A/N: This is part of the CATverse, which, if you don't know what that is...what, have you been under a rock for the past six months or something? :D See freewebs. com/ catverse (get rid of the spaces) for the official story arc listing.
Things were not all sunshine and lollipops inside the newly opened Sunshine Sanitarium (Gotham City Branch).
Of course, things were rarely all sunshine and lollipops inside a sanitarium unless it was group therapy day, and even then, it was more like sunshine and forced hug therapy.
While Sunshine was specified as the softer, gentler asylum in Gotham city, that didn't make its patients any more sane than those in Arkham. Sunshine was the place you sent little Susie when she started cutting herself or where you shoved little Jonny when he got too rowdy at a society function. On the surface, these people might have seemed less dangerous than the criminally insane, but it was Doctor Elisabeth Elvira Carey's opinion that many of the patients she treated could conceivably be the next generation's costumed villains if they weren't taken care of properly. Little Tommy's affinity for 'rough housing' with the family pet just a little too hard could easily turn into killing the animal, which could lead to even more psychopathic behaviors, possibly resulting in homicidal tendencies and attraction to strange chemicals...
And then overnight, you'd have a brand new Joker on your hands.
Elisabeth took it upon herself to try and help the individuals who were committed to Sunshine as best she could to try and banish those nastier personality traits. She succeeded to a degree with many of them, having a higher success rate than most other psychiatric facilities, but there was one patient in particular that...worried her.
At first, Elisabeth couldn't put her finger on why, but Cadence Armitage was a worrying individual. On the surface, she seemed like a completely ordinary nineteen year old girl, but on closer inspection, one would find that she had several disturbing emotional oddities.
Cadence took an unhealthy interest in the people around her; whatever they were doing, whatever topic they were talking about, she had to be a part of it, going out of her way to be the most involved in whatever was popular.
She also had a tendency to stick to other people to the point that she started to idolize them. She set them high on a pedestal, worshipped the ground they walked on, and tried very hard to become their friend.
And not just their friend...she wanted to be their best friend. She wanted to involve herself in every aspect of her chosen victim's life, and when she wasn't trying to talk to the person she had picked as this week's obsession, she was talking about them. Furthermore, she eventually took it upon herself to become so much like the person she was obsessed with, she tried to replace them in the group.
Now, that was disturbing enough on its own but the really horrifying part was the people she started to talk about the week before she was to be discharged.
Apparently, she'd seen a news item about the Scarecrow and the Riddler recently robbing a bank together with the assistance of three women not all that much older than herself.
Elisabeth saw the downward spiral coming and tried to keep Cadence from falling into it, but she couldn't stop it from happening. It was like the suction of a whirlpool at sea, pulling her down into its depths, trying to drown her.
And all Elisabeth could do was watch.
"How do you think they got to work for the Scarecrow?" "How old are they?" "What're their names?"
The questions were constant. Cadence's last few sessions before her discharge were full of them. All she could talk about was the Scarecrow, the Riddler...how she wanted to be as skilled as those three henchgirls were...how she wanted to be on the news someday like they were...how she wanted to be just like them…
Even now, finishing up the paperwork to discharge her, Elisabeth was filled with dread about what would happen once she was unleashed on society.
After all, the girl was about as stable as a sandcastle. This could lead to a disaster of unforeseeable breadth and scope.
Especially if she tried her usual 'Friendship followed by replacement' MO on the people she was currently so fascinated with.
Cadence was insane, surely, there was no denying there was something seriously wrong with her; but she was also a voluntary inpatient. Doctor Carey couldn't very well force her to stay or go to the police and say "I believe she'll become a threat to society if allowed outside where she can give into her inclination to stalk people". The authorities didn't take any notice of a psychiatrist's suspicions about a patient's mental state unless that patient had a costume hanging in their closet and a large supply of something toxic on hand.
Elisabeth's hands were quite effectively tied...and she hated it.
But what choice did she have? All she could do was suggest more counseling on an outpatient basis, and that wasn't going to do much good...
Elisabeth chewed on her bottom lip thoughtfully, an old habit that was a manifestation of her anxiety, before she signed the document in front of her and handed it to the waiting, smiling girl across from her.
"Thank you, Doctor Carey," Cadence said with a grin before getting up.
"Remember what we talked about, Cadence," Elisabeth said tightly.
Cadence flashed the doctor a hundred watt smile, one that left Elisabeth feeling cold all over. "I know, Doctor. I can't live through other people."
"I'm glad you know that."
Another phony smile graced Cadence's face. "It's good, solid advice, Doctor; and don't worry, I'm going to make my own way in the world, I promise you."
Those words did little to comfort Elisabeth as she watched Cadence saunter out of the office, leaving the sanitarium for good.
As her office door shut, all Elisabeth could do was pray that things didn't go the way she thought they were going to.