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Fanfic / People Like Us

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People Like Us

Arthur Fleck is beaten and left on the pavement amidst the pieces of his broken sign. Someone finds him there.
— The summary of the story.

People Like Us is a Crossover Slash Fic between Joker (2019) and Taxi Driver written by RovingOtter set in an Alternate Universe retelling the events of Joker (2019) with the addition of none other than Travis Bickle himself, living in Gotham City, giving Arthur Fleck a helping hand after he's beaten up and left on the ground. The story follows these two broken characters finding something in each other that changes the course of Joker (2019) in gradually significant ways.

Over the course of the story the plot becomes an exploration of both characters' psyches as they try to figure out how to deal with the first real romance either of them has ever had, while also being forced to confront a myriad of conflicts that threaten to tear them apart, both external and internal. It can be found on Archive of Our Own here. A sequel titled West can also be found on the same site.

It is definitely Not Safe for Work in that while it has less violence than its source materials overall, it turns up the sexual explicitness far beyond what either movie had.

Spoilers for Taxi Driver and the canon events of Joker (2019) are unmarked. Proceed with caution.

People Like Us contains the following tropes:

  • Actor Allusion: It's remarked a few times how much Travis looks like a younger version of talk-show host Murray Franklin.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The author expands on certain details regarding Arthur and Travis's backstories and even childhoods, which in canon were either left vague or outright mysterious. Less so for Arthur, since he has a poor memory.
    • More screen time is given to Arthur's clown act, showing a few scenes of him working at a children's hospital.
  • Adapted Out: In this version of events, Arthur never encounters the young men on the subway, and no reference is given to Alfred Pennyworth.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Travis is 31 while Arthur is in his mid-forties, but in their dynamic it is often Travis who's the more experienced partner in many different ways.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: One of the earliest signs of Arthur's attraction to Travis is getting excited over hearing his voice on the phone.
  • The Atoner: Travis is deeply ashamed over his behavior and actions back in '76, and rather than acting like a crusader in the present he'd much rather keep a low profile while occasionally helping people through small gestures of kindness, hence why he gives Arthur a hand in the beginning.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The end of Chapter 5 has Travis about to take Arthur to a movie. Viewers of Taxi Driver will expect said movie to be a porno just like the one he took Betsy to. He actually takes Arthur to The Fox and the Hound.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Just as it seems the cops are getting suspicious about Arthur knowing more about Travis than he lets on, Penny wakes up from her coma and fends them off with the help of a bedpan. The cops leave Arthur alone.
  • Big Damn Reunion: After several days of wandering around Gotham to distance himself from Arthur, Travis finally works up the courage to go back to Arthur's apartment where he finds him inside the fridge.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For several reasons, Arthur and Travis decide to leave Gotham City, but neither of them have a job and they aren't really sure what to do next. However, Travis has saved Arthur from being Driven to Villainy, Arthur got some closure with his mother before she died, and instead of causing chaos and death the Joker persona becomes a cult sensation that a lot of Gotham citizens relate to. What matters to Arthur and Travis is that they have each other.
  • Casual Kink: Travis and Arthur realize this about themselves and enter a BDSM sort of relationship with Travis as the dom and Arthur as the sub during sexy times.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: At the end of the story, Arthur talks to Murray Franklin on the phone about coming on his show. He's tempted to finally get some of the recognition he wanted, but then he realizes that Murray is probably going to bully him on the show; besides, he doesn't want to rope Travis into it.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the fic is Lighter and Softer than canon overall, the author adds certain details to Arthur and Travis's backstories that make them even more tragic than originally implied. On top of that, the two characters are given even more mental problems to deal with, and they're described in disturbing detail.
  • Death Seeker: Arthur goes through a psychotic break from withdrawal and is so afraid of himself that he sneaks into Travis's apartment and begs to be killed so that he can at least die in his lover's arms. Of course, Travis doesn't go for it.
  • Declaration of Protection: When Travis learns about how much suffering Arthur has gone through, he swears to protect him from the rest of the world no matter what, and this time he's determined to not lose someone he cares about.
  • Demoted to Extra: Any Taxi Driver character not named Travis Bickle never appears in the story proper, and only get mentions at best. Justified, as not only does Joker (2019) take place in a different time and city, but Travis has good reason not to communicate with these people anymore.
    • Now that Arthur has a real love interest in Travis, he never fantasizes about having a relationship with his neighbor Sophie. She later becomes a friend to Penny in the changed events and is the one to inform Arthur about her stroke, which ironically gives her an actual connection to Arthur this time.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Travis sometimes wrestles with the same want to possess someone as he once did with Betsy, but he absolutely will not overstep Arthur's boundaries even when Arthur seems like he wants him to, whether that's in the bed or in day to day life.
  • Fan Sequel: Acts as one for Taxi Driver since the fic is following the timeline of Joker (2019), which takes place in 1981. It's more accurate to say that it acts more as a continuation of Travis's character arc.
  • Flowers of Romance: Arthur gets sent an anonymous bouquet of daffodils at work. He surmises almost immediately they're from Travis.
  • From Bad to Worse: During his robbery, Travis shoots a guy and gets shot in the arm himself. His wound doesn't heal after being patched and he's unable to work. And then the guy he shot turns out to be a police officer, which means the Gotham police are going to take this crime much more seriously than normal even though it was non-fatal.
  • Genre Shift: The first half follows Joker (2019)'s events pretty closely, but afterwards the story of Arthur becoming a villain like his comic counterpart is circumvented through Travis's influence, and the story becomes a full-on romantic drama with psychological elements.
  • Hallucinations: Withdrawal from his medicine causes Arthur to imagine people and objects that aren't there, which becomes a problem when Travis needs him to patch up his gunshot wound.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: An anti-heroic version. Travis certainly doesn't view himself as a hero for saving Iris, knowing full well he did it after failing to kill Palantine. At one point, Arthur reads Travis's journal from Taxi Driver and finds that he's written self-critical remarks to himself in the margins after the fact.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Both Arthur and Travis are this to themselves. This creates problems for their relationship because they loathe themselves so much they aren't sure they even deserve to be loved, and are afraid that they'll hurt the other in one way or another.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Arthur still gets fired from Ha-Ha's where he worked as a clown.
    • The tape of Arthur's changed stand-up routine at Pogo's still ends up going to Murray Franklin's studio where they want to play it.
    • Penny still winds up dead, though this time not by Arthur's hands.
  • Intimate Telecommunications: Arthur and Travis have this a few times. The first time, Arthur did it thinking it was one-sided, but Travis knew what he was doing.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In Travis's quest to find Arthur after he's gone missing, he gets into a physical confrontation with Arthur's boss, Hoyt, throwing him around and breaking his ribs. Unfortunately, Hoyt doesn't know where Arthur went.
  • Justified Criminal: When Arthur falls into a full-on psychotic breakdown, Travis knows that telling him how much he loves him isn't going to work. He needs his medication, so Travis robs a pharmacy.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Taxi Driver and especially Joker (2019), this fan fiction is this. The romance here is a genuine one that has a positive impact for both Arthur and Travis, which affects Joker (2019) so it doesn't end up the way it did. Even some of Arthur's relationships with other characters become warmer than in canon.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Arthur and Travis become this for each other. While they both had reasons to keep living before (For Arthur it's taking care of his mother, and for Travis it's wanting to do something truly good for once in his life), once they enter a relationship they can't stand the thought of losing the other since they're the only people who really understand one another. At first Arthur thought it was only himself who felt this way, but it becomes clear that Travis needs Arthur just as much.
  • Love Hurts: It's not smooth sailing for this couple.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: A somewhat downplayed example. On one hand you've got Travis Bickle, who's probably the poster-boy for toxic masculinity in cinema, and on the other you've got Arthur Fleck, who's In Touch with His Feminine Side and in this fic became a clown partially so he could have a socially-acceptable excuse to wear makeup.
  • Meet the In-Laws: At one point, Arthur invites Travis to have dinner and meet Penny; however, they're keeping their relationship a secret from her and pretend to just be friends. Arthur confesses to Penny soon after, though.
  • Mercy Kill: In a mirror of the original scene from Joker (2019), Arthur thinks about smothering his mother in the hospital, torn between wanting to do it out of mercy and wanting to run away with Travis with no strings attached. Despite goading from his other self, he doesn't do it. He's forgiven her.
  • My Beloved Smother: As Arthur grows closer to Travis, there's an undercurrent of jealousy from Penny, who doesn't like the idea of anyone taking Arthur away from her. There's parts where Arthur wonders if she's intentionally trying to guilt-trip him into staying with her, but because of her mental state he's not too sure.
  • Non-Ironic Clown: Arthur's newfound happiness allows him to put on a much better show as a clown and manages to bring genuine joy to kids in the hospital.
  • Not So Stoic: Years of seeing violence has made Travis convinced that most of his emotions besides rage are dead inside of him, to the point where he claims he literally hasn't cried in years. Arthur is probably the first person who's been able to awaken certain feelings inside him in a very long time. Travis finally cries after being overwhelmed with love for Arthur after the first time they have sex.
  • Passed in Their Sleep: Instead of being smothered by Arthur, Penny ends up dying in her sleep on Christmas Eve from a blood clot.
  • Point of Divergence: The influence Travis Bickle has on Arthur Fleck's life changes the narrative of Joker (2019) in too many ways to list here completely. At first the differences are subtle, but eventually it changes the trajectory almost entirely. If one were to remove the Taxi Driver elements from the story, People Like Us becomes an examination on how Arthur could have been changed if he had anyone who truly reached out and connected to him.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: More of an antagonist than a villain, but Hoyt is this. He tells Arthur that he's willing to ignore what people do privately, but his language to Arthur and later Travis is homophobia-laden, and it's implied him firing Arthur has something to do with it.
  • Rescue Romance: Arthur certainly views his relationship with Travis as one. The first time they meet is when Travis checks to see if he's okay after the teenagers attacked him. That gesture of kindness is shocking to Arthur.
  • Romantic Rain: Arthur and Travis's first passionate embrace and kiss comes when Travis takes Arthur home while it's raining.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: When Travis and Arthur enter a BDSM relationship, Travis always makes sure that Arthur consents to whatever Travis is about to do, and he has Arthur pick a code word for when he wants to stop. The first code word is Joker, and later it becomes Carnival. The Joker code becomes useful for snapping Arthur out of an altered state of consciousness during his stand-up routine at Pogo's.
  • Sanity Slippage: Happens to Arthur after a succession of things going wrong in his life such as not being able to see his therapist anymore, him reading the file describing his violent behavior at Arkham and being worried about a side to him that he didn't know was there before. It reaches an apex when he gets fired while on withdrawal, resulting in suicidal ideation and hallucinations.
  • Second-Act Breakup: It's actually a second act separation instead of a breakup, but Travis and Arthur figure it's best to spend time apart from each other temporarily. Travis has to leave Gotham so the police don't take Arthur with him if they catch him, and Arthur decides to stay with Penny in the hospital.
  • Secret Relationship: It being 1981 and all, Arthur and Travis try to keep their romance to themselves and say that they're only friends when asked. Arthur eventually tells his mother, who, while being a little jealous of Travis, shows no outward homophobia.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Travis is explicitly one here, as opposed to Taxi Driver which kept it ambiguous. He sometimes has nightmares about his time in Vietnam and can't stand to eat food that reminds him of gore.
  • Slash Fic: It's a fic about Arthur meeting Travis and forming a bond with him that becomes romantic as well as sexual.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: To put it simply, nearly everyone who died in Joker (2019). The only reason there's no Everybody Lives trope is because Penny still bites the dust, but even then her death is natural this time. Even Bruce Wayne's parents live to see another day.
  • Split Personality: In what is one of the biggest deviations from Joker (2019), Arthur is revealed to have one that first comes out during phone sex with Travis, whom Travis at first refers to as The Other. This other self is more sexually aggressive, not afraid to speak his mind, and sometimes encourages Arthur to do bad things thinking that it will help him. Refreshingly, The Other - who is given the name Joker - isn't an evil split personality, rather, he came about as a way to protect Arthur. It's all but stated that this alter is the result of Rape as Backstory in Arthur's childhood. However, Word of God states that it's not really meant to be a case of DID, but rather an alternate state of consciousness that Arthur slips into. For the sake of simplicity, Joker will be referred to as a split personality.
  • Stalking is Love: Discussed. Travis finds himself slipping back into bad habits when he finds Arthur's place of work and parks his taxi to observe him. He knows he shouldn't be doing it.
  • Switching P.O.V.: Arthur is firmly the protagonist, but the perspective frequently shifts back and forth between him and Travis.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Travis has matured quite a bit since 1976. On top of being The Atoner, he goes to great lengths to make sure he's not overstepping Arthur's bounds and shows a remarkable amount of patience for him. When he gets into conflicts with others, he'll do everything to make sure it doesn't result in too much violence. He's even seemed to have worked on his racist/misogynist tendencies from before. With that being said, Travis is still a misanthrope with violent thoughts.
  • Violently Protective Boyfriend: Travis channels pretty much all of his energy into making sure Arthur is safe. At one point, the teenagers who beat up Arthur in the beginning come back, and Travis fights them off.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 7 marks the reveal of Arthur's Split Personality, which is a huge addition to Arthur's already sizable list of mental problems.
    • Chapter 20 and 21 marks the biggest challenge Arthur and Travis have had to face yet. A broken Arthur begs Travis to kill him, afraid his Split Personality is going to do something terrible. Travis is forced to rob a pharmacy to get Arthur's meds, which means the police will be looking for him.