My eyes widened in horror as I looked up into the Joker's face. Oh God, did he look pissed off! Cat and Bob both took a step back as if to say, Sorry Becks, you're on your own!
"I … I …," I babbled, before recovering the power of speech and looking directly into his eyes and demanding, "What the fuck are you doing in my apartment?"
He continued to face me down, remaining silent. Only a tiny muscle that was twitching at the side of his jaw gave away how close he was to losing control.
"Well?" I repeated, this time with a slight tremor.
"I was returning these," he said, holding out my keys. Then in a softer voice, he bent and whispered in my ear, "And also your erm, morepersonalbelongings."
Blushing furiously, embarrassment got the better of fear, and I pushed him aside and gained entry into my living room. He made to follow me, but I stopped him with a sharp, "GET THOSE SHOES OFF BEFORE YOU COME BACK IN HERE!"
"But," he looked at the key ring, "Re-be-ca, what's on 'em belongs toyou!"
"I don't care! Get 'em off! Now!"
"I thought ya'd never ask!"
I spun round; armed with the baseball bat I kept behind the door.
"Okay, okay," he held up his arms in defeat before resting one hand on the wall, whilst removing his shoes with the other. Cat and Officer Bob took the opportunity to walk in ahead of him. Cat mouthed silently, "What are youdoing? He'scrazy!" accompanied by using her finger to make small circles at the side of her head.
That was a good question; and I had absolutely no idea. After shrugging my shoulders in reply, I gestured to the two of them to sit down. Holding on to the bat, I rapidly checked the kitchen, bathroom, and finally, my bedroom. Nothing appeared to have been touched. I could hear the three of them in conversation; somewhat along the lines of Bob reminding the Joker that therewereother ways of returning lost property, and the Joker saying, "Oh, yeah, likeI'mgonna walk into thepolice departmentto do my good deed for the day!" This was followed by laughter. I shook my head to clear it of the insanity of what was taking place, before using their impromptu bonding session to get rid of some of the more risqué items from my wardrobe. I grabbed an empty shopping bag. First to go was the nurse's outfit, swiftly followed by the black and white silk maids dress complete with its black feather duster. I can't believe I let Matt the Rat goad me into wearing all this crap! I was just stuffing the school-girl ensemble into the bag, when I heard the bedroom door close behind me.
"What ya doin?"
I quickly hid the offending articles behind my back, as the Joker strode up to me.
"Yes, you are. What are you hiding?"
"Nothing," I repeated, although not very convincingly.
He looked down at me, licking his red lips. "I don't believe you," he said, with a smile.
"It's really nothing! Just some old stuff I'm getting rid of." I backed away, still with the bag behind my back.
"Then let me see," he whispered, as he advanced.
"NO!" I tried to step further away, but was stopped by the wall. With the wardrobe blocking my path on one side, and the window on the other, I'd literally been backed into a corner.
The Joker reached behind me and wrestled the bag from out of my grasp. I could smell a trace of musk as he bent down to look me in the face. "YES!" he hissed as he held it up in triumph. "Now, let's see what you have in here!"
I nearly died with embarrassment as one by one he lifted out each bit of clothing.
"So, whose the lucky guy?" he asked, before pausing. "Or maybe there's a lucky girl?"
"No, there's no girl, and now there's no guy either!" I screamed, before wrenching the feather duster from his hand. "And I fuckinghate him!"
"Is everything okay in there?" shouted Cat.
"No it fucking isn't!" I yelled, and threw myself onto the bed, where I punched the hell out of the pillows. With each blow, I imagined it was Matt's smug face that I was caving in.
In my anger, I'd completely forgotten about the Joker, until I felt his strong arms pulling me up, cradling me to his chest. A gloved hand stroked my hair as he rocked me gently, all the while reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. I clung to him desperately, feeding off his strength, as I cried and gulped my way through the whole sorry saga that had unfolded before me over the past 48 hours. When I'd finally calmed down, the Joker held my face between his hands and wiped away my tears with his thumbs. Then he drew his face level with mine, so close that I could feel his hot breath on my lips. He spoke so quietly, I couldn't make out what he was saying. With that, he planted a gentle kiss on my cheek before playfully cuffing me on the chin. Then he stood up and quietly left me on my own as he returned to the living room. The ensuing conversation revolved around Matt and Soozie's betrayal.
It was only when I heard the Joker saying goodbye, before slamming the door on his way out that I finally understood what he'd said to me. At the time I thought he might have been referring to the outfits, saying, "I'll bin 'em for ya!" Now I knew I'd been mistaken. What he'd actually said was, "I'llkill 'emfor ya!"
I leapt off the bed and ran into the living room. "Where did he go?" I screamed.
"I don't know," answered Bob. "He was very cryptic; said he had to see a man about a dog!"
If I'd needed any more confirmation of the Joker's words, that was it. The man was Matt, and the dog was that bitch Soozie.
"Look, both of you do me a favour and get round to Matt's as quick as you can, 'cos at this moment he's top of the Joker's hit list!"
They were halfway out of the door when Cat asked, "Aren'tyoucoming?"
"I'll follow you in a bit. I need to get myself cleaned up first and put some suitable clothes on."
I closed the door behind them and went into the bathroom to shower. I took my time, revelling in the fact that the most feared criminal in Gotham was turning out to be my knight in shining armour. For a brief moment, as I breathed in the fragrance of the musky shower gel, which brought back memories of the Joker, I wondered if should feel any sympathy for the Rat.
Nah! What the hell! He deserves everything that's coming to him!