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

Smile for Me


I saw Ra’s Al Ghul again the next day. I’d taken to wandering the city when Joker wasn’t around. I had spent enough time languishing in a room. Joker had led me through so many secret routes that I could travel nearly unseen. I was taking a rest, sitting against a brick wall tossing my knife from hand to hand, when I heard voices. The deep rumble of a man and the lighter, musical voice of a woman. I was in one of the more hidden places. People weren’t supposed to be around.

I held tight to the hilt of my knife and stood as Ra’s Al Ghul and a woman stepped into view. He was smiling slightly, head tilting towards her. She grinned and lay a hand on his arm, saying something in a language I didn’t recognize. She moved easily, confident with her body. She looked strong. And beautiful, exotic and powerful like a panther. Tall, slender, with muscles easing into curves. Her eyes were large and heavy-lidded, the green color striking against her olive skin. Long, straight black hair hung to her waist. She wore cargo pants and a blank tank top with heavy army boots. I sensed she was dangerous, a coiled up viper like Ra’s Al Ghul. They both stopped when they saw me. Ra’s had his usual cultured mask up, but her lip curled with distaste.

“What are you?” she asked.

Not who. What. I resisted the urge to hurl a knife at her pretty, pretty face and realized I was becoming more like Joker. The thought pleased me.

“This is Quinn, daughter. One of Joker’s...people,” Ra’s said softly, giving her a stern look. “How delightful to see you again, Quinn. Let me introduce my daughter, Talia.” I nodded at her, noticing her eyes linger uncomfortably on my scars. Good. Ra’s was already looking past me, disinterested. He said something in the foreign language to Talia, waving a hand. She nodded and waited as he stepped away, then bowed low. “I have urgent business, Quinn, but please, give my best regards to the Joker.”

“I will.”

Talia looked momentarily taken aback by my ugly, rough voice, but she recovered quickly. Her full lips flattened and she gave me a curt nod.

“Farewell, Quinn.”

Her English had the same cultured accent as her father’s, and I wondered again where they were from. Ra’s Al Ghul melted into the shadows with Talia close behind. They made almost no sound. I sagged against a wall when they were gone, deciding I preferred regular people to snobs like them.

I made my way back to the Joker and found him crouched in a corner, muttering to himself. He kept running a hand through his hair, exposing the roots where the green was gone. His men were nervous, playing poker with trembling hands. I knew why as soon as I took a step closer. The room reeked of blood. One of his men was sprawled near a pile of boxes, a knife stuck in his throat. I headed over to Joker and put a hand on his shoulder. He cracked his neck, muscles bunching under my fingers, and turned.

“Hiya, Quinnie. Just, ha, taking care of something.”

He shuffled back so I could see the papers spread before him. They were mostly just numbers, scratched out equations I couldn’t make head or tail of. And photos of someone, a man with dark hair, getting into a car, sitting at a restaurant, smiling with his arm around a woman. I decided not to ask. His familiar, messy scrawl was all over, thick and pressed down too hard. It wasn’t quite the handwriting I remembered from the newspapers. More legible, smaller.

I looked over a neatly drawn diagram for a machine and smiled to myself. I sometimes forgot he was a genius. The man could be so smart it was frightening. Well, frightening in a different way than usual. He leaned into my legs and looked up at me. I smiled fondly, putting a hand on his hair. It was nice when he was like this, almost normal.

“I’m hungry.”

“Alright, ha, let’s get something,” he said, standing up and brushing his knees off. “Can’t let my princess go hungry.” I grinned and leaned against him as he slipped his hand into mine. His skin was smudged with ink and blood. I wondered what had brought this kindness on as he held a door open for me and bowed. “The kitchen, haha, my lady. Let’s, ah, get something to eat.”

I nodded at him and stepped inside. I was half expecting something awful to jump out at me, maybe Scarecrow with his needles, but the kitchen was quiet. And filthy, as usual. Joker grabbed two slices of pizza from the counter and tossed one at me.

“Here ya go, Quinn. Practically, hoo!, gourmet.” I took it and ate, slower than he did. Joker always ate like he was starving, or expecting someone to steal it from him. “Don’t like having Ra’s around,” he muttered, so soft I wasn’t sure he was actually speaking to me. I lifted my head anyway, making a questioning noise. His eyes darted to me and back, mouth twitching. “Ra’s is clever, Quinnie. And old.” He wrinkled his nose, so childish I had to laugh. He grinned quickly at me before narrowing his eyes. “Ra’s likes everything ordered, all, haha, perfect and in place and I don’t LIKE THIS. Don’t want, ah, don’t want him, ha, around to MESS everything up.”

“How old is Ra’s?” I asked curiously, recalling his face.

Ra’s didn’t look older than his mid-thirties, which was odd, because his daughter appeared only slightly younger. And if he was in his thirties, he would only be older than Joker by a few years, which made it strange for him to call Ra’s old.

“Ah, he’s got tricks, Quinn, ancient things that, hoo, keep ‘im going. Like a fuckin’ machine.”

I shrugged and dropped the subject.
♠ ♠ ♠
The Joker: You shouldn't have made Captain Clown MAD.