Arkham High

Chapter 13

"When I suggested throwing the election, J, I didn't mean that you should go out endangering students' lives and damaging school property!" snapped Principal Leland, as the Joker stood in her office on Monday morning.

Joker shrugged. "Can't say it didn't annoy a buncha people!" he chuckled. "At least they know who not to vote for!"

"Do you have any idea of the amount of damage you've caused?" demanded Principal Leland. "I'm not just talking about the cost of the sign or cleaning up the field – I'm talking about hospital bills, lawsuits from angry parents, and threats to this school and me personally from random citizens in both Gotham and Metropolis!"

"Why? You're not responsible for any of this," said Joker, puzzled.

"The incident occurred on school grounds," retorted Principal Leland. "Therefore the school is responsible. And I'm being held to account by every department head above me – I've got meetings all this week where I have to apologize profusely to parents and school officials, and don't even get me started on the press conferences!"

"Gee, I didn't know my little joke would get you in so much trouble," said Joker, slowly. "Is there anything I can do?"

Principal Leland looked at him. "I should expel you," she murmured. "That's what they're going to want me to do, to appease the parents. Remove the dangerous student from the school permanently. And I'm beyond tempted to do that."

"But…but you can't!" stammered Joker. "I gotta graduate…"

"And I'm sure you'll be able to, at another school," replied Principal Leland, nodding.

"But…my girlfriend is here!" exclaimed Joker.

"You could still see her after school, in your free time…"

"No, you don't understand!" he snapped. "I gotta take her to prom! I promised! And I can't take her to prom if I gotta go to another school! Ya gotta help me out, Leland!"

"Why?" she snapped. "What have you ever done for me except give me a colossal headache? Maybe it'll teach you a valuable life lesson about treating others the way you'd like to be treated. Because if I treated you as you've treated me, I would expel you right now without a second thought."

He gazed at her pleadingly, and she gazed back. "But I'm not going to," she murmured, softly. "And in return for me getting your back on this, you're going to do exactly what I say from now until the end of the school year."

"Sure thing, Leland, you got it!" said Joker, desperately. "Anything!"

She leaned forward. "Then you promise me right now that there will no more of your jokes, gags, or pranks from now on," she murmured. "Because if there is one more even minor offense, you're out of here. Do you understand me?"

Joker nodded vigorously. "That's one condition of your stay," muttered Principal Leland. "The others are bringing your grades up…"

"Already working on that, Leland, don't you worry," said Joker.

"And sharing hall monitor duties with Bruce Wayne," she finished.

"What?!" cried Joker.

"I want to see that you've learned to be responsible, not just for yourself, but for others as well," said Principal Leland, lightly. "Bruce takes his role very seriously, and I want you to take yours seriously too. It'll prove to me that you can commit yourself to a steady occupation…"

"But policing everyone like that, and ruining their fun…that ain't me, Leland!" cried Joker. "I'm the opposite of that! I believe in freedom and chaos and rule-breaking…"

"Then you're going to have to change your beliefs, aren't you?" interrupted Principal Leland. "Or else find a different school. The choice is yours, J."

Joker ran his fingers through his hair, sighing. "You drive a hard bargain, Leland," he muttered. "And Bruce ain't gonna be thrilled about this – he hates my guts!"

"I know. And proving that you two can work together will prove to me how mature you've both become," said Principal Leland, lightly. "So that when you graduate, I can have the firm belief that I've sent you out into the world equipped with the skills to deal with any situation, and all types of people. That's my job. Yours is to do what I say, or to permanently clear out your locker. What'll it be?"

Joker nodded slowly. "All right. I'll join Bruce's little fun-busting patrol."

"Good. And consider this your only warning. One more slip-up, and you're gone, J," she murmured. "About time you made good, don't you think?"

"How did it go?" asked Harley, who was waiting outside the principal's office as Joker emerged from it. "You ain't smiling – what's wrong?"

He didn't respond. Bruce Wayne hobbled into the room at that moment, looking a lot worse for wear from his fight with Clark Kent. "Go on in," said Joker, nodding at the door. "There's something she wants to say to you."

Bruce entered the principal's office, shutting the door behind him. "Mr. J, what's wrong?" asked Harley, concerned. "What is it? They ain't gonna expel ya, are they?"

He shook his head. "Something much worse than that, toots," he muttered.

"WHAT?!" roared Bruce Wayne's voice from inside the office suddenly. "I CAN'T WORK WITH THAT LUNATIC!"

"Bruce…"

"Skip it!" he shouted, storming out of the office. "There is no way in hell that I am sharing my duties with that moron!"

"All right, then you'll be losing your duties," snapped Principal Leland. "And J will be the sole hall monitor responsible for all of Arkham."

Bruce stared at her, aghast. "You can't be serious!" he hissed. "After all I've done to keep this school in line, and you wanna take away my privileges and give them to this nutcase?! He's part of the problem!"

"And now he's part of the solution," retorted Principal Leland. "He can be part of the solution with you, or on his own. It's your choice, Bruce."

"She's been dealing out a lotta tough choices today," muttered Joker, kicking at a chair. He sighed. "You don't like it, Brucie, and God knows I don't like it, but do you think maybe we can put aside our differences and work together? The Batman and the Joker – partners in law enforcement. What do you say?"

Bruce glared at him. "You are going to do everything I say, to the letter and without question!" he hissed. "I'm not putting up with any of your crap, do you understand?!"

"Yeah, yeah – I'm suddenly under everybody's thumb," grumbled Joker. "Encased in some kinda fun-restraining suit. This high school's worse than a prison, I tell ya!"

"Cheer up, Mr. J!" said Harley as they left the office. "I'm sure it won't be as bad as you think! You and Bruce might learn to get along – you'll probably come outta this whole thing being best friends!"

"Yeah, when pigs fly, sweetheart," he retorted.

"Well, I'm really proud of you," said Harley, kissing his cheek. "I can't wait for the whole school to see what a responsible, upstanding guy my boyfriend can be!"

"Responsible, upstanding," he repeated, making a face. "I think I'm gonna be sick."

He draped an arm over Harley's shoulder, sighing heavily. "Boy, I must really be nuts about you, kid," he muttered. "The things I do for you – I must be completely outta my mind."


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