Under the Red Sky

Under the Red Sky (Joker) Part 21.a.

Morning broke like all the rest, the sun a blunt white behind a closely drawn curtain of massive gray clouds. Its meager beams bled through the bedroom window and streaked the tangled bed clothes with the distorted pattern of the lace curtains hanging on either side of the dirty windowpane.

My gaze was empty, and yet brimming with tentative affection, held on the man beside me. He was sound asleep, lying on his back. I watched the rise and fall of his bare chest, a constellation of scars and odd stitches of flesh, and I felt myself burn with urge to trace them with my fingertips. The covers had fallen away from his face, his profile proudly outlined against the dreary light of the room. His lips were turned down in a grimace and I wondered idly what was happening in that head of his.

My eyes lingered on him only a second longer before I twisted about to face the opposite side of the room. The alarm clock on the bedside table read a quarter to ten, and with a frown, I realized I had wasted the entirety of yesterday. Wake up one morning, and then the next. And in between there was…

I smirked, resting a pale arm across my eyes, and I remembered. How willing we both were. His hands on my skin, the dangerous warmth of his touch. His highs and his low. That alarming flash in his dark eyes that I should have regarded with caution…

I had been with a man before. A boy really. I had all but managed to wipe that nauseating night of my first real college party from my mind. But this was different. Much different.

I sat up, the bed springs shrieking loudly. I peered over at the man in my bed. He grumbled something incoherent, slightly annoyed, but the noise didn’t rouse him from his slumber. I shrugged and threw the covers from my legs, sliding off the bed with a few more squeaks from the underside of the mattress.
I felt the chill of the apartment and shivered as goose bumps raked my bare flesh. I padded over to my closet and tore an ugly oversized sweatshirt off one of the plastic hangers. I retrieved a pair of clean underwear from my dresser and after slipping into both articles of clothing, I moved down the hall, leaving the room in a sort of dreamlike daze. My mind seemed content to linger on the night before, but I knew I had more to worry about.

What was next? The Joker had his own plans, of that much I was sure. But was I willing to go along with them? I had myself to worry about, my own plans to concoct.

A score to settle, I mused bitterly, kicking a few scattered pieces of junk from my path as I made my way into the kitchen. Yawning loudly, I retrieved the milk from the fridge and stood, slouching on the counter, as I let the sweet beverage roll down my throat and wet the front of my sweatshirt. I took one last gulp before pouring the rest into Ms. Kitty’s bowl and chucking the empty carton into the trash.

I caught sight of the frying pan on the stove, dirty with the yellow residue of scrambled eggs. I stared for a moment, and then turned away laughing, shaking my head as I shambled into the living room.

I was in deep shit. Deep, deep shit.

I plopped down onto the couch, burying my feet in the shredded cushions. I plucked an old newspaper from the coffee table, unfolding it and then refolding it until I found the front page. I frowned. Max Shrek’s stolid black and white face glowered back.

I glared at it for a moment of two, thinking, pondering what was to come.

Yes, yes I see murder in your future. And sweet, sweet revenge.

I looked away from the paper, hearing the whine of a nearby floorboard, and the pleasant thoughts of slaughtering Shrek deflated like a dying balloon animal.

“Nice sweatshirt,” the Joker smirked, standing in the doorway to the living room, dressed only in pants.

I looked down at myself. Three white, fluffy, obscenely adorable kittens stared up at me with wide blue eyes from the pink chest of my sweatshirt. My eyes snapped back to the Joker’s leering face and I scowled.
I had no idea how long he’d been standing there. I didn’t like the fact that he could sneak up on me so easily. When I didn’t reply, he made his way into the kitchen, scratching his head irritably. I watched him quietly, observing.

So this is how psychopaths act in the morning…

“You got any coffee around here, Bijou?” he called from the kitchen, his head in the fridge.

I set the newspaper back down on the coffee table and turned myself around to face him, letting my arms dangle over the back of the couch.

“No,” I replied shaking my head, “And stay out of my fridge.”

The Joker laughed, slamming the door loudly and turning to look at me. “Does that same rule apply to your bed?”

I glowered at him. “Very funny.”

The Joker smiled. “I try.”

I huffed, twisting around, my back bouncing against the couch cushions. My mind raced. I had slept with this man. This crazy son of a bitch. And I felt neither shame nor regret. If this was wrong, I didn’t want to be right.

I listened to his shuffling footsteps and I peered over my shoulder to see him wandering about my living room, glancing about at all the destruction as if he were looking for something. He paused in front of the front door and I saw him tilt his head. I could just see that curious twinkle in his eye. He had found something of interest.

“You’ve got mail,” he called in a robotic voice as he bent at the waist and plucked something from off the floor.

I narrowed my eyes in suspicion and scooted toward the edge of the couch. The Joker turned to me, a fancy off white envelope in hand. He raised an eyebrow at me before glancing back down at the letter.

“To a Ms. Selina Kyle,” he read aloud, placing a hand on his hip, “From….” He looked up at me in disbelief, a ridiculous smile on his scarred face. “Bruce Wayne.”

There was a brief moment of silence. And then he began to laugh. I felt a familiar burn as blood rushed to my face, turning my pale cheeks a vivid scarlet. I leapt off the couch in a fit of discomfited rage and bounded over to him, arms outstretched, jagged nails ready to rip the envelope from his hands.

“What is this, Bijou? A love letter?” he cackled, holding the damn thing over his head, out of my reach. I momentarily forgot myself and jumped to grab it only to have him hold it higher.

“Give it here,” I cried angrily, glaring up at him, “It’s mine.”

“Boo-hoo, kitten,” he teased smiling at me cheerfully, noticeably pleased with himself. “Tell you what…how ‘bout we make a little deal, hmm? You rob a bank with me and we both find out what Brucie wants with my pet.”

I felt my jaw drop and I stared up at him, took taken aback to reply. I took a short, unsteady step away from him, my eyes never leaving his face. Could he be serious?
“What kind of terms are those?” I scoffed, edging back toward him, my arms crossed tightly over my chest. “How do you expect someone to decide so quickly about something…like that?”

“Those terms are pretty damn reasonable, if you ask me,” he began, that devious glint in his dark eyes, “And it’s not like I’m asking you to murder someone. I would never put you in such a compromising situation.”

“You would and you will,” I spat, my lip curling up in a sneer.

The Joker only smiled down at me and I wanted to turn away, to get the final word, to actually win this one. But I gave in. Just like I had all the times we fought. Just like I had done yesterday morning.

“Fine,” I hissed, my arms dropping to my sides in a defeated manner.

The Joker’s grin only widened and for a brief moment, I imagined his scars bursting open and spraying us both with blood. I fought back a laugh.

“At a girl,” he cheered, and I watched as he tucked the envelope into the waistband of his jeans. He leaned forward and planted a quick kiss on my forehead. My skin burned momentarily and I felt the back of my neck get hot.

“Now shoo,” he fussed, an annoyed leer replacing the smile on his lips and he waved me off, “Get ready or something.”

I opened my mouth to argue but gave it a second thought. I shrugged and headed back down the hall to the bathroom. I glanced over my shoulder to see the Joker watching me, almost as if he was expecting me to disobey. I gave him a look and he turned away, scuffling back into the kitchen.

I shook my head, rounding the corner for the bathroom. Weirdo.

I had just finished slipping into the dress with the pelt from the other night and was applying the finishing touches to my makeup when he shuffled into the bathroom, dressed in an ordinary looking suit. I couldn’t remember him bringing extra clothes but I didn’t think on it.

He approached the counter and set a filthy dark green bag on the fake porcelain surface. He shot me a sideways glance but said nothing as he unzipped it and went about fixing his own face.

I leaned up against the towel rack, tightening the whip around my waist and watched him transform into the maniac everyone feared and loathed. And he was standing in my bathroom where I had kissed him full on the mouth. He was in my apartment where I had slept with him.

It was a funny world we lived in

The Joker smacked his scarlet lips loudly as he screwed shut the cap on his face paint. He stepped back to admire his work and I moved to stand beside him. We stood there for a good long while, staring at our reflections, completely still, the silence nearly deafening.

Look at the two of us. Freaks. Monsters.

Yes. The two of us.

Stop that.


Admit it. This is real. You’re falling for him. And it’s what you want.
I said NO!


I blinked and shook the troublesome thoughts from my head, looking to the man beside me.

He raised an eyebrow. “Ready?”


I smiled. “Of course.”

And we were off.