Daria watched him through the news footage, not doubting for a second that the man within the video was Jonathan Crane. Sat on the edge of her seat on her two-seater sofa, her fingers pressed against her mouth. First and foremost she was worried, second, a very close second, she was scared. Although the roughly stitched together burlap sack acted as a mask, his features obscured, she couldn't pretend it was anyone else, though she sorely wished to. That thin, rakish frame; in a suit, the title of scarecrow suited him. It was not hard to believe that the figure that now ran around gassing Gotham's citizens with fear gas actually consisted of a wooden-stick frame, stuffed haphazardly with straw; animated but dead and cold, with only one true intention; Scaring away the vermin that fed off of his land.
She was not like him, she had never become a psychologist; she did not recognise him because she used to work with him; not even indirectly. No, she hadn't even been his friend rather she recognised him from High school. It had been a long time, a decade at least; but after what happened at the senior prom; it was beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Her hand subconsciously passed through her shoulder length-hair, the video cutting to his victims; sprawled against the floor. All writhing in agony as their worst fears were bought into the fore-front of their vision. Everything moulding into the nightmare that they feared behind closed doors.
She wasn't the only one that had noticed the way he looked at Sherry; but then he had never really hid it. Her guess was that he had no idea how his eyes looked upwards for once, into her face where he would smile with a sweet conviction. It was unfortunate that it had to be her, out of anyone in the whole school, why did it have to be her? Her and that loutish boyfriend; loud and cruel, fuel to the fire as it seemed now. Her parents used to tell her that people like Sherry struggled in real life; would never be that popular again, well they were right, she guessed, but Jonathan had seen to that himself.
Shaking, she was shaking. Holding herself, she could barely hear the narrative accompanying the report. They managed a close-up of his face however as it slowly turned toward the camera, the news crew probably being his next prey, but all she saw was those black empty holes where his eyes should have been. She guessed that now this was not dis-similar to how his soul looked. It struck her to the core.
The thing that scared her most was that she understood why Jonathan had done what he had done. She remembered as if it were yesterday, whispering in the corridor with everyone else about how Bo and Sherry had finally broken up after so many years. Passing through those colourful, yet confining corridors, like wildfire, chasing them wherever they went, it was inevitable for Jonathan to hear really. She would never have guessed that Jonathan would have actually been able to ask Sherry to the Halloween party, but ask he did and to everyone's amazement she had said yes. It was a strange idea, seeing people that would never usually talk to him pass him in the corridor's and say hello, or in class they would congratulate him. Daria didn't like that he was changing. His body language changed, it was gradual to the extent of a more apparent smile that came more often, to standing up straighter, he had adopted a more arrogant air. Maybe he was just happy, maybe that was what he was like happy, but Daria blamed the change on Sherry. If it had been someone quieter that could make him smile as he did when he looked at Sherry, she reckoned that things would have turned out a lot less violent.
'Instead of how he is now' She thought.
The camera had fallen from it's owners hands onto the side walk. From it's new vantage point, the picture flickered giving enough normalcy to allow the image of Jonathan kicking a poor, startlingly, frightened man, in the stomach as he rushed blindly toward him. Then it crinkled and buzzed out of life.
The Halloween party twenty years ago; he arrived dressed almost exactly as he did now, she had thought it so creative at the time while everyone else came dressed as the more conventional Halloween monsters or in a desperate bid to wear as little as possible and pass it as a costume. Sherry had been one of the latter.
Daria couldn't help but scowl at the remembrance of it, shaking, rocking backward and forward at the edge of her seat, in the dark, still holding her frame. Hating her viciously.
She couldn't remember how exactly she had come to watch him there in a corner with Sherry, his face nothing but ecstatic, but she remembered how his facial expression changed as she whispered in his ear. A proposition she didn't need to hear to know, as his pupil's dilated and his eyelids became hooded. She led him off down a small flight of stairs, possibly into a basement. Daria never did find out what it actually was; and as she watched him led away she felt nothing but venom toward Sherry. As she had said at the time; she wasn't jealous, but Sherry didn't deserve him.
Her point was proven true as a few minutes later the room went silent to the image of Jonathan scrambling up the stairs he had just descended. A bulk of human flesh, with a pumpkin in place for a head in pursuit. As Jonathan fell onto his knees, turning to face the thing that had chased him, his arm in front of his face protectively, the pumpkin mass had removed his head. In its place was Bo's stupid, laughing face, mocking and condescending as he threw the pumpkin into Jonathan's chest. The whole room exploded with laughter. Daria did not, but she did keep her place among the crowd around him. Her heart panged as the poor boy fled past her, thudding into her painfully as he made his way to the door.
The TV cut out as thunder streaked across the sky. Solemnly she rose and approached the window. Looking out, rain splattered across the streets in vicious downpour, lightning accompanying the queer light that only appeared when thunder was present. People ran for cover like ants from her high placed apartment. She crossed her arms and leant against the window frame, just watching.
It hadn't rained that night. It was clear and black, fresh air. Inconspicuously she followed Jonathan out the door. She couldn't help it. It wasn't like she thought she could give him any condolence, she just didn't want him to do anything dangerous. Concerned, she stayed away from him as if she was out there for any other reason than him.
They both separately ducked into the shadows as Bo and Sherry came out the door. Bo had his arm around Sherry, kissing her forehead, reaching for something in his pocket. His keys. From where she was standing she could see how Jonathan's face contorted into hate. That savage fire in his eyes! Daria had never seen him look like that before, it worried her. He disappeared into the shadows after that. She had leant against the house regret blossoming in her chest. It was a regret she would live with for a long time. One she still held in fact.
The weeks that followed the party were hellish. What made school-goers so abhorrent Daria didn't know, nor did she learn as she grew up, but all they did in the run-up to prom was hurt Jonathan. Whether it was shouts or nudges. Daria recognised the look in his eyes whenever he looked at Sherry, now. What was he thinking? She turned away then, whenever he passed her, couldn't bear to look at him, or the pain he was clearly in.
She had come to prom by herself, or more aptly put with other friends that did not have a date. Daria was noticeably distracted that night. Her mind would not think straight, she was constantly thinking on whether or not Jonathan would show. When he did, a friend had mentioned her disbelief, but all Daria could say was 'good for him'. Tonight he wore a very dark suit; black or near it, his hair cropped around his face, the surrounding darkness of both highlighting the intense blue of his eyes. He almost held himself with pride as he worked his way through the crowd that, by now, did not care to acknowledge his presence. This, she had to admit, put her mind at rest somewhat. However she couldn't leave him be, every now and again she spared him a glance, checking he was still O.K. She had absolutely no idea what she was going to do if he wasn't but still, doing what she was made her feel like she was doing something to protect him.
At the time she noticed that his eyes darted every which way, but she thought it nothing at the time. The prom committee, really had outdone themselves, she merely assumed that was what he was doing; drinking in the atmosphere.
Realistically he was searching for those that had humiliated him. Having already plotted what it was he was going to do to them.
Daria shuddered at her memory. She had to have been one of the only witnesses of his revenge. Perhaps that was why she recognised him within that costume so readily when others from the school days did not.
When Bo and Sherry did finally enter the prom, dressed to match each other in white and baby blue, Daria instinctively turned her head towards Jonathan, where that severe look of hate appeared for a second then disappeared. She felt troubled, her stomach bubbling with dread. Once again Jonathan was pushing past her, more gentle and with less urgency this time however, and towards those that had emotionally struck him.
"Bo, Sherry!" He had shouted over the rabble that had congregated around the couple. Mindlessly complimenting and chattering. They backed off somewhat after he had spoken though. "I just wanted to say that there are no hard feelings, I wanted to come out as the bigger man, hard as that may be." He looked up into Bo's face; Jonathan's height came about as high as Bo's chest. Only slightly taller than Sherry. "It was such a funny joke after all. Anyway that's all I wanted to say." he turned his back on their stunned faces and headed for the door, not turning back.
Daria pushed her way through the crowd towards the door in which Jonathan had just exited. She couldn't believe that that was it. She ended up going through the door at a soft run, hitching up her long red dress, so she could run freely. Once faced with the cold fresh night, she was phased slightly. At first glance she couldn't see him, but noticed that it had rained lightly. Then she did see him, wandering around the car park. It appeared to be an aimless wander, though it seemed to her that he always ended up next to Bo's car.
"Jonathan!" She found herself shouting. She cringed slightly as he turned toward her sharply, with an eyebrow raised.
She ran the small distance between them.
"I just wanted to check that you were o.k." She said breathlessly, from her run.
He remained silent for a few minutes, his face still distorted into one of shock. But then he answered with a smile.
"I'm fine why wouldn't I be?"
Daria had admitted that she did not hold the intelligence to become a psychologist, but she was not stupid not even then. Jonathan was socially awkward, he would not open conversation willingly.
"Well after what happened at the- and after the last few weeks." She lapsed into silence. "I'm glad you came, tonight."
"Uh, me too."
"You ain't really gonna leave now, just because they turned up are you?" She asked feeling more comfortable, now.
"Nah I just needed some air." He was half lying though she didn't know it at the time.
Her face brightened."Good, well I guess I ought to get back."
Then she did something that she never regretted. She hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. What she did then was run, feeling her face burn, even in the freezing wind, back towards the hall. Smiling in a similar manner to the Cheshire cat she did not enter the school again, though. Instead she stayed in the shadows beside it still watching him. She spent quite a time sat on the wall beside the school building, kicking out her legs, happy, watching him turn away to sit against the metal girders that fenced the whole car park.
Suddenly the doors crashed open, startled, Daria almost fell off the wall, but regained her balance clumsily. Jonathan had also been caught by surprise and from the corner of her eye, Daria saw him slip something burlap, brown over his head.
The people that had exited the building; Daria had quietly walked around to check. It was Bo and Sherry. Daria could only see him faintly between the cars, behind where Bo had parked. Even from so far away across the car park, she could hear them talking about going to the local make-out point. It wasn't far. The engine roared into life and they were soon tearing off toward their destination. Soon after she saw Jonathan clamber onto a bicycle and follow them, far enough away to not be seen. On his head, was the scarecrow mask that he had worn at the Halloween party.
This spelt nothing but disaster to Daria. Without even thinking she started on the short run to the make-out point that the couple had talked about loudly.
She was panting heavily when she got there, stopping momentarily to catch her breath, bending over resting her hands on her knees, gulping in the night air. Cautiously she crept along the road into a thicket of trees. As soon as she cleared through to the other side she began to hear voices shouting, she recognised all of them.
She hadn't seen that large stick that laid at her heeled feet and so she fell forward painfully onto her knees smashing her head against the hard mossy ground. Through a gap in sparse trees that were gathered just outside the thicket, she saw a car coming straight for her, Jonathan's gangly form atop the bonnet, his feet spread a gun at the driver, no was that a water pistol? It had spooked the driver enough to be driving erratically, he swerved as Jonathan jumped from the bonnet to the ground. Very quickly the car had crashed, orange fire licked at the bonnet, from it's impact into a tree a young woman had been thrown from the car. Sherry she realised, smashed her head against the tree they'd hit as she went through the windscreen. The crack of her neck snapping almost made Daria vomit.
But there was Jonathan approaching his whole body was shaking his head down. At first Daria thought he was crying, bereft, he'd never intended for it to go so far; she was soon proven wrong, no he was laughing. Laughing. First he approached Bo. He was unconscious, blood welling from where his head had met with the windscreen. Jonathan punched him in the face, giggling, for once he had the upper hand and he loved it. It seemed that he had left Sherry until last, she lay there her head facing the wrong way, her white and baby blue dress smeared with her blood, and Jonathan; Jonathan kissed her. He began to celebrate, cheering and laughing.
Daria had had more than she could handle. Disorientated her vision fuzzy she ran, fled, anywhere. Tears strong in her eyes, flowing down, mixing with her own blood, from where she had fallen.
She wanted sorely to forget that night, that image; him. But she couldn't no matter how she tried how much she wished, how many prayers she muttered. It would not leave and that man that, monster still held the streets. It drove her mad; she was disgusted but she understood; she loved him. She opened the window, to the stormy weather, to the rain. More than eighty floors laid beneath her. Daria was scared of heights;she was scared of everything; everything that was, everything that had been. Stepping up onto the window sill she closed her eyes and...