No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
He chokes on a plea as Joker grabs his right hand, applies just enough pressure for the nerves to pinch, bones to scrape. Straight, white teeth dig into the flesh of his lip, eyes squeezing shut, body tense and braced. Tim isn’t going to beg, he won’t add that to his already pathetic resume, but he knows this can’t be good. He doesn’t know whether he drew attention to the flanges himself, or if Joker had always intended to go for them, knowing it’s how he kept himself connected and useful to Bruce. Either way, the teen swallowed down any words, any sounds and tried to focus on something, anything else. The fingers of his free hand falterer, and it was hard with one hand but he tried. He had to try. Pachelbel’s Canon. D. D Maj— oh.
Tim bit down hard enough to draw blood, his already chapped lips splitting under the added pressure and he let out a muffled whimper. He knew it wasn’t the scream Joker wanted, but as pain seared through his hand, it was all he could do to not to cry out, especially as the man continued. The young hacker jerked his arm back, a reflex, as the blade slipped under his nail bed, but the Clown held a firm grip and Tim was stuck. He wanted to cry, wanted to scream and fight back, but that would only put him in a worse position, and that was the opposite of what he wanted.
The more Joker sliced, the harder it was for Tim to keep his reactions restrained. His left fist curled on his thigh, blunt nails digging into the flesh of his palm. That pain was nothing, if not a trying distraction, something to focus on that wouldn’t be nearly as bad. But it was hard and Tim’s injured arm spasmed, his toes curling in his socks. Please stop. Stop. Somebody, make it stop. At least now he knew why Joker hadn’t restrained his arms. He had it planned in his head, even if he was working on a whim, the criminal knew the effects of all his actions. So right now, Joker wasn’t going to let him bleed out, not without suffering first, each cut personal, connecting him to Batman, making sure he and Bruce both knew why.
As he the mad man continued, Tim was shaking. The restraint he put in not to cry out, the pain, the fact that somehow, Joker knew how to hit home, just in his assumptions. Suicide and he— oh God. The hacker couldn’t hold back the muffled sob as Joker slid the already soiled blade across his wrist. He had thought of it, yeah. But he’d never— and to slit his wrists— it was messy, violent; not how he would have ever picked to do it. It wasn’t his decision, he’d chosen to keep living, or maybe all along he had chosen to let Joker do it for him. Is that why he hadn’t stopped? No. It wasn’t about not having the guts. He had made this choice himself. Tim didn’t want to die, didn’t want this. Deep down, he knew that and the teen kept the thought in his head as the clown king dropped his arm, letting it fall back to his lap.
Now what? The other hand seemed logical, can’t stop a hacker like him just by taking away one hand. So what was he going to do? Mirror the injuries? Break his fingers? Slice his other wrist? Tim’s chest rose and fell, somewhat quickly, but he tried to slow it, trying to stay calm even through the pain. The more he panicked, the worse this would be. His heart rate would increase, pumping faster, circulating blood— the harder he breathed the faster he would bleed out. So he had to stay cal—
Tim screamed. The pain sudden and intense, his vision going white, and why hadn’t he expected so much at once. Joker wasn’t all small injuries, slow death. He was intense, destructive, sadistic. So he screamed, his fingers stiff and if he tried to move them, he wouldn’t be able to. He lurched forward, eyes clenched and watering behind the old tea towel. His toes curled, feet twisting and searching for purchase on the ground, the criminal, imitating that, twisting the blade. That meant nerve damage, and maybe he could come back from it (and why was he still speaking like he was going to survive this?) but it’d take a while and he’s never quite play the same, the piano, his keyboards.
Tim let out another sob, pulling in a deep breath as he recovered from the initial shock, focused on focusing on anything else. But it was hard, and he— he was trying. The young teen pulled in a shaky breath, his whole body was shaking too, but the pressure was gone on the knife. Joker was leaving it there, in his hand. The man had other’s, didn’t need it, and the hacker wondered if that meant he was allowed to take it out, allowed without repercussion. Another slight twitch of his fingers, and Tim whined, the blade making each movement worse. With shaky fingers, blood dripping across his lap, the boy reached over, grabbing the blade handle (and it was hard to get a grip with so much blood on his hands), and pulled, teeth clenched through the added pain, before his right hand fell loosely into his lap still holding the blade, his left to his side, as he let it drop from Dana’s thigh. He had to elevate it or it would bleed out faster, but he couldn’t quite find the strength in his quivering muscles.
Jesus Christ, Old Man, you’re getting slow. You’d think with the millions and the gadgetry and the general compassion preached, he would have shown up faster. Sure, the Bat was probably sick of him, but he thought he’d picked better bait. The boy was like a cat for God’s sake—could probably bowl him down a grocery aisle with one hand if he wanted to. He might. Though, hard to go shopping, dressed and bloody as he was. The word inconspicuous was one that rarely made an appearance in his vernacular.
“Uh kid…You’re not uh, supposed to pull out the weapon-makes ya bleed out faster-Heh.”
Murky eyes rolled and he went back on the prowl, with a rolling gait, like a starved zoo animal set free on the school field trip day. But there was only one option for him right now, and it was meager at best. Wasn’t Tim supposed to be some kind of genius? Brucey didn’t usually take on idiots—needed someone to balance him out, but…He supposed the smart ones rarely held up under pressure. Such a big brain stuck in such a tiny body…He wondered which one he could hurt more. If the inner psyche would hold out longer than muscles, bones, blood, sinew, teeth, appendages.
“Y’know what just pisses me off? And probably should you, as well. Is the staged effect of it all.”
He’d forgotten all about the camera, for the moment, because he didn’t have any of his entertaining little cue cards to hand out, or any upside down Mike Engels. Or as much capacity for a handheld home movie. So, for the moment, the entire focus of his attention was directed on Tim. And what he saw in that scrawny little frame, was a scared little boy who was probably half relieved that his parents were dead. Guilty, oh yes, extremely guilty. Was it Freudian subconsciousness, manifested? Wish mommy and daddy dead, even unconsciously, and now, uncannily, the thought came true. And the Joker, for his part, had set it up beautifully. The overarching threat would make the mantra of the teen’s life become my fault it was my fault I did this. And it was gorgeous. He was a very fine maestro, if he did say so himself (well someone had to, didn’t they? No one else’d admit it,) where most had batons and instruments and orchestras, he had manipulation and maiming and delightful knack for making people positively drive themselves mad over things he had merely…suggested they had done. Obviously, if one had to point fingers, the whole affair was his fault for starting it all. The amount of times people told him he was going to hell for his actions—what was that word they liked? Sins—it made him want to gag. As far as he was concerned, by other peoples standards he’d sunk so low he’d passed through all seven circles and bounced right back out and up to heaven to give God a nice surprise.
What he saw was a boy who craved the affections of any father figure he could get. He had all the makings of an Occupation brat, which really did not serve to put him in the Clown’s good graces, but his parents were still alive. Had been still alive. Though he supposed Dead Lady on the left wasn’t his real mommy. Always a tad awkward, that. He preferred both to be authentic, but someone had beat him to it, apparently. But mothers didn’t matter right now, no no nonono. No. It was fathers. This was a boy who just wanted someone who wasn’t distant, who’d pat him on the head every now and again and tell him he’d done a good job. Play a sentimental game of catch. The irony that it was the Batman he’d fixated on—it made his sides hurt just thinking about it. But he had fixated. That was just it. The Joker, of all people, recognized a fixation with the Bat when he saw it.
“He already knows where you are. But he has to make an entrance—which, ya know, I will admit…S’important but…Making an entrance for my people’s different than making an entrance for his. Because you…”
That red grin nearly split his face in two, the pink tongue dapped at the skin at the corner of his mouth. He smacked his lips, a shrill laugh squeaking out.
“You think he loves you.”
His voice warbled because he was laughing so hard, the pitch had gone up too. More towards kindly grandmother than serial killer.
“Not in, like…a weird way…But, you think he’s some sorta replacement for that sad hunk of bones beside you. But where is he? You think he’s not watching? Not listening? The technology he has, he could hack through this in a second. End the broadcast, save ya a little humility. But he won’t. ‘Cause he’s more concerned with getting the last word, with not tipping me off than he is about you. Daddy’s let you down again.”
He made a pouty face, stalked over to Tim, and grabbed him by the chin.
“And is it any wonder why? Look at you…What a weak little face. People like you repel me. You know, I’d give you a smile, but I’d be uh…I’d be offended.”
He spat, targeted Tim’s cheek, didn’t miss. He titled the boy’s chin back further, wondered if he could rip off his head if he really tried.
“How desperate were you, hmmm? That you’d follow him home and beg to sign up…You’d take anyone who would have you, wouldn’tcha? Anyone who’d show you…a little affection.”
He had to bite his lip to keep from squeaking again, but he’d nearly pulled Tim halfway out of his chair—could explain why he’d been quiet. But the Clown wanted to see tears leak out from under the blindfold. This one was most definitely a cryer.
“People like you…“ his lips curled in disdain, he barely gave the boy the courtesy of keeping his eyes fully open. “You bottle it up, and you keep it all quiet—Ya don’t live at all. And for what? To please other people?”
He smiled, a hissy breath eeking out and he was close enough to bite off the tip of Tim’s nose if he wanted to.
“He’s weighed your life against that shiny symbol on top of the MCU building…And he has found you worthless.”
He balled his free hand into a fist, and drove it home as hard as he could into the side of Tim’s face.
“Oh, he’ll probably save your life,” He bloodied Tim’s nose. “‘Cause that’s what he does—complete spoil sport, uh…by the way.”
His voice dropped to a growl as he reached for another knife.
“But I wanna show you what his world is like—he’s a poison…Every. Single. Person…that he cares about is lucky if they die. ‘Cause this is what’s left if they don’t. Oh, little Rabbit…”
He cooed, patting Tim on the cheek with the hand that had been semi-strangling him, before dropping it to grab a fistful of his shirt. He chuckled, readying his blade.
“Little Rabbit don’t look so sad…Pops is watching, remember, and we want him to be so proud…”
He sounded positively suburban, it was dreadful.
“Seriously though, don’t give me that look…I see it all the time and I know what you’re thinking, and this isn’t hell. Hell’s on his way—well, maybe. Hate to break it to ya, Kid, but me…I’m just purgatory.”
He stuck the blade into the fabric by Tim’s rib cage, and oh, how it exciting—it felt like he could fillet the muscle if he wanted to.
I’d be, uh…pretty—heh— furious.
I mean, someone obviously had a party without me. Probably that idiot in the mask with the funny voice. Now, which idiot in which stupid mask am I talking about? That’s, the uh…real question.