The Greatest Of These

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.

The wind bites with cold teeth when it kicks up. I burrow myself further into my coat and wait. Gotham Park is a dangerous place at night. I am a dangerous man though not while wearing my mask, the normal face of Jonathan Crane. I have a very unassuming face, the kind that belies my true nature. It lets me walk among the normal people, studying them with my clinical eye as they mill about around me. They always assume they have nothing to fear from a mild-mannered man such as I. I hunt better in the dark, better behind the face of an ordinary man.

Normal people do very foolish things. They pollute their bodies with poisonous chemicals like nicotine, alcohol, and other substances. They rot their already dull minds with the garbage presented to them on television and in other forms of media. They mutilate their bodies with plastic surgery in order to achieve concepts of beauty. Normal people are dull, stupid, and boring. They do dull, stupid, and boring things. They stumble blindly through their dull, stupid, and boring lives. Yet normal people do one thing above all else that forever relegates them to a level of thought lower than mine. Normal people fall in love.

I see my prime example before me, my exhibit A. The young couple on the bench across from me are totally engrossed in themselves and in one another. The boy is college age, the girl still in high school. They smile, they laugh, they kiss. Yet it's their body language that says more than their words. I read people, know the inner workings of their minds better than they do. Every behavior tells a story. The girl always initiates the intimate action. She's needy, starving for physical affection. Perhaps she has issues with her father and has some insecurities stemming from his lack of affection towards her. This is what the stupid, normal people don't realize. They proclaim that love is the greatest of human emotions but they don't understand. Love is fear. We spend our lives blindly searching for socially acceptable ways to make ourselves happy. Love is fear of never finding such a means to that end. Normal people delude themselves because they fear the truth. Being in love is simply an admission of the fear lurking inside you. Being in love is the fear of being alone.

I watch the two young lovers with a hunter's eye. I sit within the folds of my overcoat, a predator camouflaged from his hapless prey. There were no gentle caresses or loving words for me at that formative age. There were no soft lips to meet mine. There was only scorn, only ridicule, only torment. In their taunts and jeers, I found solace. I cured myself of the greatest mental disease of all. In becoming a social pariah, I tamed my fear and exorcised it. Love is the fear of being alone. I am the master of fear but there is no fear in me anymore.

These poor, unfortunate souls have no idea how thoroughly brainwashed they are. Will you smile so much, little girl, when push comes to shove and you don't give him what he so obviously wants? Where will your hope be then when he breaks your fragile heart? They all will. They'll take what they want and leave you with a need, a longing, that will never be fulfilled. That's your fear isn't it, my dear? I can taste it even from here. Normal people are such a fearful lot. It makes them easy to manipulate, easy to control, easy to destroy. I do the world a great service by reeducating every normal person I come in contact with. The world should thank me some day for my diligent service.. Alas though, genius is never understood in its own time. The masses are too fearful of anything or anyone extraordinary so they squash it immediately.

Such fear in them. It moves me on a primal level. It makes me salivate to hear their screams in my head. They stand up and clasp hands, whispering to one another as they meander along the concrete path. I stand quietly and follow them, fingers clutching at my tools of terror that are stashed within my coat. Vials, syringes, gas bombs, all of them beg for use. Where are your gentle caresses and loving words now? I wonder which of them will beg for their own lives first. Probably the boy I'll wager. It will be wonderful to savor the girl's reaction when he does. Both of them will scream, both of them will suffer. Both of them will confront their grand delusions and realize that love is nothing more than fear in disguise.

So close now. The normal people fear me, fear the mighty Scarecrow. Their lives are dominated by fear at every level and that means I am their master by extension. These two will learn their lessons tonight. They will learn to let go of love, let go of compassion, and let go of fear. They will learn to ascend to my level of consciousness or perhaps they will simply suffer and die. I can smell the fear as I inch closer and closer to my prey. Pay attention, young ones. Your teacher is about to teach you the greatest lesson of all. The normal people claim that love is the greatest of human emotions. I know better than to believe the lies and now I will teach the world what I have learned, one scream of terror at a time.