This first chapter is a rewrite of "Two's a World". There are a few extra bits added and minor changes but otherwise it's the same.
"Two Against the world" starts on the next chapter. I finally updated it and also changed the first part. I'm a lot happier with it now. Sorry I took so long. Thanks Emily Hargreaves for the review.
"So..." Jackson gave a charming smile with just the smallest hint of the psychotic. "I'm very curious to know what it is you want to talk to me about Dr."
Staring at the slight man in the prison jump suit who sat calmly before her, it took Silvia Black only an instant to realised that giving him anything less than the truth would be a mistake. His sky blue eyes sparkled with intelligence.
"I'm conducting research into the 'nature verses nurture' debate, in particular relation to extreme sociopathic behaviour."
She would have explained further but he interrupted her. His casual manner had evaporated entirely. "You've talked to Jon?"
She hesitated; the intensity of his gaze was vaguely disturbing. "I'll be travelling to Gotham next week to interview him."
He sat back in his cheap plastic chair, smiling again. "You know, I'm not really in the mood to answer a lot of questions."
"Please. It would be so helpful." She was awfully eager. "There are really very few monozygotic twins who are... like you."
His smile grew wider as he imagined what the psychiatrist had originally intended to say.
He seemed to consider her request.
"I'll make a deal with you Dr."
"I can't reduce your prison term."
"Nor would I ask you to." He paused. "I just want to see my brother. That's all. I don't care if you move him to this prison or me to Arkham, just so long as Jonathon and I are together. If you can pull that off I'll answer as many fucking questions as you could ever want."
She'd done it. She'd actually managed it. The psychiatrist lady must've had some extremely good connections because she had actually been able to fulfil Jackson's request.
He'd been transferred under high security to Arkham Asylum. Now he was waiting - hands held in metal cuffs - to see his brother. "You can have an hour," they guards had said, "no longer."
The cell door was unlocked and he was shoved roughly through. He heard it slam shut behind him.
He was standing in a padded room, entirely dark but for the small beam of grey light that found its way through the two by six inch observation window set into the door. In the far corner a huddled figure, restrained in a straightjacket, rocked slowly back and forth. Silently crossing the cell, Jackson crouched down beside him.
He stared into the blank face and terrified gaze of his twin.
"Oh Jonnie... What have they done to you?"
Gently he brushed a matted clump of hair out of Jonathon's eyes.
The gesture seemed to awaken something in the former psychiatrist.
"Jack?" he asked, his voice trembling and doubtful.
"That's right. I'm here now. I'm here now."
Jack's 1st Interview
"I've held up my end of the deal. It's your turn now."
"Well, I was hoping for more than an hour a day. Still, I'm impressed you managed that much. Ask away."
Excitedly she switched on an old fashioned tape recorder and readied her pen to take notes. She took a deep breath.
"What was your mother like?"
He shrugged and shook his head slightly. "I don't really remember her. She left when I was an infant. She was a drug addict but that's all I know." Black looked ready to interrupt. "Before you ask, I'm not sure exactly what she was taking."
"So you were raised by your father?"
"In a manner of speaking."
"What sort of man was he?"
"He was an abusive bastard."
She was startled, not by the words but by the flat emotionless tone with which he delivered them. "In what way was he abusive?" she asked, watching his reaction.
"Mostly he beat us up, though sometimes he got more... creative. He didn't speak to us much, certainly didn't bother to provide food or clothing."
"How often were you beaten?"
"Pretty much every day."
"And how is it that you're school never became aware of this?"
Jackson smiled grimly. "Is this your first time in The Narrows Dr.?"
"Well abuse isn't exactly... uncommon here. And if any of the teachers noticed that mine and Jonathon's situation was worse than most they didn't care." He paused, looked across at her sceptical face, almost laughed. "You don't believe me."
She shook her head. "No."
"Fine." He held out his cuffed hands, palms uppermost. "Look for yourself."
Numerous small circular scars almost covered the skin, overlapping each other in places. They were unmistakable for anything but cigarette burns.
"There are other marks but I'd rather not strip." Sarcasm. "If that's ok with you?"
Jon's 1st Interview
His head shot up as over-bright eyes suddenly focused on Dr. Black. His face was gaunt and paper white. Dark bruise-like shadows surrounded his eyes.
"I'd like to ask you a few questions, if that's alright?"
He seemed to be staring right through her skull.
"You grew up in Gotham, didn't you?"
"Up..." He repeated the word. "Up... There are dragons in the sky."
"What do you mean by that?"
"...with their teeth and their scales and their fire... but they're not real... not really."
She adjusted her pad, vaguely distressed at how this conversation was going. "What was your childhood like?" she questioned.
"Scarecrow! Scarecrow! Scarecrow! Scarecrow! Scarecrow!" He shouted the word over and over again till it lost all meaning, pulling violently against the strap that held him in his chair.
"Calm down now, calm down." Silvia coaxed uselessly.
"Scarecrow! Scarecrow! Scarecrow!"
Hurrying around to the far side of the desk she placed a hand on his shoulder to try and still him. "Please calm down," she begged, "you're hurting yourself." Her words were unnecessary however - the contact had already had the desired effect. Jonathon stared up at her, blank again.
She retrieved a glass of water from her desk. "Here, drink this." She held it up to his lips, allowing him to sip at it for a few moments before returning to her seat.
Giving up on her original line of questioning she asked, "So are you happy to have your brother nearby?"
He nodded. "Jack's here." A pause. "... together is better... not meant to be split in two... pain's not as bad when you hold onto each other tight..."
Jack's 2nd Interview
"I looked through your medical records."
"Don't you need my permission for that?" He laughed at the look on her face. "Don't worry, I couldn't care less. I take it you do believe me now though?"
"Of course." She had the good grace to look ashamed. "You need to see it from my point of view though. I still can't understand how two children so young could survive with no one looking after them."
"We looked after each other."
"But why did you never tell?"
"Besides that he'd have killed us for it?" A pause. "We were afraid of being split up."
After a moment she asked, "Can you tell me about your time at school?"
"We started at about six. Jon was skipped ahead almost straight away though. Even those teachers couldn't fail to notice that he was a genius." Jackson smiled. "He'd taught himself to read, then taught me. Math just came naturally to him. They couldn't even measure his IQ when they tried."
"How was your relationship with the other children?"
"They were afraid of me. More perceptive than adults I guess."
"And Jonathon, were they afraid of him too?"
He shook his head, clenched his fists. "No."
"How were they to him?"
"They bullied him mercilessly. I … I think he actually preferred home to school, to the playground at least." There was guilt in his eyes. "They'd only stop if I was around. But then, most of the time I wasn't."
"Because you were in young offender's centres?"
His voice was strained. "Yes."
"You have quite an extensive criminal record, nothing as an adult though. That is obviously excluding the incident two years ago."
He smiled again, not entirely pleasantly. "I assure you, the gap in the records is only due to the fact that I stopped getting caught."
She glanced at her notes. "You were first incarcerated for shoplifting, at age nine. Is that correct?"
"Yes. It wasn't quite the punishment they intended it to be though."
"Why is that?"
"I liked juvi. It was like a holiday."
She raised an eyebrow. "I find that hard to believe Mr. Rippner."
"Regular meals, no beatings, you'd have liked it too. Besides, I got on with the children there."
"You identified with them?"
"I don't know about that. Some of them, especially a few of the older boys, were alright though. It was through them I got involved with… with the group I joined."
His hesitation did not go unnoticed. "Why will you not say who you were working for? As I understand it you didn't even in your trial."
"I've no pressing desire to die Dr."
"Hey Jon, I brought you something." From inside his red jumpsuit he produced a hidden carton of juice. Tearing off the corner he helped his brother to drink. "We've got to try get some weight on you."
Dazed blue eyes stared outwards. "I think… I think the world is running in circles Jack."
Jackson gripped his twin's hand as best he could through the straightjacket. "Doesn't matter if it is. We'll just do what we've always done; stick together and take what we can. Fuck the rest of the world."
Jon's 2nd Interview
He starred up at the ceiling, watching imaginary snakes slither and writhe. They didn't seem in the least affected by gravity.
"Jonathan why did you gas The Narrows?"
He turned slowly to look at her, his gaze dimmed by a heavy dose of vallium given an hour or so earlier. "Who are you?"
"My name's Dr. Black. I'm a psychiatrist."
He laughed. "Like me. But I was only playing pretend."
"Why do you say that Jonathan, that you were only pretending?"
"I was never a doctor."
"That's not true. Up untill eighteen months ago you were regarded as one of the best mental health practicioners in the country. You made amazing progress with patients previously regarded as hopeless cases. Why did you throw your career away?"
He gave a somewhat twisted, vacant grin. "Do you want to know a secret?"
"I'd like that very much."
He grinned once more. "He wasn't supposed to … no…" He shook his head. "He was never meant to release the toxin… but… but I was glad he did." He laughed, a short – slightly hysterical – laugh.
"Why was that Jonathan? Why were you glad."
"Make them all afraid… everyone… make the big strong bullies afraid… turn it against them… crawling… screaming…"
"Did you want revenge, against the people who victimised you as a child?"
Straight away she realised this had been the wrong question to ask.
Crane started shaking his head rapidly, wouldn't look at her.
Jack's 3rd Interview
"You feel guilty don't you, about escaping your home by means of the detention centres?"
He clenched his hands until his knuckles turned white. "Yes."
"Because you were leaving Jonathon behind?"
Mildly curious, "Why is it that he was never arrested with you?"
"He wasn't involved much with that stuff, only through me. The few times he did play a role in a crime we weren't caught. Most of the time we got away with it you see."
"How did each of you cope with the separation?"
"We were supposed to be together!" He banged his fists down on his lap. "We were always supposed to be together, to be there for each other. But I kept leaving him alone… That's when he started to talk to Scarecrow."
"I was under the impression Scarecrow was just a name coined by the media."
"No, he goes back a lot further than that." She waited for Jackson to continue. "Scarecrow was what they called Jonathon in school, because he was so thin and his clothes were ragged. But then, after I went away for the first time, he became real to Jon, started speaking to him. He'd sit for hours, staring at a blank wall 'talking to Scarecrow', to a voice in his head that would tell him to do things, insane things. Then when we were thirteen and I was in the middle of an eighteen month sentence…"
She finished for him. "Jonathon slit his wrists."
Jon's 3rd Interview
"What happened when you were thirteen Jonathan?"
"…tried to find the door … it's bricked-up…"
"Why did you attempt suicide?"
"…all swirled together…"
She tried another question. "What was it like afterwards?"
"When we were fourteen we got away."
"You got a full scholarship to Gotham University at that age. Isn't that right?"
"Jack stayed with his friends…"
"What was it like, entering third level education so young?"
He tensed, the pace of his breathing increasing. "… when no one's looking … hands and … the same and different … the same and different … it hurts …" His eyes went wide. He started to scream and didn't stop until a hypodermic full of sedatives was jammed into his neck.
"I sneaked you a cookie this time. Will you try to eat it?"
Jonathan looked up, causing his twin to swear. Even in the darkness the heavy purple bruising that held his left eye shut was obvious.
Jackson wanted to kill somebody.
Jack's 4th Interview
Silvia didn't even have a chance to open her mouth.
"I'm not answering any more questions until you get Jon a medical exam."
"His face is all bruised. And I don't know if there are other injuries or if this has happened before."
"I don't quite understand. I'm sure if your brother has hurt himself and needs medical attention he will get it."
"You don't get it at all, do you? Jonathon didn't hurt himself. And until you do something about this, no more little chats."
"You think it was someone else… You think it was staff! But why?"
"He's in a straightjacket in a locked and padded cell. What should I think?"
Jon's 4th Interview
He sat quietly in his chair. In the bright room the level of visible bruising was apalling.
"Jonathan, someone's going to be coming in a little while to bring you to the infirmiry. I wanted to ask you a few questions first."
"Could you tell me what happened to your face?"
"Nothing happened to my face."
"Then why is it all bruised."
"Bruising is caused by the breakdown of red blood cells within the tissues."
"That wasn't what I meant."
He said nothing.
"Did someone hit you?"
"Don't ask questions you don't want answered."
"Who hit you Jonathan? Was it another patient or a member of staff?"
He smiled. "You're going to get yourself in trouble doctor."
"You don't need to worry about that. Just tell me what happened."
He laughed a laugh with no joy in it. "Nothing happened... nothing's been happening for forever."
Jack's 5th Interview
"You were right." She handed him a file, complete with colour photographs and x-rays. There had been other injuries.
He was covered in bruises. Rainbow colours. Black and purple-red fading to brown and finally yellow. Jackson's eyes scanned the slanted hand-writing that covered the sheets.
4 broken ribs, broken shoulder, ankle and hand, evidence of older fractures…
The psychiatrist's voice interrupted his thoughts. "They concluded that he fell."
He looked up from the medical file, the look in his eyes terrifying. "They have him starved to the point where he can't even walk. How the fuck could he have fallen?"
"I know." She hesitated. "It would be virtually impossible though to find the person or persons responsible for this, even to stop it happening again."
"So you're not going to do anything."
"I'm going to file a report. But you need to understand, it's not going to make any difference. This is the sort of thing nobody wants to hear."
Holding his twin gently, so that they both rocked slightly in the corner of the padded cell, it occurred to Jack that nothing ever really changed. They might still have been three years old, hiding under the kitchen table, or twelve, plotting pointless revenge.
"She's not going to help, not really."
"But we don't need her Jon."
"Us against them Jack…"
"That's right, like it's always been."
Because nothing changed. Cyclic.
Stroking his brother's hair Jackson promised, "I'm going to get us out of here."