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A Knife all Blade

Chapter Text

Looking at my own reflection
When suddenly, it changes,
Violently it changes.
There is no turning back now,
You've woken up the demon in me.

I can see inside you, the sickness is rising,
Don't try to deny what you feel.
Will you give in to me?
It seems that all that was good has died
And is decaying in me.

Get up, come on, get down with the sickness.

Madness is the gift, that has been given to me.


Disturbed - Down with the Sickness

Chapter One

If they ever caught her, they would surely soon want to figure out why she'd done all this in the first place. They would sniff and search her past like cadaver dogs, desperately trying to find the trigger, the one incident that got the ball rolling.

But they wouldn't find it.

She had lived what most people called an "ordinary" life in the suburb of Gotham. Her parents had never beaten her up, and her family hadn't been particularly poor. There even had been some friends, or rather acquaintances, when she was younger. She was completely inconspicuous, average, even in her looks. Brown hair, green eyes, skin a little pale and a normal body type. There were no drugs or diseases involved, no sexual abuse, no psychological trauma that could've caused her to make her decision.
A decision against society, against Gotham.

But still, she didn't seem to fit in, even as a child. It was in the small things, like when she wasn't into playing outside with the kids that lived in her street, or the way her classmates looked at her when she answered a teacher's question.
There were some bullies, people that wanted to make others believe that they weren't worth the air they were breathing, but that didn't even reach her.
She was different. But as soon as you tried to put your finger on it, you just couldn't tell exactly what it was.

The reason lay in the simple things she was confronted with everyday: the news on television, the expression in the faces of people in the Subway, the police cars chasing through East End District. She couldn't tell when all of this started, it was more of a process all along. Like seeds planted inside of her brain, watered with each passing day, until she could taste their roots in her mouth, feel their leaves itching in her ears, and she was sure her head was going to explode. The doctors had said that it was migraine when she was about 16 years old, but she knew better than that.
She hadn't taken the pills, flushed them down the toilet, and simply invited the pain.

It had become worse a year before her finals, the stress of course, they said. Giving her the opportunity to be left alone, curtains closed and doors locked, there had been plenty of time for her to plan everything.
Register for Gotham University, Sociology Class.
Getting a flat in Burnley, already using a false name.
Taking the first steps in becoming a hacker.

It was so fucking easy to fool everyone, even those who thought they would be close to her, as if they actually knew anything. They didn't have a clue. But people liked to be all buttered up, they were too damn apathetic to question things they thought to be normal. And that was her advantage. She just played as if she would fit in, like the part of a jigsaw puzzle, and nobody would ask.

The school IT system had been her first target, and she could clearly remember the adrenaline she felt rushing through her veins when she successfully accessed. Of course, there was no serious information that would be of interest to her, but it was the first step to something far greater.

Finally, she had moved out to Gotham, and the contact to her parents had loosened more and more. At the beginning she used to call them from time to time, telling them that everything went fine, and she made a lot of new friends, that she met a boy and it was serious. They had believed her every single word, happy that there wasn't another mouth to feed anymore, and had accepted it. And if their neighbors asked on Thanksgiving or Christmas if their daughter would come to visit, they simply stated that she was too busy.
And then there wasn't anybody left to ask.

On her first day in Gotham she had cut her hair, thrown away her few old clothes and gotten some new ones with a credit card she had stolen from a lady in the Subway.
It had felt electrifying, as if she had been awoken from a bad dream.

Attending to her classes at University became a part of her disguise she actually welcomed. She enjoyed reading the works of Thoreau, Warren and Tucker, and for the first time she felt that the unnamed ideas and thoughts she had, transformed into new perceptions. And she craved for more.
Aside from joining an underground student's association to improve her computer hacking skills, she spent hours in the library devouring philosophical books by Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre and Dostoyevsky.
Their words became twisted in her mind, transforming into something unpleasant, ugly and bizarre.
And that carnivorous plant in her head grew stronger.

It took her three years to let her identity vanish into thin air, and to find the technical resources to infiltrate Gothams IT system.
Her former self had graduated from University and moved to the west coast with her fiancé.

She didn't think about her childhood very often after that, it wasn't important anymore. And even if there actually was a certain situation that lead to all of this, she couldn't care less. She was tired of people trying to explain everything, like it would make things easier or less scary.
"That girl killing her family? Yeah, that was monstrous, wasn't it? But it's not surprising, because her Daddy visited her every night since she went to Middle School."
"And those two kids blowing up their school? I mean, what do you expect from bullying victims, they snap sooner or later, right?"

But what if that wasn't always the case? What if some people just wanted to watch the world burn? If there existed something like the banality of evil¹?

Well, looking at the crimes committed in Gotham this was quite an allegation.
Everybody knew that the city was ruled by the mob and its numerous allies, a system of corruption that went up to the police and even the government.
It was almost impossible to count the different gangs and crime families that were either in a feud or in an alliance to gain more money, more power and more influence.

The only thing the city had to set against these degenerated, greedy bastards was Batman.

How pathetic. They praised this masked idiot like a god, not trying to look behind his facade. Again, because it was comfortable not to do so. They finally got the hero they all were looking for, like in the movies.
After he had successfully prevented Ra's al Ghul from destroying the city with the help of his little sidekick Scarecrow, the people believed him to be the last resort.
And for what? Just to let the League of Shadows causing a mass breakout at Arkham and only recapturing half of the patients.

A silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight. But they all failed to see what he really was.

On the other hand there was Harvey Dent, of course. The knight in shining armor, ready to save the melting pot of crime called Gotham. Unlike Batman he had a face the people could look up to.
She had been watching him for some time, read the files about his former work. That guy was a good-doer himself, always upright, always correct, just that he wasn't.

So yes, technically the number of crimes being committed had decreased, but that was just a superficial observation.
The scum had hidden into its lairs, only preparing the next step to slowly regain the upper hand.

But the people were happy, celebrating the illusory success of the good over the bad, not seeing, not understanding that the true problem lay far deeper.
What sick ridiculous puppets we are and what gross little stage we dance on.
What fun we have dancing and fucking.
Not a care in the world.
Not knowing that we are nothing².

And then she saw him.
He was robbing the Gotham National Bank, in broad daylight.
It surprised her, first because those obvious kind of crime didn't occur very often lately. Not since Batman was around. And second the bank was known for being a part of the mob's trade route.
The incident was on the news everywhere, and the whole performance astounded her.

After gaining access to the GCPD system she was able to watch the footage of the bank's surveillance camera: he had been entering with two other masked men who were shot during the robbery.
The police later found the bodies of two more accomplices on the roof and in front of the safe, it obviously wasn't a coincidence.
Then a fifth clown crashed a school bus into the building, he shot him just after loading the money bags in.
He was ready to go, but then he suddenly turned and walked back to an injured man lying on the floor.
It was the manager of the bank, just another servant of the mob, who had been trying to shoot the robbers. The clown was taking off his mask, she could see that he shoved something into the manager's mouth, and she was sure he would blow up, but instead it was just a gas bomb.

He wanted him to survive. To tell his mob friends who stole their money.

She zoomed in to see his face and gasped. Although his mask was vanished, there was still make up on his face giving him a creepy, haunting look. His skin was painted white and stood in stark contrast to the pitch black holes of his eyes and an oversized crimson smile on his lips. The skin next to his mouth was uneven and swollen - scars, she thought.
She marveled at the scene.
He went back into the vehicle and went out of the building, joining a larger group of school buses and got away. The police hadn't been able to chase him down, they found the abandoned bus Downtown, somewhere side roads.

Now, that was interesting.

He had given this quite some thought, it was all perfectly planned, and he had hit them when they least expected it.
Maybe there was finally somebody who got just the right idea of this hell of a town. Somebody who had the power to show these people who they really were.

It wasn't easy to find him, he was a phantom swallowed by the cities gaping jaw, and he had his own network of henchmen to cover him.

But in the end, she was successful.

Chapter Text

I like it when you take control
Even if you know that you don't
Own me, I'll let you play the role
I'll be your animal.
Bruises, on both my knees for you
Don't say thank you or please I do
what I want when I'm wanting to
My soul? So cynical.

So you're a tough guy
Like it really rough guy
Just can't get enough guy
Chest always so puffed guy
I'm that bad type
Make your mama sad type
Make your girlfriend mad tight
Might seduce your dad type
I'm the bad guy.


Billie Eilish - Bad guy

Chapter Two

His heart rate didn't noticeably rise when he got out of the building, leaving the bunch of baffled mobsters behind. They were just as ridiculous as he had expected them, all pretentious and unaware of what really hit them. Bloody fools.
But he had to take care of that Gambol guy, that was for sure. It wasn't about the insulting, no, no, no, no, no, he couldn't care less about it.

It was about power. And coincidence.
God does not play dice¹, and neither did he.

He licked his lips in anticipation what was about to come, feeling a pleasant tingling in his neck.
Oh, they would give in to his offer, no doubt.
As soon as Batman made the Chinese squeal, they would see how desperate their situation actually was.
It was just a matter of time, and he had plenty of it.

It was a game, and he liked to play games, oh yesss. And they were just the beginning, just a necessary part to play with the real big boys.
Chewing on the tissue of his scars, he made his way to the underground.

He knew all the routes to travel through the city without being seen, even with his full make up on. That was the good thing about an old town that grew from bottom to top: the underground was widely ramified, some lines were out of order, and so he was crawling in the dark like a cockroach, just making himself ready to pop out of some random toilet when they thought they had flushed him down.

Since Scarecrow's little experiment with the fear toxin, most people avoided the parts of the underground that were still in quarantine. There were some hobos here and there, lighting the tunnels up with their fires to keep themselves warm, but where the flames couldn't reach it was pitch black.

The darkness was comfortable to him, like an old friend he always welcomed with open arms. That was one of the things he had in common with Batman.
Like a caress of a velvety, black curtain, the darkness gave him security, yet everything seemed possible when the lights went out and there wasn't anything to distract you from your own thoughts. It forces you to be aware of yourself, to search your true desires and the abyss that lies within each of us.

But Batman used it as a part of his disguise, just like his mask, to hide his identity.
The Joker used his mask to show himself to the world.

Now it wouldn't be long until everybody would see him.
The game had already started.

He didn't need any artificial light to orient himself in the tunnels, their routes were imprinted in his mind like a map. It was just when he made his way through the flooded part of a former emergency exit, that he halted in his tracks.
Tilting his head he listened closely, hearing the drops of some unknown leak dripping down, but there was something else.
It wasn't just the splashing of water from his own feet that caused the noise he had heard.
Somebody was with him in the dark.

His disfigured mouth curled into a grin and his nostrils fluttered, anticipating the stranger that had followed him.
"Little mouse, little mouse, are you in the black house?" he chanted, his sneering voice echoing from the wet stone walls.
He sniffed and smelled the mold, the rust and the rat droppings, and then - something sweet, something clean.
It definitely didn't belong down here.

Suddenly, a light voice came dancing in the shadows: "I'm here, mighty hunter, I know you can smell me."
A woman, he thought. What a surprise.
Sneaking a gloved hand into his coat, he drew out a knife that felt heavy and promising.

"And wha-t, mouse, brings you down here, huh? Have you gone... astray?" he asked, slowly turning around to make out the source of the voice.
There was a splash behind him, and he reached out with his free hand but could only feel a breeze lightly touching his sleeve.
Mmh, she was good. That was going to be some unexpected fun.

"No. I came for you," she answered.
"Aw, little old me? I'm, uh, really sorry princess, but I happen to be a bit busy these times. So," he turned again to listen for her, "What. Do. You. Want."

Then there was silence, and he was slowly growing impatient, when he felt a radiating warmth in front of him.
He didn't hesitate and thrust the knife forward, only to stab it into the void. But wait, he almost didn't notice the low resistance, maybe he hadn't fully missed her.
When he examined his knife for blood he felt something speared on its tip - it was a playing card.
His playing card, he knew it for sure. Like the one he just left for the mobsters to call him.
He made them himself, they were unique and therefore he would always recognize their touch.

A faint laughter in the distance was all he heard, and he clenched his jaw at the missed opportunity. He didn't take kindly to being mocked, for it put him in the wrong end of the power scale.
The girl didn't seem to be from the authorities nor from the mob, but if she was able to track him down, then others possibly could too.

The Joker quickly made his way back up, taking a few more detours than neccessary, and once he was surrounded by the dim light of the street lamps, he took out the card to look at it.

Next to the picture was an adress printed on the paper. The letters were a little raised, as if the girl had used a typewriter. He would let one of his henchmen do a little examination on the card, maybe there were some traces to find out who the little mouse actually was.

He highly doubted that she was a secret admirer, as women usually tended to be afraid of him for his looks and his unpredictability. Not that he particularly cared. Sometimes it was fun to see their eyes widen at his sight, and he enjoyed their terror when he demonstrated his ruthlessness.
But since their pathetic tears and cries were off-putting to him at a certain point, he usually left it at that or killed them before they could become a problem.

It was just a habit of using others for his particular needs.
The people he had gathered around him mostly stayed because of money and fear. Just like the mob they thought he was crazy, but since the payment was outstanding they didn't ask any questions about his deeper intentions. They were all just a part of the rotten system that ruled this city, trying to get their slice of the cake.

At the end of the day it was all about money.
You just needed to dangle a little dollar bill right in front of their eyes, and they take the bait without even thinking.
He was the puppet master pulling the strings.

What really got him going were the people that supported this system and at the same time pretended to be disgusted by it. Those people that looked up to Batman and Harvey Dent, hypocrites altogether.
They failed to see that they were not better than the ones they judged for their actions.
But soon they would.

He flipped the card between his fingers, held it to his nose and inhaled. Feeling his eyeballs rolling in his head, he licked his lips again.
Right now he had some work to do, but he couldn't fight the feeling of excitement crippling up his back.

Something was going on here, and he was curious about it.

Chapter Text

Are you deranged like me?
Are you strange like me?
Lighting matches just to swallow up the flame like me?
Do you tear yourself apart to entertain like me?
Do the people whisper 'bout you on the train like me?

And all the people say
You can't wake up, this is not a dream
You're part of a machine, you are not a human being
With your face all made up, living on a screen
Low on self esteem, so you run on gasoline


Halsey - Gasoline

Chapter Three

She knew that he wouldn't be amused about her little hide and seek.
It was one thing to put up a game if you set the rules, but another to play the hand that you were dealt. But it was necessary to get his attention, because after all he was a player.

Following him underground she had felt like the string on a violin, just right about to snap. It wasn't without risk to get down into the abandoned tunnels, for nobody could tell exactly if there weren't any residues of Scarecrows fear toxin that would drive you mad in the dark. Despite her initial interest on his crime career, she thought that the former Professor Crane proved to be just another profit-seeking gangster in this town. Batman had just recently crashed a little drug deal, when some of his pathetic little copycats tried to do the job for him.
Honestly, it was about time for something really big.

She had to be sensible though, because the Joker surely was alert to persecutors after his little intermezzo with the mob. Thanks to a phishing app she had been able to follow the conversation via the smartphone of one of the bodyguards attending the meeting. It turned out that their accountant Lau had taken their funds to Hongkong for safekeeping. It seemed that the current situation in Gotham and the robbery had made them a little more sensitive when it came to their money. But it was only a matter of time until Batman would show up, just as the Joker predicted. And what a bunch of idiots they were! Even without seeing the interaction it was quite fun to listen to. But she was sure they would soon find out that it wasn't wise to mess with him.

Deprived of her sight she could sense his presence in the humid air, he radiated an unmistakeable energy that surrounded him like an aura. When she finally heard his sneering voice, it sent goosebumps all over her body, and she had to be careful not to reveal herself by uttering any noise. Although she wasn't able to see it, she could hear the knife whirring through the air when he tried to stab her. It thrilled her, and she couldn't even tell why. He missed, and his frustrated growl echoed from the dark walls.

She knew he wouldn't miss a second time, so she hurried to get out of the dark maze.

And then she waited.

He took his time, just as she expected him to do. The Joker wouldn't come running like a puppy just because somebody whistled. He had to make clear that he was the one to set time and date, and she respected that. Of course he wasn't as careless like the mobsters using electronical devices that were easy to access. It seemed a little oldschool to use burner phones and business cards, but looking at it closely it was the safest way to exchange information without being tracked down.
So she sat there waitng for him in the old warehouse, not knowing what he was about to do.

It was already getting dark outside when he showed up at the third day after their first meeting.

He was all spruced up, his purple coat floating around his knees and contrasting a juicy green vest. Oh, that suit sure as hell wasn't cheap, oh no.
But what caught her most was his face.
She had seen it before on the surveillance cameras, but the footage was accordingly bad.
Seeing him now right in front of her made her stomach turn and her eyes sting.

Spread thickly all over his skin, the heavy, white facepaint was already sinking into the creases on his forehead. The area around his eyes was all black, swallowing every trace of light. Flashy red lipstick was applied messily around his mouth, tracing his scars almost up to his ears. The make up was framed by slack, greasy curls that were dyed in a dirty looking green tone.

He was a piece of art.

The Joker stood there with his shoulders slightly hunched, tilting his head a little, and he sized her up with a mildly interested look.
When he finally spoke, she could see his tongue palpating his inner lips before it shortly flicked out.
"Sooo, little mouse, you better hurry making a point on why you sent me here."

She steeled herself for the coming conversation, knowing that there was only a small time frame before his patience would run out.
"You offered the mobsters to kill Batman for money. But that's not your real intention, is it?" she asked with a firm voice.
He didn't immediately answer, just slightly lifting his chin at this unexpected question. That little sign of surprise he was showing gave her more confiidence, so she carried on:
"It's not about the money. It's about sending... a message."

Without blinking, he kept staring at her, and she held his gaze.
She kept on, her scalp tingling in anticipation: "Wanting people to listen, you can't just tap them on the shoulder anymore. You have to hit them with a sledgehammer, and then you'll notice you've got their strict attention," she concluded.
Curving his mouth into a wolfish grin, he folded his hands behind his back and slowly approached her. He smacked his lips before he said: "There we go. But tell me, princessss, wha-t do you care?"
His painted brows flew up to his forehead, and he leaned his upper body towards her.

It felt intimidating, because she was aware that his courteous demeanor was nothing but deceptive. Her mouth was watering but she tried not to swallow, trying not to show any sign of weakness.
"Killing him would mean to reveal his true identity, but that's not the point. So the question is: what does it take to get Batman into revealing his true nature to the world?"

He was watching her carefully while she was speaking, soaking up every word and turning it around in his mind. Almost unnoticeable he had closed the small distance between them and was now hovering above her like a bird of prey. She could smell the scent of the greasepaint, and the chemical stench of gasoline on his clothes. But she remained calm, knowing that however this would turn out, she had succesfully spread one of her own seeds into his brain. And it was about to grow.

When he spoke again, one of his eyebrows was lifted up in mockery. "Well, well, well, isn't that, uh... in-ter-es-ting? So you oughta tell me, that you have a...," he gestured randomly with his gloved hands and rolled his eyeballs up to the ceiling, "... a plan on how to bring the mighty Batman down his throne of integrity, hm?"

She clenched her jaw and lifted up her chin, ready to show him that she understood: "This city is rotten. But not because of it's crime. Most criminals do it as a deliberate act, they know exactly what they're doing and that in consequence others will get hurt, and they're fine with it. No, what really makes this shithole a mess are those people thinking they're noble, honest, and good. Thinking that they're better than others, not one mean bone in their bodies, while being responsible for as much damage as any other human being. It's this illusory superiority that makes matters worse, and their pathetic attitude is fueled by people like Batman and Dent."

Her hands were balled into fists, and she didn't even notice her nails digging into her skin. He was still watching her without any noticeable reaction to her words, his face mere inches away from her own.
Feeling relieved that she had been able to make her point, she waited patiently for him to respond.
It was then that she became aware of the cold blade pressing into her cheek.

"Now, listen pricess, I don't need no mascot, capiche?" he said, and despite his yellow stained teeth his warm breath on her face smelled sweet. He pursed his lips and dug the knife a little deeper into the soft flesh, almost cutting it. She didn't even flinch, because the cold felt oddly soothing on her heated skin.
"I must admit that I was... surprised by your ability to stay on my tracks, you know I work very hard to avoid that. But storytime's over now kiddo, Daddy's gotta wor-k."
And with that he let go of her and turned around, the silk lining tails of his coat waving behind him.

She smiled.

Chapter Text

Watching her
Strolling in the night so white
Wondering why
It's only after dark

In her eyes
A distant fire light burns bright
Wondering why
It's only after dark

Burning burning in the flame
Now I know her secret name
You can tear her temple down
But she'll be back and rule again yeah

In my heart a deep and dark
And lonely part
Wants her and waits for
After dark


Tito & Tarantula - After Dark

 Chapter Four

He had been tempted to kill her, no doubt. But he had to admit that she had impressed him somehow.

She didn't meet his expectations in the slightest - to be honest she looked quite average, nothing special. But despite his appearance he had never been somebody to focus too much on looks anyway.
What really had made an impact on him was, that she hadn't shown any signs of fear.
Of course, there had been people who underestimated his resolution when it came to violence, but they usually tried to deride him. Little did they know that the joke was never on him.
And there had been a few, who were intrigued by his power, weak souls that were easy to manipulate.

But she was looking at him with a very strange expression on her face, and he couldn't quite tell what that meant. It was a completely new experience to him.
So far there hadn't been anybody able to see the greater picture behind his actions. Well, not that he had expected that, since the interesting part of the game had barely just begun. And now that girl appeared on stage and gave the whole thing an interesting turn.
Telling from the little show she had set up to get his attention, she wasn't an amateur. Even his employees hadn't been able to find any information about her, but most of them were idiots anyway. Besides, he wasn't truly interested in her past, it was the here and now that counted. The scripture on his playing card had been made by a typewriter, just as he had suspected. But the track only led to the address she had written on it, the old warehouse at the port. Not bad, not bad.

And somehow she knew about his offer to the mob.

She had realized that he didn't need to kill or unmask Batman, all the threats were just the fun part of his game to get him out of his comfort zone. The past of the Batman didn't matter, as didn't his own, what mattered was the destruction of the symbol. Being honest it felt quite invigorating to listen to her.
It would be thrilling to find out her weakness and let her swallow it. But until then he would wait for her next step, like a spider in the net.

Their little meeting had happened three days ago, but he hadn't been lazy in the meantime.
Killing Gambol wasn't that much fun, it was a necessity, nothing more. Usually the Joker enjoyed not feeling the power he possessed over other people, but the realization in their eyes when it finally dawned them that he had the upper hand.
But that mobster was just a regular criminal with a shallow personality, all about pride and respect, so boring. So he kept him on the hook a little, seeing if he would play along, but it seemed they just didn't share the same sense of humor.
So he just finished him and let his men have a quite entertaining dogfight over their new position, and that was it.

Right now the Bat had surely already made his way to Hongkong to get that Lau guy and feed him to Harvey Dent and his pack of wolves. So he just had to wait for the inevitable phone call. Until then, there was enough room for his creativity to unfold, and he loved that part of the job. Retreating in one of his hideouts, he crafted little funny toys that might be of use in the foreseeable future.
He wasn't like those schemers, all plans neatly written down in notebooks, no. The Joker would let the outcome of the stimuli he was setting define what was coming next.

As he sat there, his mind absorbed in incoherent thoughts, somebody knocked at the solid steel door, and he scowled.
Nobody dared to disturb him when he was busy.
He didn't turn around to look at the intruder, and for several moments it was quiet in the room.
Then, hesitantly, a husky voice emanated from behind: "Boss.. sorry, I don't mean to bother you, but uhm... there's a parcel for you."

It was Johnny Frost, the most loyal guy from his "staff". He was the only one who was allowed to distract the Joker from his work, and he usually only did it if it was important.
He cracked his neck a little, feeling the familiar tingling again, and asked: "Did you check it?"
"Yes, it's safe. We just screened it but didn't open it up, I thought you might want to open it yourself," Frost answered.

The gloved hand he had just over his work halted, and his digits twitched. Mmh, a present?
Finally, he turned to face Frost, who stood in the doorway, his expression indifferent as always. Without further conversation Johnny took the last few steps and handed the package to him.
He never looked at him directly, always keeping his bright blue eyes on something else. It was a habit that sometimes annoyed him, but right now his attention was drawn to something else.

The parcel was small and wrapped up in brown paper, and in his hand it felt suspiciously light. He held it to his ear and shook it, like a child guessing its christmas presents.
Out of nowhere a knife appeared in his hand, and he cut the wrapping open to see inside. Beneath some styrofoam chips was another playing card.
He immediately recognized it: it was the one he had left at the robbery on Gotham National Bank.
Turning it around there was another address on the back. Below was a simple sentence saying: From one mascot to another.

His distorted lips curved into a smug grin, and he handed the card to Frost. "Check the address."
"Yes, Boss," he mumbled, and left the room.

Now wasn't that exciting.
The little critter was really serious about this, fancy her doing that! Maybe not killing her played into his cards.

Suddenly, a muffled bleep distracted him from his thoughts, and he had to shuffle his materials aside to find the source of the noise. He picked up the cell phone, pressed the green button and held it next to his ear.
He didn't need to listen, he already knew what they wanted. He ended the call and went over to a small tube TV standing in the corner of his room and switched it on. The News were already overtaking with the headline saying that Gothams infamous mobsters had been imprisoned and would be sent for trial.

Then there was another knock on the door, it was Frost who carried a sheet of paper with some information with him. He stepped closer and handed it over: "Name's Brian Douglas, one of Batmans copycats, he had been questioned by the cops after they tried to deal with Scarecrow off their own bat."
His gaze swiftly flew to his assistants face, wondering about the unexpected pun, but he ignored it.
The Joker tilted his head and looked at the mugshot of a middle-aged, overweight white man who was staring into the camera with a stubborn expression like a fat kid beaten up at school.

Clever girl.

"Well, Johnny boy, I think it's time we pay that, uh, vigilante a little visit, shall we?"

Chapter Text

We pack demolition
We can't pack emotion
Dynamite, we just might
So blow us a kiss, blow us a kiss
Blow us a kiss, and we'll blow you to pieces

We're killin' strangers, we're killin' strangers
We're killin' strangers, so we don't kill the ones that we love


Marilyn Manson - Killing Strangers

Chapter Five

"Police released video footage found concealed on the body. Sensitive viewers, be aware. The image is disturbing."
Oh, and it was.

She was surprised that GCN decided to broadcast the footage in the first place, but the high ratings were probably worth it.
Gluing her eyes to the TV, she wasn't aware that she was holding her breath when he heard his voice again.

Gooseflesh rippled over her skin at the sight. That was her work. She was responsible for this.

It wasn't that hard to find out his address after she had witnessed his arresting. Getting the playing card out of the evidence room was another thing. But she managed to do both, and she knew he was going to like it.
Not knowing what he was going to do with her present, she waited for a sign, and now it was there.

The police had cut the corpse off a noose in front of the city hall.
He had been dragging the guy into what seemed to be a cold warehouse, telling from the hanging halves of pork or beef that swung in the background. The man was all tied up to a chair with his cheap Batman costume on, and he didn't dare to look at the Joker. He was humiliating him, showing quite plainly how pathetic his own attempts in rescuing the city really were.
"Are you the real Batman?"
"No?! Then why do you dress up like him?"

He was ripping the rubber mask off Brian's face and wiggled it in front of the camera.
"Because he is a symbol that we don't have to be afraid of scum like you."

At least he tried to show that he was brave after all, but his trembling voice and the sweat on his forehead betrayed his words. The Joker approached him and the camera came closer to his face, showing a thin trace of blood dripping from his mouth down his doughy cheeks.
"Yeah, you do, Brian, you really do!"
He violently pulled at his victim's dark hair, and the guy whined in agony.
"Oh, shh, shh, shh."
The Joker almost tenderly caressed his cheek with the back of his hand, silencing him. The sight made her shiver.

"So, you think Batman's made Gotham a better place, hm?"
The camera was moved again and showed Brian Douglas slumped against the back of his chair, who just hummed.
"Look at me."
He didn't respond, his gaze still downcast.
The booming roar made her jolt, and even Brian was now looking up. And for a second she could see the finality dawn in his big, sad eyes.
Suddenly, the Joker turned the camera around to himself. She gasped.

The picture was shaking heavily, as he seemed to move around with it. His face was very close, she could see his smudged make up and his stained teeth.
"You see, this is how crazy Batman's made Gotham. You want order in Gotham, Batman must take off his mask and turn himself in. Oh, and everyday he doesn't, people will die, starting tonight."
His dark, hooded eyes didn't show any hint of emotion, and he couldn't suppress his tongue flicking over his lips.
Without noticing it, she had come closer to the screen, staring at his disfigured mouth opening up as he said: "I'm a man of my word."

And then he laughed frantically. No, he cackled.
It was a haunting sound, like nothing she had ever heard before.

The camera was shaking again, and mixed with his laughter were the terrible screams of Brian Douglas, before the news presenter came back into view.

She turned the TV off and barely managed to make it to the toilet to throw up. Her stomach was twisting until her throat hurt and she could only spit sour, yellow gall.
So, that was it. She had finally done it.
The realization hit her with much stronger force than she had been anticipating it, and now the migraine was back and crushed her head. Gritting her teeth, she squinted her eyes closed and tried to ease the thundering pain. Hot, etching guilt gnawed at her intestines, and she didn't know if the tears that spilled down her cheeks were from anger or remorse.

All those years of practice, and still her socialization made her believe that what had happened wasn't right.
But it wasn't a matter of right or wrong.
It was necessary.

Batman had turned his back on his most devoted disciples, he even gave them to the police. And now Gothams jaws had snapped shut and swallowed one of them.
They had to see that this wasn't the act of a maniac. Maybe the Joker was the sanest person in the whole city.
And now everybody's eyes were cast to the dark knight, waiting for him to react.

She leaned her forehead on the cool porcelain of the toilet bowl and waited for the pain to subside.
The game had begun, and now she was a part of it.

After brushing her teeth and washing her face, she felt sober and numb, now able to find coherent thoughts again.
So he demanded the Batman to unmask. What an insidious move! He knew that Batman would never reveal his identity, he just wanted to push him. By threatening him with more victims, he was hitting him right where it hurts. And having the money and power of the mob behind him now made him even more dangerous.
The Joker wanted to make the dark knight fall, not by killing him but by destroying the symbol.

Following her instinct she made her way back to the warehouse where she'd first met him, hoping that he might have left a message for her.
It was already dark outside, and the police lights and sirens bathed the city in an eery atmosphere. He probably didn't risk meeting her tonight under these circumstances, and she just wanted to turn around and leave when she suddenly heard a voice behind the metal gates. Sneaking inside, she pressed herself tight against the wall and tried to make out some movement in the dark.

What happened then was too quick for her to process: there was a hand pressed to her mouth, a cloth shoved over her head, and handcuffs tied around her wrists.
She didn't even have time to react before the world went black, and she fell into a bottomless hole.