Jack Napier isn't generally one to steal another's idea; nothing is worse than plagiarism. However, he'll make an exception here. This is more of a tribute, after all, a show of respect. The Batman's been working theatrical wonders on the streets of Gotham, and Jack thought he might join in.
He is, he thinks, the first Batman copycat, though he wouldn't call himself that. There will probably be more, but their costumes won't come close to this, he thinks, admiring his work in the mirror. It isn't a perfect replica, of course. He's never seen the Bat's suit for himself, and he wasn't trying for that anyway. The point is its high quality, loyal to the original concept, but with a touch of his own flair.
He blacks his eyes with care, and he's ready.
The Narrows, he'd assumed, was the place to start, and it seems he was right. It's almost too easy at first. The flap of his cape and a low growl is enough to stop several muggings and an attempted rape.
Then he starts running into the real baddies, Arkham escapies and mobsters. He has agility, if not strength, on his side, and he holds his own, which is not to say he isn't going home bloody and bruised most nights. But it's worth it. The play's the thing, and what better story than good against evil, the battle for Gotham's soul. If he can draw his audience in, add some real scale, raise the stakes, he'll have a real show stopper.
Only the epic he thought he was performing turns out to be a sad little tragedy.
Maybe he was sloppy, maybe a neighbor caught him sneaking home. The upshot is he's tied to a chair in his own kitchen, one of the mob's enforcers casually twirling a knife in front of his face while another tells him about the father of two who gave him up. For money.
Enforcer One pulls out a gun and weighs it in his hand, waiting patiently for Two to finish his gloat. These people, Two knows, will always give up tomorrow's hope for today's cash. See, Jack just didn't get the joke. He's been out there every night playing the clown, and he just didn't know it. Tsk, tsk. He takes the gun from his partner and levels it at Jack's head.
One has a better idea, though. Jackie-boy's more use to them as an example. And wouldn't he like to be useful? Isn't that what he's been going for? Shouldn't that bring a smile to his face. And instead of a witty retort, he finds a blade on his tongue.
He does not call 911, does not go to the hospital. He does not feel like facing humanity right now, mind roiling with fury and disgust and so much pain. But to stitch himself up, which he knows he'll have to do, he needs to at least face a mirror.
When he manages that, it's not his freshly ruined mouth that makes him want to smash it. Under the bloody, mocking grin he sees the face of a true fool, and that's repulsive. A broken laugh escapes him, and he tries to turn his attention to the first aid kit he'd dug out of his closet, to mopping up the blood and closing the wounds. But as he works, he can't escape the bitter thought that those damn mobsters were right. His face in the mirror grows more and more infuriating, still far to human beneath the angry gashes.
What a fucking joke.
He laughs again, an ugly sound that claws it's way up from his chest, stretching his cheeks taught and that really doesn't help. The stitching he'd almost finished tears painfully and the wounds reopen. He's getting blood everywhere, and he laughs harder, cackles shrill and desperate and vainly applies pressure to his bleeding cheeks.
It's a long time before he can quiet himself, stop his too sore body from shaking with vicious mirth, and finish the job. When he's finally cleaned up and calm, or close enough, he realizes it's time to track down thugs One and Two. Maybe show them how well their lesson took.
But first, he's got to do something about the awful normalcy of that face.