A/N: After an extremely long wait, here is the first chapter to the much anticipated sequel of Dance with the Devil. I want to both thank and apologize to all of you who have sent me message after message inquiring about this sequel. I could list all of my excuses here, but it's just not worth it. I know all of you are itching to read this, so I hope it doesn't disappoint. I have many ideas for this story and I just recently had a surge of creativity that was the push I needed to continue. Thank you so much once again! Without further ado..here…we…go
Disclaimer: I do not own any Batman characters or locations. I do own Jessica Wayne, the plot, and any original characters.
The lights flashing in my face are blinding as I force my way through the crowd. When I finally emerge from the building, there is a humid stickiness in the atmosphere that causes my shirt to cling to me as a bead of sweat make its way slowly down the side of my face. Looking around, I notice the usually bustling street I'm on is completely desolate. It is then that I know I am dreaming. Though it seems familiar and I know I have been here many times before, it feels completely new as the cold terror begins to stir in the pit of my stomach.
My legs begin to aimlessly carry me down the street. To my right there is a shop window with some television sets in them and I decide to go over and take a look. Everything feels so apocalyptic that I'm shocked to see the same news channel broadcasting live on all six of the screens. As I near closer I can begin to read the headline fixed on the bottom and I slow to a stop.
"JESSICA WAYNE FINALLY SNAPS"
A video begins to play, obviously having been filmed by an amateur on the street due to the grainy quality and shaky motions. Through the shop window, an unfamiliar girl can be seen in some sort of coffee joint screaming and throwing things around the room. My head begins to pound as I notice her pulling something out of her coat pocket. Before I can comprehend what it is, a continuation of loud shots fill the street, my hands shooting up to cover my ears from the horrific sound as I fall to me knees. Staring wide eyed up at the screen, I notice person after person falling to the ground with the girl showing no sign of stopping her rampage. The store window shatters and the cameraman immediately begins running down the street. I can hear the ear-splitting screams of the people in the coffee shop as if they are surrounding me, zeroing in for the kill. My eyes squeeze shut and my throat begins to burn as realization hits that I, too, am screaming. Blurry-eyed, I look back at the screen to see the reporter talking, though I can't hear what he is saying through the glass. I shakily rise to my feet, legs feeling like jello, as I turn to look around the street once more.
I let out a hiccup as I notice something at the end of the street that was not there seconds before. It's a car. No, it's a van. A white van. Despite the fact that my mind is telling me to turn and run away as fast as I can, my legs start pushing me forward against my will. I keep telling myself to stop, but I have no more control over my actions than a puppet on a string. The door to the van opens slowly by itself as I near closer. Just a few feet away, I can see black bags piled in the back all over the floorboard. What catches and holds my attention, though, is the Gotham Times newspaper placed on the middle row of seats in the van. Picking it up with a shaking hand, I see a picture of a funeral taking place with hundreds of people gathered around a lowering casket. It doesn't take long for my eyes to fall on the header of the article and realize who this service is being held for. A tear falls on the paper with a loud plop, smearing the dark ink as the ripples of saltwater disorient the words, followed quickly by another. The paper falls out of my hands back onto the seat as the sound of sirens beckons to me from a distance.
Letting out a shaky sigh of relief, I silently thank God that help is on the way. I don't want to be alone anymore. I want to know what has happened. I need to know why Bruce is dead.
Turning around, I gasp loudly as the sight in front of me sinks in; there is a firetruck bursting with flames, its siren so loud I have to cover my ears to attempt to block it out. The sound of people screaming in the buildings around me forces me back to my knees. Blood seeps out from underneath the doors and crevices of the buildings, coming towards me agonizingly slow as if taunting me with the death of others. My eyes squeeze together tightly to make it all stop, but the faces of people in their last moments of life come towards me through the darkness. In desperation I realize that this is my fault. All of this pain, all of this chaos – it all dwindles back to me.
I vaguely feel someone's arms wrap around me and instantly all of the outside noise ceases. All I am left with now are the screams and calls for help that are emitting from my own raw throat. I feel myself being lifted to my feet, and though my knees are shaking horribly, I manage to gain enough control to support myself. Strong arms wrap around my waist and I feel instantly comforted. My voice gets a break from the screaming as I quiet myself, my head falling back onto the shoulder of this person whose face is now nestled into my neck. I slowly catch my breath and my heart slows to its natural rhythm. The sounds of the city start to surround us as life seems to go back to normal. The hum of honking horns, voices, and passing cars all blend together and put me at ease. I lift my head and slowly open my eyes.
The familiarity of this particular scenario comes full circle in an instant, however, punching me in the gut as cold chills pass through my body. It is now dark outside, but the burning firetruck is still positioned in front of us, the sound of the fire crackling as it eats away at the huge exterior.
"Isn't it magical? The whole concept of good diminishing…because you know, Jess, nothing can stay pure forever. We all fall into darkness eventually," the voice states directly beside my ear.
It's him. With my chest rapidly going up and down as my breathing increases to the point of hyperventilation, I desperately try to pry the arms around my waist away. "Get off of me!" I scream angrily.
A deep chuckle vibrates against my ear. "Oh, how I've missed you," he says before the sound of him licking his lips sends me over the edge. My leg comes forward before reeling back to collide my foot with his shin. He lets out a loud, boisterous laugh before hurling me to the ground and climbing on top of me. I bring my fist up to collide with his jaw, feeling some dried paint cling to my knuckles.
Though I know I am dreaming and I have been here many times before, this is the first time I have ever come face to face with him in the past two years. Usually, I would have woken up by now. This time is different.
Fear takes over all of my senses as I stare into those black eyes, the flames of anger flaring behind them. His rage causes a tremble to course through my body and I am instantly that seventeen-year-old girl again. Bruised and battered. Lost and terrified. I watch as his fist reels back before colliding with my face, sending my head sideways into the asphalt. The pain is unbearable and I cringe as the taste of metallic fills my mouth. Vision blurry, my head is slowly tilted up to face him once again, though this time his mood has changed. His thumb is caressing my bruised cheek soothingly, his eyes taking in my every movement. It is then I notice the flecks of green in the dark orbs.
My head falls back as tears stream down my face and onto the road. There is nothing worse than this. Sobs rack through my body mercilessly as I feel his weight leave my hips. A few seconds later, I muster the courage to open my eyes and figure out what he's doing, only to find someone else standing in his place. With a gun pointed at my head, my sobs immediately come to a stop as I try to assess the situation. Confusion takes over every other emotion as I slowly sit up and stare at the person before me. "Why are you doing this?" I ask quietly.
"Because you couldn't," she responds confidently before cocking the pistol in her hands.
The Joker has been replaced by me.