Author's Note: Okay, I write this because I loved the character of Jonathan Crane in Batman Begins (don't get me wrong – I loved Batman and Batman Returns, too). And because I despise Mary Sues/most female OC's in fanfiction (I say most – not all), the female in this fic is going to be a part of Batman history, and I'm sure you'll know who after reading this chapter. Please let me know what you think!
It was the subjugation he enjoyed most.
There was something poignantly satisfying about the gradual shift in control, in the steady disintegration of will that placed them always and inevitably at his mercy. He was not a man given to surrender at the whim of sensation or feeling, but something in the way they broke, in the way their minds caved in the wake of all he would show them that made him feel almost elated. It sustained him and drove him ever onwards, using the helplessness, the fear and the anguish to further himself in every way. There was a time when Dr. Jonathan Crane would have sympathized –in some way- with the plight of those unfortunate, unbalanced, oft-times criminally inclined individuals sent his way, but that, along with many other elements of his humanity, had long since faded. In its place there was only a dark, unbridled ambition, and he embraced it with all his being.
It was the only way he could become something greater.
He mused on this as he stood before a two way mirror, watching the patient on the other side of the glass. The subject of his scrutiny was an older man, stick-thin and wizened, bald but for an almost ethereal halo of wild white hair rising up in all directions. The man was directly in front of the mirror, mouth slack and eyes wide, staring at his own reflection and unaware of being observed from the other side. His only movements were the slow blinking of his eyes, and after several moments of silent observation, the orderly at Dr. Crane's side ventured to speak in an impatient whisper.
"What is it we're looking for, Doctor?"
Crane didn't reply, his gaze fixed on the patient.
After a moment, the orderly tried again, this time uncertainly, "Dr. Crane?"
"Weren't you ever told," the doctor said after a moment, still staring through the glass, and though his voice was level and soft, it was more than clear that he didn't appreciate the interruption, "that patience is a virtue?"
Taken aback somewhat, the orderly said, "I – I just don't understand what it is we're looking for, is all."
"No," Crane said, gracing the orderly with the merest of glances before returning to his vigil. "You wouldn't."
Insulted, the orderly snapped his mouth shut, and as a red flush spread across his cheeks he stared angrily through the glass. More minutes passed. Neither Crane nor the patient moved; the orderly fidgeted, wiggling his fingers and wondering how long it was until his break. He had just heaved a silent, irritated sigh when a scream ripped through his surroundings, causing him to leap back in alarm.
The old man, the patient, had exploded into action, throwing himself at the two-way mirror and clawing at it with fingers curved into claws. Repeatedly he struck, eyes glittering wildly, spittle flying from his lips as he shrieked over and over, "Scarecrow!"
"What …" The orderly started to ask, placing one hand over his frantically thumping heart and stepping up to stand again beside the motionless doctor, "What's the matter with him? Why is he doing that?"
"He's afraid," Crane said softly, and it was more than obvious that he was fascinated, entranced even, by the patient's behavior.
"Of what? A scarecrow?"
"Perhaps. Or perhaps the scarecrow is only a visage he gives to what he truly fears. Perhaps what he really fears," here Dr. Crane paused, head tilting slightly to one side as the patient, no longer screaming, began ramming his head into the mirror, "is fear itself."
The orderly scowled; the doctor wasn't making sense. He grabbed the small radio from where it rode at his belt and spoke urgently into it, calling for aid. Seconds later more orderlies -big well-muscled men- came pounding down the hall. Dr. Crane watched as they poured into the patient's cell and set about restraining him, gripping his arms and twisting them, using brute force to get him to submit. It took all four orderlies to get him to the ground, and as he thrashed about, one large man sprawled across his legs, two more pinioning his arms, he still maintained his screaming, as though it were a mantra.
"Scarecrow! Scarecrow! Scarecrow!"
"Shut up," the orderly that had been with Dr. Crane snarled as he jabbed the syringe full of sedative into the patient's neck. The doctor turned as the man's wailing faded away, as his body grew limp from the drug surging through his veins. As he walked with a measured stride down the polished floors of Arkham Asylum, savoring the memory of what had just transpired, a slight smile creased his lips.
He was becoming something greater.
Later in the day, sitting in his office situated on the uppermost floor of Arkham, Dr. Crane was mired deep in thought as he flipped through folders of past patients. Things were progressing well, very well in fact – the psychotropic hallucinogen he had been given to experiment with and to perfect was an amazing substance. He'd been able, in only a few short months, to manufacture it in aerosol form while still keeping it potent. It was more than just potent, however; he'd fine-tuned it to the point where he could, if he was so inclined, create a lethal dose. His employer was pleased by this, and so Crane had been given free reign to experiment, to discover how much damage the substance could do on its own, and how damaging it could be when aided by tools, by implements meant to terrorize …
His eyes fell upon his briefcase resting on the floor beside his desk. Within it was a simple burlap mask, ragged holes cut for eyes and the mouth stitched shut with heavy twine. A childish thing, really, but when seen by those under the influence of the hallucinogen, it made its wearer into something horrifying, something borne of pure nightmare. And so it was Dr. Crane's other persona, his darker half, was created – he became the Scarecrow, the tormentor of his test subjects, the epitome of their darkest terrors.
It was a role he greatly savored.
His reverie was interrupted by the harsh beeping of his phone. He pressed the speaker button, and a second later the voice of one of Arkham's administration staff echoed throughout his office.
"New case for you, Doctor. This one is really weird. It's … sort of a homicide."
"Care to explain sort of?"
"Brother and sister were found with a body several miles outside Gotham's city limits. Both of them were injured, but the body … they're saying it was torn apart."
Mildly intrigued, the doctor asked, "And this concerns me how?"
"They're almost positive the brother did it – the murder. They said he's crazy. Attacked the cops that were first to arrive on scene, kept screaming about cats."
"And the sister?"
"The officer I spoke to said she was in shock and won't tell them anything. They're bringing them both here; they want your opinion on the brother, but the sister won't leave his side."
"Touching," Crane remarked idly, eyes drawn again to his briefcase. Perhaps this was an opportunity to take his experiment to a new level … "Please let me know when they arrive."
An hour later, Dr. Crane stood in the lobby of Arkham, arms loose at his sides, watching obdurately as two police officers half-dragged, half-led a struggling young man through the double glass doors. His clinical, analytical gaze took in the small things –the way the young man's eyes glinted, the way his chest rose in fell in heaving gasps, the blood spattering his arms and face, the shredded sleeves of his shirt. He was curiously silent; Crane had expected profanity, denial, perhaps even pleading. As the police restraining him drew to a halt, as he suddenly took notice of his surroundings, his body became suddenly limp as though in defeat.
More police entered then, flanking a young woman who could only be the sister in the scenario previously described to the doctor. Blood spattered her body too, but what was of immediate interest to Crane was that this blood came from injuries on her person, more specifically the long, straight, thin incisions on both her forearms that were bared by the T-shirt she wore. The wounds looked to be scratches, deep ones, but scratches nonetheless. Dr. Crane took a step forward and cleared his throat, and then all attention was upon him.
"Dr. Crane?" One of the officers holding the man asked.
Crane was stopped from replying by the man, who began speaking quickly and loudly, "I did it – I admit it. She has nothing to do with this."
"Shut up, you." The other officer restraining him said harshly.
Dr. Crane was intrigued. The man's words, spoken coherently, belied his wild appearance. Ignoring his captors, the man focused on the doctor and continued to speak. "I did it, Doctor."
Crane replied quietly, one eyebrow slightly raised, making his words more statement than question. "Did you?"
The sister made a sound then, one of dismay, and Crane's eyes flicked to her. She was staring at her sibling with an expression of anguish, shaking her head; her arms were folded tightly around herself as though she were cold.
"Where do you want him taken, doctor?" The first police officer asked.
"Follow me," Crane said, eyes moving from brother to sister and back again, before he turned and led the way. Minutes later, in a room used mostly as a holding cell for transfer patients, Crane was seated at a long rectangular table, with the brother and sister sitting side by side across from him. Two of the officers remained in the room, standing imposingly behind the brother should he choose to act; the rest had left the room to be replaced by an orderly.
"Now," Crane said, folding his arms across the table and watching both subjects before him. "Why don't we start from the beginning?"
"There is no beginning," the brother muttered, eyes momentarily on his sister, who was staring mutely at the table top.
"Look, why do you need her here? Let her go."
"I believe she's still a suspect," Crane said, glancing at the first officer for confirmation, who nodded.
"She's not. She didn't do it. I did."
"What," Crane asked, steepling his fingers together, luminous eyes shining behind the lenses of his glasses, "exactly did you do?"
"Let her go. Please. Then I'll tell you."
The sister spoke then, in a pleading whisper, glancing at him sidelong, "Morgan-"
"No," her brother said flatly, harshly.
Crane's attention was now focused on the sister, on what he read in the large dark depths of her eyes and the tightly drawn lines of her face. Fear. She was terrified of something, and it was that which made Crane lean forward and direct his next words to her. "Perhaps your brother is trying to protect you …?"
Her gaze moved to him, and her terror was so apparent he could almost feel it. It was intoxicating, to know that before him was one so afraid – was so afraid even without the aid of the hallucinogen. "You- you don't know what happ-"
"Sin." The brother, Morgan, snapped, and it took a moment for Crane to realize that that one word was in fact her name. Morgan looked again to the doctor, and said slowly, stubbornly, "I won't say a word until she's out of here."
Crane nodded. He'd expected as much; he knew, just from the few minutes he'd spent in their company, that both brother and sister were hiding something, something terrifying, something that had scared them both enough that the brother was willing to take the blame for a dead man. Crane also knew, instinctively, that Morgan was not insane, but that didn't matter now. He was going to take this case, and he was going to use it in order to further test the hallucinogen. But the real test subject in this case was not going to be the brother. It would be the sister –Sin- who was even now fairly radiating fear throughout the small holding room. Here was fear that was generated from something real, something material, not inspired by drug and mask. This was something he simply must taste, must dissect in order to reach an absolute understanding of that which so fascinated him.
"I think," he said, rising to his feet while keeping both hands flat upon the table, "that Morgan will be staying here."
"No," Sin whispered, earning her a furious glance from her brother.
"Alright," the first officer said. "We'll be in touch, Dr. Crane. Come on, Miss. We need to get you down to the station."
The sister rose, eyes still fixed on her brother, who was steadfastly looking at anything but her. Finally she turned, head bowed, and allowed herself to be ushered from the room and down the hall. The second officer turned and beckoned Crane to the door, and the doctor complied.
"He did it, Doctor. The victim's blood is all over him, and we think he may have caused those wounds on his sister. It's all been sent to Trace, so we should have results later today or early tomorrow, but I'd bet any money that he's guilty."
"I'm sure you're right," Crane said with a small, insincere smile. The officer's completely unfounded testimony further increased his opinion that all involved in law enforcement were –for the most part- idiots. "The sister –Sin? I may need to speak with her further, and having her around may inspire her brother to confess things later. Could you leave her information with our secretary?"
"Sure thing. We'll send all the information you need from the crime scene, too."
"That would be appreciated, thank you, officer. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to see to the paperwork for our young friend here."
The officer nodded once and shook his head as he glanced quickly at the subdued form of Morgan slumped over the table before turning and leaving. Crane, standing in the threshold of the holding cell, felt an eagerness rise within him.
This would be a test like no other.