Dear Fellow Writers and Readers,
Well, I'm back!
I started this piece last Thanksgiving and wrote the bulk of it during my Christmas break from school. Now that I'm done with the college application process, I've finally found time to finish. I have to say that I am very pleased with the way it turned out. When I re-discovered Batman the Animated Series (a show that I had only seen once or twice as I child), I immediately fell in love with Jonathan Crane, and I decided to write a fan-fic based around him. While I wanted to keep as many elements as I could from BTAS, I also borrowed elements from "Batman Begins" (Cillian Murphy: you are my god!) and the few details I know from the original comics.
My foundation for the story is really just a simple question: If Jonathan Crane had a girlfriend, what would have she been like, and what would have their relationship been like? The answer? Well, read on if you're curious enough to find out. ;)
As for the title and chapter titles, they all come from one of my favorite Broadway showtunes, "All The Things You Are". Feel free to look up the song and see how it fits into the story! :)
"Batman", all of its characters, and all of its places belong to DC Comics. I take no ownership to these elements and I only claim my characters as my own.
Many thanks to all of you. Please leave comments and constructive criticism. And, as always, happy reading!
All The Things You Are
Chapter One: I've Found My Adventure
The identification tag read "Fern DuPont". That wasn't her name, though. It was actually Maria. Fern was one of Maria's older sisters (she had two older sisters, Fern and Alexis, and an older brother, Maxwell). Maria was used to this; ever since they were in grade school, people mixed up the DuPont girls. Alexis, being the oldest, rarely ran into the problem of being called another name, while people often confused Fern (the next oldest) with Alexis and Maria with Fern. Maxwell, being the only male child, never had this issue.
Maria learned not to take the confusion personally, but she couldn't help but be frustrated with this particular mix-up. Having to file paperwork for an I.D. change was definitely not the ideal start for her new job. Alexis was the one who hooked her up with her new position at Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane (she was one of the resident psychiatrists at the asylum).
"I told my boss that my sister just graduated from Gotham University with a degree in psychiatric nursing, and I guess he thought I meant Fern," Alexis explained as she led Maria to the main office. "I mean, Dr. Bartholomew is such good friends with daddy, so I thought he knew that Fern went into marine biology," she added with a small chuckle. Maria forced a smile, but inside she felt a little hurt. The successes of her siblings always seemed to overshadow her. Her brother was an accomplished lawyer, Alexis was one of the head psychiatrists at Arkham Asylum, and Fern was studying marine life in the Galapagos, while Maria was just a nurse. She was smart, but not as intelligent as Maxwell, and pretty, but not as beautiful as Fern, and talented, but not as gifted as Alexis. In comparison to her siblings, she was just average. People expected greatness from Maria because of the success her older siblings achieved, and most of the time she was able to conform to the high expectations set before her. She didn't graduate as valedictorian, nor was she voted Prom Queen, nor was she class President. There was nothing extraordinary about her.
"Excuse me, Sarah," Alexis said to the secretary at the main office desk, "but there's been a mistake in my sister's I.D. Her name is listed to be 'Fern DuPont', but her name is 'Maria DuPont'." As she said this, she slipped Maria's I.D. card across the desk. "Would you be able to fix it?"
"I'll see what I can do," Sarah replied tiredly. "But I can't guarantee that the new one will be printed by the end of the day. Use this one and come back at the end of your shift." She slid the card back towards Maria, who had no choice but to take the false identifier.
They left the office and the two women navigated their way through the Asylum towards the third floor in the Psychiatric Ward, where Alexis's office was located. Maria bit her lip as she heard the faint cries of the insane penetrating through the thick, metal walls. Alexis gave her sister a reassuring smile.
"It seems a little frightening at first, but you'll get used to it. These people are under strong restraints, so there's no way they can get you," she said, hoping that would provide some comfort. Maria peeked into the little window of one of the doors and watched as a small team of nurses attempted to sedate a patient in the middle of a psychotic fit. She turned away quickly, her stomach opening a deep, empty pit. They reached the third floor and approached the end of the hallway, where Alexis's office was located, and found that there was a thin, wiry man in a lab coat waiting outside of the office. He had neatly trimmed dark brown, almost black, hair, pale skin, and icy blue eyes framed by thin rectangular glasses. Propped up by his upper left arm was a clipboard, while his right hand gripped a pen.
"Good morning, Dr. Crane," Alexis greeted the young man, a hint of surprise in her voice. "I thought you were off today."
"Good morning, Dr. DuPont," replied Dr. Crane. "I was called earlier this morning to attend to Mr. Pryce in room P-105. I have the reports right here." He unclipped a manila folder from the clipboard and handed it to her. "I just wanted to make sure you got them, and the only way I could ensure that was to personally deliver them. If it's at all possible, I would appreciate it if you read them immediately."
"Has his condition changed that drastically?" she asked.
"I was hoping to test out a drug I've been experimenting with on him, but I need your permission before I can do so," Dr. Crane answered. "It might be able to help his condition." Alexis nodded slowly as she opened the folder and began flipping through the pages.
"Let me think about it," she said. "Thank you, Dr. Crane." Dr. Crane nodded and left through the red door at the end of the hallway, which was the entrance to a stairwell. Maria watched him leave, and for a few moments her gaze lingered on the closing door. Alexis, after finishing scanning the paperwork, lightly nudged Maria and gestured her into the office.
"You could have introduced us," Maria said in a low mumble as she took a seat across from Alexis's desk. Alexis dropped the folder onto her desk and sat down.
"There's no point. He's only here when he's conducting research, so you wouldn't be working together anyway," she replied curtly. A sigh passed through her lips. "He just keeps pestering me and pestering me," she exhaled as she massaged her temples. Maria frowned slightly and slumped into her seat with crossed arms like a teenager who was just scolded for bad behavior. Alexis opened the folder again and re-read the reports, taking in the words quickly. She heaved another sigh and stood. "I need to go look at Mr. Pryce myself. Maria would you like to come along?"
"I can't, I have my briefing in twenty minutes, remember?" Maria replied.
"Oh yes, I forgot about that," Alexis said, a little embarrassed. "Can you find your way around all right? I need to examine the patient right now."
"Of course. I'll be fine," Maria answered quickly. Alexis nodded and left the room briskly. Maria waited a few moments before exiting the office as well.
The lights in the white hallway flickered. The hall itself was empty, but she could hear people wailing behind closed doors. Some of the cries were forlorn and morbid, while some were screams boiling with rage. Terrifying images flashed before her eyes. Heavy iron doors swinging open, sick lunatics crawling out of their cages and reaching towards her, running and snatching her up, tearing her apart, threatened by her presence and defending themselves through violence because they didn't know any better. She felt frigid. Chills slithered down her spine. She took small, careful steps towards the red door. Before she could wrap her fingers around the handle, the door was pushed into her. A light gasp rose from her throat as she backed away. Dr. Crane stepped in.
"Oh, excuse me," he mumbled as he turned to his side to slide past her. Maria shifted to her side to let him pass.
"Ah…wait…please," she called out before he could walk too far. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder. "I'm sorry, but…could you tell me how to get to the conference room?" Her voice was soft and timid. It seemed like a moth's wing, fragile and transparent. Dr. Crane was familiar with this voice type, as some of his patients, mostly the raped women who received incredible mental scars from the brutality of their rape, had gentle, broken voices. What was going through that mind of hers? He could easily sense the fear that was pulsing through her system. Who wouldn't be afraid of the dank, empty corridors of the house of lunatics, where there is no accompaniment but the buzzing of flickering lights and the wails of the mad? A place where you can be completely isolated, yet never alone. Who in their right mind would want to work in a place like this? Maybe, perhaps, those who never considered themselves normal.
"Go all the way down to the first floor, and then continue ahead through a glass hallway into the Hospital Wing. The conference room is near the main entrance of the Asylum," he responded quickly, almost too quickly for Maria to process. He exhaled his words and his eyes glanced towards his wrist, around which a simple black watch was wrapped. Maria concluded that he was probably in a rush to get somewhere.
"T-thank you very much, Doctor," she said with a slight bow of the head. They both turned around and went their separate ways.
Maria followed Dr. Crane's instructions and went down to the first floor. However, the staircases did not end there: one more set of stairs led further into the ground. Now Maria began to question herself. By first floor, did he mean the one that was labeled "1st Floor", or the ground level? Instinct told her that she was on the correct level, but curiosity was pushing her down the next flight.
"Easy there, Maria," she said to herself, her fingers tightly grasping the cold iron banister. "No need to be hasty. The briefing starts in fifteen minutes." Her gaze lingered on the stairwell for a few more moments. There was no light down there; if she tried to navigate down those stairs she would have plunged herself into complete darkness. Shuddering, Maria went through the red doors ahead of her and, following Dr. Crane's instructions, found the conference room.
Even though the meeting she was attending was called an "employment briefing", it ran for the entire day. Maria, along with four other new nurses, were given everything they needed to know about working in Arkham Asylum, including a layout of the building, emergency safety procedures, standard protocol, etc. At the end of the day, they were given their shifts, and they would start work at midnight. Maria signed up for a twelve-hour shift, which started at seven in the morning and went until about seven thirty at night. That nearly coincided with Alexis's shift, which was from eight in the morning to about ten at night.
Maria left the Asylum at around six at night under the direction of her sister (Maria intended on staying until Alexis's shift was over, but Alexis insisted that Maria get some rest). She left the Asylum campus and walked to a bus station, where she waited for about ten minutes. The bus picked her up and it drove towards the main city, over a long bridge separating Arkham Island from the rest of Gotham. Once in the city, Maria went to the nearest railway station, trying her best to blend into the population of Gotham. By day it seemed like any normal city, but once the sun closed its watchful eyes, criminals slipped out from hiding and wreaked havoc on the citizens. The Gotham News stopped reporting street murders, for they were all too common at this point.
She fingered the switchblade in her trouser pocket. Attached to it was the key to the apartment she shared with Alexis and her boyfriend. The bus stopped and she rushed off, spotting a train coming into the station and hoping she could reach it in time. After inserting her train tokens, she climbed up the tower to the railway and waited as the train slid to a halt. Once the doors opened, she stepped on and found a seat. The doors closed and the train moved on.
City lights blazed past her. The outside world was a blur. The train rattled slightly and the unrepaired lights flickered and buzzed. Sometimes she felt nervous as she rode on the train, which was in much need for a repair job, but the city refused to pay to rejuvenate it. Nevertheless, it got her home quickly and safely, and that was all she really cared about.
The apartment was on 5th Street. She got off at the Avenue E stop and had to walk two blocks to get home. As she neared her street, it seemed like the crowd of people had dispersed until she was the only one walking. Her stomach curled. Only a few more steps before she was safe.
The scary thing about Gotham was that its people weren't even safe in their own houses.
She entered her building and walked up three floors. Down the shadowed, blue-carpeted corridor she went until she reached number 309. She pulled out the switchblade, stuck the key into the lock, turned it, and pushed the door in.
The television was on. Jake was home.
"Hello, Jake," Maria said quietly as she shut the door behind her and placed her coat on the coat hanger. Jake didn't turn to face her, nor did he even mumble a "Hello". Maria wasn't sure why Jake was so hostile towards her, especially since she was good about paying her share of the rent and bills and kept out of the way as much as possible. At the moment Jake was watching the news and flipping through the Business section of the Gotham Gazette. He was part of an internship program at the Gotham Stock Exchange, and within the next two months he would be taking his exam and be interviewed in hopes of getting a job there. That added stress made him even more irritable.
The apartment had two rooms. The larger one, the main room, was the living room, kitchen, dining room, and water closet (behind a curtain there was a toilet and a shower). Behind a door was the bedroom, where Alexis and Jake slept. Maria had the couch, although at the moment she couldn't get the sleep she wanted. She retreated to the bookshelf, where Alexis had started collecting some medical books for her library. Alexis even set aside a few shelves for Maria to start storing her books. At the moment, Maria only had her textbooks from college. She slid one out, sat on a chair at the dining area, and started flipping through it. For what seemed like hours she sat there, only half-heartedly reading the words she had been tested on since freshman year. She knew the terms and definitions by rote, the procedures were now muscle memory; there wasn't much else Maria thought she had to learn. But there was much more to nursing than what the textbooks went over, and Maria was about to discover that.