Fandom: The Dark Knight
Present For/Prompt: bionic | Stockholm Syndrome
Word Count: 1000
Summary: “You should smile,” he suggests, considering getting out the potato peeler ‘cause hey; that one’s got a wicked punchline.
Author’s Notes: Well, obviously: spoilers, although probably only if you can work out what’s going on. Because evidently things written from the Joker’s POV are 100% logical and easy to understand. I kind of know what I was trying to achieve though, I promise!
They could sit in this room forever. For ever.
Try and outstare each other and maybe this room only exists in their heads but nobody’s sure whose head it is and hey; maybe this really happened after all.
He smiles, a real one; all the best stories begin with a mystery.
…And end with one hell of a punchline.
“Wanna hear a joke?”
“It’s ok, I s’pose. It wasn’t very funny. In the end it turns out the girl is actually a guy. Or the guy’s sister.”
“You’re supposed to laugh. Nobody knows how to laugh these days.”
He’s got knives everywhere – you can trust knives, they’re a fun game that only one person needs to play; solitaire with edges – and one flicks between his fingers.
The Batman would prefer silence, if they’re going to do this at all, but brooding silences are so very dull. Nobody’s laughing if things are dull. And if nobody’s laughing then there isn’t any point.
“You should smile,” he suggests, considering getting out the potato peeler ‘cause hey; that one’s got a wicked punchline. “The world would be prettier if everyone smiled, don’t you think? ‘Course, I wouldn’t have a place in a pretty world like that, no one thinks I’m pretty at all.”
The dark eyes are getting incredulous. Talk long enough and they fall into the flow. This is like stand-up, only there can be maiming, which is the really funny part.
“You wanna know how I got like this?”
The dark eyes remain fixed on him. He wonders if it’s hot in the mask. It’s kind of hot in his mask, only he isn’t wearing one; oh yes, the screams of terror.
“‘Course you wanna know. Everyone wants to know about the star of the show.”
That gets the start of a reaction; a twitch at the corner of that determined mouth. Set in a line. He wants to cry oh, smile, smile, or maybe take the end of a corkscrew to that line and make it curve a little. Lines break. Curves just let the drops fall right off. He knows things, see?
“So there’s this guy, ok; desperate I guess, switchblade in his hand, string of pearls around his wrist – crazy, I know – and he gets the money fast enough but there’s still something missing, right? And he says: hey, smile, or the cops’ll think something’s up and I tried, really I did… guess I didn’t smile wide enough but it’s ok ‘cause he made sure I’m always happy happy happy.”
…And then there were pearls all over the alley and mom’s dead face and well, maybe this isn’t his story any more.
His thumb grazes the slickness of paint on his lower lip, mouth painted to twice its size but be larger than life and the rewards’ll be twice as big; someone promised that once.
The Batman’s eyes don’t waver, maybe there’s meant to be some kind of reconditioning going on here. So he grins, red paint on white teeth.
“What,” he begins, “Whatever happened to Harvey Dent? I believed in him.”
He claps his hands; remember Peter Pan? I believe, I do, I do. When he licks his lips, the greasepaint tastes salty on his tongue; still red, and he tastes where the fist connected with his mouth.
The Batman has crimson smudged on his black glove. Ah, tipping points.
“I think you did it to yourself. In front of a mirror one afternoon. Because you’re insane.”
He won’t ask shouldn’t I be dead? because he won’t like the answer. It will be dull, and the Batman will have some kind of rational explanation. He’s still being rational; fucking dull, there’s not actually any space for rational in anybody’s world, and donning a cape and playing at being a kid is really the act of a crazy man.
Why anyone would want to be a kid is stupid, childhood always ends with bloody knives and anyway he made that one up, right?
“You’re too keen on alibis,” he tells the Batman. “That’s your problem.”
The Batman shifts his shoulders in a way that isn’t a shrug.
“So, how long are we doing this for?”
He attempts his most winning smile; the one that cracks the drying paint around his eyes. People have screamed at this smile; fear and comedy don’t tend to entwine well. That’s why his wife left or else she was just part of a convoluted anecdote no one listened to anyway.
The dark eyes blink, once. “For as long as it takes.”
“Not an answer,” he singsongs.
He thinks he’s bleeding. That, or the paint’s gone runny.
The Batman has copious faults; no sense of humour at all.
The warm-up act has gone; patience has fled and ooh, the main performance is pretty fucking predictable. He gasps it out, and gets a dislocated shoulder for the privilege.
“Is this going to fix me?” He chokes on laughter, ribs cracked; the Batman is ever efficient, ever brutal. That’s how hilarious this story really is; he’s the goddamn hero.
“You can’t be fixed.” The Batman’s mouth is too close; his teeth glint, and his grimace is so close to a real smile.
It’s a provocation; and the joke is stale now anyway. Time for a new one, and this one’s got a pretty twist. He still laughs a little – half the humour’s in the anticipation – and the clash of lips and teeth is educational.
“You don’t taste nearly self-righteous enough,” he observes.
The black mask isn’t even askew.
“I’m not dead ‘cause you’d miss me.”
The Batman says nothing; he has red smudged across his mouth – paint and blood and guilt – and hell, maybe he’ll tell this one when he gets out.
(Well, the punchline could use a little work, but there’s still time. There’s still lots of time, and no one’s going anywhere.)
The Batman will smile. Everyone does, in the end.