Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or their property. You can see them all on youtube, under the Batman episode "Dreams in Darkness".

Vaccine

He'd seen the watch in an antique shop window. It was old, and certainly not half so valuable as the clerk suggested. But Jonathan Crane looked and was mesmerized despite himself. Blunt, black roman numerals. An intricate pair of hands that never twitched but crept steadily towards the approaching hour. No stammer, no stutter, no uncertainty. And that sawing, swinging reaper steadily slashing away seconds between six and center…

He twirled the thing absently as he waited, well below the asylum proper. It didn't comfort him, and it didn't thrill him. Crane, for all his eccentricities, wasn't morbid per se. Simply curious. Dread was often the unknown, and what greater unknown than death?

Especially given its inevitability. A forced confrontation, inescapable and terrifying. Almost (he smiled grimly) like Batman. The dark knight was late tonight. Scarecrow watched his grinning, ticking skeleton slaughter time and understood that their pattern could not change. Unbending, unending. Hope frightened him more than resignation because hope could turn traitor.

Acceptance and pessimism, meanwhile, were a rogue's guardian angels. They whispered words of caution for every interaction, every scheme, every dream. Jonathan sacrificed at the alter of paranoia, receiving prophecies of doom and ruin in return. Thus he did not panic when his enemy arrived, hallucinating out of his head from toxin. Jonathan Crane, you see, had discovered the cure to fear long ago.

It was despair.