Chapter 1: Prologue
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Arkham Review board.”
It was evening in Gotham City Hall, and several leading personages of the City were in attendance for a presentation, a new proposal on how to try and ‘treat’ some of Arkham’s most troublesome patients.
Comissioner Gordon wasn’t sure exactly what to make of the young woman making the presentation at the front of the room, and he had to focus hard to keep his feathers from rankling, and his barred wings comfortably against his back. She seemed so young, and, well…. Fragile, frankly. Especially with those wings.
Maggie was a Eurasian Magpie, with a rare Albino mutation. But even odder, were the young woman’s wings. Her feathers were –clear-, and looked like glass. If one was rude, and looked closely at her wings, it was possible to see the tiny blood vessels in the base stems of her primaries and covets.
“… And though many attempts at traditional treatment and drug therapy have been made to try and rehabilitate the inmates; quite frankly; they haven’t been working.” Her wings flapped briefly, as though she sensed his attention drifting before she returned them to resting position. “This is why I would like to try a new approach, with three selected patients.” She clicked her remote, bringing up three pictures on the powerpoint of some quite frankly chilling mugshots. “Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin, Edward Nigma, aka the Riddler, and the Joker, no other known alias.”
One of the other council members laughed, his gray and green Pigeon wings ruffling in his amusement. “And you believe that you can…. Rehabilitate these prisoners?” He asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow.
She turned red eyes towards him, seeming to evaluate. “Sir, though these men have shown not to be adverse to killing people, and they create massive amounts of property damage, they don’t go out of their way to kill people, or cause bodily harm to those who don’t get in their way. Even Joker’s ‘smiling gas’ is not fatal, the victims can be cured.” She turned to the screen again as Gordon sat forward, interested in what she had to say. “These men are primarily thieves and seeking recognition. As their goals are not violence or rage-based, I believe they would be well-suited to this program.”
“Miss Soujourn,” One of the female council members, a blue heron, stated as she adjusted her specs. “I believe I speak for the others here when I voice… concern for this plan. Concern for your welfare. You’re an albino, dearie, more fragile than most.”
“I’m not looking for death or pain, Mrs. Lakesboon.” She stated. “I am seeing if my idea can help relieve these troubled men, and by doing so help all of Gotham. I am willing to sign a waiver releasing you all of responsibility for my wellbeing when I am with them, but I have confidence in my reading of these gentlemen.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Quite frankly, what do you have to lose?”
The Chief of Police leaned back in his chair, fingers drumming on the tabletop as the others discussed this amongst themselves. He let his wings relax a little from the tight furl against his back as he thought about the three men on the screen. He wished he could get the Batman’s opinion on this, before the vote was cast, but the deliberation was about over.
“Magdalene Soujourn, It is the decision of this council to allow you to try out this new method on the patients you proposed. You will be heavily monitored, but we wish you luck.”
She smiled and gave them a bit of a bow with a mild lowering of her wings in gratitude. “Thank you. You won’t regret this.”
As the various people in the room began to file out, Gordon watched as the young woman cleared up. He really hoped they wouldn't.
Chapter 2: Chapter One
Joker meets his new Therapist.
Parrots and Corvids (The crow, magpie, raven and Jay family) are the brightest of birds, it is estimated. And African Gray parrots can even get self-destructive when bored, ripping out their own feathers.
Joker, in my opinion, is a genius. He built all his gadgets and made all his chemicals himself! He was probably already brilliant before he took his fateful dip into the chemical bath that one 'really lousy day', and whatever screwed with his brain and genetics also pushed him past the line from Genius and into Madness. There is a theory I heard from my friend, that once a person gets too high in IQ, they can't function properly. Apparently this happened with Albert Einstein and his wife Mileva had children that had even higher IQs than they did, but according to her, they either died early or were institutionalized. So, being smart is fun, but being too smart can drive you a bit batty when there's nothing to focus your constantly manic mind upon.
Hence, my take on the Clown Prince of Crime.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Magdalene looked at her new desk. This Desk had seen many new owners over the last couple years, starting with Joker’s first Psychiatrist… Why the Hell couldn’t the man just recognize that the clown didn’t like Mac and Cheese? Honestly. She sighed and shook her head as she sat down in the chair behind the deck, letting her wings fall open and relax against the floor. People thought her wings were weird. They weren’t merely white, they looked like they were made of glass, the thick kind that slightly distorted things and gave them a pale blue-green tinge. In the light, sometimes they caught rainbows, which she liked when she was around her nieces and nephews, they loved her wings.
The Therapist picked up the three files before her. She wasn’t Arkham’s official therapist, and she wasn’t the only one there was, but she was the only therapist who would be seeing these three patients any time soon. Oswald Cobblepot; The Penguin. It was actually pretty rare to see an Emperor Penguin these days, since flying mates among humans was so much more popular, some bloodlines were having trouble continuing on. She knew that as a Penguin, Oswald wouldn’t even have decorative, vestigial wings, though he’d have a belly covered with penguin feathers, as well as retractable webs on his fingers and toes, along with a remarkable lung capacity and cold tolerance.
Edward Nigma, Aka the Riddler, was a Common Raven, but he –hated- anyone calling him as such. He proposed to a few scientists that, since he was so much smarter than other Ravens of his type, that he might actually be a new breed; the Superior Raven. There was nothing common about Edward, in his opinion, and he always kept his blue-black feathers as meticulously groomed as possible.
Then, there was the Joker. Though he appeared to be some sort of parrot, maybe with some Kukaburra and Cuckoo ancestry, Joker would often claim to be a Loon or Cuckoo only, or switch up what he felt like being for the given day. And since his plumage was so unusually colored, there was no help in that subject. The undersides of his wings were white, with emerald tips and small purple ‘eyespots’, and the backs were an iridescent violet with more emerald edging, with a sort of green barring pattern down the furthest primaries. They were quite striking, and it was truly a pity that most of the time they were bound. Unable to preen himself properly, and no one willing to get close enough to do a proper job in Arkham, most of the time they were ruffled and disordered, sometimes a little dull.
The corvid woman sighed heavily as she sat back in her chair, rubbing the back of her neck. What the hell were these people thinking? You don’t take parrots and corvids, cram them in a tiny room with nothing to do, and then expect them to get better by ‘punishing’ them. It was stupid, AND dangerous. She knew they weren’t going to expect much from her, or even like her much at first. To them, she would be yet another shrink looking for fame and glory for attempting to pick them apart and bring them to heel. She allowed herself a small smile as she set aside the files. Well…. Maybe she was a little bit off in the head, because she found herself looking forward to this.
“Yes Mister Joker Sir?”
“What’s for lunch today, Jimmy? Is it pizza day?”
“No Sir, today is Meatloaf surprise.”
“Oooooh! What’s the surprise?”
The Canary orderly sighed as he shifted his bright yellow wings. His name was Wesley, but he wasn’t about to contradict the madman in the cell. The Joker actually –liked- him, well enough, and he’d survived two or three breakouts thanks to this.
“Well, your new Therapist will be coming to see you soon, before dinner.” He said, then bit his tongue and hunched his wings defensively at the expression on the parrot’s face.
“Ah, yess, the new Doctor.” He said in a high, cheery voice as he perched on his cot. Joker didn’t much care for the head-doctors. They all wanted him to become a ‘productive member of society’, which, from the sound of it, meant that he would have to wear a boring black suit and go to some boring cubicle every day for the rest of his life, and plunk out some boring, meaningless job.
Joker’s mind was always moving, and he craved entertainment. He kept breaking out because he was bored, and he broke minds for the same reason. “So, what sort of do-gooder are they sending in this time?” He asked the songbird.
“Ah, that would be me.”
A young woman stepped into view. She was wearing a nice pair of dark-wash jeans, a jacket and some sort of t-shirt, and her long white hair was tied in a ponytail at the nape of her neck. Red eyes smiled at him as the most unusual wings glittered on her back, he could actually see the distorted wall through the feathers. They were held against her back in a relaxed furl, and he realized something interesting; she wasn’t afraid of him. Truly, she wasn’t.
He hopped off the cot, doing a bit of a flip as he landed in front of the door to look at her. She barely came up to his chin, and she looked so fragile. She gave him an easy smile as guards came up to the door, unlocking it. “Joker, I’m Magdalene Soujourn. You can call me Maggie though. Can I call you J?”
He tilted his head, long green hair sliding over his shoulders. “Sure, Mags.” He replied congenially enough as the door opened. “Are we going somewhere?”
“Today, we’re trying a whole new kind of therapy.” She told him as the guards, a redtail and a Kite, escorted him along after her.
Joker grinned in an ugly sort of way. Well, it looked like she was going to be as boring as the rest, what a pity. “I love playing new sorts of games, Mags. I’m quite good at them, marbles in particular, even if I’ve lost a few in my years.” He noticed then that they weren’t heading for the usual treatment rooms and tilted his head. “Where are we going?” He said again as she opened a door, the guards standing aside to let him follow her in.
To his surprise, it was the entertainment room. Or, one of them, anyway. There were some snacks and drinks set out, and the big screen tv on the wall had the start screen for Rock Band on it, there was a drum set and a guitar sitting on the table in front of the couch.
“I haven’t gotten permission for them to undo your straight jacket.” Maggie said as she took off her jacket and set it aside, revealing her white t-shirt that declared “PRESENTATION” in black lettering across the front as the guards took off the bindings on his wings before reluctantly going to the door to stand at attention. “But you can at least stretch out a little. I hope you don’t mind taking the drums first, I like to Rock Out on the guitar.” She said as she picked up the odd-shaped controller and struck a few beats. “I understand your feet are fairly dexterous?”
He looked at her and the room for a long few moments before cackling and stretching his wings, then hopping over to the couch, picking up the sticks in his toes. “Why Maggie, you are an unexpected treat.” He said as she started looking through the tunes. “You’re just full of surprises!”
She shrugged. “Looks can be deceiving, hmm?” She teased. “Besides, I don’t like being too predictable. All work and no play makes a stir-crazy corvid, don’t you think?”
The next hour and a half mostly consists of them playing Rock Band, and not really discussing much else at all, besides music. Joker, obviously, likes Carnival music and other sorts. Maggie brings out her laptop and plays a few Orchestral and EDM pieces she thinks he’ll like as she draped her wings over the back of the couch, arranging a couple of hers before looking at him. “Would you mind if I…?” She asked, gesturing at his wings.
“Not at all, since you asked so nicely.” He replied, placing a large wing across her lap for her to help him preen. This was nice. Usually, partners or family members helped each other preen, though it didn’t have to be so intimate, it could be between friends. He was a bit surprised by her offer, and by her relaxed state around him. It was genuine, there was no way her wings could be that lax around him otherwise. Now, her delicate fingers were arranging his covets and primaries, getting them set properly on the limb as they listened to slightly off circus music.
She did his other wing as well before they finished for the day, and the guards replaced the bands on his wings before they all walked back to his room. “Alright. That was fun.” Maggie said to him with a smile. “Well then, I’ll see you Wednesday, okay J? Same time?”
“Sure thing, Mags.” The Clown Prince of Crime replied as they shut his door again and the albino walked down the hall. Magdalene Soujourn. He smiled. He may as well put off his escape a little longer. It seemed like Arkham was going to get a little less dull.
I hope you all enjoy this as much as I will. More characters and interactions coming, and I have no Beta reader, so please, by all means, I take constructive criticism and I love ideas!
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
Maggie Meets the Penguin.
Penguins were interesting. If you were to take a look at a Penguin in the wild, you’d see a flightless swimming bird that eats fish and looks rather pudgy and adorable. What most people didn’t realize, is that penguin feet and flippers are actually driven by very strong muscles. This also carried over into people with Penguin attributes.
Evolution and the perception of mates was actually an interesting thing. Since Flying was desirable in a mate, and an obese person cannot fly, no matter what kind of bird they are, it quickly became out of fashion for anyone to be ‘fat’. And technically, Oswald Cobblepot was in fine form for an Emperor Penguin. Anyone who saw video clips of how well he held his own against the Batman should know that he was capable of awesome feats of agility. Were this a few hundred years ago, Oswald probably would have been very sought-after as a potential mate; in modern times, however….
His history was full of ridicule over his appearance, as well as shunning from the social circles that once welcomed him when his family was still rich. Also, Emperor Penguins are another species that tends to be monogamous and live in a community setting, so all the ostracizing and shunning can’t have helped over the years.
These were all things that Maggie considered as she went to her first meeting with the Penguin. She knew that he tended to like female company much better than male, so she wondered how he’d react to having a female Therapist for a change.
The compact Criminal mastermind was muttering under his breath as he squirmed in his straight jacket. He’d been in Arkham for about a week now, again, after the Bat had caught him, and now he was very much missing his pretties. He loathed most fliers, except for his girls and other attractive women. He vaguely wondered how his Shrike twins were doing, as he mentally chewed on new features for his umbrella, then noticed movement at the door. Curious, it wasn’t mealtime. He straightened up a little from his reclined position as a woman entered the cell, she wasn’t half bad, and a rare bird by the look of her wings. His knowledge of birds was top-shelf, and he was able to quickly identify her as a Magpie, though her coloration was quite remarkable. “Tweet tweet, sweet thing.” He said in his sickeningly sweet chortle from behind his muzzle. “What’s a bird like you doing in a dump like this? You my new lawyer?”
She looked him over and smiled. “Mr. Tucker is still your legal council, Mister Cobblepot, -I- Am your new Therapist.” She said as her red eyes glinted. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“Call me Penguin.” He said as he processed her words. “Eh? Therapist? You?” He asked before his head tipped back and he laughed, the sound very distinctive and nattering, very close to his bird type. “You gonna try to get me to be a good boy by plying me with your feminine ways?” He leered at her. “For you, sweet cheeks, maybe.”
She shook her head. “No no, none of that.” Maggie replied. “You’re my client, it would be unethical of me.” She clapped her hands together. “Now! We’re going on an outing of sorts, and I’m going to need your word as a Cobblepot that you’ll be on your best behavior. If you do, you’ll get to get a bit more exercise and privilages.”
The Penguin thought that over. “You have my word, Magpie.” He said in his smoothest manner. She had his word, for now.
The guards escorted them down the hall, and this time came to an add-on that, from the smell of it, was brand new. And, to the man’s surprise and pleasure, the room’s main feature was a deep pool. He turned back to the therapist as she held up a plastic bag, which she took to a small changing room after the guards searched it. “Swim trunks, a couple different pairs. They should be in your size.” She said. “Not total privacy, I’m afraid, but I thought you’d appreciate the chance to exercise? I won’t be joining you today, but maybe in the next few sessions we can swim together.”
He stared at the pool as the guards removed his ‘muzzle’, not taking off the straight jacket just yet. “Miss Soujourn, if you would leave the room, please.” The guard asked her.
“Ooooh.” She flapped a wing at him in a ‘shoo’ motion, looking a bit irritated before going out of the pool room. “Fussy males, I’m a grown woman, I’m flight-capable, and everyone thinks I really am made of glass.”
Penguin chuckled again as the guard undid his straight jacket, and he went to change before coming back out and jumping into the water. Maggie had cajoled her way back in and was sitting in a chair nearby while she watched him swim. It was actually pretty damn cool, it was like he was flying under the water.
Eventually, he broke the surface near where she sat and gave her a sharp-toothed smile. “Enjoying the view, pretty bird?” He crooned.
“Yes, actually. I’ve never seen an Emperor Penguin swim before, it’s very impressive. I can’t swim that well.” She told him. Such was the downside to being a non-swimming species, if you didn’t have water-proofing in your feathers, it could be a chore to learn how to swim properly, for a long period of time. Soggy wings can’t get you airborne, and sometimes they can even drag you down. However, with a lot of work, sometimes they could be used to paddle you along in the water, and nowadays there were sprays and other treatments for wings that would increase water resistance, and would last a few hours, like a sunscreen. Most pools were shallow, for that reason, but the one they’d set up was deeper, made for diving.
For the most part, there was no speaking, and most conversations consisted of Penguin making flirting attempts and Maggie deflecting them politely.
By the time Penguin was back in his cell, once again trussed up like a holiday goose, gears in his head were already turning as he considered his new Therapist. She was pretty, but he had the feeling she understood his flirting with her was mostly face value. Although the guards stayed in the room whenever she was there, the Magpie herself didn’t appear to be afraid of him at all. And he could tell how fragile her flight-capable wings must be, as well as the rest of her bones. Albinos were physically fragile, and the Therapist was no exception. He could probably break her neck in a matter of seconds, and poof, no more magpie.
He frowned a little at that thought. He might not have made up his mind about Maggie just yet, but he didn’t want her dying before he did.
Maybe he’d stay in Arkham long enough to decide.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
Maggie Meets the Riddler.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It was actually a week and a half before Maggie met the Riddler for the first time. She was a little relieved, she needed the time to consider how she was going to make her first impression on him, and had decided on a ciphered riddle.
Edward Nigma was a Raven, a member of the Corvid family like herself, and as such she understood… a –little- of how his mind worked. There were a lot of stereotypes about Corvids; a lot of them were common to have attributes of, but other species still tended towards their preconceptions; That Corvids held grudges, had terrible singing voices, were know-it-alls, were thieves, liked shiny things, most of them were gypsies, and had a terrible sense of taste. There was more, a lot more, and some of it was true, but only to an extent. Yes, Maggie had shoplifted when she was younger, and yes, she had a collection of little odds and ends, mostly shiny, that she had gathered over the years and couldn’t bear to throw out. She –could-, however, carry a tune in a bucket, and she thought she had an excellent sense of taste, thank you very much.
She knew Riddler thought himself very much more intelligent over most of the population of the world, and he might be correct about that, but she’d try her best to engage him. She’d gathered a few puzzles and riddles and ciphers to try and reach out to him with, and she quite honestly hoped he’d share a few of his with her.
Edward was back in Arkham, with the rest of the criminally gifted of Gotham, but he hadn’t been taken directly to his cell after processing. Instead, he was taken to a room where he met his new Therapist. He looked her over, taking in what details he could to draw his first conclusions about her. Female, a bit smaller than him, another Corvid, albino. Most likely trying to get her to appeal to his protective instincts, or lower his guard, as he could hardly see her as a threat.
Upon further observation, as she smiled and introduced herself, he realized that she wasn’t intimidated by him, nor looking down on him. She even made some semi-intelligent observations about some of his past escapades, before setting something down in front of him, within reach of his manacled hands. It was a piece of paper, covered in a pictogram. A little curious, he picked it up, and she gave a sheepish smile. “I’m not a master at this, and I’m not a wordsmith, but I figured it would be something to do. I also got a couple puzzles for you to work on, but they won’t let you take any to your room… yet.” She gave a lopsided grin. “We’ll work on that. Do you promise not to set up any elaborate Rube-goldberg devices to break yourself out or blow up half the asylum with any puzzles I give you to keep you occupied?”
He grinned back at her. “I’ll see what I can do, Magdalene.” He answered as the orderlies came to take him away. He wondered who else the Doctor was working with...
I know these chapters aren't very long, and I apologize about my lack of characterization on Riddler. I'm still re-watching everything I can to try and refresh my memory on all the most pertinent characters. After I get the beginning down, I can start to relax and not worry about how it all began, I just don't want to forget my dream.
And hey, in the next few chapters, there will be flying involved, yay!!
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
Magdalene meets a few more of the Gang! (But good guys this time)
“Good evening, Gotham City. Today we’re coming to you live from the Gotham Grand Hotel, for a fabulous Wayne-sponsored Charity Ball. All sorts of people are in attendance tonight, we’ve seen the Mayor and Chief of police so far, and, luck holding, events will stay trouble-free for tonight. The weather is fair tonight, so the roof has been opened in the fabulous ballroom, and we might get a glimpse or two of Gotham’s elite.”
Maggie sighed, adjusting her outfit again as Doctor Rickler, the Head of Psychology for Arkham, escorted her into the ballroom. She was wearing a white gown, with leggings underneath; only the very bold ever wore just underwear with a dress at an event where there might be dancing in the air. The dress was a halter-top style, leaving an open back, which was usual for someone with wings, and clear crystal beads dripped like raindrops from her throat down, in a tasteful fashion. Her hair was down, reaching her waist at its longest point, her bangs falling a bit over the left side of her face, and white drop earrings dangling from her lobes. She’d taken a good amount of time to preen her wings before they left, but she could feel them ruffling a little, alternating between drawing the appendages tight against her body or trying to make them relax a bit.
“-Why- am I here?” She hissed at her colleague as she looked around the room, wings tensing and moving very slightly to shield her shoulders.
The old Rook chuckled and patted her hand, his own wings resting nonplussed on his back. “Because the Town Council wants to show their supporters who’s currently treating Gotham’s most Notorious.” He told her. “You’re part of the organism now, Maggie, you work directly with three famous criminally insane inmates, so your successes and failures will be of interest to everyone in the city. Understandably, after the Hugo Strange Incident, people are a bit more cautious.”
She snorted a bit under her breath as a few of the other attendees looked their way. “I know there’s a lot of different types here, but why do I get the impression of Vultures?”
Her escort chuckled as some of the people started to gravitate towards them, making Maggie’s feathers fluff a bit with the sensation of being hunted, but then a familiar face appeared. “Miss Soujourn.”
She gave him a purely relieved smile and offered her hand. “Commissioner Gordon.” She said as they shook, his gray and black barred wings a bit stiff on his back and very subtly mantled, making some of the others pause. “You don’t know how happy I am to see you.” She said.
He chuckled a little, mouth lifting and making his moustache raise as well. “Took me a little while to get used to this sort of event myself.” He said as he partially opened a wing to invite her to walk with him, and she accepted, letting Doctor Rickler handle the grouping debutants as they moved somewhere with a bit more air. “Besides, I wanted to introduce you to some people.”
He took her over to where his family was waiting, she got to meet his wife and daughter, the girl showing some very interesting coloration in her falcon wings, the red-orange rust feathers barred with black and white on the underside.
Eventually she started to relax a bit, and she was able to greet others and politely discuss events of the city, however, if they tried to nudge information about her patients out of her, she deflects. “Client Confidentiality.” She said. She might be obliged to discuss things in court, but insane or not, her patients were not a topic for discussion right now in public.
“Ah, excuse me.” A nice voice said as she sensed another person approaching and turned, looking up. Wow. Gotham’s number one desirable bachelor, Bruce Wayne. He had black hair, height, a strong chin, blue eyes, a fair complexion and huge, gorgeous albatross wings. They were mostly a snowy white color, with a smattering of black along the tips of his outer primaries and along the top back of the limbs. He was proven to be both a long-distance and high-flier, and his money combined with those statuesque good-looks meant that every eligible female wanted to be his One and Only.
Accompanying him was his adopted son, Dick Grayson. He was still quite young, but everyone knew he’d grow up to be a very handsome young man. He had black hair, jade-colored eyes, and his wings were glossy black, marked at the ‘wrist’ joint by yellow and red, making him an excellent example of a Redwing Blackbird.
“Mr. Wayne.” She said as she shook his hand, at least he was polite with his wings, he wasn’t trying to crowd her. “It’s a pleasure.”
“Same here.” He replied. “I’ve heard some… interesting things from Mr. VanRoekel.” He said with a slight shrug. “Are you sure about this?”
“…” She took a sip from her drink, the alcohol content was very light, as flying while drunk was a wonderful way to get yourself killed. Or get some stellar moments on AFV. “Mr. Wayne-“
“Please, call me Bruce.” He said in his casual-friendly way.
“… Bruce, then. I made my assessments and decisions based on what we already knew about them.” She leaned back. “And obviously, no one else was making any progress with them. When traditional methods fail, isn’t that when we start to look forward, try new things? It’s what Wayne industries is built upon, isn’t it?”
He considered that with a small wrinkle on his brow. “… That and this are a bit different, but I suppose I see your point.” He finished off his own drink and set it on an empty tray nearby before spreading his wings slightly and holding out a hand. “Would you care to Dance, Maggie?”
She paused, thought it over, and shrugged, setting aside her own drink. “Oh, what the hell.” She said as she opened her own pair, getting some looks from those nearby.
They went to the area of the floor that was designated for takeoff, and launched themselves into the air. The albino felt a rush in her veins as she lifted into the air, the wind threading into her hair and caressing her feathers. There was –nothing- in the world that was better than flying. The sense of freedom one got when the sky opened up around them was, in a word, magic.
Bruce entered her field of vision quickly, his massive wingspan allowing him to catch some great drafts as they got higher and higher in the lit sky. Spotlights highlighted the clouds as they spiraled closer together, then righted themselves as they caught hands. Sky dancing wasn’t terribly easy. There were a few ways to do it; one would be if the partners hovered and danced together, but typically those best at doing that were hummingbirds. Another was if one partner entrusted the other to do all the dancing and support them for the flight.
The kind of dancing Maggie felt like doing tonight was the ‘push-pull’ method. Both members are airborne and flying with their own power, and the dance consisted largely of tight spirals and loops, sometimes wings brushing each other, and using each other’s arms, pushing, pulling, and momentum to do what basically amounted to swing-dancing in mid-air.
By the time the dance was over, Maggie’s carefully combed out hair was a complete loss and she’d lost an earring, but she was laughing and had greatly enjoyed herself. She decided to head home shortly after that, saying goodbye to Doctor Rickler.
She thought about taking a cab as she put on her coat, but it was a nice night, and she decided to fly it home, get a nice stretch on her wings.
She landed on the edge of her apartment balcony, taking out her key card and swiping it through the electronic lock on the ‘cage’ shielding it, then stepped down and closed the barred door behind her as she kicked off her heels and unlocked the sliding glass door with a regular key. She drew the shades once she was safely locked up inside, and took off her coat and dress on her way to the bathroom, taking a shower and brushing her teeth as she pulled on an old t-shirt and flannel PJ bottoms. She tied her hair back in a loose braid before flopping into her ‘nest’ of a bed, it was round and stacked with pillows and comforters, as well as being large enough to support her wings when she stretched them out, as she did now. Well, her first event as a socialite was over. It could have been worse. She yawned and tucked herself in for the night, she had an early day tomorrow.
Chapter 6: Chapter 5
Hey guys! Thanks for all the Kudos!! I'm really happy to see that you all like this at least a little.
Sorry my posting has been delayed a bit, finals at school were annoying. I'm working on getting my massage license. We have finals every six weeeeks blaugh!
Anyway, I'm almost done re-watching season four of The Batman. T-T Riddler's Revenge. I'd almost forgotten why Riddler was my second favorite villain in that show besides Joker. Damn Julie woman!! I hate her. Next chapter will have Riddler in it!
It had been about one month since the arrival of Maggie Soujourn at Arkham, and in all that time, none of the terrible threesome had attempted a breakout from the asylum. They were even being allowed outside their cells more often, still under guard, but less restrained.
Speaking of restraints (Or lack thereof), Joker actually had a little time to stretch his wings for some exercise for once! Maggie showed up at his cell per usual, but that day they went to the ‘Aviary’, which was an exercise room for the wings. Asylum patients were legally allowed to exercise and stay in shape, the facility couldn’t ban them from trying to keep physically fit. Special cases like Joker usually only had a little time of unbanded wings in his cell for a few scant hours a day, but since he seemed to be…. Reacting favorably to Maggie’s treatment, he was allowed a little more freedom.
Currently, this freedom included a little game of hide-and-go-seek with his favorite Corvid, who was surprisingly hard to find in this greenhouse-like area. Her white hair and glittery wings should show up easily with this sort of setting, but she was as yet nowhere to be found. Joker perched on the branch of a tree as he looked around, the sleeves of his jacket unbound for the first time in a very long time. Well, in public anyway.
“Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree….”
He perked a bit as he tried to figure out where the singing was coming from, wings opening and tensing as he prepared to fly.
“…. Merry merry King of the Bush is he….”
He looked over at one of the larger trees in the atrium, it had a lot of branches, a lot of leaves, a good place to start…. He leapt from the branch, his wings opening and catching the air as he glided, not wanting to make noise by actually flapping yet.
“Laaugh, Kookaburra, Laaaaugh, Kookaburra-“
He rounded the tree and headed for what he thought was the source of the sound was.
“-gay your life must be. Laugh, Kookaburra laugh, Kookaburra-“
“Ah-HAH!” He pushed open some branches, thinking he’d startle her, but she wasn’t there…. And then he stumbles forward as her light weight hit his back, right between the wings.
“-Gay your life must be!” She sang, clear wings fanning a bit as the two of them caught their balance, and then started laughing. As insane and chilling as it could be, Maggie liked his laughter.
“Thought you were Batsy for a moment there, Mags, you should be careful about sneaking up on me.” He said as she detatched and sat by him on the branch they were currently on. “I could have reacted…. Poorly.” He said as his voice deepened.
“You won’t hurt me, J.” She said easily, like she knew this as casually as she would say the sky was blue.
“I could.” He replied.
“But you won’t.” She replied as she looked at him. “I can tell.”
He paused and considered this before replying. It was true, he didn’t want to hurt Mags or see her come to harm, and he was rather having a bit of trouble trying to figure out where she fit into the scheme of things. He knew she was seeing Penguin and Riddler as a therapist as well, but had no others under her care as of yet. He hadn’t really seen her around the other inmates, actually, now that he thought about it. Whenever she came around to visit him or when they went on an escorted adventure, no one but them was in the halls they traveled. That made him a bit…. Curious.
“So Mags, I gotta know; You never ask me questions about my childhood, you never ask me questions about my mind, all we ever do is hang out. You’re not a very shrink-like shrink, in my experience.” He leaned forward. “So, just –what- is your game, Maggie?”
She paused, then tipped her head, trying to think about it. “…. Well, I just sort of thought about things. You’ve been given drug therapy, though no one knows how that would react to your body chemistry exactly, which don’t work. People talk down to you and try to tell you why they think you do the things you do. I decided it might be good to have someone to talk to in a relaxed way. No ‘how will you take over Gotham’ next or ‘This is what I want you to do’, but just as a friend, you know?” She smiled. “Besides, the reason I chose you? From the beginning, you’ve been honest about what you want deep down; to make people laugh. I think that’s a wonderful goal. And, I wanted to ask you if you’d like to put together a comedy act for the next Talent night?”
Joker stared at her. That was…. Straightforward. “…. Will you be attending, Mags?”
“Sure.” She replied. She internally winced at that, she wouldn’t mind seeing Joker perform, but…. Some of the other inmates would make her uncomfortable. “I only request that you don’t start a riot. Or craft explosives from cleaning products. Again.”
He shrugged, wings mimicking the action as he tried to look bashfully rueful. “It was only once! And I only blew up –one- wall.”
She thwacked him upside the back of his head with the tip of her wing in scolding, and he retaliated by ruffling her hair, making her flail and bat her hands at him, though she couldn’t swallow the small burst of laughter. “Clown.”
“Shrink.” He paused. “Actually, if you shrink much more, it might be hard to spot you, shortie.”
She gave a mildly outraged huff and put her hands on her hips as her wings flared and fluffed defensively, though it was in a silly sort of way. “I’m not –short-, I’ma perfectly fine size for an Australian Magpie.” Well, sort of. Okay maybe she was a little short, but still! “You’re a bloody big popinjay and Kookaburra yourself!”
Joker laughed. “I think you’re one of the first people to make that connection.” He mused.
“Oh, come –on-, people had to have guessed, what with that laugh of yours.” She snorted. “This can’t be your natural coloration, someone would have discovered your old identity by now if that were the case.”
“… Do you want to know?” He asked her, tipping his head.
“If you want to tell me.” She replied after a few moments. “Who you were probably only counts for about 10% of who you are now. I like our sessions, I like getting to know what you like and dislike here. Like Mac and Cheese.” She said in a teasing tone.
He made a face, which she laughed at. “So tell me, Doc, do you think I’m off my rocker?”
“…. I don’t like the choices you’ve made. You’ve done some really despicable things. I want to know if you can really achieve your dream of making people laugh without chemical aides or terrifying them first.” She said. “If I were you, I’d be…. Well, unsatisfied, and maybe a bit lonely.”
“Lonely?” He scoffed, tossing his green hair. “Hahahahahahaa! Why would I be lonely? I’m never alone, with all the voices in my head. The TV people can’t get enough of me, and here in Arkham I have all the other Loons!”
She just gave him a bit of a solemn look before hopping down from the tree, wings opening to slow her descent. “How many of all these people can you honestly say are your –friends-, J?” She asked as she looked back up at him. “I think, that in this whole world, maybe all you have are your hyenas…. And me, if you’d like.”
“…. You’re trying to play some subtle game with me too, aren’t you, Mags?” He said from his perch.
She shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe I’m just trying to get you to think things over. I do like your jokes, when they’re not at other people’s expense. In the end, I don’t want to change you J; Honestly I don’t think I can. The only one who can ultimately change your way of doing things is you.” She smiled again. “I just want to be there to help if you do decide you want to change. I can listen to you, really listen, and I think that’s all people need sometimes.”
She left the aviary as Joker thought that over. Friends? Punch and Judy…. Were his flunkies, ‘business associates’, he’d called them, he’d given them enough chemical treatment to tie them to him. None of the other Supervillains could be called friends, they were all looking out for themselves to become number one and would stab each other in the back in a heartbeat.
It was something to think about.
Chapter 7: Chapter 6
I had something very witty and insightful to put here last night, but I have quite forgotten what it was.
Edward turned the puzzle box over in his hands. He appreciated the effort Magdalene put into trying to keep him entertained, trying to keep his mind busy. She didn’t always succeed, but their debates could be fun sometimes. He’d told her a little of his past, not nearly all of it yet, but she was someone who could at least understand he had a great intellect, and appreciated his mind.
He looked up as the door opened and she came in, smiling when she saw him. “Good afternoon, Edward.” She said as she took a seat. “How did my riddle rate yesterday?”
She tried to present him with original riddles sometimes, which yielded mixed results. “What lives in caves, dances with flames, we carry them wherever we go, always touching, rarely felt, they can be enveloping, all encompassing, and yet can be stripped away with the Lightest touch.” He leaned back. “The answer, my dear, is Shadows. Your rhyme scheme needs work, and your phrasing is shaky, but it’s not the worst riddle I’ve ever seen. You may live.” He said the last with a small, sort of teasing smile.
She laughed and gave an elaborate bow, opening her wings and letting them extend downwards, brushing the floor. “Oh thank you, Mister Riddler Sir.” She replied as she took a seat across from him. “Maybe I should present some of my favorite story puzzles instead.”
“By all means, go ahead and try.” He did love these games.
She cleared her throat. “Okay, this is one of my favorites. So, once upon a time, there was a man bringing a far-away Emperor some gifts from his lord. He had a Tiger, a Phoenix, and a sack of Grain blessed by a great Sage. He came to a chasam ruled by fierce winds, making flight over it impossible that could only be crossed at one place; an enchanted bridge that can only hold himself and one of the gifts at a time. If he leaves the Tiger with the Phoenix, the tiger will eat the bird. If he leaves the grain with the Phoenix, the phoenix will eat the grain. How does he get all three things across intact and undevoured?”
The Raven smirked, he had heard this one before. “A very good story puzzle, but one I have heard before, Magdalene. First, the man would take the phoenix across, leave it there, and go back for the Tiger. He’d lead it across, then leave it there while he takes the phoenix with him back across the bridge to the original side. He’d leave the bird there, take the grain across, and then go back to collect the bird, and continue on his merry way.”
She applauded, smiling. “People always forget you never forbade them from taking something back across the bridge.” She said. “I guess that’s what stumps them.”
“People in general, I find, don’t care to try and think outside the box.” He said.
A week and a half later.
Maggie was worried as she flew to Arkham that night. She’d been called and told that the Riddler had been caught by the batman, nearly blew one man up with his cargo and killed a woman with her own laser. Tonight wasn’t going to be a fun night, and the therapist could feel her stomach twisting. Edward had broken out of Arkham after watching a news program and throwing a chair through the TV, and she had known what the problem was when she checked on what the segment had been about. She hoped the Batman would be reliable in catching him before he hurt someone permanently, and was relieved to hear it was the case…. But she had a terrible feeling when she heard the second Victim had been his old Lab Partner, Julie.
She landed in front of the gates and flashed her badge, then headed inside to meet her patient- and gasped as she rounded a corner and came across a tall, dark shadow, eyes going wide. The Batman. Her first meeting with him.
“Miss Soujourn.” He said in a deep-toned voice, black bat-like wings draped around his shoulders like some sort of cloak.
“Batman.” She said. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”
He seemed to observe her for a bit before speaking. “You might want to be more careful tonight.” He said. “The Riddler had a rough night.”
She sighed and rubbed her temples. “… I’ll try and use proper judgement.” She said as she walked past him. She’d heard Julie was arrested as well, and knew how bad this was going to be.
She wasn’t disappointed. Edward was sitting in a straightjacket, strapped to a chair, his long hair in a bit of disarray.
She looked at him for a few moments without saying anything, then walked over behind the chair to give him a hug.
He stiffened, but didn’t lash out. “…. She betrayed me.” He bit out after a few moments, voice sounding rough.
“I know.” She replied.
“I hate her.” He snarled.
“No.” She said. “You don’t.”
“….. I don’t.” He replied after a few moments, starting to lose a bit of tension in his frame. Maggie had this…. Thing where she could suck away the harsh feelings, and replace them with softer ones.
Her wings moved in a bit on either side of him as the thin male cried silently, hiding him from view of the cameras as she stroked his hair and hummed a little. Edward –did- have a sensitive heart, and a romantic side…. But it was hidden from most due to his past, his father, and the rest of the world, seemingly.
Eventually he stopped, and she used a handkerchief to dab at his eyes before folding her wings back and patting his shoulder.
“…. What are you?” He asked as she started for the door. He couldn’t understand how she could do the things she did to his emotions sometimes. It didn’t seem…. Natural.
She paused and looked back at him. “I’m not sure. Maybe you can figure it out?” She said with a small smile before she left and the guards came in to take him back to his cell.
She wasn’t entirely sure how she did it either. She just had a good feeling for people in general, knew when it was right for her to be afraid of someone and when it wasn’t. She knew she could help heal people on a non-physical level, specific people, but didn’t know how to quantify it, so she kept it quiet.
Maybe someday, she wouldn’t have to. But for tonight, she’d go home to sleep.
Chapter 8: Chapter 7
((Hello everyone. Yes, I am still alive, I am terribly sorry I left this to sit for so long. After my tests, I am very happy to say that I got my LMT in Oregon, but it took a lot of study. After that... well, 2016 has been a very rough year for lots of reasons, including fires, hospital trips and emotional upsets. However, today I think I got the inspiration to continue writing this. There are still a couple problems I have to work out with the story, specifically since the Romance side of things is still wibbly-wobbly. I'm not sure things are going to go the way I wanted them to. Also, I'm going to try and not pull my punches too much. So, there's a likelihood that this is about to get a lot rougher. Violence wise, and possibly in other, triggery ways. So, I just wanted to say that now. I see that I got a couple people who bookmarked this, so I wanted to say to them, thank you for thinking I'm worth your time. I hope I don't upset you too much, and that you like my worldbuilding.))
Penguin, Riddler, and Joker were sitting in the communal 'entertainment room'. That sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it really wasn't. Though the corvid of the Big Three was still being watched closely after his last escape, it had been a month since then with him showing no interest in escaping whatsoever, so he was allowed out of solitary, thanks to the insistence of his Doctor.
There were a few other patients in the area, but none of them felt like approaching any of Gotham's most infamous criminals. Possibly because they'd been incarcerated for so long without scarring any more orderlies for life, physically or mentally, possibly because they were all sitting together like some sort of terrible parody of the three fates, or possibly because it seemed like a fight over the remote might break out at any moment.
"C'mon, Joker, the World Swimsuit competition is going to be on in just a couple minutes!" The Penguin growled as he made a grab at the remote, which dexterous feet snatched away at the last moment.
"And miss the Looney Toon special? Not on your life!" The clown said, his voice laden in exagerated surprise and mock horror.
"You're both fools. I need to watch channel 3." Riddler insisted, looking rather grim.
A fight *did* wind up breaking out, though it was likely one of the tamest, if most childest fights the other patients had seen amongst these three in years, and the remote was making the tv change from channel to channel, food network one minute, Telemundo the next, a clip from a segment where reporters were trying to run down and question a familiar white haired person, Animal Planet...
"WAIT!" Edward said, looking at the tv, one hand pushing against Penguin's face, the other trying to pry Joker's leg away from the choke hold he had on him. "Go back to the last one!"
The channel fuzzed back. "-tor Soujourn, what can you tell us about the kidnapping incident a month ago?"
"Does this change any of your ideas or plans about treatment for Riddler or your other patients?"
"Do you have ANY comment for us, Doctor Soujourn?"
The doctor's eyes flashed briefly at the cameras, and the set of her wings and angle of her feathers denoted annoyance. "I have no comment other than this; Client Confidentiality! If they tell me they're going to hurt themselves or others, I will have to tell the proper authorities, and testify in court, but outside of that, go take a flying leap!" And with that said, she followed her own advice and took off, wings flapping for altitude as she acted to avoid the reporters. A couple hummingbird reporters made a valiant attempt to follow after her, but their cameramen couldn't lift off with all their equipment.
The three of them all had various degrees of smiles and chuckles as they watched the reporters talk to each other about that tape, recorded earlier in the day. "She's a funny bird, isn't she?" Penguin mused as he gave up on the fight for control of the remote. "I think she likes us more than them."
"She doesn't have much patience for typical fools." Riddler said as he sat up and placed the remote on his knee, Joker having released him to sit cross-legged on the floor. "That's for sure."
"We're her exclusive patients, after all." The parrot mused as he tilted his head to the side slightly. "That's bound to attract attention of all sorts."
There was a short moment of silence. For the moment, the three of them had a sort of unspoken agreement, or truce, as it were. They all had a similar interest, after all; Their Doctor. Though they didn't say it out loud, they didn't want her to come to the same sort of end as the others. And there were some other dangerous, unbalanced people in Arkham besides them. They'd noticed by now that not only did Maggie tend to only be seen around them, but she had rarely ever been seen by the other inmates. There had been one incident that Edward had glimpsed after one of their recent sessions; Maggie had been walking down the hall when an Orderly was coming down the hallway from the opposite direction, escorting a serial rapist to his own appointment. It had been brief, but Magdalene had shown a hint of something she never had with the three of them; a flinch. A fear reaction. She'd stepped to the side to let them pass, and tried very hard to school her expression and keep her wings under control, but it was impossible around predators like them. The man had stared at her curiously as he passed by, a smile growing on his face as his brown-gold wings flexed under the bands restraining them, rolling his neck and rolling his shoulders back, trying to intimidate her with his body size. She hadn't shown any sort of reaction then, but...
"Does everybody know she's off limits?" The Penguin asked in a low tone, sharp teeth flashing behind his muzzle.
"Everyone in the East and North wings know that if they touch her, they'll have a very unpleasant amount of time to regret it." Edward replied as he cast a look over to one of the groups sitting in a far corner. "I'm fairly sure that she'll be fine in case of a break-out."
"Of course." Joker added in, grinning widely. "We might all be crazy here, and some might be insane enough to try and take me on alone, or you, or you, but all three of us together promising retribution? No one here is currently suicidal."
"How about Cress?" Penguin looked at the Riddler, referring to the eagle from the other day.
"Cress won't be bothering anyone for some time." He replied as he examined his fingernails. "He's spending some time in solitary."
Two days earlier-
A man enters his mansion, heaving a heavy sigh as he loosened his necktie, using his cell phone to activate the lights in his house. He started sorting through messages from the day, as he walked over to his bar, pouring himself a drink. He paused his skimming half way through his messages, opening the mail and attached video clip. His golden eyes crinkled and white teeth flashed as he texted a reply.
He slipped the phone away as he clicked another button, and a vinyl record began to play softly on speakers as he made his way to a staircase leading to a vault door under the house. It slid open with a hiss, revealing a sterile gray hallway, which illuminated softly, interspersed with glass doors and walls. He walked down the hallway, admiring his collection as he sipped at his drink. Freeze did good work with cryogenics, keeping his collection perfectly preserved when he wasn't playing with them. He was expensive, but that wasn't the point. Money was never the point.
He looked at one of his favorites for some time, a Japanese Crane. She had long, straight scarlet hair, and beautiful white and black wings. Purebreds were hard to find nowadays. Strange colorations were another favorite of his, and he'd seen this beauty lately in the news. Her wings looked like glass, of all things. He was a collector of strange, beautiful and rare things. He would be remiss to let this opportunity slide.
Chapter 9: Chapter 8
Mischievous_Lady, Thank you so much for the comment!! It's great for motivation!
The inside of her apartment could be called... cluttered, if you were being unkind. Sunlight coming in through the green, black, blue and purple paisley curtains gave the rooms a sort of 'underwater' feeling as they fell on the ash-colored walls. Sirens could be heard faintly from the streets below, and the occupant of the round 'nest bed' in the bedroom groaned as she pulled the baby blue comforter higher over her head. The bedroom was filled with different things, from Posters, to bookcases, a fair imitation of a Starry Night on the ceiling above her bed, enhanced with glow in the dark paint, and every other available surface was covered in stuffed animals, sculptures, stones and other shiny things. A small corner above her desk held her Doctorates in Psychology and Psychiatry, along with her licenses. The alarm clock app on her phone went off, making her huff in frustration.
The covers fell back as she pushed herself up on her elbows, white hair mussed and falling across her face, red eyes blinking blearily. Urgh, it was horrible. She didn't get to sleep easily last night, having had a late night at Arkham. Oswald had had a bad night, and they'd been in the rec room playing darts for hours until she nearly fell asleep on him. She'd even been too tired to fly home, taking a cab instead. But, if playing with darts for hours and listening to him ramble and rant about other debutants helped him out, then she figured that it was well worth it to stick around. She hated having to take the stairs when she was so tired, she was so exhausted coming in that night that her wing tips had been only an inch from dragging on the ground, the muscles too weak to stay in folded position without aid. She was still wearing her slacks and blouse from last night, and she felt all crumpled and dingy. She needed a proper bath, rather than just a shower.
She climbed out of the bed, making sure to re-order the covers and settle the pillows that had fallen to the floor in a pile in the center of the sleeping space, before slouching out of the room and into the bathroom, taking a change of clothes along with her on the way. She actually had the day off of work, but she had a few bills to pay and some errands to run before she got to enjoy herself. She turned on the water in the bath, pushing in the plug to let the tub fill up while she went through the living room to the kitchen, to get some tea started. She hated coffee, it made her way too jittery. The living room, in contrast to her bedroom, was more cluttered with plants than other things, a TV taking up position in front of the south-facing windows, a comfy old couch, an armchair, coffee table, and dining room table, before the first counter in the kitchenette. She loved her kitchen, it was why she'd taken the room on the SouthWest corner of the eighth floor of this building; the previous owners had completely remodeled. Some might call it old-fashioned, having a lot of beige and ambers and yellows and oranges from the 50s, but she sort of liked it. Her entire apartment was pieced-together, cluttered and eccentric, almost gypsy-ish, which she felt suited her just fine.
She took a nice long soak in the bath, after adding a mandarin bath bomb to the warm water, and began to soak up to her neck. She meticulously and painstakingly groomed all her feathers, going at an acceptable pace from years of long practice, before letting the tub drain and rinsing the rest off in the shower. After that, she dried off with a towel and drier, and got into her clothes; a pair of black jeans and a navy blue blouse with belled sleeves. Shirts with backs, she noted to herself, were a pain to put on. There were several different styles, from ones with velcro, buttons, or zippers, to ones that had simple ties keeping everything from slipping off. And chest supports were a pain to use as well, the straps of poorly made ones sometimes chafed at the bases of wings where they met at the shoulders. After that, she went and made herself some breakfast, high calorie but something that would sit lightly on her stomach, something that would digest quickly.
It was another two hours before she left her house from her balcony, lightly jumping from the ledge and snapping open her wings as they lifted her in a graceful swoop. She could feel the air currents threading through her feathers, lifting her up, and couldn't help but smile brightly. From there, she visited the bank, the grocery store, her office, a little bistro for early dinner, and the City Hall to drop off some paperwork. After that, she was free to go visit the places she wanted to go to, have some fun and unwind.
Her favorite club was a place called Heaven and Hell. A Parking structure turned into a massive dance building, it was famous for it's interesting design. There were three levels below ground, where the music was mostly punk, goth and metal, with a very dark and passionate feel to it which earned the name Hell, and then the seven levels above ground. The first three were dance studios, game rooms, and one pop-rock level, and above that, the centers of the parking structures had been carved out to open up the space. There were several bars, poles and rings suspended up there, and the music had a wild range, depending on the particular night. Tonight, it was techno, rave style. The strobe lights and blacklights were excellent, and the beat thrummed in her blood. When she danced, she felt like everything else could just fall away.
Of course, not every night is as wonderful and idyllic as most would like it to be. Maggie was sitting on one of the rings when suddenly the lights went out. All of them. This drew some cries of anger and alarm from the rest of the crowd. A very common problem among those with daytime bird attributes was nightblindness, and with no natural light sources entering very far into the club, this meant potential crashes from the patrons should anyone move. Some people began to make grabs for their phones to use the flashlight functions, but when one was shot out of a pigeon's hand, everyone froze.
"Good evening, Gotham City Partygoers." A voice said, making an oily feeling drip down Maggie's back and her wings shake in a shiver. "No one move, no one go for your phones, and no one gets hurt. You two, fan out and see if you can find our target."
That... was the voice of Black Mask, if she wasn't mistaken. An Owl crime boss. And judging by the grunts of pain, they were already dealing with the Owl bouncers that were on duty.
Maggie's hand slid to her watch, covering the screen as she pressed and held down two of the buttons there. The gadget had been given to her by Commissioner Gordon, in the case that something should happen while she was on the job, but as it was, this would serve perfectly well as a silent alarm, the geolocator in the watch giving the police an exact idea of where the emergency was. Owls were considered creepy by a number of the population, for several reasons. One; their wings were completely silent. You would never hear them coming in flight. Two; like most birds of prey, they still carried claws on the tips of their fingers, talons which if unretracted and unmaintained, could gash you open quite easily. And third, likely most unsettling of all, was their ability to turn their heads 270 degrees around... just like a regular owl. Their eyesight and hearing meant that they were the absolutely undisputed worst birds to go up against at night, hands down.
And judging by the small yelps, curses and shrieks, the owls searching was steadily getting closer. Magdalene's mouth flattened into a line s she felt them approach, closer, closer, seeking...
She felt a light brush of air as one approached her, and she jerked backwards, only to feel claws whoosh past the space she had just occupied. The owl above her cursed as her heart rate kicked itself into high gear, her momentum carrying her backwards as her feet came up and accidentally kicked him in the chest, hard. He knocked into the ring, and she gasped as she lost her grip on the metal ring entirely, wings reflexively fanning out and flapping, trying to stop her fall.
Another owl caught her, claws gripping her left arm tightly, the points digging in and making her cry out as she felt something wrench in her shoulder, wings beating frantically to try and escape. Another owl came at her from behind with a taser, hitting her with the charge between her wings on her back, making her slacken as the other owl took her opposite arm. "I think this is the one, Boss!"
"Good, let's get out of here." The crime boss said as they began heading for the open roof, then towards a helicopter nearby.
Maggie knew that if they got her into that thing, the chances of her escaping were slim to none. Steeling herself, she began to struggle anew, hollering and screaming with everything her lungs could muster as she kicked and bit and flapped-
And then the Batman arrived on scene, and all hell broke loose. She was released by the first owl, and she managed to stab the second in the arm with the earring she pulled from her ear, forcing him to fling her away... unbalancing her as she fell to the roof, causing her to land on her wing. There was a sickening crack, lances of pain, then everything went dark.
When Maggie woke up, it was several hours later, and she was laying face-down on a special bed. She knew without much trouble that her left wing was broken, and her left arm throbbed terribly on top of that. She needed more painkillers, because whatever they had her on, it wasn't working strong enough. She shifted and cleared her throat, which brought movement from her right as footsteps approached. "Miss Soujourn? Doctor Kliefepiper here. You're at Gotham Eastside Hospital. How are you feeling?"
That brought a strangled sort of harsh laughter from her as she tried to lift her head, then thought better of it. "I feel like my wing is broken, Doc." She croaked. "Also, very thirsty. May I have a drink please? And more painkillers?"
Someone else in the room chuckled. "Good to see you're feeling so spunky, Doctor." Gordon's sardonic tone said. "And glad that watch came in handy. Just a couple questions, if you don't mind?"
"Shoot." She said. "You have until I get my pain meds. I feel like crap."
"Any idea why you were targeted?"
"By Black Mask? Not a freaking clue." She stated. "But I'm pretty sure they knew who to look for. It was mentioned they were looking for a target of some kind, and I don't think Mask would make that mistake."
"Did you manage to see anything of interest before the lights went out?"
"Any recent threats against your life?"
"Funny thing, I've been getting more well wishes and prayers than hate mail these days." She stated. She was getting sick of staring at the floor. "And no, none of my clients would be behind this either. None of them are allied with Black Mask."
"... Alright." Gordon said with a sigh, she could hear how tired he was in his voice. "Well, we've got you under guard here, and we've notified Arkham of your... encounter."
Her heart squeezed a little. "They don't need to tell my clients the particulars." She said quickly. "Just that I'm on sick leave for a while. There's no need to make this public. They don't need to know."
"You think it could agitate them?"
"Please, they've been doing so much better. Just let them know I'll be at the Talent Show night no matter what, and to keep practicing their routines."
".... You know Doctor Soujourn, when I first heard about your plan, I wondered if you were crazy." He sighed. "Now I know you are. For certain."
"I'm not a BAD sort of crazy though." She muttered, before he continued.
"I'll pass on the message to Arkham staff." He said. "Get some sleep, Doctor Soujourn."
As the drugs began to trickle back into her veins and her head started swimming, she could hear one more voice;
"Sweet dreams, Mags."
Chapter 10: Chapter 9
This chapter is brought to you by; Music.
In fact, most of this story is brought to you by Music. This chapter in particular was brought to you by Heathens and Seven Devils.
Penguin wasn't the type of man who was too terribly concerned with schedules these days. After all, when you were in the Nuthouse, your schedule was determined -FOR- you, and it's not like there were a lot of places you could go to.
Therefore, it was a bit surprising to him that MISSING his appointments would bother him so much.
It had been three weeks since ANY of the big three had seen their Therapist. All the staff had told them was that Maggie had an accident and was in the hospital. So, a week would be understandable. Two, maybe a little worrying. But three weeks without seeing anything of her?
This was concerning. Nowadays, the types of injuries that would put you in the hospital for so long were rarely good ones; Comas, extensive bodily injuries, or wing injuries. If not handled quickly and carefully, at the worst, wing injuries could be fatal. At best, they could ground you forever.
The Penguin had previously smirked whenever he thought of a Flier with a broken or shattered wing. They adopted such a superior attitude, but really they were running around with huge targets literally on their backs. The sheer amount of nerve endings found in a wing was amazing, and they were used for temperature regulation. Wing bones were notoriously hard to piece together in the case of a multiple fracture, and certain cases led to drowning in blood if all the vessels that ruptures weren't properly sealed.
"Graaaaaahk!" Oswald kicked the edge of his bed, making it rattle against the bolts that held it to the floor. They wouldn't tell them what was going on! That in itself was worrying. If the staff was so worried about agitating them, chances were that this was much more serious than they wanted to let on. Maybe it was already-
He turned and looked at the door with a glare. "WHaaat?! What do you want?!"
The guard unlocked the door cautiously. "Doctor Soujourn would like to see you."
"... Eh?" He blinked, the steam taken out from under him a little bit. "... Why didn't you say so?" He grumbled and muttered as he walked over to the door. Now, he was.... both relieved and a little irritated. Why the hell hadn't she just called them, instead of worrying them like this? Maybe the Senior director made the decision, ultimately, weather or not to tell them something was going on. He grinned sharply. It was a good thing she came back when she did, Joker had been considering going to visit the Director to -gently- ask him where their Doctor was and what was really going on.
He strode into the office, words leaving his lips as soon as the door swung open. "I gotta say, Magpie, the disappearing act is only fun when... I..."
He stopped as he caught a glimpse of her behind the desk. She was wearing casual clothes, her hair down in a braid today. She had deep bruises under her eyes, he could tell despite the makeup, and she looked exhausted. Her left arm was in a sling, and her left wing was bandaged and bound tightly against her side. "Hi Oswald. Sorry about that, I had an accident at a dance club." She said, offering a sheepish smile.
"... What happened to you, Maggie?" He asked, unusually serious.
"Dislocated shoulder, bruised bone. As for the wing, don't worry, I'll fly again." She said, gesturing first at her arm, then at her wing. "Broken Radius and Humerus, but the breaks were clean, and taken care of quickly enough that there was no surrounding nerve or tissue damage. Just got discharged earlier today, they said the bone's healed enough I can do very mild exercise and stretches."
"Hreh. Doctors, what do they know." Penguin scratched the back of his neck a bit as he looked at the wing. "Did they bind your wing up that tight? Should be a little looser, for bloodflow." He grumbled.
"Oh." She glanced at it. "It... well, I suppose it does feel a little tight. I can get an orderly in here-"
"Allow me." He said as he walked over towards her, around the desk.
Maggie glanced at the door, making sure the guards weren't busting in at this 'sudden behaviour'. Oswald's knowledge of ornithology was top-class. He probably knew enough about anatomy and physiology of wings to be a fully-fledged wing rehabilitation doctor someday, if he could get past his egomania and criminal tendencies. She held still as he unbound the cloth sheath holding her wing shut, then unfastened and began adjusting the bandages beneath. Although she hadn't expected him to be rough, the delicacy of his movements and attentiveness to her feather directions was surprising. Everything was done quickly and professionally, and it wasn't five minutes before her wing was re-secured, though he didn't tie it back in position at her back, pulling a stool over for it to rest on instead.
"When you're not walking, you should probably let the wing rest in a relaxed position." He said as he went back around the desk to take a seat. "I'm sure they must have mentioned that."
She chuckled a little, though it wasn't laughter at him, it was at his noticing her negligence. "Sorry." She said with a smile. "Thank you for that. I wasn't expecting to get called out on it. It's just annoying to have to keep tying it back up, you know?"
"Better than never flying again, isn't it?" He asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Yes, you're right." She replied with a sigh. "But we aren't here to discuss me, you know. I wanted to know how you've been." She knew it hadn't gotten bad enough for them to start backsliding to violence, but things had been getting... tense.
"Mreh. 'S boring here." He muttered, folding his arms. "Nothin' good going on, buncha low-brrows...."
"Aww." She teased lightly. "I thought you were finally starting to make friends."
"With those wackjobs?" He said incredulously, with a snort. "I tell ya Magpie, you sure have a weird taste in friends."
She smiled. "Really? I don't think so."
Chapter 11: Chapter 10
Things be getting serious pretty quick here.
Talent show night was coming up. It would be just after Thanksgiving, before Christmas, but for right now, it was just coming up to the middle of September.
Maggie sat on the edge of her desk as she tested her wings. Slowly opening both of them to their full range, then doing minute wiggles and movements to simulate flying in a stiff wind. She still wasn't up to flying muster yet, but she wanted to be airborne again, which meant she had to at least try and stay in shape for when the bone was sturdy enough to take her weight. She winced as she remembered the other unpleasant thing she had to do; drink a nasty fortification smoothie that was chock full of calcium and such things, to help all the bone spurs to grow back correctly. She wanted the titanium pins out as soon as possible, they were creepy, and itchy.
She looked at the files for her patients, and sighed heavily. They had been doing so well, but since her unexpected leave of absence... She couldn't quite put her finger on it, exactly, but something about them had her on edge. She wasn't worried for herself, no, and they were hiding it well, but she had the feeling they either knew she wasn't telling them the whole truth about the accident, or they knew already. Security around her had sure tightened up, which wasn't helping her nerves much. She was being 'encouraged' to stay indoors as much as possible, wear a tracking device, check in with the increased patrols on her block...
She straightened up and stiffened slightly as someone threw open her door and let themselves in without ceremony, feathers ruffling as the other corvid seemingly made himself at home in her office. "There's a revolutionary new idea on the front of politeness, Doctor Heathcliff, it's called knocking and waiting for invitation."
The rather stocky crow clicked his tongue at her and shook his head, raising her ire further as he gave her a look down his long, thin nose. "Ah, [i]Doctor[/i] Soujourn." He said, his tone for the word Doctor bordering on insulting. "I was under the impression you wanted to discuss recent security precautions with me?"
"I did, but at a time when it was convenient for both of us." She replied, refusing to tuck her wings back up to a more docile or relaxed position; she was affronted and wanted to show it. "Instead, you simply burst into my office! I am not a child, not your patient and not a prisoner, and you-"
The broad man let out a cackling sort of laugh, a hearty cawing entering his mirth. "Not a prisoner? Soujourn, you made yourself a captive the day you took this job." He said, leaning forward. "You entered the cage with the rest of them; what were you thinking? By integrating yourself with them like this, you might have tamed them a little, yes, but you've cut off other options for yourself. You're the key to their good behaviour, Magdalene. If something happens to you, it's all over. They could get even worse. You might forge yourself into a morality chain, but how does that really help any of us if you vanish or die?"
Well. That hurt like a slap in the face. Truth was, as things were right this moment, he was probably right. They weren't stable. But this was working better than anything else that anyone had tried so far! "If you're jealous, that's fine." She said slowly, quietly. "Because you've seen my progress. And despite your CONCERN, Doctor, I will be fine. Get out of my office, and take your antiquated ideas with you."
After he was gone, she stared at the door for a long while. Was she doing the right thing still? Should she... start to distance herself?
Maybe after New Years..... After the talent show, she could gauge their progress, and go on from there.
She heaved a sigh and rubbed her hands over her face. Had she gone too far?
Chapter 12: Chapter 11
I've been having trouble deciding which way I want this story to turn from this point, but I've finally come to a decision. For now.
Joker wasn't a man that prided himself on a wide array of emotions. Humor, hatred and joy was typically his shtick. Therefore, affection wasn't at the top of his list, or something he remembered very well from before his Very Bad Day. The level of concern he held for his Doctor was... unprecedented. He tried to parse out his feelings.
He considered her to be his, that much was certain. Finding out that she'd been in the hospital for weeks due to a broken wing had made him startled, then livid that it had been kept from him. He scheduled his own appointments with her, for the first time since this whole thing started, for the next several weeks in advance so he could keep an eye on her progress. Three times a week.
It helped that their 'therapy' was more like a couple of friends hanging out than her being all shrinky. They watched TV, played games, talked about things they liked to do in their down time...
When he was alone, he thought of their time together. When he looked up at one of the high windows, he thought about how the sunlight in the atrium would shine through her glass-like feathers, distorted, with hundreds of little rainbows. How tired she looked sometimes at their appointments after her physical therapy, crimson eyes dulled a little, shadows ringing them like raccoons, or how they'd light up when he was talking about a joke that was more funny than morbid. How, one session, she accidentally fell asleep on the couch next to him, and he'd just stared at her, the light from the television screen flickering on her pale skin, creating little shadows on her skin and clothes, her chest moving so slightly as she breathed that she might be dead. How easy it would be to make even that breathing stop. How he would, he felt, do anything to keep that from happening.
Someone was out to get his Maggie. Whispers about the attempted abduction had even leaked into the halls of Arkham, so he knew that it was a bigger deal than she had been letting on. Bats had been there in time, something that rankled him, but he grudgingly supposed that he owed the hero something for that. In the meantime, however, perhaps it was time to start thinking about his own departure from Arkham. True, he was able to see Maggie here often, but there was little he could do in her defense by staying locked up in the loony bin.
He was the Clown Prince of Crime. Out in the streets of the city, he held power. He knew that if he, Penguin and Riddler could work together effectively, they could probably eliminate any threats to their doctor that came around. He made a mental note to get word out to Harley. They'd had their fling, but they were more like good friends now, Harley had been seeing Poison Ivy for some time now, the cute duck seeming to be very happy with her girlfriend. He'd have her start tracking down the rumors, seeing where the bounty was coming from, who was after his Therapist.
Magdalene was finally declared "recovered". The corvid beamed happily as she stood on the roof of the hospital, stretching her wings and beating them hard, shifting her weight as the powerful downbeats lifted her to her toes, nearly off the roof altogether, scattering a few pebbles and dust that was gathered up there. It was so good to be able to fly again. She hated being grounded. She couldn't understand how some Flighted birds could stand being permanently grounded, after having had a taste of how the air currents could carry you.
Well, she was cleared for light flying, anyway. She had to start sometime. Jumping up on the ledge of the retaining wall, she lightly pushed off and opened her wings, gliding for now on a good thermal winding down 24th street towards her apartment. She had to get home and dress for the Gotham Halloween ball. Attendance, now that she was recovered, was deemed mandatory by her boss, so she'd have to go. She'd had a hard time choosing her costume, but she finally selected an idea from an old Romani legend. She's spent a lot of her downtime working on it, and had spent a fair chunk of her play money on the materials.
She was going to be an Ice Phoenix. She had found a salon that could give her hair an icy effect, and bought contacts that brought her eye color from a deep red to a light lavender. Her complexion was fine for this, sometimes making albino coloration work for you was worth not being able to go to the beach and tan with your gull buddies from college.
The dress she'd made was of several different materials. It had no shoulders, but long, flowing sleeves, and the bodice hugged her upper body to the top of her waist, before relaxing a little. Around her hips, a rope sash was artfully tied around the sparkling, flowing pale blue material, an overskirt of heavier blue wool and white fur lining, with silver swirls and snowflakes embroidered all over it, sparkling glass beads and a frosty effect interspersed into it. The overall effect was the Ice Phoenix picture she'd seen in a book once, about a Romani legend of a phoenix who had married a Tsar, but he betrayed her loyalty and broke her heart, freezing the fire in her breast.
Maggie finished off the look by winding glass beads and silver threads into some strands of hair, turning her head one way, then another before turning in a circle. She could add some sparkly wing decorations, but she thought that her wings looked enough like clear ice just on their own. Satisfied, she grabbed her clutch purse and left her apartment, heading for the venue.
Typhan Tempestro was bored. He leaned back against the pillar at his back, sipping at the champagne in his glass as golden eyes scanned the room, as well as the faces of many interested female gazes. He smiled slightly behind his fluted glass. Of course they were entranced. Typhan was the pinnacle of centuries of breeding. A most interesting cross of a Haast's Eagle and Peacock, his huge wings were a deep iridescent blue-green. He was tall, and had a broad, powerful chest and back, with excellent flight muscles. His talons he kept expertly manicured, and his skin was an exotic, healthy tan of indeterminate origin. His hair was such a deep, inky black it would highlight itself cobalt under the right lighting, and it was tied back in a neat ponytail. His costume for this masquerade was that of Gilgamesh, a suitably regal, powerful and heroic figure.
He made sure to inspect each woman carefully. He truly loved women. They were soft, and smelled nice, they were beautiful and called to his instincts to please them. And he knew quite a bit of how to please women. There were just... a few too many common birds there tonight. It seemed everywhere he looked, there were sparrows, crows, pigeons and- ugh- starlings. There was one Swan that intrigued him, but he wasn't here for the merely interesting tonight. He kept his eyes scanning until the recently arrived, until finally....
He stood up straight as she entered, pupils of his sharp eyes adjusting to take in her every detail perfectly. She looked like something straight from a fairy tale. Oh, he knew what her hair and eyes looked like, without adornment, but that wasn't what held his fascination. It was her wings. Those fools who examined her wings after fledging must have been terribly full of themselves. She HAD to be an emergence, the first of a new breed. Oh, he didn't doubt she was a corvid of some kind, her obvious intellect and curiosity was a clear indication, but those wings... Wings of ice, wings of glass, wings that drew the eye and could hold a person spellbound...
The Eagle had to keep himself from mantling his wings in irritation as he made his way through the densely-packed crowd. Other people kept on getting in his way and obscuring his view. It wasn't a direct route to his target, but eventually, he made it over to his goal. "Excuse me, Doctor Soujourn?"
The magpie turned to face him, then looked surprised as she saw who was addressing her. He smiled, clearly, she'd never imagined that she would be approached by one of the most eligible men in America. "It's... Tempestro, right?" She asked, as if she were unsure. Playing coy, how delightful. "Of AeroComm?"
"The one and only." He captured her hand lightly in his grasp, bowing slightly to kiss the back of it as he held her eyes. "It's a pleasure. I've been looking forward to meeting you since I first saw you on TV." His eyes looked past her face to her wings again, a flicker of something passing through the golden irises, and she frowned slightly. "The lens cannot capture your true beauty, I'm so glad to see you in person."
Maggie was a little... uneasy. For one thing, when she was surrounded by so many people like this, her sense for people became a little numb. She'd had it since she was a little girl, a sort of sixth sense about what people were really like at their cores, behind the masks they wore for everyday life. Therefore, when this man, who was not only the head of a multi-national business, but apparently some sort of European nobility, according to the commerce news, approached her, she hadn't known how to react. But... Something about the way he was holding her hand with just enough force that she couldn't easily remove it without possibly getting scratched by those claws, and looking at her so intently, set off those internal alarms and made her feathers fluff out a bit. "You're charming." She said dryly as she leaned back, subtle body language distancing herself. "Quite a nice compliment, thank you."
"It's true." He replied, flexing his wings a little as he stepped forward, leading her off to the side a little, towards the refreshment table. "Your wings in particular are of a quality I have never seen before. Quite magical... I wonder if you will pass them on to your children."
The flicker of fear lashed briefly up to pure panic, something of the intent behind those words set her off and she halted, pulling herself backwards... and who should come to her rescue than Bruce Wayne himself, dressed tonight in armor, like a knight. "Maggie, there you are. I was looking for you." The Albatross said as he smoothly stepped forward, gently grasping the fingers of her captured hand and pulling, forcing Typhan to let go or cause a scene. "Where have you been?"
"Bruce." She said, relief washing over her as her fingers reflexively gripped his hand. "I was mingling." Her hero. He had been nearby, and must have noticed her discomfort. Say what you will about the man, but at least he wasn't the type to sit by and do nothing.
He took her hand and placed it on his crooked elbow, giving her a gentlemanly smile as one of his wings opened and curved behind her a little, a sheltering gesture, as well as a subtle claim. Typhan watched this cooly, his smile evaporated once Bruce had come over. "I didn't know the lovely Doctor was your date this evening, Wayne." He said, his tone light and casual.
"Well, not exactly, but I did promise her I'd look out for her in social situations." He replied, congenial smile firmly in place. "And I was a bit late getting to her."
"...." Typhan looked at him a bit longer before heaving a sigh and smiling ruefully. "Well, perhaps next time, Miss Soujourn, you will allow me to be your escort." He said, bowing to her once before turning on his heel and slipping back into the crowd.
After a few moments, Bruce took Maggie off the dance floor and get her a place to sit down. "Doctor Soujourn? Are you alright? I hope I didn't misread that..."
"No! Thank you." She quickly reassured him. "I- Thank you. I'm really bad with his type." She said, folding her hands in her lap and holding them to try and stop the subtle shuddering. She couldn't explain that her 'people sense' had told her something was off about him. "I hope you didn't ditch your date to come over here."
"No date tonight, I came with Dick." He said, looking over at where the young man, dressed up as a police officer, was talking to some girls and boys around his age. "He didn't want to go Trick or Treating this year. I think he might be interested in one of the girls over there."
Maggie smiled and chuckled a little. The Billionaire was becoming sort of a friend, which was nice. He took her along to talk to several other people that night, and even saw her to the taxi cab that took her home, being every inch the gallant knight he was dressed up as that night.
The albino sighed as she slipped off her heels, using one hand to knead at the muscles on the back of her skull, then removing the contacts and slipping the lenses back into their case. She rubbed her eyes and looked out the window, lazily watching the streetlights flash by... Her eyelids felt... so heavy....
That night, Magdalene Soujourn's apartment remained empty.
Chapter 13: Chapter 12
As you may have noticed, the rating of this story has gone up. This is a precaution. I am putting trigger warnings here. There is going to be implied and attempted sexual assault in this and likely other chapters of this story, as well as kidnapping. I'm not sure how to rate this, so I upped it just in case.
These next few chapters are going to likely be the roughest I've ever written AND published, as far as my experience goes. I've struggled with the start of this chapter several times, and it's been resisting me. I hope it comes out all right for you all, my dear readers.
This chapter was FINALLY brought to you by And Farewell Goes Out Sighing... A favorite piece of mine for intense scenes.
Typhan sighed as he stood up straight, hands going to the small of his back as he tried to get the muscles there to relax. His new addition wasn't terribly heavy, but changing her out of the pretty costume she'd been wearing had been a little difficult. But really, he thought as he looked at his glass bird, chest gently rising and falling as she breathed, white was the only appropriate color for this occasion. He was the only man she'd be with for the rest of her life, after all, so it was more or less her wedding dress. It was a simple affair, long in the skirt, open back, tied with a simple silk rope belt around the waist...
He gathered her clothing into his arms before turning and heading for the exit. It was a shame her wing still wasn't 100%. He wanted to indulge himself with his new prize. He supposed he'd have to make do with one of his other pretty birds while he waited. He could be patient, though he didn't want to wait too much longer. He wanted her grounded in the most natural way; heavy with his offspring. He just knew he'd be able to get her to pass on that interesting, mesmerizing trait to their children; see-through plumage.
"Sleep tight, Magdalene." He said quietly to the drugged female as he closed the door. "Welcome to the Harem."
"This is a public service alert; Three of Gotham's most dangerous criminally insane inmates are free tonight, after an escape that some people feel was long in coming. After months of having these dangerous men off the streets, perhaps we have gotten too used to the idea of them staying out of the public eye... for good. Authorities believe their escape is linked to the disappearance of Doctor Magdalene Soujourn four nights ago after the Masquerade Ball held by the city. She was last seen entering a taxi outside the venue, the vehicle was discovered with the driver dead at the wheel late the next day under the Gotham Bay Bridge. So far, no one seems to know what has happened to the missing Magpie."
'Murderous' was a good way to describe how Joker was feeling at the moment. He wasn't merely angry, or irritated, or put out, he was ready to kill someone. He itched for it, needed it, specifically, he needed the blood of the person who had his Mags. She wasn't dead, yet, of that much he was certain. He was high-profile and distinctive enough in appearance that if she resurfaced, as a body or otherwise, it would be all over the news in a matter of hours.
But even so. Someone had a deathwish. They just had to figure out who.
Which brought them to their first stop of the evening; Black Mask's hideout. The leader of the Owl gang had attempted to abduct her before, they had learned, so it stood to reason that they might know who in particular was trying to get her... who put out the bounty, through what brokers, and most importantly, did they need her alive to get paid. Alive and unharmed would probably be better, but Penguin didn't seem to share that optimism. He knew of a few sick minds that collected birds, yes, but only parts of them. Her wings, for example.
The first thing to happen was explosions at the doors of the building. The lights, contrary to blowing out, blazed brightly, making most of the light-sensative owls cry out and try to shield their eyes. The big three commence their invasion; Penguin and his twin Shrike girls going after the goons on the first floor, Riddler and his Clues already on the roof to prevent any premature escapes, and Joker laughing in his characteristic mad cackle as he turned the bars and grates on the second level to putty before flying in through them. "Heeeeeere's Joker!" He said, flashing all present a wide grin. Punch and Judy entered behind him, guarding his flank.
Black Mask turned towards them, snarling as his wings mantled. "What the fuck do you think you're doing, you sick fucking clown?!" The crime boss spat, his elite members gathering around him, still blinking against the intense light. "Since when do we have a problem?!"
Joker affected a concerned face. "Oh, I'm not sure how much of a problem we have with each other- Okay, yes, I do have one or two issues to sort out with you." He recanted as he began smiling, spinning a gun around on his finger before finally shooting at the men in the lead, streamers shot out at them and entangled those in the front, before starting to contract like rubber cement. "Both of these problems have to do with my doctor. You know, white hair, red eyes, fragile bones?" Something entered his usually flippant tone at the last couple words, smile sliding right off his face as he leveled his strange gaze at the nocturnal bird of prey.
"..." He sighed, lowering his wings a little, though they were still tensed and ready for flight. "Look, Joker, I didn't know you wanted the bird. Sorry about the wing thing, but I didn't take her this time. I think it was that Firefly punk, you know... The one with boosters on his ass." He chuckled.
"Who posted the bounty?" Joker asked. "Don't tell me you would work for someone without knowing who to kill in case of a double-cross."
The masked man glanced at a door furitively. What was taking them so long? The whole area should be filling with gas by now. "Tempestro. Guy's some kinda pervert. Been collecting women for years, it's some sort of... personal breeding project."
The Parrot stopped as he went over those words. His Mags.... It'd been over 72 hours already.
Well, that wouldn't stop him. He nodded at Punch and Judy, who lifted the barrels of their guns and began spraying some sort of foam at Black Mask and his associates, which rapidly expanded and calcified. There were panicked screams and gunshots, but they were trapped behind the stuff. Penguin and Riddler should be finished setting the explosives by now. They needed to make a statement, after all. None of these owls were leaving the building alive...
Or, maybe some would, Joker mused as he saw the Batmobile approaching. Bats hadn't found Mags yet. He was slipping, shame on his good old adversary. Oh well, the Looney Bin Loons would take up the case themselves!! No no, that wasn't quite right. Hmm.... What was the one Penguin had suggested? It was based on that old movie.
Oh, right. Arkham's Angels.
When Maggie began to wake up, one of the first things she realized was how sick she felt. She was having hot and cold flashes, supreme nausea, and the light stabbed at her eyes when she tried to open them. She knew she was laying on her back, she was confused, and she was... Not where she was supposed to be. What happened? Was she in the hospital again? She groaned as she rolled onto her side, then had to swallow against bile rising in her throat. It didn't smell like the hospital, and she had a rising sense of unease, that something was horribly wrong.... Bolstered by something she could feel from someone nearby, a negative mass of resignation, despair, reluctance, and violation, accompanied by shame. And overriding that, smug self-satisfaction, a sense of delight, power, pleasure and righteousness. The second aura had a tinge of insanity to it, but a different sort of mania than her boys. This twisted man... She'd sensed him before.
A chill ran through her as she raised a hand to her mouth, stifling any noise. She was beginning to realize, she was trapped, and this was likely the beginning of her worst nightmare.
Chapter 14: Chapter 1-* .... There's a new writer today, boys and girls~
Hello, good boys and girls. As the previous author was having so much... trouble writing the unpleasant things, we've arranged for a ghost writer.
*Muffled grunting in the background*
And for once, there might be an actual ghost! HEE-HAW-LARIOUS!!
The Tempestro house wasn't actually in Gotham proper. It was located up high on the cliffs overlooking Gotham bay, and had quite a bit of remodeling done to it over the years. State of the art security, Guards on the grounds, turret guns to fire stun rounds at any interlopers flying over the walls without permission, and even an electrified roof and windowsills, which should have been moot given the enormous 'cage' that was built to surround the estate.
Everything was set up as a precaution to keep out what Gotham was most famous for; it's criminal population. And perhaps if it was just one of the many, things would have gone differently that night.
The first thing that happened was a van arrived at the main gates. The unsuspecting guard was attacked by Penguin's Shrike twins, and Riddler's Clues were able to hack the gate lock. Joker had Punch and Judy gas the guards and dogs with Joker Serum, making their way to the house, where they unceremoniously blasted down the door.
"I believe that set off the silent alarm." Riddler commented, glancing down at his watch. "I'd estimate the police's arrival in about an hour, the Batman's in anywhere from twenty minutes to fifty."
"Well, let's find our little bird before we fly away home, shall we?" Penguin said as he walked further into the house, spinning his umbrella as he admired some of the artwork. Hmm, Tempestro was a jerk anyway, no one would care if some of his things went missing...
At least ten minutes and two knockout gas attacks later, even splitting up, the big three had discovered Maggie's dress in a closet, but not a single hair of other evidence of her existence in the house.
"Grrraaack!" Penguin squawked angrily as he pushed over a table. "Where the heck is she?! How're we going to find her, we've checked every door in the house!"
Joker went silent, thinking that over for a few moments, before a smile crossed his face. He had an idea...
Maggie woke with a jolt. She'd been down there for... a week at least, she'd guess. Typhan was insane. He believed his collection of women was a proper harem, and that they all loved him.... there were a few that might have Stockholm's Syndrome, but there was just no way they'd started out that way. Any women actually interested in him wouldn't be locked up underground.
She moved to the big pane glass window in an effort to see what was going on. She'd heard an explosion, then nothing... she groaned in frustration. The furniture in her cell was all bolted to the floor, she had nothing to use to make noise with... And then she stopped, turning towards the bed to listen to something. Hope fluttered in her chest as she clambered over to the bed, standing on tip-toe as she tried to get her ear closer to the vent... she could hear someone... singing?
"Daaaisy, Daaisy, give me your answer, true~ I'm half, CRAAZY, all for the love~ Of you~!" A smile spread on her face as tears gathered in her eyes, a hand raising to lightly cover her mouth. "It won't be a styyylish marriage~ I caaan't afford a carriage, But you'll~ look sweet~! Upoooon, the seat~ Of a By-cicle built~ For Twoooo~!"
She laughed, a breathy, slightly hysterical thing as the tears swimming in her eyes slipped down her cheeks, and she pressed her forehead against the grate of the vent as she began to sing back, as loudly as she could. "Miiichael, Miichael, I'll give you my answer, true~ I'm not, CRAAZY, all for the love~ of you~~! There won't be aaany Marriage! If you can't, afford~ A carriage,~ For I'll be switched! 'Fore I'll~ be hitched! On a By-cicle, Built, for Twoooo~!"
Almost desperately, she continued to sing into the vents, magpies might not have the best voices, but they sure were loud. She was about to start for the tenth time, when there was a knocking on the pane of glass behind her, and she spun around.
Joker stood there, accompanied by Penguin, as Riddler fiddled with the electronic lock. It clicked open after a few seconds, and the door swung open, Joker stepping in, bare feet making a padding sound on the floor. "Hello, Daisy." He said, winking an eerie red and yellow eye at her.
"Hello, Michael." She said weakly, before letting out a wet sob as she stumbled off the bed and towards them, the mad parrot rushing forward to meet her as he swept her into a hug.
".... L-later," She began, sniffing harshly. "I'm going to be very cross at all of you f-for breaking out of Arkham... again. But... Thank you." She lifted her face so she could see Riddler and Penguin better, behind Joker, who had both arms and wings wrapped around her, and didn't seem to have any inclination of letting go soon. "Th-the other girls-"
"The police are on their way." Penguin said, "And we're expecting the bat-jer-... I mean, the Batman, to arrive soon."
She nodded. "I'll stay-"
"You won't stay here for another second." The raven interjected, feathers ruffling at the mere thought. "You're leaving right this second, with us."
"Mags." Joker said, pulling back a little so he could grip her chin and meet her eyes. "We just spent a week of our time acting like heroes. HEROES." He emphasized. "And you were being tormented by some wackadoo even more messed up then me! We deserve our Maggie Time, and you deserve some you time, don't you think?"
She looked at each of them again before Penguin cleared his throat and suggested "We'll leave a note."
Feeling emotionally strained and weirdly exhausted, Maggie rolled her eyes, groaned, and nodded shortly. Whatever.
For the second time in one week, the therapist was abducted... but this time, it was by -her- lunatics.
Chapter 15: Winding Down
Hello ladies and germs!
So, as much as I love worldbuilding in Wingverse, I've had trouble getting inspired for this lately. So, it will not become a long-running story as I originally intended. Most likely, I will be trying to wrap it up in the next four chapters or less. Hopefully less. But I like satisfying stopping points. If anyone has questions or would like to adopt this world, please by all means go right ahead! I might extend worldbuilding drabbles after this.
After years of watching over Gotham and fighting crime, the Batman had seen plenty of terrible things; from people with crippling drug habits, to people mistreated due to a physical or mental disability, to rape and murder.
He had not until this night, however, ever come across this sort of thing. Nineteen women, of ages ranging from their later teens to early thirties, all of rare bird types or colorations, had been locked up in cells in a basement. Fourteen had been expertly preserved in cryostasis, (Likely by Freeze, given the sophistication of the process) two were obviously pregnant, and the other three, according to the medical examiner, had obvious signs of long-term sexual assault. As to weather or not those girls were also pregnant would have to be tested later.
What they had found; Evidence of a very powerful and depraved sexual predator. What they hadn't found; the missing Magpie Doctor of mental Health. They'd found evidence of her presence, in one of the cells, but it was obvious she'd recently changed hands from one deranged mind to... others.
They'd found the basement thanks to very messily painted signs and arrows in purple, white and green, directing them through the house. And the abandoned van that had been used to break down the gates to the estate was a pretty dead giveaway itself. And the dogs that had been knocked out. And the guards hung by their ankles from the walls, gibbering about terrifying women in red leotards and white masks. "They were trying to impale us!!! On the spikes!! WHO DOES THAT?!?!" Being barn owls themselves, they hadn't expected an attack by shrikes after dark.
They were being held under suspicion of aiding in the unlawful imprisonment of the women until it could be determined how much the did or didn't know about this situation.
Typhan currently was still unable to be located. It was as though the showy eagle had vanished into thin air, which was difficult for a man with such memorable wings and such a high-profile social life.
"We're still looking, Batman." Gordon said as he walked over to stand by the strange, bat-winged man. It still baffled him. There weren't any bat-people. The vigilante had to be using some sort of trick to make it look like his wings were... well... "And APB has gone out on Typhan and we're still looking for the Joker and company. According to this note, it's a safe bet the Doc's with them."
The lenses in Batman's cowl helped him to clearly see the writing in the absence of light. The note read as such.
"Hiya Bats! It's been quite a while since the last time our paths crossed during business, hasn't it? Well, no worries. No evil schemes here tonight! We're still on vacation from the whole villany thing. Mags is back with us now, where she belongs. We're taking her along with us on our time off. She's so PALE! I think she needs the R&R. Hahahahaha!!
P.S. We can have a race, Bats! To see who finds that pompous snake-eating-
P.P.S. Nevermind, Mags was looking over my shoulder and scolded me. No revenge seeking here. You can have him.
P.P.P.S Nah, the race is on to find this bastard. Bad luck to you, Bats. I want his wings on my wall. No smiles for that clown."
Batman groaned internally and was tempted to rub his forehead. Bruce Wayne didn't have to put up with shit like this.
Chapter 16: Recovery
"N-no! Stop it!!" She beat at his shoulders ineffectually, trying to get the large male off of her. He was so big, caging her, crushing her, she couldn't breathe, his emotions were dripping down onto her body, seeping into her skin, oozing like a thick, black tar-
Maggie gasped as she jolted upright, wings opening and beating in alarm as she felt pressure on them, struggling for a few moments before she realized she was tangled in blankets. She shuddered, feathers standing on end as she looked around, reminding herself where she was and was not.
She was not in a small, bright white room, with a mirror facing her.
She was in a nest-bed in a large, cluttered warehouse with dim lighting, surrounded by colorful props, machines, fabrics, and other things she had no idea what their purposes were.
A slight shifting from the bed next to her drew her attention, and she looked over to see Joker laying on his side on the covers next to her, watching her without his usual smile on his face. "Awake, Maggie?" He asked after a moment, and her heart rate began to wind down, sitting back in the covers as she rubbed her temples.
"Yeah. Yes, sorry." She said. She was safe. As insane as that was, she was with one of the seven people in Gotham she was completely certain would never harm her. "I'm awake. I'll be fine. Thank you."
He nodded, then opened a wing as he rolled onto his stomach, patting the space under it to invite her to lay next to him, which, after a moment, she did. "This isn't very professional." She mumbled as she settled in, a warm wave of comfort settling in as she felt the warm, soft appendage rest over her back and wings.
"Our relationship isn't exactly typical, Mags." Joker said as he picked up a remote, turning on the TV in front of them, which was, of course, tuned into AFV.
"Nnno, but..." She paused. "I like to think I'm a professional." Another few beats of silence. "Oh... do you have a phone I could borrow? I should-"
"The Police and Bats know we took you with us." Joker said, draping his arm across her back under her wings. "I'd really rather they didn't know where this place was, especially not with that.... that... Lunatic out there."
She shuddered slightly, both from her memories and what she felt inside her friend; The good things, affection for her (Perhaps a bit more intense than it should be), relief that they'd found her, happiness to be sharing time together, protectiveness. Then things that weren't so great; regret, seething, malicious rage, the desire to hurt his target, posessiveness. That shiny part of her reached out, trying to soothe the prickly hurt away. "J... You won't keep me here if I want to leave, will you?" She asked softly, waiting for his reaction to that.
In return, he gave her... an incredibly -irritated- look, which was somewhat terrifying to see from a third-person perspective. He didn't want to let her go back out there. She should just stay with them. With him. Forget the other two. But then, would her view of him change? What if she came to see him the same way she saw Tempestro?
His feathers ruffled, displaying his agitation, before he finally responded. "Nnnnnnhnggghhhnnno." He huffed. "But right now, you should want to stay here. Don't leave. You don't need them." He said, looking over at her.
"Well then... A picture. Or something." She said in an exasperated manner. "Nothing to track me with, but there are people who should know that I'm alive." Her mother, for example. She worried. Or her damn landlord. "After T... Tempestro's been arrested, I want to go back to my apartment. All my stuff is there, and it's the way I like it. If they think I'm not coming back, that landlord might have everything moved into storage and then move someone else in."
"We can arrange to have your things brought here."
He growled in a frustrated fashion. "Why not, Mags?!" He demanded. "You're wanted here! You're needed here! We'll protect you!"
"I don't want to live my whole life in a cage, Joker!" She shouted back. "You can understand that, can't you?!"
Well... that cut him off short. "It doesn't have to be a cage." He said after a few moments.
"... J, I might be a part of your world, but I'm part of their world, too." She said, reaching out to touch his shoulder. "I like the sunlight. I like interacting with people. There are scary people in the world, sure, but I'm not actually glass." She smiled slightly. "If you want to join me in that world, I'll still be your therapist. I'll help you if you want it. But did you notice that back in Arkham, I never demanded you not escape? You stayed because you wanted to see me. I know you could have left whenever you wanted. So, for me. Allow me to come and go as I please. Let me be a free avian."
"I don't like it." He said, sulking as he watched her.
"That's fine." She said. "It makes me sad when you insist on behaving badly, hurting others and yourself. There's a balance here. If you break it, I'll never come back." She meant it, more than the literal, physical implications. "Trust goes both ways, J. Let them know I'm alright, and I'll stay for a while. If you don't I'll leave."
She waited, watching him. She knew he didn't like it, that he was trying to think of some way around it, but she just watched him quietly. "... Fine." He spat at last. "We'll send a message."
She smiled. "Thank you."