Batman and Joker: Blood Ties - Version 5

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This fan fiction short story, the fifth and final in this series, continues to explore how Batman and his nemesis, Joker, came to have characteristics which are the exact opposite of each other. Is this a coincidence? Or is it due to some sinister link between the two characters or between their origins?

How much of our lives are controlled by fate, by chance?

What if one seemingly minor decision could shape your entire life?

Will you ever be able to forgive yourself for making the wrong choice, even without knowing?

* * * * * **

Both boys had loved the movie.

While walking back home from the cinema, with their parents slightly behind them, both were acting out action scenes from the movie.

The eldest suddenly stopped mid-punch and groaned, looking ahead of him at the closed bookstore.

He had badly wanted to buy a new comic book that all his friends had.

While he had borrowed and read it, he still badly wanted to have one of his own.

His father came up to him and put his hand on the boy’s shoulder, knowing what it was about, since the boy had gone on about wanting to go to the bookstore after the movie.

“It’s OK son, I promise I will buy it for you tomorrow.”

But the boy knew that with his father’s workload, he would probably forget. It wouldn’t be the first time.

“Can’t we just go to the other one around the corner? Please. It’s just like two blocks from here.”

His father looked at his watched, sighed and turned to the mother who just shrugged with a smile.

Although it was quite late, if he didn’t get the book the boy would probably pout for days, so the father thought that they might as well get it now.

“I know a short cut,” the younger kid, the more mischievous of the two said, running ahead and darting into an alley.

“Wait up son, don’t go off on your own,” the father called out while hurrying after the boys, breaking into a jog.

It was a dark, dirty and deserted alley and he would have preferred to avoid it, except for the fact that the two boys were almost half way through it.

He turned back to make sure that his wife was keeping up.

She was.

But he saw in her face a look of concern, of fear and turned around to find himself facing a burly, unkempt man, with a big black tattoo across nearly half his face.

The father looked ahead. The two boys had gone beyond the end of the alley and turned and were no longer in sight.

The man pulled out a knife and the father tried to run back while calling out to his wife to do the same. 

It was only when he turned to his wife that he saw the second man, a thug even larger than the first behind him, armed with a pistol instead.

The boys were going though the comics at the bookstore, blissfully unaware, when they heard the two gunshots.

* * * * * **

People cope differently with tragedy.

Some are broken by it but pick themselves up and go about their lives as best as they can, hiding the damage.

Others turn bitter, blame the world and take their revenge out on society.

Some, however, becoming stronger because of it and are determined to do their best so that such tragedies do not occur again to others.

There are also those who just lose their senses – who become raving lunatics.

* * * * * **

The two brothers were going at each other again, both bristling and ready to turn it into a fistfight.

“Screw you, you have no right to say that.”

“You don’t know the hell she would have gone through.”

“It’s not up to you to decide how best she should cope with it.”

“You’re just a kid, what the hell do you know?”

The elder of the two was holding himself back from punching his brother with the greatest effort, as usual incensed at his brother’s attitude that he knew what was best for everyone.

But his brother was not backing off either.

“I never said I knew what was best for her or that I understood what she had to suffer.”

“I understand what she went through was horrific but lashing out at the world is not going to change anything.”

“What’s done is done, unfortunately.”

What would have inevitably ended up as a fistfight was disturbed by a loud knock as the caretaker, Alfred, entered the room, standing between the boys and pretending to dust a shelf that required no dusting.

While his ploy was as clear as day, neither boy was willing to put Alfred in harm’s way so they broke it off, with the older boy storming off, while the younger one threw himself down on the couch.

“Am I wrong Alfred?”

“Am I just being completely naïve?”

Alfred stopped the pretence of dusting and sat down next to the boy.

“No master, I don’t think you are.”

“But again, the truth is not a straight line; most of this world is grey – it’s neither black nor white,” Alfred said those words softly, almost sadly, as if with deep regret.

Alfred left to attend to his other duties, leaving the boy wondering about the conversation.

 * * * * * **

The Joker was finally in custody.

After wreaking havoc on Gotham for years, finally the Gotham Police, with the help of Batman, had put the Joker behind bars.

But repeated attempts at interrogating the Joker had proven completely futile. One detective had lost an eye and had nearly died after the Joker stabbed him in the eye with his own pen while the others, who thereafter had kept their distance, had got no response except for cackles of manic laughter.

But this interrogation was different. It was off the books and was not being recorded. It would not be done in an interrogation room but rather in the Joker’s cell.

And this interrogation was not being done by detectives. It would be done jointly by the Batman and the Police Commissioner, James Gordon.

The Joker was having a nap when the duo entered.

“Rise and shine you psychopath,” Gordon said as he entered the cell, followed by Batman.

The Joker sat up.

“Well, well, well. To what do I owe this honour?”

“The Police Commissioner and the city’s greatest hero, or was it vigilante, in one room. Seems like Christmas has come early.”

Both men stood back at a distance from the Joker, not taking any chances.

Without the makeup the Joker could actually pass for a normal human being, except for the madness in the eyes.

Thin, quite tall but with narrow shoulders, the Joker was pale, with unevenly cropped hair and looked to be somewhere around fifty or sixty years of age.

Batman took the lead.

“You said that you would only speak to the two of us Joker.”

“So here we are.”

“What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Why did you do what you did?”

“Why did you kill all those people?”

The Joker yawned and stretched, choosing to completely ignore Batman’s questions.

“So let me tell you boys a story.”

The look that Batman gave the Police Commissioner, even despite his mask, was clear.

He was already fed up of the charade.

James stepped up and asked Batman to be patient for a few minutes. He knew that the Joker would not talk unless the Joker wanted to. Despite the Joker being the one trapped in the cell, if they wanted any answers they would have to play the Joker’s game.

“Ok, now tell us the story, but keep it short. I will give you five minutes.”

The Joker curtsied and continued.

“See boys, you both have it wrong.”

“You both think that my actions are about right versus wrong. That I am a monster and that you are good guys, the heroes. But it’s not about right or wrong and you don’t get it.”

“Forget right and wrong, think about chance instead, because that is all what matters.”

“I never planned to kill or hurt anyone in particular, I had no casualty figure in mind.”

“I just did what I did and people died. It was just their luck – being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“You think of me as a deranged psychopath, but I personally prefer agent of destiny.”

The Joker looked up, assessing the response of the audience.

The Batman looked at the Police Commissioner and shook his head.

The Joker was beyond reason. This entire exercise was futile.

He stretched his hand to open the cell door.

“Not so fast Bruce, I think you would like to hear what I have to say.”

Batman stood rooted to the spot for few seconds and thereafter closed the distance between him and the Joker in an instant and stood with his hands around the Joker’s neck.

“What sort of game do you think you’re playing, you piece of filth?”

The Commissioner too stood immobile, surprise clearly evident in his face.

“Bruce, as in Bruce Wayne?”

“You are Bruce Wayne?”

The Joker held up her hands in mock surrender as Batman finally backed off, clearly confused and conflicted.

“Yes, James, that’s his name,” the Joker was putting on a theatrical performance, as usual.

“Actually, why don’t we all introduce ourselves? Wouldn’t that be so much better?”

“Bruce, meet James Gordon, of course you would probably know him better as Thomas Wayne Junior, your elder brother who disappeared years ago and then used his share of the family fortune to create a new identity for himself, well much like yourself actually.”

There was silence in the cell as both men stared first at the Joker and then at each other.

“No way,” Bruce finally broke the silence, before reaching back and taking off his mask.

The two men stared intently at each other, initially with disbelief, then with suspicion and finally with comprehension dawning in each other’s eyes.

After parting ways far from good terms decades ago, both had disappeared and had changed themselves vastly, both physically and mentally. Bruce had mostly severed ties with Wayne Enterprises, choosing to stay as low-profile as possible.

Yet, as they stood face-to-face, they were beginning to recognize features in each other’s appearance that had not changed. They were also beginning to realize that their partnership had not been random. They had chosen two different paths, but their goal was the same – the saving of Gotham. It was not surprising that their paths had collided.

Both of them turned to the Joker, who sat calmly with a smile on her face – a human smile which contrasted sharply with her trademark unhinged cackle.

“Who the hell are you? How do you know who we are, woman?”

Thomas Wayne Junior found his voice first.

“See boys, that’s why I told you that you should listen to my story.”

Joker’s tone had changed, had become almost cajoling.

“After all, family time is very important.”

Both men stood rooted, apprehension clearly evident on their faces.

They both suspected that they knew what was coming and dreaded it.

“Come on boys, this is not the first story I’ve told the two of you.”

“It’s just that this is a bit different from all the fairy-tale crap I used to read to you.”

“You see, this story starts on a Friday night nearly twenty-five years ago.”

“A young couple, with their two young sons, are walking back home from a movie.”

“And then all of a sudden, the eldest son – which would of course be you Thomas – decides that he really wants to go to the bookstore to buy the latest comic.”

“And his younger brother – who would be you Bruce – decides that the best way to get to that store is a dark, deserted alley.”

Both men stood still. Thomas Wayne Junior had begun clasping and unclasping his hand unconsciously while Bruce Wayne stood completely still, scarcely breathing.

“The story of course as you know is not a happy one.”

“The boys run ahead and get to the bookstore before their parents do but their parents are not so lucky.”

“Two low-life criminals happen to ambush them, initially with the idea of just mugging them but then they change their mind.”

“The couple is robbed at gun point and the father is beaten mercilessly, then shot and as a result die by drowning in his own blood, which fills up his lungs.”

“Of course, this happens after he has to watch his wife being raped by both men, one after the other.”

“She is also shot in the head by the thugs but she is less lucky,” the Joker slowly parted her hair, showing a scar on her skull. Both men flinch but are speechless.

“And that is why you’re wrong boys, I know because so was I, at least initially.”

“I tried to rationalize it, understand it and overcome it. But nothing helped.”

“I blamed the thugs who killed your father and raped me, I blamed him and myself for letting you kids run ahead and I blamed the two of you as well – Thomas for trying to go to the bookstore that very night and Bruce for choosing that dark alley as a short cut.”

“I tried everything to overcome what happened.”

“I initially gave away millions so that the Gotham Police could buy the best weapons that a police force could possibly ever have – which would rival that of a military. I know, that this caused friction between the two of you. Alfred told me, very diplomatically of course, that you two nearly beat each other up over my decision to hand the Wayne Enterprises weapons to the police – with Thomas supporting and Bruce disagreeing with it.”

“I hoped that getting those thugs killed, which I hired the penguin to do, would help but it didn’t. He killed them all right but he also killed dozens of innocent people.”

“It was only finally after I got convicted for those murders, supposedly went insane and got admitted to the Arkham Asylum that a really good therapist, Harley, god bless her poor soul, made me see the truth.”

“You see, it was nothing more than coincidence, chance or blind luck that lead to what happened to me, what happened to your father and what happened to you.”

“That realization finally gave me closure and perspective.”

“I realized that what happened to me was simply supposed to happen. The same way, what I did as a result was also supposed to happen.”

“So I schemed with Harley, faked a suicide and escaped.”

“I mean, to be fair, Martha Wayne was long dead by then.”

“So there wasn’t much left to kill.”

“But I know that it affected both of you deeply and both of you blamed yourselves for that night – which is why you each went and replaced your previous selves with someone else.”

“I just want you to know that it’s not necessary, I don’t blame you and you shouldn’t blame yourself either.”

“This is just how things were supposed to be.”

“By the way it’s good to see you both doing so well, a mother is always proud of her sons.”

The manic giggle that followed and thereafter the hysterical bout of laughter that left Martha in tears chilled both her sons, who stepped out of the cell without a word.

Outside, they turned to each other.

“What do we do Bruce?”

Both men were shaken to the core, perhaps Thomas Wayne Junior more than Bruce.

But Bruce had no response, at least for once. He slowly shook his head.

“I don’t have a clue brother.”

But they did.

They both looked up together, realized the idea forming in both their heads and looked away in shame.

But it would have to be done, there was no other choice.

* * * * * **

They both stood outside the open prison cell door, as Martha left her cell.

Thomas had made sure that their path would be clear. They were on their own.

They hustled her towards the closest exit.

Just as she exited the building she turned back, facing the two of them.

“Remember boys, I don’t blame either of you. It’s OK.”

There was silence for few seconds, the muted sound of a silenced gun, the sound of a falling corpse and then silence again.

* * * * * **

The two brothers faced each other one final time.

It was the end of their partnership.

They knew that it had ended the moment they had plotted to kill their deranged mother.

They had agreed.

But it had been Bruce who had shot her, going against everything he had ever believed.

She could not be left alive and she had known it.

She had left the brothers with a choice – which was really no choice at all.

Both of them had sacrificed too much, had sacrificed everything for their crusades.

They could not let her live, with the knowledge she had – especially of Bruce.

* * * * * **

Tyres screeched as Bruce stopped the Batmobile.

There was no obstacle on the road in front of him, it had been a reflexive action as he remembered something – a memory from long ago.

Yet, Bruce remembered the conversation well.

“The truth is not a straight line; most of this world is grey – it’s neither black nor white.”

She could not have done it without his help. He had apologized to Bruce for helping her, without using the word sorry but Bruce had been too young to understand.

Bruce put his head in his hands and wept. He had lost his father and mother when he was eight. Tonight, he had killed what had remained of his mother and the memory of Alfred, his father after the death of his biological father, had become tainted forever.

Submitted: November 01, 2020

© Copyright 2020 Saminda. All rights reserved.

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