Chapter: Harvey Dent
Disclaimer: If I owned Batman do you really think I'd be here?
AN: Okay, so I am so so so so soooo sorry that it took so long to update but really I have been beyond busy and writing this chapter has been incredibly difficult. I actually am not super happy with it, I started well but...never mind you, dear reader, be the judge. Also, I must put a little disclaimer; the first few sentences are almost directly from the novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I have been reading that book and the beginning always reminded me of Harvey losing his sanity, so I had to put a little homage in my chapter. Anyway, please read and review, it will make me so happy. Enjoy.
On an exceptionally hot day, early in July a young man came out of the loft in which he lodged on 14th Street and walked slowly, as though in hesitation towards the Narrows of Gotham City. He surreptitiously wiped his already, sweat-shined brow brushing away an errant lock of blonde hair. He looked up at the glaring sun, Gotham had been going through a heat wave that showed no signs of ending soon, and his body wilted slightly in the heat. The sun beat down on the back of the newly appointed Executive Assistant District Attorney as he tried, seemingly in vain, to hail a speeding cab. The young lawyer became visibly annoyed quickly, his foot jiggling and his cries to the street becoming more fervent. Eventually a cab slowed and pulled off to the side of the road, giving the young Harvey Dent a reprieve from the scorching sun.
The cab smelled as all Gotham cabs smelled, the stench of sweat, blood, and other questionable fluids permeated his skin and made him feel claustrophobic. If there was one thing that Harvey hated more than the crime and corruption that was breed so easily in his beloved city, it would have been Gotham cabs. Normally he would have walked to work, living only twenty minutes away from the courthouse, but regrettably, today wasn't a normal day for Mr. Dent.
"Where to?" The cab driver spoke in the rough gangster slang that was so common among the working class of Gotham city. His eyes were small and watery, reminiscent of a rat, and he face was bloated from obvious alcohol abuse. His overweight body heaved and sighed under the combined strain of conversation and oppressive heat.
Despite his cabbie's discouraging shortcomings, Harvey attempted a winning smile; a smile that was in complete contradiction to the directions he had to give. "Arkham Asylum."
The cab driver did a double take in his mirror, eyeing the well-dressed man with suspicion. He gave Harvey a quick once over, trying to gauge his passenger's level of sanity, before responding. "Ya know that goin' to da Narrows costs extra, right?"
"Yeah, I know." Harvey replied flippantly, part of him wanting to flash a wad of cash at the hesitant man knowing that it would have quickly ended the dull conversation. Giving Harvey one last cautious look, the driver gunned the engine and took off into the traffic. The city raced by as he stared out at the sweeping buildings that seemed to morph into a single body as they speed past.
His hand silently slipped into his pocket, feeling around until cool metal grazed his fingertips. He gripped his father's lucky coin in his hand and began to fiddle with it in his pocket. Harvey was anxious; his stomach clenched, his hands twitched in his pockets, and he felt the beginnings of a tension headache. His anxiety, however, stemmed not from the fact that it was his first day on a new job…well not completely.
Perhaps, subconsciously, it was the date, Friday the 13th, that had him on edge or maybe it was the telephone call he had received last night at exactly midnight, with a full moon shining brightly in the sky, telling him a heinous crime had been committed and he was needed at Arkham or maybe it was his current destination, a place so frightening that it was known to drive even those who worked there insane, that had him so rattled. Whatever it was, it had compelled him to, just as he was leaving his apartment, quickly shuffle through his old stuff and grab his father's lucky coin from the recesses of his closet.
Now that he held it in his hand, the small object seemed so strange and out of place. The truth was he hated the coin, hated it with a surprising amount of passion. The coin, for him, had always represented everything that was wrong with his father and always brought back every unpleasant memory of his childhood. Memories, that shot through his head like a ricocheted bullet, pinging from one corner of his brain to another like lightning, making it hard to focus and simultaneously impossible to turn away from.
Harvey's father would hardly have been called a great parent. Little Harvey Dent had always lived in some state of chaos, stemming from his father's mood swings. It was nothing chemical, it wasn't some kind of disease, it was nothing Harvey or anyone could fix. No, it was the coin that caused his father to be a modern-day Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Every decision made by the senior Dent, every decision concerning his son at least, was based on a flip of a single inconsequential coin.
"But Dad! I have a BIG test tomorrow. I need to stay up to study."
"I don't care. Nine o'clock means nine o'clock. Time for bed."
"Dad this isn't fair!"
"Fair? Tell you what son…Tails you stay up for as long as you like. Heads you go to sleep now. What do you say? Sound fair to you?"
It didn't sound fair to little Harvey; it seemed even less fair when he got his test returned to him a week later and a glaring red F laughed back at him.
Harvey finally pulled the coin out of his pocket, studying it carefully. It wasn't just small things like bed times, curfew, and whether or not he ate his broccoli. As he got older the decisions became more and more consequential.
"Dad, everyone is going to this party, I have to go."
"Dad, I need new shoes. Mine have holes."
"Dad, I really want to go to this college and I only need your signature to get the student loans."
Request after request, the coin came up in his father's favor. By the time he left home for good, Harvey Dent hated the chaos that came with the flip of a coin. As he got older, he was able to convince himself that his father's parenting techniques came, not out of malice, but out of his inability to take care of a child on his own and the mental illness that made every choice agony that wrought havoc on his psyche and body. He came to accept that his father was just a man who had tried to do right by his son. Even after he came to understand all of that, he still hated that coin and pitied his father for not being stronger.
A few years ago, his dad had a stroke. He was old and his demons were finally getting to him; Harvey had gone to the hospital, not to encourage his father's recovery but to bid him farewell. He had stayed by his dad's bedside for hours, reminiscing on days past and discussing Harvey's future. Both carefully avoiding the underlying tension that had always defined their relationship.
Eventually though, the old man's strength gave out and, as he struggled for his last few breaths, he managed to give Harvey a small token of his love. A knife in the heart. Harvey's father had gently pressed his lucky coin into his hand and smiled at him knowingly, tapping his hand in reassurance. A single moment that seemed like eternity passed between father and son in which it seemed, to Harvey, that the old man was laughing at him, like he had a hilarious little joke he was just about to share. The moment passed and the laughter and light went out of the man's eyes.
It was hours later before Harvey had finally been able to take a closer look at the object pressed into his hand. When he saw what it was he dropped it like a hot fire, his hands shaking as he turned away from the offending object. It was his father's old coin, just as he remembered from his childhood and fractured nightmares. At first, it had seemed like any vintage coin but when he had flipped it over the sight he found there churned his gut. Heads. On both sides. A trick coin. A novelty found in any old magic shop. An insignificant toy, had ruled his life for nearly eighteen years.
That night he had stuffed the coin, and all other items from his childhood, far away. In a small nook in his apartment that was occupied by only dust and bugs. Trying to forget the cruel joke his father had played on him. Yet, even though he was able to box up the trinkets of a broken childhood, he was never truly able to forget the laughing eyes that looked up from him from a hospital bed.
So really, bringing such an item with him on his venture to Arkham boggled Harvey's mind. He didn't want to think of the subconscious implications. He didn't want to think that, like his father, he had over time developed some sort of dependency on the silly little thing.
"Hey!" Harvey snapped out of his musings and looked up into the driver's mirror. "Buddy," the cabbie said, clearly annoyed, "you gonna get out? It really ain't safe to park around here."
Harvey chanced a glance out his window and saw that they were indeed in a less…favorable part of Gotham. Even though it was early in the morning and the sun shone brightly, those of questionable morality still roamed the streets. Several small groups of boys loitered casually down the street and Harvey was pretty sure that there was a drug dealer at the end of the block making some kind of transaction. He ignored all this, for now at least, there was nothing he could really do. Instead he turned to the cabbie and handed him his fee. The cabbie rudely snatched it from his hands and Harvey grinned condescendingly. "Quite the charmer, aren't you?" Harvey said sarcastically as he unfolded himself from the car.
"Fuck you," the cab driver scowled as Harvey closed the door, not even waiting until he stepped back before he sped off. Harvey was torn between laughing at his funny luck and giving the racing taxi cab the finger. He did neither and instead headed for the building that loomed before him.
Arkham Asylum stood out like a sore thumb among the crumbling tenements that were pre-dominant in the Narrows. Despite being easily the most modern and "clean" (clean being a relative term in this case) building found in a fifteen mile radius, Arkham seemed more frightening and ominous than the darkest alley in Gotham. Its grey walls and security towers flaunted the danger that was held within it confines and the occasional scream that drifted to the streets every now and again, brought shivers of fear to even the most hardened Gotham citizens.
All of this only slightly deterred Mr. Dent. He was no longer the anxious new E.A.D.A., he was now the determined young man who had worked double shifts all through college to pay for tuition. He was he young man who had graduated top of his class at Yale, surpassing the students who had the luxury of devoting every hour to their studies. He was the young man who had taken Gotham by storm, dedicating his life to fighting the corruption that had seeped so easily into every corner of city life. He was the young man who was going to go into Arkham Asylum, fearless, and prosecute a mentally questionable man who had slit the throats of three people while holding up Gotham National Bank late yesterday evening.
The inside of Arkham Asylum was just as terrifying as the exterior. The bleach white walls were of blinding brilliance and enough to drive anyone insane. He was led by a meaty looking guard down the halls of the insane asylum. Harvey attempted to steel himself against the mad shrieks and mutterings that could be heard just on the other side of the "patients'" "rooms".
After passing several security doors and countless metal detectors, they stopped at the end of a darkened hallway. For a moment, Harvey stopped to wonder why such a place would ever want to purposefully darken a hallway that housed the mentally insane but after only a second's consideration of the thought he was distracted by the opening of the cell door.
For a moment, Harvey was blinded. The room was fully lit with the gleaming intensity of fluorescent lights and, in such stark contrast to the dark hallway, he was taken aback and forced to shield his eyes. The room, walls the same pearly white, was surprisingly large and made to seem larger by the sparseness of the furniture; only housing a steel table in the center of the room and two iron barred chairs.
Sitting in one of the two chairs was a…a…kid. Harvey stood in the doorway of the cell, glancing backwards at the guard, making sure he had the right room. He couldn't quite believe that a man this young could commit the crimes he was accused of, the guy couldn't be more than twenty. As it became apparent that he was indeed in the right interrogation room and that this young man had indeed killed three people, a powerful feeling of sorrow settled in his heart. Harvey half hoped that the kid was insane so that later, when he wide awake in bed, he could tell himself that it was just faulty wiring and not the horrors of life that drove someone so young to such a deed.
He took a moment to harden his heart against his emotions and pulled himself into the cavalier attitude that he so often projected. Straightening his suit, he entered into the room of bright light.
Once fully engulfed in the light of the room, he was able to get a better look at the criminal. Harvey could tell that he was once handsome, in a skinny bookish type of way. He sat ramrod straight in his chair, his hands folded neatly in front of him, as if he was in a job interview instead of an interrogation. His limp, greasy hair fell in individual chunks on his face and his naturally olive skin had the yellowish coloring of one who avoided sunlight at all costs and sagged in odd spots around his neck. On a whole, he looked like something foreign had tried to crawl into his skin and didn't quite yet fit. However, most disturbing were his eyes. Their coloring was entirely inconsequential because, if one was to look into them, all you would remember upon recollection was the darkness you had found there, twin black holes boring into your soul and stripping you bare. He stared up at the lawyer will his black vacuum eyes and Harvey could only hold the gaze for a small moment before he had to turn away.
"So," Harvey started clearing his throat, "I understand that you have turned down legal counsel."
The man said nothing.
"You also have failed to give your name. You carried no form of identification with you and your prints failed to turn up anything." Harvey paused, still standing and towering over the younger man. "Care to give me a name?"
Harvey felt a twinge of frustration in his chest but he kept his tone light. "You sure? Because it would really help you if I had a name; judges' heart bleed less when they are reading a death penalty petition if they don't have a name."
That got a smirk and a couple of raised eye brows but no word did the man utter.
Harvey decided to try a different tactic. "Fine, don't tell me your name. Tell me about you. Let me hear your life story, especially since I'll probably be the last guy you talk to who won't be trying to rape you in the showers later."
That got a reaction; although Harvey was pretty sure he preferred the silence. The man began to laugh, a horrible cackling noise that sent shivers down his spine. He wheezed and giggled and chuckled for so long that Harvey had begun composing the commitment papers in his head.
Eventually, the laughter died down and the boy finally broke his silence. "You…you are a funny guy. Really…we should be friends."
"Yes," Harvey said hesitantly, "friends..." He trailed off, wondering what friendship with this young man entailed. "But if we are to be friends, it would be helpful if I knew your name."
The boy's head was cocked to the side and he stared at the older man curiously. His eyes were squinted slightly, like he was trying to see something that was a distance away. Harvey, for only a moment, was certain that the man was reading his thoughts, analyzing his soul, evaluating the content of his character; trying to decide…well, Harvey wasn't sure what he was trying to decide, but he could tell that he was trying to make up his mind about something.
"Jack. Jack Napier." Harvey was startled by Jack's voice but was able to hold back on giving any outward appearance of discomfort. He pulled a notepad out of his briefcase and began to write down the man's name. "Don't bother…running it through your systems." The man stared violently at the yellow paper, like it was offending him. "I have a knack for going unnoticed."
Thrown off balance, Harvey returned his notepad to the briefcase. "Alright, Jack. If you say so." He pulled out the chair opposite the boy and allowed himself to sit. In law school, it is recommended that every student take a basic psychology class, a class required for precisely these types of situations. They teach you basic intimidation techniques; using height to overwhelm the suspect, maintaining constant eye contact, and other manipulation techniques useful in the daily lives of attorneys. Harvey leaned over on the table, hands folded on the desk. He hunched up his shoulders and tried to make his chest seem broader; he had at least 30 pounds on Jack and wanted to use it to his advantage.
Jack seemed unfazed or uninterested, Harvey half expected him to theatrically yawn. Harvey splayed out his hands, trying to decide how to approach the state of affairs that lay before him. Eventually though, he lifted his head and smiled good-naturedly at Jack, like they were old high school friends or drinking buddies. "So," he began in a low conspiratorial tone, "tell me Jack. Are you crazy?" He cocked his head to his side and gave the criminal a quizzical look.
Jack's response was a bark of laughter that, thankfully, didn't dissolve into the frightening cackle that had been displayed earlier. "I don't know..." Jack grinned evilly, "What do you think?"
He clenched his hands but forced his face to stay relaxed. "It doesn't matter what I think. What do you think?"
He shrugged his shoulders, his mouth forming into a closed lip grin of impishness. "What should I think?"
Harvey took a deep mental breath. Logically he knew that Jack was doing this purposely to get on his nerves but it still didn't stop him from being an annoying little prick. Still, with restraint he didn't know he had, he was able to keep his face relatively neutral. "Just tell me what happened that day, okay?"
Jack cocked his head to one side, looking thoughtfully at the lawyer. A slight smirk ghosted across his lips before he continued, "I killed three people. Not because I needed money." He made a derisive noise. "I haven't needed money since I was nine years old." A pensive look crossed his face, one that was far more sinister and dangerous than anything Harvey had before witnessed. It was a look of intelligence, of control. Dare he say it, a look of sanity. However, it soon passed and his wild eyed gazed leveled with his. "I killed them because I could…mmm…I would do it again in a heartbeat…does that make me..." He paused to lick his waxy lips, "…crazy?"
Harvey didn't answer, his equilibrium thrown off balance. "I," he cleared his throat, "I don't know." Unconsciously he reached into his pocket and pulled out his father's lucky coin. He palmed it and felt, frighteningly, reassured by its presence. For a moment, he was lost in his thoughts, wishing that he could wash his hands of the disturbed man sitting in front of him. The doctors had all agreed pretty readily that the guy was as crazy as they come but with the recent incarceration of Dr. Crane, the D.A.'s office wasn't quite ready to take their chances, especially with a heinous crime like this one. Still, he wished that it didn't have to be his call.
"Harveey." Jack said his name, with a sing-song voice. "Whacha got there?" He nodded his head at the coin in his hand. Harvey, becoming suddenly aware of the object's presence, quickly stuffed the coin in his pocket.
"Nothing," he said a little too quickly, a little too defensively. "Why don't you-"
"I'll flip you for it."
Harvey's eyes shot to Jack's, whose gaze twinkled with malicious mischief. "What?"
"I'll. Flip." He made a motion with his thumb. "You. For. It." He gave Harvey an inviting glance and continued, "Heads, you write up those," he waved his hands in the direction of the briefcase, his fingers' wiggling, "commitment papers. Tails, I head off to county, forever and ever…amen."
Harvey immediately scoffed at the idea. "Now why would I want to go and do something as idiotic as that? Rest the fate of a man's life on a silly little coin? Risk being fired, even disbarred? Why would I even consider it?"
"Because," he spoke in a soft voice, the snake whispering sweet nothings into Eve's ears, "it's fair." He pulled away and gave Harvey a triumphant smile. "Fifty-fifty both ways. Leave it all in the hands of the universe, let it decide who is…worthy and who isn't." He leaned back in the chair, settling into the hard, cold steel. "Chaos and death…the great equalizers. When a man's life is at stake…that…that's when you'll see who he really is." A gleefully sinister look came over his countenance washing away any trace of humanity from his dark eyes. "Let'ssss say…for example…if I was able to get out of these," he wiggled his hands and rattled the cuffs that bound him tight. "And let's say, for argument's sake, that I had been able slip my razorblade by that moronic guard standing out there." He gestured towards the closed cell door. "Let's say all of that was already in effect." Every hair on Harvey's neck prickled at the man's tale, he could feel his adrenaline pumping up but was unable to move, paralyzed by Jack's almost hypnotic voice. "Now if I happened…within the next few minutes…to hold you by the throat and pressed the cold steel of the razor against your jugular vein…well, in those few minutes I would be able to see everything you were, everything you are, and everything you would never get to be. All because of chaos…" he paused and as an afterthought added, "…and dear ol' death." He licked his lips, his tongue making a streak of saliva on each side of his mouth that caught the light in a particular way as to give the illusion of a macabre smile. "So, Harvey. What do you say?"
Harvey stared at the criminal sitting across from him and fear coiled and twisted in his gut. He felt a strange emotion wash over him, something so foreign that he was, at first, unable to name it. Hate. Hate and fear. He had never felt such a combination of emotions before and it was unsettling. Harvey wanted, no needed, to get away from this man; he could feel his sanity being chipped away and he was desperate for relief. With little more thought, he pulled the coin from his pocket. Careful not to expose the second heads side, he held up the coin. "How do I know you'll keep your promise?"
Jack, surprisingly, was serious. "You don't…but I always keep my promises."
He tried to gauge his level of honesty but was at a loss, unable to read even the slightest hint of emotion on his blank face. Eventually he placed the coin on his thumb, situated carefully on the crease he created with his hand. Without a word of commencement, he flipped the coin expertly into the air. For a moment, Harvey watched the arc of the coin, watched it as it flew through the air, and he couldn't help but feel that, with the flip of that small insignificant coin, he was losing something irretrievable to his humanity. He knew that by giving up his choice, by depending, even if for only a second, on the coin; he was becoming something less than a man. But, he refused to think such thoughts, and pushed them away by the time the coin returned to his hand. Offering his hand to Jack, he slowly revealed its decision.
The only reaction he got was laughter. Hysterical, nightmare inducing, horrifying laughter. Laughter that he heard long after he left the cell. Long after he left Arkham. He heard the laughter even as he ascended the stone steps of City Hall, casually flipping his father's lucky coin.
AN: So what did you think? Good? Bad? Horrible? I want to know. Oh, and I already am half way through the last chapter so there won't be a hugely long wait. Up next...Any guy who runs around dressed up as a bat clearly has issues.