((Inspiration hit me; couldn't help myself. And though there's going to be love, in a very strange and unnatural way, there's going to be about zero romance. One: because I suck at writing fluffy things, and two: I still can't see Crane ever being loving or fluffy to any living thing. So, yeah: no 'Caring woman teaches Crane to love' sort of thing here. I have more fun with the antisocial, misanthropic, generally-an-asshole Crane anyway. :D))


"And did you consider my offer?"

Two people, a woman and a man, sit at a small table in a chic new up-and-coming restaurant and watch each other from across a small circular table (very modern, very chic, but very cumbersome to reach over at times) polished to glimmering perfection, a low lamplight hanging over their small table and giving little illumination to the dim restaurant (ambiance, dahling). As the man asks her this, the woman, mid to late thirties, long natural red hair hanging down her back, speckled with a few troublesome grays here and there, laughs slightly. There's a distinct stain of red lipstick on the edge of the wine glass at her lips.

"Sasha, I already told you. I've thought over it, and I'm perfectly happy with working for the city." She giggles, flirtatiously, and he knows that she's kind of drunk by now. Tipsy, that's the word. He runs a hand over his short, slicked back blond hair, a nervous tic. He sighs, narrowing his eyes at her a moment.

"I prefer Doctor Kaseff, Jacqueline." He chides, and she very slightly narrows glazed stormy blue-gray eyes.

"I told you to call me Jack when we're alone, y'know. Yeah, you know." She smiles again now, messing with her top because it's kind of tight. She did pick the tightest one she had, though, her white blouse with the shiny black buttons, and her short black pencil skirt that's also too tight to be comfortable. Oh, and those black heels that hurt her feet.

And she goes through all the trouble just to mess with Doctor Sasha Kaseff. He's been her mentor since she was fresh out of med school herself, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and sure that she was going to change the world. That didn't happen, of course, but she remained close friends with Kaseff, a very serious, parental sort of doctor that she had shadowed for a period of time when she was still trying to get her own white coat. She likes him, because he's kind of like a big brother who teaches you about mental illnesses and does other neat things. Things like trying to offer you jobs.

"You know I prefer to call you Jacqueline. But in any case, Jack, the opportunity is absolutely golden. You've stated, many…many times that you're very bored with your current position; why not try?" Kaseff asks, leaning his chin on his fist, his elbow on the table, as he watches her finish her glass of wine. This is her second, maybe her third. He's going to have to stop her soon. His gray eyes narrow slightly, with disdain, as she finishes it off and then idly waves her empty glass at the passing maître d'. "Jacqueline…haven't you had enough?" He asks, dryly, as a waiter that looks rather busy, disheveled, weaves through the tables and produces a bottle, refilling Jacqueline's glass with ruby red wine.

"Nah. Anyway, Doc Kaseff," Jacqueline says easily, swirling her merlot (or was that pinto noir?) in her glass, before taking a sip and letting the wine coat the back of her throat. She sits the glass back down on the table and her eyes meet his, as she taps her nails on the edge of the plate holding what's left of her steak. "You're right; I am bored lately…but…" She trails off, before letting out the odd giggle. "You're just a doctor; what if they don't need me there?"

"I assure you," Kaseff tells her, regretting letting her get her paws on the wine, "We have no excess of people wanting to work at Arkham. It's a very dangerous job, you see."

"Pfft. It's not the danger I'm worried about, Dr.," Jacqueline mumbles, staring out the window. There's an odd seriousness about her now, and it's almost startling how quickly she switches between her irreverent and serious moods. "Not that. Anyway, you can't just hand out jobs."

"I can make a recommendation. The director…well, you've heard of him, I'm sure."

"Mm hm. Crane, right?" Jacqueline queries, her eyes back and focusing on Kaseff's face. He's older than she is, and she's pushing forty. She's got laugh lines, he's got crow's feet, and they're both getting old and they both know it, too. As he speaks, his voice deep and commanding respect, she glances idly to the night outside; it's getting dark, has to be ten or eleven by now.

"Jonathan Crane. I'm sure he'd be pleased to have an older, more experienced doctor on the job instead of one of the newer breed. You know how devil-may-care the ones fresh out of med school are." Kaseff closes his eyes and rubs his temple, offhandedly; he briefly wonders if it would be all right to join Jack in her drinking, but thinks better of it since he's driving.

"Insinuating my age, doctor? You know how that wounds me." Jacqueline sets her half empty wine glass down, which she's counted to be her third, and steeples her fingers under her chin, staring at Kaseff with another flirtatious smile. She really shouldn't have put her hands on the wine. "You sound like an old man when you talk about the damn kids nowadays, you know."

Kaseff, nudging aside his empty plate of grilled chicken, calls for the bill and waits on the ticket. "We're getting on in the years, Jacqueline. I'm a month away from fifty-seven, you're thirty-nine, three weeks to forty. Nowadays, we're aged."

"Like fine wine." Jacqueline smiles, draining the rest of her glass and setting it aside. "Anyway…about that offer…" She trails off, still smiling coyly, and inwardly curses touching the wine. Had Kaseff planned it, to make her say yes? He knows that she does love her wine. Maybe a little too much. "Mm…"

"There's always the choice of a trial period there, maybe a week, or a month, and then you make your decision on permanency. It's all up to Doctor Crane in the end, of course, but I can't see why he'd say no. We can try anyway." Kaseff nudges, seeing her apprehensions crumbling.

"Oh…fine, I guess it couldn't hurt." Jacqueline giggles again, a bit drunkenly, and Kaseff smiles slightly. It fades when Jacqueline tries to stand and nearly topples over, and Kaseff has to escort her out of the restaurant and to the car, after paying the bill. He walks her to the car and opens the door, and Jack slides in thankfully. The drive back to her apartment isn't long, and he walks her to the door and then they say their goodbyes, before Kaseff drives away, and Jacqueline makes her way inside and lies down on her couch to rest her eyes for just a second.


There's a constant loud noise somewhere off in the hazy distance. Jacqueline tries to hide her face in the material of the couch, and her head is pulsing with pain. After a moment, the noise stops and she sighs inwardly, before keeping her eyes closed and trying to get back to sleep.

She snaps awake and rolls off the couch, her elbow colliding with the wooden table set out in front of it as she falls, as her cell phone goes off in her ear. Now her arm is hurting horribly, a tingling, numbing pain that makes her hiss obscenities as she grabs at the phone. Today was her day off; she wanted to sleep off the hangover she knew she was going to have.

"What?!" She snarls into the phone, forgoing any greeting, and is surprised to hear an unfamiliar voice. It's cool and detached, and there's a distinct feeling of dread when she hears him speak.

"Doctor Jacqueline Leblanc?" The caller queries, his voice frigid, and she nods to no one, mainly out of habit.

"Yes. Whom am I speaking with, exactly?" Jacqueline twirls a lock of hair around her finger, curious. There's what sounds like a very close to inaudible sigh on the other end, before the caller speaks again.

"Crane. Jonathan Crane." He tells her, and Jacqueline's tone straightens up instantly. Of course he had to call when she was hungover. There's a soft papery rustling noise, and she wonders if he's flipping through files while he's talking with her. "Doctor Kaseff made a recommendation of you; you work for the city, correct? It says here that you're currently in the psych ward of Gotham General."

"Yes, erm…Mr. Crane." Jacqueline is trying to very quietly rifle through her own home compiled folder to get a good idea of what Crane might be looking at for reference. "You've called rather quickly."

"Dr. Kaseff held you in high regard, and Arkham is experiencing a lack of sufficiently experienced personnel." He states, in a decidedly disinterested tone, making no attempt to try and hide his ennui. "Your history is comprehensive over your years of practice… fourteen years, correct?"

"That's right."

"I see. And you've dabbled in the pharmaceutical aspect as well?"

"Psychopharmacology? Yes, though my major experience has been in clinical and criminal psychology, and most of that has been focused on humanistic and existential psychology processes integrated into therapy-"

"Very well." The good doctor cuts her off, and with her mouth still open in the process of forming words; she shuts it and listens to him, a bit irritated. "Are you still interested in this trial period at Arkham?" He asks her, his tone clipped but his voice very calm and quiet. Jacqueline hesitates; she's told Kaseff yes, but she was more than a little drunk when she did. She's unsure now.

"If you need time to think about it, then feel free. There's no rush. Give me a call if you decide that you'd like to take the opportunity." He tells her, and she nods again to no one.

"Thank you, doctor Crane. I'll be sure to."

The other end of the line goes dead as Crane hangs up on her, and she briefly wonders how he got her cell phone number. Kaseff, probably; he's very intent on getting her into Arkham, but it's probably just because he wants her to move up from Gotham General; she's said time and time again that it's a relatively mundane job and she's far beyond bored with it. But that doesn't mean that she wants to just randomly jump from hospital psych ward to an asylum for the criminally insane. The incredibly dangerous criminally insane.

Jacqueline spends a minute pondering, thinking about the possibilities of working in Arkham, what she may accomplish there, before realizing that she's been pacing and doing a mental checklist and generally looking kind of stupid. She groans under her breath, rolls her neck on her shoulders and hears a sequence of small pops, and decides that a shower is in order. Or a bath. A long, hot bath, with rose-scented bath soap and pink bubbles.