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The Echo of You

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[Dear readers: New and old, before we begin please note chapters 1and 2 will be polished and reworked. Finally that rust on my writer's brain is starting to ware off so Im polishing these up before we get too deep. ;)]

 



 

‘Sleep in peace when the day is done, that's what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world
For me
For me
Stars when you shine
You know how I feel
Scent of the pine
You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
you know how I feel,
It’s a new dawn,
It’s a new day,
It’s a new life, For me

And I’m Feeling Good.’

                         Song: Feeling Good

            Artist: Muse

                                   [original by Nina Simone]


 

Every muscle in your body throbbed and begged for rest, and If it were even the slightest bit within the realm of possibility you would have laid down right there on the street and slept.

Even if you'd wanted to it would have been impossible.

The trash strike had gone on long enough that the piles of garbage had grown until they toppled over to gather on the sidewalks. Worse areas spilled out into the streets becoming so dangerous that a rise in traffic accidents kept you pulling frequent double shifts to assist in the ER. For Christ's sake you were basically a glorified intern, unprepared for assisting in the treatment of patients in emergency care, some of which you helped prep for surgery. You were a resident at Arkham, unliscensed, and inexperienced. Now just exhausted.

Not to mention the fact that you'd only been able to leave work early due to the exponential rise in rioting. It somehow had flooded during the evening out into parts of the city a few miles from where it had started and been contained for the past few weeks.

The scene grew before you with a creak of heavy hospital doors as they slowly slid open and the horror and surrealism of it all settled in your chest and gripped it tight. That image….your eyes settled over the street in utter disarray, you couldn't fathom it, you knew it would be branded there behind your lids forever. A place where you kept many secret horrors, a photo album for your subconscious, scars on your memory. The place things no amount of suppression would allow them to be forgotten. Chaos unfolded in every which way, and the familiar street you took to work and back every day was unrecognizable. Debris scattered as far down as u could see, people ran screaming under the sounds of glass being broken, metal being smashed, and somewhere far enough away to almost be indistinguishable there was chanting and clapping. What the hell could have motivated the riots all the way to this lower-class neighborhood so far from the city center, was all u could manage to think before you heard the doors of the hospital close behind you, and click. FUCK! The key was in your locker, with your regular clothes, somehow you'd forgotten to go to get them before u left. Without further hesitation you found yourself having to head down the chaotic road leading toward your apartment. The brisk pace turned into a run as the riots began to surround you.

Even in the terror of navigating your way through it all, you recalled that when you left for your double shift at the hospital the previous morning the rioting was still focused at the heart of Gotham, the area made up of government buildings, elitist banks, and of course Wayne Enterprises. It was only an hour ago you'd heard that the rioting had spread to the entertainment district several city blocks from here, but last you heard was still being held at bay.

So that left you horrified as to what the hell was capable of turning the city on its head in such a short time. Up until you'd left the safety of the hospital walls you'd been soaring on the idea of nice cool leisurely walk before you got home and sunk into a bath. Any idea of leisure was replaced with a gut-wrenching fear that sent adrenaline flooding through your veins. The only thing you could think now was to just run, run as fast as you could and just make it home alive. The city seemed to go up in smoke and violence all around you and only got worse as you tried to find a safe way through the frenzy. People in clown masks were everywhere causing havoc, some held signs and screamed their protests others carried weapons and smashed anything in sight, panicked citizens like yourself sought refuge in desperation. Screams and sirens pierced the air growing in their already deafening volumes, and you ran faster and faster managing only to catch what seemed to be the aftermath of a violent car accident in the direction you’d been heading. A crumpled cop car was left smashed beneath an ambulance, both of which still somehow flashed their reds and blues despite being left abandoned. The smoke rising from both vehicles was thick in the air now and you tasted burnt oil and other chemicals as it filled and hit ur lungs with a force that threatened to bring you to your knees. You felt yourself suffocating, and your legs begin to buckle, but a deafening explosion sends fire and rubble flying everywhere from somewhere behind you, the force shaking the ground and sends you sprinting with everything you have left. Despite your eyes burning from the smoke and ears ringing from the blast you somehow steer yourself into a small dark alley tucked between two brick buildings, and you sprint until your as far from the street as possible. There you give out, praying as you crumple to the ground that you’d be safe for a moment. There you stay on your knees, chest heaving and gasping for oxygen which felt like hot knives scraping your throat and lungs....a few minutes pass until finally, the world began to stop from its erratic spinning.

As if it were no longer you at that moment you hear yourself begin to frantically laugh, which turns into hysterics, the sound is guttural, animalistic, and you can't stop it. The affliction only escalates until it had you gripping at your throat choking on your sobs and tears. The trembling slowly eases after several minutes and the laughter fades to hiccups. At last your panic was fading and your body was suddenly left numb, weightless and without bearings as if it were being swept up with all the fumes of the burning city and you push your palms into the ground, a dull pain digs into your fingertips while you claw at the gravel below. I'm alive I'm alive, I'm alive…. You repeat until blood begins to gather under your nails. “I'm real, I'm alive, I'm alive….” The whole situation felt so far away, but you were alive that's all that mattered, and suddenly you could feel every fiber of our body light up and vibrate with that notion. And a smile curves ur lips when u feel a sense overwhelming liberation from the exhaustion and fear that had almost crippled you until then. It was empowering, and something you hadn't ever felt before. And you basked in it until you were interrupted

“Alive is right Sweetheart.” A soft voice, confident but hoarse, yanked you out of your head and had you scrambling away on your ass and heels. Somehow you had missed the figure leaned up against the opposite corner of the walled-off alley, He stood in the larger part of a shadow but you could plainly see the outline of him lit up by a dim security light overhead. You shot to your feet, ready all over again to sprint for your life if so much as flinched in your direction.

But as you went to turn and take off before he had the chance to move the figure spoke again “Please wait-I..” His voice was ragged and the sound of pain pulled you to glance back at him, he was cut off as a cough shook him, and even in the dim light, you could see him falter from the force. You couldn't help but evaluate his stance for a moment, and what you could gather just from the way he held himself, was that he had been injured and it could very well be serious. Had he been in the car collision which left that mass of vehicles and wreckage in the street a ways back? If that were the case he was lucky to have lived. “If you’d be so kind, I could use your help. Y-your a doctor, is that right my dear?" He said holding back another cough. “I swear I won’t hurt you, I just need some patching up, and then I'll be off” He added with what almost sounded like amusement.

Something made you uncomfortable about the man, despite being wounded and barely visible, there was something in his voice which was vaguely distant and familiar, but felt off in every way. "The hospital is down that way,” you told him with a gesture, he didn't respond for a long moment and instead chuckled the sound strained, and you'd already realized in the same moment he had how idiotic you'd been. If he could have gone there by now he probably would have at least started that way, or at least asked you to help him get there, no this man had been hiding and not from the riots as she had been.

“Can't go to the hospital darlin’, or the police,” He couldn't hold back and lost it before even finishing the word police, his laugh was heavy with mockery and it cackled and stuck you with anxiety though you guessed that it was aimed at the police more so than you. The laughter was soon replaced by harsh coughing and blood leaked from his mouth. Of course, that was his response ...why else would he have asked you after clearly having hidden for some time in the dimmest spot of the dimmest alley. It was sheer coincidence, dumb luck, that a fumbling resident of Arkham stumbled right into his lap, and you felt extremely idiotic at that moment. You were still in your scrubs for fuck's sake, and you cursed yourself for your forgetfulness.

 

Before you could stop yourself you were already turning to face him completely, “ I'm no- I'm doing my residency over at…..” you paused realizing how stupid explaining anything was at a time like this. “ Almost, a Dr. Yeah,” you said shakily. You could just leave him there, it's not like he’d be able to stop you in his battered state, he'd be a burden just getting him to your home safely. He would have a hard enough time walking judging by his posture but even at the passing idea of ditching him there had you sick with yourself. You were never, not once, in your life the kind to just abandon someone in crisis. You knew too well it shouldn't matter who they were, what was in their past or how they acted. If they needed help it was your moral code to help them, so why let the burning garbage and the shit city keep you from doing what you believed was right just because you were frightened. You began to lift your hand and It was then he took a step forward and into the dim orange light flooding in from the street ablaze behind you, and you could start to clearly make out his features. He wore a bright red suit which, with a yellow suit vest speckled in blood, it looked tailored but now hung over his injured body messily. From what you could tell he had shoulder-length hair also in a total mess but the color was strikingly green, but none of that was anything compared to the most terrifying feature which was his face. It was thick with paint, sweat, and blood which had smeared and mixed. It bled color down his sharp almost gaunt features and you could barely make out that there was a man somewhere beneath the haunting image. The only assurance was the look in his eyes, you could barely make them out and initially you read that there was something in them that sent a shiver dancing up your spine, but it was the genuine plea silently shown in their intensity which kept you. That plea, plain and painfully written in them finally brought you to approach him and you offered him a hand which he took gratefully. He was in terrible shape and just hoped you could do enough to help him so he'd be out of your hands as quickly as possible.

He ever so gently gave yours a squeeze as if to say thank you. “Phew, I thought I was a goner” He sighed and leaned backward with a theatrical flourish, his free wrist pressed against his blood matted forehead. From under his hand, he stole a look at you, one that ate you up from your head to toes, making you swallow. Then straightening himself before sending you a wink accompanied by a grin that was far too wide to be one of simple happiness. “Where to my dear?”

Again this feeling of nostalgia took over you, at some point you'd known this man, or at least heard his voice enough to know for certain he wasn't a complete stranger. You'd forgotten he’d even asked you a question by then, and you looked up into his dark eyes to search for a person you could recognize but frowned, “What’s your name? You just seem so-...I feel like I know you from som.._” You blurted out, clapping your hand over your lips in a flash, but it was far too late. You needed to to keep reminding yourself about the fact that he was a criminal and didn't have any clue as to how dangerous he really was. Even if there was a chance you knew him, it would be insane to ask him who he was, not only would that make you a potential threat but would also put yourself in a position to be pursued by the police yourself. Just knowing who he was made you accountable for his actions until he was no longer in your care. You couldn't help but feel like what little control over your life you'd only managed to find for yourself over the last few years was slipping away before your eyes. Same cycle different day... you think to yourself and wonder if building a life simply to have some sort of control in it was even worth it. Your whole life had been fighting the things beyond your control, and hating yourself for trying when it came back to bite you more often than not. Perhaps control and your dreamy ideas of normalcy would only leave a bad taste on your tongue at the end of it all…. You weren't sure how long you both had stood there wordlessly exploring the other's eyes for answers. Not a sound between you could be heard but the air was thick with the sound of words that neither of you chose to speak, and god the look he gave you had a frequency all its own. As if he wasn't searching your eyes to find whether or not he did know you, but more like he was looking into them to see who you'd become. Like he was forming a list of ways you had changed for better or worse. This idea made you swallow hard, and you could suddenly feel how parched you were.

He must have picked up on your anxiety and discomfort at that moment and he lowered his eyes before turning away from you in a gracefully slow way as if he were leading up to a dance. Preforming while he outstretched his arms as if there were an audience sat out on the street that only he could see. “You can call me Joker. Since that is my name now.” he only turned his head to take a peek at you while choosing his next words, he took command of every syllable and stretched each with intention, letting them gracefully roll from his mouth in a seductive way that would pull anyone's ear at full attention, “However, y/n, the old me  you had known fairly well, in fact …” he paused and turned back to the way of the street. Before he spoke again he allowed his arms fall to his sides as if he’d become weak, “You knew him far more than most ever had or ever would ....” Joker’s words seemed to weaken as well and had lost their theatrics, the sound was barely more than a whisper and held an old sadness in it, one you knew so well. What the hell, why was it that you couldn't recall a thing, anything in your past that would help to remember! You had that sick feeling as though his name was about to roll right past your lips, so strong it made you ill not to be able to just say it.You opened your mouth as the right name started to form in your subconscious and was ready to be freed, but before you could even make a sound the feeling died as soon as it had started.

 

Both Joker and you were stricken with alarm when you picked up the very faint sounds of police sirens heading in your direction and growing in volume as they approached far too quickly. “Time to go!’ He said too matter-of-factly, his far too amused tone had found its way back into his voice and demeanor, and he hooked your elbow into his, “Now then, which way love?”



You wiggled free from his grip and let out a long sigh before heading toward the street you’d only just managed to escape moments ago, and guided Joker toward your apartment. You thanked whatever higher power that looked out for you that you had the weekend off from work. It took the better part of the night to navigate just a couple blocks while dodging cops and struggling through the aftermath left by the rioting. The closer u came to being at home the more a feeling in your gut grew, one that screamed your life wouldn't be the same again, and that this man was going to be the end of you.

 

 

 

x x x

 

First, sorry for errors, I had to type this out as fast as I could while the idea was hot off the ol'brain press. 
Second, that's it for this chapter, as for how our dear reader knows Joker, well I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

If you enjoyed the doodle and would like to see more in future chapters then feel free to let me know.  

   Thank you all for reading!♡

Chapter Text

 

"What did you do, wonder where
Your heart came from
What have you done
My only friend keep on
Wander or leave,
Turn into winter lights
Keeping your strength
When it gets dark at night

Keep on
Keep the straight line
I'm running, running
The straight line

What did you do, wonder where
Your heart came from
What have you done
My only friend keep on
Wander or leave,
Turn into winter lights
Keeping your strength
When it gets dark at night

What you're feeling
It's what I'm feeling too
What you're made of
It's what I'm made of too
What are you afraid of
I know that you are
What are you afraid of
I know that you are"

 

 

.      .      .

 

 

To say you were relieved when you entered your apartment complex was one hell of an understatement, you nearly cried  when your eyes finally met the rundown shabby looking wooden door to your unit. If it wasn’t for the company of this fugitive you were harboring (and his ever apparent devil-may-care attitude that made forgetting his presence painfully impossible if even for a second) you probably would have dropped to plant kisses all over your hideously generic welcome mat. Instead you fetch the spare key you thankfully left taped to the bottom of the door and unlock the place, before you could even finish turning the knob Joker pushed against the door in a hurry as soon as the gears made a click and barged his way past you to slide inside,  "Sorry to be so rude my dear, wanted criminals first and all that. Next time I promise I’ll be a true gentleman.” He chimed, dripping with self amusement as he strutted off, barely a limp in his step as he disappeared momentarily into the darkened entryway.

 

Oh god, there damn well better NOT be a next time. You grumbled internally, and flipped the switch, the main light did its usual reluctant flickering before switching on to illuminate your messy apartment. You weren’t a slob by any means but clutter held a certain level of comfort-ability over you for as long as you could remember so keeping a tidy living area was never a priority. Plus you didn’t see the point, you never really had company nor did you really allow anyone to be close enough to you to invite over. You’d basically given up on a social life after having ended a messy relationship a little over a year ago. Since then you allowed random papers, sketches, and clothing to gather in little piles strewn around the place, and you casually shove a stack of unpaid bills aside with a huff to drop your lunch bag lazily on the counter. Yeah, yeah, i’ll deal with you later. Money trouble wasn’t your biggest issue to deal with at the moment, but still you pinched the bridge of your nose as you fought back the anxiety debt always managed to bring you.

 

 Entering the living room, you find Joker bent forward slightly his back facing you as he eyed some sketches on your coffee table, hands in his pockets while he gave them an intimate once over. He hummed,  “Im happy to see you still draw,” He paused to turn toward you, even through the makeup and blood that smeared and warped his features you could see the cocky smirk and raised brow plain as day “You’ve always been an impressive artist, though I don’t recall the content ever being this explicit ” he added with a hoarse laugh. Immediately the realization hit you like a sack of bricks sending a flood of hot embarrassment to your cheeks. The only drawings you had stacked there were ones you did in a rage of  hormonal overload about a week ago, horny as fuck you’d drawn an assortment of faceless couples going at it in various positions and had meant to toss them out. They were less like drawings than they were the anxious scribbles done by that of a sex deprived maniac, and you scrambled to the table to gather them before any more damage could be done to your pride. 

 

“I’d be happy  if you were to mind your own damn business,” You growled crumpling the few sheets of paper before punching them into the waste-basket as if they were his smug face. This only made him laugh harder and he fell backward into the sofa, you spun on your heel ready to grab him by the jacket and toss him out of your apartment only to be stopped dead at the sight of him doubled over where he sat. His laughter had turned into harsh coughing again, and he held one hand over his mouth to stifle it, the other he brought up to grip his  heaving chest.

 

You took a deep breath before you approached him “You need to knock it off and focus on your breathing, I don’t care what you call yourself, but your injuries are no joke,” You say calmly kneeling beside him  “If you actually want my help, then I need to take a look at you so just try and relax, make sure to take slow breaths ok? You probably have at least one broken rib.” You put a hand on his that still clenched his chest and he nodded. You guided him through his breathing until his shoulders began to rise and fall with yours at a steady pace. Finally he had done his best relax and you helped him out of his jacket, the yellow vest and despite the look of panic he shot you briefly he hesitantly allowed you to help him out of the green dress shirt as well. “Jesus” You subconsciously let slip when you saw how thin he was and the extent of his injuries, deep purple and red bruises painted his skin, some of the smaller ones seemed weeks old even. You reached out to touch one particularly dark bruise  that covered the right side of his ribs, but before you could even graze him he jerked away as if he'd never been touched before. The sudden movement caused him to pinch his eyelids tightly together in a grimace and he sucked in breath in through his clenched teeth. “Sorry, I should have warned you” You say genuinely your voice came out far softer than you knew you were capable, and all you wanted in that moment was to sooth him, so much so it was alarming. You had expected some of the wounds and had figured he’d had broken ribs from the moment he stumbled his way toward you in the alleyway, which you had now confirmed. Though nothing you could have seen would have prepared yourself for the way his body seemed covered in years worth of abuse, some evidence of which had scarred over and seemed decades old.

 

“Its fine.” He replied trying to control a shudder before he eased himself slowly backward against the sofa as if to allow you better access and you gave him a moment to stabilize his breathing again. Careful not to make the same mistake a second time you spent several more minutes to look him over with as little touching as possible. Over all you found him to be in relatively decent condition considering the vast amount of injuries he’d suffered, most would fully heal within a week or two . Beside the clearly broken rib which made itself known under the swollen deeply bruised flesh of his side he had several cuts and scrapes. You also made note of some deep contusions to his left collar bone and hip, an injury to his nose that hadn't quite seemed to break it, and finally he was possibly suffering the after effects of a mild concussion judging from the welt that had formed under a small gash just below his hairline.

 

“Well I think you’re going to live.” You said with a smile and got to your feet. “Once we can get you cleaned up I’ll bandage the worst of it, and you can stay here at least until that rib starts to heal. Too much movement with something like that and you can develop serious internal bleeding. So it looks like we’re stuck with each other for a little while.” You added the last bit in a half-hearted attempt at making him smile but it did nothing of the sort.



Joker didn't move a muscle other than to shift his eyes to look you over, his fixated stare was unnerving and you shifted uncomfortably at how small it made you feel. He was carefully studying your face, scrutinizing over every detail as if looking for any hint that you might be trying to trick him.  Any hint that you might take the chance to turn him in if he were to give you one.

 

You would never do something of that sort, even if it was for no better reason than to avoid giving him the excuse to harm you, but even so you felt your confidence take a dive and your heart was thudding violently behind your ears “I uh….I’ll just…” you stumbled on your words, trying to escape the weight of his judgement “get some bandages quick.” And you used the opportunity to retreat into the hall where you ducked into the bathroom, shed your scrubs in exchange for a tank top and pajama pants, then filled your arms with a first aid kit and any other medical supplies in the vicinity. Get a grip for fucks sake, he’d have hurt you already if thats what he wanted. Plus you knew him at one point right? You reminded yourself while staring at your tired reflection in the mirror, Just focus, get him bandaged, and try and figure out who the fuck this man is before getting yourself riled up. You scold yourself internally, and with that you give yourself a nod, straighten your posture and muster up all of the strength you can before practically kicking open the bathroom door to go back to where you’d left him on the sofa.

 

You were stopped at the end of the hall when Joker appeared seemingly out of thin air to meet you face to face, that same scrutiny in his eyes from before only now they were right above you, deep green orbs burned with a ferocity that held you trapped there. You froze like a goddamn trapped animal about to fall victim to its respective predator, one much further up on the proverbial food chain. “You don't remember who I was at all do you?” He asked in a rhetorical way, his voice held a much darker tone than it had before, the deep reverberation threatened you to your core, “You know that I am dangerous. That much is obvious to you at least," he bent to close what little distance was left  between your face and his and you could feel his breath on your face when he stopped with just an inch between your noses. The proximity sent a prickle over your skin with terror “but do you have any idea what I’ve done, any at all?” He asked, his volume rose, every word seemed to bring him closer into a fit of rage, to which you could only respond with eyes snapping shut and a shake of your head, you hadnt the slightest clue and he seemed determined to make you regret it, “You must be the one fucking person in this entire city not to have seen it on television,” This fact humored him and he let out a laugh that seemed to douse the heat behind his anger, “the one person to have somehow not even  heard a rumor of it, and of all the people in this filthy city ...it had to be you.” He scoffed, and followed it up with what sounded like a palm being slammed against the wall beside the two of you and you snapped your eyes open, he was leaning against his outstretched arm with his palm still flat against the drywall, his legs crossed beneath him in a lax manner that was highly out of place. He must have taken a step away while your eyes were shut to give you some room, and he just held himself there for a moment while you recovered from the shock of his outburst. His head was lowered casting his eyes downward toward the floor as if he were ashamed, but all too soon he smiled and looked back at you “It doesn't matter if you remember me or not, either way if you knew what I've done, you wouldn't have brought me here.” despite the smile he wore you could see something else in the way he looked at you, something that called out and needed you to recognize him for what he was, as if you agreeing he was some sort of monster would put him at ease. Perhaps he wanted to test you, so that he could finally lump you in with everyone else that made up the brutally cold city of Gotham. 

 

“Your right…” You said when you finally regained the ability to speak. With every molecule of your body you fought back against the icy fear that had your insides twisted and your knees trembling, “It doesn’t matter if I remember you, now or maybe ever…. but what you’ve done doesn’t interest me at the moment.” You felt the fear being slowly replaced by a growing sense of self assurance, made stronger with a touch of anger drawn from how he’d acted toward you. You had gone out of your way to help him up until now, so blowing up at you felt like painful plucking at your already shaken nerves. “Unless you were out there traumatizing young kids I couldn’t give a damn! Now would you please take a seat so I can at least do what you asked me to?” you lifted the medical supplies you’d held in a death grip until this point and shoved it next to his face to make your point even clearer. 

 

His eyes widened in momentary disbelief, fading the instant he let his arm fall to his side. That damned cocky grin formed over his lips again and his arms crossed themselves over his bare chest, “Well my oh my,” he clucked his tongue. Those wicked flickering eyes devouring  you as though you were one hell of a prize he’d managed to win himself. The level of heated admiration that he sent to slide over you was as tangible as if you’d slipped your entire body into hot water and you couldn't keep the heat from uncomfortably pooling at the base of your spine, the sensation it gave you had you mindlessly biting at your lower lip. “Yes ma’am.” He said far too calmly and let out a deep chuckle, his stare moved to linger a moment over the lip nestled under your teeth and you felt him smile in approval even after turning toward the living room.

 

He had resumed his position on your couch and waited patiently for you to join him. As you set up the things you’d likely need in order to aid him across the stretch of the coffee table you could feel him staring again, and decided the awkward silence was a bit too much for you to stay focused. You switched on the television but shot Joker a look to make sure it was alright, which to your surprise he made a gesture that stated he really couldn’t care less. So you made sure to turn the volume down to a level that was barely audible on the off chance the station playing were to cover whatever it was he had done in front of a live broadcast. You had meant it when you said you didn’t care, but given the choice you thought it best to stay in the dark at least while you tended to him.

 

You took a seat beside him on the sofa, and pulled in a deep breath before you raised the damp towel you had prepared to clean his face, but he took your wrist in his hand and pulled it away, only suprising you with the gentleness of it. “Maybe that should be saved for last sweetheart.” he warned, and you didnt see a reason to argue, if you were to recognize him you felt that you would have by now. So instead  you spent the next hour and a half carefully cleaning and bandaging his body. The tenderness you put toward tending to each wound seemed to sooth him and he sank into the cushions of the sofa. “You can lie down if you want” you tell him with a soft smile to reassure him it would be alright, “It might not be a bad idea, that way we can ice your broken rib.” You added, he hesitated but perhaps realizing his exhaustion was getting the better of him he eventually lowered himself to lay down and you handed him an ice pack to hold over the area while you finished wrapping a cut on his arm. Relief washed over you when only minutes later he was breathing deeper and the hand he’d used to hold the ice had lost its grip and relaxed beside him on the cushions. He’d fallen asleep.

 

You just hoped that cleaning the smear of color from his face wouldn’t wake him, at this point you were more concerned with the neglected wound on his forehead than you were finding a recognizable face beneath his painted mask. You feared it would need stitches since it still bled, not as much by any means but still enough that your medical training had you worried. Tentatively you brought the cloth down and began wiping away the blood and paint around the wound and after several painstakingly delicate swipes of the wet cloth you’d finally cleaned and patched it up temporarily with a butterfly bandage. You took a moment to relax on the floor beside him and looked him over to admire the fruits of your labor as he continued to sleep fairly peacefully. Your mind wandered and you observed the shape of his body and you allowed the artistic part of your mind appreciate the gentle curves and planes of his muscles that gently rose and fell with his breathing. They were  just toned enough to smooth out his overly thin frame and you traced them slowly with your eyes from his waist to the length of his neck and you stopped at his overly pronounced jawline which stood out dramatically from the smudged white paint that painted it. The color drew and settled your eyes back over his face and even though part of you screamed at you to leave the facade there where itd sat all night and to just go to bed. The other side in you began forming an obsessive need to satisfy the curiosity that had festered inside you from the moment you recognized his voice. The more fought yourself while staring at sleeping Joker, the more you gave yourself time to grow impatient and needy, and you couldn’t stop yourself when you finally took to gently wiping the rest of his face free. You hadn't realized you had been holding your breath until you’d had managed to wipe half of his skin clean, and with one last motion across his upper lip you took in a long breath only to have it stop halfway into your lungs. The blood drained from your face before you’d fully registered the man who belonged to the scar you’d just made visible. That scar, and the man who wore it you knew all to well and a swell of  tears forced their way up and past your stinging lids. You tried to blink away the tears but they were relentlessly forcing their way to spill over your cheeks, you’d only managed to fog your vision, and you had to choke back a sob that threatened to erupt from deep inside you. “Shit, oh god, Arthur….” you whispered between swallowing back the urge to completely break down. Your breathing grew unsteady and much to fast and all you could do was gently press your forehead against his shoulder as you were overwrought with images of the sweet, and at times painfully shy man that had been so dear to you once. “Fuck fuck fuck….” you choked back another sob now hating yourself for not knowing that it had been him the entire time. “Im so sorry…Arthur” You knew that you were not apologizing for having failed to recognize him sooner, even though that too sent guilt stabbing at your chest, no you were apologizing for what had happened years ago that had separated your lives for what you thought would be forever. 



Your head was spinning, sending too many memories at you at once. Memories you’d worked tirelessly to try and lock away for the past 8  years due to the pain they’d brought back with them. But as images flickered infinitely for only you to see you finally found yourself settling on a memory, one that had always been your favorite, and you let yourself unravel the images until the day you met him began playing out  in painfully vivid detail behind your closed eyes.

 

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You faked doing some homework and sketched in your notebook as your shift was coming to a close. 5 more minutes. Helm’s Pharmacy, you had not so affectionately nicknamed "Hell’s Pharmacy", as It was the first and worst of any job you were to ever have and it bored you to death. Even being only 17 years old then, you found it idiotic they even had someone run the convenience counter at all times in such a run down tucked away pharmacy. Sure their biggest item to pass through the doors were cigarettes but it wasn't like the fat misogynist running the place would miss a customer. He was always sitting in his back corner of the shop, behind the pharmacy counter adjacent to yours where he filled maybe a handful of prescription a day then resumed his post in front of his mini tv while stuffing his face full of garbage and beer. The sports channel ran all hours of the day, and yet he never seemed to miss the chance to check out your ass when it so much as peeked into his line of sight so it's not like he’d somehow not have the attention span to assist a customer without you working there.  But lately home had gotten even shittier than it’d always been now with your moms new piece of crap she called her man, moving in and using up the little cash they had for booze. So it was up to you to provide for yourself if u wanted to finish school to maybe break the cycle unlike the little bit of family u had known of. 

 

 Your favorite coping mechanism was your sketches, lately they were all portraits of people you’d see around Gotham. Unlike others your age who’d draw their crush or some big celebrity which was the current flavor among your peers... You chose to draw only the people that you found  were disconnected from the world, eaten away at it in someway or another. You had originally thought you had started this fixation because you liked the angst appeal it gave your art and that it somehow spoke to others about your ‘emotional expression’ but after a while you realized you'd started drawing them because they were reflections of yourself and your own feelings toward the rest of the world. The loneliness of feeling cast out ate at you at far too young of an age, and somehow drawing that from faces other than your own made you feel less lonely at times. Today you chose to draw the man who lived a couple apartments down from yours. You had only officially spoken to him for the first time that morning and despite the whole conversation being a mostly awkward mess you couldn’t help but to be fond of the guy. It felt odd at first feeling as though you’d connected to him quicker  than you had ever done with your peers but you felt for him and not many of your peers had gone through the things you had been through so making friends among them was never really your thing. As you sketched his eyes, which you had decided were his best quality, you couldn't help but recall the first conversation with a small smile…

 

You were on your way, and already late to school when you dashed from your apartment down to the elevator as quickly as your legs could carry you. Hope felt lost as you  barely managed to reach the elevator doors as they came nearer to a noisy close but before they could you were happy to see a foot catch the door from inside, and let you squeeze in at the last second. From the time you woke up you’d been in a blind fury to get to school and even as you had ran out your door down the hall and squeezed into the elevator, youd been simultaneously scrambling to cram your things in your bag and only gave the man who’d let you in a nod as a thanks before you jammed some papers in your mess of a bag,  closed the zipper and swung the shoulder strap over yourself. With a sigh you finally leaned back to catch your breath and observed your elevator buddy from the corner of your eyes. He looked to be in his late 20s and despite appearing too thin with a posture that screamed exhaustion, you found him handsome in a way you couldn't quite put into words. Your hormone fueled mind made an instant note of his strong jawline and you knew that mental image wouldn’t be leaving your thoughts any time soon

 

“Hi,” you said. The miserable expression on his face called to your sympathies and it’s ultimately what drove you to speak to him. It took him a second to realize it was you who’d greeted him so cheerfully even though it was only the two of you, his surprised expression almost made it seem like he was an alien being greeted by a human for the first time. “Earth to Major Tom?” you added playfully when he had done nothing but stared at you for a moment. You couldn't help but stare back when you observed the depths of his eyes. They were a deep green, and they seemed lost in a most complex way.

 

“H-hello” He said, it seemed he had tried to smile back but his breath was suddenly caught and he tried to hold back what turned into pained laughter. He avoided looking at you then as if he expected you to cringe or reel back like others may have reacted, perhaps some asshole had even gone as far as to mock him. But you just kept looking at him only with your brow now furrowed with concern, just as you would look if someone had gotten injured and asked “you ok?” to which he nodded and thanked you under his breath. You couldn’t help but wonder if the outburst was something neurological. The elevator groaned as it slowed to a stop on the first level and  before you could try and say something more to him, The man hurried through the barely wide enough gap in the door and squeezed through in a rush. You figured he’d left so abruptly as to put distance between yourself, him and the awkward way the conversation had progressed. But before he could get to far you straighten your bookbag in a frenzy and almost trip over yourself as you rush to chase after him. You tried not to follow too close but just enough so that you could try and continue to speak with him “is it cool if I walk with ya, my school is a few blocks this way anyway,” he raised a brow and looked at you like ‘why me’, or like you’d just called out a bunch of gibberish “its been getting sketchy out lately, more creeps out... doesn't matter the time anymore…” you said at first just to give him a valid point besides being lonely since that seemed weirder, but you trailed off thinking of some close calls you’d had recently, guys trying to grab at you when passing and others shouting nasty things at you when you did not respond to their catcalling, or the occasional vehicle that would drive far to slowly as it passed,  “I see you walk this way around the same time as me anyway. But I can leave you alone if you want, I get it.” You felt ridiculous as the words left your mouth and wished you could take them back, and you almost took your turn to be the one to run off from your embarrassment.

 

“Its alright.” he said quietly, then cleared his throat. You wondered if he had seen the fear on your face and took pity on you, but when you looked up he looked just as skeptical about the whole thing as you were, and even more insecure. Maybe, just maybe it was something else, maybe he was feeling it too, the same desperate need you’d felt lately, a need for that of someone to speak with other than your own thoughts.

 

“Cool!” You chirped with a slight skip in your step as you caught up to him, “So what’s your name?”

 

He looked down at you and saw the genuinely just curious expression and replied “Arthur”

 

“Nice to meet ya Art,” to which you pondered a moment, before you giggled at the idea for a lame joke.

 

 “Hey Art, guess what.” you wanted to cheer him up for some reason, not to mention you really didn’t care if you were late for first class...gym. 

 

“I give up” he offered playing along, and you were happy to see him relaxing into conversation ever so slightly. Having a semi normal conversation with someone other than her school counselor was refreshing.

 

“your the only subject in school I give a shit about, Art.” you couldn’t restrain your amusement with yourself and laughed so hard you cried. It must have been infectious, and you were happy to have caught him as he ducked his head with a smile spread across his face followed by a laugh that seemed far more genuine than the one in the elevator.

 

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The bell over the pharmacy chimed and brought you back to the present and you were more than happy to see none other than Arthur having stepped through the doors, he looked even more worn out  than he did that morning. 

 

“Hey Arthur!” You said happily and his lowered eyes shot to yours. He seemed taken completely by surprise to see you here but he flashed the smallest of smiles your way, it had been barely enough to turn the corner of his mouth, but it was enough for you. 

 

“Buddy, you realize its 8:04 PM right? We’re closed, come back tomorrow.” Your boss ruined the moment with his awful blundering voice, and you spun to face him at your desk and shot him a glare.

 

“I thought maybe you were open late, I just saw the sign was still..” Arthur said far too meekly to combat the sound of your boss as he huffed loudly to interrupt Arthur. 

 

You saw your boss begin to rise and mentally prepared for that ear piercing sound of metal scraping on the smoothed cement floor that had grown painfully predictable as his chair he’d been sitting on was being pushed away from the desk. “Listen pal, I already said we’re closed so get the hell out and come ba-.” 

 

“Oh God can't you tell he’s exhausted too?!” You asked angrily and shot up  from behind the counter you were stationed at while gesturing toward arthur “You didn’t seem to feel the need to tell me to go home when 8:00 came and apparently went without either of our knowledge, so why can’t you take one extra freaking minute to get this guy his shit he’s tried ever so politely to ask for, so we can all go home?! “ You barked just teetering on the edge of a full yell. 

 

Shocked into complacency your boss seemed robotic as he quietly mumbled to himself while he fetched the bag of prescriptions “Name?” He asked, reluctantly.

 

“Arthur Fleck.” Your new friend barely managed to say as he tried desperately to control what seemed to be another episode. As your boss approached the counter to hand over the bag of meds, you saw Arthur as he lost his tiny bit of control, and a fit of laughter had him gripping his throat, and gasping. You almost wanted to cry at the pain written on his face.

 

“You think you two are fucking funny?” Your boss asked him, and you had already jumped over the counter to swipe the bag from his sausage fingers before tossing it to arthur, who caught it, just barely. 

 

“It’s a condition asshole. By the way, I quit,” The only thing that came from your mouth at this point which wasn’t guesswork was the fact you were quitting, but you felt you might as well add an outright lie to make sure things went over smoothly for Arthur in the future, “ but if I ever hear you’ve treated my dear friend Art here badly one more time, I’ll have my father mess you up real good, he’s a cop and he doesn’t mind dirtying his hands once in a while.” You opened the door for arthur who was still coming out of his episode but gladly took the opportunity to flee, and sent your now former boss a wink, and  as you walked out he wore an expression you hoped was that of him pissing his pants.

 

Arthur had thanked you with enthusiasm once he’d caught his breath, and you both began to take the long stairway that led toward the building both of you had once lived in. “How did you know about my condition?” Arthur asked looking over at you, and you couldn't help but notice the pleasant way his dark hair framed his thin face before he combed his hand through it to push it back. 

 

“I didn’t really, I’ve just read a lot of medical books, and it reminded me of some other conditions I’d heard of so it was kind of an educated guess I suppose” You admitted and Arthur nodded, and you both climbed the stairs in silence for a moment. Soon you snickered and Arthur was looking at you with his curiosity peaked so you turned and added “Oh and my dad isnt a cop, in fact I don’t even know him, I just wanted to see the look on that dickhead’s face.” you both laughed a while at the joke only the two of shared.

 

As the both of you reached the top of the stairs Arthur told you how he wished he were able to  stand up to people like you had just done for him. You replied sure of what you were about to say would eventually be the truth and grinned, “ Someday you will Art, I can feel it.” 

 

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Chapter Text



“Well, I felt the burn

Since the day you departed and talked from the tomb

I'm still healing those wounds

And it holds me down

But made me a man that says, "Fuck all those rules

I will be who I choose"

 

It's a lonely road

With one grip on several psalms and one grip on the gun

And it holds the rope

It spins me in circles and dizzies my head

Then says sleep when you're dead

 

Were you ever here?

Or just lost on the surface that at the first touch

Just evades in the dust

And it pulled me down

And showed me my demons lined up in the secrets

Forming a crowd

It was so long

With a piece of happy home that they stripped from the bone

I did not react

I settled my grievance by crafting a mask

And I never looked back”

 

          Song:

                                The Mask, by Matt Maeson

 




You weren't sure how long you had remained tucked on the floor beside the couch with your head weakly laying against the cool skin on “Joker’s” shoulder while he remained in a deep sleep and your head swam in the pounding left over from reliving the memory of meeting the man from your past he no longer claimed to be. You were glad to find you had not woken him from the crying you’d shamelessly let out after your detailed recollection had finished overriding your senses. Even now he showed no signs of stirring from sleep, even as the sun slowly rose and peaked weakly into the room from a sliver between your curtains and you gathered yourself to lift your head from his skin to retrieve the towel that had been left abandoned in your lap during  the fit of emotion, and you returned to clearing the paint from the familiar face now belonging to a complete stranger. 



You wrung out the towel in the dish that sat on the table, looked over Arthur, or Joker, in all honestly you didn’t even know if this new persona was a temporary method of coping, or if it were a complete dissociation from his former self. It had been far too long for even a relative guess as to the extent of which it had even changed him, or if it had been there all along and was suppressed by his medications. It wouldn't even be likely to make a guess at this point whether he was entirely one or the other, or both, and you sighed letting your fingers glide through the ends of his green hair while wondering how the hell you could keep yourself from getting caught up in whatever mess Joker had made, knowing it would be nearly impossible to remain indifferent toward him knowing he was once your Arthur. 

 

God, you had missed him so badly, you couldn't begin to recall how many nights you spent curled up sobbing, pleading with the universe to give you a chance to go back to that night. You'd play everything over and over in your head backwards and forwards and picked apart the things you could have done better, how if only you hadn't waited a year to move out from that shit-hole and into that one silly apartment you pined after so trivially. If you had settled like most people and moved out months before and into a slightly worse apartment than you wanted, you could have gotten your mother away like you had planned and she wouldn't have been beaten nearly to death by her husband at the time. Maybe Arthur wouldn't have been taken to Arkham for protecting you that night. He wouldn’t have had to If you'd only stayed at the hospital that night instead of having gone back to the apartment! So many things you were convinced you did wrong that night, things that made it your fault for majorly altering Arthur's life. He had been the only person you had cherished as if he were your true family, helped to fill the hole that was left by the one you were born into. How did you repay him? By getting him put away, and you couldn't bring yourself to even try and find him after that night. You refused. Even if there was little to no chance of it, at that time you couldn't bear the idea of risking any more damage in his life. Looking back though, you have the sinking feeling that maybe you were wrong to remove yourself.

 

You wiped away a final tear that had crept out of the corner of your tired eyes with the hand that wasn't still threaded into Arthur's hair. You try to focus on one of your breathing exercises to keep your mind away from the ‘what ifs’ and ‘things that had been’. You could barely deal with thinking about that night on a good day, so now was out of the question. You pack it firmly away like you have done too often in the past few years. 

 

Your eyes grow beyond heavy and you place your free forearm on the cushion next to Joker’s face and let it support your head as you lean in to relax beside him. You kept the other hand loosely combing the mess of green hair splayed out around is head in the shape of a morbidly beautiful halo. You decided that whoever he was now, you found him in that moment such a beautifully calming image that you forced yourself even in your tired haze to memorize every subtle detail of him.  Subconsciously your fingers leave his hair to trace his jaw, admiring the subtle ways his face had aged and wore charming creases you wished you could see formed upward in a smile. Your heart nearly stops when his eyes start flickering behind his lids, you'd accidentally grazed his bottom lip with your thumb and you hold your breath as you pull yourself away, blushing. He doesn't seem to have been bothered enough to have woken up and you quietly exhale your relief and relax your arm over the other crossing them near his face to use them as a temporary pillow. For now at least, eased beside him and listening to the deep steady sound of his breathing, you felt more content than you had in such a long time. How remarkably surreal was this twist of fate or luck that had brought Arthur to your side once again. Regardless of the new persona and the looming curiosities behind what he’d done, the past the two of you shared, and the fact that any chance of rekindling old friendships was already doomed to end painfully...  you allowed yourself to savor the quiet sense of ‘home’ beside him. 

 

Before long you felt the rise and fall of your chest slowing to sync up with the steady rhythm of his, and you had half the thought to lift yourself and move to your bed only to have it disappear while you were slowly carried away in the soft warm waves of sleep, and just as you felt yourself give into the drowning darkness you heard a voice too similar to the sound of your own whisper gently “Arthur…” And the sound echoed and slowly diminished as it was swept further and further away in the currents of the nothingness, currents of sleep you were suddenly  desperate to try and tread- but sleep wasn’t what you were fighting anymore it was the fear of where it would take you. No, that wasn't it, it was not where it took you, but when - and with that the sound of his name vanished and took with it your ability to keep your head above the rising water…

 





You’ve been here before. Everything feels farther away than it should- yet so constricting it suffocates you- in these surroundings, the fuzzy details all around you become clearer with each impossibly heavy step carrying you further. Deeper into this building, this hall, toward that apartment not too far from Arthur's and you swallow over and over to keep the closing-in walls from consuming you. You've walked this hall before, and felt a lot of these similar things but not quite the same as this. This wasn't just any of those times, this step after exact  step had been done before, and they weren't just any of them. You know that these exact same steps you're taking are the ones from that night and you can't stop yourself from taking them, and every uneven pull of air you take into your lungs aims to burn you inside out. This familiarity piles onto you like being buried slowly under bricks as the impending horror gets closer.  There was a sound you knew was coming but never lessened how it clawed at your ears, no matter how many times you recollect it. The shriek that will follow comes from a few doors down, your door, and you know all of what happens next and you want nothing except to run away, do everything differently, scream until your lungs bleed, because you know exactly how much this had torn you apart, how much it had changed you… how much it changed him.

 

 It was your  20th birthday but you don't really care, because you're mentally worn on your way home from university, and heading to that same apartment. You think of Arthur and hope to see him at some point this evening. It has been almost 3 years after meeting Arthur, 3 years of having someone make you laugh and for you to have some to do the same in return. Someone you didn't mind trading the secret burdens you both worked hard to keep locked away at home or inside. With him around you had gotten comfortable with the feeling that things would be alright, and even though the odd friendship meant everything to you as it was, you had the passing idea lately.. that you may have started to want more. You were having such a thought when the shriek rang out and down the hall… a scream that bit the silence of the air before being cut short, violently short… It only took a second, and that second was all that was needed to destroy any and all of the fluffy ideas about the future you were playing with in that moment and replaced them with the traumatizing realization that the person who had screamed was your mother.

 

Numb.

 

Every part of you is numb. You don't feel the exhaustion your limbs had been aching from, you don't feel the weariness of your mind or weight of your book-bag. You can't feel anything except that chill in your gut, that cold shard of ice being plunged into your core so deep it froze all but your instincts, froze everything but the need to act. Act now. You take the knob kick the door busting the wooden frame in your desperation to find your mom. ' No no no not again ' your screaming inside, passing the entryway  'please just let her be okay!' 

 

Jack, the drug-pushing alcoholic scumbag, who your mother had married two years ago, had beaten her many times before, but never like this. He’d made passes at you, and tried more than once to touch you when he’d gotten shitfaced. He had made living at home to protect your mother a true hell on Earth, especially after she’d gotten clean and saw him for what he was and his face and name are burned into your memory with such a pungent taste of hatred it fills your senses with the smell of rot and putrescence at the thought of him. If you could ever be the kind to kill a man...he would be the one, and kill him all over again once for every time he hit her. 

 

He stood over your mother with his back to you while she lay on the living room floor, and from where you stand and with him blocking your view, you couldn't see what he had done to her, but your heart is in your gut when you catch what he holds  at his side… In his white knuckled grip he held the clothing iron ... the need to vomit follows and it swells in your throat as you catch the red liquid that spattered it, her blood .



What happened next...it was too much too fast. The blurry sequences of your memories erupt before you, but the imagery and its lack of clarity do nothing to dull your senses behind them. You remember the blind rage, and the terrorizing feeling that your mother could be dying there on the floor, and you launch yourself forward.

 

You ran to you mother shoving past the monster that stood over her before he could turn toward you, wishing you had gotten her away from him before it could come to this. You remember the blood on her face when you bend to help her, the deep bruises on her face swell and darken before you, making her unrecognizable. The blood, there's so much of it,  it’s on your hands...it’s in her hair, pooling at the floor. You can hear it, the blood that filled her mouth when she tries to speak, but aren’t able to make sense of the quiet garbled words. You can’t lean in enough to see her face or catch what she keeps trying to say ...because you don’t get the chance . You vaguely hear the iron fall to the floor before you're ripped away from your mom by the collar of your shirt so harsh the fabric burns the skin of your neck and you choke on the silenced scream while reaching for your mother. You kept screaming for your mom, fighting relentlessly against the force that drug you away from her but are pulled even harder than before. But you don't quit and you ignore your neck being wrung from  force of the struggle, you just needed to get to her, and you kick and writhe against the floor, claw at the collar of your shirt growling ferociously when you can’t get out. It doesn't stop you from trying.

 

He doesn’t give up on dragging your thrashing body, you reach for your mother, you fought hard, hard as you can but still you can’t reach.There was nothing you could do. You hit at him, but are too dizzy. You kick at him wildly and  try to get out of the jacket, try to kick at him, try twisting again. You think you have gotten free when drops you and your halfway to your feet in a second about to go to her, then go blind. You remember the confusion, the utter shock when your face hits the floor so fast you dont get to register the pain until moments pass and you strain to force your eyes to open and the throbbing begins to pulsate, flooding outward from your cheek where you realize he’d punched you, it hurt so deep you could hear it ringing everywhere. You're only able to finally open one eye. One is enough.

 

 Another adrenaline rush charges forth and you got to your feet. Jack was screaming things at you, the screams felt foreign. You are blind to all but survival then, the only thought in you being the need to keep your mother and yourself alive, so you use everything within yourself to body check him so you can run to the phone and you make it. You fumble with the phone and through the shaking in your hands you dial two buttons 9-1-...  and were sent face to floor a second time with a force that spun your entire body, your lip split on contact and you spat blood across the floor and curled in on yourself but you will not stop fighting, the more he hurt you the harder you fought, the need to keep going completely erased the connection to physical pain in that moment. He calls you a bitch, and a whore, but you really can’t understand most of what he screams at you, your ears still rang and you only make out bits of it. 

 

The world turns in unnatural ways as you roll onto your knees but you shake it off and climb up off the floor, and you feel invincible when you triumphantly stand firm before your attacker and you shoot him a deadly glare through your good eye. With a smirk you spat a mouthful of blood at his feet, shocking even yourself with the cockyness of it, but you had formed an idea. he says something, bellows it out, something about staying the hell down, and why wont you just fucking stay there, but hell if you give a damn... You pretend to go for the phone, and like planned he moves for you, but you pivot on your toes and dash in a different direction, executing your hasty decision to make a break for the door, There had been nothing you could do... - you make it to the door, bursting out, and down the hall….- Nothing left which you could do to help your mother, but maybe there was something someone could do.

 

 And you remember the blood falling from your face and the pain, and the tears, but also the smile  spread ear to ear when you made it to his door, you knock frantically while yelling Arthur's name, and just picturing him greeting you had you hiccuping with every emotion....seconds pass...

 

 ...no answer.... 

 

You press your forehead to the door and wail out, “Dammit!”  wanting to just lie down and give up right there on his doorstep, but only for a  couple seconds, since the thought is stopped immediately by the crack of your apartment door  being slammed shut and you see Jack bailing from the scene in a fury. “Goddamn coward!” You scream after him as he disappears down the hall, the blood in your teeth sprays from the rage and you take a gamble by rushing back to your apartment to help your mother. 

 

You grab the phone and as your kneeling next to the limp form lying on the living room rug you can barely recognize your own mother. Her face swollen and dark with deep bruising and  large gashes that had started to form a pool of blood beneath her and your already sobbing as you reach for her thinking the worst. You begin to reach out to check her pulse but relief washes over you when you hear her mumble “Don't tell anyone it ...was him.” You weren’t going to not until you have a safe place for her. You know why she says this, the man she married on a whim while she was still strung out had a lot of connections, people even more dangerous than him.  As you dial 9-1-1 you scheme up a story about how you had come home to your mother being robbed barely managed to fight him off.

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Soon an ambulance is there along with a squad car, and you tell your lies to the officer while your mother is loaded onto the ambulance.You don't register much in the next few hours, your mentally wiped out and you just wished your body could follow suit. At the hospital, nurses bandaged you up and you sit by your moms bed, they ask you questions and you give them lies as well, the whole time you just keep thinking of Arthur. You want to see him now more than ever had, so that he could give you that feeling again. Like everything would be alright someday. But you sigh and sit back trying to relax, but your insides crawl, and you reach for your bag to busy yourself with drawing instead….only you didn't bring it, in fact you didn't bring a single item with you, you had only brought a bunch of things for your mother so that she could have just enough to make her more comfortable here. The last thing you could ever want would be to return to that hell but with the adrenaline still pumping in your veins, you new you might as well especially now that you were probably never go back. In the morning you planned on getting your deposit back then finding the cheapest apartment with the least amount of time to wait before you could move in, your dream apartment for you and your mother wasn't worth losing her over. 

 

You gather more courage to return with the assumption that Jack would hopefully not be dumb enough to go back there the very same night he committed battery, and if you were completely honest with yourself you needed another chance to see Arthur, to at least tell him it might be a while until you saw him again. So you quietly leave your mother and head back there

.

.

.

 

The elevator opens on your floor of the apartment and you heart sings immediately upon finding Arthur down the hall standing outside the door to your apartment, he looked like he was about to knock on your door but was working up the courage,you also notice he was carrying something in his hand, it was an envelope. Was it for you?

 

 You’re shuffling from the elevator must have caught his attention and he turned to you with the start of excitement disappearing just as it began. You watched his tired face contort worth worry from seeing you battered. You still manage to give him a smile though, because  you needed him even more than you had already known, and in that moment all you want is to run over and have him hold you, to take your mind off of everything...and to feel that loving comfort you had only dreamt of having since your entire life. You would've done it if your beaten and strained muscles would allow you, but you didn’t need to, he was already rushing to meet you first. As he got closer you caught his eyes widening as they flickered over you taking in the damage up close and his brows pinch. He says your name softly, and you only stare into his eyes already trying to lose yourself in that deep color you loved...again he says your name and he touches your hand. “ What happened? Who did this?” 

 

You open your mouth once, twice, but nothing happens and you bite the good side of your lip to stop it’s trembling, and squeeze your eyes shut, but you can only reply with a shake of your head. Your suddenly  pulled against him, arms moving to wrap around you with one hand held to the back of your head where his thin fingers flattened your messy hair. He had never held you before, never even tried, just as your never done to him. It felt so good, better than you dreamt, even though he was hardly touching you. You could tell in his tensed hold that he was trying oh so hard to control his nerves, but it was more than enough. It was everything. Your arms find their own way and wrap tight around his thin frame in return, losing hold of control, you bury your face in the soft  fabric of the maroon sweater he wore and let yourself cry silently there. For the first time in your life you felt important to someone, which sends you over the edge and silence turns into sobs against him. But this eases him and he holds you a bit tighter his chin gently resting atop your head as he starts a gentle swaying, rocking the two of you back and forth until you’ve gotten out everything you held back that night, and he still doesnt let you go, not even after your frantic inhaling becomes even and matches the slow dance hes guided you though. 

 

“It was Jack...wasn't it?” He mumbles into your hair. You nod, and then there was a long silence and in it you could have sworn you felt something different in him in that moment something dark angry but it passed almost as it began. The tenderness returned in him, you wish this moment would last forever and never have to leave this feeling,  but you do, and you sniffle as you muster the force needed to yourself to pull away. His arms unwind from around you and you instantly feel colder inside, but he pushes some hair dampened with tears and tucks it behind your ear before giving you a soft slightly bashful smile. Warmth fills your face and you feel yourself returning it with one of your own despite the way it pulled at the cut on your lip, this new flutter stirred in your chest that made everything bearable again. You wondered if he had any idea of the effects he had on you, like your very own miracle drug, he just might be your cure.

 

He lights a cigarette and walks you to your door, passing it to you as he did from time to time after a bad day, it was relaxing to share one with him. And it had been one hell of a bad day... You try and go over everything that had happened, at least as much as you can while still in the throes of shock and the way it cast the events in a haze. You don’t bring him inside as you explain so you can spare Arthur the gruesome evidence of it all, so you remain outside the door to your apartment where  Arthur listened intently. However his concerned expression gradually shifted as you continue until you couldn't seem to read him, eyes looked past you and you knew he was still listening, but you had never seen him make such a seemingly empty expression before. His features had hardened and his eyes seemed fixed on something only visible to him, the look was frighteningly not one in Arthur's nature, at least not the nature of the Arthur you knew. 

 

When your finished he seems to compose himself and begins playing with his hands uncomfortably. Nervously, he asks you if you want him to come in offering the company in case it was too much but you decline, you'd love to let him in, but you had already left out the extent of which your mother had been beaten for a reason, the blood pool and splatter across the living room was too much for you to process and you didn't want him to be scarred as well for merely keeping you company for a few minutes. His disappointment  was clear on his face, and you tell him you were hoping to see him again before you left, if that was alright, and his face lights up a bit. So you agree to grab your things and come by his place for a visit and before you hurry off into your separate ways, he hands you the envelope he'd been holding and on it was your name. Scribbled in the corner was a simple smiley face and you can't help but find the messy writing endearing in a way that has your lips turning upward as you head inside.

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.

 

You gather things you may need as fast as you can wanting to make use of every minute you could spare to spend with Arthur before going back to the hospital. Your last stop was your dresser and you stuff random pieces of clothing into your cheap duffel bag not doing much to pay attention to what you packed or if anything went together so long as you had a little of everything. You didn't care if you dressed like a bum at this point, you figured since you may not have a place to live, you might as well look the part. Your about to go over your mental checklist to see if you've forgotten anything as you cram a sweatshirt into the bag when you hear the door open, and you hope to stop who you believed to be Arthur from entering the living room and you find the energy to run toward the entryway.

 

It wasn't Arthur, and It was far too late to hide, Jack had returned...and had already seen you and you could tell he had gotten plastered when he sways as he laughs, “Came back for more did you?”  

 

 Your eyes dart frantically between him and the door only a few feet behind him, the ribs in your chest feel as though they bend to clench your lungs. You swallow hard knowing you didn't have enough left to fight him off, and you doubt you could pull off the same trick from earlier, no this time you were caught. He laughs and as you shift from one foot to the other not sure of where to go, he mocks you by doing the same, making whooping sounds and spreading his arms out. "Yeah, that's not gonna work again you little bitch.” he looks at your bag “Where the hell ya gonna go huh?”  you panic and drop it, the ability to find reason is gone when you run back into your room and lock the door. You're already screaming even before the door is kicked, the wood letting out a resounding crackle as it began to give, whatever he was going to you this time would either kill you, or make you wish you were dead… A second kick and the door is opened so fast it comes off the frame. It hits and shatters the mirror against the wall behind it, and you can only scream and cry out nonsense as you fall backward on the floor, he grabs you by the ankle keeping you from crawling away, “What? were you planning on staying with that freak and his mother down the hall…” he laughs and you're pulling at the vice around your ankle, just for him to grab you at all..it burned as if it were acid  

 

 You scream at him to let you go over and over but he takes the other ankle as it tries desperately kicking to just keep him away from you. But it only enrages him and he backhands you across your already busted lip and you choke on the blood that fills your mouth, but you have one more outburst left in you so you scream your last hope at the top of your lungs.

 

"ARTHUR!" you wail out. Jack only tightens his grip on your ankles and yanks your body harshly across the carpet to toward him, the force lifted your shirt to your chest and you whimper feeling the friction having burned your back. 

 

Your trying to yank your shirt down but you cant fight him at the same time as he lowers himself to climb on top of you, and you want to be sick, " Don't tell me your letting that guy fuck you? Such a waste…” he pins your ankles beneath his legs to let his body weight anchor you to that spot, "that scrawny creep can't give you shit." You want to vomit, you knew what he wanted to take from you and you fight against him, you try and sit up but he grabs your throat squeezing so hard that everything darkens. You cant breath and you claw  at his hand but it doesn't do anything but make him squeeze tighter, he catches one of your thrashing knees with his free filthy hand “fucking slut.” he roars shoving your knee aside to spread your legs apart freeing your feet from under his leg and you should be able to kick, but you cant. Your legs won't respond as you silently scream at them to move, but your senses are being suffocated, and you can hear nothing but your heart in your head as black splotches start spreading in your vision. He's trying to get between your legs and tears bleed from your eyes knowing your about to lose your last chance of escaping this as the ties to your body began to unravel and fall slack….you know your arms are limp only because it is the last thing you can see before you tunneled sight is closing, but you see them falling where they hit the floor at your sides…. 

 

Your fingertips land on something cold, something sharp .. Sharp enough to keep you from slipping completely and you know what it is...you just have to ...just have to..reach it.. You've never fought so hard to lift something as heavy as your arm was in that second but you manage to reach it out...and you have what you needed, a large shard from the mirror. You use what is left of you to grab it as tight as your blood deprived brain will allow and your arm stretches up and comes down but you don't manage to stab him… though, he does have to release your throat to catch your wrist… and the oxygen rakes in though your throat enough to bring you back from the brink of unconsciousness. Enough to barely recognize the voice that's coming from your bedroom doorway.

 

It was Arthur's.

 

Your memory breaks apart like the uneven gasps your sucking through your battered lips as you catch your breath but you can remember Arthur's voice so stern and calm, only picking up on the words "touch her again...get..fucking...deserve…. " and Jack's laughter as his weight is removed from you, and your relieved tears as Arthur is helping you to your feet draping your limp arm over his shoulder to help you walk. Arthur's silence when Jack is taunting the both of you as you are helped to the door and down to his apartment where he urges you to loosen the grip you have on the glass in your palm  and a large gash had appeared and bloodied your skin to a deep red-black. He replaces the glass with a towel.. then he tells you, " your safe now." adding, "stay here, and don’t follow me...understand?" but you don't feel yourself enough to speak, or become aware of his words until several minutes later and he’d already left, and don't feel the weight of them until you’re released from the catatonic shock. It's far too late. Your voice is loud in your head as you pick yourself up from where Arthur sat you on his couch, "he couldn't have gone back there...he couldn't have meant. …"

.

.

.

 

Next your stumbling for the very last time to the apartment that would forever be haunted by the disasters that happened that night. Nothing could have readied you for what came when you re-enter for the last time.

 

Arthur bent over Jack panting. Hand still in a fist around that same shard of glass that split your hand when you had used it to defend yourself. His predatory stance while letting it go and standing over your attacker like a shadow, with a deadly calm Arthur watched the man as he pathetically choked, blood bubbled from his mouth  as he reached for the object protruding from his chest to no avail, and he goes limp only seconds later.



The scene that follows is one you had repressed...same as the rest on this night...but you had re-lived this part in your nightmares many more times than the others...it was the one that marked your metaphoric death... made you colder…empty. Angrier toward the world.

.

.

.

 

You can't stomach the bloody scene. Arthur stumbles backward into the wall beside you and collapsed the absolute crazed expression that unfathomably warped his features almost killed you completely.  Everything about the sight tears you apart, the way he bent over panting so heavily that it shook his whole body, each breath scraping up through his throat and crimson speckled lips, his usually green eyes now black and dilated dart around at everything or nothing as if he were a wild trapped animal. Those eyes held no trace of the man you knew in them and terrified you even more than the gruesome violence he had just committed. Forgetting all but the need to get him back you kneel beside him.

 

 “Arthur,” He doesn't even seem to realize your in the room and your words are lost, he just continues to shake somehow even harder and he shifts his legs under himself as if his own body were uncomfortable to be in as if it weren't even his. “Arthur,” you say again louder, and no change, hesitantly you reach for him, his eyes shoot to the hand you offered and he jerks away from you as if you had been about to strike him. "I'm sorry" you whisper placing the hand you had offered in your lap, but then his eyes meet yours for a couple seconds and he holds his breath, you can tell he’s coming back or wants to in that flicker of a moment, and behind the wild animal you see the terror and confusion behind it and it shatters your heart. Then he is lost again, with only his breathing grown slightly softer. “It’s okay Arthur, it’s going to be okay.” You say, trying to keep from crying… and you consider what to do next.

 

“I’m going to get closer, alright?” You tell him but his eyes are staring far off somewhere far away from this place, and remain completely void of his humanity….you try not to be afraid or at least let him know you are...but your mortified with terror. It had been all you had felt since you had found your mother being beaten and it had only risen level by impossible level until you were here in what no longer felt like a reality you were could actually a part of. 

 

Despite fighting your nerves that told you to run, you tentatively lower yourself to sit so that you may gently shuffle closer until your sides touch. He doesn’t flinch. Giving you the smallest edge of bravery, so  use it and lean against his shaking body, you try once more to reach out and take his hand, he doesn't fight your touch as you pull it closer. it was the one he'd gripped the shard with and you see as it lays in yours that now your wounds matched you understand him in that moment so overwhelmingly that it kills the fear inside you. so you pull it to your chest and embrace it before finding the control to breath calmly, as calmly as you can. The blood is slick but you still keep your hold and twist your fingers together to be carried on you chest with the steady rise and fall of your lungs and at last he seemed to calm, his shoulders easing in rhythm with your breath, but he looked entirely hollow...exhausted…"Arthur...I...I'm here, I'm safe now." 

 

Sirens blaring in the distance got closer, and you look at him in horror, when you realize they could be coming for him.  no, no, you can’t lose him like this, not like this. Not now. You look again to the limp, bloody body lying in the living room entryway, and the panic rises again, you drop the hands held against your chest and stare back at Arthur who could very well have killed Jack, if so you could lose Arthur forever. You hadn't called the police so who did, the man who lay dead or close to it on the floor hadn’t made it to the phone, that was clear...but Arthur seemed to finally recognize you then and most of his surroundings and he speaks so quietly you have strain to catch it “I called them, before I-” He paused to inhale and swallow hard “ Before I came down to get you, but I saw him hurting you...and," He looked straight into your eyes with a look of that of a clueless frightened child. Urging you to want to protect him from everything at first glance, but were stuck peering in them drawn into the shade of green they had returned to but seemed much darker than you knew them to be, “I had to kill him...” his words guided you to the source, and looking deeper still, you found  it...there you found the spark of something that glinted brightly enough to almost frighten you, something almost like…. excitement. 

 

You shove that thought aside because he had done it all to protect you... and the reality that this could be your last moments together hit you  and you put your arms around his bloodied shoulders and hold him. You stay there until the paramedics and police burst in flooding the room with in seconds. Then followed by deafening orders being shouted and men and guns surround you, barrels pointed at Arthur almost immediately. Paramedics flocked around Jack and you only hoped the bastard lived to spare Arthur from Prison. The officers soon realize that neither of you are willing to budge, and they lower their weapons and approach reaching for you, and you hold as tight as you can before they tear you apart and Arthur is sent into another frenzy of violent struggling as he tries to shake off the hands that are barely able to keep hold enough to yank him to his feet and away from you. You reach for him only grazing his shirt before he’s out of  reach. You’re crying and screaming at them to let him go, drowning the sound of the two officers who tried to calm you and you shove past them as you get to your feet and go after Arthur but the officers grab you, hold you in place while your begging them to stop. The sight of your struggling drives Arthur even further into madness and he snarls, shooting lethally wild eyes between you and the many arms that fought him. It takes 3 of the 5 officers to pin his arms against his sides, they curse and groan, barely dodging Arthur's attempts at head butting them and hardly managing to hang on while he’s kicking out into the air, but finally they force him against the wall before slapping cuffs on his wrists, “Arthur!” You cry again and soon the three officers are fighting him through you door. “Im sorry Arthur!” You scream, yanking desperately away from the tight grip on you but it’s no use.

 

You watch helpless as  Arthur gives you once last glance, looking at you in the second he’s taken from view and it stains your memory forever.  Those hopelessly terrified eyes that looked to you to save him in that moment, and then were gone, marking you with fault. You continue to ignore the officers beside you and fought to  listen as the others carried Arthur down the hall and the last of him that you were left to hear was an eruption of laughter, and it was the most blood curdling sound you’d ever heard.

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.

 

Later you're alone at the police station. You told the police everything, the truth about your mother being beaten and why you had lied to officials earlier in the night, how you had been beaten several times before almost being sexually assaulted, and how Arthur had done what he had to protect you..  and you told them about how it wasn't like him to have done what he had… and you told them about the person you'd known him to be.

 

After taking your statements your left alone and you feel the envelope that was somehow still folded neatly in your pocket… Your shaking as you unfold and open the envelope  Arthur had given you, and finally read the words written for you… and it guts you…

 

    Dear Y/N,

 

         Before we met I  didn't know 

         if I was even real, but you make me feel   

       normal, I'm happy around you, and I hope 

       I can always make you smile.

       

         

 

                                   Happy birthday, 

                                                             Arthur.

 

At the bottom of the letter he had scribbled a clown face and arm holding a balloon, and you traced it with your finger and whispered "I'm so sorry"  and you hug the paper tight.

.

.

.

 

Several weeks later, your inside Arthur's apartment Penny follows you with cold eyes, and you set a tray of food down beside her in bed.

 

"This is your fault you know," Penny says with disgust, all your thoughts stop as soon as those words sunk in they just repeat in your head and guilt drowns you in hot and cold and makes you ill. "My boy is too sweet to handle someone like you and your ...many problems. If you care at all, you should stay away from him, let him be happy."

 

For a time, you had visited her often to make sure she was alright. Arthur had been taken to Arkham thanks to your letter as an official character witness to his trial,  plus Jack had survived and been taken to prison for beating you and your mother so you didn't have to worry about him again. Though as short as the visits were they left you drained and overwrought with guilt, she made sure you wouldn't forget it either, not that you even could…  because it was becoming one of the only feelings you were left with after that night. 

 

Her words were something you had prepared yourself for but it still left you bleeding inside, and you are able to form only two words. The only ones left in your mind, because you knew she was right, if you hadn't budged your way into his life he may still be here for her, living at home and not within the brick walls of the Arkham Psych ward, maybe he'd even come to live happily on his own someday ... So you say the words slowly your voice hollow and rough from your dry throat, "I know." You already swore to yourself to stay far from his life from that point because he had such a trying life before you budged your way into it.  You couldn't risk being responsible for putting him in the middle of another situation that could threaten his future. 

 

So badly you wished not to be alone again, but all hope spilled from you as you said those words aloud to his mother, and you hated yourself. So much that later you cried, saying his name while you gripped at your chest to breath through the guilt …

.

.

.

 

Later you you would move from that building, your mother stayed with a cousin outside the city, and you were all alone…

 

You spent several nights waking in terror over the dreams. Cold sweats, tears, and screams… no longer did you allow yourself to be too close to others, punishing yourself for the hurt you caused, mourning what you'd lost…

 

-Something squeezing your shoulder-

 

...so many nights you fell asleep destined to wake the same way...

 

-You being shaken, the grip on you tightens

 

...you weren't the same..

.

.

.

 

-A gentle squeeze on your shoulder, "You need to wake up Doll."-






 

 

You wake feeling tears growing cold on your face, and the jarring sense of  being shaken. You hear your name being spoken softly and your eyes snap open as if you heard a ghost, only to be greeted momentarily by an empty couch, then you look to the hand on you shoulder, and blink to clear your eyes as you follow the hand to clearly see the figure knelt beside you.

 

 Arthur, or rather Joker…knelt beside you and just watched you with an eager smile that had your face twisting into a mix of emotions as you fought the need to wrap him up in your arms. You wish you could, the old feelings made fresh as if he had just been taken from you by the officers made you  crave the comfort so badly.

 

The green of his eyes was lit by the sun flooding in through the now open curtain behind you and the creases near his eyes deepen and curve with the widening of his smile. "Sorry to wake you, but I simply could not let you go on crying in your sleep." The hand on your shoulder went to your face to wipe away the only tear that hadn't dried with a delicate swipe of a thumb,  "Nearly broke my heart to wake next to a beautiful woman in pain." You don't say anything,and just watch as he gets a devilish flicker in his expression, “And let me tell you, there are far better ways for you to wake up next to me my dear.” He gives you a wink which sends a flush to your cheeks, and you know he only says this to make you laugh, or swat him. You want to be able to play along, to carry on as though you hadn't already known he was Arthur, that you hadn't recognized the face beneath the blood and paint before falling asleep. 

 

Instead, you're only able to conjure up a whispered apology in return, “Sorry...I shouldn't have woken you.” and you hated how the words sounded as pathetic as you were feeling.

 

“Shh, None of that now,” He hushed, “ But if that didn't earn me a smile... than I can only guess the dream must have been awful.” He looks at you and thinks a second and you can tell he decides something when he clicks his tongue and gets to his feet, offers you his hand and you oblige. He helps you up and gestures for you to sit, when you do you watch as he does the same much closer than you expected, his body only a few inches from yours. Only then you notice that he had at least partially  redressed wearing his red dress pants and the green shirt tucked under a belt, and he looked rather elegant in it as he leaned back on the cushions and stretched his arms to rest outward over the frame, and you lean back a bit yourself but avoid leaning against the arm now draped behind you. He almost looked disappointed behind the cheery way he observes you but it was much harder to read this version of him. 

 

He waits, possibly for you to say something but your discomfort in the silence sends yours eyes to your lap where you look at nothing and absent mindedly you trace the ridges of the scar on your palm. The ridges of the healed skin brought a new sense of reality to the  memory you fixated on and you wonder if his scar looked similar to yours. 

 

“Would you like to tell me what happened in this dream?” his voice interrupts your thoughts, and the tone was still soft but somehow lower than before, as if he hadn't wanted to ask this but his curiosity had gotten the better of him. You hesitate to answer, not sure if it was the best idea, you hadn't seen him in so long and now were having to face this. This encounter you never thought possible there were so many things you wanted to say but didn't even know where to start and how might he react? You didn't know this side of him at all. You just look up at him bewildered and blink helplessly. He spares you for the moment and changes the question “Maybe you'd prefer just to tell me  it was about?”

 

Against your better judgment you reply, patiently he tilts his head just a bit more to fix his attentions on you as if nothing else in the world mattered in that moment. "I-It was about.." but his subtle intensities have you stuttering “You-... Well, I mean not the you - you, I mean A-Arthur.. It was...” and you let out and uneasy sigh, already your off to a wonderful start and feel ashamed, why bother it’s not like you could say anything to explain how it made you feel when you had tried to remove yourself from his life naively thinking it would somehow help him in the long run.When given how you’d found him the night before, seemed fair for you to assume you were dead wrong, and you were about to give up on saying any more, but he simply arched one of his brows and appeared even more tuned into you. His knee closest to you starts to bounce with anticipation, impatient for you to go on, and you take one long inhale to calm yourself to at least give him the bare minimum, “The night I last saw you...5 years ago, when you had saved me...” Not losing any eye contact hes nodding slowly, and the lack of expression is unsettling. He just hums a slow sound that says he understands, and then turns his face to the floor and the look that his eyes had taken on could have bore a hole straight through the floor and then into the ones below and down to the concrete of the basement level. It seemed he was going over his own version of the images from that night and both his legs began bouncing faster and soon you feel anxious, you had to stop your own legs from bouncing along, and you worried he might be having an attack of sorts when he began snickering.

 

You felt ill seeing him be restless like this, it was straight out of your nightmare, you whisper, “Arth-, erm, I mean, Joker? Are-” 

 

But before you could say anymore, it was as if he had flipped a switch in himself and he clapped his hands together once but it was loud enough to make you jump, then stretched his arms out before springing himself up and onto his feet, and he did a spin by crossing his legs as if he were dancing and held out his hand to you a second time. “Well, that’s no reason for you to look so sad, now is it?” He notions for you to take the hand again by beckoning you with his index finger, "You remember now, so I think it's time to celebrate don't you?" and this time you do hesitate because your gut told you there were hidden intentions buried beneath this overproduction.

 

He has read your consideration and lets out an exasperated groan while he rolled not only his eyes but his whole head, then laughed “ How am I supposed to put a smile on that face of yours if you refuse to live a little?” His smirk falls over you and you swallow hard and finally take his hand, what's the worst that could happen... He pulls you to your feet a bit too rough and you stumble into his arms and barely manage to catch yourself with hands splayed across his chest. You look down feeling your cheeks grow hot at the sudden closeness, and he patiently waits for you to adjust your balance before plucking your hands from his chest. He keeps one of them laced in his but raises them to shoulder level as his other arm snakes your waist, but your confused complacency is replaced with flutter in your heartbeat when it hits you. He was preparing you for a dance, eyes glued to your own feet you slowly place your free hand to his shoulder. That must have been his cue because soon you were gently being swayed to a soundless melody, a smile on your lips as your ushered back and forth. You can't contain your giggling as you tried to follow his graceful steps with your own clumsy ones, and he lets out a thrilled chuckle of his own.

 

 The rush lifts your spirits and your sent reeling through fond memories of him having done this with you before, only a time or two when you'd needed cheering up, and  you’re blush deepens. You can't believe you had forgotten about that. When you turn your chin up hoping he'll see how his efforts had affected your mood your met by those eyes… ever so impatient for you to meet them and they were so bright you felt your soul catch fire like being brought back to life. You're grinning for the first time in so long as he starts easing you into a faster rhythm that felt so him, and could only be his own. That rhythm that may have been silent before took its form, and as your swaying grew in synch, you could almost hear it. That song that was his finally reached your ears and you let yourself get lost in it, gliding along with him with ease. He twirls you under his arm and pulls you in closer than before and you let him guide you backward for a dip and your both laughing as your brought back up. The sound is everything.

 

You rest your head against his shoulder as the dance begins to slow in pace, and he hums a new nameless tune that has you forgetting your caution, and your relaxed, so much you put your guard down, not realizing your saying the words aloud, “I've missed so much Art...” you close your mouth over the name, and pinch your eyes hoping that it hadn't actually slipped out.

 

Abruptly Joker has ended the dance his body suddenly rigid and he lets your words hang in the thickening air before releasing your hand in his, and you were about to pull yourself away but he only tightened his arm around your waist holding you flush against his body. Your heart flutters, all too aware of how his hips are tight against yours, and even though your all kinds of flustered in the best way you just stare at the floor not sure of what to do because it feels completely different, and all wrong. If it weren’t for the threatening aura that sent tension radiating off of him, you would have thought he was embracing you, instead you feel trapped. " Hm, is that right?" His voice was cold, accompanied by his cool fingers which came up to explore your  sensitive skin, and you let out a shudder when he begins forming a trail at your upper arm, slowly making his way up to feather over your shoulder to your collar bone and you cant hold back the shameless little whine that rises when he caresses the sweet spot at the base of your neck, until finally stopping the dizzying torture to curl a finger beneath your chin.

 

He tilts your head toward his and the air is punched from your lungs when you meet the heated scrutiny his gaze cast downward. Your knees threatened to buckle beneath the darkened eyes, his scowl a mix of rage and lust so intense that you were too willing to let it destroy you if it meant having a chance to get lost in it’s pleasures, and he leans in. Your head thumping wildly as he slowly closed the short distance between your faces and you didn’t dare move, the indistinguishable feeling of fear and arousal was intoxicating and you part your lips helplessly. The heat swells at your spine and you lay your better judgment aside to throw yourself at his mercy, drunk with anticipation for the feeling of his lips, but just as they came close enough to feel their heat on yours they stop. You press your thighs together and bite back a whimper at the ache for further contact, and Joker ignores the needy sound. His finger gently nestled  under your chin is replaced with a whole handed grip on your jaw, its too tight.

 

"Ah!" You hiss at the force that sharply turns your face away from his, and it sobers your mind.

 

Gripped with nothing but fear as the words he whispers against your ear cut you deep "It’s too bad for you, that the poor man you knew as Arthur isn't around to hear you say that," His voice was soft but thick with malice, and your chin trembles in his grip. "but your stuck with me now… so tell me, If that's true...why is it you never, not once bothered to come back? You have a bit of explaining to do my dear."

 

Your breath halts at your lips...the sharp pang of guilt like a bullet shot straight through your heart. " No...it wasn't like that, I-." 

 

He reels back on his heel, removing himself as if to touch you now repulsed him. "Just spare me the excuses doll," His voice dripped with resentment and he started toward you, sizing you up and you backed away until he had you cornered. His tone growing so low it reverberated in the air. "You were scared of me then just like you are now. " 

 

"I wasn't, " you shake your head "I'm not, I just didn't want to....oh Arthur please understand, I couldn't- " 

 

"Oh Arthur please!" He shouts in a shrill voice imitating your desperate plea with a maddening amount of amusement and you jump as he slams his palms against the walls trapping you between his arms. "Do you know how many times I had wondered if you were even real? If I had made you up in a fit of delusions, It would have been easier if you were."

 

"Arthur stop please!" You cry and it eggs him on. He bursts into a high pitched cackle aimed on mocking you even further

 

"No, not until you admit it." He leans in once more bending so he's at eye level with you. Your gut twits and your disgusted by the smile that only spread maliciously across his lips, and casting an even darker shadow over his eyes, how could he be loving this?….Only minutes ago you felt as if a part of the Arthur you knew was there wanting to comfort you, and he would have never made it a point to hurt you like this. "You abandoned me," he growls through clenched teeth, the smile fades and he's shaking, "like I was nothing, you never looked for me…" he still terrified you in that moment but it had become clear that he wanted you to feel this way ..make it easy to push you away ..and for you to push him away. 

 

"That's not true,"  the words, they finally rose up from somewhere deep and you spill the truth, " If I could take it all back I would… but I didn't abandon you because I was scared of you," 

 

Joker's eyes narrowed looking from yours to your throat as you swallowed. His lip twitched and the violent urge he was fighting was made clear in the simple glance. You were sure that if it weren't for your past he would have choked the very life out of you right there. Killing you before another word could leave you.



Somehow you continue, "I didn't want to lose you at all but I couldn't stop blaming myself for destroying your life." You take a deep breath and he doesn't argue, no he just stared with his lip in a tight line and you keep going "I know now my decision was idiotic, but I couldn't bare to see you lose yourself because of me again! I thought if I saw you that way again I wouldn't survive it because...because you were the best thing that ever happened to me…" you can't stop the tears that leave your eyes and you don't wipe at them, this time it felt good. Every word was needed relief. He even seems to soften slightly, eyes shifting to your mouth as his hands fall to his sides, " and I know it was selfish and stupid, but now that you're here…  I know now that I would rather have suffered with you inst-" Your suddenly cut off, silenced by his lips on yours. 

 

Any thought of resistance or escape dies, and your left wide eyed with your heart thumping at the warmth. It felt so good, and you can't help but sigh against his mouth. Too soon he pulls away but presses his forehead to yours, your hands find his face.

 

"I'm so sorr-.." 

 

"Would you shut up? You silly girl…" he laughs softly and let's out a breath to lean back with a brow raised. The cocky smirk he wore only added to the fire in your gut,  "Well we'll have to wait and see if you still feel that way when you find out about the things I've done…"  

 

Your head still spun from the intimacy, but his cocky attitude was beginning to be infectious and you manage a coy breathy reply,  "Why dont you you just tell me then? " your challenge was barely audible.

 

"Where's the fun in that?" He growls grabbing your hips tight to yank your back into him, and his fingers loosen and move upward, grazing your waist over the tank top and the gentle curve of your ribs, purposefully he avoided the sides of your breasts teasing you, earning him a needy whine from your throat. "Doctors are supposed to be smart right? You'll have to figure that one out, I'm sure it will be easy enough" he purrs, the sound intensified his touch driving you insane.

 

Fingers feathered against your neck then thread into your hair holding you in place and you watch him through your flickering lashes as leaned toward you ever so slowly.

 

You should stop him, you know you should, but you can't and you don't want to. It had been so long since you were touched like this and you wanted to drown in it. Just as that thought rose up he paused and you held your breath, the few inches he kept between you made you ache. The sweet torture broke a shiver from your toes all the way up until it shook your shoulders.You felt yourself rise on your toes and he responded with lips descending onto yours, the collision of his lips was filled with eager desperation yet he remained so painfully gentle that you felt a moan rise from somewhere primal inside of you. God it felt so good. He parted his mouth slightly to taste the vibration of your pleasure and it pulled a low chuckle up from his chest. In it you tasted his deliciously smokey flavor as it danced on your tongue and suddenly you were an addict. You needed more of the drug that tasted so fucking delicious on his breath, and your hands reached up to tangle behind his neck so that you could tilt your head and deepen the kiss. The new angle locks the two of you together perfectly, your eyes roll back as you move together in fevered unison. You cant keep your hands off of him, greedily they glide over his shoulders, exploring his thin frame and he groans against your mouth responding with a shove of his hips and he pins you to the wall. You gasp at the feeling of his erection pressed so close to your center, and he takes advantage of your open mouth to slide his tongue over your welcoming lips so that it can glide over yours, and explore the taste of your open cavity. He has command over ever one of your senses as his hands fall, fingers tracing  the bare skin of your neck before they moved to palm your breasts and you throw your head back separating the kiss to moan loudly. His thumbs graze your nipples over the thin fabric of your top and you arch your back to press yourself against his touch. His wet lips find the crook of your neck he nips and sucks at the skin while his hands massage your chest. You're left whimpering from the heat he sends to pool between your legs and you were sure you were soaked through your panties.

 

But it was all so much, too much, and far too fast… god, you didn't want this to end, but it scares you how much you needed more. You need to breath...need to think.

 

"Arth-ngh-, Joker!" You moan and he grinds his hips into yours,  "please...I.. I can't."

 

You find enough control to push against his shoulders and he lets out a growl of frustration before leaning back, and your both panting. 

 

" I just need to think" you say between gasps.

 

Joker scoffs, stifling a laugh as he turns from you as if he knew this would happen, and you reach out taking his hand in yours before he can storm off. 

 

"This is a lot, I never thought I'd see you again let alone do this with you…" you trail off, seeing the scar on the hand in yours and you smile softly as you trace it. It matched yours, just like you imagined, and it had you thinking of the tingle left on your lips, and how badly you had wanted to kiss him 5 years ago, and how absolutely messed up everything felt in this moment...but yet you found yourself giddy with excitement to see where this strange reunion would lead you. "I want to know you, this side of you,"   Even though he said had done horrible things, even though you know it will terrify you when you find out what they are, you still can't picture yourself letting him go again. "Joker." 

 

"Hmm" He hums and his eyes are also on the hand your holding and he smiles, "Your funeral", and with a wink he pulls his hand from yours, pecking your check with a kiss before he spins on his heel  and dances away.