Now comes the hard part—making sure I don't rush things. Hopefully, I'll be able to create an interesting plot that takes place over a believable amount of time.

00 000

The day after Jonathan Crane regained consciousness, he learned three very important things. He learned that he was in a secure building that belonged to one of Gotham's top crime bosses, and that the girl who'd saved his life was said crime boss's granddaughter. He also learned that she was the girl all over the news, and that the richest man in Gotham was looking for her.

Why was Wayne so desperate to get her back, he wondered. Was it out of fondness for a family member? Or was it simply because the billionaire feared that there would be no one to uphold his legacy? No blood relatives, anyway—Wayne had, after all, adopted one or two orphaned brats.

These thoughts passed through his mind in the blink of an eye as the girl came in with the nurse, who was chastising her for leaving him alone.

"I know it doesn't seem like it, but he's dangerous," Mabel was saying. She glanced at him and said, "No offense, Doctor."

He nodded slightly. He wasn't offended—it was smart of her to realize that he was a threat, even injured as badly as he was.

"What-ever. I don't care how "dangerous" he is, he ain't going anywhere," said the girl—he forgot her name. She had her hands on her hips. "I wouldn't care if he was the goddamn Joker—right now he's just a skinny science geek with a hole in his gut." He bristled at her comment and she gave him a look that said 'yeah, you heard me.'

"Becca, please," said Mabel. "Be careful."

Becca crossed her arms. "What's he gonna do, glare at me? Scary."

"That's enough," a new voice said; the girl's grandmother entered the room and tapped her lightly on the thigh with her cane. "You'd do well to listen to Mabeline, Rebecca. That mouth of yours is going to land you in trouble one day." She rested both hands on her cane and studied him. "He won't be injured forever."

"Whatever," Rebecca huffed.

0 00 00

Two days after he regained consciousness, Rebecca approached him on her own. "Hey," she greeted as she entered the room carrying a tray with a bowl of soup on it. She placed the tray on the nightstand and said, "Sorry for the attitude I gave you yesterday—I just found out my face is all over the news, and I kind of hate being in the spotlight like that." She shrugged. "I was having a crappy day and I took it out on you, so . . . ." she trailed off. "Here, let's start over." She held out her hand. "Hi, I'm Rebecca—Becca for short."

He stared at the offered hand, never moving to take in. After a few seconds of awkwardness she lowered her arm and gestured to the tray. "I brought soup," she said.

He gave her a look that said 'obviously.' Becca bit her lower lip and shuffled her feet. "Look, I know you're this bad-ass super-villain and everything, and that's cool, but right now you're kinda stuck here whether you like it or not, so—"

"Is there a point to this little speech?" he interrupted. "If there is, please make it—I'm getting bored."

Becca frowned. "What?"

"You heard me—or are you hard of hearing as well as mentally challenged?"

Her frown deepened and her eyes narrowed. "Did you just call me stupid?" she asked incredulously.

"Very good," Jonathan sneered. "Perhaps you aren't as dense as you look."

If the shade of red her face was turning was any indication, she was getting pissed. 'Good,' he thought. 'I could use a little entertainment.'

"Look," she said through clenched teeth. "All I'm trying to do is be friendly and apologize for being a bitch the other day."

His head tilted. "Really? And what if I said your apology means nothing to me?"

Becca let out an angry huff. "Fine, be a Jackass, but just remember if it wasn't for me, you'd be six feet under," she snarled.

The reminder that she'd saved him caused his temper to flare. "I didn't ask for your help—I don't need anyone's pity," he hissed.

"Yeah, kind of hard to ask for help with a knife in your gut," Becca shot back. She tried counting to ten like her therapist had told her, but it didn't help. "If this is how you act when people try to help you, I can see why no one bothers," she said angrily before storming out of the room.

Jonathan spent the next twenty-four hours thinking about all the ways he was going to make her scream. Her death was going to be slow and painful, and he was going to enjoy every second of it.

0 00

Three days after Jonathan regained consciousness he was visited by Abigail Williams and her granddaughter, who didn't look happy to be in the same room as him.

"My granddaughter told me about your conversation yesterday, Dr. Crane," she began.

"So she runs behind adults and lets them solve her problems, then," he said dryly, and only afterwards did he remember Abigail Williams was someone you did not want as an enemy. Her eyes narrowed and her grip on her cane tightened. "Don't make me regret letting you recover in my home," she said. "Rebecca is a grown woman, and she makes her own decisions, and her decision to talk to me got me thinking. While you deserve a certain amount of respect, it's clear that you need reminding of something—she saved your life. Whether you like it or not, you owe her a Life Debt."

Both Jonathan and Becca paled at that. "What?" they asked in unison.

Becca shook her head. "No!" she sputtered. No way, no life debts!" she started.

Abigail looked slightly amused. "You don't have a choice; you saved his life, therefore he owes that life to you."

Jonathan opened his mouth to argue but stopped short. Arguing would do him no good, since the old woman was right; he owed the girl a Life Debt. He wasn't over familiar to the term, but he knew enough to know that if she was ever in mortal danger and he was around, he'd be obligated to save her.

Damn. There went his plans of killing her slowly and painfully. Then again, he could always kill her after the Debt was paid. He focused on the women in front of him and tuned back into what they were saying.

"—and on top of that, I don't want anyone owing me anything, especially not him!" Becca said, he voice coming close to a whine. "As far as I know, if I have a blade in my back he'd twist the blade sooner than pull it out!" She sighed and ran her hands through her hair. "I can't deal with looking over my shoulders every time I'm in a dark alley." A beat of silence, and then "Okay, so technically I'd have to do that anyway, since this is Gotham, but still—"

"Rebecca," Abigail interrupted, her voice cold as ice. "For the last time, you have no say in this, now stop arguing."

And that was that. Becca shut her mouth and pouted a bit. "Whatever," she muttered.

0 000

A/N: To quote the Doctor: "Is this how time normally passes? Really slowly, in the right order? "

Oh, linear time progression, thou art a heartless bitch.