"Thank God I'm pretty.
Every skill I ever have will be in question,
Every ill that I must suffer: merely brought on by myself,
Though the cops would come for someone else,
I'm truly privelidged to look this good without clothes on,
Which only means that when I sing, you're jerking off
And when I'm gone, you won't remember.
Thank God I'm pretty."
– Emilie Autumn, "Thank God I'm Pretty"
Note: Originally, I had wanted to title this Fear and Loathing because I wanted to use the word fear in the title and because I wanted said title to be something simple that summed up what the story was about. However, I was worried that I might disappoint anyone who went to read the story, thinking that they were going to get a warped parody of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Jonathan Crane as Hunter S. Thompson. Although, I do have this bizarre image of Jonathan and the Joker in a high speed chase (with Mr. J driving), trying to escape the Batman, when, for seemingly no reason, the Joker slams on the brakes, which causes Jonathan (who is already tripping heavily as a weird after-effect of being sprayed with his own fear toxin) to panic and yell "Wait! We can't stop here! This is Bat Country!" Highly amusing—to me, anyway. But I digress.
What I really set out to do was write a story that takes place over the course of three years, leading up to the events in Batman Begins and focuses on Jonathan's time as a doctor at Arkham Asylum, as well as the strange friendship he somehow managed to form with one Dr. Harleen Quinzel. I blame the episode of Batman: The Animated Series entitled "Harley's Holiday;" anyone who has seen it knows what I'm talking about, and anyone who hasn't…look it up on YouTube. Their interaction is brief, but it's very cute. That said, I also feel that, in time, Nolan-verse Jonathan could grow to like Harley, almost to the point where he could actually admit that he enjoyed her company, even though he wouldn't.
The thing about Harley, or rather my interpretation of her, is mainly that this is Nolan-verse, which is obviously a realistic take on the original comics and cartoons. So, because of that, I wanted to write a realistic Harley, basing her on the original comic book character but toning her down and making her much darker. I've read several stories where it's basically cartoon-Harley meets Heath Ledger's Joker, and while they were well written, every now and then a small part of me would get hung up on the fact that I just can't see that version of the Joker getting along with sweet, gullible, clumsy, ditzy Harley Quinn. Honestly, I think that he would kill her shortly after she helped him escape. I adore the original Harley, don't get me wrong; otherwise, I wouldn't want to write a story about her. What I'm saying is, I want to create a character that would make Nolan-verse Joker would think twice before killing, someone who would intrigue him even if he didn't end up falling in love with them (I can see the possible romance between Mr. J and Harley in the cartoons, but in Nolan-verse, Batman is his one true love and there's nothing that will make me think otherwise, sorry). So, basically, this story sets everything up and let's us see who Harley was before she met Mr. J and, hopefully if it's well received, I'll write the second part which focuses on the events that take place after The Dark Knight.
She waited for the slender figure to turn around and face her.
It didn't, instead continuing down the dim and barren hallway, rapidly jotting down notes on a yellow legal pad.
She blinked. O-kay… Louder, this time.
Finally, results. She knew that he had heard her—he looked up from his notes, tilting his head slightly in confusion, as if unsure of the source of the interruption, or if it had even occurred at all. Well, at least that was proof that he had simply been absorbed in his work and not deliberately ignoring her. Hopefully, anyway.
She cleared her throat a little, and at last he turned around.
The man that now faced her did not live up to her expectations—and, quite frankly, she was pleased by that. Granted, until now she had only seen him from the back, given the tailored charcoal suit, black dress shoes, dark hair, the jutting rectangular frame of his glasses, and overall rail-thin form…she had thought that he would be much…geekier. Maybe with terribly overgrown eyebrows, or an oily complexion, a big nose, something like that. Not this: A man with full lips; clear, fair skin; and a tiny nose—delicate features that made him too pretty to be handsome, yet too angular to be beautiful. And she certainly hadn't expected his eyes to be blue. Brown maybe, or even gray, but not blue. And definitely not such a vivid, striking shade of blue, either.
And he was young. Very young. An intern, maybe? Well, if he was an intern, she doubted that he would be one for much longer. As those bright blue eyes did a quick sweep of her tiny frame, she could tell that in that short time he had already made a number of assessments about her character. The makings of a well-practiced shrink. Or a shrink-to-be. She couldn't be sure, but it was nice to think that she might not be the youngest doctor there—the image of a nuthouse being run by two pretty twenty-somethings popped into her head and made her bite the corner of her lip to suppress a smirk.
He arched an eyebrow at her, clearly impatient.
Tight-ass, she thought, although he could have just been having a bad day. She had the sense to grin a little sheepishly.
"Oh, ahm…hi. I, uh, I was wondering if you knew where I could find Dr. Gooding? The receptionist said that he'd be in his office," she quickly explained, "but I went there and no luck. I'm new here—well, obviously—and I don't want to get off to a bad start and have him think that I'm late or anything, in case he's waiting around for me."
It was kind of funny, watching him scrutinize her during her flustered little discourse. Years of studying the human mind coupled with natural intuition made her quite certain that she knew exactly what he was thinking. Then again, maybe it was simply his faint look of annoyance that did it.
Knows he's smarter than me, is basing most of his analysis on the way I look, thinks I'm an idiot. An idiot who must have slept her way through college because there's no way that ditzy little blonde could ever earn a doctorate on her own. She smiled wanly to herself, by now far too accustomed to this to feel anything but mirth. He probably doesn't even think I'm a doctor.
"I doubt you have to worry about that," the man finally said.
She tipped her head to the side, and he gave her a cold smirk that told her that he was going to crush her relief in a mere two seconds.
"Dr. Gooding isn't one to wait," he informed her sharply, sounding much like a schoolteacher reminding a naughty student of the rules. "Therefore, if you've failed to meet him at the appointed time, I would imagine that you're already off to a bad start."
"Oh, no, I'm not late," she corrected. "I said that I was going to be late—especially if I stood around being teased by Arkham's staff instead of finding out where Dr. Gooding is." She smiled a little. "You were teasing me, weren't you?"
He pursed his lips in a way that said that teasing of any sort was something that he rarely (if ever) did. A shame, really. He was kind of cute.
"In a sense," he responded curtly, "Miss..?"
"Uh, Quinzel," she replied, not bothering to hide the wide grin that had spread across her face, which rather confused the young man in front of her.
"Miss Quinzel…" he repeated slowly, "you are aware that the new interns do not start until next Monday, aren't you?" The patronizing assumption made her almost giddy with animus, and she didn't bother correcting him. Not yet. She would wait and then shove it in his face just like she had all the others.
"Really?" she replied mildly. "That's…interesting." A beat. "Um…I still need to speak with Dr. Gooding, you know."
Now both of his eyebrows rose, and though he hid it well, she could see that he was perplexed and not enjoying it one bit.
"The last I saw him, he was in the lounge, granted, that was nearly fifteen minutes ago…still, you might find him there. Straight down this next hall, take a right, third room on the left."
"Thanks," she said with a small nod before taking off in the direction that he had indicated.
As she walked away, she spared him a glance, looking over her shoulder at him, the corner of her mouth curling upward at the confusion that was bright in his eyes and how quick he was to conceal it.
Casually tossing her head, she continued on her way.
An hour later, and he had all but pushed that squeaky little intern from his mind, too deeply engrossed in reading the files of what he was certain would soon be his newest patient: a highly deranged man by the name of Allan Breedlove, aka 'the Worm,' named so for his apparent ability to worm his way into a person's head and use his newly gleaned information to turn the person's thoughts against them. After committing a hideously violent slew of killings, Breedlove had finally been captured and charged with sexual assault, battery, and murder, but had avoided imprisonment using the insanity plea.
Don't they all? he thought dryly. As of late, he had begun using the phrase 'questionable insanity' since the asylum director, Dr. James Gooding, appeared to have a proclivity for accepting patients with dubious mental instability, namely those who worked for Carmine Falcone. It wasn't difficult to figure out what was motivating Gooding, even though it was not as if the director was wanting financially.
Of course, he mused bitterly. It isn't as if he's verging on a medical breakthrough and the only thing standing between him and success are fiscal matters… Well, perhaps 'verging' was not the most accurate term. He had been experimenting with fear-inducing narcotics since high school, and the drugs still failed to produce the results that he yearned for. True, while they had succeeded in creating all of the symptoms of fear—wide eyes, shaking, perspiration, screaming—in his test subjects, it was never lasting, the effects always wearing off in a matter of minutes. That wasn't enough. His subjects were frightened, but he wanted to know what had done it, what had caused them to go rigid with panic, why their mouths were stretched wide with terror, their eyes ready to pop out of their skulls… They merely felt afraid, but nothing had actually frightened them. What he wanted was to conjure up their greatest fears and watch as they cowered in abject horror.
And there was a way of achieving such results, of that he was certain. What it boiled down to was finding, purchasing, and combining the right ingredients, and while his salary was hardly meager, it was slowly becoming difficult to fund his experiments and maintain the upscale lifestyle that he so enjoyed.
He sighed, shaking himself out of his thoughts and turning his attention back to Breedlove's file, narrowing his eyes slightly.
It had always been rather irritating to think that people who had committed such heinous crimes, all the while fully aware of what they were doing, would be sent to Arkham as opposed to receiving the punishment they undoubtedly deserved in a penitentiary.
Then again, he had often thought that those so-called 'correctional facilities' were far too lenient with their prisoners. And his tax dollars went toward keeping those revolting, worthless individuals alive and healthy.
Of course, that was why he was only mildly annoyed with the insanity plea. If such criminals were sent to Arkham…he would do his best to ensure that they received proper treatment.
Albeit, this was not the case with Mr. Breedlove. By judging him on his file alone, one could easily deduce that the man was quite obviously lacking in sanity, though he still intended on seeing for himself if and when he was assigned to Mr. Breedlove. Really, why they couldn't have done that in the beginning… but no. Instead Breedlove had gone through three different psychiatrists before Gooding had realized what a grievous error he had made. Which was, no doubt, why he had been summoned to Gooding's office today. It was just the other day that Breedlove had had Dr. Burns close to ripping his hair out, his frightening ramblings and eerie taunts forcing the doctor to take a brief leave of absence.
Yes, that must have been why Gooding wanted to see him. That egotistical joke of a psychiatrist had finally come to his senses…
As he briskly strode down the hallway, deeply immersed in his notes, he overheard two of the guards talking.
"Have y'seen 'er yet?" It was Mark Tess—young, eager, easily manipulated, and a womanizer with light brown hair and muted green eyes.
"Who?" Lyle Bolton—older, more serious, more brutal, lived for his job, but was also relatively compliant if one simply used the right words—the staff at Arkham could get away with murder (literally) with Bolton because the guard thought that the inmates should receive exactly what they deserved. While the short-but-stocky Tess could hardly be called a weakling, Bolton was over six feet of pure muscle (aided, no doubt, by steroids) with a dark buzz cut; a firm, square jaw; and black, beady eyes. Whenever a patient grew too violent, Bolton was the one who was always called in before the situation got out of hand.
"The new doc," Tess now elaborated.
"No. Why? She hot?" He could hear the sneer of disdain in Bolton's growl of a voice without even looking up from his notes. Tess, however, failed to notice even though he wasn't trying to focus on a notorious criminal's profile, background, and mental state.
"Man, I hope to tell ya." A lewd chuckle. "She looks like she could've been the head cheerleader at my high school. Got…long blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a great…"
He didn't need to see the gesture to know that Tess was referring to the woman's behind. Frankly, he didn't care to think about such things whether they belonged to women, men, or otherwise, and Miss Quinzel was no exception. Although…no one had mentioned her, had they? That girl was an intern, anyway, and Tess had clearly said doctor… He shook his head. It was the blonde hair and blue eyes that did it—both features belonged to Miss Quinzel and, apparently, this new doctor as well. His subconscious had merely related the two.
Quinzel… He scowled a little. She had been…annoying, to say the least. A little odd, but, all in all, very much like every other intern—ignorant, overly confident, and completely unprepared for what she was about to embark on. In the two-and-a-half years that he had worked at Arkham, he hadn't come across even one of those halfwits who had any idea as to what interning at a mental institution entailed. They were all so self-assured, so very certain that they were the ones who could help these people and thus change the world. It was sad, really. They didn't even realize that society was quickly becoming more corrupt than it had ever been, and that Gotham was leading the way. Thankfully for the interns, he had taken it upon himself to introduce them to the real world and 'help' them understand just how cruel it truly was. Yes, he may have crushed a few hopes and dreams (and made more than one of them cry) in the past, but, really, it was for their own good.
Miss Quinzel seemed like the overly optimistic type; she probably wanted to become a children's psychiatrist or perhaps help girls with eating disorders and self-esteem issues (though he was betting on the former; she looked like the kind of person who thought that all children were—he smirked with disdain—God's precious creatures that never had an evil thought enter their sweet, innocent heads). It was intriguing, however—he mainly wanted nothing to do with the girl (he could hardly call someone like that a woman), and yet a part of actually hoped that she would be interning under him. The prospect of breaking her was entirely too tempting.
She was so—he cringed—cute. Too cute. People like that were used to an easy life, to always getting their way. With just a bat of their long lashes, a flash of their brilliant smiles, doors would open and the world would be theirs. He wanted to drag those people down, let reality hit them like a slap in the face, and show them that life was hardly the sunshine and rainbows fantasy that they had dreamed it to be.
Oh, Miss Quinzel was not without intelligence, he would grant her that small compliment. Visiting Dr. Gooding a week before the other interns and thus gracefully earning herself a spot in the director's good books (all false smiles, décolleté blouses, and short skirts)…it wasn't an entirely tactless move on her part. But there was more to the field of psychiatry than charming the head doctors. And if she did so happen to intern under him, well, he thought viciously, he fully intended for her to realize that.
"Well that's just great," Bolton snorted. "A woman comin' in here, thinkin' she can cure these maniacs with a little TLC." The burly man shook his head. "That's the last thing they need."
As he politely knocked on the door to Dr. Gooding's office, he silently agreed with Bolton, hoping that the guard was wrong in his assumptions about this new psychiatrist.
Gritting his teeth at the head doctor's distracted "Come in," he twisted the doorknob and quietly slipped into the office, rolling his eyes at the certificates of merit and framed inkblots on the walls. Any man whose office had a '60s modern décor (complete with an orange couch; blonde laminate desk, end tables, and bookcases; wood paneling; and a golden sunburst clock) had no taste whatsoever.
Seated on the ghastly orange couch, Gooding barely noticed as he entered the hideous office, utterly swept up in the conversation he was having with the person sitting next to him. A woman. Young, attractive. With fair skin, long blonde hair, and wide blue eyes.
Oh, for goodness sake, is she still here?
Apparently, Miss Quinzel had managed to locate Gooding after all and, judging by the scene before him, said doctor hadn't been the least bit upset by her tardiness. With his arm casually draped over the back of the couch, Gooding was practically oozing charm (or sleaze) as he leaned into the young intern's personal space, though of course she didn't seem to mind. If cozying up to Gooding meant a secure position and an excellent letter of recommendation, then why should she?
He bit back his disgust before clearing his throat irritably.
"Dr. Gooding, I believe you wanted to speak with me?"
Gooding looked up in surprise while Quinzel merely giggled a little, hiding her smile behind a dainty hand. His scowl deepened.
"Jonathan?" Gooding blinked dull brown eyes at him, then appeared to remember something. It was clear that the director wanted to get back to talking with Quinzel, for he didn't even take the time to introduce them, simply got right to the point. It was just as well. He had better things to do than waste formalities on an intern, and it was not as if he didn't already know who she was. No matter that he hadn't deigned to give her his name; she could find that out on her own.
"Yes," Gooding was saying. "You still have Breedlove's file, don't you?"
He nodded. "Yes. The man is quite fascinating. Since he's proven to be rather stressful for three of my colleagues, I was curious about his case. And I also thought that it might be beneficial for me to review it, perhaps…make a few assessments of my own."
Gooding shook his head.
"Ah, Jonathan, you always were an overachiever," he chuckled amiably. "Of course, I can't fault you for that." Though the faint tightness around Gooding's eyes and jaw indicated that he would have loved nothing more than to do just that. "But, if you're finished with that file, I'll need it back. It wouldn't do for Breedlove's new psychiatrist to attempt treatment without ever having read up on the man, now, would it?" The director laughed again with a nudge to Quinzel who beamed without hesitation.
Inside, he was seething, outraged that Gooding was so utterly thickheaded that the director hadn't realized that he was the only person at Arkham who could make any progress with a man like Breedlove. How many doctors had to fail before Gooding came to his senses? And if the man was simply toying with him, then he was only wasting his time, for they both knew that Breedlove would eventually be assigned to him. Why wait? It was infuriating, not to mention unprofessional. Then again, Gooding wasn't known for taking his job seriously, not since becoming director.
With a sigh of frustration, he removed his glasses to shoot a glare at his so-called superior.
"I suppose I've learned all that I can without actually meeting Breedlove myself," he said pointedly. "May I ask who is taking over for Dr. Burns?"
"My God, I completely forgot!" Gooding scolded himself before looking to the young lady sitting at his side.
"If I may?" he asked her, and she nodded, wearing a modest grin. Gooding turned to him. "Jonathan, meet the newest addition to Arkham Asylum's staff: Dr. Harleen Quinzel."
She smiled brightly up at him and he felt his guts twist. Surely not…
Gooding was oblivious.
"Harleen, this is Dr. Jonathan Crane—the man who makes us all look bad—Arkham's deputy administrator and resident specialist in psychopharmacology."
…he could have just been having a bad day – I feel that it's important to point out how quick Harley is to try and find a reasonable explanation for a person's less-than-favorable behavior. It's subtle here, but becomes very apparent when she meets the Joker.
The patronizing assumption made her almost giddy with animus… - it's like she is annoyed that Jonathan took one look at her and automatically assumed that she was a ditzy intern, but the fact that she was right that he would assume this amuses her, as does the thought that he'll probably feel like an ass when he finds out that she's really a doctor. Both of those factors kind of override any feelings of animosity that she might have. That, and by now she's grown so accustomed to the way people see her, that the only thing she can do is laugh at it. Again, this will be very important when she meets Mr. J.
…that squeaky little intern… – I have nothing to say about this other than the idea of Jonathan describing Harley as such amuses the hell out of me.
Allan Breedlove, aka 'the Worm' – how lame do I feel that I couldn't come up with a better bad guy name than this? In a weird way, I only feel slightly better about this because I have Harley and Jonathan make fun of it in later chapters.
(aided, no doubt, by steroids) – this is something of an inside joke, the short explanation being that my friends and I are convinced that Lyle Bolton must be on steroids, which would make sense considering how muscular and temperamental he is.
Frankly, he didn't care to think about such things… - see, this is where writing Jonathan becomes difficult. As much as I would like to see him paired up with someone, and despite the fact that I read Crane/Whoever fanfiction, I have a hard time writing my own romance story about him because, to me, he comes off as being completely asexual. I think that's part of the reason why I don't mind whom he's paired up with in fanfiction as long as the story is well written and in character (and Jonathan isn't hooking up with Rachel Dawes—sorry, just…no). So, in short, that's why this story focuses more on friendship while only leaving the potential for romance in the future.
…he had taken it upon himself to introduce them [the interns] to the real world and 'help' them understand just how cruel it truly was – he's a regular saint, that man. XP Really, though, all sarcasm aside, I like the idea that, while Jonathan is fully aware that what he's doing is wrong and while he mainly does it to sate his own sadistic cravings there is a part of him that, in a weird way, believes that he's doing it in the name of science and, in that way, he's actually helping people because he's making such amazing scientific breakthroughs. And, as far as being mean to the interns as a way of showing them the 'real world'…honestly, I wouldn't say that this is necessarily a bad thing, since we all have to meet with reality at some point (hoping I'll be prepared when that day comes for me), although Jonathan doesn't have to be such a cruel, heartless bastard about it. But then, if he weren't such a prick, would we still love him as much as we do now? Me thinks not.
…all children were—he smirked with disdain—God's precious creatures – yeah, Jonathan and God aren't on great terms. Religion is not going to play a huge part in this story (mainly because, though I try not to be offensive, I'm worried that my desire to stay realistic and in character might upset some readers), but it did greatly influence Jonathan's childhood, since I'm basing his past on what I've been able to gather from reading summaries of Scarecrow: Year One. Not that I've actually been able to get my hands on a copy, damn it…
…that never had an evil thought enter their sweet, innocent heads – it's a bit of an exaggeration, but Jonathan is actually semi-sorta right in thinking this about Harley. She (or at least, my Nolan-ized interpretation of her) does see children as being pure, untainted, and innocent because most of them have yet to experience real hardships and extreme situations, and she feels that to rob a child of that innocence is one of the greatest, most disgusting crimes a person can commit. Of course, that isn't to say that Harley is a very kind and completely uncorrupted individual, but that will be elaborated in later chapters. With Jonathan, however, because he was severely bullied in school and therefore witness firsthand just how cruel children can be, he obviously does not share Harley's views.
She was so—he cringed—cute – I think that it would almost pain Jonathan to use the word 'cute' just because he would associate it would anything bright, cheery, and incredibly annoying. If he says you're cute, it isn't a compliment.
"Just what we need," Bolton snorted, "a woman comin' in here…" – Lyle Bolton is a sexist pig. Well, kinda. But not really. It isn't the reason why he hates Harley. At least, not the main reason, as you will soon see.
***Psychiatrist/psychologist – whether Jonathan is one or the other seems to be a subject of debate and I've never gotten any clear, definite answers. Originally, I was going to go with psychiatrist since they can write prescriptions (even though clinical psychologists can prescribe meds, too), having a degree in psychopharmacology usually equals psychiatrist, and because that's what he was listed as on Wikipedia. However, then someone informed me that, even though it's very difficult, it is possible to be involved in a joint Ph.D/M.D. program, which means that Jonathan very well could be both. And, since he is such an overachiever, I wouldn't put it past him. :-)
Disclaimer: For once, I own nothing, not even an original character.
A Request from the Author
As I said before, I take a lot of time editing my stories and doing research for them, so please do not hesitate to let me know what you think. And by that I mean please give me constructive criticism. Praise is great, but constructive criticism helps me to become a better writer. Neither praise (nor flames, for that matter) really do that. So, if there's anything that needs improvement, please tell me. I'll really appreciate it. :-)