Disclaimer: Must I really keep doing this little song and dance? Batman isn't mine, the Scarecrow isn't mine, Gotham isn't mine, life isn't fair, yadda yadda.

For the official CAT timeline (lengthy to the point of being fear-toxin scary) go to http: / / www . freewebs . com / catverse (banish the spaces. Banish I say!).

A/N: This has been half finished since last fall; I only just now got around to completing it. (And Captain says I'm the productive one...)

--

One would think, given the length and nature of their relationship, Jonathan Crane would have known how to successfully get out of 'family movie night' with his henchgirls by now.

One would think wrong.

At least once a month, the man in question found himself crammed between three girls on a couch, sometimes one of them laying across his thighs like an overgrown lap cat (when he had made the comparison aloud, they had all glanced at each other, blushed and avoided his eyes for the next two days…which raised quite a few questions), but more often than not he had one plastered to either side and another with her shoulders wedged between his knees.

Tonight, however, he had been talked into parking himself on the couch and was short one henchgirl.

Al had haughtily turned her nose up in the air and declared that she was off to visit the Mad Hatter--one of the few rogues in Gotham who was so detached from reality with his head in the clouds he didn't know that the girls were back from the dead--because the film section of the evening was beneath her.

Techie had growled threateningly, but Al had just smirked at her before slipping into her coat and setting out with a cheerful wave.

"Down, Ops. She just doesn't get it, is all," the Captain soothed, stuffing the video tape in the VCR, the contraption starting up with a whine and a rattle that didn't sound very promising. She flounced across the room and plopped down next to Jonathan, wrapping her arms around his middle and settling her head on his shoulder. "This is a good one, Squishykins. You'll like it."

Techie came to a sudden decision as she glanced up at the Captain's comfy position wrapped around Jonthan's torso like a boa constrictor and scrambled up off the floor, mirroring her commanding officer's pose on his other side.

His eyes slid shut and he sighed like he was the most put-upon man on the face of the earth (between you and I, he may have been).

The FBI warning flashed across the screen and bother henchgirls, as was their habit, hissed and booed at it for a few seconds before the screen went black and the overture started.

With a groan, Crane realized that the theme was easily identifiable as the Star Trek theme.

And if Al had left beforehand…that could only mean one thing:

"Shatner."

Both girls squeaked happily and hugged him a little bit tighter.

He sighed again, as best his slightly constricted lungs would allow.

It was going to be a long two hours…

--

An hour and a half later, Jonathan was munching popcorn as contentedly as the situation permitted. It wasn't a horrible movie, it kept the girls quiet and he could think of a few worse ways to pass an evening in their presence, so he put up with it. The villain of the story was engaging enough to let him admit--albeit silently--that he was enjoying the show, and that was good enough for him.

The girls were completely engrossed in the movie, even though he suspected that they'd seen it more times than the Joker had seen The Clown Who Cried, and they hadn't uttered a sound aside from the occasional happy, breathy sigh. They were tranquil, which in and of itself was somewhat odd, but he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

However, as the movie started to build to its climax, Jonathan got the distinct impression that all wasn't as well as originally thought.

Both women stiffened in unison, almost as though they were preparing for an attack of some kind and Crane puzzled over the sudden change for several seconds until her realized what had set it off.

Spock: the logical one; the one with the ears; was sacrificing himself for the greater good.

There was a twinge when the man onscreen echoed the voice that had followed him into darkness, over a year ago after one of the most brutal beatings that didn't involve the word 'Batman'--a very strong twinge indeed when he heard "I have been and ever shall be, your friend."

He ignored it.

He ignored it and blamed it on heartburn.

Damn popcorn

The girls, however, burst into tears. They were still silent, but they shook with such strength that Crane was sure, had they not been clinging to him, they would've quaked right off the couch.

They continued that way all through the credits, until at last the film ended and Techie let out an anguished sob of 'Spock!'

It was nothing short of amazing, just how uncomfortable he had become in the span of a few scant minutes and he spoke derisively to the two sobbing women. "You've both seen this movie before; I know you must have…you must know it makes you...do…this. You do realize that the ending stays the same every time, right?"

"Yeah," the Captain sobbed, rubbing her face on his shirt.

"So why do you keep watching it if this is what it does to you?" He shook her by the shoulder, trying to dislodge her to no avail. "And for God's sake, get a handkerchief or something, you're slobbering all over me."

The Captain stuck to him all the more determinedly. "Because Spock can't die! Do you hear me?! Spock, McCoy and Kirk will live forever! Friendships like that don't die! The cosmos will not allow them to die!"

Techie sobbed a bit louder than the Captain, but didn't cling as hard. "Look at them, Squishykins! That's what real friends are!"

He sneered, his annoyance at their behavior magnified by his own internal reaction to the scene. "I wouldn't know. I've never had any."

"Liar. Liarliarliarliarliar!" The Captain beat on his chest with her fist; weaker than she could have, but harder than was strictly necessary. "You have! You have us!"

She collapsed against him again, her face so wet that her tears were soaking through the fabric of his shirt and making it cling to him.

Damn. There was that twinge. Maybe he shouldn't have had that popcorn...

"Do you think we call each other by starfleet designations for no reason, Jonathan?" Techie asked heatedly, the effect of her anger dulled by the fact she was red as a beet as she pointed at the now blank television. "That's us up there!"

He couldn't help the fact one eyebrow lifted of Its own accord. "And the prime directive?"

She worked her jaw for a few seconds. "That's us up there more or less!"

He shook himself a bit, trying to wriggle out of their suffocating embrace. "All this over some fictional character, may I remind you. You wouldn't be this broken up if I bit the big one."

They sobbed harder and clung harder, so much so that for a second, he thought they'd squeeze him so hard his ribcage would shatter into a thousand pieces.

Jonathan winced.

"If you died, we wouldn't just fall apart, we'd take half of Gotham with us!" Techie declared.

"Lay waste to the countryside!" the Captain added, "Fire, brimstone! The whole nine! We'd bargain with the devil if we had to in order to get you back, and if he wouldn't cooperate, we'd set him on fire! Or...or...something really sadistically creative!"

Another twinge. "Why?"

"Haven't we been over this already? Because we love you, you big dope!" They sniffled and stuck to his sides, lips quivering and eyes watering and he inexplicably stopped struggling to get away from them.

It was the damn twinge, that's all. He didn't want to wriggle because it made the heartburn worse…

They said it with such conviction it made him squirm with discomfort. "We love you."

Twinge.

Something told him this heartburn was going to be a chronic condition.