They didn't have too far to walk. While Jimmy's friends lived in a different district, they all lived fairly close to the border between the two neighborhoods; Jimmy in the northwestern part of Uptown, and his friends in southern Glendale. Jay recognized them as Jimmy's friends at once, as they were all in costume.

"Gentlemen- and lady," said Jimmy with a broad grin, in his best Joker-voice, "a genuine and distinct pleasure, as almost always! And as an extra-special treat for you tonight, please allow me to introduce to you a would-be new recruit to our happy little family, one Mister Jason Costello, lately of Metropolis, and on-timely of our own beloved Gotham. More specifically, of my stomping grounds, Uptown." Turning to Jay, he said, "And you... welcome to Glendale. May I introduce my accomp- er, ah, colleagues, Mr. Edward Nygma (secret identity Tom Collerin), Mr. Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot (secret identity Simon Glassman), and the enchanting Miss Pamela Isley (secret identity Alice Asterton). You, of course, may call them Riddler, Penguin, and Poison Ivy."

"Pleased to meet you all, I'm sure... I'm Harvey Dent, and I'm expecting to have a tragically disfiguring accident any time now," he said, flipping a two-headed quarter he'd had for a couple years now, but only today had scratched an X on one side.

The others grinned. "My sincerest condolences to you, in advance, my good fellow," said the Riddler. "But please, don't let's allow your impending tragedy to spoil the evening's entertainment."

"Indeed not," agreed the Penguin. "The game, if it is not currently so, promises soon to be afoot."

"Yes..." put in Ivy, "come now, my dear Harvey," stepping forward and taking his hand, "join in the fun... And perhaps one day soon we can introduce you to a suitable tailor."

"All tailors ought to be suitable, one would think," said the Joker. "After all, suits are rather an important aspect of their job description, aren't they?" The others groaned in an effort to suppress their grins- they liked to pretend not to encourage his jokes, but they generally did think he did a pretty fair job in his role. Ignoring their groans, he asked, "Shall we to Lyntown, then?"

"What's in Lyntown?" asked Harvey.

"Any number of ideal possibilities for bat-spotting," said the Riddler.

"Not to mention all the profitable mischiefs for innocent little scamps like us to get ourselves into," added the Joker.

"I say, let's be off with us, then," said the Penguin.

And so they headed south, with eyes on the rooftops, but also all around them; whatever they might pretend, they were always cautious and wary, alert to the ever-present possiblities of genuine danger, especially in the district they were now headed into. They knew it, and all the districts of Gotham, fairly well, from years of playing and exploring both by day and by night. When they went out looking for the Bat, they perforce looked in some of the more dangerous parts of the city, places full of crime and criminals, but they were never quite so foolish as to let their guard down.

The cops around the city knew them- many didn't appreciate their running about dressed as individuals it was their job to arrest, and sometimes there would be those police who had been hurt, or who had had friends or family killed by the people these kids were imitating. Nevertheless, the kids knew Jim Gordon ran as clean a department as possible, and whatever their personal feelings toward the kids, the cops would do their jobs and protect them as they would all citizens of Gotham. Therefore, the kids always made a note of the various cops' beats, and always remembered where they saw them last whenever out on these jaunts of theirs.

They also knew likely places to hide should the need arise, and had friends among some of the street people and small-time hoods, who often found them amusing, and would protect them just as surely as the cops... unless such protection would seem too seriously to jeopardize the protectors' own safety.

On this night, Jimmy and his friends were doing their best to stay in top form in their performances, trying to get Jay acquainted with the area and with themselves. It could, however, prove somewhat confusing when they'd talk about things the real people they were portraying had really done, saying "I did this," the same way they would when talking about things they themselves had actually done while pretending to be the criminals.

"...And this is where I once nearly killed Ol' Pointy Ears with nothing but my bare fish..." the Joker was saying, pointing to the rooftop of an abandoned factory that was now used on occasion for cooking up a bit of meth.

"Your bare... fish...?" asked Harvey.

"Woops... did I say fish?" asked Joker with a cackle. "I meant hands, of course, bare hands... Not that there aren't sickos around here who'd pay a few bucks for a quick peep at a bare fish..." And at that he broke out laughing a bit harder.

"Um... yeah..." said Harvey. "I'm sure." He turned to the others, and saw Ivy trying to suppress a grin, Penguin scowling around a cigarette holder (with a bubble gum cigarette), and Riddler somehow managing to look classy while staring in the Joker's direction and twirling a finger beside his own head. Turning back to Joker, "Um... anyway, um... so, you almost killed him, eh? What happened?"

"What happened? Well... I didn't kill him, that's what happened."

"He slipped," said the Penguin. "On his other 'bare fish.'"

"His other one... um... how many fish did he have, anyway? And... I mean, what...?"

"He was in fact using a fish as a weapon," said the Riddler. "Actually, he had two fish- one real, which was mostly part of a gag it would be too complicated to go into now; and one which had razor fins and spat bullets. While pointing the latter at Batman, the former fell out of his pocket without his noticing, and, as the Penguin noted, he slipped on it. And the moment that gained the Bat was more than ample for him to turn the tables, and soon our esteemed colleague was once again playing cards with us, safe and sound at Arkham."

"Yes..." grumbled the Joker, and changed the subject. "But let's not dawdle, we've a busy night ahead of us. So many places to go and people to see..." Beneath his breath he muttered, "flying rodents to exterminate..."

And so they continued onward, the four friends pointing more and more things out to Jay, which they and their counterparts had done over the years. And they continued the night's Bat-hunt...

part 4