Three weeks later…
Jonathan Crane sneers at the white beach before him and the crystal clear blue ocean beyond it. The sun is hot and bright, beating down on him, mercilessly making him sweat inside his wool suit. He glares at the woman lounging in a beach chair, sipping a pink frozen drink from an absolutely absurd looking glass. The beach isn't nearly as crowded as it should be and they are rather secluded. Of course, it's a small island, very exotic and very exclusive. A grand total of three people on the beach shouldn't be all that unusual.
He shields his eyes from the sun and approaches her, his strides awkward in the dunes, his arm feeling rubbery and weak with the weight of the heavy suitcase he carries. "Miss Robertson."
She brings up one perfectly manicured hand and shifts her large white sunglasses so that she can peer over them.
"Doctor Crane." She smiles beguilingly and takes another sip from her glass, licking her lips with seductive intent after she swallows. "I had no idea you made house calls."
He is unaffected by her display.
"You skipped town before I was able to properly reward you."
She slides her sunglasses back into place. "The Clock King's stash was plenty of reward for me."
"I hired you, Miss Robertson. It is bad business procedure not to give one's employees what they are owed." He pauses, his voice growing a little bit colder. "Especially considering how…thorough a job you did."
She smiles in a self satisfied way and her tone is lilting, almost mocking. "Was he very heartbroken?"
"Devastated. They're still talking about it in Arkham." He shifts from one foot to the other. "I must say that the depths you went to trifle with the man's emotions and mental state were unexpected."
"But not unwelcome," she answers with a knowing smirk. "You wanted me to ruin him, didn't you? In a way that couldn't be traced back to you? I'd say I succeeded. A broken heart and a demolished ego can hardly be blamed on the master of fear."
Crane stares at her in wonder. How this heartless con artist could hide so well beneath the innocent visage of Rebecca Brookstien is a question to boggle even the most brilliant of minds.
"Besides, you aren't the only villain in Gotham who wanted to see the Clock King taken down a peg or two. He's not exactly Mister Popularity, you know."
This revelation isn't as surprising as Crane's tone would suggest, "I'm not the only man who hired you?"
"You were the first…I just made a few calls to see if anyone else wanted in on the action." Her eyebrows wiggle at him suggestively. "And when Sheila Robertson is offering action, everybody wants a piece."
His upper lip curls in disgust. "I see."
"Don't look so down, Doctor," she laughs lightly, taking his loathing for disappointment, "you wanted Temple Fugat ruined; I gave you Temple Fugat ruined and I daresay he won't be recovering anytime soon."
"Oh, yes. I know men like the Clock King, Doctor…they build these great walls around them, thinking they're impenetrable, thinking that they'll save them from hurt, when really it only makes the first time they fall from their ivory towers so much worse and the recovery--well, I'm sure I don't have to explain it to you."
"Enlighten me, Miss Robertson," he replies dully. "My curiosity is piqued."
She sets her glass down and removes her sunglasses, eyes mischievously glinting in the sun. "It'll just have to stay piqued. I can't give away all the secrets of the trade…if I did, I wouldn't be such a precious commodity, now would I?"
Crane's smile is mirthless, bitter. "You're not so rare a creature as you think, Miss Robertson. Where I come from, manipulative sociopaths for hire are a dime a dozen."
Her laughter is airy, like the tinkling of bells. She is enjoying this far too much. "True enough, but I'd wager none of them look half so good in a bikini."
"Perhaps not." His weariness with the conversation and its participant is starting to show. Almost involuntarily his arm extends, offering the briefcase to her. She reaches for it gracefully, absolutely no trace of the awkward Rebecca Brookstien in her movements.
"That's an awful fat briefcase, Doc" she says, taking it from him and caressing the locks. "You already paid me fifty thou…and the Clock King's nest egg was a couple million more. You didn't have to give me a Caddy and the dealership to match."
"It is no less than you deserve." He nods at her, bending at the waist in the slightest of bows. "If you will excuse me, Miss Robertson, I have other business to attend to on the island."
"Of course, Doctor Crane," she rises, briefcase at her side, and reaches to shake his hand, "a pleasure doing business with you. I hope we'll be able to work together again."
He smiles slightly, his left hand covering hers as they shake. "I don't think I will be requiring your services anytime soon."
She affects a well practiced pout. "That's too bad…I rather enjoyed the challenge you set forth."
"I rather enjoyed the results," he replies easily.
With this, they part, Sheila Robertson returning to her beach chair and Crane striding away from her. He gets thirty feet from her position when he hears the cold, metallic sound of the briefcase locks being clicked open. It is odd and alien against the sound of waves and gulls, but not half so odd as the sound of pressurized air escaping the briefcase.
Crane cannot help but turn to look over his shoulder and admire his handiwork as a spiral of toxic green gas swirls in the wind.
Sheila Robertson, in her aqua and green print bikini, collapses in the sand, screaming. It's a satisfying sort of sound, made all the sweeter by the fact that a faceful of fear toxin is nothing less than what the woman deserved.
Satisfied that Sheila Robertson's reward was just, Crane starts across the dunes again, slipping his hands in his pockets and whistling.