Disclaimer: I do not own Jonathan Crane, and I do not make any money writing this story.

A/N: Hi everyone! Thanks for checking out my first run at a Scarecrow story; that was a close poll, eh? I know there's a lot of these types of Crane stories floating around in the fandom right now...hope you find this one a little different. I just wanted to warn you ahead of time that this story is rated M for a reason. The narrative is going to be fairly foul-mouthed and contain some very mature content. Proceed with caution. Also, I wanted to warn you that some scenes are dialogue heavy for a reason, and those scenes are a little...experimental. If it works, or if it's really confusing, let me know. On that note, since this story is Pre BB, I'm guessing this period of Jonathan Crane's life takes place in the early 90s, when certain activities depicted in this story were somewhat more tolerated than they are today. You'll know what I mean when you read it.

Other than that, I hope you guys enjoy it!


Scythe

Chapter One

/

Suddenly I'm on a beach.

I know I'm on a beach because my feet are half-buried in sand. I hate sand, it's coarse and rough and dries my skin, and I'm so fucking furious that I'm grinding my teeth and I want to bite someone's head off.

Jesus Christ, mom, why the fuck are we-

...I don't know why my first impulse was to accuse my mother. My mother's dead, she's been dead for years, I know this. I look around me and I don't see her; I'm conscious that she's dead, yet I'm so sure she's here somewhere. Why am I calling for her?

I shake my head, and lift my feet one at a time to get them out of the sand, and when I open my eyes, I'm blinded by sunlight, except it isn't sunlight. It's warm but it isn't orange; it's some bright white light, something artificial and sterile, like a hospital light. And there's noise, the sound of kids screaming and laughing and waves lapping at sand.

My eyes adjust. I look down at my feet; my toes are swollen and blue, and I can't wiggle them. The light makes my skin look so white it's almost blinding to look at my bare legs. I raise my hands and look at them; they're swollen and the fingernails are blue. What the fuck, what the fuck?

My breath is heavy and I start to hyperventilate. I don't like the light...the light's artificial, it's not sunlight, what the hellkinda light is it? Where the fuck am I?

And then...and then suddenly - I'm on a dock.

I'm standing on the edge of the dock, looking down into the water. The water's black. I hold out my arms because I think I'm gonna fall in. I hyperventilate. I look up towards the beach. It seems to be a million miles away, but I can see the people on the sand. I can barely hear them. I open my mouth to scream to them, to scream for help, but my voice doesn't come out. I can't hear my own screams. Am I screaming?

I look down into the water, and then I'm falling.

I hit the water and it swallows me whole; the cold seeps through my clothes, freezing my skin, dragging me down like a million powerful arms pulling me away from the surface. I thrash my arms and legs, try to get loose, but it has a hold on me. The water has a hold on me, and no matter how much I thrash my arms and kick my legs I can't get free. I can see the surface overtop of me; I can see the artificial sun glaring down through the water, until everything is swallowed up.

I scream, and bubbles burst forth - the last air I have left. I try in vain to swim upwards, but my arms are heavy, and I can feel the slick slime of seaweed against my bare skin. Either I'm at the bottom or I'm nearing the bottom, and I scream. I scream but all that emerges is bubbles.

I gasp as water fills my nostrils, my ears, my mouth. It sinks in: if I don't break free, I will drown.

I try to pull my arms up, I scream, I thrash; my body fills with water, the last of the bubbles leave my lips. All I can feel is pain, and cold, and all I can see is darkness.

/

All I could see was darkness. I gulped breaths of air, frantically, and I sat up, planted my feet firmly on the cool hardwood floor and doubled over. I thought I was going to be sick.

I felt Dean's hand on my shoulder suddenly and it startled me. "What's wrong?" he whispered, his deep voice rasped by sleep.

I couldn't see a thing in the darkness. I rose my hand eagerly and brushed his hand with my fingers, relieved that he was there, and I gripped the sheets with my other hand to make sure they were there too, that I was awake and that it was all over. I sighed heavily, dropped my head and began to rub my face.

"Just a nightmare," I whispered, rubbing my eyes and propping my elbows on my knees. I wanted to cry. "I haven't had a nightmare in years."

Dean shifted in bed behind me; he sat himself up and cleared his throat a little before placing his hand comfortingly at the nape of my neck. "Did you eat something before bed? Pickles? Grapefruit?"

I shook my head. "Not since dinner..." I sighed heavily, and began to rub my face with my hand.

"You wanna talk about it?" Dean whispered at my ear; I could feel his breath fall over my shoulder. "Might make you feel better."

I couldn't help but smile, stealing a glance at my digital clock. It was 1:27 in the morning; he had to be up in a few hours but he offered to sit up and listen to me talk about some stupid dream. I shook my head. "Nah...it's stupid."

I stood up and padded across the room, feeling Dean's eyes on my back; it wasn't until I was hesitantly and carefully sipping faucet water from a glass in front of the bathroom mirror that I realized I was stark naked and I couldn't remember why I didn't have any pajamas on...until I remembered that yesterday was the day we'd heard Dean's thesis was considered for a governor general's award. I blinked, staring at my collarbones; was I naked in the dream?

I shook out my head and drank two cups of sink water to clear my head a little and then I splashed a little on my face to calm myself down.

It was so stupid...it was just a dream, yet it was so vivid. I remembered people telling me about how some of their nightmares just felt so real, and I so rarely got them that I more or less thought they ought to suck it up, be a man, be a woman, and all that jazz...but I realized what they were getting at. It wasn't fun. Not fun at all.

Running a hand through my hair, I went back into the bedroom. Dean was lying on his side in bed with his arm curled under the pillow, propping himself up, as though he was all prepped and ready for a long chat, but he was asleep with his mouth open, and it made me smile as I climbed into bed next to him, pulling the sheets up against my chest and cradling my head in my arm, staring at him.

I felt so stupid; I had never known the security of sleeping beside a man before I met Dean; it made for some of the best sleeps of my life. But at that moment, I couldn't go back to sleep, not even with him there to watch over me. I was afraid to.

/

Three cups of coffee wasn't enough to get me through the morning alert and ready to learn. Listening to my professors' lecture through the first two classes was like listening to the voice of the teacher in Charlie Brown for four hours straight. I felt like death when I trudged over to the psychology department and knocked on Dr. Crane's door.

Dr. Crane gave me that same half-pleasant, half-unimpressed little smile he always gave me when he opened the door to his office and invited me inside. "Good morning, Hanna."

I tried to muster a smile for him, but you could only try and smile so much when you're feeling half dead. "Morning, Dr. Crane."

He closed the door behind me and motioned to the musty patient armchair next to the window with his hand, as he always did. "Can I get you anything? Tea?"

I set down my book bag next to the chair, sat myself down and shook my head. "No thank you, Dr. Crane."

I took a moment, as I always did, to look around his office, his tiny little office. The walls were covered with bookshelves, filled with old old books, but other than that, it was a fairly minimalist space. No pictures of a wife and kids in a frame, no nicknacks or souvenirs from faraway places; his desk sat against the far wall littered with books and papers. He always offered me coffee or tea when I came to session, despite the fact I'd never seen a kettle...

I watched as Dr. Crane sat himself down with his trusty pen and pad in hand, and tried to flatten out the wrinkle in his brown trousers, which did not match his jacket. He looked at me through his thick glasses, his pink lips twitching as if he meant to smile. "So, how are you?"

I shrugged my shoulders, trying to fool him into thinking I wasn't ready to fall over and pass out on the floor. "I'm okay."

He watched me, his blue eyes as big and as unimpressed as ever. "Anything particular you'd like to discuss today?"

I shook my head. "No."

He rose his hand, half-heartedly, and pointed to my face. "You have very dark circles under your eyes."

Instinctively I rubbed at my eyes, as if he'd told me my mascara was running. "I didn't sleep well."

That piqued his curiosity, as his eyebrows rose a little. "Oh? The workload of the semester taking its toll on you?"

"No, it's not that."

He crossed one leg over the other and tapped his pen against his lips, his eyes narrowed to me just a little. "Bad dreams?"

I looked at him pointedly and wanted to smile. Mind-reader. "Yeah, actually. Had a nightmare."

"Hmm," he made that unimpressed noise in his throat. "Would you like to talk about it?"

I shook a little; the last thing I wanted to do was revisit the nightmare. I crossed my arms over my chest and sat back in the chair, looking up at Dr. Crane and shaking my head a little. "No, I'd really rather not."

He shrugged a little. "Sometimes talking about our nightmares helps to alleviate their vivacity."

I shook my head. "That's what Dean said, but I'd really rather not talk about it. It's pretty...I don't know, basic."

One smooth brown eyebrow rose. "Basic?"

I sighed somewhat more dramatically than I want to. "Well...yeah, in my dream, I'm...I'm standing on a beach, and then suddenly I'm drowning."

Dr. Crane frowned, as though he found this new information both disturbing and interesting at the same time. "Drowning?"

I nodded. "Yeah. I mean, it's all innocent at first, I'm standing on some dock...and the next thing I know, I'm in the water and I'm getting all wrapped up in seaweed, and I can't break free, and then I...drown."

Dr. Crane stared, frowning at me, narrowing his eyes a little.

I know I'd like to wrap the little bitch in seaweed.Skin her, lay out her flanks on seaweed, roll her up...eat her out with chopsticks...chopsticks. Y'know how you eat a girl out with chopsticks, Johnny? Huh? Johnny?

I'm in. Session.

Heh heh heh...sssllllllppppp...

Dr. Crane shuddered. Hard.

I paused and stared at him, leaning forward a little. "Are you okay?"

Dr. Crane shook his head, tightlipped, and adjusted his eyeglasses. "I'm fine," he replied, somewhat curtly, and cleared his throat, composing himself once again. "Where do you drown?"

I blinked at him for a moment, stupidly, and then shrugged a little. "What do you mean?"

Dr. Crane's eyes darted off to the side for a split second and returned to me; a telltale sign that he was getting annoyed. "Do you drown in a bathtub, in a swimming pool...?"

"Oh," I exclaimed, suddenly feeling very stupid, and I shook my head. "Um, a lake."

Dr. Crane wrote a very short note in his notebook and returned his eyes to me. "So, did you die from drowning in your dream?"

It took me a minute to grasp what he meant; the lack of sleep was really starting to catch up on me. "Uh, no, actually. I think I was about to...die, but then I woke up."

"Have you ever had..." he paused, as though considering his next words, something Dr. Crane rarely had to do. He always knew what to say, as if he premeditated all our discussions. "Have you ever...been close to drowning at some point in your life?"

I thought about it, but then shook my head immediately. "No, I hate swimming."

Dr. Crane considered me carefully and a little suspiciously. "You hate swimming? That's a strong word for an activity we all generally enjoy at some point in our lives. Did you have a bad experience?"

I frowned heavily. "No, I just..." I ran a hand through my hair, considering it for a minute. When did I decide that I hated swimming? "Just for as long as I can remember, I really didn't enjoy it at all."

Dr. Crane narrowed his eyes to me for a moment, as if he suspected me of lying to him, and then he jotted another quick note in his notebook. "You know...when we dream that we are drowning, it is often a symbol of...drowning in our emotions in the waking life. Are you finding you are overwhelmed by emotion?"

I thought about it for a moment, and then the answer was right there, and I couldn't help but smile and shake my head a little. It was so obvious. I guess sometimes all it took was the right person to make the right suggestion.

"I haven't told my Dad that I'm seeing Dean."

He gave me that weird little sneer look of his again. He always made his feelings about Dean well-known without having to say a thing whenever I brought him up in our discussions. "Why have you not told him?"

I laughed a little. "I don't know; the thought of telling my father that I'm fucking my professor is enough to make me want to change my name and drive to Mexico."

Dr. Crane wasn't amused at all. He was looking really unimpressed. "But you told me yourself in one of our past sessions that your relationship with Dr. Roberts goes beyond...fucking, did you not?"

FUCKING? Profanity! Oh, the profanity, Professor Johnny Crane, a side of you I've never seen...but I think I like it!

Quiet.

"You are..." Dr. Crane continued, twisting his neck a little as if he were uncomfortable. "...living with him, aren't you?"

I swallowed and looked down at my hands in my lap. Somehow hearing someone else say it out loud made it sound worse then it was. "Yeah, I am."

Dr. Crane held out his hands as if to say, well? "Are you in love with him?"

I looked up and met Dr. Crane's big blue eyes, regarding me very seriously, as if this was an answer he'd been waiting to hear since our very first session. "I...don't really know."

That obviously wasn't the answer he wanted to hear. He made a weird little disappointed noise in his throat and made a note. "But you would agree that your relationship with Dr. Roberts is beyond physical at this point, isn't it?"

Hesitating, wondering just how much I wanted him to know about my love life, I swallowed and nodded. "Yeah...yeah, I guess it is."

I saw the look he gave me and what he was aching to point out, which was the obvious; would my father really object to me dating one of my professors? It wasn't such a huge deal, other girls my age slept with their professors fairly casually, it wasn't a big deal at all; but I knew my father. Even if I told him that my relationship with Dean was deeper than just having sex, he wouldn't buy it; he'd probably have a heart attack, and cut off my feet when I went to visit him in the hospital with a hacksaw he'd steal from the doctor.

I sighed heavily. "Dr. Crane, suppose you have a daughter my age -"

BAHAHAHAHA! That'd be the day! Have you ever lasted long enough to knock up some chick?

Shut. Up.

Wha? Just curious...you never have, have you?

"-and one day she tells you she's sleeping with one of your colleagues, who's maybe...five, ten years younger than you. How would you feel?"

Dr. Crane stared at me, taking in a sharp breath through his nostrils, and his eyes went elsewhere, out the window, as though he was trying to think of a way to skirt around the question. "I don't suppose I'd be too pleased."

"Exactly," I said, sitting back in my seat. "My father's never been good with boyfriends my own age, forget telling him my latest boyfriend's also my Latin professor."

Dr. Crane steepled his fingertips, staring at me, regarding my point, and then he tipped his hands. "So is it safe to say you're feeling guilty?"

"Guilty?"

"You obviously feel that you should tell your father about your relationship with Dr. Roberts," Dr. Crane began, rather carefully. "But you feel you have a valid reason to keep this relationship from him, increasing the likelihood of him finding out in a rather...inappropriate manner."

I scowled at him. "Inappropriate how?"

Fucking in the office, that's always a good one. Schmuck walks it, finds his kid taking it up the ass by some four-eyed profes...let me show her!

No.

C'mon, Johnny, lemme show her, y'know I'd loooove to show her.

I said no.

Dr. Crane shifted in his seat. He was starting to look increasingly uncomfortable; the subject must have had more effect on him than I thought. Nevertheless, he seemed to snap out of it a little. "Any number of ways. Suppose Dr. Roberts leaves a love note on one of your exams. Suppose you're visiting your father and he calls the residence. Suppose your father has an acquaintance at the university who could find out."

I gaped at him. It was all so far-fetched. "Believe me, Dr. Crane, my father didn't know I left for the Netherlands for four weeks last year, I really don't think he'd be able to find out about me and Dr. Rob- Dean, inappropriately."

Dr. Crane tipped his chin. "It was merely a suggestion. What I'm getting at, Hanna, is that hiding your relationship with Dr. Roberts from your father obviously takes quite a toll on you. You're exhibiting feelings of guilt; guilt, because you haven't told your father about Dr. Roberts and you feel you should. Guilt, because in not telling your father, it looks as though you are ashamed to be with Dr. Roberts."

I opened my mouth to argue with him, but then shut it. It was way too early in the morning and I was going on way too little sleep to grasp his meaning. "What does this have to do with anything?"

"Well, I'm just pointing out that your feelings of guilt surrounding your relationship is causing you a fair amount of stress, which directly correlates to your dream of drowning. You're drowning in guilt, as it were."

I stared at him and he stared right back at me, waiting. "So you think I should tell my father, is that it?"

Dr. Crane held out his hands as though I had pulled a knife on him. "I'm not here to tell you what to do, Hanna; we're simply here to examine what's on your mind, that's all."

...I hated that bullshit. He was probably dying to tell me that I was a skank and I should stop fucking my professor and find someone my own age, or at least do the responsible thing and tell my father about what was going on in my life. But he just stared at me, as cool as a cucumber, with that same blank look as though we were talking about the changes in the weather.

"Why don't we go back to the dream," Dr. Crane said, looking down at his notebook, obviously picking up on my annoyance. "You mentioned how you don't enjoy swimming. Do you suppose it's because of that very reason?"

"What very reason?"

"Drowning," Dr. Crane said curtly, as if it were the most obvious thing ever. "Are you afraid of drowning?"

I opened my mouth to say something, but then the buzzer on Dr. Crane's timer went off. Thank god; I was not in the mood to delve into that.

Dr. Crane looked towards the timer sitting on his desk, and then at me, and smiled haplessly. "Well...I suppose we'll discuss this a little further next session." And he stood up.

I stood up as well, straightening out my shirt and grabbing my book bag up off the floor. Dr. Crane made a finishing note in his notebook before placing it carefully on the desk and turning towards me, taking off his glasses. "By the way, I have something for you. Something to try."

I scowled as I slung my book bag over my shoulder. "Really?"

Dr. Crane went to his desk and pulled something out of the drawer of the desk. Turning back to me, I looked up at him, regarding the coldness in his eyes as he handed me a small, light bundle wrapped in paper. I figured it was loose tea leaves.

"Incense," Dr. Crane said matter-of-factly. "Burn it while you're in the bathtub before you go to bed."

I examined the bundle in my fingers, frowning, and looking up at him curiously. "What's it for?"

Dr. Crane smiled a little, the first genuine smile I'd seen from him in a long time. "Just a little something for those nightmares."

Heh heh hehe...I'll give her a little something for nightmares.

I wanted to tell Dr. Crane that I didn't get nightmares, that the drowning nightmare was the first one I'd had in years...but it had a pleasant smell, and I took plenty of baths. I pocketed the little bundle, giving Dr. Crane a little smile. "Thanks, I'll do that. I uh, I guess I'll see you next week."

Dr. Crane nodded. "Indeed, have a nice weekend."

I smiled back at him, half-heartedly, as I was walking out the door. "You too."

I pulled the door closed and let out a breath of relief. The half-hour always went by super fast, and I was damn thankful for that. Any longer in the office and I would have fallen asleep or snapped at him in annoyance. I checked my watch; screw my third class, I was going home.

Two-faced little cunt, that one, hey Johnny? Let's call up the sonuvabitch and tell him some prof's sticking it up his little girl!

Don't be so vulgar...and you know that's out of the question.

Yeah, but think of how much fun it would be!

She's got enough problems.

/

I woke up in my clothes, blistering hot and annoyed, and looked to the digital clock to find it was 4:32pm. It was a blur how I'd gotten to sleep in the first place; after leaving session with Dr. Crane, I came to Dean's apartment, fell into bed, and laid there for about an hour, scared to death to go to sleep. I'd lost the entire afternoon and I was mad at myself.

I could hear Dean in the kitchen down the hallway, and groggily I got up, left the bedroom, and walked into the kitchen. Dean was making chicken stir-fry, standing at the stove wearing his sweatpants and taking swigs from a beer. As I came in and stared sleepily at the wok, my stomach grumbled, and Dean looked at me over his shoulder and grinned.

"Hey, you're up," he said, abandoning the wok and coming towards me, pulling me into his big arms and bringing me close. He smelled so fucking good. "I came home and you were asleep, like, dead asleep. You feeling okay?"

I smiled a little and buried my face in his chest. "I'm fine."

He went back to the wok and I drank from his beer, watching him. Dean is a big man, and he's got big hands; watching him cook with his big hands is one of the sexiest things I've ever seen.

"Well my 304 group wrote their midterm today; guess y'know what I'll be doing the next couple nights," Dean stole the beer from me, took a swig, and handed it back. "What are you gonna do tonight?"

I knew I should have tried to call one of my classmates and try to get the notes missed from the afternoon classes, but at that moment I was feeling about as motivated as a slug. "I dunno, get caught up on my reading, I think."

Dean nodded, and then regarded me curiously, and then his eyes lit up like a pinball machine. "Hey, how was your session today?"

I blinked at him, and then remembered that yeah, I had been at session with Dr. Crane earlier that day. Funny how long naps could make you so disoriented. "It was fine..."

I then remembered the little bundle of incense Dr. Crane had given me, and smiled a little. I knew what I was doing after dinner.

/


A/N: Hey guys! One final little note here: seeings how I'm not familiar writing Scarecrow/Jonathan Crane fics, I struggled a little with this first chapter. I've got the plot all figured out, but how are you guys liking the format of the chapter? Is it too obvious, too convoluted, too cliche? Let me know, I'd really, really appreciate it. Other than that, I hope you enjoyed it. :)