What is this? I'm writing in Batman (Comics)?! I know! Rebecca Albright is from Scarecrow Tales, "Mistress of Fear". Alice Pleasance, is from Batman the Animated Series, but…as I'm a more knowledge on that Jervis Tetch and not too fond of an alleged pedophile, that is the Jervis I picture. This really is a random writing foray. Enjoy!
Prompt #36—Ideal (livejournal's 50scenes community)
Disclaimer: I only wish I owned it. DC retains all rights.
Arkham Asylum, it loomed in the distance like a medieval castle. Alice Pleasance couldn't tear her eyes away from the place as she sat in the break room of Wayne Corporation. More than a year had passed since her incident with Jervis and subsequent kidnapping. She'd gone to therapy—was still attending in fact—but she could never shake the experience away. She felt raw and conflicted; no matter what she wished her eyes often strayed to the concrete structure where Jervis was imprisoned. She almost wondered if in some way Jervis was still controlling her.
She gave a sigh. Behind her the door opened, but she didn't move. Few people inquired of her anymore; they let her be. She drummed her fingers on the tabletop as the footsteps continued to approach her after a slight pause. Now she was curious, but she didn't acknowledge the person yet.
"I know that look," a feminine voice spoke as the steps stopped behind her.
Alice froze. She didn't recognize the tenor, but soon the red-headed woman was leaning over the table at her side. Her brown eyes met Alice's blue ones.
"Alice Pleasant," she nodded to her. Alice may not have recognized her voice, but her appearance was a familiar one. Her face had been on the news a little more than a year before her own.
"You're…Rebecca Albright, aren't you?"
The woman smiled and took the empty seat beside her. "I am," she nodded.
For a moment, both were mute. Alice stared at Rebecca a mixture of confusion, curiosity, and fright overcoming her. Rebecca, however, seemed rather serene, calm. Alice wrung her hands.
"Can I help you?"
Rebecca's lips quirked slightly, "I'm sorry if I startled you, I know how odd this has to feel, but I just returned to Gotham a few days ago." Her eyes trailed to the shape of the Asylum and Alice found herself following as Rebecca continued to speak, "I've been gone for quite some time, but I didn't feel quite the same." She sighed and then she glanced back at Alice. "It settles in your bones, doesn't it, this city I mean?"
Alice nodded, still feeling quite awkward, "It does."
"I'm sorry, you don't know me, and I just show up out of the blue and start talking to you. I don't mean to interrupt your day. I just wanted to meet you."
Alice shook her head, "You have nothing to apologize for, Ms. Albright, but why would you want to meet me?" She had an inkling—no she knew, but she wanted to hear it.
"First, call me Becky," she smiled gently, "and I think you know why I'm here."
Alice nodded, "Three years ago," she stated, "you were pursued by the Scarecrow."
"Known also as former, professor of Abnormal Psychology Jonathan Crane; for two months he terrorized me." Becky stated tonelessly.
"Is it true, though, that at the end he gave you an offer?"
Becky nodded, "Mistress of Fear, his partner. He offered me a way to take revenge. What about you? I know Jervis Tetch didn't offer you a way to overpower your foes."
Alice averted her gaze to the blanch tabletop. She fidgeted and her face paled. Becky placed her hand atop one of hers and squeezed gently. "I know what you went through, at least in part. It eats away at you; everyday only seems to bring more questions. You feel like a musical note, lost in the symphony of the world. You long for the day the numbness returns, like at the moment your experience was over. You don't want to feel. I know it all too well."
Whilst she had been talking, Alice felt a pang in her heart for every word. She clenched her hand beneath Becky's and shook her head, feeling the tears gather in her eyes.
"How did you cope, Becky?"
"I answered the question I feared for the longest time."
Alice turned to her, "What question was that?"
Alice closed her eyes. It was a question she didn't want to know the answer to. It scared her.
"You want to hate him," Becky's voice cut through the darkness behind her lids, "answering that question may destroy that want. But, Alice, you don't hate him. You may despise what he did, what his passion led him to do, but you can't hate him. You can't because the minute you believe yourself capable, you remember something nice he did for you."
Alice gasped, eyes flying open. "Scarecrow never did anything nice for you."
She was answered with laughter, full genuine laughter from the woman. "You're right, he didn't, or maybe that's what the world wants to think. I've said it before. He brought me out of my shell, showed me that I was wearing a mask even when I thought I wasn't. I was hiding anger and regret in me. I have a lot to thank him for. But, do you know why I can't hate him? It has nothing to do with the accidental benefits of his treatment."
Alice stared at her, heart bidding her to continue. Becky linked her hands together. "He's a lost boy, Alice. A man whose birth was cursed by his mother and great-grandmother; his mother skedaddled as soon as he was weaned; he was a child of sin in his great-grandmother's eyes. He shouldn't have existed, he was the child she didn't want, the culmination of her own failures and she took out that hatred on Jonathan. She beat him, tortured him, emotionally, physically, you name it.
"At school he was one of the smartest, but he wore nothing but ragged clothes, patched up ruggedly. He looked sickly and pale. Scarecrow, they all called him a Scarecrow and then there was the incident of Sherri Squires and Bo Griggs. She used him, to make the story short. She led him on, and then her boyfriend Bo humiliated him. Every one of them is dead now. His great-grandmother, Sherri, and Bo….all of them dead. He was a child, a confused child; he just wanted it all to stop, but it never did.
"I don't hate him, Alice. I pity him. I am the culmination of all his fears. I rejected him, I outsourced him, I did, a little squat of a girl to him. I intimidated him. He was afraid of me, but at the same time, I was the most intriguing person he'd ever met. I was a product of a similar past, but I chose not to turn to his way. You can't hate the ignorant, only pity them, and long to show them the light."
Alice's eyes trailed back to Arkham's shadow. "So," she whispered, "hate is not the way to go?"
"No, it's not. Not for you and Jervis, and you know why." She removed her hand from Alice's and placed it on her shoulder, "Have you read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There?"
"Yes, Jer-Jervis gave me a copy one year for my birthday."
"Then you know who Alice is in those books, right?"
Alice nodded, knowing where this was leading. Her heart began to race, "Please, don't tell me. Please." She shook her head. The grip on her shoulder grew firmer.
"You have to come to terms with it. I know it's painful, you'll feel betrayed by your own skin when it hits you. Alice was the heroine of those books, the champion of Wonderland. Jervis saw you as Jonathan in the end saw me, you understood him, and you could save him. There is something Jervis longs to be rescued from, even if he isn't aware of it."
Alice was now shivering, shaking her head furiously. "No. No. No. No! No! NO!" She began to cry. Tears flooded past her cheeks. Becky removed her hand and Alice collapsed on the tabletop, giving into her anguish. She had been robbed of her denial, which would have allowed her to despise Jervis. She didn't want to understand him! He didn't deserve it. She felt as if she were breaking, but at the same time somewhere, it felt good, to finally know hear the truth, accept it, even if two parts of herself were at war.
"Why, why did you have to rob me of my right to hate him for it?! I didn't want to understand! You made me! I don't to know! I don't!" She asked vehemently. When she got no answer, she whipped around in her chair only to discover Becky was back near the door, her hand gingerly touching her cane.
She took it firmly and then turned her attention back to Alice, "I told you; because, perhaps we never asked for it, but two men chose to represent ideals. Jervis Tetch and Jonathan Crane revealed more to us in the span of minutes than the whole of Gotham has come to know of them throughout their entire lives. Without realizing it, they made themselves vulnerable to us, causing us to truly be the only ones who understood them. Don't you think they deserve to be understood?"
She turned towards the door and began to leave, her cane striking the ground. When she came to door and her hand reached the knob she gave pause again. She didn't look at Alice, but Alice was still watching her. "We'll have to face them one day, Alice. There are things that are unsettled, questions we still have, and it is better to do so sooner than later. Crane and I will have it much worse than you and Jervis. Circumstances and time are against us. Yours is still fresh."
"Why are you telling me all this? How do you know this is the course to take?" Alice desperately wanted to know.
At that moment an amused smile stretched Becky's lips. "I left Gotham studying law; I return certified in psychology. They affect you, Alice. It is them that settle in your bones, in your blood, in your mind. Not the city. To each other we are Alice and Becky, but somewhere to someone else we are Alice, Champion of Wonderland, and The Mistress of Fear. I would rather face that image and correct it now than to the let the delusions continue. It will be better for all of us."