‹ Prequel: Give Me a Smile
Sequel: Smile With Me
Status: Finished

Smile for Me


Of course, the Joker couldn’t go to a normal bar. I followed him down side streets and alleys until my legs ached, but he finally stopped in front of me, holding a hand up. “Wait here, Quinn.” He loped around a corner and out of view. I swallowed my fear and sat against a shadowed wall, ignoring the grime.

He would come back. I knew he would. I hadn’t done anything bad recently. I sat, waiting for him to return, wishing it wasn’t quite so dark. I looked up when I heard a rattling noise, like someone was on the stairs above. I waited, a hand to my knife. It could be nothing, a stray cat or a bird, but life with the Joker had made me wary.

Someone jumped down in front of me and I yelped, flinching backward. It was just a kid, though, a boy maybe a few years younger than me. He wore ratty jeans and sneakers, a stained blue t-shirt. Handsome, green eyed and smiling, his hair cut short. Not threatening. I relaxed, putting the knife away and hoping he’d be gone before Joker returned.

I could tell the shadows hid my face, because he was still grinning, eyes warm. “Hey there. Sorry I scared you. Just escaping from my parents.” He gestured upwards, where I assumed his apartment was. “I got grounded. Stayed out past curfew.” He made a motion like ‘What are you gonna do?’ Careless, young. Happy.

I watched with fascination, at an average teenager, like I’d never been even before Joker took me. I’d never liked other teenagers when I was one, but now I wanted to hear everything he said, of a normal life with parents who care enough to punish, where escaping from windows doesn’t mean you’re running from Batman, the life of someone with no scars.

“I’m Mark, by the way. Who’re you?” “Quinn,” I whispered, keeping my gravelly voice smooth as possible. He crouched down with easy grace, so young it almost hurt. His face filled with sympathy. I knew he still couldn’t see me.

I didn’t want him to. I wanted him to go back up to his apartment, safe with his parents, because this boy was kind enough to care for a stranger. “Are you homeless?” “No.” A car went past, lighting the alley enough for him to see me.

His smile disappeared as he leaned closer. I could smell him, clean laundry and Axe and boy, so achingly normal I wanted to push him away and hug him tight at the same time. “Oh my God, your face! It’s....your nose!” “Broken.” “Who did it? I can help,” he said earnestly. I laughed, sounding bitter even to myself.

“No, you can’t. I, ah, fell.” I must’ve learned how to lie better, because he sat back, relaxing. “Oh. And your mouth?” “Just a few scars.” “You have ‘just a few scars’ like my brother is ‘just a little gay’,” he quipped. I laughed, surprising myself with how lighthearted it was. It had been a long time since my laughter wasn’t sad or hysterical.

He started to say something, probably to try and make me laugh again, but there was a gunshot and blood splashing across my face, his eyes going dull as he collapsed onto me. I looked up to see Joker, grinning down at me as he slipped his gun away. “Oops. Sorry, Quinnie.” I started screaming, loud and panicked, my bloody hands clutching at Mark’s shoulders.

Dead, he was dead, and it was my fault, he could’ve been far away, alive and smiling, instead of his blood dripping down the bricks of an alley. Upstairs his parents were blissfully unaware of their son shot dead on the ground below. And me, hugging him, wailing, feeling something dark and vicious build up in my chest.

Joker threw him off me and away. I winced at the sound his body made when it fell, and kept shrieking. Joker’s hands were on me, patting, reaching, hissing angrily in my ears, “Shut up, Quinnie, shut up shut up shut up, shut up, ha, now or I swear I’ll break your fucking nose again.” I whined and went very, very still, clinging to the new darkness inside myself.

He dragged me up by the arm and around a corner, ducking into a secret door. We stood in a dim room filled with tables, some sort of bar. For criminals apparently, because everyone was shady, and I saw Two-Face slouched at the bar with a drink in each hand. Joker wrestled me into a seat before sitting across the table, staring.

A muscle in his jaw twitched. I held his gaze, keeping my shaking hands in my lap. “Quinnie...” “May I go to the bathroom?” I interrupted. “I need to throw up.” He nodded and I ran, making it to a trashcan before I vomited until my throat burned. I seen people die before, my father, Joker’s henchmen, the Wolf, others he’s killed.

I killed before, too, my mother’s creepy boyfriend, had Joker help me kill a gambler. No one like this, though. My dad was killed in a car accident, not shot in cold blood. Joker’s men weren’t innocent, and neither was Mom’s boyfriend or the gambler. I didn’t know or care about the others, didn’t know their first names or what they smelled like or how kind they were to strangers.

I laughed before gagging into the trashcan again when I realized Mark was the first person besides vigilantes, criminals, and therapists that I’d had contact with in several years. And Joker had killed him.

I returned to the table and sat across from Joker, avoiding his eyes. “Quinnie,” he sing-songed, kicking at my shins under the table. I swallowed thickly, curling my fists in the table cloth. “It has, ha, just a boy, Quinnie. Not, haha, not important.” He chuckled and reached across the table to lift my chin with a finger.

“He was being nice to me,” I whispered. “He wouldn’t, ah, be so fucking nice if he knew who you are. He’d run away like, haha, everyone else. Screaming.” My lower lip trembled and he sighed, sitting back in his chair, long fingers laced together. “Quit, ha!, being so weak. Things happen. People get shot in the head, or disemboweled, or ripped to pieces.”

He tipped the chair back and laughed until he was gasping for air. I crossed my arms over my chest, ignoring the instinctive need to smile with him. He noticed, calming down and frowning at me. “Give me a smile, Quinn. C’mon, everything’s, everything’s good!”

He stood suddenly, getting angry, and everyone in the bar except for Two-Face tensed up. I guess it takes a real villain to ignore the Joker’s moods. Joker grabbed my wrist, tight enough to bruise, and stormed from the bar.
♠ ♠ ♠
Joker: You're crazy! I'm your only chance to get out of here! Let me go or we'll both die! Batman: Whatever it takes!