It took me a couple of seconds for her words to properly sink in. When they finally did, i began blinking owlishly.
"You can't be serious." I deadpanned, a smirk slowly creeping across my face. Roxanne looked as if she was trying not to take offense.
"I'm as serious as a heart attack."
I couldn't help but laugh a little. "Roxanne, the Joker absolutely abhors your very existence on this Earth! How do you expect to sneak him out of the mansion, UNSEEN, without his complete cooperation?" I was aware that this was a very trying situation, but I couldn't help but see the obvious humor in her idea.
Roxanne frowned. "Well, shouldn't the fact that I'm going to be the one taking him out only further encourage him to leave?"
I opened my mouth to respond, but I was interrupted. "AND, what other choice do you have, hmm? This will be the first time Bruce has left his own home in almost SIX days! When else will we receive such an opportunity?"
"We could always wait until Bruce has to leave agai"
"You plan to hold The Joker in BRUCE WAYNE'S mansion longer than absolutely necessary? Are you insane? Don't you remember just how many CLOSE CALLS we've had since we began holding the Joker hostage?" Roxanne shrilled. "You wanna continue to risk it just because you don't trust me enough to pull off the escape mission?"
I back peddled quickly. "Girl, it's not that I don't trust you"
"Then why else would you be arguing against this?" She demanded.
"Look at your circumstances!" I argued back. "It's a nearly impossible task for two people, let alone one!"
Roxanne glared at me. "It was my plan from the beginning. How do you know just how plausible it is?"
"LISTEN TO ME!" Roxanne yelled in frustration. "You have. No. Other. Choice. Do you understand that? This is literally the only opportunity we're going to get to properly execute the Joker's escape! You can't cancel on Bruce at this point without appearing suspicious, and we can't keep the Joker here any longer, because with everyday he's here, the higher the odds are that we'll be caught!"
Roxanne's chest was heaving by the end of her emotional rant, and she looked close to tears. It was obvious that this little argument was not only angering her, but hurting her too. I could also clearly see that she perceived my lack of trust in the situation to really be a lack of trust in her. No wonder she felt so passionately about this.
I thought carefully before responding to Roxanne's outburst. Here was the girl that literally risked her life twice to save me from the very thing I'm trying to protect, and now, she's doing it again, aware that her actions might result in the deaths of more people, because she thinks I love him, and she wants me safe.
I couldn't let her do this. I wouldn't let her do this, but something in her eyes told me that this time, it didn't matter what I said or did; she was going to smuggle the Joker out of Bruce's mansion tonight.
"Is there anything I can say that will change your mind, girl?" I asked softly.
Roxanne stared at me and shook her head.
I inhaled deeply and tried to ignore the large pit in my stomach before I uttered the magic word.
Roxanne recoiled as if she'd been burned. "OOkay?"
"What did you expect me to say? I can't really answer any other way because you're just going to argue." I said. Roxanne squinted as if she expected there to be some sort of catch.
"Listen." I continued. "You're right. This situation calls for a little bit of faith in the impossible, and, really, who else could I possibly trust for such a situation than my best friend?"
Roxanne didn't say anything for a few seconds, but to my utter horror, I watched as her eyes began tearing up.
"Oh my God! How did I make you sad?" I gasped, growing terrified. "I thought this was what you wanted! If you're scared, you know you don't have to do"
I was cut off by Roxanne's sudden laughter. Her laugh was thick with emotion, though, and I could tell that she really was about to cry.
"No, Katherine." She said, smiling through her tears. "I'm not sad. It just, uh," She took a shaky breath. "Knowing that you actually trust me with something like this . . . ityou can't possibly know how much it means to me."
My face softened and even I was tempted to cry.
"Roxanne. I'll always trust you! You're my best friend! I will never trust anyone on this Earth as much as I trust you! So don't ever think that my trepidation is due to a lack of faith, because that's simply not possible."
Roxanne gave me a watery smile.
"Right. You girls both have vaginas, and you love each other. I get it. Can we please quit it with the uh, sappy friendship chick flick, now?" The Joker piped up, effectively killing the mood and scaring us beyond reason.
God, we really have to get another room to talk about these things! It took us a few beats to regain our composure and absorb the fact that our touching moment had been effectively ruined. Roxanne was the first one to speak.
"Joker, we're trying to help you. Can you at least allow us these few moments to be best friends?" Roxanne sighed.
"Can you at least take that 'best friends' shit somewhere else? I thought I was going to uh, vommit." The Joker retorted.
Roxanne rolled her eyes so hard I actually thought for a moment that she'd hurt herself.
"Well, now that you've been properly informed of our plan," Roxanne said, her words oozing sarcasm. "I suppose you now realize that you have to cooperate in order for this to work?"
There was a silence behind the door, as the Joker said nothing for a few moments. Eventually, we heard him clear his throat.
"So, Kitty, don't you have to get ready for your oh-so-special date with Brucey-boy?" The Joker randomly said, ignoring Roxanne's question. He sounded way too calm yet almost mocking; a clear indication of his displeasure at the idea. I froze as dread began to seep into my heart, and I closed my eyes slowly, willing the embarrassment to go away.
"It's not a date!" I replied as vehemently as I could.
The Joker just snorted. "You're uh, kinda naïve, Kit Kat."
"Are you not at all familiar with his uh, rep-u-tation?" The Joker asked condescendingly. He didn't, however, give me a chance to reply. "Because if you, were . . . you'd know that the playboy sleeps with all the women who go with him to his little dinner parties."
My eyes widened upon hearing the end of the Joker's statement. The problem was that EVERYONE was familiar with those rumors. How could anyone NOT be? So why had I agreed to the dato accompanying him to the party? I didn't really want to believe that I subconsciously (or worse, consciously) wanted to sleep with him, but at the moment, I couldn't manage to formulate a proper excuse for myself.
And the Joker knew that.
Luckily, Roxanne came to my rescue. "What was she supposed to do when he asked her to the party? Say no? Don't you think that she would've appeared suspicious?"
"Oh, I completely agree with the logic of saying yes, princess." The Joker replied, sounding amused. "I simply believe that our little mouse should know just what trap she's fallen into."
I shook my head and began to feel a bit ridiculous standing in my room, talking to a partially opened closet door. The Joker was right. I did need to get ready for my daouting with Bruce.
I strode over to the door leading into the hallway, opened it with very little hesitation, and left the room.
Roxanne, as always, was right behind me.
The Joker sat fuming in his little corner in the closet, feeling all the more like a child who's been forced to share his favorite toy.
'Except she's more than just a toy.' A distant voice whispered in the back of his mind.
The Joker's face twisted into a snarl as he violently forced the voice into the deep recesses of his mind. The girl was merely an object to him. Perhaps, the object of his affection, he might concede, but a trophy, nonetheless.
The Joker, in that moment, came to a conclusion.
He carefully slid his hands, which were bound tightly to his back in what was actually an impressive knot, slightly upwards, and performed an intricate series of twists until finally, after a few minutes and a serious case of Indian Burn, his hands sprung free.
Next he carefully slid one hand out of the clothes that had been binding him for four days, and reached to pull a small device out of the back of his left shoe. He unfolded it carefully to reveal a cell-phone like device with only two speakers, and three keys on it. Smirking lightly to himself, he pressed one of the buttons, and put the device up to his ear.
It rang about three times before a gruff voice answered.
"Missed me?" The Joker replied sweetly. He was rewarded with a series of loud spluttering and coughs.
"Boss! It's really good ta hear from ya"
The Joker rolled his eyes at his goon's blatant attempt to kiss his ass.
"I don't have the uh, time for your bullshit, Chuckles. Get a pen. I'm gonna need a few things tonight." The Joker licked his lips and smiled cruelly.
"Tell me. How do feel about entertaining a few party guests, hmmm?"
"There's still time to cancel before the party, right?" I asked Roxanne desperately, as she began to detail all the different beautifying procedures that I was going to have to endure in order to look presentable on Bruce's arm tonight.
Roxanne's head whipped around so that she could look directly into my eyes.
"No. There is absolutely NO time, because YOU already said yes, and YOU are going to be on HIS arm, TO-night, come hell or high water. Yes?" Her eyebrows were raised, and she seemed like she was daring me to say something against it.
In any other circumstance, I would take her up on it, if not for anything else than the fact that my knee-jerk reaction to a blatant command is anger and rebellion, but for this instance, I knew that she was just trying her best to help me, and so I stood down.
As if someone had just thrown a switch, Roxanne went from intimidationg to docile within the span of a few seconds.
We continued down the seemingly endless hallway inside of Bruce's mansion in search of all of the spa facilities that he'd mentioned to us earlier in our stay.
If only either one of us actually knew what floor we were on in the God-only-knows-how-many-stories-tall mansion.
Roxanne suddenly stopped us and looked around. "Do you think we might have passed it?" She asked me.
I sighed, and was about to reply with some sarcastic remark before we heard someone clearing their throats behind us.
Roxanne and I simultaneously gasped and spun to identify the mysterious intruder. The man had shock-white hair, was balding on the top of his head, fashioned a well-trimmed black mustache, and sported an expensive looking butler's outfit.
When we finally realized who we were looking at, we both exhaled in relief. "Alfred," Roxanne breathed. "Good God, make some noise when you walk, please. You almost gave me a stroke!"
"Might I inquire as to what you two ladies are up to?" Alfred asked politely, smiling a bit.
I don't know why I began to blush a bit then. Perhaps it was the way that the light British lilt in his voice made everything he said sound as if he'd just caught two children stealing from their mother's cookie jar.
"Um, we were just . . ," I began. I then looked to Roxanne for help.
She didn't fail to come to my rescue. "Katherine has a date with Bruce tonight at eight, and so we were both in search of the spa in order to get her all dolled up." Roxanne said while grinning at me.
I glared back at her mildly. I knew that she didn't need to delve that deeply into our plans.
But Alfred merely smiled. "Ah." He said, not at all phased by that little snippet of information, "Well, you're never going to encounter it down this particular hallway." Alfred turned around and gestured for us to follow him.
"Come. Master Bruce has already taken care of all the preparations. He encourages you to help yourself to whatever facilities you require as well as any gowns either of you might fancy."
"Either of us?" Roxanne squeaked, before catching herself and looking thoroughly embarrassed.
Alfred only smiled demurely at her. "Why yes, Miss Jackson. Either of you." Roxanne looked as if she was barely restraining the urge to tackle Alfred into a hug. I, however, knew that such a reaction would result in nothing more than extreme awkwardness, and so I linked arms with her, effectively preventing her from mauling Alfred.
Alfred observed the subtle motion with slight interest, before turning on his heel to direct us to whatever wonderful experience that Bruce had in store for us.
We had arrived at the spa area in Bruce's mansion sometime in the late morning, and we didn't exit until two hours before eight. Another hour and forty-five minutes were spent deciding what to choose in a closet that literally held every type of evening gown color and style in existence.
When had finally selected one, and Roxanne stood behind me in my room admiring my appearance as I stared at myself in the mirror. I do not believeno, I definitely cannot recount any other circumstance where I loved a mirror as much as I did in that moment. I twirled and peered at myself from every angle I could, hassling Roxanne to check for any unnecessary or otherwise unfavorable exposures, and after what was likely the seventeenth time I asked, I felt satisfied that everything was intact.
"You're going to give Bruce a heart attack." Roxanne stated with absolute seriousness. I feared for a moment that Roxanne might unintentionally begin crying, not because she felt emotional, but instead because she was keeping her eyes open so long drinking in my dress that her eyes began to water.
Well, I suppose she might've been emotional. Even I was getting there myself.
But of course, a certain closeted hostage who just couldn't help but break the silence interrupted my moment.
"Did someone uh, die in there? Why are you two so qui-et?" The Joker asked from his place in the closet.
Roxanne looked questioningly at me, and because of our strong sister-like bond, I knew that she was asking me if she could open the closet and let the Joker see my appearance.
My newfound confidence overshadowed my fear and in a moment of insanity I found myself nodding my head minutely.
Roxanne grinned spectacularly and pivoted on her heel to stride toward the closet door. With very little preamble, she turned pushed down on the elaborate silver handle of the door and swung it open. The Joker looked up.
"Finally! A guy's gotta be able to breathe in some fresh air every . . . once . . ." The Joker's exclamation trailed off as his eyes finally landed on me.
I could see that he was looking at me through the mirror, so I took a deep breath and turned to face him.
For once, in my entire time observing and analyzing this madman, his face showed absolutely no indication of his mood, or any other emotion I could recognize.
His eyes trailed from my small black wedged heels to my shapely, smooth calves, to the hem of my hunter green satin dress that fanned out from my waist, which was accentuated by a light green sash that wrapped itself around my body, just below my chest and tied together in a bow behind my back. His eyes then paused for a second on my chest where the deep diamond-shaped neckline exposed a generous amount of cleavage and ended at the base of my neck, where a pearl necklace also sat.
When he got to my face, which was illuminated by the best make-up money can buy; my dark, purple, silvery eye shadow and mascara made my hazel eyes pop out and my hair was done up in an elegant French twist with a few strands of curled hair that fell in my face and behind my ears.
No one made any noise, and I don't think that I was breathing at all.
Finally, the Joker's eyes locked on mine. His pink tongue darted out to lick his lips before smiling cruelly at me.
"So," He said. "Looks like you're finally going to whore yourself out to the man with more notches on his belt than a punk rocker wannabe." He snorted maliciously and I felt my heart drop into my stomach.
He cocked his head to the side and grinned. "I always thought you to be a classy kind a gal, though, Kitty. Shame."
I couldn't take another second of this. Without waiting for him to say anything worse, I turned and stormed out of the room and into the hall. I was going to wash this make-up off my face and tell Bruce that I can't go.
Roxanne watched the entire interaction with outrage. She turned around to face the poor excuse of a clown and glared with as much venom as she could muster.
She didn't have to say anything, because she knew that the Joker could see it in her eyes. The pure, unfiltered hatred that resonated from her person alone could melt steel. She thought that he was a monster.
Without another glance, she raced out the door, slamming it behind her.
The Joker's mood quickly turned black as he listened to the sound of the door slamming shut as it echoed off the walls of the room.
"How dare she look at me like I'm some kinda scum on her shoes." He promised himself that he would take extra care to find a way to make her regret her actions until she begs him to kill her.
The Joker tried not to think about why it was that the girl's look angered him so much. It wasn't as if every single fucker in Gotham didn't already hate his very existence on this Earth.
It couldn't have been that he felt . . . guilty. The Joker snorted loudly. Guilt was something he used to manipulate others. It's how the simpering idiots in this town lost their sanity.
Guilt. What a ridiculous notion.
However, in his mind, the devastated look on Kitty's face replayed over and over again, each time twisting the Joker's stomach in a way that he didn't even wanna begin to analyze.
"The bitch deserved it." The Joker muttered nastily. Even the thought of Katherine hanging around that rich, coddled, playboy who is notorious for being unable to keep it in his pants long enough to allow blood to flow back into his brain, annoyed the Joker to no end.
The Joker thought about just how goddamn EXCITED Kitty looked about going on the date with the loser: how her skin was literally glowing, and how her big smile lit up her entire face, and the Joker's blood began to boil.
Finally, the Joker thought about that rich prick showing off his Kitty to all the other uptight wealthy cowards who'll spend the entire night flirting and flashing their cash at her, and complimenting her on her fucking stunning dress, and
The Joker began to seethe angrily. He was NOT about to let some pampered playboy steal HIS property from him. He was THE JOKER for fuck's sake.
With that, the Joker decided that he wasn't going to wait any longer. He had a party to attend.
"Babe!" Roxanne yelled, running after me at a full sprint.
I was power-walking at a pace that people usually jog at, so I reached the bathroom just as Roxanne caught up to me.
"Hey! Katherine, stop!" Roxanne grabbed my arm and prevented me from going into the bathroom.
I pulled my arm out of her grip easily and didn't look at her while I tried to get the door open. Roxanne slammed it shut with her hand.
"What are you doing?" She shrilled.
"Let me go in." I responded emotionlessly.
"Not until you tell me what you're doing." She said stubbornly, glaring and slamming the door shut every time I made a move to open it.
I looked at her angrily. "I'm not going to the party."
"LIKE FUCKING HELL YOU AREN'T!" She exploded, her face contorting to match the ferocity of her disbelief. "What about the plan?!"
When I didn't respond, she got in my face and forced me to look at her, which I did so, albeit reluctantly. Her face softened.
"Girl, you look beautiful, and you know itwell, you knew it, before that fucker told you otherwise. Which, he so clearly did, because you looked so good!"
I looked away. I didn't want to admit that I was hoping that Joker would express some kind of interest, make a playful sarcastic comment, anything besides insult me like that.
Was he being jealous? He did take his time drinking in my image, but was that more out of shock than desire? I just didn't know.
"Katherine." Roxanne insisted, once again forcing me to look at her. "Don't you dare back out of this. Can you imagine how Bruce will react once he sees you? He's been panting after you like a puppy in heat for almost a week now, and I wouldn't be surprised if it would take a crowbar to pry his hands off of you tonight!"
She smiled at me. "I've never seen you look so confident when staring at yourself in the mirror, and you're going to let all of that go JUST because the Joker found himself in a fit of jealousy?"
"Roxanne" I began wearily.
"Look! I know you're disappointed, and I get it. TRUST ME. But right now, at the very least, you need to think about your blossoming career as an artist, and how that's all being jeopardized. Think of your LIFE. And mine!"
I looked at Roxanne's face as she so desperately said this, and immediately I felt bad. Here I was once again throwing her to the sharks because of my pride and my ego.
At the very least, even if the Joker thinks that I'm dressed as a prostitute, and even if Bruce might share that sentiment, I have to attend the party; For her sake.
Slowly, I released all the tension I held in one long exhale, and nodded.
Roxanne and I both snapped our heads at the sound of the voice. It was Alfred, and he was smiling slightly.
"Master Bruce is waiting for you in the foyer." He stood patiently, waiting to escort us.
Roxanne looked at me. "Are you ready?" She asked cautiously.
I took another breath and nodded, smiling slightly.
Bruce was standing at the bottom of a long, luxurious staircase, checking his watch and his breath and looking all the more adorably nervous.
I smiled slightly when I saw him, and Roxanne ran down the staircase without me.
"Bruce?" I heard her say. Bruce spun around so fast that I almost didn't see it, and when he saw Roxanne standing there he exhaled and smiled a bit sheepishly. I heard Roxanne laugh.
"Don't worry, it's fine. I take it you would like to see her?" Roxanne joked.
Bruce chuckled. "If that's okay."
"It's more than okay . . ." Roxanne said, and swept her arm towards the staircase, I took that as my cue to reveal myself.
I walked out slowly from the wall I was standing by, to perch myself at the top of the staircase. Bruce turned his head to follow the direction of Roxanne's arm, and once he spotted me, his eyes widened and his eyebrows flew into his hairline.
Slowly, I descended the stairs, feeling a bit nervous with Bruce's eyes on me, and I had to look down a bit in order to avoid his hot, intense gaze.
However, on the inside, my heart was flying. The way that he was looking at me made all the previous thoughts of me resembling a hooker, or looking trashy, take a running jump out the window.
I found myself beaming and I couldn't stifle my grin even if i wanted to.
Finally, I reached the bottom of the stairs and approached Bruce. He stood there, still clearly astonished, drinking in my appearance like a man dying of thirst.
"You look . . ." Bruce uttered, incapable of finding the words.
"Fantastic?" Roxanne supplied from where she stood.
"Absolutely marvelous?" Alfred volunteered. I hadn't even noticed that he was in the room.
"Unbelievable." Bruce breathed.
I smiled and tried in vain to hide my blush. "You don't look so bad yourself."
And he didn't; he looked the opposite of bad. He wore an all black Armani suit with white cuffs, golden cuff links, expensive-looking black shoes, and a dark green tie. (I wonder if it was just a coincidence that we happened to match?)
But his hair was parted to the side and combed to perfection, and as always, his chiseled face, brown eyes and dark eyebrows were entrancing.
Roxanne coughed after a moment of letting us stare a one another.
"Don't you two have some sort of engagement to uphold, or something?" Roxanne asked suggestively.
Bruce and I blinked, and stepped away from one another momentarily. He straightened up his tie while I smoothed out my dress, nervously, and we were both smiling inwardly. And, well, outwardly too.
Bruce offered his arm to me.
"Are you ready to go?" I looked at Roxanne silently asking if she was sure that she was going to be able to initiate the "plan" and she nodded encouragingly once, affirming that she would.
I looked up at Bruce and smiled. "I am. Shall we?" I placed my left arm in the crook of his right elbow.
Bruce laughed. "Oh we most certainly shall."
"Have her home at a decent time, you hear?" Roxanne mock-scolded.
I rolled my eyes and grinned at her. Bruce however, just smiled mysteriously to himself and led me to the entrance of the mansion.
There, Alfred already stood, holding the door open for us to both exit out of. I turned one more time to wave at my best friend as she stood alone, right where we left her, and smiling like a proud parent.
An impressive Mercedes car sat at the bottom of the driveway leading up to Bruce's house.
I couldn't stop the 'Oh my God' that left my mouth when I realized that we would be driving in such a magnificent vehicle to that party. Part of me hoped that the ride would take a while, so that I could further enjoy myself during it.
Bruce flashed me a 1000-kilowatt smile.