Disclaimer: I do not own the rights "Batman" or any of its characters, including Scarecrow, nor do I own any rights to the comics or the films. I own nothing!

A/N: Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, and I thought it would be interesting to explore how Crane would react to such a family-oriented and commercial-based holiday. For those who don't know, Dr. Joan Leland is a character who first appeared in "Batman: The Animated Series". She is a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and I hope you enjoy the story!

Dr. Jonathan Crane sits at his desk, his fingertips massaging his temples, his eyes closed.

Tonight is the Arkham Asylum staff's annual Christmas party-the one night of the year there is any joy in the institution-as the staff gather to celebrate the holiday spirit and the sounds of carols and laughter drown out the moans and screams of the patients. The interns decorate the faculty room, hanging up cheap lights and paper mache ornaments in an attempt to mask the grim atmosphere, and draw straws to determine which unlucky soul will don the Santa suit. Refreshments are served, including the typical cookies and eggnog, and everyone has a good time, most of them drinking too much to help them forget that despite the laughter and celebration, they are still in Arkham.

But not Crane.

He'd made a brief appearance, hiding out in a corner and shaking a few hands when necessary, before slipping out the door and walking down the hallway to the shelter and seclusion of his office. He finds any interaction with his coworkers tedious at best and almost impossible after they've had a few drinks, their faces flushed and their voices loud, their hands outstretched and insisting.

Despite the distance and closed door, he can still hear faint sounds emenating from the party; the traditional carols blaring from the sound system, the laughter of his coworkers. The dull noises echo throughout the office, and Crane exhales deeply, his head pounding. A sudden burst of laughter fills the hall and he opens his eyes, annoyed and angered. He wants desperately to leave, to get into his car and drive far, far away from these idiots and their meaningless, stupid celebration, but he can't risk being caught and dragged back into the party, with a glass thrust into his hand and a ridiculous Santa hat placed upon his head. Resigned to spending at least the next hour hiding out in his office, he begins to search through his meticulously organized desk for a bottle of aspirin; he wants his wait to at least be as painless as possible.

Out of the corner of his eye he glimpses his briefcase.

No. Not tonight.

It would be highly dangerous to experiment tonight. With so many of the doctors in the building it would be impossible to be undetected, and so far he'd been succesful at keeping his research a secret. He might be able to pay off the night shift guards, but there's no way he could convince the entire psychiatric staff to remain quiet.

He swallows two aspirin and leans back in his chair, closing his eyes and trying to shut out the sound of "Jingle Bells".

After a few minutes he opens his eyes and reaches for his briefcase.

The mask is hot in his hands, the burlap coarse and rough against his skin. Scarecrow's empty black eyes stare back at Crane, burning a hole through him and penetrating his mind.

How he wishes he could return to the party wearing his mask, before filling the room with his fear gas. Then the fun would really begin.

A sharp knock at the door interrupts his thoughts and he jumps, startled.

"Jonathan." He hears Dr. Leland's voice through the door. The door knob begins to turn and Crane rises to his feet, throwing the mask uncermoniously into his briefcase before slamming it shut as the door opens and Dr. Leland pokes her head into the office.

"I hope I'm not interrupting anything," she says, an apologetic smile on her face. Crane clears his throat and attempts to wipe his face of any sign of annoyance or anger.

"No, no, not at all, Dr. Leland," he says, "I was just finishing up some paperwork." He gestures toward his desk and forces a small smile.

"I've told you Jonathan, please, call me Joan," Leland says in a warm voice, her eyes kind.

Crane clears his throat. "Very well, Joan," he says, forcing himself to continue smiling. "Why aren't you at the party?"

Leland smiles."I actually stopped by to give you something," she says, and for the first time Crane notices the small package in her hand, wrapped in gold wrapping paper and tied neatly with a red ribbon.

He shifts nervously.

"Oh, Joan, you didn't have to do that," Crane says, his hands sweaty and balled into tight fists in his pockets.

"It's just a small gift," Leland says, her voice gentle. "You do so much for the patients here and put in so much work, it was the least I could do."

Crane manages to stifle his laugh before it reaches his lips.

Leland steps forward and extends her arm towards Crane, the package in her hand, the gold paper sparkling against the deep red of the ribbon.

Crane reaches for the gift. His fingers close around the small box, careful not to brush against Leland's hand. He manages a small smile and pulls at the ribbon; it loosens and unties. Carefully, he peels back the wrapping paper, exposing a white cardboard box.

He glances up at Leland. She is smiling.

He hates suprises.

Slowly, he opens the box. Inside is a small snowglobe; he removes it from the box and holds it up to the light. Tiny snowflakes fall on a miniature Gotham, floating through the air and piling on the bottom of the globe.

Leland looks at him expectantly, nervously.

Crane clears his throat and forces another smile. "Thank you, Joan. It's wonderful."

A sigh of relief escapes Leland. "I'm so glad you like it," she says, beaming. "I wasn't sure if you would."

"It's perfect," Crane says, "I have just the place for it at home."

Leland smiles widely. "That's great," she says. A silent moment passes before she says, "Well, I really should be getting back to the party."

"Of course" he says, "Thank you so much for the gift."

"You're very welcome," she says, nodding. "Merry Christmas, Jonathan."

"Merry Christmas, Joan."

Crane waits until he can no longer hear the sound of her heels echoing in the hall before hurling the snowglobe against the wall. Satisfaction fills him as it shatters, the destroyed replica of Gotham lying crumpled in a pool of water.

How dare she pity him.

How dare she think he wants anything from her.

Rage fills Crane. How dare such a simple, weak person like Joan Leland offer him such an invaluable trinket in an obvious act of charity. Does she think he needs her gift? Does she think he needs her sympathy?

Crane takes a deep breath and runs his fingers through his hair. All in good time. Not too much longer and his fear gas will be complete, and Gotham will be his, and he will destroy it just as he destroyed its miniature replica. Will Joan feel pity for him then? Will she offer him a sympathy gift then?


She will be the one asking for pity as she kneels at the feet of Scarecrow.