Title: Boys Don’t Cry.
Author: Cold Nostalgia
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to DC.
Characters: Damian, Joker, mentions of others.
Rating: R/15, to be safe.
Word count: 1,931
Universe: Current DCU, mentions of Death in the Family, Killing Joke, Case Study.
Warnings: Dark fic. One rude word. Also first time writing for either of these characters. Not sure if I got it right. Feel free to flame away if I got anything wrong.
Summary: He really should have listened to Dick.
The screeching mirth was coming from above him; below him; either side of him. In the dark, Damian could all too easily imagine a pasty white face emerging from the shadows ahead. A cheerful grin for a dim future yet to come.
“Little bat, oh little bat. Come out, come out wherever you are.”
Damian breathed, gingerly took a step forward and tripped over a prone body; his voice smashing the heavy air with a scream as he fell.
Joker cackled; his flamboyant laughter like flies on a carcass; a thousand worms feasting on flesh.
Damian groaned, his fevered brow burning against the chilled air. If there was a way out of this godforsaken building, then he was damned if he could find it. It’d been hours now and Damian was starting to believe he was walking around in circles. His stomach flipped as his mind created a familiar shape from shadows and broken pieces of furniture that lay scattered across the hall, if Damian looked at them long enough he could swear that they were moving.
“Of course,” Joker continued from somewhere. “You do realise that I know exactly where you are, don’t you? You seem like such a clever little boy, just like Papa Bat before he flew far, far away to sing with the angels.”
The laugh was frozen knifes in Damian’s ears, he gritted his teeth, tried to push down the rising, scorching terror that ran through his icy veins. He couldn’t get his brain to work; thousands of lessons from hundreds of different instructors in fighting tactics and countless different strategies were lost to him in an instant.
“I do have to say though,” The Joker went on in deceptively conversational tones. “That this does take me back. Oh, the memories…but then you wouldn’t remember, would you? You weren’t even a pup in your daddy’s brooding baby blues, but don’t worry,” Joker said solemnly, his voice almost becoming familial in tone. “Good ol’ Uncle J is here to colour in all the gaps of your family’s brutal and bloody history.” Another laugh spewed forth from the shadows and Damian swore that the clown’s voice was coming from somewhere deep inside of him.
“Long ago,” Joker began happily, “and far, far away there was a little birdie who was just like you. He had the same costume, the same charcoal hair, the same attitude…and the same face that a mother would like nothing more than to slap. Now, this little Robin had big ideas and a bigger ego, maybe a little too big for his teeny, tiny brain. Do you know what happened to the Robin of Christmas Past, little bat?”
Damian squeezed his eyes shut, his outrage at the comparison to Jason momentarily eclipsing his fear.
“That’s right, junior! My, what a clever little boy you are.” Joker paused, the muscles in Damian’s neck began to spasm. “I beat him to death. Beat him until he was red all over. First, I beat him this way…and then I beat him that way… and then I beat him this way…and then – well, you get the idea,” Joker paused again, his voice taking on a softer, more thoughtful quality.
“He broke in the end.” Joker finished. “They all do, you know. That little bird…Gordon’s daughter…Harley. They all go through their meaningless existences with all these fantastic ideas rattling around in their heads…but when push comes to shove they never measure up, not like Batsy used to –may he rest in peace. But that little bird from all those years ago,” Joker sucked in air and Damian had an image of the clown shaking his head. “He broke the fastest. Snapped quicker than a faulty release cord on a parachute. Oh, he begged, he pleaded, he cried for his mommy, he cried for Batsy, he got blood all over my lovely new boots.” Joker sighed, sounding deflated. “Not that Batsy cared; he put me in hospital for eight months, didn’t even send a card…”
Wincing as the pain in his knee and shoulder flared up yet again, Damian squinted against the darkness. There had to be something he could use; a broom handle, some cable. Anything, anything at all. He wasn’t going out like some little punk who’d been born in a barn. He was the son of The Bat, the greatest Robin of all time, this kind of stuff just didn’t happen to him.
“I do wonder how your big brother is going react when he finds you in exactly the same way.” Joker cackled, his voice shrill and tinny against the gloom. “Oh, happy day! A new Batman and a new Robin to break in. It’s like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolled into one…”
Damian started to move forward, his feet heavy on the rotted floorboards. There were no weapons to be fashioned from the shattered bits of furniture. Joker had been clever in making them appear more intact than they were, another trick in a night of practical jokes that he’d been on the wrong side of. Yet another shred of hope snatched away.
“But I’m a sporting fellow, kiddo!” Joker declared suddenly. “So here’s what I’ll do. You have fifteen minutes to hide, anywhere in this building and your loving Uncle J promises that he won’t peek. If I can’t find you within an hour, then I’ll hand you back your utility belt, we shake hands and go our separate ways. Whadda ya say? Sounds like a plan, eh?”
“Fuck you,” Damian muttered under his breath.
The sour laughter withdrew into itself then, twisting, turning, writhing somewhere over Damian’s head. If he strained hard enough he could just make out a pair ecstatic feet, dancing a tuneless jig a few floors above to his left.
The Boy Wonder shivered, quietly cursing the chilled air for affecting him so. He began to move again, forward and down a flight of stairs, careful not to let the rotten wood betray his position. His senses on fire, his eyes and ears checking for the slightest movement, Damian began to search for a good hiding place, somewhere he could easily escape from, somewhere that wouldn’t leave him corned and trapped.
Angrily swatting away treacherous thoughts and emotions, Damian knew that it was going to be alright in the end. He didn’t have to defeat the clown, he just needed to hang on in there until Dick showed up. It been hours now, and surely Batman had to be looking for him – and he’d find him, Dick hadn’t put a foot wrong yet – not really, or at least, Dick hadn’t screwed up majorly. He may have made a lot of decisions that Damian hadn’t agreed with, but he’d always come through in the end.
And when he did turn up, then the both of them were going to show that dumb ass clown just what the Dynamic Duo were made of. Joker was going to rue the day he decided to mess with them, payback was going to be such a bitch.
There’d be lectures afterward, of course; Dick would make that stupid frowny face, his voice constantly changing pitch; Alfred would purse his lips in that stupid British way of his, but it was going to be fine, really, it was.
Damian had seen what his mistakes were. He should have listened to Dick more about what Joker was capable of. He should have paid more attention to the scowling faces, the wagging fingers – and he really should have known he was running straight into a trap, the cast iron sheets bolted over windowless frames of the derelict, abandoned tower block being an obvious clue.
Next time it would be different. Next time Damian would be ready for any cheap trick that Joker had up his two-dollar sleeve and he wouldn’t be as…caught off-guard by the clown’s antics as he was at present. Damian would be ready for the clown and all of his crap next time.
Emboldened by his newly found positive outlook, Damian quickly and quietly clambered over a pile of wooden boxes, letting his uninjured limbs do the majority of the work. He half-limped, half-scampered down a maze of neglected corridors; ignoring a smell of rising damp and rotten eggs, The Boy Wonder sidestepped strewn debris and more obvious booby traps.
It caught Damian’s attention that it was brighter on the lower levels; just enough light to make it possible to see more than just crude outlines of shapes and the pink of his nose. Damian wondered if there was maybe a crack in one of the outer walls; if it was big enough that light from the street lamps outside could get into the building, then surely Damian could wiggle his way out of this godforsaken death-trap, and if the cracks weren’t big enough for him to squeeze through, then maybe the surrounding masonry would probably be weak enough for him to make the cracks Damian sized. It was worth a try, and a hell of a lot better than running around like some pansy damsel in distress.
His confidence slowly returning, Damian headed northward, again swiftly avoiding various broken pieces of wood and smashed broken frames in his path. The floorboards were in a worse state of decay than they were on the upper levels, and Damian had to tread lightly lest anything else befell him on an already hellish evening.
Within moments he came across a room where the floorboards had simply disintegrated away. In the room below, the floor was blanketed in cast iron frames with unforgiving metal springs, sharp steel railings, overturned tables with their legs filed to a point. Joker had covered all his bases.
Ordinarily, Damian wouldn’t have thought twice about making the leap to the other side of the room, his knee, however, still throbbed dully and painfully, causing him to have doubt in his acrobatic abilities. The Boy Wonder hesitated indecisively for a few seconds; if he doubled back now it would add precious minutes to his journey that he couldn’t afford, and the chances of running into Joker increased every second he wasted dithering.
Damian squeezed his eyes shut and wiped the sweat from his brow. It was even brighter here, Damian could just about make out the crumbling plaster that adorned the four walls if he squinted hard enough. He knew he was going in right direction, it would be stupid to turn back now.
The Boy Wonder grinned, already having come to a decision. The distance was great; the reward for failure probably fatal, but overall the prize for success was well worth the risk. Damian inhaled, took to the air, and—
Was snatched back by arms of steel wire, encased in pale flesh and thin bones.
Damian’s mouth swung open in a silent scream; his bladder spasmed and tightened painfully. Everything fell away; his past, his present, his future, all slipped from his mind, replaced by a nameless, glacial panic that baked the insides of his small body.
The clown’s breath was rancid and acidic against his ear.
“Well, whaddya know,” Joker said mirthlessly. “Little boy red was already heading toward the light.”
Damian thrashed blindly, mindlessly against his prison to no avail; his choked sobs and strangled cries muffled against the clown’s toxic hysteria.
Dick was coming. In a second now. The steel metal would blow off that wall, right there, just next to them, Dick would swing in and save him. It was what he did. He was Batman. Any second now he would be safe…
Any second now..