Instincts can be a problem. Oh, they were wonderful back in the days of spears and axes made of rock. Instincts were a vital part of survival when your day might include an encounter with a snarling bear or a coiled snake hissing in the bushes. Humanity had generally moved beyond those days, though, and the remnants of those older instincts were more often a problem than a pleasure.
In this particular case, when an orderly in green scrubs had burst unexpectedly into the intake room, Sorrow had automatically screamed defiance and punched him in the face. It hadn't been entirely her fault. After all, Arkham was responsible for "misplacing" her right into Teng's greedy little hands, and she was definitely unwilling to give them the benefit of the doubt that it wouldn't happen again - and the orderly hurrying into the room certainly looked like Teng's old assistant, with his dark hair and burly figure.
For some reason, the man with the newly broken nose hadn't been eager to hear Sorrow's side of the story. Instead, he'd muttered a muffled threat and hit the alarm button on his belt. A small group of orderlies had pelted to his aid, pinning her firmly to the tiles as a doctor jabbed a syringe full of tranquilizers into her backside.
She'd woken up here, in this little white isolation room, with nothing but a mattress on the floor and a stiff nylon smock wrapped around her. They'd slapped her on what seemed like twenty different antipsychotics on the first day alone. The meds had dropped her flat on the ground for a few hours. When she had finally come out of it, she was surprised at how calm she was. The first time she'd been tortured, she'd come out of it terrified...but maybe since she knew Teng was in custody somewhere, and that she was in one of the most heavily-guarded cells in Arkham, maybe she knew she was relatively safe. The nightmares still woke her screaming in the night, but at least she'd managed to hold on to what little sanity she had left. So far, anyway.
She'd been in here for two full days now. In that time, she'd napped, she'd daydreamed, and she'd knocked politely on the door and asked to be let out. Polite requests had turned into demands, and then orders, and when those had been ignored, she'd resigned herself to banging an angry fist on the door. She'd done just about everything she could think of, and she was starting to get bored.
Sorrow looked thoughtfully up at the blank white wall as she absently tugged her bright pink glove off of one hand. The black substance that coated her palms and fingers gleamed dully in the bright fluorescent lights. Then, with a squint of concentration, she touched the wall and smeared a tiny squiggle. The squiggle turned into a lock of hair growing from a fat, fanged monster.
She dragged her fingers gently across the white wall, filling the stark little room with whatever she felt like drawing next. Stark. Stark raving mad, isn't that what people said? She shook her head and brushed another careful smudge of black on the wall.
They were trying new things with her now. Meds, for a start - she'd never had to bother with them before. Now, every day, she had to sit in front of the tiny slot for her food tray and show that she'd swallowed whatever they'd given her. New things were a pain. Innovations, inventions, invasions...not an invasion, the opposite of invasion...inverse invasion? Damn it. The isolation ward was totally silent for most of the day. The lack of company had Sorrow playing with words in every thought to keep herself entertained.
Another curving streak appeared on the wall. The thing about the isolation room, the one beautiful thing, was that the walls were nothing but featureless white plaster with little paint-chips missing where ancient padding had recently been removed. And the thing about being alone was that there was no one else around - and that meant no one was there to be hurt by her ungloved hand. Fingerpainting with concentrated sadness on an asylum wall may not have been permanent, and it may not have been a masterpiece, but it was definitely enough to keep her busy between meals.
Sorrow rested her forehead in one of the white spaces on the wall. It was cool on her face, not cold and not hot, lukewarm…tepid. Tapir. Brazilian tapir, from sunny Rio de Janeiro!...She added a tiny smudged tapir below the crude sketch of an overbearing bat. Okay, so it didn't look much like a tapir, in fact it looked more like a boar, or maybe even a large dog, but to her it was a tapir. Taper. Wasn't there some kind of candle called a taper? Wouldn't it be fun to be a taper, and just tape things all day? Maybe a tapper.
She slapped both hands up on the wall, leaving two perfect black handprints around the bat. What she wouldn't give to have someone to talk to.
Arkham Asylum had a research department. Not many institutions had space entirely devoted to keeping a library of sorts of their inmates' activities. Then again, not many institutions housed so many high-profile repeat offenders in towns where the media virtually depended on their activities alone to boost their ratings.
The research department in actuality consisted of a dusty little room in a forgotten attic space once used to store the bedsheets for hydrotherapy. The man in charge was a smart young thing, who had only taken this gig for some money while he looked for something that was more to his tastes. He was a psychiatrist, wasn't he? Surely something would turn up in this city that seemed to spawn lunatics on a regular basis. And when it did turn up, having Arkham on his resumé basically guaranteed him a spot anywhere he wanted.
His feelings about his job, as dismissive as they were, took an abrupt turn downward when he got the call to come and catalog an inmate's destruction of an isolation room. Taking pictures of chewed-up mattresses was not his cup of tea, but he'd do it if he was told to.
"...and be sure to pick up a biohazard suit before you go," the crackly voice on the other end of the line informed him.
"Why?" he asked timidly. "I'm only going to be in there a minute." Maybe the inmate had leaked a fluid or two onto the floor. He hardly felt the need to swathe himself in crinkly yellow plastic for that.
A voice in the background snapped orders to the secretary on the phone. "Just go!" Click.
He stared at the dead phone in his hands. Well, he'd suit up to make the suits happy. He grabbed the camera and trotted downstairs toward the staff storage room.
When he finally arrived, yellow-suited, a pair of guards were standing in front of a room with the door thrown wide. He flashed his name badge, pinned underneath a clear piece of plastic over his chest, and stepped inside.
The room had been covered from about waist-high down in the most marvelous little pictures. He bent closer to examine them. Little tiny surreal murals were woven together wherever there had been space to draw.
It was wonderful, he thought as he snapped picture after picture of the "destruction". Look at the raw passion in the work! Look at the framing, the angles, the shapes and the…well, not the colors, but if there were colors, imagine them! It was like discovering the cave paintings in France all over again!
He had to meet the artist. Who had drawn such pretty things? He stuck his head out of the door, wincing as the yellow plastic crackled loudly. "Um, excuse me?"
"Yeah?" a guard asked lazily.
"Who was in this cell?"
"Sorrow. She's up on four," the guard volunteered.
Sorrow. What an...artistic name. He ducked back inside and kept photographing the art that covered the walls. Of course she'd have an artistic name - look at what she'd created on a whim! She was obviously a creative soul, misunderstood and locked away for expressing herself. He could picture it so clearly!
He had to meet her and somehow let her know that she'd created the most wonderful melange of sketches that he'd ever seen. There was just something about them...they were funny, and sad, and everything he'd ever experienced was somehow mirrored in a few smudgy lines on the wall. He made a mental note to copy the pictures onto a few CDs to take home as he hurried back upstairs. Maybe he could put aside the filing for just a few minutes and sneak down to the dormitory wings to track her down this afternoon...
After a long, long week in isolation, Sorrow was finally back in her original cell. On one hand, she basked in the revelry of a real cell…think of it, an actual bed, a window, human contact! On the other hand…come on, it was a cell! Even if they served her cheesecake on a tray, it wouldn't make it any better.
Still, being out of isolation was definitely a good thing. She sprawled lazily on her bed, drifting off into lovely daydreams of the various ways to commit Tengicide as she let her eyes wander over Harley and Eddie's poster of Gotham tacked onto her ceiling. Maybe she could turn his own medication against him?...no, that would mean she'd have to have him make more, and that was definitely not in her plans. So what was left...she couldn't just kill him, not without letting him know how very, very angry he'd made her...Maybe-
Her daydreams were rudely interrupted by someone fumbling a key into the lock on her door. She sat up, scooting backward until her shoulderblades were pressed hard against the cold stone of the wall, and stared levelly at the door.
The person outside dropped their keys, picked them up, dropped them again, picked them up again, and jammed a key into the lock with a sigh of resigned frustration at the world working against them. Sorrow felt her shoulders relax. It wasn't Teng, then - he'd probably never dropped anything in his life. No, of course it's not him, he's locked up somewhere, she mentally chided herself. Like he was the last time? an irritating little thought chirped. Shut up, she ordered herself, and focused on her visitor.
It was another doctor, holding a clipboard as if it was the only barrier keeping Sorrow from leaping on him and killing him instantly. The vent blew a curl of his sandy-brown hair onto his forehead. He scowled and raked it back with one hand, accidentally dislodging a dust bunny that had somehow landed on his head. "Um, y-you…" He steadied himself. "You're the one that, uh, that drew on the walls down in isolation?"
Sorrow relaxed further. There was no way he was working with Teng. Teng would never hire this noodle of a man. She said nothing and merely nodded.
"I, uh…wanted to say I liked you. Them! Your picture. Drawings," he yelped, eyes widening in total horror at his idiotic tongue. "Um. These," he added, flipping the clipboard around and lifting the top page of medical charts. There was a glossy print there, an 8 by 10 of the tiny drawing she'd done of…she squinted at the blurry picture…oh yes, the sky divers and the onion.
"Thanks," she said, still wary.
"And, uh…" he ran a hand through his hair again. "I'm going to be, um, sitting in. On your session, that is. Tomorrow. If, um, that's…okay…with you?" He smiled nervously at her.
"Sure," she said, raising one eyebrow.
"Okay then, fine, good, I'll just, I'll go then, fine, I'll just…good." The clipboard clattered noisily to the floor. With a bright red blush creeping over his cheeks, he snatched it back into his arms. "See you, um, tomorrow," he blathered, backing out of the door and locking it. It was immediately unlocked and opened long enough for him to poke his head back in and announce "I'm Troy, by the way," before he closed and locked it once again.
Sorrow laid back down on her bed and stared up at the Gotham nightscape. Sitting in on her session? Whatever. At least he was kind of cute.
Dr. Lily was friendly, talkative, and eager to help Sorrow get on with the business of expressing all those hurtful emotions that she needed to get out of her system so that she could heal and become a healthy person.
But, like most of the rogues, Sorrow wasn't interested in sharing. So Teng had hurt her. It didn't matter. She'd just go kill him, and then the nightmares would stop, and everything would be okay again. Why waste time talking about what had happened when she already had a plan to fix it?
Aside from that, she just couldn't trust Lily anymore. Lily was supposed to be looking out for her - at least, that's what she told her every few minutes while she tried to coax Sorrow into talking. Why, then, had her disappearance gone unnoticed for almost a full week at Arkham? Maybe Lily was working with Teng. Maybe she was just too willing to believe what anyone told her. Or maybe Lily was just a colossal liar, and didn't give a fig for anyone inside the building. Whatever it was, it all boiled down to the same thing: she couldn't be trusted.
So when Dr. Lily asked yet again to please tell her what had happened, with kindness and love covering every word like batter on a corn dog, Sorrow shook her head and mutely stared out of Lily's window at the tiny flowers dancing in the wind.
Troy, seated at the side of the room, had begun the session almost dancing in his seat for the opportunity to hear the artist speak about the experiences that led to the art. It hadn't taken too much effort to get his supervisor to allow him to sit in on these sessions. He'd originally wondered why, since normally most of the rogues would point-blank refuse to cooperate with more than one doctor at once. But as the session dragged on, and Sorrow still refused to speak, he grew more and more disappointed as he realized that they'd only let him come because she wasn't cooperating anyway. Finally, when Dr. Lily led a stone-faced Sorrow out of the room, Troy gave her a sad little wave goodbye.
She didn't even see it.
The last day of August was unseasonably cold. Tiny drafts, leaking in from countless repairs where inmates had taken a rather direct through-the-wall approach to escaping, nipped at bare ankles and slithered right through the standard-issue laceless shoes on every resident's feet. Grey clouds gathered over Arkham, as if they were observers peering down at a delicate open-heart surgery gone wrong.
Up on the fourth floor, parked in her wheelchair, Sorrow was once again fighting her feet. The numbness would have to wear off sooner or later. In fact, tiny bits of her thighs were coming alive again with twinges of pain reminiscent of that time she'd been clocked with a splintery board by a rebellious henchman. Unfortunately, unlike the henchman, she couldn't just get rid of this problem by dumping it in the river.
She hadn't been allowed back into the rec room since her less-than-triumphant return to Arkham. When the doctors had found out that she'd redecorated, they'd banned her from leaving her cell for everything but therapy for a full month. She was almost tempted to do a little artwork in this cell, too, but the momentary thrill of getting away with it would be quickly stomped over by whatever punishments they dreamed up in the staff room. They might even try locking gloves on her hands again - and that was definitely not something she cared to encourage.
God, she was bored. She squinted across the corridor, past the empty cell in front of her to the cell on its left. In the small sliver of plexiglass visible to her, she could barely make out a green foot sticking out from under the blankets. Ivy was sleeping. No entertainment there, then. Actually, a nap wasn't a bad idea. Her chair squeaked as she wheeled herself back over to her bed and rolled onto the thin little blanket that covered her mattress. "Hmmph." She stuck her nose up at her lifeless feet as her toes twitched feebly.
She closed her eyes and attempted to sleep, but she couldn't make her mind stop racing. It would drift a little toward memories of Teng, and she'd yank it back only to find it sniffing at the heels of memories of needles and straps and she'd slap it away from those and it would run as fast as it could to thoughts about her legs and she'd throw it down and tackle it only to see it squirm out and go running back to Teng. Damn, it was annoying.
The annoyance stopped when her door creaked open. She flicked her eyes open to see Troy standing there, blondish-brown hair forming a perfect curly halo around his head, one eyebrow slightly raised. "I…ah…"
"Never heard of knocking?" Sorrow drawled, as her heartbeat slowed down to something more like a human's instead of a jackhammer thuddathuddathudda.
"No. Yes! I, um. Wanted to, ah." He crossed the room and stood in front of her, fidgeting with the clipboard he never seemed to be without. "Look, you're not helping yourself by not telling Lily anything, and, um, you should tell her...things."
Sorrow rolled her eyes. "Listen, Troy, that's your name, right? Troy?"
He gulped and nodded.
"Troy, I'm not telling Lily a damn thing." She smiled and stretched back into her pillow, lacing her hands together behind her head as if she was lounging in a hammock.
"But…why?" he asked, knuckles slowly turning white as he clutched the clipboard tighter and tighter.
She opened one eye and looked him over. "Because Lily's just another jackass doctor, trying to get inside my head so she can put it between the covers of a book. I'm tired of being a lab animal, and I'm tired of being a subject."
"But you're not! I mean, she..." he floundered. "She does want to help you."
"Oh, yeah. She wanted to help me so badly that she let me get kidnapped right out from under her nose. Yeah, I bet she was crying herself to sleep at night when that happened." She rolled her eyes.
"Well, okay, but...what if...I mean...it's just her, right? You don't want to talk to her?"
"Give the little man a big cigar." She snuggled down into her blankets. When she opened her eyes again, he was standing there with a slightly perplexed look on his face. "That means yes," she explained patiently.
He swallowed hard, nodded, and hurried from the room. On his way out, his entire left side connected with the doorframe with a painful-sounding thud. He yelped and grabbed his arm, sending the clipboard skidding wildly into the hallway. With a look of hopeless irritation on his face, he slammed the door and pelted after it to the accompaniment of a chorus of catcalls from the ever-watchful inmates.
A piece of paper had fallen to the ground when he'd hit the wall. Sorrow waited until he was gone, then slid herself over and picked up the paper.
In scribbly charcoal, with smudges from charcoaled fingertips surrounding the widely scrawled writing, was the phrase Gent:Echo irk son:Boring bees hover!
Sorrow smiled, suddenly realizing what it was: one of Eddie's riddles. That should pass the time nicely. She moved herself back onto the bed. Quite the anagram, there, Eddie. Sorrow pondered it, tapping her fingers on the paper.
Gent was easy enough, there were only so many combinations of those letters. Teng.
Echo irk son…hmm…She thought for a few minutes, wishing that she was allowed to have a pen. No sick hero? Crook, he sin? She grinned suddenly as it hit her. Rock in shoe! So Teng was like a rock in his shoe? Imagine the boulder he's been to my sneakers, Eddie, she thought to herself.
Boring bees hover?
Forty minutes later, she was tempted to call it quits. There were just too many letters! She let out a grunt of frustration.
"Having troubles?" came a muffled voice from across the hall. Ivy was awake now, picking at lint on her bedspread to relieve the endless tedium.
"I found a riddle of Eddie's, and I'm trying to solve it," Sorrow answered. "This last bit is really hard!"
"Well, he is known for that," Ivy smirked. "Though he does make them a little easier for the asylum staff…they're no Batman, after all."
She studied the paper again. Teng. Teng was annoying, he was a rock in his shoe...what did Teng do that was annoying?...he talked. He talked a lot. Verbose! She picked over the remaining letters and came up with an answer that left a huge grin stretching across her face.
Gent:Echo irk son:Boring bees hover! meant Teng:rock in shoe:verbose neighbor.
Teng was in Arkham.
Not only that, but he was Eddie's neighbor, and Teng was evidently keeping up the chatter and annoying Eddie so much that Eddie had to write an anagram about it just to vent his frustration.
That afternoon, when Sorrow went to her session, Dr. Lily was conspicuously absent. Instead, Troy was sitting behind the desk, looking nervous and anticipatory and tense all at once.
"What's going on?" she asked as the guard assumed his position right outside the door and shut it tight.
"Well, I…you remember when you said?...well, I asked Dr. Lily about it, and she said that if, that is, if it made you more comfortable, then, um, I could do it…" He trailed off as Sorrow stared at him. "What?" he finally asked.
"What are you trying to say?" she asked bluntly.
He blushed. "I'm...well, Lily...I'm your new therapist," he said in a rush.
"So you actually can say a whole sentence," she mused.
His blush grew brighter. "I...let's, um, get started," he said, pawing pointlessly at the few pages of notes in front of him.
"Sure." Sorrow smiled and leaned back in her chair. He glanced up, eyes bright with hope, and waited for her to speak. Seconds ticked by and turned into minutes. Sorrow was almost able to see his expression slowly morphing from hope to disappointment as every second told him that she wasn't going to speak.
"What are you...thinking about?" he said uneasily.
She shrugged. "Nothing. Doesn't matter."
"It does!" He was leaning over the desk, eager, the very image of a clone of Dr. Lily.
"Why?" she challenged, leaning back at him. "Why does what I think matter so much to you?"
"I..." he sighed. "I just...look, it's important for you to talk to me, for...for both of us, okay?" He leaned back in his chair, raking his hair back with an impatient hand. "Y'know, I...don't do this very often. Normally I'm in the library, cutting newspapers. It's boring, and it's not what I want to do. I want to help people," he said pleadingly. "And they might start letting me help more, if...well, if you let me help you." He smiled tentatively. "It's not like you won't be, um, getting anything out of it. If you start talking, I can, uh..." He waved a hand vaguely in the air. "You can go to the rec room again and, uh, stuff. The lunchroom. Maybe join up with the group that gets to go to the yard?" He sighed. "But if you don't want to talk to me...I don't know. They'll probably put me back in the att-uh, the library, and, um, you might have to go to solitary again or something. They aren't happy when you don't talk."
She examined him once again. His little speech had obviously cost him a lot - sweat was beading his forehead, and the casual hand that he'd waved in the air had been shaking with the effort of talking to another person.
Either he was a fantastic actor, or he was just shy. There could be advantages to having him for a doctor...if he shook like a leaf just from talking to her, she could probably intimidate him into getting her those little privileges even quicker. She could be in the rec room by the end of the week, maybe!
But first, she'd have to play along a bit. She smiled and settled herself more comfortably in the hard little chair. "So what do we talk about?"
He looked suspiciously at her for a moment. When he realized that she was being serious, a hastily-stifled smile twitched the corners of his mouth upward. "Uh, um…" He fumbled through his papers, which were mostly blank. Anything that Teng had found out would have been in his notes, which still were locked away in the evidence rooms in one of Gotham's numerous police departments. On the other hand, anything that Lily had found out was supposed to have been given to him by now - but Lily kept saying that she'd get to it, she'd get to it, with the clear implication that he'd use his time equally as well by asking the walls to Xerox him a copy. "Why don't you tell me about yourself?"
The sessions continued for a week. Slowly Troy grew more accustomed to playing doctor, and was able to say full sentences to Sorrow without a hint of a stammer or a stutter. She, in turn, occasionally called him by his title - something that made him almost giggly with glee. It never hurt to keep your doctor happy, after all.
They'd discussed her past in bits and pieces. Sorrow, a private person by nature, flatly refused to discuss anything that he really wanted to know about - her parents, her childhood, where she was from...
"So, Sorrow…" he flipped through a few pages of his useless notes. He suddenly had a thought. Surely she couldn't refuse to tell him something harmless like this! "Tell me about your friends."
"Friends?" She mulled the word over as if she'd never heard it before. "I haven't had many, Troy. If you're looking for happy childhood memories, I can't really help you."
"Any friends, Sorrow, past, present…" he trailed off hopefully. Everyone liked talking about their friends! And maybe he could contact one of them and find out some more about her...okay, so it wasn't exactly ethical, but he could couch it in a request for them to come and visit her, maybe? It had to be lonely, up there with all those rogues. How could a normal person survive up there with them? Others had tried. Just look at Warren White - barely a few months up with the rogues and he'd become one of them! He'd hate to see that happen to Sorrow. It was too bad that she had to be up there in the first place - but anyone with powers had to go there, so rogue or not, Sorrow had to stay there.
She smiled at him. "Friends, Dr. Grey? I guess you mean Eddie and Pam and Harley, then."
Beaming at his glacial progress, he started to write the names down. Eddie, Pam, and Harl...Harley? He glanced up at her. "Harley?" he said lightly, hoping not to hear that it was that Harley.
"Quinn," Sorrow said, sending his hopes crashing down around his ankles. "Y'know, blonde with a Joker fixation?"
"I know," he said grimly. There was an entire file cabinet devoted to the Joker and his little pumpkin pie. "Pam and Eddie - that's Isley and Nygma, right?"
"Got it in one," she said happily. "They're great. They broke me out of Arkham once."
"Oh," he said. They wouldn't work at all for his plan. "Um…don't you have any normal friends?" he asked, desperate to change the subject.
Her eyes narrowed. "If I had normal friends, do you think I'd be in Arkham?"
She had a point.
"Anyway, why do you care so much? I'm an inmate, they're inmates, we're one and the same, y'know?"
Troy shook his head violently. "You aren't! You're not like them at all!"
"And how do you figure that?" she asked, tilting her head to one side, focusing on him.
"You…they kill people, and they hurt people, and they're seriously disturbed, Sorrow! You know your friend Harley helped the Joker kill fifty people last year?"
"Yeah," Sorrow muttered.
"And you, well…"
"I know. I only killed twelve. Guess I need to work harder next year, huh?" she said with a wink.
He scowled at her. Just because she had to be housed in the high-security wing was no reason for her to pretend to be a rogue! He'd clearly have to work on that with her next time. Joking about things like that wasn't right, not from a nice girl like Sorrow. He resolved to go up and dig through the archives to find out why she'd really been brought here, so that he could confront her with it during their next session.
The door swung open and a guard walked in. "Time to go, Sorrow," he said.
"See ya!" she chirped as the guard pushed her out of the room.
Troy played with one of Dr. Lily's pens as he sat and thought. He didn't have another session with Sorrow until next Monday. Well, maybe he could adapt his plan a bit...
Sorrow's friends with the Riddler, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Harley's in with the Joker, so I'm not going anywhere near her, and Ivy's got that kissing thing…that leaves…
Edward Nygma paced the floor of his cell. Back and forth across the plexiglass wall, up and down the bare wall that separated him from his new neighbor. Back and forth, up and down. The straightjacket was irritating his neck.
"Almost done! We were almost done and the Bat ruined everything!" came a sudden howl from next door. Eddie let out a howl of his own and slammed his head against the wall.
"Hut pus!" he bellowed. "Let the push hul! Young mad ten!"
"My masterpiece! My life's work! Lost forever!" came the answering scream.
Eddie opened his mouth to scream out another anagrammatical wish for silence when he noticed an observer in a white coat at his window. Instantly he turned and dove toward him, not noticing or caring when his straitjacketed arms connected hard with the plexiglass. "Who are you? I don't care, please, for the love of god, shut him up, I can't take it anymore!"
The man nodded once and walked away quickly. Eddie slumped down onto his bed, waiting for the noise to stop. Disbelievingly, he heard the neighboring door open. "Could you…could you please be quiet?" he could hear the man ask.
"My work, my work, my life's work gone, ruined, lost forever!" came the answering wail.
The door closed again, and Edward saw the man reappear in front of his window.
"Sorry. Can I talk to you?" the man said.
Edward knocked his head once dully against the wall. "I'll talk to you if you get me out of here. Your office, the intake room, anywhere, anywhere away from that bad star, that nail cut, that…that…" Words failed him.
"Uh…sure." The man, fumbling with his keys, swung the door wide open. Eddie sprang up and ran over to him, beaming.
"Let's go, let's go, anywhere you want to go!" The man gently held the dancing Riddler by one arm and propelled him out the door, leading him toward Teng's old empty office. As they passed Teng's cell, Eddie aimed a kick at his door. The rest of the walk was fairly uneventful, and they arrived in the office in short order. Eddie sat down in the patient's chair with a look of bliss on his face.
"So, Mister, ah, Nygma…"
"Shhh!" Eddie snapped, jerking his head up to glare at the man. "Can't you hear it?"
"The silence!" Eddie laid his head back on the headrest with a grin of relieved joy.
The man allowed him two full minutes of silence before he cleared his throat and tried again. " My name's Dr. Grey. I, ah, wanted to talk to you, Mr. Nygma, about…Sorrow."
"And if I don't want to talk about her?" Edward challenged lightly.
"Then…then I guess if you're not going to talk, we can take you back to your cell." Grey rose in his chair, preparing to stand up.
Eddie sighed without lifting his head. "What do you want to know, kid?"
"Uh…well, the two of you are, um, friends, right?"
"Indeed." As friendly as the rogues ever get with one another. He sighed, thinking of the plans that might have been...but surely they'd both be free again sooner or later.
"She said that you and your other...um...associates...broke her out of her cell," Grey hinted, when Eddie stayed quiet too long.
"Yes." Eddie raised an eyebrow. "And?"
"Why? I mean, it doesn't make sense!"
Eddie shrugged, adjusting his arms so they wrapped around him more comfortably in the jacket, and answered the question with a question. "Why not?" He smirked at the exasperated expression on the boy's face. "Doesn't it make sense to get rid of a threat before it hurts you?"
"Well, yes, but - "
"And doesn't it make sense that he may have turned on one of us next?"
"And isn't it true that the staff was just going to let him do whatever he pleased until someone died?"
"Yes!" Grey snapped. "What I don't understand is why you chose to break a normal inmate out along with a pair of rogues!"
Eddie was caught off-guard, something that happened very rarely indeed. "Let me get this straight," he said slowly. "Sorrow is a normal inmate."
"Even though she has powers."
"And uses them to rob banks?"
"And is living in an asylum for the criminally insane?"
"And fights Batman?"
"And even though her name is Sorrow and not, say, Julie or Maria?"
Eddie smugly shifted in his chair, his point made. The doctor frowned at his papers, twiddling a pen between his fingers, before shifting a newly interested gaze up to Eddie. "Okay. What else do you know about her?"
"Anything!" Grey slammed his pen down. "You're both rogues. Fine! She robs banks? Great! Which banks? When? How long ago? Where does she live? Does she have..." he waved a floundering hand, "...helpers?"
Eddie's answer was a simple shrug.
"You've got to know something!"
"I know a lot of things," Eddie snapped back, stung. "What I don't know anything about is the personal lives of most of the people in this city! Do you think I have time to sneak around and learn everything about everyone? Do you think I'd even want to do that?" He thumped the chair leg with the back of his heel. "At any rate, I'd never even seen the girl until she was brought to Arkham. She hasn't exactly been active since then," he pointed out.
"So you don't know anything about her," Grey sighed. "Fine. Let's go back to your cell."
"Let's not," Eddie said bitterly.
"All I wanted was to know about her. And, um, you aren't being very helpful. That would mean that we're done." He stepped towards Eddie, ready to lead him back to his cell.
Eddie wrapped his feet around the bolted-down chair legs, holding himself down in the only way he could. "I helped you out, so can you do a favor for me?"
"What?" asked Grey suspiciously.
"Get me a new cell. Get me away from that freak. I can't sleep, I can't think…do you know what it's like to have someone like him as a neighbor? He will not shut up, he even talks in his sleep! He keeps screaming about Sorrow!" Eddie stared tormentedly at Troy with all the pitiful force of someone that has been denied a good night's sleep for the past fifteen nights.
"I'll see what I can do," Troy promised, then started toward Eddie to pull him out of the chair. "In the meantime…"
"I won't go back," Eddie said, calmly, ankles firmly attached to the chair. "Either you can go get me a new cell right now, or you can get someone in to drug me. At least I'll get some sleep," he added somewhat thoughtfully. He hated drugs, but what choice did he have? He couldn't exactly sneak out, not with this jacket locked around him.
Why couldn't anything go right? He'd only wanted to help Sorrow, and now he had to explain everything he'd been doing to Lily, who was probably going to report him to Dr. Carlson for breaking some little rule that he hadn't been aware of. He only wanted to help, dammit!
Troy left Edward Nygma in the care of an orderly and searched out Dr. Lily. When he put forth Edward's request, Dr. Lily informed him that at the moment, all the cells were taken, and no one was switching cells. Nygma would just have to deal with it.
Troy, ears still ringing from Lily's snide remarks about getting in over his head, strode back to the little office with a pair of orderlies at his back, well-armed with syringes. Wordlessly, he gestured them inside to deal with the recalcitrant Riddler.
Nygma looked up hopefully when he sensed someone behind him, only to lose all trace of hope as he saw the orderlies waiting for him. His face hardened as he decided how to deal with this latest assault on his dignity.
Plan A, staying in the chair, had obviously been abandoned in favor of something a little more active. Edward leaped to his feet, possibly intending to ram past the orderlies, and staggered forward.
Unfortunately for him, his feet had fallen asleep. His limp and lifeless ankles gave out underneath him, spilling him armlessly to the floor as the orderlies chuckled at this bit of unexpected comedy. His head bounced off of the linoleum. Despite what had to be a very painful injury, Edward struggled back to his knees and glared at his audience.
The orderlies leisurely kicked his knees out from under him and injected the drugs into his leg. Nygma, belly-down on the cold floor, sighed dreamily as the drugs swamped his mind. Then, with a small "Mmm" of happiness, he passed out cold.
"We'll take him back to his cell," one of the orderlies said, lifting him up and holding him like a baby. "Unless you wanted to come along?"
Troy, about to refuse, nodded assent instead and tailed the three as they strolled down the corridors. After the orderlies deposited the Riddler in his bed, Troy dismissed them and walked next door to stare in at Teng.
The tiny Asian man was making and remaking his bed, all while muttering to himself about his great experiment that had been cruelly interrupted. His laceless shoes squeaked on the tiles as he paced from the foot to the head of the bed, smoothing wrinkles in his blankets.
"Excuse me? May I come in?" Troy asked through the window.
Teng whirled to glare at the young doctor, then smiled. "Of course, of course! Come to learn some things from Dr. Teng, eh, son?" He beamed and gestured grandly to the freshly-made bed, offering it as a seat for Troy.
Troy smiled back nervously as he came in. Ignoring the seat, he stood next to the door and shoved his hands deep into his lab coat pockets.
"How long have you been here at our lovely facility, son? Not long, I expect, since I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you yet!" Teng perched himself gently on the bed and grinned manically.
"Uh…a…few months, I guess. Um, I wanted to ask you, uh, about your, uh…experiment…"
Teng's face twisted with fury. He leaped up from the bed, running over to the wall to pound on the unyielding stone with both fists. "RUINED! Oh, it will be the death of my career, my life's work interrupted…" He whirled around suddenly, noticing Troy slowly backing out of the room. "Ah, no, son, come back, come back, Doctor Teng is sorry…" Teng stepped backward slowly and seated himself among the wrinkled cover on his bed.
Troy edged back in and hovered in the doorway. "Uh…if you don't want to talk about it, I can, um, go…" he hazarded.
"No, no, please, stay and talk to me," Teng insisted. Troy sidled back in and closed the door, remaining within easy grabbing distance of the door handle.
"I used to have a very peculiar patient, Doctor…"
"Grey. Troy Grey," he offered.
"Doctor Grey." Teng smiled. "My patient, it was sad, desperately so, and it had a strange substance on its hands that made others sad, you see? Saddened to suicide, and we couldn't have that, no, no. So I, Dr. Teng, decided that I would do everything in my power to keep this patient from hurting anyone else with its depression." He flicked his hands out in front of him, admired their spotlessness, and continued. "I put it on an experimental drug regimen, perhaps not quite according to asylum rules, but if I cured it, that would not have mattered, eh? And one day…" His face began to twist into rage again, and Troy started making his way to the exit. "One day this patient was taken from my care, removed by other inmates! Intolerable! I demanded its return, and in exchange I was locked away in a prison. But clever Teng escaped, yes, and I got my subject back as well. Not noticed by anyone! Anyone but the Batman." He hissed a grunt of frustrated fury. "The Batman stole it back, and placed me back at Arkham…but inside the cells this time."
"I notice you refer to your patient as an 'it', Dr. Teng," Troy said. "You know she has a name? Do you realize that your subject was a person?"
"My subject was no more human than Poison Ivy or the Joker," snapped Teng. "It's a freak, and my job was to make it safe for us to be around."
"This experimental drug," Troy hesitantly asked, "what was it?"
"Stealing my research, boy?" Teng demanded, clutching the bedcovers tight.
"No, no," Troy defended, "I just-"
"Well, you won't get it! It's mine, my experiment, my masterpiece!"
"Your masterpiece almost killed her!" Troy yelled at him.
Teng stared sullenly down at the floor. Little bits of information clicked together inside his brain like a hammer into gunpowder. He turned a disgusted, knowing look on Troy and launched himself to his feet. "You like it, don't you?" the mad doctor gloated.
"No! I just-"
"You love it," he went on, oblivious to Troy's denials as he stalked closer to him. "That's against everything your profession stands for!"
"No, no I don't, that's ridiculous! I-"
"It must drive you mad," Teng drawled menacingly, "knowing I've had your little precious one at my mercy. How you would have cringed, to see it bound on my table, watching me come closer to inject it with my serum. How you would have cried to see it laugh." He was inches away now. Troy could smell his breath as he talked. "How envious you must be, to know that you'll never know as much about it as poor crazy Teng!"
Troy whirled and ran out of the room, slamming the door hard behind him. He brushed the front of his labcoat down, shot a dirty look into Teng's cell, and strode away. His accusations were totally groundless! How could he think that he liked Sorrow? Well, he liked her, but he didn't...not like that...he couldn't! Didn't! Wouldn't! And that was the end of that.
"You will bring my subject to me for a little consultation sometime, hmm?" came a mocking voice from behind him.
(to be continued)
Author's Note: And this, of course, ties up that horrid loose end from Homesick. Now you finally know who Eddie's troublesome little neighbor is! (Yes, the two series exist in the same pocket universe. Keeping the timelines straight is a job for Dr. Who sometimes.)