Note: After rereading this chapter and discovering that the first scene alone was eighteen pages long and that I still had two more scenes to write, I got to thinking that that might be a little ridiculous, even for me. And while you guys have said that you don't mind lengthy chapters, we're looking at well over thirty pages here, and I don't wanna push it. Plus, it's been way too long since I've updated. So, this chapter has been cut in half. Granted, this totally screws up the formatting for the entire story, but…meh. I'll see if I can't work that out.
On another note, I feel like Jonathan's cold-heartedness comes at you full-force in this chapter. True, I've tried to make him out to be quite a cruel, unfeeling prick, but it just seems like he's particularly callous here. Probably because, before, he was only being nasty to people who kinda deserved it. Now it seems like "Crane! You frosty SOB, you!" Basically, I'm wondering if it feels a little too…in-your-face? You'll see what I mean. And if not, then…I guess I worried for nothing. ;-)
"Oh, it looks nice."
He glanced up from his desk and saw Harleen standing in the doorway of his new office, leaning against the frame, arms folded casually over her chest.
"Thank you. I felt that something had to be done about it."
"'60s retro not your style?"
She giggled silently, still casting an approving eye around the room.
Redecorating hadn't been an easy task, particularly when it came to removing the wood paneling, and pulling up all that shag carpeting had been a nightmare to pull up, but he could honestly say that he was quite satisfied with the results. Dr. Gooding's once tacky office now looked more like a library. A proper library with fern green walls that were lined with bookshelves, hardwood floors covered with richly colored Oriental rugs, antique brass lamps that provided warm but efficient lighting, and a dark leather couch with two matching armchairs. It was the kind of place where people wanted to read, not like most modern libraries which were cold with uncomfortable plastic chairs and harsh, artificial lighting. Not a suitable reading environment at all.
"It's too bad about Dr. Gooding, though," Harleen murmured.
"What?" she asked, and she would have seemed genuinely surprised had he not known better.
"I'm not at liberty to say," he began, "but you know exactly what."
"I'm just saying, it's not every day your boss has a mental breakdown and winds up in a mental institution."
"Dr. Gooding was under a great deal of stress," he stated plainly.
Now it was her turn to scoff: "Kinda doubt that."
"Then it must have stemmed from some sort of childhood trauma," he concluded
"Well, I guess anyone who goes for blond laminate must have some issues."
He made a soft noise of agreement, frowning as he skimmed over several reports. Apparently, Dr. Adams' OCD patient had been driven to a disassociated state after refusing to let him bathe for two days as a means of combating his germaphobia. Who in the hell had authorized that... Cavendish. Well, now it all made sense. He shook his head and moved on, eyes flitting back and forth across the paper. Harleen had filed a number of complaints about Bolton, demanding that he be taken out of the women's ward and that he no longer be put on night duty. Why...? Ah. April Cohen. Of course. He had known that before he had come across her name. He had made certain to keep her mildly sedated and bound to a straightjacket when she had been his patient, though that hadn't kept her from going into great detail about all of the lewd and depraved things that she would have loved to do to him, were she ever to get free. He was well aware of Harleen's theory that the girl was being raped, but, quite frankly, he couldn't bring himself to care.
After all, you can't rape the willing, as they say.
And on top of that, it kept Bolton quiet—just another part of the man's skewed sense of justice. He knew what the head of security did in addition to the beatings but felt apathetic toward the matter. Some of the patients deserved it, some of them didn't…either way, there were other problems that merited his concern. Besides, he wasn't about to fire Bolton.
But what was this about the girl's medication…? He scanned a bit further, noting sentences like 'frequent memory loss,' 'request change in treatment,' 'halt current medication,' and 'alternate diagnosis.'
His head snapped up.
"You think that Miss Cohen suffers from dissociative identity disorder?"
"I think so, yes," Harleen replied. "I'm not entirely sure yet. That's why I wanna wean her off cloapine, maybe give her some benzos…"
"I see," he murmured, gazing at her critically. "How did you arrive at that conclusion?"
"Well...just by the fact that she doesn't act like she's hypersexual—at least, not around me—and when she supposedly does, she never remembers it. She feels dazed, has no recollection of certain events, sometimes she'll start crying for no reason...it all adds up to DID."
"It adds up to schizophrenia, as well."
"Fine, then, why has she never attacked me? And why does sex always seem to be the last thing on her mind?"
"Hypersexual patients do not necessarily suffer from OCD as well, Harleen. I would have thought that you were aware of that." He took off his glasses to give her a pointed look. "The fact is that you're basing your diagnosis on the theory that Miss Cohen is being sexually assaulted. Aside from a 'feeling' that you have on the matter, there is no substantial evidence to support your claim."
"But why not test the theory? What do we have to lose? It's not like we could kill her, not if we did it right."
Damn it. He felt a brief rush of anger both at Bolton for having such carnal needs, and at her for sounding too much like himself in that moment. She might have cared for April Cohen, that was obvious and not like him at all, but her willingness to overlook her patient's health… Inwardly, he shook his head. Too familiar. The concern was there, yes, but so was the desire to see if she was right.
Be careful, Harleen. I'd hate to start liking you.
"Don't tell me that just because you're in charge now, you've suddenly got a stick up your ass. You don't have to set an example for the rest of us."
And just like that, his anger was back. There was a sneer in her voice, a little bitterness as well, and distress. She didn't think that he was trying to be a model psychiatrist, but at the same time, she didn't want him to become one.
"You have nothing to worry about, Harleen. I'm still as corrupt as I ever was." A quick, nasty smile before a sigh. "Though I'm beginning to wonder if I shouldn't reassign you."
Ah, now that got under her skin.
"What?" she demanded quietly, confounded.
"You're clearly becoming too attached to your patient," he informed her. "That can cloud your judgment and cause you to make an incorrect diagnosis." It didn't matter if April Cohen truly suffered from DID—of course she did; he had known that the minute his former patient had mentioned memory loss—but before he had been able to declare his diagnosis, Gooding had pulled him from the girl's case and reassigned her to Cavendish. He wouldn't deny that it was out of spite that he had refrained from helping any of Cohen's other doctors; they wouldn't have listened to him even if he had offered his insight.
It wasn't that his colleagues were unqualified (well, not all of them), but the majority of them were supremely lazy, content to write up a half-formed diagnosis and prescribe a cocktail of sedatives and mood stabilizers rather than deal with their patients. They had no appreciation for the mind and its abilities, no need to study it further. They all had their MDs and secure positions, now, and most were happy to leave it at that. It was understandable, in a way, how easily they could slip into this chronic state of indolence—the income was substantial, the notoriety appealing, and they could have it all by doing nothing because, after all, no one listened to the ravings of the mad; claims of malpractice would go unheard. And his fellow psychiatrists—some of them, anyway—had worked hard to earn their doctorates, and working in a mental institution was hardly glamorous (though an outsider looking at Harleen Quinzel or himself might have said otherwise). They probably felt like they were entitled to their lethargy. That certainly explained it.
It did not, however, excuse it.
As the asylum's new administrator, he fully intended to change that regimen—by completely annihilating it. Lines would be drawn, expectations would be met, those that failed to live up to them would face repercussions, and he would undoubtedly become less popular for his efforts. Thankfully, winning the approval of his peers had never been high on his list of concerns. At any rate, if there came a time when he did need the majority's favor, Harleen would most likely be on his side, and she had one of those personalities that idiots seemed to like.
Damn it, did she have any idea how annoying it was that she was interested in psychology or that she was actually good at her job? Had it been anyone else, he might have been relieved to know that someone had figured out what the rest of the staff had failed to notice: that Cavendish wore women's clothing, that Bartholomew was a drug addict, or that April Cohen most likely had DID. It wasn't even that so much as it was the fact that what he had said was true—she was letting herself become too emotionally attached to her patient. It was a weakness and a hindrance, and he would not tolerate it in his hospital, especially when he had come to expect better from her. And it was said that history repeated itself. If Harleen did this with one patient, she was likely to do it again, and from what he could see, the best course of action was to tell her that she was wrong and assign April Cohen to a different doctor.
"I'm telling you this because you're one of the least incompetent psychiatrists here, and I'd prefer to keep it that way."
She seemed a little stunned at this, most likely because he had just given her what could almost qualify as a complement. Her response, he knew, would provide an estimate as to how much sway he had over her, of how much she trusted him and valued his opinion. Harleen could be stubborn, especially when she knew or at least thought that she was right. But he knew that she cared about what he thought. Asking him to read over her articles was proof of that. He remained silent, waiting.
Until she sighed.
"Shit…yeah... You're probably right, I mean…I heard that from the director at Rose Hill, too. Only once or twice, but still..." She shrugged. "My instincts are usually pretty reliable, so I can't help but convince myself that I should go with them all the time, y'know?"
"What you need to do," he began carefully, "is learn how to take a step back and evaluate a person as their psychiatrist and not as their friend."
She nodded, but continued to protest.
"What if I'm right, though? If I am, we might be doing more harm than good since there's no drug to combat DID, but psychoanalysis has been known to help, and that's my area of expertise—"
"I know that, Harleen," he interjected smoothly. "But what do you expect me to say when four out of Miss Cohen's five doctors have agreed that she suffers from schizophrenia?"
It must have been a sign that he was truly winning her over—had he been anyone else, Harleen would have put up more of a fight. Instead, she stared at him in mute defiance, yet he could tell that she was inwardly furious with herself for her inability to give a sufficient response.
Finally, there was an act of conceding—the lowered gaze, the quiet sigh. She wearily massaged her brow, keeping her eyes hidden.
"You're gonna reassign me, aren't you?"
"I think it would be best for all parties involved, yes."
Her hands dropped to her sides, shoulders rising then falling in a gesture of helplessness.
"You're probably right—you're always right, which is the only reason I'm letting this go." She shook her head. "I should be pissed at you, y'know. But I have a horrible time staying mad at people I like, so…be grateful you're on that list cuz otherwise, you wouldn't have won. Well—" she rolled her eyes at herself "—you would have, but it wouldn't have been so easy."
"Of that I have no doubt," he smirked. "I'm sure you have a few choice words for me."
"Yeah," she admitted. "Can't seem to think of any right now, though…"
"Well, when you do…"
"Oh, I'll tell you, don't worry." She smiled a little thinly, swinging her foot back and forth. "You're really gonna reassign me?" she asked again, like she didn't quite believe it.
He flashed her a Look to let her know that his patience was wearing thin. She wasn't fazed, most likely caught up in worrying over dissociative sex addicts. He ground his teeth.
"Yes, and if you ask me that again, I'll have to do my worst."
Harleen bit her lip, intrigued and not quite grinning. "Well now I have to ask—what's your worst?"
"Informing you that you're acting overly motherly and naïve by coddling your patient like this. In short—" his lips curled "—I'd say that you're acting like Dr. Leland."
Knowing about the girl's dislike for the other psychiatrist had prepared him for her reaction, but it was still entertaining to watch the conflicting emotions play out across her face. It looked like she was torn between being amused and appalled. She sulked a little.
"You're a cruel, cruel man, Dr. Crane."
"Yes," he agreed, "but only for your benefit."
"So…you won't be my doctor anymore?"
She drew a slow breath. "No. Dr. Crane feels that...this is no longer a doctor/patient relationship."
April bit her lip, looking upset.
"Well...what do you think?"
"I think he's right."
"But I don't get why that matters," the younger girl protested.
"We're not supposed to get close to our patients," she explained. "It can cause us to make bad decisions as far as treatment goes."
"But you're supposed to be the shrink that doesn't follow the rules. That's why you were able to take on that Worm guy and the cannibal and—"
"April," she interjected. "Don't. You have to listen to me."
Her patient hung her head and nodded, heaving a sigh that cause limp bangs to flutter upward.
"You've gotta realize I'm not as nice as you think I am—"
"What? Yes you are." April looked bewildered.
No, I'm not. I'm a manipulative, cutthroat bitch who's mostly doing this for her own benefit. If Jonny's right and I'm wrong, you and I are both fucked, but it'll be worse for me if I keep treating you.
"I can't keep getting attached to my patients—nothing good will come of it in the long run. And if I thought that you were actually aware of your actions—"
"Then why are you letting them stick me with someone else?" April demanded. "That doesn't make sense, if you still think you're right about me."
She drew a deep, calming breath. "Here's the deal: Number one, Dr. Crane is a much better, much more experienced psychiatrist than I am. I doubt he's ever made a wrong diagnosis before. But…I guess we all make mistakes." She swept her tongue over her lip, not liking the possibility of Jonathan's being wrong but at the same time unable to shake her own certainty about April's condition. "Number two, if he thinks you're schizophrenic, there's no way in hell I'm gonna get him to changes his mind."
With feigned innocence, April looked to the ceiling, twirling a strand of hair around her finger.
"Why don't you jump his bones?"
She laughed a little, ducking her head. "Ah-hm, uh...I don't think...that would be the best approach."
"It's how I'd do it—I don't mean that as, you know, a nympho," April added hastily. "I was just kidding. Besides, Dr. Crane doesn't seem to like girls much. I think he's afraid of them."
"Maybe," she responded vaguely. "The point is, since he's in charge of Arkham, now, what he says goes. And if he says I'm done with you..."
"There's not a whole lot you can do, right..." April sighed.
"Which brings us to number two." She paused, making sure that April was looking directly at her. "I want you to cheek your meds."
Brown eyes went wide. "What?"
"Not all at once," she assured her. "Withdrawal from antipsychotics can be nasty business, so you'll wanna come off them slowly. You know how to cheek your pills, right?"
Her patient shrugged. "It's not that hard. I think I might've done it with the stuff they had me on in high school."
"Okay," she murmured, nodding to herself.
"What about my therapy, though?" April asked. "My new doctor won't be treating me for DID."
"Cognitive therapy has been proven effective in treating most mental illnesses. The only exceptions are really severe cases like dementia. But with anything else, a lot of the time you don't necessarily need medication. The problem is that most people are looking for an instant cure when it just doesn't work that way."
"Maybe that's why Dr. Crane disagrees with you?"
"He does like his drugs," she admitted. "But I think he's more concerned with making a proper diagnosis. He knows pills can help, but having a decent shrink plays a big part in a patient's recovery. As does the patient," she added. "You have to wanna get better and put forth an effort..." She gave April a measured look, waiting until the other girl nodded. "So, if your new doctor knows what they're doing, and if I didn't screw things up and you start making progress without meds..."
"Everything should work out okay."
"That's the idea, yeah."
Exhaling tiredly through her nose, April slowly leaned back, flopping gracelessly onto her cot where she ran her hands through her hair.
"What about Bolton?" she said after a moment. "Somehow, I doubt he's been moved out of my wing."
"No," she admitted, "he hasn't. But there's something I wanna try. I think it'll work."
"You just had your first session with the new guy, right?"
In the time that he had spent in Harleen's company, he had come to realize several things, one of them being that she was not as naïve as she appeared, but also that she didn't feign her cluelessness, either. At least, not deliberately. And for the life of him, he could not figure out why this was other than the insufferably simple explanation that it was just her manner of speaking. For instance, she knew perfectly well that he had met with 'the new guy', yet she brought up the subject in the form of a question. Why she had done that when she knew the answer was something that he was beginning to suspect he would never known, which only made it all the more vexing. Damn her.
"Yes," he replied succinctly, glancing up from his desk. "I take it that's why you're here?"
"Well, seeing as how we're working on his case together. With Leland." She scowled slightly as she stepped into his office, closing the door behind her. "Can I be a snob for a minute and say that I thought the GCPD wanted our best psychiatrists to handle this?"
His eyebrows rose. "May I remind you that I was the one who assigned her to the case? Dr. Leland has a notable recovery rate—"
"For Level Ones," Harleen muttered.
"Level Ones typically are the only patients who recover," he reminded her sharply.
"And they're also typically the only patients she handles," she countered and shook her head in disgust. "She'll be too easy on him."
"Yes, but her sympathetic approach may very well appeal to Mr. Tetch's…childlike nature."
Harleen looked away, though the purse of her lips said that she disagreed.
"Besides," he continued quietly, "Leland is easily satisfied. She'll be happy mulling over the most basic assessments, which will give us space to do a proper analysis ourselves. Any other doctor would want us to constantly work as a team, even if they hardly have anything to contribute, because that way, when all was said and done, they could say that they were involved."
"I always hated group work when I was in school," Harleen muttered.
"The feeling is mutual," he replied. "And anyway, would you rather be working with Dr. Strange? He was quite eager to employ hypnotherapy on the man."
A soft noise of resentment.
"Or what about Dr. Adams?" he continued, smirking.
"Oh, sure," she replied, and there was a note of bitterness in her voice that he had never heard before. "Give her a pedophile and she'll try weaning him off of little girls by giving him a little boy to play with."
"Of course not. The obvious approach would be to introduce him to Mary Dahl. She looks like a child, but she's perfectly legal. Problem solved." Sarcasm, which normally made her laugh, but not this time. He sighed but inwardly was excited at the thought that he might have finally found the patient that could rattle Harleen's cage.
Before his terriblyunfortunate breakdown, Gooding had often assigned Harleen to residents of Arkham's maximum-security wing, and this was something that he had made sure to continue after the former director was committed, knowing that one day he would find the lunatic that would get under her skin.
None of the serial rapists had worked. The near-rabid and morbidly obese cannibal, Adam Jennings, had been unsuccessful. He had seemed quite taken with Harleen and had apologized sincerely after confessing that he didn't want to eat her, as she was too skinny and therefore unappetizing. Then he had admitted, as an afterthought, that he wouldn't turn down her breasts and she had practically beamed at this, taking it as a complement.
He hadn't had any luck the homophobic Melvin West who had viciously abused several young, gay men whom he had kept as prisoners in his dungeon-like basement. Apparently, the man had been quite pleasant once he had learned that Harleen shared his interest for Medieval torture devices (and that she seemed unfazed by the fact that he had used a number of them on his victims).
But there had been one, Joseph Sundner, who had had somewhat of an effect on her. Not the kind that he had hoped the man would provoke, not fear… But Sundner had made her angry, angry enough that, over the course of their therapy sessions, she had all but broken the man's spirit, slowly tearing him apart using only her word.
Sundner was a pedophile.
Of course, he couldn't say that he knew anyone who didn't despise pedophiles, and one of the things that made Harleen a capable psychiatrist was her unbiased and unorthodox treatment of her patients, but regardless…her behavior toward Sundner seemed somewhat extreme, even for her. Normally, she didn't set out to break them, she just wanted to understand them. This had been different.
After the first session, he had been curious to see Harleen's reaction to this new type of madman and had stopped by her office. It had been locked, but the lights had been on and the only time Harleen locked her door was when she was speaking with someone, yet the office had been silent.
He had knocked. No reply. Knocked again, said her name. Still nothing. With a sigh, he had given up and pulled out his master key. He had known that he had seen her go in, and it wasn't like her to ignore him.
When the door had finally opened, he had stepped into the office to find her curled up on her sofa-bed with her eyes closed and her thumb pressed against her mouth, looking strangely drained—drained, but not asleep.
"Harleen," he had said when she refused to acknowledge him.
She hadn't moved, like a child who hoped that they would be left alone if the adult thought that they were sleeping.
"Harleen," he had repeated, "I know you're not asleep, and you have a session in thirty minutes."
"Which means I have twenty minutes to take a power nap, so if you don't mind…?" Her thumb had left her lips, but other than that she had remained perfectly still.
"Shouldn't you be using this time to review your notes?"
"You're seeing Daniel Wallace—"
"Who is a whiney, self-centered brat who wasted his potential because of an uncontrollable need to be center of attention," she had interrupted. He hadn't thought that it was possible, but her voice had held even more irritation than his own. "And since he's now in a near-catatonic state, twenty minutes of studying isn't gonna tell me anything new," she had finished. "My notes are on the desk, though, if you'd like to review them. Just please do it somewhere else."
Brusque, uncivil, hardly paying any attention to him… He had folded his arms over his chest, momentarily caught off guard by her rude behavior.
"Is that your way of asking me to leave?"
An impatient sigh and clenched teeth—two things he wouldn't have associated with Harleen, yet she had done both before finally opening her eyes and snatching up her phone to check the time.
"Well, since now I've only got ten minutes to get some sleep, I'm just gonna tell you to leave. Please," she had added as an afterthought, looking up at him like…almost like she was trying not to glare. He had gotten the feeling that she had made an exception for him, trying to keep her expression blank. She had almost succeeded, save for the tautness of her lips and the strange intensity in her gaze. Not frightening, but intriguing enough. He had seen it before when that Dr. Woodrue had walked away with her friend Miss Isley and again when Gooding had put his hand on Harleen's knee. It was as if she was holding something back. There was intelligence and cunning beneath the dumb blonde exterior, but buried below that was something else, something almost…feral that was being kept sedated by laughter and indifference while she silently warned everyone not to provoke it.
But she feared it, whatever it was, wherever it had come from. She feared what it might do. It made her vulnerable—of course, that was what any emotion did, but especially Fear. And her patients fed off of every scrap of Fear that they could get; that was why she had needed to calm herself before attending to Wallace.
By now he knew that perturbing Harleen Quinzel was no easy feat, but her behavior that day had confirmed that it wasn't impossible. The girl couldn't make a joke out of everything. There was a deep-rooted, hated terror inside of her, and Jeremy Sundner had nearly brought it out.
A million different scenarios had run through his mind, each one more horrific than the next. Any theory could have been correct, but he had been rejecting them all, one by one. She seemed far too collected, too bright and healthy. Quirky and unorthodox, yes, but mostly well adjusted. If she were depressed, he would have known. If she were taking any medication, he would have picked up on the side effects, even if it were a mild dosage. And somehow, he doubted that she had a Scarecrow. She was happy, and a person couldn't come from abuse and be happy.
So he had assigned her to another pedophile, one Jervis Tetch. A pathetic, delusional misfit, albeit a highly dangerous one, who fancied the moniker "the Mad Hatter" and having tea parties with young girls. Ages six to twelve. Preferably with blue eyes. Blonde hair was another requirement. It was a bonus if their name happened to be 'Alice,' though even if it wasn't, the man refused to call them anything else.
He abducted shy little girls, vulnerable girls, who came from broken families in the Narrows and would take a while to be missed (if they were missed; this was Gotham, after all). Typical behavior of a pedophile. He lured them into his van with the promise of toys or candy, or perhaps by asking for help with his sick puppy/kitten/rabbit. Whatever the promises, they had all been broken to twelve young girls who had not been seen alive again, and (hopefully) lucky number thirteen who might not have the misfortune of being counted among the others.
Tetch had been arrested just two days ago for exhibitionism at an elementary school's Halloween parade, unable to control himself. Again, typical. A child had screamed at what he had shown her and run crying to one of the teachers. School security had arrived shortly after to escort him off the premises. At first, Tetch was supposed to have been given a slap on the wrist, but the when he had grown hysterical and begun speaking in nothing but quotes for Alice in Wonderland, the school had called the police. Upon calling in his ID, they had discovered that Tetch was a former patient at Arkham (long before he or Harleen had ever worked there) who had been released several years ago. That was where the police had taken him. But on the drive over, in his panic, Tetch's insane babbling had grown increasingly disturbing, with allusions to twisted fantasies that sounded almost as if they had been fulfilled. And the cops had remembered what several teachers had remarked before they had hauled Tetch away, claims that this wasn't the first time this had happened, just the first time that the GCPD had bothered to show up. And they hadn't forgotten how one frightened ten-year-old had said that, once, Tetch had cornered her after class and taken special interest in her long, blonde hair. Or that several other students had insisted that they had seen him standing outside the fence, watching them during recess. Whether they had evidence or not, it was clear that it would be better for everyone if the man was kept off the streets. In the end, it was discovering that Tetch had failed to keep up appointments with his psychiatrist that had secured him an extended stay in Arkham and prompted Gotham's corrupted cops to search his townhouse.
That was when they had found the videotapes.
Thirteen tapes, all dated, all containing exactly one week's worth of footage, Monday through Sunday. Thirteen tapes to match twelve bodies that had been discovered over the past four years. Twelve, not thirteen. And the final tape was unfinished, ending abruptly on a Tuesday, the day before Tetch's arrest.
Which meant, the police dared to speculate, that little Alice Pleasance might still be alive.
Where was the question on everyone's minds. Not in Tetch's squalid little apartment, that much was certain. So far, no one had been able to determine where she could be, though the videos had all been filmed in the same location: a dark, cramped room of rough, stone brick—almost dungeon-like, were it not for the long, oak table and its elaborate place setting cluttered with teacups of various shapes and sizes. A mad tea party.
But Tetch was bound for Arkham. The police were at a loss. There was nothing that they could do except plead with him to assemble a team of his top psychiatrists to try to make sense of what the Mad Hatter was saying and hopefully get some answers out of him.
Never one to miss an opportunity to delve into a new lunatic's mind, he had been happy to comply, temporarily reassigning many of his patients to better devote his time to this one man. He had a little over a week before the girl (assuming she was still alive) fell victim to starvation, but he wasn't terribly concerned. Even without using his fear toxin, he could have easily manipulated Tetch into revealing the child's location, but he had refrained. Having Harleen treat another pedophile—specifically one that targeted young girls who looked like her—was yet another opportunity that was too good to pass up. In doing this, his goal, he realized, was to pick at her brain and uncover her weaknesses, not to break her. With great reluctance, he had accepted that her abilities weren't completely lacking and that her appreciation for psychiatry was a relief. Allowing someone like Tetch to shatter Harleen's mind would hardly be beneficial in the long run. Besides, if anyone was going to break that girl, it was going to be him.
"So, what's he like?" she asked him now. "Is there anything I should know that I don't already?"
"Not really," he answered mildly, flipping open Tetch's file and glancing at the mugshot with distaste. "Highly delusional, obsessive-compulsive, sociopathic… He has practically no concept of the real world."
"Well, he was home schooled, wasn't he? By his mother? You've looked into an Oedipus complex?"
"I have, but it doesn't fit."
"Damn…" she muttered. "I hate Freud, but I've gotta admit, Mommy Issues usually does explain a lot… Well, anyway. Home schooling. I never thought that it was a bad idea as long as the kid has a good teacher."
He made a noncommittal noise at that last part, but agreed with the rest. "The problem with home schooling is that too often, for various reasons, the parent's won't hire a decent instructor and instead take matters into their own hands. They're either unqualified or lazy, and thus the child is deprived of a proper education."
"And sometimes the parents don't let their kids interact with other children, which is a natural and necessary part of life, so these people reach adulthood and they have poor social skills and—" Harleen smiled "—no concept of the real world. So," she proposed, "what's the case with Tetch?"
"Definitely a disorganized killer. He's well versed in literature and has a passable grasp of mathematics, but I would hardly call him a genius, despite how meticulous he's been. He kills close to home, all of his victims lived within a twenty-mile radius, and even when he's lucid, his overall behavior is rather childish."
Harleen gave a soft hum of consideration. "Maybe that's it. Kids create fantasies, they can be incredibly devoted to certain things, and a lot of them are kinda selfish because the don't know about the real world yet, so to them, they're the center of it. Maybe part of the reason why he…targets children is because he never grew up."
He nodded faintly. "It's possible. But we're talking about Alice in Wonderland, Harleen, not Peter Pan."
She smiled softly. "You've read—"
"Not my favorite, but yes."
"Huh. Well, either way, it's a theory, but I doubt his motivations are as innocent as 'he's just a big kid.'"
"While I have no interest in child psychology, I somehow doubt that many children would believe they were the Mad Hatter and go around abducting and raping young, blonde girls."
She nodded distantly, appearing lost in thought.
"You think you can get him to tell you where she is?" She wouldn't say the child's name, as if she thought it was a taboo of some sort.
"Do you?" he returned.
He knew from the slight, helpless shrug of her shoulders that she answered him honestly. "I'm hoping for the best. If I can't get him to talk, I'd like to believe that you can."
"You're doubting my abilities?" he asked wryly.
She smiled, thinly but fondly. "Never. I've just…learned not to invest too much faith in…much of anything. That's all."
He nodded. "That's smart. Realistic."
"You don't like being disappointed."
"I don't know many who do."
Another nod. "In that case, I'll tell you that the chances of our making any progress with the Hatter are minimal. We're being asked to administer years' worth of treatment in one week—two at the most. And with a man that far gone, it's unlikely that we'll make any headway before the victim is dead—if she isn't already."
A harsh statement, but she didn't flinch. Good girl.
As much as he wanted her to show even one tiny weakness, her seemingly unflappable demeanor was almost as pleasing. In his experience, people like that were usually the most entertaining when their inevitable breakdowns finally occurred. And if any of his theories about Harleen Quinzel were accurate…
I doubt I'll be disappointed.
"Have you watched the tapes yet?" he asked her suddenly.
"Uhm, yeah. Not all of them, though."
"You should get on that," he advised. "You're meeting with him tomorrow."
She nodded, looking like she wanted to say something but holding back.
"Not that I'm ungrateful, but may I ask…how did you manage to procure them?" he inquired. "I was under the impression that police evidence wouldn't be released so quickly."
Harleen's face brightened considerably.
"Oh. Well, I talked to Eddie about it and he said it was okay if I made copies."
"Eddie," he repeated flatly.
"Detective Nashton," she explained. "You know, the cute one with the bowler hat?"
"You mean that pretentious neurotic who's desperate for attention? Yes, I believe I know who you're referring to."
Harleen's expression was both playful and surprised. "Come on, he's nicer than that fatso Detective Bullock. You really don't like him? I thought you two would've gotten along. He's smart, he's got good taste—"
"Wearing a bowler derby does not mean that the man has taste."
"At least it's not one of those too-small fedoras that some guys are sporting," she pointed out.
"I suppose," he allowed, mouth thinning. "He isn't unintelligent, I'll give him that. But that cocky attitude of his is rather grating, not to mention the fact that it's obviously a cover-up for his insecurities, which, I imagine, are quite severe. They most likely stem from parental neglect, which, in turn, would explain the need for attention—"
"Damn, I didn't know you'd taken him on as a patient." Harleen smirked.
He narrowed his eyes. "You do the same thing."
"Ye-eah," she admitted, "but I don't go off on a rant about it—"
"I was hardly ranting," he interjected. "And I'm entitled to it when the man has been breathing down my neck since we took on this case, calling me at all hours of the day—"
"He calls you?"
"Yes," he fumed. "To tell me to write down everything Tetch might quote from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and then 'report' back to him."
Harleen gave a sympathetic wince, though whether it was for him or for Nashton, he couldn't be sure.
"Sorry. If I'd known that, I would've given him my number. I was actually going to, but thought it'd seem too much like flirting."
"You weren't already flirting with him?"
She swatted the air as if she could reach him. "No. Jerk," she added. "So what's the deal with the quotes?"
"Apparently he's convinced that it's all some kind of riddle—that only he can solve, of course—and it will tell him the whereabouts of Alice Pleasance."
"Maybe he's right?" she ventured. "Maybe in the Hatter's filthy, depraved mind, 'the rabbit hole' is…some other…orifice."
He looked at her expectantly and she glared, jaw clenched.
"Don't make me say it. And that was just a for instance; I'm not saying it's legit."
"Either way, while I'm not ruling out Nashton's theory, I'd prefer it if he stuck to his area of expertise. Maybe then I could stick to mine, because I'm not going to make any progress if he keeps interrupting me when I'm in the middle of—"
His phone rang.
Harleen pressed a hand to her mouth to keep from giggling.
He closed his eyes, breathed in once, and remained the picture of absolute calm.
"I'm not answering that."
"But what if it's, like, your land lady calling to tell you your apartment's on fire?"
"You're a regular Boy Scout, y'know that? Always prepared." She smiled slightly. "That's why nobody has any doubts about you being in charge. They know you'll take care of this place. Mostly they're just worried you're gonna be a real hardass."
"Well, I can confidently say that I won't disappoint them—in either case," he assured her, lips pulling upward in a sinister grin.
Harleen the sadist looked rather delighted.
"That's good to know. Oh, and um…by the way… I wanted to ask—although, you'd think our colleagues be more mature than this…" She sighed. "They saw me and Gooding, and now they see me and you…so, you know what they're all gonna be thinking, right?"
"Of course. They aren't exactly being quiet about it." He frowned. "Why? Do you have a problem with that?"
"Two people of the opposite sex are seen alone, getting along together. Everyone assumes that their relationship must be more than platonic. People will believe what they want to believe, regardless of what we tell them. So to answer your question, no, I don't have a problem with it."
"Then neither do I," she concluded. "I'm used to people saying shit about me, but I wasn't sure how you felt and I didn't want things to be weird between us."
He smiled tightly. "Believe me, it'll take more than rumors to scare me away."
"Another good thing to know. And, um, can I ask you something else?"
"May you? Yes," he corrected automatically.
Harleen rolled her eyes. "I was just wondering—partially because of the way everyone's gonna be talking…did you put me on Tetch's case just because we're friends?"
He arched a brow at her. "Consider your question, Harleen: If I assigned you to a patient for reasons other than your abilities as a psychiatrist, that would be acting nice. Do you really think that I could live with myself if I were ever nice to anyone?"
She bit her lip and grinned.
"That's what I thought."
She didn't like being depended on. To a degree, anyway. That wasn't to say that she didn't love her friends or that there was anything that she wouldn't have done for them, but the thought of one of them being unable to function without her made her itch. It was partially why things hadn't worked out with that clingy lawyer. He had always needed her, doted on her, told her how much she meant to him—sweet and all, but annoying as hell. Not that it had been his fault. She was sure that most women wanted a guy like that. But for Christ's sake, calling every single night at exactly ten o'clock on-the-dot—even when it was Guy's Night? Wasn't that a bit much? Maybe he had just wanted her to know how much he cared about her, but it had just been so pathetic… And cliché, too. Like something out of those God-awful romantic comedies. She was too much of a realist to ever enjoy movies like those, let alone allow life to be treated like one. Not her life, not now, and definitely not in Gotham.
It wasn't like she was afraid to love—no way, not even close. For her, love was a lot like trouble: She didn't exactly go looking for it, but she didn't push it away, either. Although trouble seemed to be drawn to her a lot more than love was. The truth was that there just weren't many people that she honestly liked and trusted. It was all those 'toos'—too shallow, too phony, too dense, too narrow-minded, too transparent, too whiney, too materialistic, too boring, too naïve, too cocky, too damn needy.
As for her aversion to dependency, she blamed her mom for that. The woman had been smart, confident, successful…then suddenly, it had all vanished, gone in the blink of an eye. It hadn't been her mom's fault, to be honest. Considering what had happened, that kind of reaction was understandable….
Yeah, but for ten years? And it might've never happened at all if she hadn't been so dependent on Dad in the first place. She shook her head. Fuck.
She was not going to think about this, not when she had that asshole Bolton to deal with, and that Goddamned pedophile, and then April—and that was what had gotten her on this subject in the first place. From what she could tell, she was the only person that the girl had in Arkham, and now she was being taken away from her, leaving April with some rookie named Cassidy, group therapy with Leland, and a bunch of corrupt guards who raped her whenever they had the chance, and…she felt bad, damn it! She wanted to do something, but it felt so weird saying "Fuck you" to Jonathan. Like she actually felt rude for cursing at someone, even though she technically hadn't. And stupid, too, like she was making a mistake.
Was she? Jonny was one of those people who always seemed to be right in the end, no matter what else had happened. It was like he couldn't ever fail, not because he wouldn't allow it, but because it simply wasn't something he was capable of.
Yeah, and Dad never failed at anything, either. Remember how that turned out?
Still, what if Jonny was right (again)? There was a chance that she only felt this way out of sympathy for April. And, really, what evidence did she have to go on, save for her patient's testimony and her own suspicions? And Jonathan had spent more time with the girl than she had…
But you can't rule out the fact that he's a corrupted SOB and admits as much.
But what would his motivation be? she had to wonder. Other than the fact that he doesn't like her? And I doubt he's that petty.
So, either she was wrong or Jonny was wrong. Neither thought was exactly appealing.
Her plan probably was the best way to go. Probably. Probably.
At least this way she could figure out who was right without doing massive damage to her patient's psyche. If it turned out that she'd been mistaken, then April started taking her meds again, simple as that. As for the guards, that was another problem entirely.
See, this is why I shouldn't get attached, she thought wryly as she picked the lock on the door to Arkham's pharmacy. I get too involved, then I start doing shit for them that could cost me my job.
Oh, please, she had to admit. You know you love this.
It was true. The thought of unemployment didn't even scare her. And it wasn't that she was totally confident that she would get away with this, either. She knew that there was a chance—a very good chance—that she'd get caught, and if that happened, she also knew the likelihood of being able to talk her way out of being sacked. Or arrested. Though her disregard for the rules seemed to appeal to Jonathan, she doubted that he would appreciate her going against his orders. Their friendship wouldn't keep him from firing her ass. Especially if she was caught stealing from the pharmacy.
He does like his drugs, she sing-songed airily, then cringed. Jesus Christ, don't start cracking up now!
A deep breath momentarily subdued her growing excitement as the lock clicked open and she quietly snuck into the pharmacy. Her eyes flitted from bottle to bottle, taking in each name as quickly as they could. She had managed to con Mark Tess into taking the night shift, turning off the cameras in the pharmaceutical wing, and playing lookout while she raided the place. Not that the guard would have agreed had he known just what she was looking for. As far as Tess was concerned, he probably figured she was searching for appetite suppressors or pep pills, something like that. It wouldn't have surprised her.
The latter might not have been so bad, actually. It would have sped things up, at any rate, and her time was limited. Tess had guaranteed her fifteen minutes at the most before another guard either noticed that the cameras were off or that Tess wasn't in the surveillance room like he was supposed to be. She had to move fast.
Come on… Where is it… Wheeere is it…?
She knew that they had it, with the number of rapists housed in Arkham, and especially now that Jonny was in charge. Psych-pharm. was his thing; it wouldn't have made sense if they didn't stock it. Besides, she remembered prescribing it to Allan Breedlove; they had to have it.
She moved on to another isle, her giddy buzz rapidly giving way to frustration.
Damn it! She sighed, trying to recall any of the breathing techniques she had learned from Red's yoga classes. She called them Red's classes because, flexible though she was, yoga wasn't really her forte. On her own or with Pammy, she was fine, but when an instructor was telling her to let her guard down in a room full of people she didn't know? Easier said than done. She would have preferred a kickboxing class. Or a tae-bo class. Or a "Here's a bat; go smash some valuable china" class. That would've been relaxing. But the whole zen, breathing thing worked, she supposed.
It's kept me from murdering that fucking pedophile, she admitted. So far. Shit… Okay. I'm to be looking for something, here. Her eyes darted back and forth. Need…to find…MPA. MPA, MPA—oh, there we go!
Smiling triumphantly, she took the drug from its self.
Castration in a can—well bottle, anyway.
She wished that she could have used Depo Provera—that only needed to be administered four times a year—but somehow she doubted that Bolton and the other guards would have sat still and let her inject them a drug that made their manhood wilt like tulips in the fall. However, they never needed to know that she had crushed up the right about of MPA and slipped it into their community coffee pot (they were al too cheap or too lazy to bring their own), and then, hopefully, hopefully April would be safe. She couldn't keep stealing from Arkham, of course. Sooner or later, she'd have to find an outside supplier, but that wouldn't be too hard. MPA was a contraceptive, and she was, what? A young, ambitious career woman worried about getting knocked up? Celibacy was out of the question and she wanted to be extra precautious because condoms could break, but she was afraid of needles? Her doctor would understand, and give her the pills. For now, however, she didn't see the point in paying for the stuff when she had no idea if it would actually work.
Here's hoping, she thought grimly and slipped the bottle into her pocket.
Taking care to keep her movements quiet, she hastily made her exit, chest tight with adrenaline as she slipped outside and locked the door behind her.
I'm such an danger whore, she chastised herself, striding casually down the hall, still feeling a rush from the thrill of getting caught and relishing in it. Sneaking around like this really could have been avoided, but… It's why I do what I do.
The bottle of pills shifted against her hip, its small weight mildly assuring as her heels clacked against the tiled floor. This would work, she thought. Hopefully, this would work.
And now…home again, home again, jiggity-jig.
I hope that this chapter wasn't too disappointing, considering how long it's been since an update. Again, I apologize for that. Hopefully the next installment won't take as long.
DID – dissociative identity disorder, better known as multiple personality disorder, is often confused with schizophrenia or thought to be the same thing. Schizophrenia is an organic brain disease that often causes hallucinations and disorganized thought. DID is caused by repeated emotional, physical, or sexual abuse over an extended period of time, and those suffering from it tend to blackout rather than hallucinate. Like Harley says, while schizophrenia can be helped with various medicines, there is no medicinal cure for DID, though therapy and psychoanalysis have been known to help. Many members of the medical community believe that DID does not exist, while others argue that it does but that it's almost always an adverse result of therapy. And yet, we have Harley insisting that therapy is the best way to help April. Funny that.
"…you're acting like Dr. Leland." – I'm not sure why I have both of them rag on Joan, since I've never had a problem with her. Jonathan probably doesn't like her just because he sees anyone sweet as being either untrustworthy or stupid. Harley insists on confronting reality too much to ever get along with someone so optimistic, despite her own seemingly upbeat demeanor. Plus, I don't think she'd be personally offended by Leland's nice-but-condescending personality, but she would feel that the patients didn't deserve it. It's too good for horrible people like Breedlove, and it's an insult to patients like April who are suffering from a disorder they can't control but are by no means completely out of it. That, and the small matter of Mother Issues might have something to do with it, even if they're nowhere near as bad as her Daddy issues. But I'll stop before I say too much.
Mary Dahl – aka "Baby Doll" from the BtAS episode of the same name. Though her voice got on my nerves, I've always found the character to be rather sad. Of course, in Nolan-verse, she'd probably be much more sinister, à la Orphan or something like that.
…he doubted that she had a Scarecrow – she just has a malicious clown girl with a Brooklyn/Yiddish accent. :-P Not that I think that Harley has a split personality. Meh, it'll be explained later on.
…a person couldn't come from abuse and be happy – don't listen to Dr. Crane, kids. He's just being a Negative Nancy. Overcoming adversity and leading a happy life despite adversity are two different things, and I think that both are possible if a person is determined enough and has support. But I also think that Jonathan is such a cynic that he's almost convinced that the latter isn't possible unless it's a façade. Therefore, he doubts that Harley had a difficult childhood since he knows that she's pretty open about who she is.
Jervis Tetch – while I think that the Mad Hatter is one of the more realistic Bat villains, I also have a hard time picturing him as a main villain in one of Nolan's movies. Mind control chips seem kinda gimmicky and having B-man tracking down a paedophile doesn't seem like a route they'd wanna take. Besides, Batsy always seems like he's too busy dealing with the mob and all the other large-scale problems to focus on kiddie pervs (Harley bitches him out about this later; don't worry). Back to the point, I think having Tetch make a cameo appearance could totally work, hence why I wanted to do one here. Originally, I'd wanted to have all of Jonny and Harley's patients be characters from the comics, but as this all takes place before Batman is created so therefore none of the Arkham regulars are, well, regulars I pretty much had to nix that idea. But the hints of pedophilia surrounding Tetch in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth totally made me want to include him instead of just having Harley be shaken up by some random child molester. Incidentally, I keep imagining Tetch looking like Timothy Spall (Sweeney Todd, Enchanted, and the Harry Potter films).
Typical behavior of a pedophile – one trait that's common among pedophiles is that they target vulnerable children, as in kids who come from abusive and/or negligent families, don't fit in at school, are going through their parents' divorce, etc. Basically, kids in need of compassion or support because this makes them easier to manipulate. I should mention that they often take their time getting to know the child first; kids do get abducted, but that seems to be more common in TV and movies than reality. Much as I prefer to be as realistic as possible, the Mad Hatter obviously a special case.
He lured them into his van… – come on, you know I had to give Tetch a pedo van. The image isn't complete without one, especially since he doesn't have a pedostache.
"…he…targets children…because he never grew up." – unlike most offenders, there don't seem to be many shared characteristics amongst pedophiles that might have caused them to become sexually attracted to children. However, one idea is that arrested emotional development is the cause, basically saying that they're attracted to kids because they've never matured psychologically.
Detective Nashton – much as I like him, I don't think I could ever do the Riddler justice, hence why he probably won't be included in this story. But I still wanted to give him a cameo. :-) For the record, I definitely do not picture Jim Carrey's Riddler, neither in appearance nor behavior. To me, Nolanized Eddie (before he goes nuts) would be like a combination of Dexter, Sherlock Holmes (both original and à la Robert Downey Jr.) and House. Fun Fact: The last two kinda make sense, since House, MD is based on Sir Conan Doyle's mysteries. A few more unimportant things: I see him dressing like House, doing sneakers and jeans with a suit jacket over a T-shirt (and then a bowler hat :D); I've always liked reformed bad boy Eddie, which is the main reason why he works for the GCPD here; and the fact that Harley likes him is a nod to Dr. Doodle's adorable Quiddler fics, which you should definitely read.
"…too-small feoras…" – anyone else ever noticed this? Much as I like hats, I'm not a fan of the "fedora fad," mainly because their usually tacky looking, too small, and too formal for whatever else the person is wearing. In short: they just look dumb.
"…everyone assumes that their relationship must be more than platonic…" – even though this is totally hypocritical since I ship Harley/Jonny, it's meant to make fun of how in books, movies, and even real life, people are always trying to push a guy and a girl together, even if they're just friends. And it seems like a lot of this has to do with the fact that they have opposing sexes. It's very high school, in a way; that "I saw Joey with Tara—that must mean they're together!" mindset. The only thing that really annoys me about this is the fact that it's often hard to be in a relationship and still hang out with my guy friends.
…that clingy lawyer – just in case because it was brief, in Chapter V, Harley mentions having dated a criminal lawyer whom she couldn't stand because he always wanted her to make decisions for him.
…some rookie named Cassidy – reference to Dr. Sarah Cassidy from Batman: Arkham Asylum.
"Here's a bat; go smash some valuable china" class – there's this idea that you shouldn't keep your feelings bottled up because, one day, you'll just snap and go on a rampage. And, to an extent, this is sorta true. However, venting your frustrations in a physical manner both is and isn't healthy. The good: It helps you vent, obviously. The bad: Venting makes you feel good and when something makes us feel good, we tend to do it again. Until it becomes a habit. As in, it gets to the point where we actually want to be angry and flip shit over something insignificant. And if there's no punching bag/wall/valuable china around, it's possible that we'll start to take our aggression out on another person, which definitely isn't good (unless the bastard deserves it, haha). I'm looking forward to having someone (probably Jonathan) call Batman on this once we get into post-TDK territory. I'd like to have Harley do it, but that'd be somewhat hypocritical of her (and, oh, would you look at that foreshadowing).
Castration in a can – aka, chemical castration. Instead of actually castrating or sterilizing sex offenders, they're given anti-androgen drugs that reduce their libidos and, therefore, their sexual activities. While this doesn't stop them from having violent fantasies/urges, the idea is that reducing the sex drive will reduce the power and frequency of the offenders' fantasies, which will make them less likely to offend again.
MPA – medroxyprogesterone acetate is used as both a contraceptive and a form of chemical castration. Originally, I was gonna go with Depo Provera (explained below) until I realized that it needed to be injected, thus killing the idea of Harley putting it in the guards' coffee. But MPA can be taken orally or via injection and, after nearly going crazy trying to find out if crushing pills and then drinking them only works on TV, I found out that it's okay as long as it's not a time-release drug. Thankfully, MPA isn't, so yay for that.
Depo Provera – this is the most common form of chemical castration because it's long acting and a person only needs to receive an injection every three months.
Home again, home again, jiggity-jig – from the BtAS episode "Harley's Holiday", plus it's also a line from a well known nursery rhyme.
Disclaimer: Harley and Jonny belong to DC, as do Eddie, Jervis, Pammy, and Bolton. April and the rest are mine.