of their meal, he announces, "I've been thinking."
And that's really not something you ever want to hear from a man like him. Horrible scenarios of painful, puzzle-centric deaths stampede into her mind.
He gazes at her intently,
"I think…" his eyes suddenly dart off to the side. Wait a minute, is he nervous, she wonders. Then she immediately counters back: No, of course he's not nervous. He's The Riddler; he doesn't get nervous, he gets… shifty. That's what it is; shiftiness. "I think… we should go out," he states.
She blinks. What?
"What?" she says, not entirely sure if she heard right – she can't have, surely?
Now that he's actually said the words out loud he seemed calmer, more like his normal self – as if his voicing them had unequivocally settled the matter.
"Yes, we should go out," he decrees decisively.
"I'm not going out with you!" His face revealed that he hadn't even contemplated her refusing him.
"Why not?" he demands, as if it was the most absurd thing he'd ever heard.
Why didn't she want to go out with him, where did she even start? "Well, for one thing, you're always threatening my family!"
"When have I ever threatened them?" he counters, still in the same tone of voice.
"When you…" Much to her chagrin, she found no specific instance forthcoming into her mind, "Well, you're always asking about them!" she snaps. From someone with his background, that was as good as threatening them.
He throws his head back in exasperation,
"That's what you're supposed to do when you like someone, you ask about their family," he replies, spelling it out as if she's only just starting having contact with the human race.
She can't believe she's actually having this conversation… With him! She gets up and rather dazedly puts her dish in the sink. Then she turns back to look at him,
"But – but – it's you!" she stammers in disbelief, "You threatened to kill me!"
He waves his hand airily from his still-seated position,
"I admit there may have been a few… misappropriations on my part during some of our initial encounters. A few threats and near-death experiences…" he relates dismissively, as if such things were of no real import, "But that's all in the past now, and it's a foolish man who doesn't learn from his mistakes. And let's face it; you'll never get a better offer."
"You're a criminal!" she points out indignantly.
"Only in the minds of those less intelligent. All I'm attempting to do is perform a valuable public service for the community: Weeding out those who drag society down with their pandering permissiveness of stupidity and senselessness."
She opened and closed her mouth several times as her flummoxed brain tried to come up with more reasons to dissuade him from this absurd notion. Then she thought of a really good one, one that she should have thought of much earlier: "I don't like you!"
He doesn't even hesitate,
"Yes, you do."
She stutters again at the sheer arrogance of this man, "Wh-how-why..?"
Unhurriedly, he rises from the table and walks towards her, speaking as he does so,
"I know you like me because let's face it, who wouldn't? Who would be able to resist the charm, charisma and style of Gotham's most revolutionary genius? Also," Her overwrought brain finally notices that he has managed to draw very near to her. He takes a final step to cover the gap between them, causing her instinctively to back up until – for the third time that night – she's again cornered by his body, "I know you like me because I've seen you watching me."
"When have you seen me watching you?" she challenges in a wavering voice, still desperately trying to win this battle.
"When I've been watching you," he purrs, leaning his head down towards her like it was a delightful secret.
"…You stabbed me in the chest when I first arrived home," she throws out as another, last-ditch attempt at objection.
"Well," he waves his hand dismissively again, "I've had a bad day. Even though I make it look terribly easy, escaping from Arkham is quite stressful, you know."
"I've had a bad too, you don't see me going round poking question marks into people," she retorts sharply.
"Poor Annie…" he croons in smarmy voice, then suddenly runs the back of his fingertips over the spot in the centre of her chest, "Shall I kiss it and make it better?" Heat explodes into her cheeks and she sees him smirk widely. He puts his lips against her ear,
"Is that a yes?" he asks with a sinfully deep voice.
Her tongue didn't seem to be responding properly to the frantic signals from her brain anymore so all she did was shake her head. She honestly couldn't believe that this was all happening. In response he kisses the shell of her ear, exceedingly tenderly,
"No?" he murmurs, sounding disappointed. He lays another kiss, this time on her earlobe, "Are you sure, Annie?" Another kiss at the top of her jaw – he was moving towards her mouth. He continued to do so as he spoke; a low rumble that sent shivers up her spine,
"A flame I am, but water cannot quench me,
Words will try, but only actions will prove,
Fear me, hate me, love me, but never deny me
Lest you never feel my warmth again,
Tell me my name."
"…Passion," she whispers, just as he reaches her lips. He hovers there,
"Correct… Kiss me, Annie," he breathes.
She had shut her eyes as he'd drawn nearer. She can't see what type of expression is on his face. All she can feel is the heat of his skin, the smell of his expensive cologne and the taste of his breath mixing with her own.
Sense flies from her as her head moves infinitesimally upwards…
They end up on the couch, him on top of her, draining out any remaining resistance or prudence through the incessant touch of his lips to her skin.
Suddenly a ringing pierces the air, jarring her senses and making her jump. He halts his possession of her mouth and reaches behind to draw a slim, dark green cell out of his back pocket. He looks down at the screen with annoyance flickering across his features, presumably because whoever was on the other end had interrupted him – or, more accurately, them.
He flips it open but automatically his eyes move back to rest solely on her,
"Hello," he says into the phone. There's a pause and then, "Oh, it's you. Hello, Joker."
She has an extremely vivid sense of being in the twilight zone, whilst the rational part of her brain reminds forcefully: You're lip-locking with a criminal, who's at this moment talking to another criminal – what on earth is wrong with you?! Her train of thought is derailed though when Riddler says, "Hm, yes, okay then," and then proceeds to disinterestedly hold the phone away from them and goes back to kissing her. A good while passes before he releases her mouth again.
"Shouldn't you be listening?" she asks in a whisper but he seemed more concerned with making little nips along her jawline,
"Oh, you know Joker," he murmurs into her skin, "It's all yak, yak, yak…"
She wants to point out that, actually, she didn't 'know Joker' and had no desire whatsoever in getting to know him, or even ever meeting the psychotic loon–
Then there's a particularly loud screech from the phone. She hears the Joker's demanding, high-pitched voice, "Riddler – are you even listening to me?!"
Riddler brings the phone back to his ear, "Of course I am, Joker. How could I not be utterly enthralled by your delightfully deceptive machinations regarding the Dark Knight's dastardly demise?" After saying this, he holds the phone away again and goes back to kissing her. She tries to protest,
"Wait – you can't kill Batman!" she hisses.
"Oh don't worry," he dismisses easily, "Joker's plans never work out. He lacks the patience and intelligence to create a plan that is truly fool-proof. With Joker, it's mostly just a lot of fool. Still," he concludes, "It keeps me occupied as I plan my next ingeniously inventive scheme to show that cape-wearing buffoon what real intellect is." Once more he brings the phone back to his ear. She can still hear Joker's incessant nattering on the other end. Riddler lets his fingertips graze gently over the features of her face, paying particular attention to her lips as the Joker's talking finally winds down. "Yes, Joker, you can count me in. I'll be sure to get everything ready," Riddler affirms, sounding almost bored.
He then snaps the cell closed without any form of warning or parting comment and dismissively chucks it behind him. "Now, where were we?" he murmurs, before pitching down again to attach himself to her mouth.
"Ah – Mm, wait–" her lips mumble around his, "How will you know what to get ready? You didn't even hear what his plan was!" she looks up at him in mystification as he draws back.
"Oh, I'll find out," he states confidently, "That man can't help but broadcast his plans all over Gotham, even the top-secret ones. And if he does manage not to, the thugs he uses are a particular breed of Neanderthal whose only dread above the Joker is that of words containing more than two syllables." He dives down for another kiss, pulling back just long enough to say, "It's nice to know you're worried about me though." She can hear the smug self-satisfaction in his voice.
She never manages to finish her protest.
She wakes up the next morning with the worst case of bed head and… a dripping wet Riddler stepping out of her bathroom wearing nothing but a low-slung towel wrapped round his hips. He notices her awakened state, "Ah," he smiles, and then walks to the bed, unhesitatingly climbing atop.
"Riddle me this," he says seductively as he crawls over her, "What is sweet like saccharine, screams like a banshee and snores like a behemoth?" His lips brush over hers, "Hint: It's not me."
She makes a bemoaning sound in the back of her throat and shuts her eyes tightly, "…So last night wasn't a mortifying dream, it was a mortifying reality…"
Her statement doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest, as he continues to peck at her lips,
"It's good to know that there's now something else I can look forward to when I come around," he purrs. Her eyes snap open again and she uses her hand to give a firm whack to the back of his head, catching him by surprise.
"How dare you!" she squawks, "I'm not going to be some on-tap booty call for the times when you're not orchestrating elaborate heists or getting yourself thrown into Arkham. I have a life you know – a non-criminal life, where non-criminals may want to ask me out and where I can go to non-criminal places and enjoy some nice, non-criminal company."
"Was there a hidden message in there, perchance?" he drawls, obviously still in good humour.
"You tell me – you're the clever one," she snipes. Then she puts her hands one his shoulders and pushes,
"Now get off me, I have to go to work," she says, smarting with humiliation at her acute lack of judgement last night and the fact that he was treating everything so casually.
"No, you don't. You don't work on the third Saturday of every month," he states, not budging.
"How do you know? Have you been stalking me?!" she demands with outrage.
"How uncouth, of course not," he retorts, offended, "I simply read your diary–"
"What?!" she shrieks.
"Only your work one, dear thing, not the one you keep hidden in the middle drawer of your desk."
She does a rather realistic impression of a fish as she opens and closes her mouth in stunned silence. Silence which he then goes on to fill,
"And for your information, I do still intend to make this a respectable arrangement and take you out to dinner. There's a lovely little Italian Place on 19th Street–"
"I'm not going out to dinner with you," she objects, finally finding her voice.
"Well, that is the lady's prerogative I suppose," he acknowledges, completely unfazed. Then he gives her body nothing short of a leer, before bringing his eyes back to hers, "Though I can't say I'm wholly averse to… eating in."
She felt the colour already darkening her cheeks intensify at his words and she looks away in acute embarrassment. He chuckles mirthfully. She's never heard him chuckle before... She scowls because she can't bring herself to hate it. Rather the opposite in fact…
She turns her head to look back up at him. Little droplets from his hair have slid their way down onto his shoulders. She finds her eyes staring fixatedly at them, then at the skin underneath…
Finally, she sighs wearily,
"I'm so going to end up in Arkham for this," she predicts fatefully, before taking hold of the back of his head and bringing it down to hers.
His grin is wide and pleased against her lips.
A/N 2: For reference: Riddler was robbing the store for materials to build his deathtraps/puzzles. It's vegetable risotto that Annabelle cooked. And also, these two lines – "Oh, you know Joker, it's all yak, yak, yak" and "There's a lovely little Italian Place on 19th Street" – are the ones taken from Riddler's Arkham Asylum Interview tapes.
And if you want to see a picture of The Riddler's appearance as featured in this fic, type "Kenneth Rocafort Riddler" into Google – should be the first pic that comes up (was on mine anyway :))
That's all folks, thanks for reading :)
A/N 3: I've also written a follow-up drabble that will be posted after I've made a few finishing touches. Unless, you know, you all hate this – in which case I won't burden you with a second one! :D