"I could have sworn you were still in Arkham." Crane wheezed out as he clenched his gut and slunk back against the dingy brick wall, legs drawn up towards his chest. It vaguely crossed his mind that the blood stains was never coming out of his white shirt; odd considering he should probably be more concerned about the large, bleeding gash in his stomach. "When the hell did you get out?"
"A lady never tells, Doc."
Crane rolled his eyes at the sarcastic reply from the man leaning against the opposing, equally dirty wall in the small alleyway. While the doctor was unaware of the actual extent of the man's wounds, it looked as if he was on par with Crane in injuries. Or he was faking it; Crane couldn't really tell or care at this point. "If you're a lady, than I'm the Queen of England."
"Funny guy for a big bad doctor." Joker smiled, well it looked like he was smiling anyway. Truth be told, he very rarely smiled, but the glasgow scars adorning his cheeks tended to hide that fact quite well. It's hard to smile when one's fairly certain they had a broken rib or two or things aren't going the way he wanted. "You should do that for a living."
"I have no intention of raining on your parade." Crane snorted and squeezed his gut tighter stuffing the side of his jacket coat into the wound. He'd die if he didn't stop the bleeding sooner than later, but neither he nor his company could afford to leave the alley with Gotham's finest running about. They were lucky to have found such a wonderful hiding spot. Shame they both found it at the same time. "I'll leave the humor to you."
"Well thank-you, Your Majesty." Joker chuckled slightly. It was funny; the man leaning before him. The man's glasses were crooked, his hair was ruffled and his shirt wrinkled and stained. The way he held his head it was obvious the man normally would have been clean pressed and spotless, even with that dingy scarecrow mask hanging at his side. The rumpled look didn't suit him at all. Joker shifted himself slightly to try and lighten the pressure on his left side. He estimated he was in good enough shape to split this scene, but watching his bleeding impromptu partner in crime was rather amusing. "But I got a question."
"And what would that be?" Crane crooked his head to the side and listened out one ear for sirens or sounds of other people. He might be bleeding and exhausted, but he'd give it the college try and run if it came down to it.
"How'd you get out of Arkham?"
"I didn't." Crane smirked. "Haven't been there since I was 'released' a year ago."
"Really now?" Joker started to dig in his pockets. He had lost one of his knives in the moments earlier, but he was sure to have another to play with somewhere. He frowned when he couldn't find one and cursed himself for being so careless. "I could have sworn I heard something about you being busted through the grapevine."
"You mean the drug bust before that whole thing with you and Dent?" Crane rolled his eyes and tried to lean forward to test the pain in his side. He was starting to get light headed and needed to start thinking of a way out before he lost the ability to do so. "Batman wrapped us up all nice and pretty, but he failed to deliver us. I crawled away the moment he left before the police could show."
"Takes a big man to admit that." Joker waved his arm in a swirling moment. "The crawling part, I mean."
"Forgive me, I seem to have been humbled tonight with this spectacular failure. Crawling after a small beating is nothing compared to bleeding to death in an alley with a scoundrel such as yourself."
Joker out right laughed; pain in his ribs be damned. "Scoundrel? That's a first. Normally it's 'lunatic' or 'crazy' or some other creative thesaurus type word for 'insane.' But never scoundrel." Joker wagged his finger back and forth.
"You're no more crazy than I am."
Joker felt a small smile crawl onto this face at the deadpanned reply from the man across from him. His blue-grey eyes were staring straight ahead and serious. "That an official diagnosis, highness?"
"You enjoy murder and chaos." Crane tried to push himself up against the wall and pushed down the feeling of dizziness. As he got a closer look at the other man, it was clear the Joker was in far better shape. Not to mention becoming more amused by the second. The man was sporadic, and Crane rather enjoyed living. Best to leave while he could. "Insanity implies you're unaware that your actions are unacceptable or harmful." Crane looked the painted man straight into the eyes. "You know exactly what you're doing."
"I do believe," Joker was full out grinning at this point as he stood up. There was pain, but he was having too much fun with the probably-looks-better-when-he's-prim-and-proper Dr. Crane. "You might be the first person to believe me when I say 'No, I'm not' to the oh so lovely 'You're crazy!' accusations."
"Lucky me." Crane tied his mask strings around his belt loops so he wouldn't forget it since he'd need both hands: one to stop the bleeding, one to hold him up against the wall. The part of his mind that noticed the stain on his shirt noted the irony that he remembered to grab the mask somewhere between watching the Joker and tending to his own wounds. "Now if you'll excuse me, I should be leaving."
"Why don't I help you with that?" Joker took the few painful steps across the alley way and slung an arm over the man's black suit jacket. The hiss as Crane took in a painful breath of air almost echoed in the alleyway. The Scarecrow was proving to be far more amusing than just a drug dealer in a mask. "Since it's mostly my fault this happened, anyway."
Crane tried to not pass out with the burst of pain that accompanied the physical contact. Apparently he was injured in more places than he originally realized. Sadly, Crane had bigger things to worry about – like escaping the Joker without making him angry. "Don't be absurd; it was an accident."
"Now, now. You did get to that bank first. I crashed your job and threw everything to hell in a hand basket." Joker smiled and put his hand over Crane's that cradled his bloody gut. "Now while I certainly enjoy chaos, I never intended to mess with a fellow agent of chaos' work. I insist you let me take you home."
"That won't be necessary." Crane started to see little white spots and started to curse. He was going to pass out at this rate; standing had been a mistake. Though, while his vision was dancing he still managed to get a good look at the twisted face that was now unbearably close to his own. "You've got a Chelsea Grin." Crane let out an amused 'Huh' before continuing; the hazy feeling washing over his brain was making him light headed. "And I thought it was just make-up."
Joker pat the guy on the back as he started watching those eyes glaze over. His new toy was about to black out. That was no good. "Speaking, want to know how I got these scars?"
Crane watched as the edges of his vision blurred and he could feel the pain slipping away. Not good signs. Dr. Crane was definitely passing out. His voice was scratchy and lisped as he barely managed a reply. "Not particularly."
"Shame." Joker rolled his eyes as the good Doctor crumpled against him, dead to the world. The green-haired man let Crane's hand fall limp to the side and repositioned his own to quell the bleeding. It was amazing the man wasn't moaning and groaning in agony; yet another tick mark to the "reasons to keep this guy around" list. Putting pressure on the stomach, Joker lifted the man up enough that he could drag him easier. Best to get the good doc somewhere to recover before he did more than just pass out.
Joker wasn't done with him yet.
Crane opened awoke to the world slowly; his eyelids felt like they weighed a few tons and he ached all over. There was a lumpy mattress under him and knowing it was not his own humble bed Crane decided to try and piece together just where he was now located. Crane came up blank for a few moments, and then it all came back to him in a rush.
This time he did groan.
Memories returning in droves now meant all Crane wanted to do now was roll over and go back to sleep. Getting talked into doing a bank job with some gang; the Joker showing up at the same bank from a different entrance; the surprise on both parties faces (not to mention the bank staff); the ensuing fight between parties; and the moron who dropped his bomb too close to a supporting building pillar...all a wonderful mash of a job gone horribly wrong. Between the fire, the roof coming down and the random gunfire, Crane was lucky to escape alive. The wound to his gut (ironically from a citizen running into him with a knife) and the bruising everywhere he could live with if it mean living to bring fear to the despicable Gotham another day.
Speaking, it appeared that someone had wrapped up the gash in his stomach.
Well, that could only be one other person. Crane tossed his head to the side and saw his Scarecrow mask sitting next to him on the pillow. How thoughtful of the Joker. Yes, not only his apparent savior but also the last person Crane had expected to see drop down next to him in the alley. At first Crane thought the man followed him, but after a few moments it was obvious it was indeed an off-the-cuff moment. Crane pushed himself up on the bed and looked around the room.
It looked like a falling apart apartment that could be located anywhere in the narrows if the standard peeling white wallpaper and brown carpet were any indication. Crane groped for his mask and forced his feet on the floor. He wasn't dumb enough to wait around for the Joker to come back and say 'Thank-you.' Knowing his luck the Joker just didn't want him to die before the man could do it himself. Crane found his glasses on the night stand and pushed them on his face, frowning at the cracked glass.
The room opened up into a small living quarters with a red leather couch and a small kitchenette. That was currently occupied; so much for escape.
"Morning." Joker leant on the counter and took a bite out a piece of toast, small bits of jam falling off the edge. "Didn't expect you to be up and about so soon. Breakfast?"
Joker held out the same piece of toast he'd been eating off towards Crane. "No, thank-you." Crane replied before walking around to sit on the couch. He'd have to walk by Joker in the narrow kitchenette to reach the door. "I don't think my intestines would appreciate food right now."
"Guess they wouldn't." Joker shrugged and continued eating while watching the man on his couch. Crane looked disappointed; like he was expecting to just walk out. Well, the direct approach was almost the fastest. Joker used his thumb to wipe a small glop of jam into his mouth; tasted his lipstick. "Trying to leave before I came home, were you? One would think you didn't trust me." Joker waltzed around the counter with ease. Turns out he had only just bruised his ribs and after a good night's sleep he was feeling much more like himself. "And after I saved you, too."
"Don't be ridiculous." Crane smirked just a little. He was scared, but he wasn't going to let this clown know that. He pushed himself up straighter on the sofa and pulled his legs up closer to the furniture cushions. "I trust you completely."
"Do you?" Joker took in a breath and tilted his head. Crane was twitching slightly and scoping out the apartment for escape routes. What a jittery little rabbit he'd caught. Well, then- Joker would just have to make sure the man relaxed. "I have a hard time believing that."
Crane tilted his head up to look down at the man, despite Crane sitting and Joker standing. "I trust you to be desultory."
"No fair using such big words, your majesty." Joker plopped down on the couch next to his new buddy. The little scarecrow was proving to be amusing: essentially kidnapped, wounded and completely at his mercy, and Crane still had the nerve to talk back. Combine that with the man's affection towards causing a different brand of chaos and Joker might have just found someone to replace his good buddy Harvey. "Us peasants can't keep up."
Majesty? Crane racked his memory trying to remember why the Joker was calling him that. Something about a joke in the alley, but he couldn't focus on that with the man sitting so close. "Chaotic then. Entertained one minute, bored the next. I'd rather not play the odds on you losing interest, if you don't mind."
"Come now, I'm not going to save you and then kill you." Joker shook his head. "What do you take me for?"
"A man who wants something." Crane narrowed his eyes. "I just can't figure out just what that might be."
"Maybe I just want a little company from someone of a like mind." Joker slung an arm around the smaller man's shoulder and leant in. "Is that so wrong?"
"Forgive me, but I find that hard to believe." Crane picked up the clown's arm and tossed it off his shoulder. The bruises on his back still hurt.
"Ah, well how about this." Joker licked his lips and put his hand up in a pleading motion. "We'll get to know each other better and talk about ourselves. Then there shouldn't be any problem with us hanging out."
Dr. Crane smirked while at the same time keeping his mouth straight. His face adopted his 'professional' expression that he used so often while running around the DA's office. "I stopped taking appointments for counseling a long time ago, but I can make a few recommendations. I hear Dr. Harleen Quinzel is still taking appointments at Arkham."
Joker laughed and slunk down into the couch. This guy was just too much! It'd been forever since he'd found someone so much fun. And to think it was the straight-laced Dr Jonathan Crane: terror of Arkham. "I think I like you."
Two weeks later and Crane was about to snap. He looked over at Joker who was sitting on the edge of the bed watching some sitcom or another since the man had decided he was never leaving the apartment again. The man had even started calling to order groceries, forcing Crane to answer the door as to avoid drawing suspicion. Crane had no desire to stick around with this man and play 'friends' when he had work to do and chemicals to mix. To date, he'd tried to leave the apartment three times; and failed three times.
The first time Crane had tried to get away, about two days after he first woke up, he had attempted the direct method: just walk out. Joker had laughed and yanked him back into the bedroom and Crane hit the bed in agony. Joker kindly pointed out he was still too injured to leave and Crane, regretfully agreed. His second attempt was after another five days where the ache was significantly less and his wound had successfully closed over. It would scar, but he could live with that. Crane had made it into the hallway before being knocked out from a blow to the back of the head.
The third time though, his most recent attempt, Joker finally got the point across: you're not leaving.
Crane pulled himself up on his side of the bed to put his back to the Joker; the jolt of pain was worth it to not have to look at him anymore. Yesterday morning Crane took a pot-shot at the Joker and managed to knock him out for a few moments. At this point, he made a sprint for the door, but miscalculated how long the Joker was out for.
Yanking Crane by the hair, Joker pulled him down to the floor and shook his head slowly with a small repeated 'tsk tsk tsk' coming from his mouth. "Now what's it going to take to get you to stay put? Do I have to nail you to the floor?"
"What's it going to take to get you to figure out I want to leave." Crane hissed and his back-talk was rewarded with a kick to the gut. Joker then shoved his foot in Crane's stomach and twisted the heel around a bit. The moment Joker pulled his foot away, Crane gasped and automatically reached for the wound to find it reopened. "Dammit."
"You see?" Joker picked Crane up by the hair again and dragged him to his feet. The dark haired man was glaring at him with an almost murderous air and while amusing, it wasn't what he wanted. It's hard to create a partnership with a man who keeps running from you. He liberally smashed Crane's head into the side of the counter. "You just end up getting hurt."
Crane groaned as he was dropped back to the ground and heard the Joker rustling about and clanging noises coming from the kitchen. There was blood dripping from his forehead now, but Crane could still see. He looked up in time to see the man holding a long metal pipe and his eyes widened.
"Surely you remember," Joker paused and tapped the pipe against his shoulder, "what I told you would happen next time you tried to leave?"
"Oh God." Crane pushed himself up and cried to crawl on his elbows towards the door. He remembered what the man had said but hadn't realized how serious the sadist was until he was actually holding the pipe.
But it was too late for regrets.
Crane looked down at his leg rigid straight in a splint and rubbed the top part of his thigh as he left his inner musings over the past couple weeks. Joker laughed again after flipping to the news and some article or another about batman started airing. The madman had broken his leg with a pipe; Crane wasn't strong enough to get away on his own with two good legs let alone crippled. So the doctor resigned himself to imprisonment with his new roommate. When Joker turned around to tap him in the shoulder, Crane pulled the pillow over his head and groaned out "Leave me alone."
Ironically, as long as Crane didn't leave, he could get away with just about anything. Talking back, insults, throwing food and water on the man; didn't matter. All Joker cared about was him leaving.Maybe the other man was crazy.
Joker shook the man's shoulder and turned up the television. He had been scanning the channels for news on what good old Batman had been up to in his absence for the past two weeks hanging out with Dr. Crane, but found something much more interesting pop up instead. That surprisingly was about his new roomie. "Oh come on, this one's about you!"
Crane rolled over slowly and looked at the TV where the Joker was pointing happily. The small TV set flickered occasionally, but the sound was fine. The reporter was going on about local gangs spreading around his fear toxin and causing chaos. Attacking shopping centers, gas stations, random people in the street and other high school antics. And of course, since it was the Scarecrow's signature fear gas, the good doctor was being labeled as the mastermind behind it all. Crane felt a little insulted at being associated with those hooligans. "Someone must have found my warehouse..." Crane trailed off and pulled the pillow back over his face.
"You know, I've been thinkin' Queenie." Crane cringed at the nickname again; and Joker smiled. That joke about the Queen of England was still his favorite of all the man's sarcastic or humorous responses. Though, being called a "laughingstock of a lummox" had been a good one, too. "That maybe you need a new gag, gimmick if you will. Fear gas is great, but now everyone's doing it."
"I like my fear gas."
"I know." Joker huffed and lifted the pillow off the man's face. "Would ya' listen for a minute?" Crane stared at him disinterestedly and Joker readjusted himself on the bed to turn around with his hands up in a exaggerating way. He continued to inch every closer as he kept talking, until the Joker was practically pulling himself into Crane's lap. "I just think it could use something new, to make it something really scary again."
"How so?" Crane lifted an eyebrow and decided he didn't quite like the look on the other man's face. Crane could see the gears turning and ideas formulating behind those eyes and he tried to back away before Joker grabbed his shoulder and kept him in place. "Joker-" Crane was cut off by the Joker covering his mouth with a hand.
"Something flashy, memorable," Joker paused and leant down to stroke the man's cheek, before cupping both cheeks with his hands. Shifting to push his thumbs into the edges of Crane's lips and pushing upwards in a mock 'grin,' Joker looked down at his new friend. Crane was squirming thanks to the contact but couldn't move thanks to the splint on his leg. "Something," Joker pushed harder on the man's face and gripped the rest of his fingers around to cup the man's neck. "To put a smile on their faces."