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

Smile for Me



“Yes, ah, yes?”

It was several days after he killed that boy in the alley. My nose was half-healed, fingers no longer bruised. The scar on my back had scabbed over enough that I was no longer in danger of reopening it whenever I moved. We were outside, in a dim parking lot next to a sewer. I was crouched on the ground near Joker, watching as he tossed small grenades from hand to hand. Joker licked at his scars as he worked, brows furrowed.

“What are you doing?”

He glanced over his shoulder at me, giving a mischievous grin.

“I wanna, ha!, talk to a friend.”

I looked around myself, noted the sewer, and came to a conclusion.

“You want Killer Croc?”

He nodded excitedly, loose like a bobble head toy.

“Good girl, Quinnie. Using those, ah, pretty eyes of yours.”

I blushed and smiled. I had been feeling better lately. My hair was longer now, brushing my ears, and I’d stolen new clothes from a shop. I licked at my own scars as he pulled the pin on each grenade and tossed them down the grate. There was an explosion that made the ground shake, causing me to stumble into Joker. He slapped idly at the back of my head, hissing, “Quit it!” I winced, rubbing at my sore back, and waited for Croc.

It didn’t take long. There was a snuffling noise below us, and yellow eyes peered through the gate. Croc narrowed his eyes at us and huffed, but wrapped clawed hands around the bars to come up from the sewer. He somehow managed to push his massive shoulders through, stand to tower above us.

“Hello,” he said carefully, eyes darting from side to side.

“Hey, old buddy! How’s it, HA!, going in your slimy, ah, little world?”

Killer Croc bared a fang.

“Get to the point, Joker.” Joker shrugged, dancing from foot to foot. He twirled and gave a theatrical bow to Croc, holding a hand out. There was a small, glittering stone cradled in his palm. Croc leaned closer, the scales of his face shifting into an expression I think was confusion. “Quite lovely. That is no explanation for why you have called me.”

“I want, haha, want more of these. Lots of pretties for my collection! Need someone with lots of strength.” He made a gun shape with his fingers and pointed to Croc, giggling. “You!”

“Simply tell me what you will give me and where I am needed,” Croc rumbled.

He seemed to be angry.

“I want you at Mr. Franklin Bover’s party, hoo!, for the celebration of ancient jewels,” Joker told him, smiling wide.

Croc shrugged, the large muscles in his shoulders bulging.

“I would like three jewels of my choosing in payment.”

“Sure, buddy! That’s, hee, great. I’ll, ah, see ya then.”

Croc turned in one smooth movement to disappear down the sewer with a flicker of tail. Joker wrapped an arm around my shoulder, leaning against me. His breath was hot in my ear, coming fast. “I, ah, so many pretties, Quinn! Gonna smash that party wide open and, hoo-boy!, take what I want!” I nodded, trying to move away when his grip tightened painfully. “Maybe I’ll take you along, give my, haha, princess a crown,” he muttered, kissing my scars as he let me go.

Two days later, Croc showed up. He was limping, tail curled protectively around his chest. One of his eyes was swollen, shot with red, and there was blood all over him. He was breathing heavily. Joker’s hand went to his knife when he stepped for the warehouse door, grinning as he opened it to let Croc inside.

“Croc! What, er, gives me the honor of your presence?” he said brightly, keeping his eyes on Croc’s claws.

“Batman is on the hunt,” Croc rasped in a strained voice. “Had to leave my sewers. Fought my way past him. And others.”

The tendons in his neck were standing out from stress, teeth bared. Croc looked even more animalistic than usual. Joker stepped aside for him anyway, looking to me with a careless smile.

“Quinnie. Take care of him.”

“Me? But I-”

Joker shoved me towards Croc, hard enough that I almost touched his scales.

“Do it, Quinn. You heal yourself often enough.”

Joker was gone in seconds, his cackling laughter still echoing. I looked up at Croc, who stared down at me with dazed eyes. The first time I’d met him had been in the sewers, when Joker left me behind for days as punishment. Croc had sniffed at me, called me Joker’s girl, and decided not to eat me. The memory of those days still made me shudder.

“So, um...hi. I’m Quinn.”

“Joker’s other girl. I remember you.” He peered closer with his good eye, sniffing at the air. “You have changed, girl. There’s madness in you now.” I swallowed, unsure how to answer that. I know I have voices in my head, and hear things that aren’t there. Arkham did this to me. Killer Croc staggered over to a pile of boxes and settled himself carefully down on them, wincing. “Heal me, then.”

I hurried to get clean rags, water, and the paltry First Aid kit Joker kept around for me. Croc was hunched over when I returned. His clawed hands were shaking.

“Mr. Killer Croc?”

His eyes were even more dazed when he looked up at me.

“Go ahead, girl.”

I dabbed at the blood on his scales, ignoring the awful, rust and iron scent of it. I’ve had to get used to blood. The rags were soaked red when I was done. I decided that Croc’s face would be fine, just a black eye.

“Is anything, uh, broken, sir?”

He pulled his tail away from him chest and winced, letting out a low growl.

“I don’t believe so. It seems to be mostly cuts and bruises.”

I kept quiet and pressed bandages to the smaller cuts littering his body, ran to get ice for his eye. It was surprisingly soothing, healing someone. I had gotten better at it, and I liked the rhythm, that Killer Croc relaxed as I put him back together. The worst injuries were to his chest and tail. The skin along the top of his tail was patchy and mottled, leathery when I touched it. Croc snarled and jerked away from me, sending Joker’s men scurrying for safety.

I took a deep, shuddering breath and stood my ground. I had withstood Joker’s moods, Scarecrow’s toxins, my mother’s abuse, rape, and Arkham. I could handle Killer Croc. I took a step towards him, holding out a trembling hand.

“Mr. Killer Croc, there are burns on your tail. Would you please hold still so I can take care of them?” I said as gently as my gravelly voice would allow. He gave me a wary look, but settled back down on the box. “I’m not really sure how to take care of burns, sir. How’d you get them?”

I hoped talking would distract him. He flinched as I returned to his tail, deciding it would be best to cover it in cool water for a bit, then put on burn salve. The skin visible beneath the burns was red and raw, so painful I grimaced with sympathy. There was burn stuff in the box, enough to cover everything. I bandaged him up as he talked.

“There are others besides the Batman who hunt me. Always have been, even when I was small. They call me monster, yet are surprised when I behave as one.” He huffed when I pressed too hard on a burn, but didn’t fight. “Someone set fires near my home, to chase me out. My tail caught the worst of it. When I found the group who did this, I slaughtered them all.”

He nodded smugly as I taped the bandages down and let him go. I wasn’t going to blame him for killing people. Joker had done far worse.

“Keep putting that burn stuff on it until it’s healed,” I told him, stepping forwards to examine his chest. “You can keep this, actually. Joker’s men use their own stuff and I’m rarely burned. Change the bandages every day.”

Killer Croc glanced at my bare arms, shiny with scars, and nodded.

“You are used to taking care of wounds.”

“Yeah, I guess. I, uh, get hurt a lot, and it’s not like Joker can take me to a doctor.” I grinned up at him, fingers tracing carefully along the bumps of his ribs. All seemed to be in order. “And I read all the time, too. In Arkham I read a bunch of medical books. Learned how to sew so I can stitch someone up. Joker needed stitching once, and I couldn’t, so...” I shrugged, finding a deep gash on his forearm. “I always planned to come back to him. This time, I wanted to be better.”

I took out a needle and thread, deciding to clean them first. Joker seemed to be so full of chemicals that nothing could harm him, but I wasn’t so sure about Croc. I held the needle to his scales and hesitated. “Um, will this needle be strong enough to go through your scales?”

He nodded solemnly, giving me an almost smile.

“My scales provide little protection.”

He hissed as I pushed the needle inside, muscles tensing under my hands. I went quickly, tied it off and judged my work. The stitches were ugly and ragged, but sturdy. Croc would heal. There were four other cuts on him that required stitching, four long scrapes across his shoulder blades and one that had almost ripped some of his spikes off. I was careful with that one. The spikes jutted from his shoulders and elbows, jagged and sharp. I cut my finger just brushing against one.

Midway through the last stitch I heard Joker come in, sensed his eyes on me. I finished up with Croc and turned to him, wiping the blood off my hands. He stepped from the shadows and grinned at me, holding his hands out.

“Well, look at you! My lovely, scarred, hah!, nursie taking care of, hee, big bad Killer Croc. Guess I shoulda known you’d have a gentle touch.”

He sniggered, walking closer as Croc muttered behind me, “Your scent twists with his, girl. You’re twined around him like a vine, but he doesn’t cause the madness.” I stared at him as he tapped his nose. “I smell everything, girl.”

Joker pulled me into his side and winked at Croc.

“Satisfied, big guy? Quinnie take, HA!, good care of you?”

Croc pushed himself gingerly off the boxes and began limping away, holding his tail in one hand. I noticed the burn salve was tucked into his jeans pocket. He looked over his shoulder to nod.

“I appreciate your help, Joker. And yours, girl. I will be healed for the job.”

He closed the door behind himself and lumbered away.
♠ ♠ ♠
Scorpion: The princess. Where is she? The Joker: Princess? Didn't I kill the last guy that called me that? He should of known. I'm the only joker around here!