They boy did not belong there, Bruce had finally decided.
Decked out in his full Batman gear, the billionaire playboy sat at the massive computer that took up most of the wall in the Batcave, staring at the LCD screen in discontent.
Being the paranoid, anal retentive man he was known to be, Batman kept extensive notes and files on just about everyone admitted as a patient in Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison.
One boy, having been rather recently admitted there, caught his eye. Had it not been for his age, thought to be somewhere around in his early to mid-teens, the boy would have passed as any other criminally insane maniac. But no one that young deserved to be Arkham.
The boy's personal record was riddled with gaps and empty spaces, not even having a name to go by. It was as if he appeared out of nowhere.
And then there was his medical file. Suffering from PTSD, PD, amnesia, and schizophrenia, the boy proved to be a four in one nutshell. Even the most qualified doctors deemed him as a lost cause. Some even refused to treat him due to his history of violent attacks.
Before Arkham, the boy was held as prisoner in a government institution, ran by a group only known as the GiW. Files of his time in the institution was locked away so deeply and heavily in the databases that even he had trouble getting to them.
Batman pressed a button, connecting his headset with another line. On the other end, a very groggy and tired sounding old man picked up.
"Jim, I need you to authorize me a visit to Arkham."
"D'you have any idea what time it is, Bruce? Not everyone's nocturnal, y'know." Even as he was complaining, Commissioner Gordon was already getting up and ready. After years of working alongside with the legendary Dark Knight, he knew it was useless to try to reason with him that the hour was too ungodly to do anything. Much less make a field trip to a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane.
"It's important, I need to be there now."
"Yeah, yeah. Meet me at the gates in twenty."
Jim tucked the flared collar of his coat closer around his neck, blocking the chilly northern wind that whistled down the street. His face was ruddy from the cold bite of the wind outside, the tip of his nose and cheeks flushed.
Damn you, Bruce. He thought before taking the last drag of his cigarette and stepping it out with heel of his sole. It was cold and the hour was well into the night, and Bruce had the audacity to be late for the meeting he himself called. Absentmindedly kicking a styrofoam coffee cup, he watched as it rolled ahead a few steps before coming to a stop at someone's feet.
"You better have a damn good reason for making me drag my ass out of bed," Jim noted dully, eyes slowly leaving the ground and travelling upwards to meet Bruce's masked ones. Instead of answering directly, the Caped Crusader tossed over a file in Jim's direction. Catching it between his thumb and his index finger, the Commissioner flipped it open and read its contents.
"Isn't this kid a little young to be in Arkham?" he questioned, eyes scanning the paper.
"That's precisely what I was thinking. I'd like to see him for myself and evaluate if he belongs in an asylum instead of a psych ward."
In the 21st century, there were rarely any mental establishments that still signed any legal documents as an "asylum". Most were now psychiatric hospitals, where patients went to get better. Asylums, on the other hand, were warehouses for the crazy, a place to neatly tuck the unfit away from society. Out of sight, out of mind.
But Arkham was not just any institution for the criminally insane. It was the Ivy League for insanity. A "Harvard" for psychopaths. Only the best, the brightest, and the sickest belonged there. For a kid of perhaps 14 or 15 years old, he must have committed unfathomable acts to be locked away alongside the Joker.
Jim sighed, vaguely noting how his breath solidified in the cold into phantom wisps.
"Well, let's go inside then. Before I freeze my ass off."
Inside the waiting area, they were met with a cheery, blond receptionist. If she was surprised that Batman had showed up with the Gotham PD Commissioner in the dead of the night, she did not show it. It certainly wasn't an unusual occurrence, after all.
"What can I do you two for?" she asked, grinning broadly.
"If you could just get Mr. Cash for us Lisa, that would be great," Jim replied with a tip of his hat.
"Sure thing, hun," pressing a button, Lisa relayed the message over the PA system. She and Jim made idle chatter while waiting for the head of the security department to show up.
"Surprised to see you two here. Last I checked, the Joker was still behind bars," an aged, African-American man had announced upon arriving.
One of the most senior security guards at Arkham Asylum, Cash was well respected by all. Despite being alongside the inhabitants of Arkham on a daily basis, he feared only one inmate - Killer Croc. Having lost his left hand to the Croc in a fight years ago, the appendage was replaced with a metal hook. Even today, he suffered from the unrelentless teasing of Captain Hook jokes.
"We're not here for the Joker," Batman explained in his trademark cold demeanor, "We're here to see Patient 52."
The name itself caused the veteran guard discomfort as he slowly shook his head twice, lips pressed into a firm line.
"Follow me," he finally said, as if he was expecting for this to happen all along. While they were leaving the room, Bruce noticed for the first time the small placard that sat upon the receptionist's desk. It read,
You don't have to be crazy to work here - but it sure does help!
Cash led them directly passed the Main Cell Block corridor and straight into Intensive Treatment.
"The kid arrived here sometime last Tuesday," Cash said, barely glancing behind him to see if they were listening, "so far he's caused three doctors to go to the hospital due to injuries. Won't respond to treatment, refuses to take his pills, half the time he won't even eat. For the most part he's OK, y'know? Pretty tame. It's only when he's having his hallucinations that he strikes out and tries to hurt himself and anyone trying to sedate him."
Walking among corridors and corridors, they finally reached a cell with two guards by either side of it. Cash dismissed them for a coffee break, which they eagerly accepted.
"Well, here we are."
Batman peered through the small, bullet-proof window that offered a look inside. On the far side of the room, the boy was there. Leaning against the wall, he sat with his legs spread out before him. Dark, raven hair framed a pale and gaunt face. Around his mouth, a faint purple bruise decorated the corner of his lips. His eyes were closed; however, and his chest was lightly rising and falling with each breath. He was asleep.
"What's the device around his neck?" he questioned, tearing his gaze away from him.
"It was already there when he arrived. We're under strict orders not to take it off under any circumstances."
"And his personal records?"
"You're gonna have to talk to the Warden about that. I don't have access to them."
A long silence stretched out between them. Jim was starting to wonder if anyone was going to break it soon.
"I'd like to go inside and talk with him."
Cash surprised them both by denying the Dark Knight's request.
"Absolutely not. The boy is dangerous, he could lash out without warning."
"Are you implying that I cannot hold myself against a bound child?" Batman demanded, mustering up an intense glare at the security guard. Cash; however, remained stubbornly unfazed.
"Of course not. That's exactly what I'm afraid of. It's my duty to protect everyone in this asylum, including the patients. If the boy starts getting aggressive, I don't want you excessively restraining him. Just yesterday I had to pull off another guard away from him because he was beating him with his baton when the kid bit him. That's how he got the colors on his mouth," Cash replied without missing a beat.
Children had always held a soft spot in his heart, no matter how seemingly dangerous or apathetic they seemed. From experience, he's come to find out that it's almost never the child's fault for being like that. But rather from the parents, socioeconomic situation, or even some traumatic experience. He would know, he had been there.
This boy, he was just scared and ill. Whatever violent acts he demonstrated, it was merely to protect himself because he truly thought he was in danger.
Upon hearing this, Batman immediately backed off.
"Cash, it is not my intent to hurt him. I simply wish to determine if he truly belongs here," he assured, in a sympathetic voice that sounded strange if only because it was coming from Batman. The security guard gave a good long stare, trying to determine if he would stay true to his words. Finally, he gave a short nod and took out a card attached to the lapel of his shirt.
Swiping it across the keypad, the door beeped three times before opening with a small release of air. Stepping aside, he made room for the Bat to make his way through. Taking his first steps in, he heard the door lock behind him, shutting off the only way of getting in or out.
Leaving just him and the kid alone in the room.
The place was covered in a thick blanket of black smoke. The smell of burning flesh was enough to make himself gag and stomach to churn. Everywhere around him people were screaming and crying. He had to get them. He had to save them.
He couldn't though, for his body refused obey his own commands. He felt as if someone was pulling his limbs, muscles, and nerves with a string. As if he was a puppet.
Somewhere in the background, a large ominous figure stalked up behind him. The presence came closer and closer until he could feel it breathing down his neck. The figure moved its arms as if to snatch the trapped puppet, and then-
Sensing a disturbance within his domain, blue eyes slowly blinked open. With each passing second, the burning room faded away, the thick odor of smoke and flesh following it. Taking up its image was the familiar, white room with padded walls. This place had very recently become his new home.
Looking up, the boy realized that he wasn't alone anymore.
AN: Thanks to everyone for reviewing chapter one. Now let's get some things out of the way.
This takes place somewhere around winter. Just a few months before the show premieres. Don't worry. The YJ-gang will show up soon.
All characters mentioned are property of DC. Except for Lisa.
People have a common misconception that schizophrenia means having two or more distinct personalities. However that is actually Dissociative Identity Disorder. Schizophrenia is the inability to tell reality apart from fantasy.
That's pretty much all you need to know. Have fun reading, and please drop by a review. Or don't. Whatever.