CATverse A/N: This story is part of the CATverse. See for placement. It goes in arc seven.
A/N: This is for the Captain, her lap and every sorority girl I've ever met. Also, for Missi, the woman who taught me everything I ever needed to know about being a fire breathing exotic dancer.
After nearly a decade of this 'on the run' business, the art of desperately trying to escape an entire police force was getting more than a little bit stale. It had never been much fun to begin with, but nowadays it was just plain tedious.
Jonathan Crane yanked the lapels of his worn tweed jacket forward, concealing as much of his profile as humanly possible. He had been separated from his henchgirls in downtown Central City in the dead of night. The Flash had been thoroughly distracted by the girls and their newly acquired quantum-something-or-other (as if he had been paying attention to their babble? Not likely) accelerator suits. They weren't faster than the scarlet speedster was-not by a long shot-but they were fast enough to be a nuisance of such magnitude that the Scarecrow was able to slip away from the brawl. He had no doubt that once the Flash had dealt with the girls he would make very short work of catching up with him, but he hoped that his trail would go cold. Lord knows he was leaving a zigzag shaped one. It wasn't outside the realm of possibility that he could escape from Central without the authorities stopping him-especially with the new Centrail Transportation System in place.
Looking like something straight out of Walt Disney's imagination-with perhaps a smattering of Nikola Tesla thrown into the design for good measure-the Centrail was Central's answer to public transportation. It was like the subway, but the cars were suspended above the city, running along their rails. The ground beneath all the Centrail's routes was intentionally clear. The city's officials had implemented a 'beautification' program a few years before the Centrail was built, meaning that there was a great upsurge in greenery. Though the citizens were under the impression that the two projects were unrelated, the fact of the matter was that the Centrail only ran over those patches of green for a reason. This way, if a villain ever hijacked the system and a car was forced off its rails, no one below would be injured.
Everything about the Centrail was built to be unfriendly to villainous activity. With the subway, there was the danger of a ground collapse that would kill hundreds of thousands-always enticing to someone wanting to hit the city and make a point; but if any piece of the Centrail was damaged, it was designed for controlled collapse. The portion of the rail that had been damaged would simply release from the rest of the structure, leaving the main rail intact. Furthermore, since the cars would only be dropping fifteen feet, the worst injuries to be sustained by the passengers would only be broken bones.
All around, Crane had to admire their forethought and consideration; the Centrail was quite ingenious and pretty terrorist-proof. You could hijack a bus and cause traffic accidents aplenty; you could toss a grenade into the subway and hope for ground collapse; but the worst you could do with the Centrail was cause minor injuries. Maybe someday Gotham would follow suit and the population would stop suffering major losses every other month due to villains including the public transportation system in their plans.
Honestly, how many times did the Joker have to blow up a bridge before people stopped taking the train? It boggled the mind.
The routes stretched from one end of the city to the other. It went to the airport, the university, the train and bus stations, everywhere—meaning that Jonathan could hop off just about anywhere and lose himself in the city, for all intents and purposes disappearing. Also adding to its appeal, the Centrail was operational twenty-four hours a day, thanks to the automated operators. Behind the wheel of every Centrail car sat an animatronic mannequin, wearing the traditional old fashioned bus driver's uniform of the nineteen fifties and a name tag reading "Ralph". Ralph had greeted Jonathan when he'd been picked up—nearly startling him out of his skin—with a garbled recording that didn't quite sync up with the crude movements of his robotic mouth.
No driver, which meant no troublesome hostage plus the ability to go anywhere in the city while avoiding the roads—and thus roadblocks—really, all in all, it was a perfect getaway vehicle.
Or, at least, it was until…
"I can't believe that son of a—"
"Did you see that girl—"
"Ohmigosh, Ashley, I—"
"Hahahaha, you are so funny!"
The car had ground to a halt near-ish to Central University and Jonathan sank down a little lower in his seat to avoid the attention of the gaggle of sorority girls—very, very drunk sorority girls, if the fact that one of them had flung herself in the mannequin's lap was any indication—who boarded the bus.
"Hiya, Ralphie!" The twenty-something wrapped around Ralph giggled drunkenly and planted a smooch on one of his smooth plastic cheeks, leaving a lipstick print. "Goin' my way?"
"Please do not touch the Centrail Operator," Ralph responded in a happy-go-lucky tone.
The blonde nuzzled him and leaned in close to his ear. She was so drunk that rather than whispering—which is what Jonathan assumed she was trying to do—she shouted in Ralph's ear.
"Not even a little? Come on, stud, betcha I can melt your microchips…"
Her friends all laughed and Jonathan was forcibly reminded of a bunch of hens.
"Pressure change detected," Ralph responded in the same tone of voice. "Please do not touch the Centrail Operator."
"Yeah," the blonde responded in what she must have thought was a seductive tone as she groped Ralph. "A pressure change in your pants."
The women cackled again.
Actually, on further reflection, saying they sounded like hens was entirely too charitable—the laughter was more like a bunch of braying donkeys. Self congratulatory in spite of a distinct lack of wit and filled with childish mocking, the sound made Jonathan wince.
"Please do not touch the Centrail Operator," Ralph repeated. "The Centrail will not resume operation until all boarders are safely in the center of the car."
"You're no fun!" The blonde pouted and stood, wobbly in her strappy four inch stilettos
"You're such a complete embarrassment, Sheila," one of the other women—a redhead—teased, poking her in the shoulder.
She laughed and her friends joined in as they entered the seating area of the car. The sound actually made Jonathan's eardrums hurt. He sank down even lower in his seat and did his damnedest to become invisible. He'd chosen one of the seats in the far back of the car, so hopefully they wouldn't notice him.
But…he had the most awful sinking feeling…
"Ooooh," one of the girls cooed suddenly as the car began to move, pointing in his direction.
Jonathan winced and tried to disappear into his coat. He got the distinct impression he was failing terribly.
"Well, well, what do we have here?" One of the girls—thin, petite and raven haired—asked conversationally, eying Jonathan in a predatory fashion.
He shrank, even though he told himself not to. He'd seen that exact look before, long ago—a lifetime ago—when he was in high school. It was the look of a bully behind the mask of a pretty face.
In that moment, he wished more than anything that he had enough fear toxin on him to reduce the bimbos to muttering, gibbering puddles of wreck.
He checked his pockets, surreptitiously, even though he knew he wouldn't find anything. Between escaping the Flash and the CCPD, he was completely dry. Damn.
"We've got ourselves and audience," the one called Sheila said mischievously. "What ever will we do with him?"
The girls all giggled and whispered amongst themselves.
"Hey, why don't you come and sit with us?"
He glared at them.
"Yeah, come over."
He glared harder.
"You know you want to come…over."
Jonathan felt his face heat and averted his eyes for a split second—then snapped his attention back to glare at them afresh. How dare they make him blush? He genuinely blushed! He couldn't remember the last time he did that.
"Awww, he's shy!" Sheila exclaimed. "Well, we can't have that…"
He glared the hottest, angriest, most threatening glare he'd ever glared as Sheila started across the car towards him. This glare would have made even his henchgirls shrink away from him. This glare would have melted Mister Freeze. This glare…
Had no effect on the drunken twit whatsoever.
Of course. Of course it didn't. Women were so infuriating!
"Hiya, handsome," she purred, running her fingers through his hair a little roughly, tousling it.
His eyes narrowed to slits as he stared up at her, his upper lip twisting into a hideous sneer.
"Oooh, blue eyes," she said, leaning in to get a closer look, "I've always had such a weakness for blue eyes."
Jonathan noted that her eyes didn't focus on him quite the way they should have—which may have explained the fact that though he looked very unattractive, glaring and sneering like this, it didn't faze her. Beer goggles were firmly in place.
She smiled crookedly and plopped down on his lap, throwing her arms around his neck. "Whoops! I fell."
He debated shoving her roughly off his lap but instead decided to seethe internally. Have your fun, little girl. You'll pay for it later.
"You're pretty hot for an old guy," she continued, scraping her nails along the back of his neck and smiling at him. "Wanna have some fun?"
"No," he said sharply.
This seemed to throw her off for a moment. "What? What do you mean no? Everybody wants to have fun!" She leaned a little closer—so close he could smell what she'd had for lunch—and said, "Especially the kind of fun I've got in mind."
"Oh, you can't play hard to get with me," she shifted until she was straddling his lap and grinned at him, biting her lower lip. She thrust her pelvis against his, grinding into him. "I know you think I'm hot."
"Madam, it's astounding how much I am not attracted to you," he said flatly, even as she began gyrating in his lap like a dancer who'd lost all sense of accepted professional boundaries.
How could she possibly think she could turn anyone on, much less him? Her skin was orange, for the love of all things sensible, and her lipstick was a distracting shade of hot pink that matched her shoes and gaudy cocktail ring, but clashed with the bright red of her mini-dress.
Honestly, Jonathan thought, he was a man and he knew better. Granted, that was because the girls had inadvertently drilled various cardinal rules of fashion into his head over the years, but even he could tell which colors just didn't go. Did she dress in the dark or was she just unfortunate enough to be color blind?
And the inch of black roots that gave way to flat, white blonde hair certainly wasn't helping matters…
"Oh yeah?" She bent towards him, pressing a hand to either side of her bosom and giving him a view of her impossible to notice cleavage. The very top of her black lace bra was visible over the neckline of her dress and she pouted her lips in what he supposed was meant to be an attractive way. Her tongue darted out of her mouth and slid over her bottom lip. Something caught his eye, though—a fine silver chain hanging around her neck, its pendant nestled in her cleavage. He recognized it as a lavaliere—a pendant that traditionally had the Greek characters identifying a fraternity or sorority.
If he could find out which she was affiliated with, he could exact revenge at a later date…
But he couldn't quite see over all the silicon…if only she would move just a little…
Suddenly, he felt much less indignant about being straddled.
"If you hate me so much, how come you're paying such close attention?" She thrust her chest towards him and the pendant moved.
He tried not to smile too much when he spied the first character and identified it as Phi.
He looked back up at her and shrugged. "All right. If you're so set on giving me a lap dance…"
She took this as an invitation to continue molesting his person. She shifted again, moving against him. "I knew it."
Her friends began to hoot and clap and generally carry on like imbeciles, but Jonathan paid them no mind. The lavaliere slid against her skin, revealing the second character as Alpha.
Sheila threw her head back, amidst the pounding beat of her friends—still standing—stomping on the Centrail Car floor and clapping their hands, singing some inane song about sugar that made no sense whatsoever, grinding against Jonathan in earnest, running her hands through his hair, over his chest, along his throat, over her own chest…
He didn't care. He didn't notice. He just watched the lavaliere as it worked its way out of her cleavage and popped free, revealing the final character as Gamma.
He let out a bark of triumphant laughter, startling the girl centered on his crotch. In one fluid motion, Jonathan reached up and tugged on the emergency stop cord with one hand and shoved Sheila off his lap with the other. The Centrail Car came to an abrupt, violent stop and the doors sprang open. All the inebriated girls, in their impractical high heels, were thrown to the floor with a bunch of girly squeaks and shrieks.
"In case of emergency," Ralph said brightly, "please proceed to the exit in an orderly fashion. An escape ladder has been dropped for your convenience. Thank you for riding Centrail!"
Before the sorority girls even had time to figure out what had happened, Jonathan was scampering down the ladder, maniacally cackling into the night.
Three weeks later…
Jonathan Crane calmly sipped his coffee, flipped to the next page of the newspaper and smiled as he continued reading the front page article: Rash of Nervous Breakdowns at Central U Cause Citywide Panic.
The door to the lair slammed as Jonathan took another slug from his cup.
"I have had one hell of a day. Nothing can ever be easy, can it?" Al was muttering from across the room as she approached.
She plopped down at the kitchen table and continued complaining. "My face is all over the post office! Blow up one little ATM and they want to hang you for it! I mean, okay, so it was technically five ATMs, but still. So what! Hey, Squishy, did you know they've got surveillance cameras everywhere these days? 'Cause I sure didn't."
He didn't bother to look up. "Of course they do."
"They pulled my picture from one of the cameras and now I'm actually on a most wanted list! Well, not the most wanted list. Okay, not even a most wanted list, I'm just on a wanted list, but that's still…are you even listening to me?"
"Of course you're not." Al sighed and flopped back in her chair. "Oh! But that reminds me. I got something for you!"
At this, he did look up. He quirked an eyebrow as she set a video tape in front of him on the table.
"A blank tape," he said dully. "Al, you shouldn't have."
"Oh, it's not blank," she answered with a smirk. "Squishy, would you care to explain why there's a bootleg surveillance tape of you getting a lap dance currently in circulation? Because I am all ears."