The Crane and the Falcon

A Batman Begins Fiction

CHAPTER I

Night had fallen on Gotham and the threat of rain hung in the air. The Narrows were crawling with the usual scum but they cleared the grimy streets when the convoy of black cars passed.

The first was a Suburban with tinted windows, as was the last. Square flags, flapping white in the dark, bore the crest of the Falcones. The middle car was limousine, a Cadillac, and with its passing hung the steam of crime and gross sums of money not earned.

Arkham Asylum rose through the hot fog of the Narrows, foreboding to all who dare enter. At least, to most, it was.

--

"I demand to see him, immediately!"

"Of course, Miss Falcone, of course," the receptionist of Arkham said dutifully. Fear coursed through her veins as she felt her heart quail. The woman demanding entrance to the facility was not one to trifle with. Her uncle, Carmine Falcone, had half of Gotham bought and paid for, as the saying went.

This was Sakura Sophia Mirihoto Falcone, the daughter of Gotham's finest criminals, product of the interbreeding of the Gotham Mob and Tokyo Yakuza clans. Her father was Gianni Falcone, brother to the infamous Carmine, and her mother was Nyoko Mirihoto. The Mirihotos were some of the most powerful Yakuzas in Tokyo and controlled several syndicates in Gotham.

"This way, Miss Falcone," a stout but sturdy nurse said. She dared not look Sakura in the eye as she lead her to Carmine Falcone's cell. Sakura trailed behind her, followed closely by her three bodyguards. The other two were back with the cars. "Here we are," the nurse sighed after deftly navigating the maze that was Arkham.

Sakura peered through the thick glass and into the cell. Her eyes narrowed and she stepped back. "Open the door."

"But he's unstable-."

"Open the door," Sakura repeated with a snap. The nurse thought she heard the cocking of a gun and hastily keyed a four-digit code into the wall panel. With a hiss, the door to the cell slid open and Sakura stepped inside.

Her bodyguards and the nurse made to follow, but she held up a hand heavy with jewelry. "Leave us," she muttered. They complied quickly and the door slid shut behind them.

"Uncle?" she said slowly, turning to face Carmine. He sat in a padded chair, forced into a straight jacket. His eyes were on the wall and his cheek twitched every so often.

He seemed to be recovering slowly, to Sakura's delight.

"Uncle Carmine?" she said, positioning herself so that she was speaking directly into his ear.

His eyes narrowed and he struggled vainly against the straitjacket. "Who do I gotta whack to get outta this thing?" he barked. Sakura smiled, but on her pointed lips, it was more of a smirk.

"I'm not sure," Sakura replied. She leaned against the wall before realizing the dirt and dust would nearly ruin her white Chanel suit. "But I can find out for you."

Carmine shifted uncomfortably. "Sakura? How's my favorite niece?" The Italian-Japanese mix sighed. His usual greeting. Coming from him, it was quite a compliment, considering he had seven nieces, not to mention six nephews.

"Can't complain." She drummed her manicured nails on the back of the chair and frowned. "But I'm here for a reason."

"You mean other than visiting your favorite uncle?" His head twitched as he spoke and a single eyelid blinked. Sakura knew this conversation was draining him.

Sakura bit her lip. She knew what happened, and she knew who did it. But that didn't matter to her. "Why did Crane do it?"

"Crane?" Carmine twitched again. He coughed violently, "I- I wanted in. He refused." He coughed once more. "Crane. Crane," he muttered. He began to rock back and forth. "I told him I was untouchable. This was my town."

"That wasn't wise, Uncle."

"I think I scared him, Sakura." The rocking became faster. "Scare. Scare," he whispered.

"Uncle?" Carmine twitched quickly. "Uncle Carmine?" She put a hand on his cheek.

"Scare. Crane. Scarecrane. Scarecrow. Scarecrow," his voice became lower and more violent in pitch. "Scarecrow!" His eyes glazed and his teeth were set on edge. "Scarecrow!"

Sakura pulled away from her uncle and tapped the toe of her boot on the linoleum floor. "Shit," she muttered before leaving the cell.

The bodyguards stood idling at the door but snapped to attention when Sakura stepped back out into the hall. "Where is Dr. Crane?" she asked the nurse, her voice monotone.

"He's on call right now-," the nurse offered before interrupting herself, "I'll page him right now, ma'am." The elder woman shuffled off towards the front desk and the P.A. system crackled to life.

"Dr. Crane? Dr. Crane, to the front desk, please. You have a visitor."

--

Crane sat at his desk and sighed wearily. His glasses lay across a stack of thick documents and he massaged his temples. The single coffee machine had broken a long time ago and with the dwindling number of workers, the few doctors left had their shifts stretched. Crane didn't mind all that much. He didn't like to bite the hand that fed him, and he wasn't one to make waves.

The P.A. system made him jump to life and his body went rigid, hearing his name being called across the building. A visitor. That could only mean one thing. The one person who ever visited him at Arkham. The one person who wasn't afraid of what lay behind the asylum's iron doors.

--

"Yes, Mary?" Dr. Jonathan Crane said to the receptionist. The woman tilted her head and pointed to Sakura and her entourage conversing in low whispers in the light of a shaky ceiling lamp. "Ah, Miss Falcone," he said. He inclined his head in greeting.

"Mr. Crane," she returned. Crane grimaced slightly at the use of the informal title. "I expect you know why I'm here." Behind her, the bodyguards exchanged glances. They had no idea what was going on, and didn't have enough brain cells to process the information if they did.

Crane nodded, "Of course. One does not visit Arkham on a whim." The good doctor gestured towards the elevator, "After you, Miss Falcone." He pressed the dented key and the elevator arrived with a faint ding.

With a slight frown, Sakura stepped into the dingy elevator and Crane followed her. Again, the bodyguards tried to follow, but a stern glance from their employer told them to take the stairs.

--

Sakura relaxed as the doors shut and almost lost her breath as Crane covered her mouth with his own. She leaned back against the wall of the elevator and sighed into the kiss.

"I thought they'd never leave," Crane breathed, moving his hands to her waist.

Sakura's ebony hair shook as she laughed. "Watching you squirm is so satisfying, Mr. Crane."

"Mister?" Crane echoed, kissing her again. "I didn't spend eight years in medical school for you to call me mister."

"I know, Jon, I know." Sakura placed a hand on his shoulder and pushed him back. "What did you do to Carmine?" Her eyes hardened and Crane pushed his hair back with a frustrated sigh.

"What was necessary." His voice seemed frozen. Sakura raised an eyebrow.

"And that was?"

Crane stepped away from her as the doors slid open. Sakura's bodyguards stood panting to one side. They had run all the way down in order to meet their employer in a timely fashion.

Immediately, Crane and Sakura hardened their facades.

"This way, Miss Falcone."