Arkham High

Chapter 12

"Go get us some good seats, sweetheart – I'll see you real soon," said the Joker, kissing Harley tenderly as he left her by the football field. It was Saturday afternoon, and the Arkham Bats were playing a home game against their biggest rival, the Metropolis Steelers. The entire school had turned out for the event – literally the entire school, thought Harley with some surprise, as she saw Jonathan Crane and Jervis Tetch sitting in the bleachers. She waved and headed over to them.

"I'm surprised to see you two here," she said. "I didn't think you were sports fans."

"We're not," snapped Crane, who had his arms folded firmly across his chest. "In fact, I have utterly no idea how this game is played. I'm only here because Jervis dragged me along."

"You didn't have to come," retorted Tetch. "I just thought it would be better than you sitting at home depressed."

"Why are you depressed?" asked Harley.

"Never mind," he snapped.

"No, c'mon, tell me," she pressed. "Is it because of Eddie's cheating?"

"Oh, good Lord, no, that's actually terribly good news," replied Crane. "It means there's only two of us in the running for valedictorian now. No, I'm depressed for an entirely different reason. A personal one. And that's all I'd like to say on the subject."

Tetch cleared his throat. "Where is your paramour this afternoon, Harley?"

"I dunno," confessed Harley. "He drove me here, but he told me to go on ahead and take a seat. Said he had a surprise to set up. I'm sure he'll be here soon."

"Great," muttered Crane, sarcastically.

"Why did you wanna come to the game, Jervis?" asked Harley. "I didn't know they played this kinda football in England."

"They don't," he replied. "I'm not here to watch the game, obviously."

"Then why…" began Harley, but the cheerleaders raced onto the field at that moment, beginning their routine. "Oh," she finished.

"It's worth sitting through hours of boredom to catch even the slightest glimpse of her," sighed Tetch, gazing dreamily at Alice.

"Jervis, really, this is becoming a bit of an unhealthy obsession," said Crane.

"Don't talk to me – you're no better," snapped Tetch.

"Do you like someone who doesn't like you back too, Johnny?" asked Harley.

He stared at her. "Um…no," he said, slowly.

"He does," said Tetch, nodding. "Ow!" he shouted, as Crane elbowed him in the ribs.

"Is she a cheerleader too?" asked Harley, watching their performance. "It's not Selina or Pamela, is it? You can do a lot better than those two, y'know, Johnny, a sweet guy like you. You deserve a nice, sweet girl."

"Yeah, maybe you can coax a desperate, lonely gal into a pity date one day," agreed Joker, appearing suddenly. He bent down to kiss Harley. "Hiya, sweetcheeks! Missed you."

"I missed you too, Mr. J," murmured Harley, beaming and returning his kiss.

"Some of us are trying to watch the cheerleaders," snapped Crane.

"Yeah, and some of us with girlfriends are trying to make out," retorted Joker. "You do that – we'll do this."

Crane ground his teeth together and tried to focus his attention on the field, rather than the disgusting sight next to him. He couldn't resist an occasional murderous glare at the pair of them though.

"And now, ladies and gentlemen, let's hear it for your Arkham Bats!" said an announcer, holding a megaphone to his lips. "This is Jack Ryder, reporting live this game day, and what a match it's shaping up to be! The Arkham Bats are introducing their formidable new quarterback, Bane, and team captain Bruce Wayne, known as the Batman, will be facing off against the Metropolis Steelers' captain in one of the longest and fiercest rivalries in high school football, or anywhere else - the Man of Steel himself, Clark Kent!"

"People call him Superman," said Joker, breaking away from Harley briefly and turning his attention to the field. "Because he's apparently good at everything."

"Sounds kinda boring," replied Harley, grinning. "I like a guy who's a little bad now and then."

He chuckled, locking lips with her again. "Mmm…Mr. J, no! Not in public!" she giggled as he tried to slide his hand into her shirt. "Oh, Mr. J! You're such a bad boy!"

"I daresay I could be a bad boy, Jervis," muttered Crane. "If that's the type of men girls like."

"No, you couldn't," retorted Tetch, bluntly.

"I could! I could…frighten people to death," invented Crane. "Maybe with some sort of…fear toxin."

"Yes, and I could perpetrate Wonderland-related crimes whilst reciting Carroll verse and wearing a top hat," retorted Tetch, sarcastically. "Honestly, Jonathan, find a real ambition!"

As the game progressed, the Arkham fans gradually got more and more irritated, since almost every offensive play from their team managed to be blocked by the Steelers' captain. "Pass from Waylon Jones, intercepted once again by Clark Kent!" said Jack Ryder, over the loud booing and jeering from the stands. "The man really is faster than a speeding bullet! Bruce Wayne is not happy – I'm almost afraid there's gonna be some kinda fight between the two…"

"All right, Batman vs. Superman!" exclaimed Joker. Then he shrugged. "It's been done."

"What…" began Harley, but Joker suddenly clapped a hand over her mouth, checking his watch.

"Hold that thought, sweetheart – things are just about to get good!" he chuckled.

An explosion at the end of the field brought the game to a sudden stop. The bomb, which had apparently been attached to the legs of the scoreboard, caused the sign to teeter and finally crash onto the field, as shouting and panicked football players leapt out of the way. Written on the back of the sign were the words Vote Joker! with a big smiley face underneath them.

"Talk about a publicity stunt, right, guys?" chuckled Joker, standing up and waving. "And now that I've got your attention, vote Joker! Thank you!"

"You maniac!" shouted Clark Kent, furiously. "You almost got us killed!"

"Screw you, Kent!" retorted Joker. "You may be big fish in Metropolis, but nobody respects you here! Why doncha go back to Kansas, Smallville?"

Clark marched furiously over to the stands, picking up Joker by the collar. "Nobody but my girlfriend calls me Smallville!" he growled.

"That so?" chuckled Joker. "Well, it's nice she can joke about the size of your manhood, ain't it?"

Clark raised a fist to punch him, but was intercepted by Bruce Wayne. "Hey, I beat up J, all right?" growled Bruce. "He's my problem! You think you can just waltz in here and take over my job?!"

"I think if you can't even control your school bullies, somebody needs to, before innocent people get hurt!" shouted Clark.

"I do a better job controlling everyone in this school than you could ever dream of doing!" shouted Bruce. "So just get outta my face, Kent!"

"Why doncha back off, Wayne, before I beat you so hard, your Mommy won't recognize you?" retorted Clark.

Bruce struck him a colossal punch to the face. "My Mother is dead!" he roared. "And you're gonna pay for talking about her!"

The fight quickly spread from the two captains to the rest of the school, until the entire field seemed to be rioting. "I think we need to make a break for it, toots," said Joker, grabbing Harley's hand and pulling her out of harm's way.

"Come on, Jervis!" exclaimed Crane, trying to pull his friend away while ducking punches from strangers.

"I can't go until I make sure she's safe!" gasped Tetch, looking around frantically for Alice. He spotted her at last – Selina and Pamela were in a catfight with some of the Metropolis cheerleaders, and Alice was trying to separate them.

Tetch raced over to her through the chaos, avoiding stray blows. As he reached Alice, one of the Metropolis football players tackled her, shoving her into the dirt and holding her head down in the mud. Tetch raised his fist and struck the man a harsh blow between the eyes. "That's no way to treat a lady!" he shouted, as the football player reeled back.

"Why you little…" began the football player, recovering himself and racing at Tetch. He lunged at him, and Tetch ducked out of the way just in time, causing the football player to land in the mud himself.

Tetch broke off a piece of wood from the collapsed sign, and then struck the football player sharply with it several times. "One, two! One, two! And through and through the vorpal blade went snicker-snack!" he cried. He removed the man's helmet, and struck him a final blow which knocked him unconscious.

"He left it dead, and with its head, he went galumphing back," finished Tetch, dropping the helmet into the mud beside him and turning to Alice.

She was gazing at him astonishment. "Oh…Jervis…that was so brave!" she gasped.

"It was nothing, my dear," he replied. "A gentleman has a duty to defend a lady's honor."

"Oh…Jervis!" she stammered. She suddenly seized his face in her hands and kissed him passionately.

"Thank you," she whispered, drawing away at last and beaming at him.

He gaped at her, stunned. "O…frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" he gasped.

"Jervis! Come on!" shouted Crane, appearing suddenly and grabbing his arm. "Let's leave this madness!"

Tetch turned to him, smiling. "Leave this madness? My dear Jonathan, I never want to be anywhere else but this madness ever again! I have never felt happier in my life…"

He ducked another sudden punch from a football player. "But yes, let's be off before one of us gets killed," he finished hastily, grabbing Alice's hand and hurrying away, with Crane at his heels.

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