patriciatepes: (jokerwrite)

Author Name: Patriciatepes (Patricia de Lioncourt )

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Batman: the Animated Series

Rating: PG-13

Characters: Dawn Summers, The Joker, Nightwing/Dick Grayson, Batman, Giles, Willow, Xander, Buffy Summers, OCs, several minor scenes with major characters

Pairing: Dawn/Nightwing (Dick Grayson)

Chapter Links: Prev | Next

Warnings: (for all chapters) Torture, swearing

Summary: When Buffy is poisoned and dying, Dawn is left no choice but to go to Gotham for the cure that she is told is too dangerous to retrieve. Time is on her side... too bad the universe isn't.

Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, Batman, or any related characters. They belong to Whedon, DC Comics, and WB. No money made here.

Author's Notes: Art by the wonderful [livejournal.com profile] 20thcenturyvole. I started this story long, long ago, and decided to finish it for the [livejournal.com profile] wipbigbang.  I do author's notes every chapter on fanfiction (dot) net, but I'll only copy the relevant ones here. Now, I know we got a glimpse of the Joker sleeping in that last chapter and you are all probably wondering when he'll begin to feature big in this story. Sorry, that's next chapter. But, without further ado, here's this one!


Chapter 5- Telephone

Dawn threw back her head and sighed, her eyes trained on the dark and dismal ceiling of Arkham Asylum. She had two more days until she could consider her training period officially "over." But until then, she had been bounced from one orderly to the next, always ending up back with Alisha. However, at the present moment, they had decided—due to a rather busy schedule and a rather short staff—to let Dawn finish feeding the inmates by herself. Well, almost by herself. After all, it was protocol that all orderlies be accompanied by a guard when coming into any sort of close contact with an inmate.

As per protocol, the little, metal sliding door in the glass of the inmate's cell was opened by the inmate his or herself. Standing off to the side, nightstick at the ready, was the guard. Dawn had been instructed to stand no closer than a little over a foot from the door, set the tray on the floor, and slide it through with her foot. This was done to help lessen any chances that the inmates might have to injure the orderlies. After the food was through, the guard ordered the inmate to close the door, they did, and all went about their lives. However, this was not currently the case.

"Can't you answer my riddle, dear?" Edward Nygma AKA the Riddler, sans green suit, drawled.

Dawn swallowed down her annoyance. "Mr. Nygma, please just open your door and let me slide you your food. Aren't you hungry?"

"Ah, but you're new. And you look like a smart one. Give it a shot," he grinned, reclining back on his simple, wall-mounted bed.

Sighing again, Dawn turned to the guard accompanying her. "I thought he was over this?"

The young man shrugged. Dawn shook her head.

"Fine," she said as calmly as she could muster. "Could you repeat the riddle?"

Putting on his most arrogant airs, he cleared his throat and repeated, "You throw away the outside and cook the inside. Then you eat the outside and throw away the inside. What did you eat?"

Dawn nibbled at her bottom lip, thinking. She spared a moment's glance to her watch. She still had a few minutes until her shift was up this evening… but she was going to be getting overtime if she couldn't get Nygma to take his damn food! From behind the glass, Riddler smoothed back his red hair and chuckled.

"Oh come now, Miss Winters, I thought that you would have an ear for this!"

Dawn blinked. Smiling, she crossed her arms and looked him dead in the eye.

"An ear of corn?" she ventured.

With a sharp, "Ha!" he slid off his bed and opened the door, quickly stepping back even as the guard ordered him to do so. Dawn put her toe out and pushed the tray beyond the glass. Riddler retrieved it and shut the door.

"Well played, Miss Winters, well played. But, you know, that riddle has another answer as well. Can you guess it? Just for fun?"

The guard, already on his way up the hall, paused and turned back, a brow raised. Dawn grinned. She remembered this riddle now. It was one that Joyce had shared at some random Summers dinner.

"Oh, I could. But I think I'll just chicken out," she said.

This sent the man into peals of laughter, muttering every so often, "Excellent. Just excellent!"

"And, I'm outta here!" Dawn announced as she passed the guard, wishing him a good night.

She cleared her way with Alisha, who smiled and nodded, then proceeded to clock out. As she was descending the asylum's outside steps, reaching for her cell to call for a cab, she felt it vibrate. She didn't bother to check the ID, as only one person currently had her new number.

"Hey, Giles? How's Buffy? Nothing bad has happened, right?" she asked, pausing on the bottom step.

"She's fine. I'm actually calling just to check up on you. Nothing bad on your end, I hope? How was the apartment?" he asked, and Dawn could almost hear him remove his glasses and wipe his brow.

"The apartment was fantastic, Giles. I'm glad that Buffy's still doing okay. As for me, nothing bad has happened… but nothing good either. I'm almost at the end of my training period—even though my trainer says that you 'never really stop learning at Arkham,' and the closest I've been to the Joker was passing by his cell while he was asleep."

Giles breathed into the phone. "Well, time is on our side, thank God. Don't rush things. I'm sure you'll be in close enough contact to get what we need in no time. Just be careful, Dawn. I cannot stress this enough. Joker is dangerous… never forget it."

Dawn rolled her eyes. That seemed to be the theme of her whole week, "Joker is Dangerous." She huffed, moving to the left of the stairs and taking a seat.

"Giles, I mean, come on, haven't I heard that enough? That's all I've heard from the orderlies here too. I mean, I feel like I'm listening to a CD with a bad scratch. I've hung with vampires, slayers, and demons, Giles. Not to mention witches. Well, actually, I guess I did just mention them, but… whatever. I mean, no matter how dangerous this guy is to the common folk, he can't be that bad to one of us, can he?"

She had long ago hushed her voice, for fear of having someone overhearing her discussing the Joker like this. The last thing she needed was someone thinking she was another Harley Quinn case. Giles, on his end, sighed heavily. Dawn rolled her eyes again, knowing a lecture was coming. And, of course, she was right.

"Dawn, I don't deny that you do have a point. To one who's dealt with the things that go bump in the night, the Joker ought to be a piece of cake. But I've read a lot about him. As far as powers, he's got nothing but gimmicks. However, he's a criminal genius. And his most dangerous quality is his predictable unpredictability."

Dawn arched a brow. "Predictable unpredictability? Isn't that an oxymoron?"

Thank you, Freshman Comp I. Giles huffed out a tiny laugh.

"I suppose it is, but it doesn't make it any less true."

"Well, I don't get you, Giles. I mean, how is that his most dangerous quality?"

"Simply put: one knows the gimmicks he will use, and probably the method… but one might never know when he'll choose to strike. I once read an account where he kept tabs on a man for years, simply because he said the man owed him a favor. And I'm sure you have heard of, if not seen, Harley Quinn?"

"All right. I get your point. I'll be careful, trust me. But I've got to go. It's going to start looking pretty weird for me to just be hanging out here."

The two said their good-byes, and Dawn hung up, snapping her phone shut with a quick click. She sat on the step a moment or two longer, lost in thought, before she finally called for a cab.

#

A couple of days earlier, Dawn had visited upon her upstairs neighbor, Dick, to take him up on his offer of training. She had hoped that this hadn't been an empty promise, but he had happily greeted her and more than eagerly worked with her to work out a training schedule. Presently, after arriving home a little more than a half an hour later, she readied herself for their first scheduled session. She skipped the shower, seeing as it made more sense for her to take one after the sweaty karate session. She blushed a little when she thought of "sweaty" and Dick in the same thought, but quickly brushed it aside. Instead, she opted for a "whore's bath," just washing her visible skin after she had switched into her uniform and putting on a bit of body spray.

Buffy had always hated her using the term "whore's bath," but it just made Dawn giggle like a five-year-old. Finally pronouncing herself as ready, she made her way out of her apartment, up the hall and stairs, and to Dick's front door. With a couple of quick knocks, she was permitted entry.

She made her way into his dojo, smiling to herself. He called to her from an adjacent room, "I'll be in, in a sec, Dawn, okay? … This is Dawn that I just let in, right?"

Dawn laughed. "Yeah," she called back. Playfully, she added, "You know, it's not always such a hot idea to just invite people sight-unseen into your home. Trust me, learned that the hard way."

Stupid Harmony, she thought, staring at the simple décor on the walls. Moments later, Dick entered the room, and Dawn had to stop herself from gaping. He was shirtless! And she was trying hard not to stare. But it was oh, so difficult. He was rather muscular, but hadn't she already noticed this? His hair was pulled back once again, and he wore a small smile. He wore the bottom half of a Judogi that, judging by the bottom, was quite similar to Dawn's. Around his waist was a thick, black belt… but Dawn had to force her eyes upwards again.

She was in Gotham for a reason. She had a mission. Ogling a guy was not part of it. Her sister was dying. Of course… what harm could be done by just looking? Surely Buffy wouldn't blame her for looking… Hell, she might praise her for this one.

And she must've been staring pretty intently, because Dick's smile soon turned rather goofy, and Dawn's face began to grow very warm. Shrugging, he cleared his throat rather awkwardly.

"Sorry. I, um, hope this won't make you uncomfortable. I didn't have time to wash the top half of my gi, and I had a condiment-related incident with it earlier. My sensei was always admonishing me for eating in my uniform. The lesson never took, no matter how many exercises he made me do. What can I say? I love to eat."

Dawn thought she was going to die. It was a moment of tripping over her words before she was finally able to force out a laugh without it sounding squeaky. Dick laughed as well, and she was pretty sure it was at her, and not with her. He stepped forward—barefooted, of course—onto the large blue mat in the center of the room. He gestured for Dawn to join him, and she did so in an odd, jerky movement that was somewhere between "eager" and "hesitant." Hence, the jerkiness.

"Now," Dick said, his voice all seriousness, "you said that it had been a little while since your last practice. Would you just like a refresher? Work with different moves as stuff comes back to you?"

"Yeah, that's sounds perfect… uh, do I call you sensei?"

Dick looked like he was fighting the smile forming on his lips when he replied, "Nah. Let's just stick with Dick."

The evening progressed in just such a way. They went over various throws and holds, with Dawn quickly gaining her focus away from Dick's nude upper-half as move after move came back to her.

"So," Dick said, while holding her in a way that illustrated a shoulder throw, "how is everything?"

Dawn laughed. "Not bad. I was in San Francisco, so I know how to move in a big city… but Gotham's really like no other, you know?"

"Tell me about it," Dick said.

He finished the move by showing her how to get out of it, which she did, successfully. Laying on the mat, staring up at her, he smiled.

"Why don't we take a little break? Catch our breath?" he asked.

Dawn laughed. "Sure. What? Did I tire you out?"

He laughed hard at that, and she pouted. He stood, offered her a water—which she accepted, gratefully, and the two took a seat off to one side of the mat.

"So, neighbor, tell me something about yourself. Something you haven't told me yet," Dick said, swallowing a rather large mouthful of water.

Dawn sipped at hers thoughtfully. She had to be careful what she said here. She was sure that Dick wasn't really fishing for information; he was probably just being nice. But Giles—and apparently the entire staff of Arkham—kept warning her to be cautious, careful. So careful she was going to be.

"Well… I was in the Honors program both in high school and college," she said.

"Ah, thought you were a smart one."

Dawn's brow furrowed for a moment, thinking back to the Riddler saying almost exactly the same thing earlier. She quickly wiped the look from her face, before any questions could be asked. Smiling, she playfully nudged her trainer/neighbor.

"Okay, your turn. Tell me something I don't know about you."

"Alright. My favorite food is carrots. Don't ask me why… I just love them."

"So random!" Dawn laughed. "Okay, my turn? When I was twelve years old, I wasn't supposed to watch horror films. So, I snuck over to a friend's house one night, and had a total horrorfest. The bloodiest, goriest movies you could possibly think of… I slept with the light on for a month after that."

"Nice. Let's see… Well, I better tell you this before you find out through gossip. My parents died young, and I am… well, was a ward of Bruce Wayne."

Dawn's eyes widened. She hadn't expected family information to come out so soon. Her smile was wiped away, and she reached a tentative hand out towards him.

"I'm sorry… well, about your parents. But at least you avoided foster care… and with Bruce Wayne to boot!"

Dick's smile looked a little strained when he replied, "Don't worry about it. It was a long time ago, and justice was served. Thought I ought to mention it before our picture ends up in the Gotham Gazette."

Dawn's face blanched a little. A newspaper? She couldn't appear in a newspaper! Of course, it wasn't like the Gotham Gazette was one Buffy read often. Dick arched a brow at her.

"Are you okay? Dawn?"

"Uh, yeah, sorry. I have… sort of stage fright. Was just thinking too hard on being in the paper," she replied… again, not a total lie.

Dick laughed. "I'm sorry. I'd tell you to disguise yourself, but that would only draw more attention. And I don't want you to feel like you have to hide. A lot of people in Gotham feel that way… it's not right, nor is it fair."

"No problem. I'll deal."

"So… tell me about your family."

For half a moment, Dawn almost concocted an elaborate lie. Well, not so elaborate. Just a lie. However, she stopped just moments before it spilled forth.

"My dad and I don't really talk anymore. He and my mom divorced when I was little. My sister was only like sixteen or something. My mom died of a brain aneurysm a couple of years before I started high school. She'd been sick for a little while. My sister raised me after that, with some great help from her friends. We're all like one big family."

"I'm sorry to hear about that. What's your sister's name?" Dick asked.

"Buffy," Dawn said, her voice going a little quiet. "We don't always get along… but she's kind of my world. I… I don't know what I'd do without her."

"It was nice of her to continue to raise you. I don't mean to sound crude, but for a lot of people your sister's age—I'm assuming—it might have been easier just to pawn you off on someone else."

Dawn gave a short laugh. "Yeah, well… Buffy's always been the responsible sort."

There was silence after that, with nothing but Dawn and Dick staring at one another. It seemed that neither knew what to say next, and that they hadn't really expected their conversation to get quite so serious. However, the familiar tune of Dick's phone sounded, and he all but leapt to his feet to answer it.

Glancing at the caller ID, he turned to her and said, "Excuse me. I have to take this."

Like the phone call before, it was over after a couple of "uh-huhs" and "yeahs." Clicking it shut, he turned, an apologetic grin on his face.

"Sorry about this, but I gotta run. I really did mean to get back to practice tonight."

Dawn pulled herself to her feet, shaking her head. "No problem. It's fine."

"Say, I know this isn't what we scheduled… but would you be free tomorrow night to pick up where we left off with the Judo?"

Dawn couldn't help but smile.

"Yeah. Definitely."

"Good. Well… it was good to have you over, Dawn. See you same time tomorrow."

"Right after work."

Dawn let herself out after that. She all but bounced down the staircase, a silly grin plastered on her face. Unlocking her apartment's door, she entered and raised a brow. Lighting up the sky through her window once again was the famous "Bat Signal." She shook her head.

"I guess Batman doesn't ever get a night off," she muttered, shutting the door behind her.


End Notes: Okay, fun little scene at the beginning there, and some character development at the bottom. I hope everyone enjoyed this. And I promise, Joker makes a big appearance in the next chapter. I swear it.

Fun Fact: The riddle was found off of a website, and had two possible answers… so I included both. Also, the title of last chapter was inspired by "Smile" by Lily Allen. I just get the feeling that this would be a song that the Joker would just love.

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