Die Laughing

by Chicago

Disclaimer: I hate the Joker - he's horrible and scary and no matter how much elan a psychopath has, a body count is still a body count. I wanted to write a fic to reflect how scary he is, and I wanted him dead. This is the result. Characters belong to DC Comics, borrowed for fun, not profit.

There were still muffled booming sounds coming from outside. More explosions? Random ordnance? If her head were clearer, if her mission less desperate, she might care. Now she only focused on the laughter.

The laughter and the voice.

"Ooh, now isn't this a pretty pickle! And I bet you thought you'd outgrown your hostage days."

She was leaving a blood trail despite the tourniquet. It would probably be less if she did not have to drag her legs behind her. Then again, if she could feel her legs, she would also be able to feel the shrapnel gash that laid open her left thigh.

"So tell me, former boy blunder, which of your potential rescuers do you think I blew up? Oh, I forgot, you can't talk. HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

She paused to shift the holster at her shoulder. Dick's police issue revolver wasn't that heavy, but it was heavy enough, and it rubbed at her skin through her shirt. She could feel the blister starting.

"Maybe I should just show you that footage again, see if your eyes will tell me. Nah, too boring. Can't have been the Bat anyway. He has to show up to save your bacon, right Earl?"

He wouldn't, that much Barbara knew. She didn't know where Batman was.

"I said 'RIGHT, Earl?'" BLAM!

Barbara started at the sharp crack of the gunshot, freezing for a second in the echoing silence that followed.

"Oh, don't cry for Earl, Bat Brat. He'll be a better two bit thug in his next life. Besides, I could see the way he was looking at you. He probably wanted me to share you. Like that was going to happen! I'm saving your sloppy seconds for your boss. HA HA HA HA HA!"

There wasn't time to pause for dizziness, so she forced her aching arms to pull her another few feet across the floor. It was far from silent progress, but the Joker wasn't looking for anyone to come crawling after him, and he clearly wasn't listening for sounds from the shadows. He was too focused on his captured prey.

"Now let's see, how do we peel this awful armor off of you? Can opener? HA HA HA! No, no, that's not working. Explosives? No, no, saving those. Plus it'd be such a shame to waste your bait potential. And your other potential. HA HA! Wonder how long the Bat's been drooling over that?"

She still couldn't see him, either of them. Her shoulder joints were hot, her arm muscles burning. From Joker's words, Dick was conscious, but why wasn't he speaking? Why wasn't he fighting?

"I know! We'll try this - oh, yes, sharp knife definitely works. Oops! Little deep there. Let me help with that."

There was a slurping noise, and Barbara tried to move faster.

"Mmm, I bet your other fluids are even sweeter. I planned to serve them to the Bat, but my, my, my. How he resisted this ass -"

A slapping noise sounded, flesh against flesh. She could see the shadow of Joker's profile against the floor a few feet in front of her. He had thrown back his head to laugh.

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

She half-threw herself forward, closing the distance to the corner she would have to round...

"HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

She pulled the gun out of the holster and rolled sideways, once, twice, and now she could see.

Dick was on a table, face down, pale, the Nightwing costume shredded, blood streaking along the sides of his body.

"Joker!" she barked, staring at him over the barrel of the revolver.

He stopped laughing - for a moment. Long enough to see her. "OOH! THE GIMP THE GIMP!" he howled, laughing even harder.

BLAM!

He jerked back, laughing harder.

BLAM!

A second splash of red began to spread on his chest, and his laughter began to hitch, as if it were no longer supported by air.

BLAM!

He wheezed, and blood began to bubble at his lips. "Good ...shot, ... gimp," he applauded.

BLAM!

The final bullet caught him in the mouth as he slumped, destroying the grin, leaving a bloody maw.

She would have shot him again, and again, until she was out of bullets, but he had fallen behind Dick's body. And Dick still wasn't moving.

She slid the gun away, across the floor, her hands suddenly trembling. She willed them to be strong.

She needed to see Dick's eyes, to know...

She once more began hitching her body across the floor. There was a pool of blood from Joker's body spreading under the table. The little trickles of blood dripping from the top of the table were making ripples in that pool.

Dick was facing away from her. He still hadn't moved, but as she got closer, she could see that he was breathing. So he wasn't dead. Not yet.

She forced herself to keep moving.

She lost track of time. Did it take her an hour to cross the floor of the abandoned factory? Longer? Less time? When she closed her eyes, she was never certain if she had only blinked, or had lapsed into unconsciousness. She probably had lost more blood than she realized.

But he wasn't dead, and despite all the blood, he was still conscious when she finally reached a place where she could see his eyes.

His eyes and his lips, lips that were mouthing her name.

She hooked a folding chair with her hand and set it closer to the table. Her first effort to lever her body up into it, her arms collapsed, and her chin slammed into the seat, causing her to bite her tongue.

Three feet from her, the Joker's dead eyes were staring at her, and she imagined him still laughing at her. She wished she could kick his godforsaken corpse. Kick it to a pulp.

She turned her body so she didn't have to look at him as she tried again to lever herself into the chair.

Once seated, she could see why Dick couldn't talk. There was a hole in his throat, a crude but effective tracheotomy. How long had the Joker had him? What else had he done?

"Oh, Dick," she said softly, reaching her hand to his blood and sweat sticky hair.

The cut on his back was still bleeding. She stripped off her shirt to use as a compress. "Dick, I love you," she promised, one hand holding the compress, the other stroking over his forehead. Her eyes were tearing, blurring her vision. She thought she saw him mouth that he loved her, too.

The sound of a skylight shattering reached her ears as if over a great distance. For a moment there was a bat-shaped shadow, then it merged with the rest of the darkness, and there was no more light.

end

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