Disclaimer: I do not own the rights "Batman" or any of its characters, including Scarecrow, nor do I own any rights to the comics or the films. I own nothing save for any original characters I have created.

Session with Madness, Chapter Six

"Patient interview number one with Patient Number 0001, Dr. Norman Perkins. Dr. Perkins, how are you doing this evening?"

"Dr. Crane, really, this is most unorthodox-"

"I believe that we agreed to continue to record our sessions, Dr Perkins," Crane says; his tone, while not unpleasant, indicates that he is in no mood to be challenged.

"Yes, yes, you're correct, Dr. Crane," Perkins says quickly, eager to smother Crane's burgeoning temper. "I just didn't realize..."

"Didn't realize what, Norman?"

"...that I would be the one being interviewed."

There is a brief pause before Crane sighs.

"Dr. Perkins, I'm here to help you. Now, I can't help you if you keep avoiding my questions and turning them around on me. This would be much easier with your cooperation." Crane's smile is devoid of any sincerity or concern, his tone full of mockery and disdain.

Perkins feels his blood begin to chill as he realizes that Crane is echoing his own statement from a previous session, turning his words against him.

He's been planning this for a while—no, this whole time. He had me pegged the minute I walked through the door. Every word, every action, everything has been leading up to this very moment.

I haven't lost control—I never had it to begin with.

The revelation overwhelms him and he begins to feel sick, overcome with waves of nausea and regret.

"Are you alright, Dr. Perkins?" Crane asks, his voice indicating that he cares very little whether or not Perkins is "alright".

Perkins nods, not trusting himself to speak. He feels the beginnings of sweat forming on his forehead and he swallows the bile rising in his throat, his tongue thick with anxiety.

"Excellent. Before we begin, I must admit that I'm rather curious as to how you managed to arrange our little get-together without our usual...company."

"Bribe," Perkins replies flatly.

"Ah, I see. How expensive."

Perkins says nothing.

The tension in the room is palatable. Crane knows that Perkins is now frightened of him; gone is the egotist with delusions of grandeur and prosperity, replaced with a nervous, simpering man afraid of incurring Crane's displeasure, torn between his dread and his thirst for knowledge and its accompanying power.

It's almost enough to make Crane pity him.

Almost.

"What are you afraid of, Dr. Perkins?" It is not so much a question as it is a demand. "And don't lie to me—I'll know if you lie."

Perkins lets out a quiet, defeated sigh. "The dark," he whispers.

"The dark?"

"Yes."

"Achluophobia. Highly common in children, unusual in adults. Why do you believe that you are afraid of the dark, Dr. Perkins?"

Perkins takes a deep breath.

"When I was a very young child, my mother died. Car accident. My father was devastated and began to drink, and when he drank he became...different. Cruel."

"Abusive?"

"Not physically, no. He never once struck me. But I feared him all the same."

Perkins takes another deep breath, and when he speaks his voice begins to tremble.

"Eventually I learned to avoid my father as much as possible—I was an unpleasant reminder of her, you see. When I wasn't around, he could pretend that I didn't exist, and that she never existed. To my father, my presence was nothing more than a painful reminder of what he had lost. Out of sight, out of mind.

But sometimes, I would slip up."

Perkins set his jaw, and Crane notices the beginnings of tears forming in his eyes.

"His punishment was always the same: being locked inside of an empty, pitch-black closet. The only factor that varied was the amount of time I would be in there. At first it was for very brief periods; ten minutes, maybe fifteen a most.

And then he started leaving me in there for longer."

Perkins' knuckles are white, his palms and forehead wet with perspiration.

"One day, he put me in the closet, placed the dresser in front of the door, and left."

At this, Perkins covers his face with his hands, his shoulders softly heaving up and down with silent sobs. Crane sits quietly, his expression betraying nothing of his inner thoughts.

"How long?" Crane asks simply after a moment.

Perkins lifts his head, eyes irritated red from salty tears.

"I...I don't know exactly. Days. The smell..."

He lets out a great sniff, wiping his nose in-elegantly with his jacket sleeve, as a crying child would.

"We never spoke of it. Not once."

"Where is your father now?"

"Dead." Perkins spits the word out with equal vehemence and sorrow. "Drank himself to death."

"I see."

Crane appraises Perkins—sniffing, wet, and defeated—and smiles inwardly, drinking in his remembered fear and pain. It has been so long since he has made someone feel truly frightened.

"Tell me, Dr. Perkins." Crane leans forward, as if whispering a secret. "When you lie awake at night in your bed, surrounded by darkness in your cold, lonely apartment, do you find yourself back in the closet?"

Perkins eyes widen in shock and anger and Crane cannot suppress his satisfied sneer.

"I believe that will be all for today, Dr. Perkins." Crane reaches over and presses the "stop" button on the recorder. "I think we made quite a bit of progress, don't you?"

Perkins rises from his chair.

"We had a deal, Crane. You got what you wanted, now I get what I want."

"But of course, Dr. Perkins." Crane smiles at him, and despite his anger Perkins' spine begins to crawl. "I'll see to it that you have exactly what you want."

Perkins blinks, unsure of whether or not he is being threatened.

"I'll tell the guard to bring you back to your cell," he says quickly, grabbing his briefcase and turning towards the door.

"Of course," Crane replies quietly, but Perkins has already left the room, eager to put as much distance possible between himself and Crane. Crane listens to his footsteps fading down the hallway, click-clacking in quick, rhythmic succession.

Poor man, Crane thinks to himself.

He was in such a hurry that he forgot his pen.