La Mort Rit En Dernier
Clopin placed the little gadje girl down by the steps which went
down into the Court, and placed his cloak around her. She was just beginning
to show signs of life again, putting her thumb in her mouth and shivering
from the cold of her wet clothes. Cautiously then, the two psychopaths
and the three gypsies crept down the stairs, their surprised ears pricking
up at the sound of laughter.
The sight that met them caused only Harley to sigh in happiness. Irea,
Mirage and Clopin just gaped in astonishment. The children were dancing
playfully around Joker with various strange toys and other objects. One
Romany boy was yanking on a series of colored handkerchiefs that protruded
from Joker's pocket. Above them Joker was cackling joyously, letting them
play. Irea and Mirage's astonishment was quickly replaced with terror as
they saw the familiar sight of the supersoaker in Joker's hands, and they
turned and hissed to Clopin.
"It's what made the people laugh on the streets, what he's holding!"
Mirage whispered. "Clopin, what can we do? It's powerful magik!"
Clopin turned slowly to Harley who blinked at him and grinned. "Harely,
go out and distract your lover from his deeds."
Harley grimaced, secretly nervous about Joker's reaction to her reappearance.
"Aw, come on, he's just being paternal."
Columbine laid a cool hand on Harley's wrist. "Do you want him to kill
all those children, Harley? They're not Gotham's children, they don't belong
Columbine was very familiar with the way Harley thought. Harley looked
at Columbine for a moment,then stared into her lap and sighed. "Awright!!"
she said resignedly, and hopping up she back-flipped her way into the court
square, before doing a neat somersault and landing on her feet, she struck
a pose with one hip out and grinned at Joker who gazed at her with some
astonishment. "Hi Puddin', didja miss me?" she said coyly.
A slow smile spread over Joker's face. "Haaaaarley!!! Well, I'll be!
I thought you were at the bottom of the river by now!"
Harley shook her blonde head "Nu-uh! Oh they tried to get me, but I
was too quick for them! I beat em to the ground and laughed! Ya shoulda
Joker held out his arms. "That's my girl! Come here, pumpkin pie!"
With a delighted whoop Harley leapt over the heads of the gypsy children
and into Joker's arms where she cuddled happily. Behind the two, Mirage
raced quickly to her tent. Joker put Harley back on the ground and tousled
her hair, pinching her cheeks. "You're just in time for all the fun, Harley
Girl! I'm about to wreak vengeance on the Gypsy King AND have a good time
doing it! Wanna join in?"
Harley looked at the children milling around her feet and chewed her
lower lip. "I dunno, Puddin'. I mean, these are just kids. Wouldn't it
be more fun to get the grownups?"
Joker's smile instantly faded. "NO it WOULDN'T! That what's everyone
else would do! Am I everyone else? NO I'm NOT! That man ruined my hat,
and there could very well be a few of his brats running around amongst
these little cretins. Shut up and let the master do his work!"
Harley cringed, and the children had been shocked into silence and
were staring up at Joker with fearful expressions. With a glowering frown
fixed on Harley, Joker pumped his supersoaker and turned back to the children.
Suddenly a sweet, wailing cry rose up through the Court, then danced
into a pretty, joyous melody as Joker, Harley and the children turned to
face the sound. It's a violin, Joker realised, playing pretty warbly little
tunes. How droll. The children were smiling again as they recognised the
sound, and one by one they were beginning to move away from The Joker and
Harley Quinn, dancing to the beauty of the song. "Mirage! It's Mirage playing
for us!" they cried and ran closer as the Romani girl approached them,
playing skillfully on her precious violin, her frightened eyes watching
Joker above her frozen smile.
Joker was really glowering. It wasn't fair!!! If it wasn't Batman
then it was a gypsy girl who thought she was a cowboy!!!!! No matter where
he went there was always someone who wanted to blow the punchline!!!
Well not this time! Joker raised his supersoaker again as Irea stepped
out from the passage way with a fierce and grim expression.
"We'll see how funny you are without your toys, Clown!" she snapped
to herself, and began to mutter under her breath, her hands flipping gracefully
as she chanted her spell. Joker's furious grin changed to one of surprise
as his supersoaker began to glow, then floated out of his hands. He groped
at it, his mouth gaping, but it moved quickly out of his reach, over to
Irea who leapt on it and clutched it close to her, snarling at Joker as
she ran away.
Joker was livid!!! This was the pits! Reaching inside his breast pocket
he fumbled for his gun. It wasn't there! Joker's expression turned to one
of alarm as he checked his other pockets frantically. No it wasn't there
either! What the hell? His gun, where was it! Then, with an angry cry
he remembered he had let the snotty-nosed brat take it, in hopes he would
release the safety and randomly shoot at his little friends. Tearing at
his hair in frustration, he rounded on the terrified Harley and walloped
her soundly across the face.
It was all the incentive Columbine needed. Leaping out she kicked Joker
across the face who fell back,then rose up in front of him with her fists
clenched. Sitting up, Joker glared at her.
"Well well well, if it ain't the LapDog!" he said, his voice dripping
with sarcasm. "I should've known you'd have a hand in this somehow."
Columbine sneered at him and prepared for another crushing blow when
Harley's weak voice called out behind her. "C-c-coolumbiiiiiiine..." she
moaned, and Columbine was instantly by her side, lifting the bloody-mouthed
Harley up who clutched at her friend's bodice. "Do-onn't huurrt mmy Puuddddinn..."
she managed to stammer out as Joker rose to his feet behind them and brought
both fists down heavily on Columbine's head.
She slumped forward, stunned, on top of Harley who was slammed to the
floor again and moaned weakly. Joker then turned towards Irea. Her again!
The little brat had evidently gotten free. Well, he'd take care of her
first, then her fiddle-playing friend. Mirage had meanwhile ceased playing
and hurried the Gypsy children towards the back of the cavern, wanting
to get them as far away from The Joker as possible. Irea threw the supersoaker
as far away from her as she could as Joker stormed towards her. Readying
her hands for more magik, she stood her ground as the Laughing Demon got
closer and closer.
Reaching out with one hand he made as though to punch her, and when
she spun to duck out of his way, his other hand gripped firmly about her
neck, cutting off her air. She gasped and kicked at him, scratching his
white flesh with her fingernails, as Joker slowly and steadily lifted her
into the air, tightening his grip on her throat, grinning at her mockingly,
with dead eyes. Mirage had returned and shouted with fear to see her friend
being strangled in this way, but it was the moment Clopin had been waiting
for. Leaping out of the shadows, he knocked Joker to the floor, who released
Irea in his surprise. Irea rolled along the ground, gasping for air, then
leapt to her feet and hurried over to Mirage who hugged her friend in relief.
Clopin kicked Joker in the face, then punched him hard in the stomach.
With gritted teeth and gleaming eyes, Clopin moved forward again, incensed
only further by the fact Joker was greeting his attack with gasping laughter.
In the background, Columbine had recovered, lifting herself hastily off
Harley, and helping the stunned girl to her feet who grinned dazedly at
Columbine before giving a shout of horror to see Clopin pounding on her
boyfriend. She tried to dart forward, but was wrenched forcibly back by
Columbine, who hoped her wish for Joker's death would be granted.
"Joker can hold his own, Harley, you know that" she whispered to placate
her friend. And when he doesn't, she thought grimly, I can butcher the
Gypsy King for Harley's vengeance! Frightened and nervous, Mirage and Irea
clung to each other watching their beloved friend beat on their enemy.
They were certain Joker would be no match for their King, but readied themselves
for assistance should he need it. Joker had quickly recovered, and as Clopin's
fist swung around for another punch he ducked neatly out of the way, then
whipped an ankle around Clopin's tripping him up.
Columbine's eyes narrowed. What game is he playing? she wondered.
only defending, not attacking. Joker further confirmed this when Clopin
leapt to his feet, Joker continued to simply duck and dodge the Gypsy King's
fists and feet, mockingly waving scarves in Clopin's face, as the two moved
into the center of the square. Clopin paused as Joker grinned slyly at
him, and took a deep breath. Getting furious with the lunatic would be
of no use. The four women watched, enthralled, as their men sized each
other up, one with a mocking waggle of his eyebrows and a finger placed
thoughtfully on his chin, the other with an intense and furious expression,
fists clutched by his side.
Clopin spoke up first, his voice low and controlled. "So you would
murder innocent children then, you maniac?"
Joker shrugged. "Clopie, my friend, I would do anything for
Anger leapt in Clopin's chest but he controlled it. "The slaughtering
of childen you find to be a joke?"
Joker leered. "One of the best kind."
With a cry Clopin leapt forward, knocking Joker to the ground, and
pounding one fist furiously on the madman's face. Joker did nothing, only
laughed. Clopin pulled his dagger from his belt. "Will you think it so
funny when I slit your throat?"
Joker smiled at him in an almost affectionate way. "Sure. It'll be
Clopin's lip curled. "You'll not find mercy in me this way. You've
killed my people, it is only just I should kill you."
Mirage and Irea watched with wide eyes, Columbine and Harley with crazed
ones. Joker raised his eyebrows in surprise. "No, no I mean it! It'll be
really funny! I mean, here you are, a Gypsy King, fighting for his people
to be accepted in the world, and here I am, low down dirty rotten scoundrel
murdering for the sake of it, and you'll kill me though I won't raise a
hand to stop you!"
Clopin paused, with his blade pressed against Joker's windpipe. Joker
continued. "I've always said, if you gotta go at least take a good man
down with you!"
"Shut up!" Clopin hissed through gritted teeth.
Joker pursed his lips. "No! I should enjoy the joke before you shuffle
me off this mortal coil! I'm not a soldier who arrested your people for
singing on the street, I don't hate you because I'm ignorant and you're
a Gypsy, I just felt like getting out and doing some damage. Completely
indiscriminate, but you'll let me drag you down!! Hee hee! Well, come on
then Gypsy King, do the deed!"
Clopin no longer looked at Joker, but above and beyond him, his face
frozen, his lips slack. Suddenly, he got off Joker and resheathed his dagger,
turning away as Joker sat up angrily. "Hey! Hey!" Joker called. "Come back
here!! You goddamned gypsy, you're ruined every single one of my jokes
today!!!!! Get back here!!!"
Clopin ignored him. He felt sick to the stomach, but oddly relieved
too. He turned back to Joker. "Take your friends" - with a nod to Harley
and Columbine - "and go back where you came from. Leave right now. Do not
do anything else to this city or you will live to regret it."
Joker's look was scornful, but he saw the Gypsy King was no longer
going to be antagonised. The game was over. It *was* time to go home. He
stood up and stretched, scratching his sides lazily. "All right, all right,
I can tell you're in no mood for fun. Come on Harley, LapDog -" Columbine
glowered. "- let's go back to the twentieth, a time of enlightenment where
maniacs like us are given comfy padded cells and three meals a day."
Mirage and Irea walked falteringly over to their friend, who held up
a weary hand and leaned on one of the benches in the square. His eye fell
on an orange lying there, and his old grin worked its way across his face.
Behind him, Harley was clinging to Joker's arm, and Columbine was following
with a stony face. Joker's good humor was rapidly returning as he thought
of Gotham awaiting him, and Batman, lovely lovely Batman, waiting too...
Joker's eye fell on a pomegranate lying discarded on the floor, and
with one swift smooth movement, he swept it up and turned back to Clopin,
just as Clopin turned to face him with his. The two pieces of fruit went
plummeting through the air to land with resounding smacks on the two men's
faces, and amazingly, they both chuckled as they wiped juice out of their
eyes. Joker leered at Clopin. "Say now, Clopie, under other circumstances
you and I mighta been friends!"
Clopin's look was wryly amused. "I doubt it somehow, Joker."
Joker laughed, and so benevolent did he feel that he wrapped an arm
around Harley and Columbine both, the latter wrenching away to stand by
Harley, and the three lunatics bounced out of the Court of Miracles and
into the darkness of the tunnel above, while the three gypsies silently
watched them with cold and aching hearts, standing side by side, as their
strange guests disappeared up the stairs and out of their lives.
The storm had passed, and the sun had set and the night was quiet and
still as nights always are after a storm. The ground was still damp and
the air had a pleasant, fresh tang to it. Stars winked from the blue velvet
of the cleared sky, and there was no breeze. Once in the graveyard, Columbine
was only too eager to hustle Harley home, and the romance of Paris had
long since worn off for Harley. She turned to Joker with a pleading expression,
and even Columbine blinked at him from her large brown eyes. But Joker
stared up at the millions of stars, there seeming to be so many more than
there were in the twentieth century, and rubbed his nose. His deep purple
eyes blinked at the universe beyond and he grinned suddenly. Harley tugged
his coat sleeve.
"Can we go home now, Puddin'?" she asked softly.
Joker turned his head to her slowly, the light of the moon illuminating
his long wet green hair, his face dark where the moonlight didn't strike
it. He looks like a being made from the moon's light, Columbine
thought with something as close to admiration as she would get for the
"Soon, Harley Girl, soon," Joker said softly. "I just want to pay one
last visit to our good friends the Minister and the Vicomtesse."
The next morning the sun burned brightly over Paris once more, though
the air was still chill, and pale grey clouds dotted the blue sky. The
damp streets rapidly dried as the people ventured cautiously out of their
homes to go about their business, their hearts lightened by the dawn of
a new day, the plagued bodies having being swiftly burnt. Frollo's guards
returned to the Palace to report that no sign of the white-faced madman
had been uncovered, to all intents and purposes, he had vanished.
Frollo sat, still and expressionless, in his armchair, gazing into
the fireplace before him, strong dissatisfaction filling his chest and
rising in his throat. Nothing had gone to plan. The lunatic had vanished,
and the rom still plagued the streets of Paris. The Minister had a headache.
Why did God test him so? No matter. Frollo was merely God's servant, he
would face His challenges as He sent them. The Good Lord was merely testing
his faith. He had plenty of years ahead of him to rid Paris of the heathen
The Minister rose slowly from his armchair with a sigh, deciding that
the morning was cold enough for a fire to be lit. As he made his way over
to the bell pull, he stopped with a lurch and a sinking stomach at the
sight of the box on his table, illuminated by the grey light filtering
in the windows. Looking about him nervously, Frollo walked forward slowly.
A deep magenta box, each side was marked with a grinning skull wearing
a Jester's cap. The identity of the person who'd left it was obvious, and
for that reason Frollo hesitated to touch it, licking his lips, and furrowing
his forehead. A note was pinned to the top, the words scrawled childishly
in orange crayon.
No hard feelings, Frolly!!
And at that instant the lid burst open. Recoiling in sudden panic,
Frollo lifted an arm to shelter his face. Gazing over the black of his
sleeve, he felt foolish to see that the box contained nothing but a Jester
on a spring, wobbling madly from side to side, holding a banner in its
hands that read "BOO".
Laughing bitterly to himself Frollo strode up to the table again, prepared
to throw the box against the wall, but at that second a stream of thick
green paint flew from the gaping mouth of the Jester, splashing over Frollo's
face and the front of his robes, staining it thickly. Gasping in disgust,
Frollo wiped at his face with his sleeve, but only succeeded in spreading
the gunk further. Clawing at the air, Frollo wailed. Why did the Lord test
Several miles away in her wooded estate, the Vicomtesse had risen and
dressed in a hideously expensive wine-red velvet gown. Sweeping into her
sitting room, she was more than a little unsettled to find a box decorated
with jester-capped skulls sitting on her elaborate carved writing desk.
The paint in the Vicomtesse's box was purple.
Underneath the city of Paris, in the Court of Miracles, the Rom had
returned to sweep naughty children into their arms for scoldings and cuddles.
The large fires had been lit, the pots once again bubbled with spicy foods,
and soft sweet songs and incense filled the air as they chatted together
happily and continued on with life.
In his tent, Clopin lay on his bed, a troubled frown on his face. Something
had happened to him these last two days, something that had damaged him
inside. The madman would have killed all the children, the same children
who watched Clopin in his puppet cart everyday, and who laughed and begged
him to play tricks on them. If that wasn't enough, his lovely red-haired
favourite had left Paris without telling him. Clopin didn't feel like leaving
the Court. He didn't feel like leaving his tent. He sighed and passed a
hand over his face, trying to ignore his aching heart.
Outside the tent, Mirage played Clopin a song on her violin, singing
her love and friendship for Clopin with her bow. It did not comfort him
like it usually did. Outside in the square, Irea watched Mirage playing
for Clopin with pouty lips. She knew something was hurting Clopin deep
inside, and she didn't know what to do to make it better. Running a gentle
hand through the blonde hair of the gadje girl who had finally come
out of her trance and begun to show some life again, Irea got up and filled
a bowl with chicken and a tankard with beer then strolled over to the tent
and Mirage. Giving her friend a grin and bringing her song to a gentle
end, Mirage gave Irea a wink and turned to walk back to her own tent. Irea
lifted the tent flap and walked inside.
Clopin sat up as she came in, smiling at him affectionately, and he
couldn't help but return it. "Here, you have to eat something Clopin,"
she said gently, perching herself on the bed and handing the victuals to
the man she loved.
Clopin took them without letting his eyes leave her once. He looked
at her rounded cheeks, her sparkling black eyes and her mischievous grin
and felt considerably better. Life wasn't really so bad, you just had to
roll with the punches.
"Have you ever been kissed before, Irea?" he asked suddenly, and she
blinked at him coyly.
GOTHAM CITY, 1999
The skyline above Gotham was a hazy red, as it commonly was, and a
violent storm was on its way as the sun melted into the horizon. Car horns
blared, neon lights flickered, and a luminous yellow light with the symbol
of a Bat in its center struck the dark clouds above the city as night hit
in Gotham City.
Columbine and Harley Quinn, in fluffy slippers and gauzy nighties,
their faces covered in peeling masks and wads of cotton-wool stuck between
their freshly painted toes, rolled around on the bed and laughed and laughed
as the Barbie doll melted fiercely beneath the acid on the stake they'd
impaled her on. They'd already forgotten fifteenth-century Paris. Suddenly,
the orange and green panelled door was kicked open, and The Joker, resplendent
in a vivid blue suit with a green shirt and yellow waistcoat leapt into
the room with a delighted grin on his face.
"Heads up, Harley Girl and LapDog!" he shouted cheerfully. "The Clown
Prince of Crime has a brilliant idea for New Years Eve! It's a killer!
It's a classic!! It can't fail! What a way to ring in the New Millennium!"
Columbine groaned and banged her head against the mattress while Harley
rolled off the bed and leapt to her feet. "Come on, Columbs, lets go get
dressed!!!! Anything Mistah J's got planned HAS to be fun!"
Joker threw back his head and laughed in delighted triumph as lightning
struck the Gotham skyline and a Man dressed as Bat continued a relentless
search for him.
Click below to access the Guide, designed
to enlighten all those unfamiliar with
Batman/Joker fandom and clear up a few
niggling little points.