Epilogue: All the Things You Are
Batman had cornered Scarecrow in the intensive patient care ward. Around him he could hear the screams of the lunatics as they ran free through Arkham Asylum. It was mass chaos. Joker and the rest of the intensive care patients revolted against the doctors and took over the Asylum. Batman had been called in by Commissioner Gordon to settle things down.
None of Batman's other adversaries were around as witnesses. It was just the Bat and the Scarecrow. Neither one made a move. The silence between them was tremulous. The villain stared down his antagonist. For once Scarecrow was not part of the master planning in this massive escape attempt. He was trying to get to another level of the Asylum before making his exit.
"Would you like to see my favorite patient, Batman?" Scarecrow asked. Batman was a little confused at the request, but he refrained from showing it on his face. He could only wonder what was going on in that sick, twisted mind.
"Whatever you say, Scarecrow," replied Batman, his voice low and somber. Scarecrow nodded, turned around, and started walking. His pace was constant and it seemed like he wasn't going to make an effort to run away. Batman made sure to stay on Scarecrow's heels in case the whole thing was a trick, but he could see in Scarecrow's steady stride that he probably wasn't kidding around.
Scarecrow ushered Batman into an elevator and stepped in after him. The doors closed and they went down, deep into the depths of Arkham. The bottom floor was reserved solely for the criminally insane, the people like Scarecrow, but the floor above it, still in the basement, housed the "crazies".
"She's over here," Scarecrow said as he pointed his cane towards the end of the hallway. His voice was a low, raspy whisper, the mere shell of a sound. Batman nodded and followed Scarecrow to the last cell. He lightly tapped on the door. Then he took out some keys and slipped them into the rusty lock.
"If this is some sort of trick, Scarecrow…"
"It's no trick, I assure you," replied the villain. The tumblers in the lock twisted and Scarecrow pulled the door towards them. A single lamp dangling from the ceiling lit the small, dirty room. Scarecrow ushered Batman inside. He stepped in. Scarecrow followed and closed the door. A mouse-like squeal came from a shadowed corner. "Come out," the villain told the person in the corner. "You have a visitor." Batman could just barely see the outline of a curled up figure. He saw a flash of pale skin, followed by the dull gleam of an eye. The patient crawled out from the shadows. Wide olive eyes stared at the Batman. She screamed and retreated to her corner once more, where she curled up and trembled, muttering to herself.
"Tell me, Batman, do you know who this woman is?" asked Scarecrow.
"I do not," replied Batman.
"Perhaps you have heard of Dr. Pierre DuPont?" he pressed. Wayne remembered the name. Pierre DuPont went to school with his father, and they worked together at Gotham General for quite some time.
"Yes," Batman answered.
"What about Maxwell DuPont, the lawyer who has never lost a case in his life? Or Fern DuPont Richmond, the famous marine biologist who discovered a new form of underwater plant life that is used as an alternative fuel? And what about Alexis DuPont Fleming, former psychiatrist of Arkham Asylum, currently teaching psychology at Yale?" Scarecrow pushed the questions onto Batman quickly, almost angrily. Batman knew that these people were the children of Pierre DuPont. No one expected any less from the children raised by a man like Pierre DuPont. He nodded. Scarecrow turned to the woman in the corner.
"This patient is their younger sister Maria. Do you know who Maria DuPont is, Batman?" Scarecrow questioned. It took Wayne a little longer to match the name to the face. He had only seen Maria during his childhood, and the memories he had of her were very brief and vague. She wasn't exactly the most memorable person. Scarecrow, growing annoyed, continued without giving Batman time to come up with an answer.
"I expected you wouldn't. Who would remember someone as plain and ordinary as Maria DuPont? She did nothing compared to what her older siblings did. Yet she worked harder than all of them put together. Poor Maria, wasting her time and energy on projects she won't even be credited for. Her patients won't remember her. They won't say, 'It was Maria DuPont who made me well again, Maria DuPont who showed me compassion, Maria DuPont who had faith in me'. They've even put her in this small, dank, corner cell. They, her own co-workers, have forgotten about her too." He slid past Batman and closer to the corner. He knelt in the light and reached out his hand.
"Come out, dear," he said softly, "don't be afraid…" Like a dog being summoned by its master, Maria crawled out of the shadows. Her years of being in solitude rendered her almost unrecognizable. Her hair was mangled and messy, unbrushed and unloved. Dirt caked her face, resting in her hollow cheeks. Her bleary, bloodshot eyes lost their innocent glow. Her thin lips had forgotten how to smile. She stopped trembling; her eyes were no longer wide with fear. She brought herself closer to him and leaned against him. He wrapped his arms around her protectively.
"Do you know that they call her Molly Todd here? That's because legally speaking Maria DuPont is dead," Scarecrow told the caped crusader. Batman wasn't exactly sure how to respond to it. Bruce remembered the tragedy all too well. Alexis had called him up saying that Maria had gotten into a car accident and was killed. The wake and funeral were both closed coffin because the body had been so mangled. He didn't recall seeing Jonathan there. Alexis told him that he was in the accident too and had received near fatal injuries. Bruce believed it too. Now he was starting to see that it was all a lie.
"You see, Maria was my assistant…and her exposure to the drugs became too much for her mind to handle," he explained slowly, choking on his words, finally admitting that he was to blame for everything. "Alexis and I knew that we had to protect Maria's reputation. If she had been admitted to Arkham under her own name, she would have been traced back to me, and our secret would be out. Alexis couldn't even tell their own parents the truth. Everyone in the family thinks Maria perished in an accident. Only we two know the truth.
"She was pregnant, you know," he continued, snapping into a different subject.
"What happened to the child?" asked Batman. Scarecrow drew in a deep breath.
"I…don't know. I suppose she miscarried…"
Batman wasn't sure what to do. He wanted to say, "I'm sorry" to this poor broken man. But his morals told him that no amount of personal torment gave a person the right to fight against justice and goodwill. His sympathy for the villain died right there.
"When I'm in this hideous state," Scarecrow continued somberly, "when my true identity is hidden by a foul mask, she doesn't seem to mind. The fear toxin in her system twists her perception of reality. Things that are normal seem frightening, while things that are frightening seem normal," he stated. He turned to face Batman and reached for his mask. He tore it off, revealing his true face. Dark circles hung under his eyes. His skin was ghostly pale. His blue eyes still had their icy slice. He faced Maria again. Maria glanced up at him for a moment. Her eyes widened. She fidgeted. Then she started screaming, pushing herself away from him, fighting and kicking. No matter how hard he tried to hold her, she managed to slip away into her protective shadow. Crane gathered his mask and hat and stood, a heavy sigh falling from him.
"I haven't looked into her eyes using my own. I can't hold her unless I'm dressed like this. It's been years since I've kissed her. I have to hide behind this disgusting monster if I want to get close to her…" He pulled the mask over his face and set the hat on his head. "I don't know what she sees when she looks at me in this state, but…my hope is that she sees me…the me she fell in love with…the me that loved her too…"
"You did this to her with your fear drugs?" Batman questioned. Scarecrow didn't answer. That was an answer enough. "Then why do you insist on doing this to the thousands of innocent people in Gotham? You know the pain it causes. You suffer from that pain every day. So why?" Scarecrow grinned as he pulled out something from his coat pocket.
"If I were to stop, then Maria's sacrifice would be a waste. I have to make it mean something. That was what she wanted…to help…to have purpose…to be needed."
"The experiment never ends, Batman," he replied. A dark, hoarse cackle rose from his throat as he dashed towards the caped crusader and plunged a needle into his arm. Batman recoiled, but it was too late. The fear toxin had been injected into his system. Batman backed into the door, jiggling the handle, trying desperately to escape. The door flung open and Batman dashed out. It wasn't long before he fell to his knees. He gripped his head as his worst fears slowly began to materialize in front of him, plunging him into a dark world where fear was the only thing that existed: Scarecrow's world.