Fudged a little bit. This is more, Janet-is-scary-as-fuck, part five hundred in an ongoing series.
Fudged a little bit. This is more, Janet-is-scary-as-fuck, part five hundred in an ongoing series.
When Tim was five, he’d made Janet a card with his teacher and pediatrician sobbing on the front.
A few years later, Dick had made her a mix CD for Mother’s Day, full of songs about murderers, villainy, and evil triumphing over good. In bright red sharpie, he’d written out the playlist, and doodled bloody, dismembered hearts.
The first time Jason had given her anything had been the year after the incident with Sheila Haywood. He’d gotten her a book on famous dictators, and written on the inside cover ‘Figured you’d like to read up on the competition’.
Cassandra had insisted on teaching her how to knock somebody out, the year after she’d first joined Bruce’s family.
The year before last, Stephanie had gotten Janet and her mother sampler packs of a coffee blend aptly called the Black Blood of the Earth.
Her children had always had very good taste.
(This year, Janet had woken up a little before dawn to witness a ninja exiting her bedroom via the window. When she’d gotten up to investigate, she’d discovered what was, according to Damian, a very nice set of throwing knives like the ones his mother favored.
Janet knew she liked Talia for a reason.)
There’s a bone jarring thump of steel on bone, and then a gunshot rings out, bright red blooming on the Joker’s chest, just below his right shoulder. Jason twists to see Sheila Haywood crumbled on the warehouse floor, unconscious and bleeding from her temple.
“What a shame,” Mrs. J says coolly, stepping up besides Jason. “I missed.” And Jason had really never gotten why Dick and B acted like she was so frightening before. He does now, because the cool nothing-look in her eyes as she stands next to Jason, pistol in hand, is the most frightening thing he’s ever seen. More than fear gas, more than two-face, more than the Joker. He shivers, and ducks behind her, remembering what Dick had said right before he introduced them:
‘She doesn’t really have limits, little wing. Don’t piss her off, okay?’
She’s terrifying, but Jason’s not scared at all. Everything’s going to be okay, because Mrs. J doesn’t have limits, and she’s not going to let anything happen to them.
Mrs. J hefts the Joker’s crowbar, a thoughtful look crossing her face.
“I’ve never killed a man before,” she says, a mild unconcern in her voice clearly implying it wasn’t for moral objection the statement was true. “What do you think, Robin?”
Jason grins, a hysterical amusement bubbling in his chest. “Think B would object, Mrs. J.” She nods, looking ever so faintly disappointed.
“True enough.” She walks over to the Joker, prods him with her toe. “What to do with you then?”
The Joker howls a laugh. “Old Batsy employing girls to do his job? Tsk, tsk, he’s going soft.”
Mrs. J smiles. “I work for myself.”
“Oh! Another do-gooder hero-type! You don’t have the figure for it, sweets,” the Joker mocks. Jason winces, because even he knows better than to goad Mrs. J like that. She laughs, a howling, inhuman sound that sends a chill up Jason’s spine.
“Blind fool,” She says, still laughing. “I’m no hero. I’m just. like. you.”
She prods him with her toe, crouching to look the Joker in the eye. Jason can’t see what’s in her eyes, and he never, ever wants to.
“Want to know the difference between us, brother? I’ve won,” Mrs. J says in a terrible parody of tenderness. She lays her hand on the Joker’s cheek. “You’ll never have more than this, the moment when you almost meant something to somebody. You’ll always be this empty, this meaningless. The living dead, waiting for the grave to claim him, already condemned to the dustbin of history.”
She rises to her feet, wiping her hands like she’s touched sometime unpleasant. “Come along, Robin. Batman’s looking for you.”
“…yeah, okay,” Jason said shakily, giving in to the insanity. He lets Mrs. J wrap her arm over his shoulder and guide him out of the warehouse.
Behold, Janet’s theme song.
Blood in the water, Hm-mm-mm-mm
Janet nodded at Pennyworth, sweet as poisoned honey, because respectable society ladies did not just go around with a knife and a plan to maim. Not the ones who weren’t in Arkham, anyway.
“I recently learned my foster son has been participating in a very peculiar extra-curricular activity.” Janet paused, staring Pennyworth straight in the eye. “Would you care to shed some light on that, Mr. Pennyworth?”
“Master Dick did say you’d figure out eventually,” Pennyworth sighed, stepping aside to let her in.
“It’s always nice to hear your children have faith in you,” Janet said with cheerful malice. “But I wasn’t the one who discovered Brucie’s little hobby. That would be my younger son.”
There was nothing in the world better than watching one of her sons outmaneuver a target, except perhaps watching the shame of their victim when they realized it was a teenager, or better yet, an elementary school student who’d beat them. The look on Pennyworth’s face was everything she could have asked for.
First blood was hers, and Janet didn’t intend to give up the advantage.
Jack was taking the boys out to dinner tonight in New York, to celebrate Dick’s high school graduation. And if he had noticed his wife scheming and decided to assist her by making sure their children weren’t in the line of fire? Well. There was a reason she’d married him.
It was just her, Pennyworth, and Brucie ‘soon to be wishing he was dead’ Wayne. Exactly the way she wanted it.
“Do call Mr. Wayne, if you would? We have things we need to discuss.” Janet thought of blood in the water, and smiled.
Dick clung to her hand fearfully. Janet bit down on her cheek to keep from grimacing in distaste. A grown man- or woman- had no excuse for making a fool of themselves by crying and carrying on. Children were different. Traumatized children especially so. They had not lived long enough to learn how to adequately regulate their emotions.
It was normal and appropriate for a ten year old to demonstrate fear at parting from their normal caretaker, and it would only be harmful for Dick to hide those fears. No matter how unpleasant such emotional displays were.
“If he does anything even slightly inappropriate, or makes you at all uncomfortable, you are to call me immediately, do you understand?” Janet looked down at Dick seriously. He nodded. “If you need to leave immediately, call Tim and he’ll get one of the maids to come get you.”
“You’ll be back soon, though?” Dick asked, pressing into her side. Janet gave him a sharp nod.
“One month to examine the factory site, and then I’ll be flying back to Gotham while Jack finishes negotiations.” Janet put her hand on Dick’s shoulder.
“I fully expect you will be fine. Wayne is a dolt, but he doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body. Mr. Pennyworth will probably provide for your day-to-day care, but Wayne should be a common presence.” Janet felt an entirely unwelcome sense of helplessness. Dick had become a part of her household. He was hers, just like Tim and Jack and Drake Industries were. Her inability to give him what he needed gnawed at her.
Janet had been delighted when her father had fallen ill, giving her the chance to escape him. She’d read about his later death with great pleasure, and had felt little grief at his passing. She didn’t know how to provide for a boy who had actually loved his parents, and missed them. The idea was utterly foreign to her.
Wayne had loved his parents, that much was well known. He should be able to do what Janet could not. But how she despised be forced to trust a man who was famous for drinking champagne out of a model’s shoe with the well-being of her charge.
Janet hadn’t been much acquainted with failure before this, and found the taste of it unpleasant.
“Tell him I said hello,” Jack said over the phone. Janet’s lip twitched.
“Sure, dear,” Janet said, voice only a little dry. “The main event is starting soon, I have to go.”
“See you guys soon, then,” Jack said and hung up. Janet sighed and tucked her phone away. She was going soft.
“Ms. Drake!” Dick bounded up to her, grinning. Thank god he hadn’t rubbed off on Tim too much. “Hi!”
“Nice to see you too, Dick.” She passed him a highlighted map of the convention floor. “Tim’s at the western stage right now.” Dick flipped the map over to look at the program list, and whistled.
“He’s in the master’s showcase? Little brother’s been holding back.” Janet allowed herself a proud smile. Tim had done very well of late.
“He reached black belt a week before the line-up was chosen,” she confirmed. Dick all but bounced on his heels. She spared a moment of pity for her son. Dick out in full force was an experience.
“Would you mind if I stole him for the weekend?” Dick asked. By long experience, Janet suppressed her automatic amusement at Dick’s pouting. “We need to celebrate this properly.”
“Just as long as you drop him off at school on time Monday morning,” Janet told him. Tim hadn’t had much time with his former foster brother lately, and this saved her trouble of trying to schedule around ‘Brucie’s’ antics.
Why the man felt the need to act like an utter buffoon in public when she knew very well he was perfectly capable of appropriate behavior was quite beyond Janet. As long as his ridiculous habit didn’t interfere with Tim and Dick’s relationship, she simply did not care.
“Sure,” Dick agreed, hugging her impulsively. By the time Janet could even think to respond, Dick had already headed off onto the main floor in search of Tim.
“That boy,” Janet shook her head. When had she become somebody people hugged?
Janet’s phone went off in the middle of the meeting, playing a short burst of ‘little fugue in G minor’. She held up her hand, silencing the pompous little man attempting to sell her on his company’s services.
“I’m sorry,” She wasn’t. “That’s my son’s emergency number. I need to take this.” She stood up and walked out of the conference room, flipping open her phone as she did so.
“What’s the situation, Timothy?” she asked, sitting down on the bench just outside, flipping open her notebook and clicking her pen down.
“He hurt my wrist, Mama,” Tim whispered, voice teary. “I couldn’t go to Jujutsu today.”
Janet felt herself go cold, the world falling silent and still and sharp-edged. “His name, Timothy. Give me his name.”
“Mike Henry. He’s in third grade,” Tim sniffled, muffled little sobs breaking through his self-control. Janet smiled, shark-like, and wrote down the name, along with a tight little note with his grade, probable age, and school enrollment.
“Don’t worry,” Janet said, finding some reserve of softness within her. “He won’t bother you again. Take an aspirin and go to bed. I’ll be there in the morning.”
“Okay, mama,” Tim said softly. “Love you.”
“I love you as well, Timothy,” Janet said, not allowing herself to think about the words, and hung up the phone. She walked back into the conference room, and nodded to the suit-clad men inside. They shivered.
“My son is injured. I intend to be on the twelve o’clock flight out of here, one way or another. Talk quick.”
Negotiations proceeded with unseemly haste.
Janet opened her phone as soon as she set foot outside of Gotham’s airport, and punched in her lawyer’s number.
“Hello, Jessica? I have some work for you. How hard would it be to get a nine year old boy charged with assault and battery?”
This is where the major changes start kicking in. Janet doesn’t realize it yet, but she’s had a major shift in her priorities since Tim was born.
Verse summery: How Janet Drake, partial sociopath, became a good mother. For want of a nail style AU.
Janet draped the fleece blanket over her arms, followed by a silk throw. Then she snatched the infant out of the nanny’s arms. Timothy hiccupped a few time, then snuggled into Janet’s covered arms.
“How many times must you be told?” Janet hissed, voice pitched low to not disturb the infant. “Timothy does not like being held next to skin. If you cannot remember something as basic as that, why should I ever trust you with my offspring?”
The nanny tried to respond. Janet cut her off. “Never mind. Go.” The nanny fled. Janet stopped herself from grinding her teeth. She twitched a fold of the silk throw further over Timothy, and stalked to the home office that had seen so much use since Timothy’s birth. She set him down in the pen next to the desk, changed her mind and put him in her lap, and started up her computer.
“You would think finding a child-care specialist capable of following basic instructions would be a straightforward task,” She told Timothy. The infant made a burbling sound of acknowledgement, eyes fixed on the desk toy Jack had gotten for her as a gift. She handed it to him. One of Timothy’s rare smiles crossed his face, and he set to poking at the hourglass. Janet set her arms on either side of him to prevent him from falling, and began her search.
“What do you think of this one?” She asked the infant, blowing up a picture of a young women dressed in disgustingly cutesy embroidered overalls. The sort of thing young children were supposed to like, Janet thought. Timothy ignored her to keep playing with the hourglass. Carefully, Janet pried it out of his hands.
“You can have it back once you answer the question.” Janet said, tapping the screen.
Tim glanced up at her briefly, then looked at the computer with her. He scowled.
“No!” Timothy scrabbled at the hourglass in her hand.
“Good enough,” Janet relented, and handed back the toy. On to the next candidate.
A/N: Yes, I’m aware Tim’s hitting some developmental milestones early, and is behind on several others. But Janet doesn’t.
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