Joker: Arkham – Chapter 3 – Definitions of Madness

I would live for you
And break my heart in two
I would give for you
Like only fools would do
I would hear you out
And tell you all I could
I would take your doubts
And show you what I should

Let me break
Let me break you down
For your sake
I will break you down

I would try for you
Try to walk you through
I would fight for you
To prove that I am true

Let me break
Let me break you down
For your sake
I will break you down
Break, break down

I would use for you
Alleviate your pain
I would lose for you
Again and again

Let me break, for your sake
Let me break
Let me break you down
For your sake
I will break you down
Break, break you down

~ Let Me Break (Emigrate)

*****************************************************************

“Well, I’m happy to see you – they’ve doped up my stereo again.”

“I prefer our visits without the screaming.”

“Hmm, not me. Peace and quiet makes my palms itch. I’d rather be out there with him, in point of fact.”

“They put you in solitary for your own safety – so the others wouldn’t kill you. After the ferries, nearly killing them all, most of them would like to try.”

Joker huffed, sticking his bottom lip out. “I was looking forward to playing soap hockey with the other boys, like last time.”

“You joke about prison rape?”

“It is a joke! It reminded me of kiddie softball. Did you ever play? Well, no, you were probably hatched. My experience with team sports was very ‘movie of the week’: I got picked last.”

He sidled up and touched the man’s shoulder again, all the better to share the secret.

“Turns out, they’re terrified of crazy – like it’s a disease.” Joker licked his lips and pressed one hand to Batman’s armored chest. “You’re not scared, are you, Bats? Can’t catch what you’ve already got.”

Frowning, the man gripped his wrist and twisted it to remove the touch. “Sit down.”

Lying down just to be contrary, the Joker sprawled out on his bunk as if it were a therapist’s couch. “Where were we?”

“Clayface.”

“Ah, yes.”

Putting his mouth on autopilot as he gave secrets away like candy, Joker let his fingers slip closer to the orange cotton that stretched over his erection. Even without looking over, he knew the bat had noticed it.

As a display of his lack of inhibitions, it could only heighten Batman’s awareness of the stranglehold he placed on his own body.

“Am I interrupting your private time?”

How had he not noticed his hand beginning to stroke the hard length? “Not at all. Oh, that?”

“That.”

“Raw hunger, these things, one just never knows when. I’m sure you know all about it.”

“Your file lists you as –”

“Oh, let’s not discuss … fiiiles. I hate to be labeled; they slap a label on you right after they put you in a box – and I’m already in a box, aren’t I?”

Releasing himself, he sat up and faced the bat.

“How many times have you come here now? I’ve no way of keeping track.”

“Seven nights.”

“You’ve caught several of ‘em with my help, haven’t you – such a busy boy.”

He didn’t respond, but Joker had already seen how he needed to proceed.

“Every night you chase ‘em, then you come to me and stand there in front of the door like something ridiculously melodramatic – I could say … ‘a nightmare made flesh’.” He smacked his lips as if tasting the phrase. “Yes, that’s perfect.”

Scooting over and reaching out, he used two fingers to walk out a foot away from him before patting the bunk. “You’re almost asleep on your boots. Assuming you actually are human under all that and could use the rest – take a load off.”

“I don’t trust you.”

“Who would? I don’t even trust me. Listen, darling, if I get outta line just wallop me.”

“That’s hardly a deterrent – you enjoy it.”

“Oh, I really do … but not for the reason you think.”

Patting the bunk again, he had to hide his surprise when the mass of black actually moved to sit on it.

He put his back to the wall, one leg half pulled up onto the bunk, leaving that boot off the floor. The gloved hands, almost knotted into fists, rested uneasily on the thick thighs. His head leaned back against the stone, the dark eyes watching the Joker’s every move.

“Why, then?”

“Because it’s you doling out the punishment.”

“You are quite mad.”

“There are many definitions of madness.”

“How do you define it?”

The Joker gave him a soft and secretive smile. “Freedom,” he whispered. “Now enough about me, it’s your turn. Tell me something, I’ve always been curious – are you human under all that?”

“No. Who’s left after Clayface?”

“Another face – or two … our son, Harvey.”

“Mad.”

“Now, now, who made him if not the pair of us? I’m not talking about squirting into some cunt and baking up a bouncing baby. We made him. You molded one half and I melted the other. Don’t worry,” he added, patting the thigh next to him and then leaving his hand on it. “I’ll be the mommy, if you’d rather not. Gender bending is more my style than yours.”

The fists didn’t move, and then the haunted eyes slowly closed.

“I miss him … even though I can’t say I liked him personally. Admired him – but that’s different.”

“You knew him in private?”

“We’re not discussing me, Joker.”

“Aren’t you a little curious?”

The Batman grunted but didn’t answer. He also hadn’t removed the hand from his thigh. Joker wasn’t entirely sure he could feel the touch through the armor, but he was reasonably certain he knew it was still there.

Turning toward him, rotating his wrist to avoid moving the hand, he placed the other hand low on the opposite thigh. The boot on the floor settled on its heel more solidly and the eyes watched him again, but the heavy body didn’t rise, didn’t tear him away to smash him with fists.

Joker leaned in until his mouth was close to the bat’s slowly parting lips. “You are curious. What could I possibly know about you? What is it you need that I can give?”

“Not this.”

“Exactly this.”

In the instant that he pressed his lips over the other man’s mouth, he knew he might come very close to death – but the Batman wouldn’t kill. His guts clenched in greedy anticipation of pain, but then the mouth under his began to respond to the kiss.

The hands were reaching and he would claim that was why he pressed into it, wouldn’t he? Slipping his tongue inside, the Joker tasted the lie as it was formed and sucked his breath into his lungs once before the brutal dance began anew.

~ ~ ~

A dark shadow bloomed in the corner of the cell.

With a groan, the Joker gripped the hard edge of something flat with a thin bit of padding secured to it and rolled to his stomach to block both shadows and light.

His head felt swollen and sore, as did most of his body. Pillowing his cheek on his hands, he hissed softly when one of them protested. Lifting it, he forced the fingers to move.

Still and silent, the gathered darkness watched him.

“What am I going to do with you?” he asked the brooding figure.

“Tell me why.” Anger in the voice, but it was laced with enough confusion and anxiety to give him something to work with.

“You need it.”

“You’re wrong.”

“Am I? Why didn’t you just leave?”

“I was afraid I might have killed you.”

“Well, well – the Batman can lie. You saw me breathing. Why didn’t you leave?” When no answer came, he sighed. “You hate yourself these days, don’t you – for not saving either of ‘em? Probably denying yourself all manner of creature comforts as some sorta punishment, working yourself half to death for the same reason. Burn that candle at both ends for long, precious, and there’ll be nothing left of you. That, I have vast experience with.”

“I loved her.”

“I killed her. We have so much in common, thanks to her. Don’t you want revenge?”

“Do you intend to bait me into seriously injuring you?”

“Humph. That would imply you haven’t already.” The Joker moved, tried to rise and failed. “Be a sport, hmm? Help a fellow up?”

Slightly surprised when he did, he grunted as he was picked up and placed in a slouch. He grabbed the closest arm and tried to pull the bat down next to him. He couldn’t have forced him as weak as he was – but then the man allowed the tug to move him and settled on the bunk.

With another sigh, the Joker shifted and leaned against the heavy shoulder. Breathing slow and deeply, he closed his eyes.

“This is your golden opportunity, Batty, do you know that? If you let me, I’ll save your life.”

“Why would you, of all people, want to do that?”

“Didn’t I say I’d never kill you, that I want you around? No one else is worthy for a man like me to joust with.”

His injured hand flexed again before reaching to grasp the wrist of the opposite black gauntlet, tugging it with a surprising lack of resistance across the wide torso. Lifting it to his mouth, he smiled at the pain in the delicate bones as he began to suckle the armored index finger, then the middle, and then both. He didn’t look up, but he could feel the stare.

Kissing the tips of the fingers, he pressed the palm of the hand to his cheek.

“Continue as you have and you’ll slip up; sooner or later, one of those cretins will shank you permanent. Where will I be then?”

“Here, in your box.”

“Perhaps. Yet you’d be six feet deeper than I want you and I would be bored. I hate boredom.”

Amazingly, dark humor rode the voice. He could feel it thrum in the shoulder, in the hand. “How would you save me, then?”

“By giving you a target for your hate – giving you that … and the release you crave.”

“No.”

“No?”

Turning, he put one thin shoe on the floor and half knelt with the other knee at the bat’s lower back. Meeting his gaze, he took the fingers into his mouth again and sucked, smiling around them as the dark eyes closed tight. When the stiff back bowed toward him slightly, he pushed down on the gauntlet and made it cup the hard crotch of the armor.

“You need it, you do – and now you’re starting to want it.”

Watching avidly as those black fingers moved, groped, he discovered the tiny oval indention just as one of them pressed it. Stifling a delighted chuckle, he saw the black cup over the groin move. It slid up into a groove inside the plate that protected the abdomen, leaving a glorious erection straining against the black material beneath.

With eager fingers, he searched it, found a slit similar to boxers and coaxed the thing out. Gripping it, firm and forceful, he moved. Pushing off of the bunk with his free hand, he fell to his knees on the cold floor. Crouching there between armored legs, he opened his mouth and devoured his enemy’s need.

The grunt above his head was followed by a groan that forced its way into his bones. He worked the hard and hungry flesh down, until it was partly inside his throat after three breaths of labored nostrils. The muscles there remembered quickly what they had to do and with the first deliberate attempt to swallow, the gauntlets came down.

One grabbed his shoulder, the other fisting in his sticky and stiff hair. Another swallow and he was being skull-fucked with abandon.

Fireworks burst behind his eyelids as he sucked when he could, ignoring the ache in his chest, his lungs. The ache in his pants was more difficult to block out but within moments, it was over.

A guttural cry, a final flexing thrust of the hips, and the warm liquid shot straight down his raw throat.

When the gloves left him, he sat back on his folded legs before slumping to sit on the floor, gasping for air.

The softening cock had bumped out of his mouth to hang forgotten for the moment. Its owner was staring down at him, shock widening the eyes.

With a focused effort, and this time without aid, the Joker climbed to his feet. The bat might have been a statue as he clambered up onto the bunk behind him, spreading his knees to press his chest against the broad back. His arms rose to rest on the shoulders, his lips at the man’s neck.

“I’ve run outta secrets to trade, you know – besides my own, which aren’t for sale. This puts me at a disadvantage, somewhat, I suppose … but if you come back, you can have anything else you might want … or need.”

The statue moved all at once, giving him the choice of withdrawing his arms and keeping them or not. Bringing his hands in to his chest, the fingers lacing, he watched the cape shift and flow as the plates clicked back into place.

Stalking to the door and striking it hard, the bat waited, like a coiled spring, for it to be opened.

“If you come back, I’ll stay here – a little longer,” he whispered. One eyebrow arching, he added, “If you don’t, I’ll get bored. Then I’ll find someone to take it out on.”

When the door opened, the shadow left him without a word.

~ ~ ~

After pretending to sleep the next day for so long that he actually managed a few hours of honest rest, the Joker had woken to feel the creeping onset of night keenly – a sense that had been dulled after two months in solitary.

One quick rattle of the hall’s outer door started his internal countdown. Most of the black uniformed guards shortened their duties by that obligatory rattle, avoiding entering to visually check on the patient as they should have done. It gave him a handy if crude means of telling time. Not all of them were consistent in when they tested the lock on the door, of course, but most did it first thing after shift change and then amused themselves for the next four hours.

Waiting until after midnight, and then for that magic hour of three in the morning, he had grown tense and tight, eager for the next sparring match with the bat. An hour had passed, then another, before he admitted to himself that the pious flying rodent had stood him up.

Once a fresh door rattle announced the first dayshift, he rose from an angry and frustrated funk. Pushing the unproductive emotions aside, he cleared his mind for a new effort as wheels began their predictable squeaking in the hall. They grew louder and his smile started to stretch across his face – as if the sound was attached to his lips by a string.

A new day dawns, Batty – and this is on your head. “Chaarrlieee…”

The wheels of the food cart stopped. The orderly was hanging back at the sound of his musical hail.

“I won’t hurt you, Charlie, when have I ever? Come and talk to me, please.”

Part of a wide face with dark doe eyes appeared in the window. “Not ‘sposed to talk to you, Mister J.”

“‘Mister J’? I like that. You needn’t be afraid, no one will know if we have a little chat. Security on this shift, the man watching the monitors, it’s Callahan, isn’t it? He’s got orange-red hair, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“There you go. Callahan’s an addict, you see – if he’s watching us, all he’s seeing is a pair of large pink bunnies.” His smile was pure charm.

The man, mentally barely more than a child, chortled. “Got your breakfast, Mister J.”

“That’s a good man; push it on through, would you?” When he obeyed and the echo of the metal shunting noise faded, Joker held back a sigh at the sad prison food. “Have you eaten, Charlie?”

“Hours ago, sir, it was – when I came on.”

The morning shift had only begun an hour ago, but what was a lapse in intellect between potential friends?

“Why don’t you help me polish this off, then? We can share – after the night I’ve had, I’m only a little hungry.”

Extracting a limp thing that might have been a sausage in another life, he held it in his fingertips and pushed the tray back through.

After a brief hesitation, the orderly helped himself as they pushed the food back and forth. When it was gone, Joker got up from his seat on the floor and told the man to go to the window in the door. He obeyed so eagerly, it was hard not to laugh.

Oh, my, so tediously easy, like luring a puppy with scraps.

At the narrow window, he placed his hands on either side of it and leaned in close to the glass. The meaty orderly, his expression full of guilty glee at having so much attention, got closer than he’d ever dared in months.

“Charlie, have you ever met Dr. Arkham?”

The look he got in response spoke volumes and in bigger words than this man possessed.

“He’s with the pretty nurse.”

“Oh, that’s Dr. Tanner, actually. You don’t like him, do you? Well, that’s one thing we have in common, anyway. Dr. Arkham doesn’t come this far down often. He’s the director of the asylum – not the one in the paintings upstairs, that’s his uncle.”

“They all say he ain’t here now. He went somewhere.”

“Yes, I know; trouble is, I don’t think he knows I was brought here. Off in his insane world, playing king of the castle, no doubt. For all I know, Dr. Tanner might not have bothered to tell him about my arrival. Arkham never could pick up a newspaper – but never mind. Do they say when he’ll be back? I need to speak with him, Charlie.”

“Don’t know, just heard he’s gone. This doctor…”

“Dr. Tanner, yes?”

“He was happy the other one left.”

“Was he now? When the cat’s away, hmm? Charlie, would you like to be my friend? My other friend didn’t come back to visit me last night and I’m terribly lonely.”

With a wince, he drew back. “Get in trouble…”

“No, no, you won’t – it can be a secret, okay? Here, I’ll tell you two secrets – one of yours and one of mine.”

“You know a secret ‘bout me?”

“I do. I know that you used to live here, upstairs, in a room that locked. Oh, nicer than this one. Then Dr. Wilson, the man Dr. Tanner replaced, he let you out and brought you down here. He gave you this job. He used to let your grandmother visit and when you started working here, he let you go back home to live with her.”

Slack jawed, Charlie stared. “Can’t tell this doctor, please? He’ll send me back up.”

“Oh, I won’t – because it’s a secret.”

“How’d you know, then?”

The Joker placed one long finger beside his nose. “Because I’ve got magic… Now, do you wanna know my secret?”

Vigorously nodding, he smiled.

“If I can speak to Dr. Arkham, he’ll give me a magic word that will let me go anywhere in this hospital that I want – even outside.”

“He’s magic, too?”

“Oh, yes.”

“You’re magic; can you make a wish come true?”

“Tell me the wish, Charlie.”

“My gran needs an operation, but she says she ain’t got the money. I work, but it ain’t never gonna be enough.”

“Hmm… I can grant that wish – once I have the magic word. So are we friends now?”

“Secret friends?”

“Secret, yes.”

“Yes, sir, Mister J.”

“Excellent. Of course, friends help each other, so you must do a favor for me, all right?” Smiling at his reluctance, he clucked his tongue. “Don’t worry, it won’t get you in trouble. You work all day, don’t you? I know you do, because you take very good care of me all through the day, bringing food. Yes?”

“Yes, sir, all day. I work hard.”

“You do, indeed. Before you go home tonight, I want you to talk to the night nurse – the ugly one – and give her a message from me. Have her come and see me, so I can ask her about Dr. Arkham.”

“She don’t like me, Mister J.”

“Don’t worry about that, just tell her I need to speak to her.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Charlie, did you tell Dr. Tanner what you saw me doing that day, around a week ago? I’m afraid I frightened you – did you tell him?”

“No, Mister J, I wouldn’t never tell on you!”

“That’s good, that’s fine, but did you understand it? You do that, don’t you, touch yourself?”

“No, sir, I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“My gran says…”

“Yeesss…?”

Blushing scarlet, he looked away. “She says it’s … wicked.”

“Ah, I see. Well, for some it might seem that way, I suppose. For me, it helps me keep my magic strong. I could teach you … if you could come in here with me. Hmm, too bad.”

“You’d teach me magic, Mister J?”

The breathless wonder in the question almost broke him out in a giggle fit. Sucking in a deep breath instead, he composed himself.

“Well, I’d have to touch you, Charlie, and ‘til I see Dr. Arkham, I’m afraid I’m at the mercy of Dr. Tanner.”

“Maybe the ugly nurse, would she let me in?”

“She might, if you didn’t call her that. Her name is Helen. That would make you late, you know – won’t your grandmother worry?”

“I wanna learn the magic, Mister J. Please?”

Smiling, he pressed his fingertips to the glass. After a hasty breath, Charlie did the same, his thick fingers dwarfing the Joker’s.

“Ask Helen, see if she’d let you in. She may not be able to, if the guard is paying attention. Don’t forget to have her come to me. You should go back to work, now, though – I’ll see you at lunch. We can picnic again, if the next shift doesn’t care.”

“Yes, Mister J.”

He turned and scuttled off, the wheels of the cart sounding again, briefly breaking the silence.

A picnic of drugs to make you nice and tractable, my friend – drugs I developed an immunity to during my first stay, before that twat Arkham decided I was a major player. Humph. As if Gotham General and the birth of Two-Face wasn’t proof enough.

Wandering off to the far side of his cell, the Joker sat on the toilet seat with elbows on knees and chin in hand. Turning his head, he glared at the bunk and the hard stone where he’d knelt.

That flying rat isn’t coming back; I misjudged his slippery slope, I suppose. He ran his tongue along his teeth, remembering the feel of that cock in his throat. Such a shame; I had other places I wanted to put it, to say nothing of hiding mine bat-deep.

Sighing, he tilted until he could pillow his head on the edge of the little steel sink.

I’ll have to settle for the consolation prize: teaching the village idiot a few magic tricks in his nether region. Maybe I could talk him into bringing me a knife? Helen won’t – the bitch hates me. Question is, does she hate me more or less than she fears Dr. Arkham?

Closing his eyes, Joker called up the vision of the Batman fumbling to open his clever armored crotch.

Bastard was nervous as a whore in church and hungry as a starving rat on the path for a piece of cheese.

He sighed again and turned his thoughts to molding his new friend. It was lesser clay, but he had to keep busy.

Without a hobby, this dreary old pile of rocks might actually drive me crazy. Giggling at the thought, he rose and stretched.

Clasping his hands behind his back, he began to pace. Out of habit, his lips moved to a count of steps in his head, separate from the in tandem count of passing minutes since Charlie had first appeared.

Each square inch of the cell was as familiar as his scars – especially the jagged lines of loose mortar on the back wall near the toilet. Low on that wall was a hole.

“A hole, a hole,” he sang, his voice lilting and cheerful. “A hole within a hole.”

His gaze lifted to the tiny point in the front right corner where wall met ceiling. By his time count, Callahan could be starting shift change and it was possible that the next guard might actually look at the monitor showing his cell.

For guards who might watch, he alternated behaving oddly and simply sitting or lying in a textbook catatonic daze. The switch made his occasionally honest erratic behavior seem normal and also bored the men into not bothering to check after seeing him stare into space for hours on end.

Faking catatonia was boring for him most of the time, too, but if he had something intriguing to occupy his mind, like how to tame a pet bat or what he’d do when he got out, it could be surprisingly productive to leave his body on autopilot for most of the day.

Smiling for the camera now, he whirled in a perfect pirouette and turned his back on it.

Tonight, Helen will come and perhaps she’ll know more about Dr. Arkham’s whereabouts. Intolerable, to sit and rot in this hole when there’s so much to be done, bat or no bat.

Glancing back down at the wall by the plumbing, he smiled for himself.

Within that holy hole – a keyhole … all I need is the code and then I can go visiting. Flicking his tongue out, he licked his lips. I wanna new hobby, one worthy of my efforts – and ‘Commissioner’ Gordon’s son will be much better clay…

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