150: No title – Chapter Four, Part One

Title: No Title
Author: amysmiles
Media: Television / Comic Book
Topic: Batman: The Animated Series
Genre: Romance / Family
URL: No Title – Chapter Four
Critiqued by Ghostcat

Well, I thought I was done with the Batman fanfic “No title,” but after I finished the riff of Chapter Three I was cruising through ff.net and checking for fic updates when I saw that another chapter had been added.

:shakes fist at computer:

Damn you, Internet gods – damn you and your sadistic sense of whimsy! I’m going to demolish all the churches I built for you!

:knocks down house of cards:

What? It still counts. I glued one of those fish thingies to the side.

Nothing much happened in the last chapter: children were endangered, the Riddler went shopping and showed the first signs of Gary Stu-ness by fending off the advances of several women, and Harley Quinn came over to baby-sit while Scarecrow and Riddler went out to commit some unspecified crime.

Since this chapter is the longest one yet, I’m breaking it in half to make it easier for everyone. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss anything important, now would I?

One final note – you might notice that some of the quotes have a sort of chopped-off feel to them. This is because even though the author uses a carriage return before each line of dialogue, she doesn’t structure her sentences so that they actually make sense when she does it.

Chapter Four is titled “Pain Heals, But Scars Don’t” and begins with a variation of the standard “I own nothing” disclaimer and has an Author’s Note as well.

A/N: Awww Thanks Guys! Your reviews always keep me writing :) I don’t have an App for Grammar so that would explain why there are some grammar errors. I haven’t been able to update because unfortunately my aunt has cancer and I spend all my free time with her and I got a bit of writers block :)

:headdesk:

This is what the future holds, people – children who expect computer programs to fix every little problem so that they don’t have to be bothered with learning how to do things for themselves. I don’t have a grammar “App” and I can manage to restrain myself from capitalizing every other word and can construct mostly coherent sentences while remembering to put punctuation at the end. (I do have a grammar AR, but I don’t expect her to fit in an iPad.)  My advice is to suck it up and pay attention in English class instead of tweeting about how bored you are.

Following the same behaviour that has put the author in the running for the Most POV Tags Used award, the chapter opens with a tag indicating that it is from the perspective of the five-year-old boy Isaiah.

“Well we best be off” Eddie was in a green suit covered in black question marks also with a black tie and a Purple question mark. To complete it, was a green hat, His purple domino mas, and his cane. Uncle Johnny was in a scarecrow costume.

I wonder which of these two characters is the author’s favorite? It’s so hard to tell.

The author seems to forget that she is writing from the perspective of a small child – what five-year-old child describes their relative’s (or any real person’s) clothing like that? At that age I wouldn’t expect anything more than a vague description of colors or a simple “Not naked” when asked to describe what someone else is wearing, unless they were describing a favorite cartoon character.

“How come you get to go trick or treating?” Q pouted crossing her arms. I turned to look at them with an gaze of betrayal.

“Gaze of betrayal”… really? That is one of the lamest super-powers ever; I’m actually going to put that just above “Ability to shoot teeth out of my elbows” on my list of superpowers to never ask for. (The government has their emergency preparedness checklist, I have mine.)

“We’re umm going on business?” he looked kind of nervous and reached over and kissed our foreheads before dragging Johnathon out the door and slamming it close. My eyes were wide and in surprise.

I hope the rest of him is in Surprise as well or he’ll have a hard time blinking.

Well that was a bit strange I thought.

I think that was a bit strange as well – and not just the kissing thing.

Unlike The Doctor, the Riddler’s appearance and outfit changed very little over the course of the animated series, which is supposedly the source material the author is using as a basis for her fic. Both kids are familiar with him wearing it, in the very first chapter he allowed them to play with his mask and cane as they walked to the ice cream shop. Just like if your parent was a clown or a stripper, seeing someone in the same outfit over and over again on days that are clearly not Halloween would take away the special nature of the clothing and make it less “the Riddler’s costume” and more “weird Uncle Eddie’s work clothes.”

Harley clapped her hands startling both me and Q who were sitting on the armchair.

The kids aren’t sitting in the chair but on it, probably perched on the arms or back of the chair and playing “The seat is made of lava.” This will be important in a minute.

:THWACK!:

It’s “Q and me.”

Harley suggests making cookies, which sounds like a fabulous idea. I always let dangerously psychotic people prepare my food, it adds such spice to life. She starts rummaging through the bags the Riddler left in the Formless Void to see what he bought. It’s usually a good idea to see if you have the ingredients to make cookies before offering to make them, since little kids get very tantrum-y over that sort of thing, but Harley doesn’t exactly blink in sync with the rest of the bulbs on life’s Christmas tree so I’ll let that one slide.

“Nope” she tossed a bag of marshmallows back knocking Q to the ground

:headdesk:

Harley took the bag of marshmallows out of the grocery bag and Q was sitting on the armchair, which I presume was not sitting inside the bag of groceries. Throwing something “back” implies that you are returning it to the container you took it out of.

:THWACK!:

If you can’t keep track of where your characters are in your head, draw yourself a frickin’ map.

Even assuming that Q did travel via situationally dependant quantum flux to the inside of the world’s biggest grocery bag, it still doesn’t make sense. According to Uncle Google, the average weight for a five-year old is around forty pounds (six hundred forty ounces) and a bag of marshmallows weighs ten ounces, approximately one sixty-fourth of what the girl weighs. The only way it could knock her off the chair (or out of the bag) with enough force that she literally hits the floor would be if it was traveling at a significant velocity, which has its own problems since a plastic sack of soft cylinders isn’t exactly designed for a ballistic trajectory. There’s probably some complicated formula out there that will let you figure out the exact speed a bag of marshmallows has to be traveling to knock over a little girl, but I don’t think anyone wants to watch me try to do math (it’s not a pretty sight) so I’m just going to guess “pretty damn fast” and leave it at that. Unless Harley brought her special candy-bag-shooting gun along on her baby-sitting job on the off-chance she might get to use it, I’m going to have to call bullshit on this.

“Hahahahah-” a crossword puzzle book hit me square in the face. Q guffawed holding her sides

“KARMA!” She yelled still laughing

“Haha so funny” I muttered sarcastically crossing my arms. Harley swiveled around

Well, pointless violence is kind of Harley’s thing – she’s just playing to her strengths.

I’ve actually been trying to sarcastically cross my arms for the past twenty minutes and I think I’ve got it down. You have to do this thing with your right elbow where you …

:crack!:

Ooh, I’m going to feel that in the morning.

“What’s so funny…” I guessed we looked ridiculous with the marshmallows all over the place from the collision on Qs’ head and me red faced with the whopper of a smack the crossword puzzle book gave me.

I was going to throw this bag of marshmallows at my cat to see if they would break open, but decided against it since that would be cruelty to animals. (And also because she bit me on the foot and hid under the futon. Spoilsport.) Instead I’m going to have the Library’s masseuse, Sven, throw it as hard as he can at the author’s head until the bag explodes in sugary goodness.

:whuff:

:whuff:

:whuff:

-two hours later-

:whuff:

Dammit, just open the bag and dump it on her already!

:Sven does so:

There we go, just like in the fic! What a realistic scenario! Oh, wait – I forgot to uncross my arms. My fingers are starting to go all blue and tingly, is that a bad sign?

Q had spontaneously calmed down and stared at Harleys’ blank face

We’ve secretly replaced these characters with emotionless sacks of rice pudding! Let’s see if anyone notices.

“We gonna get in big trouble with Eddie”She bent down and started cleaning the marshmallows and I bent down to help too.

:gets out tub and washboard:

This is the way we clean the marshmallows, clean the marshmallows, clean the marshmallows. This is the way we clean the marshmallows, so err-lie in the morn’n!

:hangs marshmallows on line to dry:

Q face remained emotionless and blank. Harley face softened with concern

Holy crap, it’s taken three and a half chapters for someone to show concern for these two orphans – and it’s the crazy clown lady who does so? I know it’s been kind of busy lately, what with the armed thugs attacking, fleeing for their lives, building a fort in the tree house, an impulsive shopping trip, and a random caterpillar adoption, but one of the adults should have taken time out of their busy crime-plotting schedules to ask the kids if they were okay.

The really odd thing is that right up until this point, the kids were fine. They were showing no signs of emotional trauma, Q was playing with a caterpillar and Isaiah was quietly reading a (far too advanced for him) book when Scarecrow told them that a babysitter was coming over.

“What’s the matter kid?”she asked concern. Qs’ blank gaze washed over her, eyes watery, and she whispered barely audible

What the hell do you think is wrong with her – that she’s so sad because she just realized that she wore white after Labor Day? Her mother just exploded!

Q confesses that she misses her mother and Isaiah admits to himself that he misses his mother as well. From there it gets a bit confusing, mostly because of the carriage return thing I mentioned earlier.

“Awwwww ya’ poor little cuties! Aunty Harley make it all betta’ ” she pulled us for the second grief hug this day” we were both sobbing now. Why us? Burdened with such grief?

She going to make everything a colorful tropical fish?

No, wait – it’s that Brooklyn accent again.

I am not going to attempt a “grief hug,” I just now got the feeling back in my thumbs. By combing over the previous chapters, the only other hug I can find occurs back in Chapter One shortly after the news report/exposition. As all four chapters occur within the space of an hour or so, these kids have rapidly cycled from intense grief to whatever passes for normal for them and now have returned to grief. That’s not healthy behavior and indicates to me a need for some serious counseling.

Harley was rubbing soothing circles on our back softly whispering

And to top it off, the two kids have merged into one. That’s a tad disturbing.

Harley dispenses a few consoling platitudes and everyone stands up (even though there is no indication that they ever sat down again after getting up to clean the marshmallows) to look at a rainbow through a conveniently placed window.

“Imma make both of our Momma and Poppa’s proud!” Q shakily stood up with newfound courage. I surprised. This is for mom…I stood up with Harley and looked towards the clouds in the window seeing a little rainbow. Harley patted our shoulder

“This is for you Mother” I whispered

I confused. While Q’s promise to make her parents and Isaiah’s parents proud of her sounds kind of sweet, I’d like to know why she wants to do this. I’d like to think I make my parents proud of me, but I really don’t care if my friends’ parents are proud of me as well. Q must be quite the overachiever now that Isaiah and she are one.

Since we’ve managed to get this far without a change in perspective, the author uses a POV tag to indicate an abrupt scene change to Scarecrow’s point of view. The first part almost reads like a poem, and as it is in italics I’m going to assume it’s his thoughts but since there is no indication of this I could just as easily assume he is performing an interpretive dance with spoken-word accompaniment on top of the speeding Batmobile.

Actually, I’m going to picture that second thing instead.

I was running

not from Batman

Not Ever in Fear

But in pain

Not Physical

Emotional Pain

:snaps fingers:

Dig it, daddy-o.

I looked behind me and saw Batman running not too far behind

If you are being chased by Batman, it is not the proper time for a free-verse inner monologue. There are really only two options open to you when you are being chased by Batman:

  1. Stop and beg for mercy.
  2. Run faster.

Why her? Why my sweet innocent sister? Why did she have to die?

Whiskey. Tango. FOXTROT?

:checks POV tag:

Okay, this is definitely supposed to be from Scarecrow’s perspective.  I can find no indication of siblings for the canon character, but this is a fanfic so that doesn’t mean anything. What I’d like to know is when did this sister die? It must have happened recently for him to … be…

Oh, hell.

If Amelia was the Riddler’s sister, then this would imply that Charlotte was Scarecrow’s sister. Now I’m even more confused than before – why didn’t Charlotte give custody of her son to her brother instead of giving it to an unrelated person like the Riddler? My understanding is that children are usually placed with close family members if at all possible. Maybe the newscaster read the teleprompter wrong.

Tears were flowing now.

Thank Goodness for the mask, Now the Batman won’t have to see your pathetic tears” Scarecrow sneered

“SHUT UP! I KNOW YOU LOVED HER TOO!” I yelled internally at Scarecrow

Scarecrow, the Master of Fear and one of the biggest badasses in a Batman universe packed with badasses, is crying. His whole shtick is that he is beyond emotional attachments; he feels no love, no joy, no anger – nothing but a consuming obsession with his research into the nature of fear. The animated series’ canon doesn’t explain much of his back story and gives no reason for his obsession with fear other than “he be crazy” so I don’t see where the author is going with this.

And he’s talking to himself – that’s always a good sign.

Only thing I love is fear and I know that y-“

“LIES! Stop lying to yourself! We both loved her to bits!” I shouted once,again, my anger rising

By this point in the fic it would be safe to assume that “loved her to bits” could mean “I blew her into tiny pieces with an explosive device.”

Scarecrow doesn’t Love” he failed to hide his nervousness but manged to put some poison in his voice

Didn’t I just say that?

I think my brain melted a little bit.

“Yes we did” I whispered. I knocked over a trash can in hopes of slowing down Batman. Scarecrow stayed silent after that. I was leading Batman towards a little maze Eddie had came up with in a short amount of time.

:THWACK!:

That was for “had came up with.”

You are running from a man who could break you like an election promise, is now really the best time to have an argument with your inner super-villain?

Why am I doing this? Scarecrow decided now to intrude my thoughts and shocked me when he said

I was wondering that as well. Please illuminate us, fictional imaginary friend.

Because the pain is too great. You think running will stop it..But it never does. Pain don’t go away that easy, Johnny Boy. But it heals. But running only makes scars. Scars don’t heal” he brought up a mental picture of Charlotte laughing her Her straight brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, her eyes wrinkled with lines of joy, her shocking purple eyes filled with joy. I remembered that day quite clearly

Found another stray period! We will just add that to the collection jar in the Library lobby…

:plink!:

Only ten million to go!

Ah, it looks like the fic author is going to go all artsy on us and try to portray Scarecrow as an emotionally fragile being in an attempt to make him a more sympathetic character.

Crap, there goes more of my brain. Excuse me a second, I need to go get some earplugs before I lose my high school algebra classes.

Okay, I’m back. That was close; I think I lost some of my eighth grade science classes, though. I have this funny feeling that it’s okay to put elemental potassium in a glass of water.

Based on the very first sentence, this entire fic is a flashback – it is taking place “ten years ago.” In a previous chapter we had our first flashback inside of a flashback as Isaiah relived a pointless memory of visiting Scarecrow, whom we now know is his uncle. Not to be outdone, Scarecrow now has a flashback of his own triggered by the mental image of his sister laughing that begins with a Brick-o-Text.

I sat with Charlotte in her living room,Looking intently at her husband, Isaiah just two years old, was watching Elmo intently while the red creature talked to Big Bird.

Wow, Isaiah married young – and to his own mother! He should change his name to Oedipus.

No, wait; here’s a rambling description of Charlotte’s husband – complete with vague homoerotic undertones!

Her husband Joesph Diaz had her in a embrace on the couch. He had broad shoulders and worked out regularly. His hazel eyes that literally glowed, Watched over his son. He was in his PJ bottoms and a white clean t-shirt. But what I was observing were that he had no ears on the side of his head. Just one black and one white pointed furry wolf ears resting on is head.

They aren’t actually his ears, he just wears them on top of “is” head like a pair of tiny fur hats.

 He was a great man very worthy for my Little Charlotte as I called her. He had a quiet personality but in the right company he could make you pee your pants laughing. He also had many degrees in many fields so he was intelligent which what I liked about this man too.

 It sounds like someone has a crush on the wolfman! I might have to revise my assessment of the Riddler being the Stu, Wolfie here is heading ears-first into Gary Stu territory.

I turned my attention towards my nephew who was crawling towards the kitchen. A minute later he arrived back with an orange.

The boy is two years old – why is he still crawling? At that age he should at least be at the “stumbles around like a drunken hobo” stage of his development. And how can he carry an orange and crawl at the same time; does he have an extra arm or prehensile tail the author has neglected to mention?

What you got there?” asked Joesph smiling. Isaiah wobbled over and crawled in my lap. Placing he orange by my nose.

Elmo!” He laughed, clapping his hands happily. Joesph looked at me then at Charlotte. He burst out laughing. His laugh was contagious and we howled in laughter. During my laughing fit I glanced at Charlotte happily laughing and I decided to cherish this random hysterical moment.

Elmo does have a round nose that resembles an orange, but that’s pretty advanced humor for a non-toddling toddler. (Weird fact of the day – Elmo is the only puppet to have ever testified before Congress. I swear I’m not making that up.) He would probably still be at the stage where he’s trying to shove the square peg into the round hole. And then the peg gets wedged in place when you give up and try to force it in by banging it on the floor, and it just sits there mocking you with its corners and … lack of roundness and its refusal to go through the frickin’ hole. The round one goes through the square hole, why can’t the square one go through the round hole? Stupid peg.

… I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought there for a minute.

I personally wouldn’t call this incident “hysterical” since it has failed to provoke uncontrollable laughter from me, and I certainly wouldn’t lose myself in this particular memory while being chased by the Dark Knight.

The flashback ends and we get a couple of sentences from Scarecrow as he continues to run from Batman.

I still in shock that I tripped over a discarded box.

“Ouch!” I face planted on the cold cement of an alley, scrambled up ,and dared not look back.

You know, if you weren’t wearing a big, floppy hat and a mask that resembles a burlap sack, it would probably be much easier to see where you are going and you’d fall down a lot less. Just sayin’.

I’m going to end things here for today, after this point the perspective flip-flops like a fish out of water and the rapid scene changes make things even more confusing. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?


4 Comments on “150: No title – Chapter Four, Part One”

  1. TacoMagic says:

    I could calculate an approximate velocity for the marshmallow bag in order to topple a 5-year old over, but you would probably all go cross-eyed at all the math. Plus, it makes a lot of rather poor assumptions about the child not taking a step to maintain balance and all that jazz.

    Suffice to say it’s infinitely more likely that you would surprise the child and make her fall over trying to avoid the bag.


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