Author's Note: Okay so part two :) I just wanted to say that if enough people like this, or if Sara likes it enough I'll write an epilogue. I ended this story where I thought it felt right but I did leave out a little something she would have liked to see I think :( Which would be in the epilogue... heh, yeah.
So feedback is appreciated! Writing a crossover is nerve wracking, people!
And rest in peace to the great Heath Ledger. He was an amazing actor and created my favorite villain of all time :)
Some months later...
"Naminé… I think that A– …patient eight and I are making good progress. I'm really beginning to understand him now." Roxas said quickly as he tried to keep up with the scurrying blonde.
"Really?" she asked a little breathlessly and indifferently as she moved from file cabinet to file cabinet with speed Roxas didn't expect out of such a small person. "I find it odd that… you are still so interested in working with him… most… would rather not." Taking out a big stack of folders for a patient that was being transferred, she paused to catch her breath; then set him with firm look. "Especially since you are the only one here that he's acted violently against."
Frowning at the fact that this girl continued to act so unconvinced of his abilities, Roxas said, "Well, I'm not going to run away just because of one occurrence. And besides, that happened when we first met. I've been working with him for months now."
Naminé sighed and set down the files on her desk with a loud 'plop!' that made Roxas jump. "I just don't see the point anymore," she said, sounding somewhat defeated. "He's… messed up, beyond help. He'll always be the way he is, like so many people here." She blew out another breath and repeated, "I just don't see the point anymore."
She was obviously stressed and Roxas wondered if she needed a counseling session herself. "My purpose here isn't to magically turn these people back to 'normal', Naminé," he explained sincerely. "Even if I could with most of them, because of their crimes they'd… never be freed." He scowled down at his feet, realizing this about Axel, though not for the first time. "It's more along the lines of analyzing them, figuring them out. It's like doing research, so perhaps we can catch traits and prevent people from becoming like them early on." Roxas honestly knew that was the main point of his job, but secretly, he did not want to stop people from allowing their personalities to morph into what some referred to as 'insanity'. They were the only aspect in life that Roxas felt a pull towards, only thing he was interested in. But he most certainly couldn't admit that aloud or he may not be welcome here, and he wanted to comfort her anyhow.
"I… I know that." Naminé stated unconvincingly as she sat down at her desk, shoulders stiff. "I just… Why did you become a psychiatrist, Roxas?"
"To work with people that you don't meet in every day life," was his simple response. Naminé still looked at him like she was expecting more, so he rested his hands on her desk, leaning forward. "People are all the same to me, Naminé. We all have the same thoughts and emotions, some more than others in each person. It's just - different levels. I wanted to meet the extremes. I wanted to… learn about them…" He trailed off when he realized that Naminé looked up at him, seeming somewhat appalled.
"We're not all the same, Roxas, how could you say that?" she asked as she sat down in her chair, giving off the impression of exhaustion. "You should know that from doing your studies. We've all had different experiences in life, bad and good; we've all grown up different. That's what fascinates me. I wanted to eventually work with the patients, such as you do. The memory's effect on their decisions and personalities is what interests me most… But I've been stuck doing – filing until I finish schooling, and, and... And now, I'm not sure if I can even stay here any longer."
Roxas blinked at her, wondering what brought on such a confession. "Why's that?"
Uncharacteristically, she scoffed and gestured at her surroundings. "Look at this place. It's falling apart. The faucets are rusty, everything here is – black and gray, monotone. It's creepy, it's disgusting, it's not a fit work place."
Roxas made a face and pushed himself off of her desk, resolving to sit down in a chair instead. This conversation probably wasn't going to end soon. "Well, not one patient has escaped yet," he pointed out in reference to the building. "And… I have yet to hear anyone complain…" he couldn't help but add, biting down a smile.
He immediately regretted his pathetic attempt at humor when she glared at him. Though, "…Except for patient eleven…" she said quietly, expression then looking a little brighter.
"Ha, yes, patient eleven…" Roxas agreed happily at the joke, nodding. The man in cell eleven had pink hair that never went without primping and a strange obsession with flowers. And scythes.
There was an awkward silence; neither really knowing what to say to the other next but Naminé broke the stillness by saying next, "I'm sorry, here I am rambling about my worries while we both should be working. You needed something?"
"Ah, oh yes," the blond doctor confirmed with a quick bob of his head. "I was actually wondering if I could work with patient eight, uh… in his room?" He winced at the skepticism that pulled on her features and added quickly, "I – I think it will help me get to know him even better since he's likely to be more comfortable in… there."
"I thought – you said you were making good progress?" she asked, confused.
"I am! But, I mean, I don't understand why we use a separate room for the sessions," he defended. "I think we can get to know them better in their cells. It's not like they're allowed to have much in there with them anyways."
Naminé was silent, looking at him like he was insane which was ironic compared to what she was just saying. "He lied to you, you know," she stated out of the blue, ignoring his words completely.
Roxas' face dropped, mouth slowly closing, swallowing down his next ready argument. "…What?"
"You wrote down how he said his dad was a drinker towards the beginning of your sessions with him. He told the doctor before you that he was a womanizer – "
"Maybe he was both," Roxas shot back. He knew Axel wouldn't lie to him.
"That's not just the only thing either!" she insisted before he could protest again. "He makes up stories, Roxas. I can't even count how many we've heard, about his scars, his childhood, his crimes…"
Roxas' mouth was thin, scowling. "Maybe he's told everyone lies and with me he's finally telling the truth."
Skepticism. Goddamn skepticism. "Now why would you believe that Roxas? He's a liar – don't trust him. Not to mention he's a serial killer."
Frantically, Roxas strode over to the cabinets, flinching at her last words, and pulled out the Joker's file. He flipped through previous reports, though the man hadn't been there too long before he started working with him. He saw the history that Axel had told him. The fictional history. Why hadn't he remembered, he'd read all this before? Everything was different from what he had been told.
"Don't tell me that you didn't notice..." Naminé eyed him warily. "You should have been aware – "
"I can dig deeper! I'll make him tell the truth!" Roxas pleaded, all but falling to the floor to beg on his knees. "All the more reason to visit him in his room, right? We need to find out his history, I'll get it out of him."
"It can be – just a one time thing. Please?"
She combed a hand through her hair and sighed. "Alright," she nodded after a moment's hesitation. "You know, they need to raise your pay," she joked a little breathlessly, unable to hide her stress. "No one else here is as committed to their patients as you are."
Roxas grinned at the truth of it, though he was only genuine for one.
"This must be the best day of your life, Roxie. Your dreams are coming true; welcome to my humble abode."
Roxas' lips twitched upwards, as if to smile but he held it down as he glanced around, shutting the door behind him. He heard the soft click of it closing, then a loud one. They were locked in.
"So what brought this on?" Axel asked curiously. He was seated on his bed, looking content but his shoulders were tensed and Roxas couldn't help but imagine that these walls pressing in and trapping him were the reason.
"Brought what on?" he asked back, feigning innocence.
Axel laughed genuinely, gesturing around himself. "And here I thought that I thought that I would have to invite you in, myself. There was no need to be shy."
Roxas sat down on the lonely metal chair in the corner, feeling heat rising to his cheeks already knowing the man was making another crack at how the young doctor would stop by his cell so often. The knowledge of this made him even more embarrassed, not helping his complexion clear in the least.
"I'm not doing it for me, I'm doing it for you," he muttered.
Axel was surprisingly silent for a moment before flashing his perfect white teeth. "Oh, how sweet of you, Roxie, but – you shouldn't have!"
The room was dull with only the single chair and bed in it, but Roxas couldn't help but figure Axel had found some way to hide belongings of his. Like – where had he gotten that card Roxas first saw him with?
The small wall of glass meant to aid keeping the patients under surveillance was already making Roxas feel the loss of privacy. He wondered if it drove people even more insane than they already supposedly were. Smoothing out the wrinkle of his pants on his thighs, he elaborated, "I thought that I could get to know you even better in here…"
"I thought you said that this wasn't for you…?" Axel raised a thin eyebrow.
"Getting to know you leads to being better for you – " Roxas was cut off by Axel's laughter and snapped his mouth shut, scowling. Once the redhead composed himself, he folded his hands into his lap as if he was some kind of gentleman.
"We both know that's a lie, Roxas. You told me that you didn't want to change me." He frowned and looked to the side. "And I won't, even if you tried." His eyes flashed back now, green irises seeming to glow. "We both know why you're really here…"
He didn't have to say anymore, Roxas knew what he was getting at and knew that he was right. The past few months he'd been far from a 'doctor' to the man. He would take notes on him, write hypotheses of how he became the way he was and how he worked. After all, that was how he was supposed to go about his job. But he mainly used the time to enjoy the man's company, study him more for his own benefit than anyone else's. One could say that they had become friends; though their relationship was a bit too… unique to just call it that.
"You should cut the act, Roxie," he drawled on, sounding less serious. "I know that you would like to be behind this glass more than looking through it, more than anything else." Roxas raised his head from his lap, his mouth gaping at the jeering one in front of him.
"What are you suggesting?" he asked, tone bitter, eyebrows drawing down. "Are – are you saying that I want to be diagnosed as insane?"
The smirk became lopsided but Axel didn't back down his gaze. "Oh, see, there you go. There's no need to 'get to know' me better. You know me quite well…"
Not knowing what to think or say, Roxas merely stared, unconsciously balling his papers up into his fists. How could Axel say that after all these months? Didn't he realize that Roxas wanted more than anything to see these people in a natural environment? He would understand them so much better. And he wanted more than anything… to see Axel free.
Surprised with the lack of response, the redhead spluttered, "Well, jee-heeeze, Roxas. Can't you take a joke?"
Roxas blinked, took a moment and relaxed his shoulders. Oh, of course. Why hadn't he realized that? Was it – what Naminé had said?
Then suddenly Axel was standing, walking towards him, kneeling in front of him before Roxas could even catch his breath.
"Where's that smile today…" he stated more than questioned in a low whisper. The man brought a thumb up to Roxas' cheek, making the blond flinch slightly. He ran it over the soft skin, where a smile would be, almost as if tracing a place for scars similar to his own. "You're never this serious anymore… Tell me, is it the cell? There's only so much I can do to spruce it up, you know. Trust me, if allowed, I can be a far better decorator than this."
Roxas laughed softly, nervously, tension just slightly apparent in its escape. He kept his gaze downwards, trying desperately hard to ignore the finger stroking his cheek.
"There we go," the redhead beamed, leaning forward, too close. If someone walked by right now and looked in – what would they think?
"Really now, what's eatin' at you, hm?" Axel questioned when Roxas wouldn't say anything. "Offended at me calling you insane? Well then, my whole time here has been quite the insult, wouldn't you agree? No, no, no, it's not me – not us, who're the crazy ones."
Telling himself that he was doing it more than just because he couldn't think straight, Roxas pushed Axel's hand away with the back of his own. "Us?"
"Is it really that bad to be thought of that way?" Axel pouted. "And here I thought you admired those under such diagnosis…"
"I – I don't admire," Roxas spluttered. "I'm interested, I –"
"You're more than interested, Roxas," the redhead disagreed with a short shake of his head. "You get sick enjoyment from getting paid to work here, don't you? I'm your favorite little research project, aren't I?"
Roxas bit his lip, trying to hold back his anger. Now Axel was just messing with him. "That's not it –"
After a startling burst of laughter, Axel pressed a finger to the younger man's lips. "I know, I know. There's more to it than that. I just love seeing you flustered!" He faked a delighted shiver. "No, you're different, Roxas. And I've always liked it – liked you."
Once again Roxas felt his cheeks flush pink, his palms beginning to sweat. "I'm not sure if I should believe you," he found himself mumbling.
He raised his gaze to see wide green eyes staring right back. "Hmm? What do you mean by that?"
"You've lied to me," he explained flatly.
To his surprise, Axel grinned. "Oh you're just accusing me of that now?"
That wasn't the response he'd been expecting. He expected more for the redhead to defend himself, or make some sort of joke out of it. Not wonder why he hadn't figured it out sooner. But it wasn't really that big of a deal, was it? He'd gathered more information on the man's crimes and personality traits than anything else. The way Axel told him stories about his life in such a way that, no matter how cruel or tragic they were, he always twisted them to make Roxas laugh. He told himself that it didn't matter if they were all lies and made up.
"Y'know, I thought you would," Axel went on, sitting back on his heels. "But why would I lie to you? You just suspect me because of what I told a few others?" He seemed overly amused with himself. "Making up various stories for them was fun, I must admit. But not you, Roxie. I told you that you're different. I could tell from the start, remember?"
The blond kept a practiced scowl on his face. "Why am I so different?"
"You weren't just sitting there all prim and proper with a crisp white coat, keeping me under a judgmental and distrustful eye. Let me tell you, my past doctors were just plain meanies," he explained in a light, fun tone, suspicious glint in his eyes. "No, you were actually interested in me. Your mixture of passion and fear of me was just – mm, delightful."
"…So?" Roxas asked, swallowing thickly, wondering what the man's point was.
"Sooo, you also said you didn't want to change me. There was no Mr. Condescending-Doctor-Man in you. I deemed you worthy of the truth." He scoffed and his eyes traveled the spaces of his small confinement. "Doesn't look like I'm getting out of here anytime soon anyway, huh."
Roxas didn't really know what to think of that. He felt – flattered but still wasn't quite sure if he could trust Axel. Why had he before? That was foolish. He'd believed every word the man had said; blinded by his infatuation with him.
"Tell me, Roxas," he went on, not waiting for a response. "Do you really think the world can be fixed?"
Was that supposed to be an attempt at avoiding the subject? Roxas decided to humor him. But, he surprisingly had trouble thinking of a reply. Did he really think so? After seeing the tormented souls that were here, reading the paper and watching the news everyday. There was always something 'going wrong'. Human error, human sin. It was a silly question and he wondered what Axel meant by it.
As if sensing the young doctor's confusion, Axel corrected himself. "Or, rather – would you like to see the world fixed?"
It only required a moment's thought, actually. The thought of a perfect world. Everyone happy, everyone behaved, every personality with just slight differences.
"How… boring," he finished his thought aloud.
Axel's smile was stretched so wide it was a surprise that his scars didn't rip at their seams. "And there you have it, Roxas. You've figured me out, figured it all out. The world, you'll come to see, is so much more attractive in chaos."
Roxas' breath hitched in his throat. That's what he wanted. That's what he wanted to see. And that had been the meaning behind the Joker all along: there was no meaning; just to see the world in madness, turning their own diagnosis of him right around on them. To laugh in the world's face, see how far it could go before breaking, giving in as the flames burnt it to rubble.
"I must really be crazy," he breathed, eyes wide as saucers. Axel looked about to disagree but before he could say anymore, Roxas grabbed hold of his shirt and pulled him into a kiss. The man chuckled into his mouth and sent all of his senses on fire before responding back fiercely, pushing thoughts of the world to the back of their minds; for the time being.
There was a soft, barely audible knock on his office door. Roxas' eyebrows twitched down in annoyance before he answered in monotonous tone, "Come in."
Naminé stepped in cautiously, heels clicking on the chipped tiles. Roxas scowled. He should have known it was her.
"You're here late," she observed dryly.
"Yeah, I can't get any of my work done at home lately," he explained while looking back down at the report he was reading. "Uh, did you need something?"
He noticed her hair was a little disheveled as she shook her head. "No, I was just concerned about you, actually."
Roxas stiffened. "Oh?"
"You've been spending a lot of time here – overtime. It can't be healthy."
A pregnant pause; Roxas pursed his lips. "I'm doing it of my own freewill, Naminé. Look, you may not like it here but I do –"
"No, it's not that!" she interrupted hastily, taking another step forward. "I'm just afraid that if you spend all this time around – around these people, you'll go crazy yourself!"
The blond was silent, having to hold his breath for a few seconds to keep from laughing. "Please, stop worrying about me already. I've got everything figured out – under control."
She crossed her arms. "No one realizes that they're mentally unhealthy, Roxas."
The statement reminded himself of Axel and even himself, but he shook it off. Instead, he turned his mouth down in a frown, standing and striding towards her. "I'm fine, believe me," he sighed as he gently took her shoulder, turning her towards the door.
"But – you just seem so… obsessed with patient eight," she blurted out quickly as he started leading her towards the exit. "You seem so eager to work in his room, I –"
"Is it a crime to enjoy your job?" Roxas asked, tone firm and closed off. They'd reached the frame of the door and he stepped back, indicating to shut her out. Naminé seemed to get the hint.
"Okay, Roxas," she said as she turned slowly and looked at him with distressed and almost pained eyes. "Well, I really hope that's only the case. Just so you know, this is my last week here, I've quit. I – I can't handle it anymore."
Roxas' hard and annoyed expression softened slightly. He opened his mouth to say something but a patient in the cell blocks beat him to it, shrieking some form of poetic gibberish for all to hear. The girl jumped and seemed to withdraw into herself. He felt almost sorry for her.
"Good for you Naminé," he told her gently as he heard the patient being interrupted and most likely stabbed with needle to put him out. "I hope you find a place for you out there where you're meant to be."
Tears threatened to spill from her eyes and Roxas was considerably startled when she pulled him into a swift hug, squeezing tightly. He didn't really know what to do except pat her shoulders and he didn't get the chance to say anything more; she let go and scurried away.
Somewhat stunned, Roxas returned back to his desk. It took him a little while to get back into the groove of his work, and he yawned, looking at the clock. Only a few more hours until everyone except the security would return home. Only a few more hours, he reassured himself, his heart beginning to pound and wake him up.
What he couldn't tell Naminé was – that this was his last week here as well.
After what seemed like forever and a few cups of coffee, the halls became almost eerily silent, a luxury that wasn't often bestowed upon the asylum. Even maniacs had to sleep or be forced to, he supposed.
Gathering his papers and leaving those behind he didn't want, Roxas stepped out of his office and glanced around cautiously. Security was most likely at their posts or in the break room getting food. Though of course, there were ones watching the cameras as well. He would have to hurry. He walked down the back hallway in a fast pace, though controlled enough not to be suspicious, only stopping at the heavy metal door with '8' etched into it.
The establishment foolishly used combination locks to prevent problems with keys, which were also kept in the back of the building just in case the combinations were faulty. Roxas had watched the nurses who had let him into the room enough to memorize the order of numbers used and set his bag down, quickly spinning out the pattern with slightly sweaty fingers. The click that followed was more satisfying than ever and he pushed the door open, grinning at the man inside who met him with the same expression.
"Hello there, beautiful," Axel purred as he approached the young man and pressed him against the cement frame. "I've been waiting oh so patiently for you…"
The kiss that followed was short, Roxas shoving him back and hissing, "Not now, they're watching."
"Silly me for having forgotten that you're so shy," Axel muttered, smiling as he watched Roxas kneel down to his bag and pull out a pair of handguns and a flamethrower.
"Try to save the bullets," Roxas breathed shakily, handing one of the guns over along with the torch, pressing the latter against the man's chest and closing the distance between them once more. "But burn what you like."
They both laughed and Axel kissed him again before pulling them out of the room just as the alarms sounded, shrill and echoing through every crack in the building.
"Will do," he announced over the noise, the green in his eyes lighting up as he ignited the flame and sent it billowing into his past confinement.