This is a prequel to 'Burlap' - although it can be easily read on its own. Yet another prompt by Lauralot because I was in the mood to write something fun and for me for a change. However you take it - I hope you all enjoy~
Joan Leland is a character from Batman: The Animated Series. The rest are OC's filling space since we don't really have anything prior to the movie to go off.
And of course liberties were taken with the design of Arkham. It's the combination of all the different continuities in my head quirked to work the way I want. Ah the joys of fanfiction~
Holding experiments in his office just weren't cutting it any longer.
Jonathan rubbed his temples as he paced the length of the room. He was appreciative of the large space thanks to his office doubling as a treatment room, but it was too confining once he got out his equipment and the walls far too thin. It was getting more difficult to excuse the screaming as the patient having a fit now that his toxin was growing in strength. They were experiencing far less cowering and whimpering side effects and far more, Jonathan tried to think of a proper term, vocal reactions.
Jonathan hadn't been aware Peter could scream that loud.
It had taken him nearly an hour to convince Joan that the poor man had recalled a traumatic event and was freaking out. Jonathan considered it quite the performance himself considering the man had been screaming about daffodils at the time. In either case, the crisis had been averted.
The good doctor stared at the Rorschach Inkblot on his wall and bit his thumb. He needed someplace that he could slip off too where he could get back quickly. Someplace soundproof and out of the way. And secure so he could store his equipment there. (He was getting sick of getting it all out to make a little progress and having to shove it all back int the boxes quickly pending an intruder stumbling upon them.) Perhaps someplace intimidating as well so he could work in environmental factors-
"Lord, Dr. Crane. Did you have to pick a sleeper couch? These things are freakin' heavy." Justin moaned as he panted over the edge of said piece of furniture that was the most awful shade of wheat field yellow. He had just lugged the stupid thing from one corner of the room to the other to make more space in the center. He was fairly certain that moving the Doc's furniture wasn't part of his job description as an orderly slash security guard slash whatever hell thing he was doing with the staff being so short. Then again, considering how many places he'd been in this damn asylum being reduced to moving furniture wasn't all that out of place. Justin rubbed his forehead when he noticed Dr. Crane was still staring at the painting on his wall. "Is this where you want it or not?"
"Yes, that's good, Justin." Jonathan turned around and looked at the couch now flush with the back wall. The orderlies weren't the most intelligent lot, but there were all large and muscular. Justin had the added benefit of being easy on the eyes with his muscled arms and defined features despite the sickly pale blonde hair and dirty blue eyes. "And yes, it had to be a sleeper. A couch is hardly adequate for nights I don't make it out of the office."
"That can't be healthy Dr. Crane." Justin chuckled knowing already full well this couch got more than its fair share of use. The doctor lived on the other side of the city that once it hit midnight there wasn't much point in going home. Safer to stay in the office than daring Gotham at night. "Stayin' in this creepy place all the time."
"I'd hardly call my office 'creepy,' Justin." Jonathan scoffed. The orderly walked around and plopped down on the couch to take a breath. He rolled his eyes. Resting before the job was done, honestly. "Do you think you're up to helping me move in the new patient couch or was that too much?"
Justin frowned and pulled himself up and brushed off the dust from his white pants. He hated the days when he played orderly. The grey security guard uniform was so much nicer. "I told ya' I was going to move your furniture, didn't I?"
Jonathan caught himself a bit in response to the defensive tone. A look again at the muscled arms and he suddenly remembered why someone else was moving his couches in the first place. What he wouldn't do for a little vile of his toxin on his person at all times - just in case. "Of course. I was just teasing."
"Oh." Justin rubbed the back of his head. "Hard to tell sometimes with you, Dr. Crane."
"My own fault." Jonathan raised an eyebrow and turned back towards the window to look down below. He frowned as the moving men dropped his new psychiatrist's couch roughly on the pavement. It was an antique for goodness sake! "It seems you may want to instruct the movers before they destroy my new couch."
"Right." Justin shrugged and headed out the door. Moving furniture around wasn't so bad all things considered.
Jonathan watched the help leave before turning back to his desk. His train of thought had been interrupted and he still needed to solve his dilemma. Jonathan sat on the edge of his desk and watched Justin start yelling at the movers helping him get the couch inside and frowned. He needed a new home for his experiments. Someplace that was roomy, had plenty of storage, was private, soundproof, and a bonus was some place that had a cell of some sort for a patient to experience an extended stay should the effects be worse than he originally intended.
But where on earth was he going to find a place like that in Arkham? With all the patient security he was lucky to get away with anything in his own office (thank goodness for a budget that didn't allow for cameras outside of patient room hallways and the criminal wing...) let alone in some other room like the laundry. Plus there were people everywhere with greasy fingers just waiting to find his prototypes on accident. Jonathan sighed and rubbed his forehead. Things like this shouldn't be hindering his progress.
At the sound of the loud crash he raised from the seat and looked out the window again. The idiot movers had broken his couch. What a lovely day.
Jonathan stopped in the hallway when he heard his name being hailed from somewhere behind him. He looked up from the report he was reviewing on one of his newer patients and turned around seeing an empty hallway. He frowned and wondered if it was possible he was merely hearing things, but that couldn't possibly be the case.
"Over here!" A muffled grunt. "Doc!"
Jonathan put the form back into the folder and tucked it under his arm. He heard a thump and a muffled curse and realized it was coming from the nook in the hallway at the end. He trailed down the angled corridor until he reached the end and found a flustered Justin leaning up against a door jam, arms full of what appeared to be a rather heavy box, fingers reaching for a door knob. Strange, Jonathan thought to himself. He didn't remember this door. Jonathan turned around and looked down the hallway and realized where he had been wasn't visible from here. "How did you see me?"
Justin grunted and tried to shift the stupid boxes in his hands. Manual labor seemed to be the only damn thing he did around this place. "Uh, I heard you reading to yourself out loud." He shifted the heavy boxes. He swore the director had some nerve making him heave these stupid books into storage. "Could you please get the door? I managed to get the key in but I can't turn it."
Jonathan lifted an eyebrow, annoyed at being disturbed from his work. "And putting down the box was impossible, because?"
"I don't think I'll be able to pick it back up." Justin winced and tried to roll his shoulder. "You wouldn't think books would be so heavy but after carting them from the director's office it's starting to feel like I'm carrying lead around."
"I suppose I can take a moment to open the door." Jonathan reached around and twisted the knob and pushed open the pale white door, sharing the same chipped paint as the rest of the establishment expecting to see a storage room of some sort.
"Thanks, Dr. Crane." Justin nodded as he strode past the suddenly still doctor. A few steps later he noticed the raven-haired man was still staring. "Something the matter?"
"Ah." Jonathan answered while his eyes drank in the sight of the dark, dingy metal staircase that stretched down into a pitch black abyss. "Where does this go?"
"The basement." The orderly shrugged as he took a careful step down. The last thing he needed was to trip and fall down this narrow death trap of a set of stairs. "There's a bunch of storage rooms and shit down there."
"Ah, I wasn't aware we had a basement." Jonathan wondered how he could possibly have overlooked such a thing.
"Most of the docs don't, really. No reason for you guys to go down there and they definitely don't want patients going down here. Heck, I think I'm the only orderly who ever gets asked to bring stuff down come to think of it." Justin laughed as he started to disappear down the steps and be swallowed by the darkness. Whatever moron put the light switch at the bottom should be shot in the kneecaps. "See ya' later."
"Yes, later." Jonathan muttered as Justin disappeared beneath the inky horizon. Jonathan felt a tiny smile twitch at his lip.
The doctor couldn't help but twitch as Joan sat on his desk reading a report. The clock was also refusing to cooperate and strike the time to be six o'clock signaling Joan's departure from the asylum. As well as the director and anyone else on staff who wasn't on the night shift. Joan flipped a few pages and picked up his pen to make a few notes. Jonathan added the appropriate interjections here and there to comment on her patient and tapped his fingers impatiently on the desk.
He had to get back to that door.
Jonathan wasn't sure why, but he was positive something that out of the way and unknown had something he could use. It was calling to him like a siren or an angel answering his prayers. If Justin was bringing things down to store there was likely a dusty storage room that would never notice if an extra box showed up in a dim corner.
"I'm concerned for Peter, Jonathan." Joan started as she flipped over to a new report. Jonathan had been rather fond of Peter lately and she was sure he was investing his personal time in the man's recover. "He hasn't been making any progress."
"I can deal with my own patients, Joan." Jonathan added before deftly taking his file back. "I am sorry his screaming fit interrupted your session next door, but he is doing much better now."
"I know, but your plate is so full already I was wondering if you needed help with him."
"I've got it covered, Joan." Jonathan would have it further covered if he could just get to those stairs and find out if he had a home base. "And I'm pretty sure your own patients won't appreciate any time taken from them for my patients."
Joan sighed thoughtfully and tapped the desk with a finger. Dr. Crane was always trying to do things all by himself. "You know that's not what I meant, Jonathan."
"Of course, Joan." Jonathan held his head for a moment. He wanted her to leave. "I'm sorry I'm so short with you today. I have a bit of a headache."
Joan started a bit and looked at her fellow doctor. He had slight bags under his eyes and his shoulders were tense. Jonathan was looking a bit under the weather. Joan checked her watch quickly and let out a little gasp. "Oh, it's almost six. I must have lost track of time."
"Tomorrow then." Jonathan smiled as Joan left the office. He waited for the tell-tale click of the door in the office next door before taking action. In another ten minutes the main staff of Arkham will have left the building and Jonathan will have plenty of time to investigate. Jonathan rummaged through the bottom drawer of a little used file cabinet and located his tool kit (some gift or another from the director that he'd never even bothered to open) and grinned.
From the set he located a metal flashlight and grabbed a screwdriver. If he was lucky he could find an access panel or something to remove and find a cubby. He could absolutely not allow any one to locate his research from its hiding place. Tools in hand, Jonathan sat at his desk and stared intently at the clock. Six o'clock arrived and he listened for the door. He and Joan were always the last to leave the building for the day staff, so as soon as she was - there. A small click followed by a slam thanks to the heavy doors.
Once the familiar click-clack of the woman's heels had disappeared, Jonathan shot up from his chair and headed out of his office door. Halls empty in the doctors' wing of the building pushed Jonathan forward as he walked with purpose. Normally he wouldn't be concerned about being caught - he worked at Arkham. He was one of the top and highest rated psychiatrists in the facility which meant he could very well go where he pleased.
However, human beings are curious and tend to ask questions. The last thing he needed was "What are you doing in the storage room, Dr. Crane?" Coming up with lies on the spot was not overly difficult but he'd much prefer to avoid the entire situation. The white walls of the hallway mocked him as he continued past them looking for the door that was slightly bent on its hinges that went unnoticed by most of the staff.
When he reached the door, Jonathan took a breath and hoped it was unlocked. Justin had been using a key earlier but maybe the man had forgotten to re-lock it when he left. Still holding his breath, Jonathan turned the knob and nearly grinned when it pushed open. Pushing the switch forward to turn on his flashlight, Jonathan took the first few steps down the metal stairs. He closed the door behind him and groped for the railing with his free hand.
It was dark.
Jonathan was starting to wonder how on earth Justin had made it down these steps without illumination of some sort, but then again he seemed familiar enough he could have just known how many steps there were. Jonathan kept his grip on the railing regardless as he took each step one at a time. Each creek and whine that came from the stairs got his blood pumping just that much faster, as if the steps were threatening to fall out from under him any second. Well, a terrifying atmosphere seemed to be present. That was one thing checked off his list.
After what seemed like an eternity, and his brow now lightly salted with nervous sweat, Jonathan hit the final step and found himself in a small storage area that couldn't have been more than four feet on either side of the stairwell. He sighed at the loss as he browsed with the flashlight, however he paused when he realized directly in front of him was a door. Curious, Jonathan pushed forward and found this door didn't even have a lock. Pushing forward he couldn't help the slight grin.
He'd never once thought before the building material could be so beautiful. A concrete hallway, dusty, dirty, but very functional with rooms stretching down the length of the corridor laid before him. Jonathan decided not to bother with the light switch and stick with the flash light just in case things weren't wired as one would expect. Last thing he needed was to turn on a light and turn on something upstairs instead. Sweeping the hall with the flashlight he noticed three or four rooms spaced rather far apart and an elevator dead center.
Upon further inspection, Jonathan realized this was the service elevator that only went as high as the lobby and as such went mostly ignored. That could be useful in a pinch if necessary. At the very least, the coat of dust on the buttons attached to the wall let him know it hadn't been used in a while. Leaving the elevator, Jonathan peered into the rooms through the small windows and couldn't stop the grin. Three identical rooms, with nothing more than a table and a few restraining chairs. Jonathan reached for the door knob and frowned when he realized these rooms were locked.
He'd either have to get a key or resort to picking the locks.
Frustrated at having his explorations cut short, Jonathan headed back to the stairs. This would be a perfect location for his experiments if he could get into the rooms. He sighed and headed back towards the hallway and as he passed the elevator he paused. It was almost too tempting to pass up and thanks to his explorations it was already, a pause to look at his watch with the flashlight, a little past seven. No one in the office wing of the building would be present.
Jonathan pressed the down button, already knowing where the up led.
He listened quietly as the elevator made its way down the single floor and stopped, doors opening with a screech. He was now quite positive this area of the building was going completely unused. Daring the step inside the lit elevator he turned to look at the buttons on the side. It seemed it only went down one other floor. Depressing the button yet again, Jonathan waited as the car made its way down noting that it was taking a rather long time to get to that next floor. When the doors opened and he had taken a few steps forward it was obvious why.
He was under Gotham.
The space stretched out for what seemed like forever and the room was filled with mechanical and electrical equipment, pipes and walkways crisscrossing over each other in every direction. It was dark, dirty and the groaning of the equipment and settling metal sent a chill down his spine. He could hear running water rushing from somewhere as well. Jonathan swallowed and looked around for another soul among all the metal and grey concrete but didn't see anyone.
Who could have possibly known that beneath Arkham Asylum was this wondrous place? Empty rooms, dark and dank atmosphere and access to the underbelly of Gotham city. Arkham Asylum had an access to Gotham's, Jonathan looked again, water pipes maybe? Either way it was perfect.
There was amble room to spread out with all the empty rooms. Storage was no problem when if worse came to worse he could hide things down here under Gotham instead of in the actual asylum. No one ever came down here so privacy was a given, Jonathan nearly giggled. It was far enough down and covered in beautiful concrete so he doubted even the loudest scream would break through. Hell, the rooms even had restraining chairs and locks on the doors.
Dr. Crane wondered where their dear janitorial staff kept their skeleton key. He was in desperate need of a copy.
Justin hated his life.
He was stuck in a dead end job working double shifts and his little girl deserved a pretty necklace for her birthday but he couldn't afford a nice one. The orderly huffed as he cleaned out the bed pans for the nurses' station ignoring the rancid smell and longing for a long bath. The flu was going around and the nursing staff was short two people. Even with Justin helping out with the dirty work, they were still struggling to get everything done. At least as soon as he was done here he could do rounds and try to stretch that out until his shift ended in the morning.
Justin dumped the last of the pans on the drying rack and headed over to the wash sink to scrub his hands and arms with as much soap as possible. He wasn't sure how the nurses handled the patients throwing all those bodily fluids and matter at them, but they managed somehow. It was amazing what smells perfume could cover up. He sighed happily as he felt the hot water slush over his arms and worked up a lather. Best part of the night.
Hands dried on a towel and Justin was on his way out the door of the nurses wing back towards the main offices. The doctors always had a snack or two hanging out in the cupboards and it was calling his name. His voice echoed slightly off the walls as Justin hummed down the hall. He always thought it was odd how quiet this place was at two, three in the morning. Then again, patients who couldn't sleep usually got drugs to help and the rest tended to stay quiet. It was a nice change of pace from the screaming and shivering and mumblings of the day shift.
Which is why the loud thud and the followed cursing was highly out of place.
Justin took a detour from his path and saw a shadow from around the corner. There stooped on the ground was a rather familiar face, holding his hand as if it had been stung by something. The dropped box next to him made the orderly wonder if the guy hit his hand. Justin hesitated slightly when he asked. "Dr. Crane?"
"Ah!" Jonathan shot up from the floor and adjusted his glasses back on his face. His hand still smarted from bending his fingers back when he dropped the box, but that was the least of his concerns. Such as checking for any broken glass and getting rid of his guest. "Justin. What, what are you doing here?"
"I work the night shift." Justin walked closer and dropped his eyes down to the box. There were some papers sticking out of the edges of the box, but there was a pipet too. He was pretty sure chemistry equipment wasn't part of the doc's treatments. "What're you doing here?"
"Ah, well, after you brought some storage down to the basement I realized it was a good place to store items." Jonathan smiled and tried to act casual. There wasn't supposed to be anyone around at three in the morning! "Just clearing some things out."
"This early? Usually you're passed out on your pull out by now."
Jonathan's eyes widened. "Excuse me?"
"What? We check the offices at night, too, you know." Justin huffed and shoved his hands in the pants' pockets. "We need to know who's in the building in case of an emergency. You're either gone or asleep on your couch about now."
"Oh." Jonathan cleared his throat. "Well, I couldn't sleep tonight. Who knows why or how the mind works some days, right?"
"Right." Justin's eyes trailed down to the box. Dr. Crane was up to no good, the man was practical a ball of nerves at the moment. Justin decided to test the waters. "That looks heavy."
"Just a bit, but nothing that I can't handle. I'm sure you can carry on as you were, Justin." Jonathan stooped down to pick up the blasted box. If he hadn't lost his grip and dropped it in the first place he wouldn't have this unwanted company!
Watching Dr. Crane struggle trying to lift the box had Justin rolling his eyes. The man was a twig. "I've got it."
"Careful!" Jonathan blurted out as the box was lifted with no problem and stolen from his grip by Justin. "There's glass in there that could break." Or chemicals in said bottles that could get on your skin and cause an unwanted reaction. Jonathan kept to himself.
"I've got it." Justin chuckled. "This is nothing compared to that couch of yours." He looked down into the side and saw equations and numbers that went way over his head. Justin supposed there was a reason Dr. Crane made the real money and he didn't. "Where's this going?"
"Just downstairs is fine." Jonathan muttered as he trailed behind.
Justin nodded thinking of the storage room at the base of the stairs. Though, if he was moving his stuff this early in the morning, Justin rather doubted the good Doc had permission to put his things down there. Maybe that's why he was so nervous. "You should probably use one of the empty patient rooms down there instead of the storage. More room and less chance someone messes with your things."
Jonathan stopped on a step as they headed down into the darkness again. He clicked on the flashlight. "You know about those?"
"Huh? Yeah." Justin chuckled. "Good place to sneak a smoke break."
"You can get in the rooms?" Jonathan's eyes narrowed. He had been unable to procure a key but had been hopeful to store his things in the industrial area. If he could get a room though... "They were all locked."
"I've got a master key."
"How, how did you get that?" Jonathan gasped. Not even most of the security guards had master keys.
Justin shrugged. "Borrowed it and made a copy when the head of security was on vacation. Just makes things easier when you're working all over the building, you know? Saves on asking people to open doors for you."
Jonathan frowned and shoved his glasses up higher on his face. Seems Justin had a few secrets of his own. "You could get fired for that."
"Are you going to rat on me?" Justin looked over his shoulder. "Because I'm pretty certain you don't exactly have permission to use these rooms either."
"I'm a doctor."
"Arkham's short staffed."
Jonathan snorted as the two hit the bottom of the stairs and headed onward through the door. With none of Jonathan's caution, Justin flipped on the hall light and flickering industrial lamps lit the space poorly. At least two of the fixtures were burnt out and the effect was remarkably creepy. "Well it seems we're at a standstill then."
"Suppose so." Justin went to the farthest room on the end of the hall and shoved his key in the door, pushing it open he flipped on a light and frowned when nothing happened. Light bulb was probably burnt out. "In here fine?"
"Perfect. Thank-you, Justin." Jonathan muttered as he stalked into the room and put both of his hands flat on the table, dead center. It was wide and steel and perfect for mixing chemicals.
Dr. Crane was starting to creep Justin out a little by the way he pet the dust on the table and smiled at the chair behind it. "Got any more that needs to be brought down?"
Aware that he was now in possession of a pack mule as it were, Jonathan smiled and clasped his hands together. "If you're not busy, of course."
Justin blew his bangs out of his face. Ah well, better than cleaning out bed pans.
Jonathan sat cross legged in the chair across from the metal table. He had cleaned the room head to foot (he had no intention of testing on his subjects in the same room he created the toxins in) to meet his standards and all of his things were stored neatly and nicely in boxes along the walls. The fresh smell of pine cleaner would soon be overpowered by burning drugs and Jonathan so looked forward to it (though he would need to find some way to ventilate the room...ah well, thoughts for another day). He was all ready to spread things out on the table and get started. However he had a slight problem concerning a certain someone who now knew of his nightly activities.
It would be difficult to explain away his little chemistry set should Justin decide to take a smoke break and stumble up on his belongings. Even worse, he might tell someone that Jonathan was coming down here regularly. The man worked two shifts and always had a knack for knowing where people in the building were. Maybe he had a weakness Jonathan could exploit for his silence.
Or he could just try the direct approach and ask him to not tell anyone.
Jonathan groaned and rubbed his eyes. That was stupid and almost the same thing as just flat out telling him that Jonathan was doing illegal activities in the basement. Then again, Justin seemed to have no qualms stealing a master skeleton key and making personal copies so maybe his moral fiber wasn't as strong as he first thought. Justin could probably care less what dear old Dr. Crane who made him move furniture was doing with his little beakers and syringes. This could just be a simple measure of giving him money for silence.
And as an after thought, it would be handy having the man around for physical labor. Jonathan had already realized that from his struggle with the boxes. Not to mention if he were to have a permanent guest in a room Jonathan would need help not only keeping the man down here but keeping the rest of the staff from discovering him. Lies were easier to tell when they were backed up by a second party. And surely if he could pay the man into silence he could pay him into carrying more boxes or tying down a wayward patient.
Money it was then.
And if that failed, well, Jonathan had yet to try his toxin on a healthy, well-adjusted subject. Maybe he could even get away with upping the dosage.
Dr. Crane was giving him money.
Justin stared at the stack of cash on the man's desk as they sat there, four in the morning in the dark. He had just finished up his round in a hallway before the doc' came and dragged him (figuratively of course; with the doc's scrawny arms he couldn't really budge Justin but he was vocal enough that he caved and followed) back to his office. He was set down on the new patient's couch before Dr. Crane opened an envelope and put the contents on the desk.
There was at least five hundred dollars on the table.
"What's that for?"
"Justin," Jonathan started placing his hands on the table and sitting up straight. He needed to look professional. He needed to look justified. Most of all, he needed to glow with authority. "I must confess to an ulterior motive to putting my things in the basement."
The orderly nodded slightly, eyes still on the money. With that not only could he buy his baby a necklace for her sixth birthday, but he could probably get her a real ice cream cake, too. Not to mention a dvd player for dad. "I sort of figured that."
Jonathan smiled noting how Justin shifted. His fingers were twitching and Jonathan realized money was the right way to go. Now for the push. "You see, I've been doing some personal studies on the patients and they are requiring more," Jonathan waved his hand dismissively in the air, "room. And well, my office just isn't providing the space I need.
"I would ask the director for more space but we're so under budget as is and my studies are a little, radical, you might say. Extensive drug therapy you see and it's very difficult to get proper funding and approval for testing on humans. Almost impossible from someone in my position at an asylum for sure." Jonathan paused to make sure Justin was listening. "So you see, it's rather important that no one know I'm down in the basement." He met Justin's eyes. "I could lose my entire practice, Justin."
"Then why are you doing it?" Justin asked. "Doesn't seem like it's worth the risk."
"It's worth it." Jonathan's voice was as cold and concrete as the structure beneath their feet. "My research is quite possibly the most important thing I've ever done in my life and by God I refuse to let something like bureaucrats stop me from it. They lack vision, Justin, can't see what's right in front of their faces. I'm going to change the world and something being denied approval from the board is not going to stop me."
"And why are you telling me this?" Justin asked and shifted back. For a small, non-threatening man. The way those blue eyes gleamed, Justin almost felt fearful. The fact Dr. Crane had slipped one hand under his desk made him a little nervous. "I mean, I'm just an orderly who helped you carry your stuff."
"No one can know my things are down there. No one can know that I go down there, Justin." Jonathan shoved the money across the table. "Five hundred a week for your silence about my whereabouts. And I hope you understand that also means lying and coordinating alibis if need be."
Justin gaped at him. "Did you say a week?"
Jonathan smiled and leant back in his chair. "I'll make it fifteen-hundred a week if you agree to continue assisting with minor things like carrying boxes or any other little odd job I may need help with. Now granted this means you'll have to still work the double shift to avoid suspicion but-"
Jonathan started a little from the quick interruption. "So quick to agree, Justin? You don't even know what my projects involve."
"Doesn't matter." Justin shrugged and picked up the stack of cash off the table to count it. Part of his chest was clenching tight in nerves wondering what the hell he had just gotten into, but it was over run with the realization his income was just doubled and being able to cut back his hours even the slightest bit to go home and spend time with his kid was worth it. Besides, Dr. Crane was an alright guy when he wanted to be. How bad could his little time in the basement really be? "You keep paying like this and I'll do whatever the hell you want."
Jonathan leant his hand on the back of his knuckles and crossed his legs elegantly under the desk. "Just what I wanted to hear."
Months later and Jonathan had successfully set up his lab to perfection and was able to stare at a beautiful syringe filled with a gorgeous chemical concoction in the open without fear of Joan walking in and asking what he had there. He no longer had to be concerned with controlling his subject's reactions to try and hide noise either. Jonathan had run a test and proved these rooms to be quite sound proof and it was marvelous. Placing the syringe carefully on the table, Jonathan rooted around for his notebooks. He wanted to make sure to write down every reaction.
Peter was so much more fun to study from down in the basement than he was in the office, muffled and controlled. Hiring an assistant was the best decision he could have made. Thanks to a coordinated front, Jonathan was able to lure little Peter out of his cell and down the spooky stairs and into his new room before anyone even realized the childish man had wandered out of his room.
Joan was still shaking her head and pacing his office in a fright over the lost patient. No one could find him. No one knew where he was. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Jonathan. I know Peter was close to being released." She'd say to him. Jonathan looked properly distraught as he rubbed Joan's back and led her back to her own office. No one even thought of looking down a rickety staircase to rooms that were locked for the man.
A swift knock broke Jonathan from his musings.
The door opened slowly and Justin popped his head in. "Look, Peter ate his sandwich and I'm late for my little girl's ballet recital. Catch ya' later, Dr. Crane."
"Thank-you, Justin." Jonathan pushed himself up from the seat and opened his briefcase to place the syringes inside, one toxin and one antidote. After all, if Peter was a good boy he didn't have to suffer for so long. And if these experiments continued to go so well, no one would ever have to suffer from fear again. "I won't be needing you tonight anyway."
Justin saluted and headed down the hallway back towards the stairs with a slight spring in his step. He could finally afford to take time off and all it was costing him was a little guilt over the poor sap he left locked up to be Dr. Crane's little lab rat. He supposed it made him a bad person to allow that to happen, but remembering his daughter's face on her birthday opening up that silver necklace made it worth it. And at the end of the day it was just some nut job that was locked up anyway. No big loss...right?
Not sharing any of the orderly's doubts, Jonathan smiled happily as he entered Peter's room. "Hello Peter." Jonathan's voice was ever even, calm, and pleasant. The way he always sounded when talking to patients. Peter merely whimpered louder and tried to push himself farther into the dead, grey wall.
Jonathan loved his new office.