AN: So, this is the last chapter of this story, but there will be a sequel up, within the week. Probably in the next few days, at the speed I'm going, but as I'm moving back into my dorm on Sunday I can't make any guarantees.
Thank you all so much for the reviews you've given me! It makes me feel happy beyond reason to click on my inbox and see that someone liked what I've written enough to review. You guys are the best ever, and I definitely could not have finished it without your input!
After a bone breaks, there is a period of numbness.
There's the initial pain first, which serves as a warning to the body that something's wrong and attention is needed. It's also a reminder that the area is injured and needs to be treated delicately. After that, the pain goes away for a little while. That's a defense mechanism; the idea is that if people are injured, they are more than likely in a dangerous situation, and the numbness allows them time to get out of the situation, without the pain slowing them down. After a reasonable period of time, however, the pain resumes.
It was resuming on Jonathan's collar bone now. His hands and his ribs were still blessedly painless, and the ache in his head and insides, as they weren't caused by fractures, had never left. There was still blood coming up in his mouth, frothy and coppery. He took it as a sign that one of his ribs had punctured a lung, and he was slowly drowning in his own blood.
The perfect ending to a perfect day.
He was glad of the pain, though, excruciating as it was. It made it harder to fall asleep, and he'd never felt so tired in his life. Even the week of sleepless nights from the time Arkham had drugged him catatonic hadn't been this exhausting. He recognized his fatigue as a sign of a concussion, much like his confusion from before, and his inability to remember the blow to the head that had caused it, and he knew sleeping with a concussion could very well kill him, if the rest of his injuries didn't do the job first.
He wasn't sure why he was struggling to stay awake, really. What have I got left to live for? I betrayed my friend and almost killed her lover in front of her, provoked a madman into beating me within an inch of my life, and found out that the man I thought loved me has been playing me to get a new weapon this entire time. And I went fucking insane. Yeah, there's some incentive to live. Still, as he felt his eyes start to close, he forced them back open, biting his lip hard enough to draw blood. The spark of pain brought him back for a moment, but then he was fighting off fatigue again.
He was a narcissist, that was the reason. Deep down he didn't want to die this way, no matter how tempting the desire to just give up was. Letting this kill him would be letting the Joker win, and he couldn't do that. So he fought with all he had, though all he had wasn't much and was diminishing by the second. At least the pain was returning, that was something. Hopefully once he regained the full agony from all the injuries, thoughts of sleep would go out of his head.
He heard the Batman's words in his mind: He used you. The tears started back up again, and he wished he could move enough to wipe them away. Even when he was alone it disgusted him that he gave into such a weakness. He never cried, at least, not since he was a child. And here he was, sobbing, not even from pain or some similar, acceptable excuse. No, he was crying over a relationship, of all things. Because his feeling had gotten hurt. It was pathetic. He was pathetic, and he was starting to wish, ego aside, that the blood in his lungs would just kill him already. He had no idea how he was going to live with himself after this, and he wasn't in that big of a hurry to find out.
He gave me a rose, some small, petulant part of his mind lamented, a part that wanted to deny the truth. He gave me a rose and he told Harley that he loved me. How could he hurt me like this?
Because he was a manipulator. Because that's all he did, take the unsuspecting and toy with them, until he'd gotten what he wanted and then they would be thrown aside, like a childhood toy abandoned with age. And that's what he'd been, a toy. A whore, a weapons supplier, a conversation partner, but just a glorified toy. Never a friend, and certainly never a lover.
But he'd let himself believe that he was, and that was even more painful than realizing the truth had been. I was supposed to be special. I was supposed to be better than that. Some genius he was. He'd let himself be pulled into the exact same trap as Harley, after watching her be seduced, for the love of God, and through the whole process turned a blind eye to the glaringly obvious truth. He could have killed himself, if he was able to move, he was so disgusted.
Scarecrow hadn't returned yet, and he found that almost as upsetting as the whole betrayal and near death experience thing. His other half always seemed to know the right thing to say, even if it hurt to hear. He may be crass and insulting, but he managed to be uplifting, or at least consoling, though he didn't phrase things eloquently. Then he realized he was essentially wishing for an imaginary friend to comfort him, and felt a new wave of disgust.
That's it, I give up on life. If the only thing he had to keep him going was talking to himself under a different name, there was no point. He knew why Scarecrow wasn't answering anyway: he was every bit as disgusted at Jonathan as Jonathan was with himself. And he had every right to be. Jonathan had ignored his warnings, after all, and walked right into a soon-to-be deadly beating.
He sighed, accidentally inhaling some of the blood in his mouth, which led to a long and horrendously painful coughing fit. Once that was through, and he was hurting worse than ever, he left his eyes close, no longer trying to fight how sleepy he felt. So he was going to die lying beaten and humiliated in the parking lot of the building where he'd been imprisoned. So what? He was too injured, emotionally drained, and tired to care, at this point. All he wanted was sleep, even if it killed him.
The voice jolted him awake, eyes opened and blinking rapidly as he tried to ignore the agony the movement had put him in. Kneeling before him, because his luck was just that bad, was the Batman.
"Are you all right?"
He wished he could shout. Did he look all right? Honestly, people were such idiots. You'd think anyone who ran around in a costume like that each night yet was somehow smart enough not to get caught would be intelligent enough to tell when someone was injured. He supposed the question could be a test of his alertness, but he wasn't in the mood to be generous. The Batman was an idiot, and that's all there was to it.
"Are you all right?"
He glared at him, wishing he could summon the energy necessary to tell him to fuck off. Batman seemed to be satisfied with the fact that Crane could focus his eyes on him and reached out, pressing his knuckles against Crane's sternum and pushing. Definitely a test of his level of consciousness, then. The questions had been there to see if he was alert and could speak. This, he realized, wincing at the sensation, was a test of his response to pain.
It was also being touched again. He felt the few tears he couldn't hold in sliding down his face, on one side dripping into his ear and mixing with the blood pooled there.
"You can't move, can you?"
Well, no shit, detective. Get your hands off me. He figured he wouldn't get far glaring and let his desperation show through, a flood of tears coming to his eyes now that he'd stopped holding back. He noticed the Batman had gauze taped over the spot where Crane had bit him, gauze already soaked with blood.
Oh, hell. He'd almost forgotten about their little fight. Traumatic head injuries will do that for you. Fantastic. So that's why the Batman had arrived: revenge. It wasn't enough to be beaten to near death by his lover, apparently, now his nemesis had to come along and finished the job. He stiffened, painfully, waiting for the blows to come. Another to his chest would likely drive the rib in his lung all the way into his heart.
At least then it wouldn't hurt anymore.
Batman stood and Crane closed his eyes, shaking.
The blow didn't come.
He opened his eyes, confused.
The Batman was gone.
Ah. Of course. His stupid little rule. Batman wouldn't kill him, obviously, at least not directly. Instead, he'd just leave him to bleed out. Never mind that abandoning him when he'd die without help was exactly the same. Oh well. It would just take longer this way, and hurt more. No big deal, he could handle it.
He let his eyes close again, ready to let sleep and death take him.
There was a noise of approaching footsteps. He opened his eyes.
There were paramedics standing over him, kneeling down, hands on him that made bile rise in his throat but that he didn't have the strength to shove away. Stupid fucking Batman. This was even worse than letting him have a drawn out death. He didn't want to be helped, damn it, he didn't want to keep on living. How was he supposed to go on, after something like this? And now, he realized, as he was lifted onto a stretcher, body screaming in protest, he had no choice. Stupid God damn sadistic Bat.
They couldn't even give him anything for the pain, when they put him in the ambulance. That would run the risk of knocking him out, and they couldn't do that with a concussion patient, not until they'd relieved the pressure on his brain. Jesus Christ. He was strapped down, as if there was any way he could escape him his current condition, and then they were gone, doubtless to look for survivors in the asylum. He found himself wishing he'd choke on blood before they came back, out of spite.
And suddenly the Batman was back, standing over him.
For the love of God. Weren't there crimes or something that he could be stopped? Citizens in need of protection? Of course, he supposed there was no fun in that, not when there were injured villains to torment. Oh, how he wished he could curse.
"No one's going to touch you, once you get out of the hospital and come back here." His tone of voice implied that he knew Crane had invented his fear of the guards' retaliation, so he had no idea why the Bat was saying this. His idea of a joke, probably. "I'll make sure."
Go to hell, he thought, as the vigilante disappeared again.
The paramedics returned shortly afterwards, and began a long, slow ride to the hospital, during which he was sure the driver purposefully hit every pothole on the road. He spent the time alternating between wishing for his own death, wishing for the Joker's death, and most of all, wishing he had the Batman in chains, with an unending supply of fear toxin and all the time in the world.
AN: As I said, keep an eye out for the sequel, and thanks for reading!