Actions

Work Header

Falling For It

Chapter Text

They balanced on the edge of the roof, facing each other. The Bat and the Clown.

“Step away from the edge,” the Dark Knight ordered, between gritted teeth.

“Or what?” The Joker grinned, the kind of grin that didn’t belong on a murderer’s face. “You gonna catch me? Rough me a little and send me straight back to dear old Arkham? Oh Bats, I just know you will. You don’t need to patronise me, darling. I know the dance as well as you do. And dare I say it? Perhaps, I might just know it a little better than you…”

“You’re crazy, Joker. We both know it. So just surrender and we won’t have to do this the hard way.” The clown giggled, criss-crossing his eyes mockingly before returning his gaze to Batman’s.

“Slow down, sweetheart; we got all night,” he said huskily, that permanent smile locked on his lips. “Humour me. What if I…break this little cycle? Whatever would you do without me, Batsy?” He sighed dramatically, before cracking up. “Ha! I’m no riddler, baby. Let me tell you.

I’d win,” he growled suddenly, all signs of lightness gone from his eyes. “And you? You’d furl up those Bat wings and you’d spiral down. You’d go down so fast, you’d catch fire. You’d burn. And when you’d hit rock bottom, you’d just lie there, all pathetic, and fizzle out.” The Joker paused, looking at the drop below him, then back up at Batman. The playful glint had returned to his eyes. “Trust me on this, darling,” he drawled, still grinning as always. “Why, I hear you ask? Why trust the clown? It’s simple, really. It’s because we’re mirrors, Batsy. Mirrors!” The clown tilted his head back and laughed. The Dark Knight stepped forward, ever so slightly hesitant. Maybe the Joker noticed, maybe he didn’t. For once, Batman couldn’t tell.

“You’ve said enough, clown. Now do as you’re told.”

“Clown? I don’t know about that.” The Joker licked his lips, almost subconsciously. “See, some people…I reckon they call me a clown ‘cos of all this,” he admitted, waving a hand in front of his face. “But they’re all, uh…boring people anyway. The lot of them. I mean, if you don’t like how I look, just say so, y’know? Clown barely fits.” He chuckled, something dark leaking into his voice as he continued. “But then there’s all those other people, the…the real ones, the ones with…substance, if you get what I’m saying. And they? They call me a clown ‘cos of who I am. The Joker.” He spun about a little, dangerously close to slipping off the edge. “I’m funny, see? Funny like a clown. I. Am. Hilarious! But, then there’s the sad thing. The sad, sad thing. You, my greatest partner, my addiction, my…obsession, disagree. You don’t see it, do you?  In your righteous little mind, you think that I’m not amusing in the slightest. Well, darling, I am. So, Batsy…how about it? Wanna hear a joke?” The clown spread his arms out, as if he were presenting to an audience, but before he could begin telling his (almost definitely twisted) joke, the Dark Knight closed the distance between them, and grabbed Joker’s arm, roughly.

“Listen to me, you bastard,” Batman growled. “I’ve had enough of your sick little mind games. You’re going back to Arkham, and I swear I will make sure you remain there.” The Joker giggled.

“Didn’t I say so? Oh, well. Some habits die hard, as they say. But, uh…would you allow me this one last joke? Please, Batsy baby?” The clown batted his eyelashes. “I mean, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to sweet little Robin, would we?”

“Are you seriously threa- You know what? Forget it. Just…just spit it out so I can send you back.”  The Joker tried to pull his arm out of Batman’s grip, gently, but when he didn’t relent, the Joker just rolled his eyes and attempted to applaud in that position.

“Ah, well. I can’t express my gratitude. Your loss, darling. Anyway, how rude am I being? I should never keep an audience waiting…” The Joker smiled a little at that, before launching into the joke. “So, there were these two people who were very much in love. Almost violently in love, you could say.” The clown winked at Batman. “But Person 1 was getting a little…bored of their relationship. You see, their daily routine was awfully mundane, and they’d been at it for years! So, one day, Person 1 decided they’d had enough. They climbed up the stairs to the roof of their apartment building.” The Joker looked down. “A bit like the one we’re on top of. How coincidental!” The Dark Knight narrowed his eyes, saying nothing. “Person 1 stood on this edge of the roof for hours, thinking some very dark thoughts. A while later, Person 2 finally found them. They stepped up beside Person 1 and told them - no, begged them - to reconsider. Person 2 told Person 1 that they loved them and that they couldn’t afford to lose them.” By this point, the Joker had successfully managed to release himself from Batman’s hold, telling the story in a way that foolishly brought Batman’s guard down, even though he knew that it should be the other way around. It was just the way that the clown’s eyes twinkled that enraptured him. He couldn’t help it.

Catching him unaware, the Joker jerked out, wrapping a leg around the Dark Knight’s ankle ferociously. Batman lost his footing and lurched over the side, only to be held from his cape by a grinning Joker.

“Going so soon, Batsy? At least let me finish! Where were we? Oh, yes! Person 1 just laughed at Person’s 2 concern. ‘Oh, silly,’ Person 1 said. ‘I wasn’t going to jump. I was going to do this!’ And with that, Person 1 shoved their beloved Person 2 off the roof. As they fell, Person 1 yelled, and here’s the punchline…” The clown, surprisingly strong, pulled the Bat’s face close to his own. “’I guess you fell for it.’” The Joker laughed manically, almost bending over, and in doing so, released Batman’s cape, so that the Dark Knight went hurtling down. “I GUESS YOU FELL FOR IT!” he screamed, again, and again, and a-

Chapter Text

“You’re such a spoilsport,” the Joker grumbled, as Batman handed him over to a police officer.

“You did it once again, Batman,” came a voice from behind him. The Dark Knight swivelled around, identifying Commissioner Gordon as he strided towards him.

“Just doing my job, Commissioner,” he downplayed. Then, in a lowered voice: “Gordon, I need to discuss something with you.” The Commissioner nodded and they stepped aside, away from the police vehicles. “We need to increase the security at Arkham Asylum.” Gordon sighed.

“Batman, you know that I would like nothing more than to see the Joker safely locked away. But we’re running out of options – there’s only so much that we can do.” The Dark Knight balled his hand into a fist.

“Damnit! I need a solution. That…that maniac is beginning to…I don’t know, affect me? His games are more dangerous than ever, and he’s going so far as to threaten Robin. I don’t care what it takes, I’ll even invest the money myself-”

“Bruce,” Gordon interrupted. “There is one thing we could do. Metropolis has state-of-the-art security systems, personally developed by Lex Luthor. If you make a deal with Lex Corp-”

“No. Lex Corp’s not secure. I have reliable sources. What we need is-” But anything he was going to say was cut off by one of the police officers, yelling:

“Stop him! The convict’s getting away!” Batman span to see the Joker, still handcuffed, making a run for it.

“He’s heading for the pier!” Commissioner Gordon yelled. “All units, assemble on the south side and try to round him up from there. Batman, take three officers and follow him. Go!” The Dark Knight took off at a run, relying on the ever-present flash of green hair and a purple suit. He could hear the pounding footsteps of the three officers behind him.

The Joker was a fast runner. Batman knew, that with the other officers beside him, he wouldn’t be able to catch up. He was responsible for them, too.

“Follow me!” he hollered at them, turning off into an alley. He knew a short cut that was faster than taking the south route Commissioner Gordon had suggested. They leaped over a gate, before spilling out onto the pier. He could see the Joker running along the wooden structure. Batman glanced to either side. The backup officers hadn’t arrived yet, as he’d suspected. But the Joker was sprinting towards a dead end.

He raced after the clown, the steady plonk sounding under his feet as he ran over the wooden beams.

“Sir, maybe we should wait for the others!” one of the officers shouted from behind him, following him nonetheless.

“No,” Batman growled in return. “We’ve got him.” The Joker reached the end of the pier, managing to stop in his tracks before his momentum sent him flying over the edge. He sighed deeply, before turning to Batman and the officers and bowing.

“Ah, it’s finally arrived. The closing act. The last performance. You can just feel it in the air, can you not?” Batman gingerly took a step towards the Joker.

“What are you talking about, clown?” The Joker rolled his eyes.

“Darling, we’ve discussed that name.” He grinned at the officers. “Men, am I right? You can never…” He spun and took out a gun. “…hold them to anything.” The three officers immediately cocked their weapons, but Batman held a hand up, as if to say, I can handle this.

“Joker, drop your gun. Now.” The Joker giggled, before narrowing his eyes.

“How about…I don’t?” he snarled, cocking his gun. He could feel the officers tensing around him.

“Hold your fire!” he shouted at them. Then, to the Joker: “And you. Surrender now. Or else I’ll…”

“Or you’ll do what?” the Joker hissed, laying a finger on the trigger and aiming. “You don’t have the heart to-” The Joker was silenced by the single bullet that ripped through his chest. The smile froze on his face, the laughter died on his lips. He giggled weakly. “And the curtains close,” he whispered, before stumbling and falling back into the icy waters below.

“No!” Batman cried, launching forwards and plunging himself into the freezing depths. His senses were immediately overloaded by the sensation of being cold, cold in a way that would make Mr. Freeze envious. He blinked, trying to glimpse the familiar green-and-purple in the murky water. The current fought against him, swirling him about helplessly. His lungs clenched up, his stomach churned, and-

There. There! He swam desperately towards the sinking body. He grasped at the Joker’s hand, pulling him close, before kicking up with as much force as he could muster and breaking the surface. He washed up somewhere secluded, away from the searching gaze of the G.C.P.D. – somewhere…alone.

The clown’s body was light. It shocked him how light it was. And cold…too cold for a living person. Batman stared at the gaping hole in the Joker’s chest, then at his mouth. It’s the only way, he told himself. He pressed his warm lips against the clown’s freezing ones, blowing some fresh air in. But nothing happened. The Joker’s pulse wasn’t going to come back. The Dark Knight pulled away, wiping off remnants of lipstick with the back of his arm, and closed his enemy’s unseeing eyes.

Chapter Text

G.C.P.D. trucks surrounded the pier, a few stray cars parked further away, but still in the vicinity. Some of the officers slung police tape across the area. Why they did it, Batman wasn’t sure. He didn’t really care.

Commissioner Gordon stood some distance away from the scene, talking to an officer indistinctly. Batman approached him silently, trying to keep his anger in check. He held the Joker’s lifeless body in his arms, a sight which automatically cleared out a path for him amongst the officers. The person the Commissioner had been talking to cleared his throat and moved away as the Dark Knight reached him.

Gordon took one look at the dead criminal, and then at Batman’s expression. He nodded awkwardly.

“I see you’ve retrieved Joker’s body,” he said, trying to meet Batman’s eyes. He couldn’t.

“I see you haven’t got your police scum under control,” Batman deadpanned. The Commissioner looked away, calling one of the officers over. He didn’t catch the name.

“You can give this officer the body,” Gordon said quietly. Batman gently – too gently – handed the Clown Prince of Crime to the officer, his body stiff and reluctant. As the man carried the body away, the Commissioner made a gesture as if he was going to place a hand on Batman’s shoulder, but then thought better of it.

“Gordon, I need the names of those three officers.” Gordon tensed.

“No. Those names are confidential.”

“Confidential? I have a right to those names. That was obstruction of justice. The Joker didn’t deserve…” he gulped, let out a shaky breath. “Death. The Joker didn’t deserve death.”

“No,” The Commissioner bit back. “He deserved worse! I’m not giving you any names, because for you, it’s personal.” Gordon sighed. “You can’t blame them. They were just carrying out the law.” Batman stepped forwards menacingly, breathing hard.

“The law? What about justice?” he asked, his voice dangerously low. Gordon said nothing. “I see how it is. One of these days, I’ll show you justice. Mark my words.” And with that, he took off into the night, cape swishing, face turned away from the first red rays of the sunrise.

 

Bruce spent the day looking through the surveillance feeds surrounding the pier, identifying the three officers using face recognition software. He kept at it until he got two names. It was at that point that watching the Joker’s last moments became too much for him.

“And the curtains close.”

He banished the voice from his head as he donned his costume, feeling the weight, perhaps not for the first time in his life, but noticeably more then before.

 

A lone security guard sat outside the room. No problem there. The Dark Knight released a silent breath, watching it condense. It was cold, colder than usual. But then again, he’d been numb since he’d jumped into the water. The weather didn’t make a difference. There could’ve been a heatwave, for all he cared. His heart would’ve remained frozen.

Batman shook off his thoughts and approached the guard with the confidence only a vigilante could have.

“I’m here to examine Victim 66625,” the Dark Knight stated smoothly. The guard must’ve jumped at least three feet in the air. It was a common reaction, and Batman didn’t flinch.

“I-I’m sorry sir, d-do you have a w-warrant?” the guard stuttered, trying to collect himself. The vigilante snarled and lifted him up by the collar.

“Is justice a good enough warrant for you?” he growled. The guard nodded, hands in the air. Batman released him, hand on the door handle, before the guard cut in:

“But sir, you really can’t see Victim 66625. That’s the Joker, yeah?” Batman spun, taking a step towards the security guard.

“So, what if it is? Has someone told you I can’t see him? Has he been moved?” The guard froze. “He’s been moved?!”

“N-not exactly, sir. The body…” The guard trailed off. If it continues like this, I’ll be here all night, Batman thought to himself. In that spirit, he pinned the terrified security guard against the wall, a fist raised.

“Spit it out,” the vigilante hissed. Tears trickled down the guard’s face, and his lip trembled as he shakily confessed:

“The body was stolen two and a half hours ago.” Batman paused, searching his face for any sign of a lying conscience. He’s telling the truth, he realised.

“Who knows about this?” Batman questioned, eerily calm. The guard looked down.

“No-one,” he mumbled. The Dark Knight raised his fist a little higher.

“Well, that’s a problem for the both of us,” he replied, bringing his fist crashing down.

Chapter Text

“How dare you?!” Commissioner Gordon yelled. Batman stood on the roof across him, suddenly realising why the Bat-Signal was on. “You give me this shit about justice, and then you steal a body and beat up a guard? What has gotten into you?”

“Gordon-” Batman tried, but the Commissioner wasn’t finished.

“Don’t call me Gordon! I am not your friend! My friends don’t commit crimes!” Batman opened his mouth to speak, but Gordon – the Commissioner - cut him off again. “No! I’ve turned a blind eye to your activities, but this is crossing the line. I will not tolerate theft-”

“Commissioner, for god’s sake, listen to me! It wasn’t me! Someone else stole the body. Yes, I went to the morgue, but…I needed to make my peace. I’m not going to try to justify that, or explain it to you, even. I beat the up guard out of anger. I shouldn’t have. But he had a job to do, and goddamn, he didn’t even report the crime!” Gordon shook his head, breathing out slowly.

“Look, I…I didn’t know that. It doesn’t make your actions any more acceptable, but I suppose, I suppose you had your reasons. So, this one time, I’ll let you off. But you’re walking on a thin rope, Bruce. Pull one more stunt like this and I will have the G.C.P.D. onto you.” Gordon rubbed his eyes and yawned. “One more thing. How did you-” But Batman had already disappeared.

 

He stood on top of the cathedral, crouching behind one of the gargoyles. Across him, a high-rise building scraped against the darkened sky. Batman focussed in on the moving shadow, captured against the harsh yellow light of the apartment.

So, this was it.

This man was probably the bastard who had fatally shot the Joker. If not, he could always chase the other name down. Tracking him down hadn’t been easy. His alias came complete with incorrect home addresses and places of work, as well as an intricately forged past. He couldn’t even investigate the G.C.P.D., because Gordon would eventually discover him, and the last thing he needed was to be back on the City’s Most Wanted list.

The Dark Knight aimed the grappling hook at a ledge below the man’s apartment, pulling it taut. Once it was secure, he leaped off the spire and almost flew across the buildings, gripping onto the ledge and soundlessly swinging up on to the balcony. Batman pressed his body against the floor, making himself near invisible, taking a small wrench and an even smaller metal-type ball out of his utility belt at the same time.

Using the wrench, he prised the balcony door open an inch, then rolled the round contraption into the apartment. The ball ran smoothly across the floor, stopping between the far door and a worktop. Perfect. He swiftly shut the door again, slinking over to the balcony railing and agilely flipping over the side. He opened the Bat wings and flew down to an alleyway, where the Batmobile lay in the shadows. The vigilante got in and turned the comms link on.

“Alfred, I’ve placed the bug. Is it up and running?” Through the static came his butler’s reply:

“Certainly, sir. You seemed to have placed it in the optimum position. The cameras have no blind spots, though God knows how a small device like it can manage such a feat.” Batman allowed himself a small smile.

“You can ask Fox yourself; I have no idea.” He powered the Batmobile up, suddenly anxious to get home and survey the feeds.

 

Alfred came back in holding Bruce’s usual coffee, having returned the Batsuit to where it belonged. He set down the mug, and turned to watch the screens.

The suspect sat startlingly close to the device, somehow remaining completely oblivious to it. He looked through his own case files, seemingly intent in his purpose. Bruce himself stared at the feed, unblinking. He was on the edge of his seat, elbows resting on his knees in anticipation.

“Sir, your drink,” Alfred announced, knowing that Bruce hadn’t noticed his presence yet. The billionaire shook himself out of his trance, and nodded gratefully at his butler.

“Thank you,” he said, taking a sip absentmindedly, his eyes still fixed on the monitors. As he swallowed, his brows furrowed. He set aside the cup.

“Alfred, what is this?” The butler cleared his throat.

“…Your drink, sir.” Bruce tore his eyes away from the screens, turning to face him.

“This is not my usual coffee, Alfred. I’ll ask you again: what is it?” Alfred met Bruce’s eyes.

“Sir, back when I was still…serving, a lot of us used to experience…disturbing things. It gave us nightmares. Shell-shock. You know what I’m getting at. There was this one man, though. Never woke up screaming like the rest of us. But he had it the worst. One day, he shared his secret with us. A concoction, a sort herbal tea, if you will, sir. And that is what you have in front of you, Master Bruce.” The billionaire stood up and stretched, walking over to another seat with a different angle on the screens.

“How is this going to help me, Alfred? I don’t have…shell shock, or whatever it is that this helps with.” Alfred stepped to one side, so he was standing behind Bruce.

“I hear you every night, sir. Mumbling in your sleep. It’s no wonder; watching someone you have strong emotion towards die like that-”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up. ‘Strong emotions’? Alfred, what are you on about? I don’t have strong emotions towards the Joker. I never did.” He turned away.

“Sir, you hated him. If that’s not a strong emotion, I don’t know what is.” Bruce breathed out, slowly.

“Alfred, just…just get me my coffee, please. I don’t want to talk about the Joker.” But Alfred didn’t budge.

“Master Bruce, I’ve seen you go through this phase before. You’re hurting. Don’t do the wrong thing. Don’t shut yourself off again. Sir-”

“Alfred, LEAVE ME ALONE!” Bruce exploded. Then there came the silence. A heavy silence, draped over the room like a shroud. None of them said anything. How could they? There was always a line, that was never meant to be crossed. And Bruce? Well, he-

An incessant beeping pierced the quiet. The screens flashed read, an alert popping up.

‘JOKER’S LOCATION: SIGNAL COMING FROM DOWNTOWN GOTHAM.’ Bruce risked a glance at Alfred. Alfred nodded, as if all animosity had been forgotten.

“You better get on it, sir,” he said, a trace of hurt still lingering in his voice. Bruce would have to deal with that later. “I’ll triangulate the signal and sync it to the Batmobile.” Bruce grabbed his suit, getting dressed in record time. He pulled the cowl over his face and proceeded to his on-duty vehicle.

Chapter Text

The red dot on the map moved rapidly. But Batman was faster. He urged the Batmobile to go faster, weaving in and out of late-night traffic, speeding along the highways that would lead him to the Clown Prince of Crime. Or his body, at least. It was still hard for him to accept that. The Joker was a survivor. A bullet shouldn’t have been enough to top him. But in the end, he just proved to be human, like every other damned soul in Gotham.

“Sir, you’re going to have to take a detour.” Alfred’s voice was scratchy through the comms link. Batman nodded, before remembering that his butler couldn’t see him.

“Alright. Where to?” There was a slight pause, before Alfred came through again.

“Just off the exit in front of you. You need to avoid the cameras if you don’t want the Commissioner getting drift of your activities.” The Dark Knight leaned forwards as he swerved off the road. The signal was still beeping.

“Okay, now-” Alfred’s voice cut off. Batman looked to the map in alarm, to see that an alert had appeared on the small screen. Two words that made him see red.

But he wasn’t about to go home. Not just yet. First, he had some criminals to deal with.

That night, the vigilante gave it his all, and even more. Every lowly mugger was sorry they’d chosen that night to commit crime. The police force would wake up to find unconscious criminals scattered across the city. And as he did it, Batman could only see those two words flashing in his mind: SIGNAL LOST. They might as well have been holding his enemy out on a fishing pole before reeling it back in. He didn’t head home until the sun had risen.

 

“Slow down, sweetheart; we got all night.”

Bruce groaned and rolled over in his bed, feverishly asleep. His dreams – no, his nightmares – had been full of that voice. That damned voice.

“Wanna hear a joke?”

He couldn’t see where the voice was coming from. All he saw was darkness – a sight he’d grown accustomed to. That’s when the giggling started. Same as all nights, like a record on loop. Suddenly, out of the nothingness, came a body, almost floating, covered in a white cloth. Bruce reached out. Pulled it off.

The Joker’s dead grin gleamed back at him. Ha. Ha. Ha.

The smile froze on his face, the laughter died on his lips. Ha. Ha. Ha. He giggled weakly. Ha.

“And the curtains close.”

“No!” Bruce yelled, sitting up straight in his bed. He breathed heavily, just sitting there, trying to calm down. Tears streaked his face, and he wiped them off, before glancing at the clock. 11:30 am. No point in trying to sleep again; Alfred was to wake him up in less than a half hour. He rested against the headboard, staring at the ceiling.

The Joker was dead. There it was, the fact. But only…it didn’t feel right. He’d hoped that seeing the body in the morgue would’ve given him closure. However, that had been inconveniently taken away from him. So, all he had left was clues. Someone who could give him a motive, plain to see, so that he could finally accept it. The Joker…dead.

“Good morning, sir. Rise and shi- Oh.” Alfred stood in the doorway, breakfast tray in his hands. He looked down. “Did the, uh – nightmares awaken you, sir? Or is it-”

“It’s nothing, Alfred.” The butler nodded awkwardly, walking across the master bedroom to place the tray on the bedside table.

“Your breakfast, sir. Eat fast – you have a meeting in an hour.” Bruce paused in his attempt to grab a piece of toast, a little bewildered.

“Meeting? Alfred, I thought I told you that until the case was solved, all meetings should be put on hold-”

“Sir, with all due respect, it is time to start putting your life back together. Socialising and getting involved in something else should help. Plus, I’ve already accepted on your behalf.” Bruce tried to protest. “Ah, ah, ah. No buts, sir. Get dressed and I shall meet you at the car.” Bruce rolled his eyes, accepting defeat.

 

“As you can see from these numbers, the recent security instalment at Arkham Asylum has resulted in less break-outs.” Bruce leaned forwards.

“But, you’re only showing the data for the small-time criminals. What about those in the maximum-security cells?”

Some of the board shifted about in their seats, uncomfortable.

“Maybe you shouldn’t go there,” Fox mumbled, but Mathis was already pressing buttons in accordance to the projector.

“Well observed, Mr Wayne. Admittedly, there hasn’t been much difference in those areas. However, with the upcoming partnership with Lex Corporations, we hope to see-”

“Hold on a second,” Bruce interrupted, holding up a finger to silence the others. “I didn’t approve of this partnership.” Mathis cleared her throat, somewhat awkward.

“Well, considering your recent absence, we decided to take matters into our own hands. Especially since the Joker-”

“Don’t.” Bruce’s cold tone turned heads. Damnit, what was he doing? He was Bruce Wayne right now, not Batman, and Bruce Wayne wasn’t shaken by the Joker’s death. But that name…He couldn’t help himself. “Cancel the partnership. Now.”

“But-” Mathis tried to interject. Bruce stood up from his seat at the table.

“No buts. I will not have Wayne Enterprises getting involved with a corrupt organisation, and most definitely not on the account of a deceased criminal’s old habits. Understood?” And with that, he stormed out of the office.

Chapter Text

Bruce sat in the limo, the laptop screen fixed on the feeds he’d accessed through the computers back at home. He scrolled through the pre-recorded surveillance, his search turning up to be, so far, fruitless. He groaned in frustration.

“Alfred, pick up the speed. I need to get home in order to access the live feeds. There’s nothing on these ones.” However, a minute or so later, Bruce realised that Alfred had not done as he asked. “Alfred! I’m serious; I need to get back to the manor as soon as possible.”

“Oh,” Alfred replied. “Is that why you rushed out of your meeting well before it was over?” Bruce could hear the quiet anger in his voice. “Because, somehow, I doubt it, sir.” Bruce sighed.

“Alfred, I understand that you want me to give more attention to the running of the family business, but I can’t. I have my reasons for leaving the office. Now please, Alfred…pick up the speed.” The car lurched as Alfred suddenly sped up, swerving between civilian vehicles in a way that Bruce had never seen him do before.

He didn’t say anything.

Thankfully, the unpleasant trip home was short, and they soon pulled up in front of Wayne manor. Bruce didn’t wait for Alfred to open the door for him; he got out, practically running in the direction of the Batcave. As soon as he sat down in front of the screens, he typed in the password and accessed the feeds. Perfect timing too, it seemed. The suspect was sitting at the desk, engaged in a phone call.

“…No, I swear, he doesn’t suspect a thing. The Bat is not on my trail…” Alfred approached from behind him.

“Alfred, are you hearing this? It could be a lead,” Bruce muttered, fixated on the screens. It was fascinating, watching someone from this angle. So close, but completely invisible too. Alfred looked at one of the other screens, and cleared his throat.

“Sir, that sunset is also quite the image, wouldn’t you agree?” Bruce simply rolled his eyes, still intently listening to the ongoing conversation.

“Yes, but we fixed the glitch. Any trails that might have popped up on his locations should’ve disappeared.” The man was silent for a few seconds, before saying: “You haven’t seen any? Then why are you interrogating me? I told you the glitch was fixed! Ever since I shot that scumbag, you’ve been…wait, what?!”

 He slammed his fist down on the desk. A stray pencil rattled and rolled off the desk on to the floor, partly obstructing the camera. The man glanced briefly at it, before continuing:

“Yeah, no. We’re not doing tha- woah, hold up a second.” He looked back at the pencil, before his eyes fixed onto Fox’s contraption.

“Damnit,” Bruce whispered softly. The man reached for the hidden camera. “Alfred, scramble the signal.” The man picked up the device, eyes widening.

“Hey, I think I’ve been bugged. Just let me check.”

“Alfred, SCRAMBLE THE SIGNAL!” The screen beeped, before going black. Bruce sat there, processing what he’s just overheard. Ever since I shot that scumbag…

That was good a confession as any, right? Scumbag. That…that goddamn police officer shot the Joker. Not only did he do that, but he was foul-mouthing him. Bruce felt something rising inside of him. Anger. He got up, striding across the room with new-found purpose.

“Alfred, get me the suit.” Alfred didn’t budge.

“May I ask why, sir?” Bruce stopped in his tracks, turning around slowly. It’s not his fault, Bruce chided himself. Don’t take your anger out on him. But he couldn’t really stop himself.

“Alfred, you’re my butler, not my father. I tell you to do something, you do it. Understood?” Alfred exhaled slowly, shaking his head.

“Master Bruce, I understand you. But…I cannot permit you to chase about this…this unhealthy obsession! He’s dead, Bruce. The Joker is dead, for god’s sake! Why can’t you let him be? I care for you, sir, but I wonder if this is really about hate anymore.”

Bruce felt the heat rising to his cheeks. What was he…? Bruce looked Alfred in the eyes, suddenly understanding what he meant. No. Enough.

“Alfred?” Bruce asked, calmly.

“Yes, sir?”

“I’ll get the suit myself. Don’t talk to me, okay? For the last time, you are not my father. I’m going after this son of a bitch, and you can’t stop me. It’s about time the Joker got justice. And justice is always served cold.”

Chapter Text

Back on the cathedral spires, amongst the gargoyles. It was almost exactly like last time, as Batman’s eyes followed the target. Except, this time? There was not a glimmer of doubt in his mind. This was it. It was about time that Batman found out the truth about the ‘death’ of the Joker. His mind told him that the facts were undeniable, but his heart…

Then again, when had he ever trusted his heart?

There was no point in stealth. The GCPD would be alerted anyway if one of their officers was brought down, and Gordon would know who’d done it. Better to get this over with quickly, before the GCPD were able to react.

Batman aimed his harpoon at the pole above the full-length windows, and after pulling it taut, leant back, before swinging forwards full force, feet first as he crashed into the living space. The man screamed, fumbling about for his gun. It only made him angrier. Someone who kept a gun in their desk was full well guilty in the sins they’d committed. The man spun around.

“B-b-batman? What are you doing he-” The Dark Knight grabbed him by the collars of his shirt.

“Cut the crap. You know why I’m here. For answers. It’s in your best interest to talk.” He threw the trembling man down onto a chair. The man gulped.

“Okay, I…I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’ll answer any questions you have. Just…don’t hurt me.” Ha. Hurt him? Batman was mad enough to kill him, unless the evidence proved otherwise. But he wasn’t going to let the officer in on that.

“Good. Glad to know that we’ve come to an understanding. Now, did you or did you not kill the Joker?” The change in the man’s attitude was unbelievable. He stopped trembling. His face took on an almost smug look. Worst of all, he started laughing.

“Oh! That’s what you’re here for? For a moment, I thought you were…never mind. I guess you are as smitten as they say. The Bat, crazy for the clown. Who would’ve figured?” Batman struck him across the face, hard. It may not have done much, but at least it shut him up.

“I am not smitten with some…criminal. I just believe in justice for everyone, citizen, rogue, or official. It makes no difference to me.” It’s what he told himself, anyway. There was no way that he was investigating it for any other reason. He just wanted what was fair. “Now, answer the question, scumbag.” It felt good, throwing the insult back in the officer’s face.

“Hehe. The Joker? That bastard got what he deserved. No, he got better than he deserved. I’m surprised I haven’t received an award for blowing his pasty face to bits. That little-” The man didn’t finish his sentence, as Batman had hit him square in the face. He twisted his gun hand back, cracking his wrist and wrestling the gun out of his hand. He then proceeded to throw the bastard across the room, ignoring the man’s cries.

He ran across the space, picking the officer up along with a shard of broken furniture that the man had crashed into. Batman pinned him down, putting one foot on his chest to restrict the man’s movement. He lifted the broken table piece, glass pointing towards the petrified officer’s heart.

“This?” he growled at the man. “This is for my nemesis.” But before he could do anything, the door came crashing down, Commissioner Gordon behind it.

“Freeze!” The rage exploded in his voice. “Batman, you are under arrest for attempted murder. Drop all weapons now or we will be forced to shoot…” He said more, but Batman had tuned out. The words played over and over in his head. Attempted murder.

He…he had tried to kill someone.

Batman stumbled backwards, tripping over something that sent his hurtling further over the edge, through the window.

The vigilante fell from the high-rise building, doing nothing to slow himself.

I’m done for. I almost murdered someone. I’m done for anyway.

Suddenly, out of the dark, Batgirl swooped down, grabbing Batman before the helicopters could get to him. She huffed under his weight.

“Bruce, you gotta help me here. I may be strong, but I can’t carry you forever. Here.” She took out another grapple gun, shooting it so the end landed beside her own hook. “Take this. We gotta get you outta here, and that roof has a good vantage point. The satellite dish should hide us from view.”

Reluctantly, Batman accepted the help. He still felt numb.

“Now hurry up!” she continued. “As of now, you’re wanted for attempted murder.”

Chapter Text

He tripped over as he touched the concrete roof, his mind still stuck on the horrible idea of murder. Batgirl caught him and tugged him back behind the satellite dish.

“Right, we should be safe for a while now,” she announced. “Now, do you wanna tell me what’s up with you?” Batman sighed glumly.

“What’s there to tell? I tried to kill someone. I’m done for. I don’t know why you bothered to catch me.” He was expecting Batgirl to scold him, maybe offer some advice.

Instead, she slapped him across the face.

Batman stared at her in shock, and she giggled sheepishly.

“Sorry. I had to.” Her expression hardened. “Bruce, you’ve got to get a grip on yourself. I know…I know it’s hard to control the anger when you lose something that means a lot to you, but you need to learn. I was watching you before, you know? When you were interrogating him. Alfred had called me, saying he was worried.” Batman opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off. “No, don’t blame him. What you did with Alfred was unacceptable. Your feelings shouldn’t get in the way of family. He cares for you. Anyway, when I was watching you…I couldn’t really see you, Bruce. All I could see was…a monster. And that’s not you! So please…” She pulled him into a hug.

Click.

Batman blinked. He tried to move out of her embrace, and realised: she’d handcuffed him. She pulled away from him.

“I called on the police on you. I…you need to be somewhere where you won’t hurt anyone. Bruce, I know you, and I know you won’t stop until the Joker comes back. And the thing is…he’s dead. He’s gone. You need to control your emotions. You can’t do that in Blackgate…but you might be able to in Arkham. They can handle cases like-” Batman’s sad laugh stopped her in her tracks.

“Babs…we’ve known each other so long…but you still believe you could handcuff me without my consent. No. You’re right. I give up.” Batgirl didn’t reply. She stood up and signalled to a nearby helicopter.

A single tear fell into the nothingness below, as Batman was transported to a police car, finally caught.

Chapter Text

It’s funny how things change, isn’t it?

Batman looked out of the car window, into the endless night. Raindrops drizzled down, obscuring any limited view the area could’ve provided.

It was inevitable that his identity would soon be revealed – the only surprise in his arrest had been the fact that he hadn’t already been unmasked. However, Batman’s mind was pondering something else.

He felt he hadn’t paid enough attention to Barbara at his lowest moments to question her usage of vocabulary. Your feelings. Your emotions. Those were the exact words she used. He’d, in his sad state, assumed that she meant to say his hate for the Joker. But…say she meant something else…

It would begin to fit with other events, other snippets of conversation.

I guess you are as smitten as they say.

I wonder if this is really about hate anymore.

I hear you every night, sir. Mumbling in your sleep. It’s no wonder; watching someone you have strong emotion towards die like that-

Oh god. The dreams. And Alfred had said something along the lines of…

You’re hurting. Don’t do the wrong thing. Don’t shut yourself off again.

But what had Batman done? The wrong thing. Of course. The pieces clicked together, creating a single but impossible explanation for Batman’s fall from grace:

He…was in love. With the Joker.

It couldn’t be. Could it?

The car sped past lonely skyscrapers scattered about on the edge of town. They were nearing Arkham. The buildings brought back another unwanted memory: that conversation with the Joker.

Whatever would you do without me, Batsy? Ha! I’m no riddler, baby. Let me tell you. I’d win. And you? You’d furl up those Bat wings and you’d spiral down. You’d go down so fast, you’d catch fire. You’d burn. And when you’d hit rock bottom, you’d just lie there, all pathetic, and fizzle out.

No. How…how had the Joker turned out to be right? How could someone as far gone as the clown emphasise with Batman? He glanced about, noticing his surroundings as if for the first time. He was sitting in a freaking police car. On his way to Arkham. And that was when he decided that no matter what, he could not let this happen.

He curled up in fake agony, groaning. It got the attention of the officer in the front seat.

“Sir? Sir, are you alright?”

“Help,” Batman called, before seeming to pass out. His heartbeat quickened. Despite being a ‘playboy’, Batman wasn’t the best actor. He was almost certain that the officers would see through his gag, but it looked as if he’d overestimated as they pulled over.

He felt the car door open, and, having slipped out of his restraints as the car slowed down, he lashed out, taking the officer by surprise. The officer tried to retaliate, but instead, ended up crashing into the other officer, who’d been driving, as Batman heavily kicked him. They both collapsed, having passed out.

Batman crouched low, rummaging through the officer’s pockets until he found the keys to the trunk. He popped it open, and retrieved his weapons. Then, he ran.

Chapter Text

He sat on the edge of the roof, rain mingling with his tears. The Bat, all by himself.

Bruce had long taken off his cowl, but it didn’t seem right, looking at a darkened version of Gotham with only his bare eyes.

But it was time. Finally, it was time. He’d been sitting here for a while, and intended to do so until the sun rose. He needed the silence to confess to himself:

He was still unsure.

But Alfred was right. God bless, Alfred was always right, it seemed. But he needed to say it, needed to let go, before things got any worse. In all honesty, he should’ve done that a while ago. He took in a deep breath, and proclaimed:

“I’m in love with the Joker.” Then, quieter: “But the Joker is dead.” He repeated it, again and again, until-

“I mean, I’m flattered and all, but are you really sure about that second statement?”

What. The. Hell.

No.

Batman spun around to the right, and saw…no-one. But from his left, he heard a giggle.

“Ha! I CANNOT believe you fell for that!” He jumped off the edge of the roof and turned to face him.

The Joker, completely drenched from his green hair to his purple shoes.

But-

No, wait-

Was he?

This was happening. This was ACTUALLY-

Yeah, but what if-

No, this had to be-

That voice-

“Bats! It’s me! Surprise! Can I just take a minute to say, I TOLD YOU SOOO!!!” The clown erupted into laughter, tearing up slightly. Or maybe that was just the rain…

“Joker!” The clown giggled.

“That’s right, Batman. It’s me. How incredibly observant of you,” he answered sarcastically.

But it was really him. Bruce walked up to him. Oh, the things he was going to do to that little bastard. He grabbed the Joker by the collar, hoisting him up against the edge of the roof. The Joker chuckled nervously.

“Now, Batsy, I know you missed me, but-” Bruce tightened his grasp on the Joker shirt and-

Kissed him straight on the mouth. The Joker yelped into his mouth, surprised, before melting into the embrace.

“Don’t ever do that to me again, got it? Or god help me, I will tear you limb from limb.,” Bruce said against the clown’s warm lips – nothing like before…no wait, don’t think about that. The Joker nodded, before giggling. Bruce leaned into the kiss, wrapping his arms around the Joker. He tried to get a good grip on the surface, but he overbalanced, almost sending Joker off the edge of the skyscraper.

Only his strong arms held the clown close to his chest.

“Well, would you look at that?” the Joker whispered, wrapping his arms around Bruce’s neck. “You’ve got me falling for it, too. Ha. Get it? It’s actually quite funny. Not just that, but the fact that the baddie found true love. And not only did I get my Bats, but I got Gotham’s most eligible bachelor, too.”

“Don’t you dare tell anyone.”

“Not a chance in hell, darling. You’d never have thought that our story would end like this, eh?” Bruce grinned.

“Who said anything about ending? I still gotta whole list of things to do to you, J.” And hey, the sun didn’t come up for another few hours.