A/N: Hello, everyone! This has been a long time coming. Consider this an afterword of sorts to PC. I mean epilogue part 2. Whatever, you get the idea. Coming to you from dial-up internet...yay for unpredictable wi-fi patterns. So, yeah, it's taken half an hour to update this thing. Anyway, the title is in reference to Fiona Apple's song Pale September, and it's symbolic, though. I'm not a songfic person. Anyway, enjoy! You've waited a very long time, I'm just guessing.
2/5/13: Edited, including one sentence I accidentally left out the first time.
And all my armour
In a pile at my feet
And my winter giving
Way to warm
As I'm singing him to sleep
-Pale September, Fiona Apple
Armour Falling Down
Just some time after sundown in Gotham City, it had started to rain upon the arrival of a cold front that caused the temperature to go from seventy-five to a quite chilly sixty degrees. Rain in Gotham wasn't out of the ordinary, but it soon turned into a downpour by the time a sensible white 2002 Chevy Impala pulled up on a curb. Granted, the Impala had moved briskly enough, but nothing could outwit Mother Nature, not even the speed of a vehicle. Once the car was put in park, its two occupants practically leapt out and sprinted toward the stoop of the nearby apartment complex. One was a quite tall dark-haired man with a clumsy, unconventionally attractive face. He was accompanied by his date for the evening, a lovely blonde.
"I knew I should have brought an umbrella!" Amelia Harland, the particular striking woman, shouted to make herself heard over the falling rain.
Panting slightly, she struggled to keep up with Jonathan Crane's long strides in her silver heels. Oh, they'd looked so alluring on the shelf at JC Penny's…but totally impractical now in this situation. She inwardly chided herself over her own foolish feminine vanity.
In the meantime, Jonathan merely chuckled at her plight. "It wasn't your fault, Amelia. The weather report said that this wasn't supposed to start in until later tonight. Looks like that's dashed."
"But, that's OK, babe. Any excuse to see you wet will do. It's a shame you opted to wear black instead of white," Scarecrow suavely remarked, utterly oblivious to the fact that she would never hear him.
So, once again, it was up to Jonathan to silence the imbecile.
Shut the hell up, Scarecrow, he sternly admonished. Amelia is not to be objectified by your lewd comments.
"Oh, Jon, you're no fun. Can't I enjoy our woman's beauty?"
Well, there's no question when it comes to that, Jonathan naturally conceded.
Kindly assisting her up the steps in the most genteel manner, he noticed the glowing mirth of her deep blue eyes and the slight curl to her currently wet blond hair. Once he heard her laugh rather self-deprecatingly, he found himself in awe. How did he ever become so lucky for a change? Such an angel surely couldn't be his.
"Thank you," Amelia said while her laughter lingered. "These heels are torturous to walk in."
"I feel fortunate that I'm not a woman then," he joked and, to his delight, saw her smile widen.
She teasingly hit his arm with her purse. "What an unsympathetic thing of you to say, Jon."
He then chose this moment to take her in, right in front of him while they stood outside his home. Her cheeks were flushed from the agitation of half-jogging in heels, and her wet hair framed her face perfectly. If there was ever a more opportune moment to kiss her…Lightly frowning, he observed that she trembled like a leaf. And no wonder. In this abnormally cool evening, it wasn't exactly a pleasant rain to be soaked in.
Ever the practiced gentleman around her, he took off his jacket, which he draped over her shoulders. "Here. You must be quite cold."
"I am." She willingly lifted her eyes to his. "Thanks."
Due to their rather intimate proximity, Amelia noticed how Jonathan had his eyes trained on her lips. She saw affection yet something darker…something dangerously close to lust. He hadn't lied when he'd mentioned that Scarecrow was drawn to her physical looks. Somehow, for once, she wanted him to be more in touch with Scarecrow and what his intentions for her entailed.
Unconsciously, she stood on tiptoes while Jonathan leaned closer still, his hand cradling her face. Yes, yes…
And he kissed her on the forehead. He smoothed out her damp blond hair for good measure before he opened the door for her.
"Well? Shall we get out of this unpleasant weather?" he spoke lightly enough, smartly adjusting his glasses and relatively ignoring this lost chance for a memorable kiss.
"Oh. Yeah. Might as well."
His eyebrows furrowed. "Something the matter?"
Amelia sighed but smiled quite amicably. "No, I'm fine. Let's get in."
"Hmm, suit yourself. But, mind you, I suspect that your attitude has changed. Don't think I don't use what I learned from grad school," Jonathan half-joked yet was generally somber.
With that, they both went inside and ascended the stairs to his loft.
On the way there, Amelia couldn't help but reflect on her disappointment. He had been so damn close to kissing her, to capturing and demanding of her in the sense that she give in to his longings. Scarecrow had lingered in his eyes, waiting in the wings, so to speak. However, he'd been out considerably less since she'd prescribed Jonathan with Fanapt (a drug usually prescribed to schizophrenics) to drive Scarecrow away for the most part.
They had now been dating for two months, and those had been marvelous, the greatest two months she had ever known. She would light up whenever he called her up to plan a date or he sent her flowers at work, a dozen deep purple irises, her favorite. Even the way he looked at her meant something to her. His gestures proved time and again that this was more than just a passing fancy. However, one aspect that Amelia took issue with was…well, something quite stupid.
Two months and no "I love you." Was it silly of her, naïve and schoolgirlish, to yearn for Jonathan Crane to utter anything like that to her?
After all, this was a man who had attempted on several occasions to drive the city mad with horror. His previous plans had hardly involved lecturing a college classroom of potential psychologists on the theories of Wundt and Freud. They had more or less consisted of him pumping out a generous supply of toxin to affect the whole population. It sounded almost ludicrous for him to be thus sentimental over her. Despite Scarecrow, his alter ego that fed off fear, Jonathan himself was too logical, too practical. Maybe too cold to admit it, immune to the positive emotions that love could bring. Supposedly, one rumor surrounding him had alluded to the possibility that he could no longer fear much of anything and was subsequently reduced in humanity. She was skeptical over its validity.
Nevertheless, he had kept kissing to a minimum, almost cautious to kissing on the lips, especially. As for hand holding, the most he did was placing his hand over hers across a table and squeeze. Even that was sporadic.
Amelia didn't know what his intentions for her were any more. It had lately started to mildly discourage her. As she watched him unlock the door to his loft, she wondered if this relationship could be considered a safe bet. Like all the other men she'd dated in the past, this one could fizzle out, not that she rejoiced at the idea. On the contrary, not being with him would deeply wound her.
Jonathan chose this moment to glance over his shoulder at her, his lips pursing in a bit of a frown. "Are you sure you're fine, Amelia?"
"Yeah." She went so far as to feign a laugh. "Stop worrying, Jonathan."
"Who said I was worried?" he countered too quickly but managed a smirk to off-set that folly. "No…I just think you ought to be in good spirits. In fact, I can guarantee you that you will enjoy seeing my loft."
"Is the décor European? Or, oh let me guess, you have Ikea furniture?" she joked, getting back into her sunny disposition for some odd reason, as he was being arrogant.
His lips twitched into that customary half-smile. "I would never blow my entire salary on European décor. And actually"—he allowed himself a soft chuckle—"It's just the master bed that's Ikea."
What she did see when they stepped into the loft, she liked. It had been clear to her, even through his work back as a psychiatrist and now as a professor, that Jonathan had a fine eye for detail. The kitchen and the living area didn't look expensive by any means, but Amelia thought it suited him well. Always frugal in his purchases, he would never go extravagant on a particular item. And despite the cheapness, it appeared as though he had fashioned a comfortable home for himself.
She nodded, a musing smile on her lips. "I approve."
"It's not much," Jonathan said quite modestly.
"No, really, it's great. Very home-y. Thanks for suggesting that I visit here tonight."
After all, he was only returning the favor in terms of showing her his humble abode after doing her the previous discourtesy of breaking into hers. Besides, she could wait out the rain for a bit before going home. With that in mind, she settled down on the couch, a sensible gray, which rather summed up the man. Sensible, practical (excluding Scarecrow), and an altogether simple person who asked for very little. A small smile crept across Amelia's face in the knowledge that that last quality especially added to his charm.
No longer seeing the purpose in wearing it, she took off his jacket, even though it smelled so enticing to her. If she only knew the name of his cologne, then she would request that he wear it more often.
In the meantime, Jonathan stepped over to the kitchen. "Can I get you anything? Coffee? Tea?"
No, just having you is enough, Amelia thought complacently but replied aloud, "Um, I'm not really sure if I want anything. We were just at Olive Garden, you know."
"True but…Wait a minute." She swore his blue eyes positively glittered behind his glasses. "I think I've got the perfect post-dinner refreshment for us to enjoy."
She delighted in witnessing him as content as he was. That convinced her that her presence in his life somehow made him a happier man…even if he didn't expressly show it.
She smiled, amused. "Oh?"
"Yes." Jonathan removed a bottle from one of the upper cabinets. "I forgot I even had this. As you can tell by the cork firmly set on it, I've never opened it. Nor am I much of a drinker."
Laughing, Amelia pointed out, "It's just wine, Jon. That actually shows you're a classy man with good taste, not an alcoholic."
"Oh. Well, thank you." A very light shade of pink dusted his cheeks.
"What kind is it?" She leaned forward on the couch expectantly.
"Hm, 1981 Merlot. It's a red wine. The only reason I bought it was if I should ever need it for anything…"
"Such as what? Getting drunk? You just told me you're not the type, Jonathan," Amelia teased, ensuring to appear mockingly scandalized.
He chuckled. "No…Just only if I was ever in the mood for a sip—"
"Oh, I see. I must say, though, I personally can't imagine just taking a sip of wine. I'd at least have a full glass. Besides, it is supposed to be healthy for you in the right amount."
"So they say. Hmph, nutritionists." Jonathan smirked as he took out a couple of wine glasses.
Something told her that he was in the process if methodically planning this out. Granted, he didn't produce any scented candles or put on a seductive love song CD, but this gesture currently unfolding showed her that it wasn't entirely spontaneous. And though Jonathan hardly hummed merrily, she saw an unmistakable gleam in his eyes as he pulled out a drawer to grab a bottle opener. He appeared quite happy—in a subtle, subdued way but cheerful nonetheless.
Dare I say it, but he might be trying to be romantic, she internally pondered while pretending to focus on the three bookshelves he had in this room alone.
Jonathan poured the wine into the glasses as Scarecrow whispered, "Psst! When are you going to turn it in permanently?"
What now, Scarecrow?
"Oh Jesus, Jonathan, do I have to spell it out for you? Your v-ca—"
You know, I much rather prefer your pensive side…the one that is adept on how to keep quiet!
"I couldn't be acquainted with a more perfect woman who to surrender it to. She is absolutely stunning tonight. Look at her! Leaning back on the couch, making herself at home, and that long blond hair is everywhere. She's trying not to smile for some reason. She wants it just as much as you. So, get on with it. Make some hot, intense, passionate—"
On a roll tonight, aren't you? Jonathan raised a dubious brow, shaking his head. Very illogical, Scarecrow. Ah, well, on with the wine.
As he approached the couch, bearing the glasses of wine, Amelia looked at him interestedly. Curious, how he was behaving. There was just the lightest bounce in his step as well as a shadow of a genuine smile grazing his lips. She attributed it to him being thoroughly satisfied at how tonight's date had panned out. Their liveliest yet, and they'd shared quite a few.
Setting the glasses down on the coffee table before them, Jonathan sat down beside her. He wasn't intimately close by, therefore not demonstrating through body language that he was her boyfriend, but that enigmatic smile persisted on his lips. It almost made Amelia ask herself if he'd somehow managed to chug down half the bottle without her notice.
In another strange display of high spirits, he lifted his glass toward her once she picked hers up. "To tonight and all the nights after."
She resolved to humor him. "Cheers."
Their glasses clinked against each other, after which Jonathan managed to down half of his in one swallow. Not exactly the type of drinking behavior a college professor ought to show off. Amelia smirked bemusedly with a touch of her sly wit.
She even remarked, "Aren't we feeling festive tonight?" as she sipped her wine breezily, more casually than his eagerness.
Scarecrow peeking out from the blinds, Jonathan smirked wolfishly. "Quite. It's a great end to the date…sipping some red wine…in my flat…with you beside me…"
"Keep it coming, Jon. We're gonna get laid in no time!"
How savage of you, 'Crow. Is that all that permeates your mind these days?
"Well, when you have a woman who actually doesn't find us repulsive and is a babe on top of it…"
Shut up. Jonathan kept his complacent mingling of smirk and smile regardless.
Normally emotionally reticent, Amelia blushed before she struck up conversation. "I was just appreciating the number of books in these bookshelves in here."
"Ah, yes." He poured his second glass of wine. "I've collected many books over the years. I have two other bookshelves in my bedroom."
Impressive. She could value that her boyfriend was a well-read man, his knowledge a testament to all these books. To be with such a worldly man gave her a sense of accomplishment for some odd reason. Probably because none of the other men she dated most likely pored over half as many books. She doubted anyway.
"So…What all do you have?" Amelia finished up her first glass little by little, entertaining the thought of pouring herself a second.
"Oh, quite an eclectic collection, I'd say. I have several discussing psychology, phobias in particular, naturally…" Scarecrow compelled Jonathan to wink. "I also have works by philosophers such as Descartes and Thoreau, a favorite of mine. Hm, even some books on religion, as much as I don't favor it. But, they're on Asian religions for the most part, Buddhism and Hinduism…Some chemistry…"
While she sipped her second glass, Amelia inched closer toward him on the couch, fascinated by his descriptions. Any other man would have lulled her to sleep on a topic like this. However, Jonathan knew how to catch and retain her interest…perhaps due to her watching his full lips moving as he spoke. How she longed to cover them with her own…
"What about any fiction?"
A small smile twitched on those lips. "Do you find me dull that I have so many books regarding the sciences and humanities, Amelia? Nevertheless, to answer your question, I do own a substantial amount of fictitious material, yes. I have some Poe along with even darker novels by Clive Barker and Stephen King, as I mentioned in one session of ours."
"Shocking." She giggled. "The Master of Fear likes to read horror."
"He also likes to read poetry," Jonathan commented in a self-deprecating way.
He sipped more carefully on his now third glass of wine, his fingers beginning to tingle. Maybe he started to become light-headed from the alcohol, though he wasn't sure. Merlot was known to be rather heady, though, as all rich red wines tended to be.
In the meantime, Amelia cupped the side of her face in her hand. "Oh, really? Who?"
"Some Keats…and Browning—Robert Browning, I mean, not really his wife."
Her blue eyes gleamed in absolute excitement. "Browning is my favorite."
"Really? But, I thought you were too practical to be lured in by mere poetry, Amelia," Jonathan teased, scooting closer to her as well.
"I thought the same with you." She laughed more fully, tossing back that long blond hair, this sight making his pulse quicken. "I suppose, though, someone once thoroughly entranced with fear might be more susceptible to thrills…and other things like that to poetry, for instance. Just a thought. At least you don't teach your students systematic sensitization rather than the usual practice."
"She's so damn sexy when she's poking fun at us," Scarecrow mock-sighed yet there was a genuinely doting cadence to his words.
Indeed, Jonathan agreed.
Presently, he leaned closer to her just to look into those playfully sparkling eyes. He didn't need to take her pulse to know her heartbeat sped up considerably.
Lowering his voice, he murmured, "Are you calling me reckless? And I tend not to deviate from the course material in my class…I strictly adhere to the textbook…as much as Scarecrow begs me not to."
Amelia's smile diminished a fraction of an inch. "I know I'd prescribed you that Fanapt to treat the symptoms, to lessen the severity. What has Scarecrow been up to?"
"Ah, don't fret." He reassuringly patted her knee. "He is little more lethal than a common garden snake these days. I'm master of my own fate now. I've conquered these urges and impulses that dictate that I act out in a certain way…such as curiously shoot off a gun in the classroom. But, I've never followed through with them"—he insisted hurriedly upon glimpsing her concerned expression—"All Scarecrow focuses on are other topics instead. He gushes over you now."
A dizzying yet pleasant buzz pervaded throughout her whole body due to the wine in her system, but Amelia was skeptical as to attribute the sensation entirely to this. Jonathan just told her a completely intriguing revelation.
Even Scarecrow held her in his good graces now, when he never used to yet even back two years ago, he'd seemed to be tentatively captivated by her. In his way. In his curmudgeon way that she found almost endearing. Both sides to Jonathan seemed to very much like her. Could it be more?
"Yes." He smiled warmly, causing her heart to skip a beat.
Lightly grasping her upper leg, he situated himself in such a way that he was separated from her by a hair's breadth of space.
His lightly sweetened breath at her ear, he added in a whisper, "He's positively enamored by you. I can't deny it myself…"
His slim, long-fingered hand trailed upward from her leg to her cheek, his fingers brushing the fabric of her dress all the way. Well, she knew he'd drank slightly too much. Else, why would he be so seductive?
He held such power over her, such charisma, that she couldn't help being entranced by him. The heat of his body over hers, the darkened yet still luminescent pale blue eyes…
Once their eyes met, Scarecrow's prodding encouragement faded due to his intimidation at gazing into those eyes. They penetrated to the depths of his very soul, or so it seemed. She expected too much from him, so much that surely no man could handle the pressure. He was her boyfriend, as much as he continued grappling with that reality, and he had to bestow her with the best of everything. Why couldn't he kiss her? Jonathan simply had to avoid disappointing her at all costs. Or she would leave him…
"Get it over with, then! I don't think she should leave either," Scarecrow said his opinion in a half-lamenting tone.
Thus, without further thought, he swiftly kissed her lips.
However, he fumbled by bumping his forehead against hers and nervously brushing her lips with his. It was a very brief kiss, no more than a peck.
"Sorry," he muttered, reaching out for the bottle of Merlot again to get his fourth glass. A couple more glasses of liquid courage should soothe him into being totally comfortable.
Just before he could grab it, however, her hand staid his wrist. Jonathan peered down at her, bewildered.
"No," Amelia stated firmly before her facial features softened into a smile, an angelic smile that couldn't have been for him. "You don't need any more wine. It's fine, Jon. I'm glad you kissed me."
"But, like that…No, how could you—?"
"Shhh." She put a finger to his lips. "It's OK to be nervous. It's natural."
Jonathan rapidly shook his head. "Not for me."
"Yes, even for you. I would venture to say especially for you."
"Damn it, Amelia, don't turn this into a session. We've finished those a while ago, a very long while." He clenched his hands into fists, relaxed, and then let out a shaky sigh. For the sake of distraction, he removed his glasses, wiped them hurriedly with the bottom of his powder blue button-up shirt, and put them back on. She kept unnervingly staring at him meanwhile, unfazed by his burst of enraged frustration. Nothing could perturb her, could it? She remained steady while he had yet to maintain the stability she needed. He was failing her in his responsibility to her as an intimate relationship partner. As her boyfriend, her lover…
No matter, she anticipated him to follow that up with a confession. Her eyes…Those radiant pools of light implored him to tell her the truth.
So he did.
"I've…," he faltered hesitantly. "I've never been this close…to anyone before. I couldn't have imagined that I'd find anybody remotely like you. Though you were prejudiced against me for what I did, you had every right to be…Then, I…I inexplicably told you my story, and you cared. You became invested in me as a person, not a monster nor even merely a patient.
"As for why I rarely kiss you now, well, just this moment is the reason why. I hold back. The first time we kissed, I was safe in the dark, and besides, you incited it. The second time, it was Scarecrow's persuasion in order to convince you to be with me. He is the brasher one, more confident, more suave—"
"That isn't all Scarecrow, Jonathan," Amelia murmured quietly. "What he has is what you possess as well. You brought him to life. And anyway"—she practically glowed with her smile—"being kissed by you is a bonus. Just being here with you now, sitting beside you, is reward enough for me."
That darling woman…He couldn't resist the smile crawling onto his face either. Through her words, through her glances, she valued him.
"Well, go for it. What's stopping you now?" Scarecrow goaded.
Precisely what he thought. They were in his flat, after all, his urban palace of sorts. And as king of his own domain, he would stop at nothing to prove his feelings for her. No matter what it took.
Take a nap, Scarecrow, I insist. I'll do suitably well from here.
"Whatever you say, boss."
A chuckle threatened to bubble to the surface, but Jonathan suppressed it in favor of cradling her face in his hands again. Amelia continued to gaze at him, awed by his presence, but allowed herself to close her eyes.
She explained, "I don't want to look like I'm pressuring you or making you uncomfortable."
"You could never make me uncomfortable, my dear."
Jonathan took her in for a minute. Her blond hair had dried out from the shower outside for the most part, and though it wasn't white, her black dress showed off the shape of her curves. Quite delicious curves at that. He eyed her hungrily, inching so near that they were hip-to-hip.
Leaning down once more to her ear, he whispered, "You are…so gorgeous."
Amelia shivered pleasantly, happy to know that she had impressed him with the dress. The sensation of his lips at her ear didn't hurt either.
Her eyes still closed, she intuitively turned her face to his on her own volition. He obliged by kissing her, capturing her lips in his in frenzied passion reminiscent of that night in the closet. Granted, he was still slightly nervous over this, but he pushed it to the recesses of his mind. All he was preoccupied with was her.
She wove her fingers through his hair, which she knotted when it became intense.
It was so raw yet so pure. She could taste the richness of the Merlot along with his Olive Garden meal of chicken parmesan. He pulled her as close as he could to him without cutting off her breathing.
"Amelia," he breathed against her lips before his own came down on them again. It was like being caught in the ocean tide, wave after wave, only of bliss instead of saltwater.
His hands traced her shoulders, her abdomen, her back, and, of course, her thighs that he seemed so partial to. As he lowered her down on the couch, Amelia took off his glasses and ran a hand through his hair.
No, this would not do. This verged on sex, something she hadn't done in quite some time. With Jonathan, though, it could likely happy tonight on this couch.
No. Absolutely not! Not tonight, not here.
She wanted the bed.
"The bed…," she whispered against his mouth as he still kissed her, conquered her with his sweet yet alluring gestures.
Confused, Jonathan paused and raised a brow. "What?"
"If we're…to do anything…" Amelia caught her breath. "It should be on the bed…Your bed."
She detected his absentmindedness in acquiescing to her offer, but she nonetheless jumped at that permissive gesture. As they both stood up from the couch, kissing her all the while, she single-mindedly craved for that one thing. Due to her rational nature, she would normally do all she could to avoid these impulsive longings. However, when it came to Jonathan, she just couldn't help it. In fact, Amelia was quite the assertive one, more so than usual. Insistently pushing him back toward his bedroom, she wanted more, just more of him. How could she have once thought that she could go without him in that two-year period?
When their lips parted again (otherwise, they would have kissed each other to death, suffocated by their mutual craving for each other), Amelia quickly unbuttoned his shirt. As she let her hands feel his skinny chest, unbeknownst to her, thoughts raced through Jonathan's mind. Questioning thoughts.
I can't do this, Scarecrow. How on earth did we manage to progress this far in one night? I've barely kissed her these past two weeks! Unfortunately…
"Jonathan!" Scarecrow severely admonished. "Don't clam up on me now. We've wanted to delve into everything regarding her for two years! And I do mean everything. Don't stop, whatever you do."
"For what? You're not going to…No, no! Argh, JONATHAN, YOU DUMBASS! You miserable f—!"
Cursing more crudely and boisterously than a whole fleet of sailors, Scarecrow demonstrated his fury as Jonathan physically drew back from Amelia. He stepped back, shaking his head in hopes of ridding himself of the disorientation from the wine coupled with his overwhelming passion.
Uncannily, he heard the scratchy voice of his grandmother lecturing him on the consequences of remotely expressing an evil sin. Lust. According to her, if he ogled at a girl in puberty and thought those natural thoughts boys at that age tended to dwell on, God would know. And once God knew, Jonathan wouldn't be able to purge his soul because there would be none of it left to save. The demons and Satan would capture him in the night to take him to the underworld.
Jonathan currently wouldn't meet her surely judging, shrewd eyes. "I—I can't, Amelia. I wouldn't be able to satisfy you. I'm quite naïve in matters like these, you ought to—"
Her surprisingly warm hand splayed across his exposed chest, and underneath it, his heart pounded steadily. He could seemingly absorb the warmth that she transferred to him.
"You're a virgin, aren't you?" Amelia stated more than asked upon just realizing this.
No wonder he was insecure about this! Of course, there was no reason to be, yet the heat radiating off him as he flushed in humiliation proved that insecurity existed. He then shook her off, crossing his arms firmly across his chest while trying to hide it from her nevertheless curious eyes.
"Was it that blatant to you?" Jonathan asked snappishly, his eyes sparking out of challenge, daring her to confirm this was the case. "The idea that of course I would never have been in bed with a woman before, let alone fornicate! I wouldn't have even reached square one, right? It's quite inevitable that I would never be attractive for any—"
"Stop it," Amelia insisted more softly than those words implied, placing her fingertips on his lips for good measure. His tense muscles automatically slackened.
She glanced sideways at him, checking to see if he remained calm, before she continued, "I don't care if you are still a virgin. Listen…I'm only basing this off the presumption that because women in your life had let you down, you refused to go anywhere near them. If you recall, I was the same way around men after my trauma. I could never judge you for it."
"As for your so-called unattractiveness," she added, leaning toward him so that her hip just slightly brushed against his, "you are the furthest thing from it. Had you put forth some effort in your adulthood, you could have easily become an attractive and desirable man to many, many women. At the very least"—she coyly smiled at him as she reached up to touch his face—"I think you are, very much so."
Jonathan revealed his responding smile and covered her hand resting on his face with his hand. Large and spindly and awkward over her much smaller hand in comparison. However, he didn't care. What she just said amazed him.
He whispered softly, almost teasingly, "You clever little minx. Always knowing what to say to set my mind at ease. Would you let me drown you—near suffocate you—in complete and utter happiness?"
Their hands intertwined. Amelia leaned against him and sighed while he wrapped an arm around her. She didn't have to look up to see his smile, which she could imagine lingered on his face.
"Hmm…You're quite the romantic when you want to be," she murmured.
"Ah, but you know what? The usual romanticism is contrived. One lover will say to the other precisely what they want to hear. I'm saying what I want strictly the two of us to hear. No one else is allowed. Just you and me." Jonathan nearly grinned due to his being ecstatic.
Scarecrow gleefully laughed in the way of victory. "Haha! I'm not even in the control room right now! You're saying all these impressive lines I wouldn't have come up with."
They're not lines if I'm being sincere and mean them, 'Crow.
"You know…I haven't been this close to a man since college, if truth be told." Amelia smiled wryly. "There was a handful I'd dated who would suggest that we go back to their place afterwards. Knowing their implications, I always refused. It would always be on the first date, too. Hmph, so rude…"
Touching her chin, he turned her face toward him. "Well, this isn't our first date by any means, but we're at my place now. What do you want to do?"
"Say the's' word. Say it. SAY IT!" Scarecrow rooted enthusiastically to the point of being perverted as usual.
Surprisingly (or not), Jonathan didn't silence him, didn't even bother to.
"Or, I should say"—here, he let out a slight laugh—"Why did you agree to coming back with me here?"
"Because you're so different from all those other men, Jon. You're the one I want to be with. Entirely." Emboldened partially by the wine and partially by her own confidence in this matter, Amelia looked him right in the eye.
"No more delays then."
He could be forward too when he so chose to be. This night obviously beckoned for him to put that boldness on display. He retreated further into his bedroom, crept to the nightstand, and took out a couple of very small packages.
Once she saw them, Amelia bit the inside of her cheek so as not to grin from the pure adrenaline rush of what they were about to do.
Jonathan held a grin back, though his lips twitched. "I bought them two weeks ago. Just in case the need should ever arise…"
"I like the way you think." Her voice turned husky in such a way that it startled her. If it turned on Jonathan, though, why should it matter?
And then, they closed the gap between them by kissing and fondling as before. Much to her great pleasure, Amelia could feel his hands eagerly exploring her body, as though he'd had experience in this field when he hadn't. But, she liked that. It proved to her that he could rid himself of all pretenses and fronts around her.
Hands shaking, Jonathan broke the kiss. "I…I don't know. I'm rushing into this."
"I'll give you that," she acknowledged despite her urgent desires. "Let's just take it slow."
Experimentally, she placed her palms on his chest, and he shuddered. She smiled as she contently leaned against him. However…his unbuttoned shirt revealed just enough that she could see his ribcage. Not too emaciated, no, but those ribs clearly came from a man who did not eat enough. Indeed, after the little nourishment he'd received as a boy, he might not have regarded this as an issue now.
She leaned back far enough to meet his eyes. "Why don't you eat more?"
"Hm? Well, Amelia, scarecrows are famous for their lack of broad physique."
"It's not funny, Jon. You work out, and that shows quite handsomely, but why do I see the vague outline of your ribs?" Amelia asked, more worried over his health than reviled.
He sighed, "Well, I will admit that when school was still in session at GU, I would…kind of…in a sense, skip lunch sometimes because I was busy grading exams or papers. I found eating to be irrelevant."
"I'm not used to eating past being full. I ration. I buy foods cheaply. I just…It still feels like I live in Georgia sometimes."
Jonathan turned his head away from her, ashamed that after all this time, he would hardly eat much, but she wouldn't allow it. With her hands on his face, she forced him to look at her.
"You can't skip meals, Jonathan. There's no one around now to cut off access to your food. Promise me you'll eat more."
"Promise me," she repeated, eyes overfilled with anxiety over if he denied her.
His face softened, and his smile was faint as he murmured, "I promise."
Amelia smiled back before she wrapped her arms around him. Oh, this woman…
She was intent on being a force for positive change in his life. Because of her presence already, he felt altered somehow, less prone to acting out through Scarecrow.
But, it was these little things, the way she steadfastly held on to him, that deeply moved him. He almost didn't know how to respond, what with all the disdain and patronizing he'd received all his life. What did he possibly do to earn this?
He settled his face into her hair, to smell her shampoo.
"Mmm…," he hummed contently.
She leaned her head further up his shoulder. "What?"
"What kind of shampoo do you use, I wonder. You always smell this tantalizing, and I must know its source."
"Herbal Essences, jasmine-scented, why?"
Here, Jonathan smirked rather smugly. "I'm all for you using that shampoo all the time. If I had my way…"
With the perfect sense of timing, he proceeded to unzip the back of her dress slightly, just far enough down so that he could kiss her skin. Now, it was her turn to tremble from excitement.
Jonathan took it as something else entirely. "Amelia, are you all right? If this is bringing up old wounds…"
She pulled him nearer to her now heated body. "No. It's OK. I'm enjoying this."
"Me too." He smiled.
"I want you," she whispered seductively in his ear.
Ceremoniously (Scarecrow certainly wanted to milk every moment of this), he set Amelia down on the bed while she removed his shirt. Normally, he would object to being this physically exposed, but around her, it was different. Somehow, he knew she would understand and empathize. And yet, a nagging thought persisted, concerned over her reaction once she felt…
As much as she tried to restrain herself, Amelia gasped at what her fingertips had been tracing on his back. Some scars….not many, but the once fresh cuts had to have been dire. She had no idea…She'd only touched his chest before and only then, in the dark.
The idea that he'd been in so much anguish shook Amelia to her core. Yes, he'd told her of the beatings, the food-related punishments, and the crows. But, she hadn't had the slightest notion that this had gone on in his home. A vengeful part of her seethed, thankful that Margaret Crane currently burned in the hell where she belonged. No person with a conscience could have done this.
"She…She whipped you?" Her voice wavered.
With no regard to whatever he might have been feeling, he brushed his hand across her cheek to comfort her. "Yes. It was a long time ago. She only did it once when I said I'd rather live in hell than here in this house. I was sixteen, two years before the prom debacle happened. I was at the end of my rope and threatened to run away. Dear Grandma wouldn't tolerate it, of course."
"I'm so sorry," Amelia said earnestly as she ran a hand through his beautiful dark hair.
"Why? Are you repulsed by these scars?" No resentment could be found in Jonathan's voice but an understated vulnerability.
She traced his abs again before her hand wandered to his back. "No, they're a part of you, too. How could I ever be disgusted? I'm only disgusted that the woman who did it chose to out of spite."
He pressed his forehead against hers, once more whispering, "Amelia," while ensuring to caressingly draw out those three simple syllables. No one could call her by name like he could, so warmly and tenderly.
"You haven't the slightest idea how you astonish me at times," he admitted before huskily requesting, "Show me how much you want me."
She then pressed her lips against his hungrily, needing him as much as he needed her. As he placed his hands on her hips, squeezing them, she found herself moaning.
Jonathan, still somewhat unsure, asked her, "Am I hurting you?"
"No." Amelia shook her head, stifling a gasp. "Hold me…I need you close."
He embraced her so tightly that no space separated the two of them. She kicked off her heels and kissed him passionately, earning a groan from him as well. Admiring the wiry build of him, she roved her hands all about his body. She had to explore more by learning every contour, every muscle. When she whispered his name against his mouth, she could feel his smile, which almost became a grin. They were made for each other's company. Just the way her body fit against his quite snugly and compactly, she had the inkling that he could very well be the one.
"May I?" Jonathan started unzipping the rest of her dress, his fingertips sidling against her back.
"Please," Amelia breathed, her eyes positively aglow with ardent happiness.
Making love to him was an experience she vowed she wouldn't soon forget. For a man who was an initially hesitant virgin, he seemed to forget about that. He slipped out of his insecurity, out of his comfort zone, to try being this profoundly intimate with her. Needless to say, it paid off handsomely. She wondered if Scarecrow had stepped in to take the reins, as that character would mock a trifle like virginity.
He would dive in headfirst just to experiment with her but in such a pleasant way. Kissing her, pressed up against her, and touching her as softly as though she was a delicate butterfly, he caused her to feel indomitable. On top of the world, looking down, with him along to join her. To plunge into this together was something Amelia had been completely swept away by.
She decided that this was the best sex she'd ever participated in. That college boy paled in comparison. Then again, after that, she'd avoided all men, either consciously or unconsciously. Jonathan brought out the real woman in her amidst all their lovemaking, and it had been a long time since she'd been seen as a genuine love partner instead of objectified arm candy.
Best of all, he caused her not to doubt men any more, to store some faith in him. He caused her to come alive in here, with her taking her turn as the assertive one.
Confiding in each other after two hours of total bliss, they talked about what physical features they thought best in the other. Jonathan went out of his way to compliment her, candidly revealing that he liked everything but most notably her eyes, her hair, and her ankles. Immensely flattered, she couldn't hide that ego boost in her tone when she told him she loved his lips, his shoulders, and his narrow hips the best.
Then, they had sweetly dozed off together, though Amelia was awake now, thinking and reflecting on this breathtaking night. She couldn't believe it happened and how exquisitely perfect everything turned out to be. Smiling, she turned to watch Jonathan sleep.
It was as though he never suffered from terrible memories of his past, never haunted by all the wrongs he'd committed despite sincerely regretting them when awake. Sleep washed all his troubles away. He looked even more handsome to her.
However, the tranquility seemed to escape him, for he started shifting beside her, managing to tangle himself more in the sheets.
He muttered, "No…No, get away, you old hag…Damn, crows…Need…toxin…"
In the throes of this nightmare, he gasped, as though to hold back a scream. Tremors took hold of him as he shook from his subconscious fears. Fears he actually did have, just like everybody else, but he would keep pretending they didn't exist. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead.
Concerned, Amelia wrapped her arms around him. "Shh, Jon, it's OK. Your grandmother's dead, she's gone. She won't hurt you anymore because she's not even here. There are no crows either. Shhh…"
His eyes shot open, widened, and the most unnerved she had ever seen them. Once they locked on her, though, they softened. She could feel his heart rapidly beating against hers.
Jonathan then abruptly sat up, his hand clutching his chest. "Another nightmare…They're recurring, I swear. That bitch will come after me surrounded by crows every time. I know I escaped them but…They contributed to my madness."
"You're not mad," she assured him, placing a steady hand on his arm. "Besides, they don't play a role in your life any more."
Slowly nodding in agreement, he gradually lay back down and put his arm around her. He had no intention of letting go either. Aware that he needed her to provide solace, she nestled against him.
He sighed, "I'm sorry. I was beginning to move about violently. I probably woke you up."
"Don't be sorry. I was already awake."
The bad dream momentarily forgotten, this seemed to pique his interest much more. "Couldn't sleep?"
"No, I've only been awake five minutes. I was….I was just thinking about what a wonderful night this has been." Amelia pressed her cheek against his collar bone.
"I wholeheartedly agree with you," he replied. "I won't ever forget it."
She thrilled to that. His reflections were the same as hers! Perhaps tonight would be the night for them to confess that their feelings had gone much deeper over these past two months. Maybe the "I love you"'s would come to announce once and for all that what they shared was real, not just a five-month long relationship that would just crash and burn. Her eyes were transfixed to him, to his lips as he had spoken, and to his eyes. Their depths were murky, as though he contemplated quite heavily.
"I won't either…because it was with you and turned into this moment right here."
Amelia then cleared her throat. She was ready to say what had been on her mind these past two months, longer than that even. Whenever she was near him, her pulse raced and her smile instantly widened. But, what if he rejected her advances?
Pushing that daunting thought to the back of her mind, she latched eye contact with him that she wouldn't break. "I value what we have, the concept of us. How you make me laugh whenever I'm on the phone with you after I'm too overwhelmed with work. How you send me flowers at Arkham. The way you tell me I'm beautiful"—her voice choked up—"How you make me feel like no one else has. No one else ever will.
"I…I love you, Jonathan."
He stiffened. Every muscle in his body froze. She…She couldn't be genuine, could she?
Like how his family loved him? Like how Sherry and Becky had loved him? Right, none of them had remotely uttered those words to him. They never cared about him. No one could love him, after he'd been to hell and back, after becoming a wretch of a human being. He would be condemned to serve a fiery afterlife if it existed. No one should even be capable of loving him. Amelia was no exception.
"You pity me, is that it?" he asked rather coldly, as piercing as icicles.
"No! That was more or less two—"
"Months ago when I asked you to dinner?!" He raised his voice and, much to his chagrin, caused her to slightly flinch.
"Years, Jon, back when you were still my patient."
He glared down at the sheets he was under. "You were right back then. Maybe we shouldn't have pursued anything beyond professionalism."
Shocked and hurt beyond all possible relief, Amelia unconsciously bit her lip. "I wouldn't have had sex with you if I didn't love you."
"What a line," Jonathan sarcastically drawled. "What about that college student you lost your virginity to?"
"Look, I was a college sophomore, and I fell to peer pressure. As I told you, I only bothered with him for five minutes."
"Oh, well, I'm surprised this lasted much longer."
"That's because I was still scared back then, you insensitive bastard!" Amelia yelled at him, punching the pillow in the process. "I felt comfortable with you. It felt right! I guess you don't feel the same."
She eased further down the bed, pulling the sheets up more tightly. "I shouldn't have been surprised."
"Nice going, Jon. Way to destroy her emotions," Scarecrow growled angrily at his creator, someone whom he rarely turned on. This was obviously an exception, too.
"I just don't believe it, that's all," Jonathan whispered meekly in his defense.
Shifting on his suddenly cool bed, he noticed that she'd turned away from him, clutching her pillow like a lifeline.
Instinctively, he smoothed away errant strands of her shining pale blond hair that gleamed fantastically in the shed moonlight through the window. He leaned over her to see her expression, which was mingled determination to stay thoroughly irate at him and grieving sorrow.
"I know that look."
Her jaw clenched. "Don't you dare clinically assess me like that, Jonathan Crane."
He whispered sympathetically, "You're trying not to cry."
As fiercely as she tried to prove him wrong, Amelia let out a rough sob. "You…You just basically told me that you…that you…"
"What, my dear?"
Instead of clarifying, she merely shook her head and proceeded to cry softly. Twenty-eight years old and reduced to such hysteria. It was pathetic.
A pair of sinewy arms wrapped around her quaking body. "Hey. Shhh…I hate to see you upset, Amelia, and it absolutely mortifies me that I should be the cause. Especially since I was being much too defensive in…in concealing how I truly feel."
She recalled his stories filled with abuse and neglect. A hot well of shame boiled within her. How naïve was she to address her love when he'd never received anything of the sort. Maybe he didn't have the capacity that should have been instilled in him since birth, since the conflict of trust versus mistrust. She was asking too much.
"You don't have to spare my feelings, Jon." She gulped down her remaining tears.
"I'm being honest," he persuaded desperately. "Just bear with me."
He continued, "I never thought there would be a place for me in anyone's heart. My father was a criminal not worth mentioning, my mother as good as disowned me, and my grandma sought revenge against me for being born. My peers were cruel to me…I never knew what a friend was. I've been mistreated almost my entire life. I…I didn't know any sort of affection"—his arms tightened around her waist—"I sometimes used to wonder if my death would be the best case scenario, as a higher power surely detested me. People let me know on a daily basis that I was unwanted. I had nothing to offer them."
Exhaling shakily then, Jonathan's voice uncharacteristically broke. "What you just said to me tonight…has never been said to me. I've…I've never heard of those words until these few minutes ago. And they sound so incredibly beautiful coming from your lips."
"Yes? Go on," Amelia gently urged, turning around to nervously face him.
"You've appreciated me like…like no one ever has. You've allowed me into your world, to actively be a part of it. During those dates we've had, you've made me feel like a normal man who has so much to live for."
She was startled to see tears pool in his lantern-like eyes to the extent she thought it was a trick of the light or shadow. Stretching out her hand toward his face, she prepared to wipe them away when she saw his smile. So natural and effortless…
"I thank you for it. And…And I love you too, Amy." Jonathan's smile widened and with that disheveled hair, he appeared even more handsome to her. So breathtaking. She was in awe.
"Oh, Jonathan." Happy tears streamed down her face. "I was waiting for you admit it to me for so long….And you called me Amy. That was perfect."
His fingers padding her cheeks, Jonathan attempted to wipe them away, suppressing his own emotional tears of joy in the process. He felt like he reached such a high, ecstatic point in his life that he couldn't pen all of it in. It brimmed over like too much water in a dam.
"I'm glad you liked that. I thought it was terrible the way he made you afraid of your own nickname for the longest time." He stroked her hair affectionately, smiling down upon her.
His lips caught hers in a kiss that held a vow, promising her that he did indeed love her. Their tears mixed, but both disregarded that in favor of showing each other with deep adoration.
"Maybe you should call me Amy more often then. I don't mind now," she confided.
"Mmm, Amelia does suit you more, though, but I'll consider it." Jonathan smiled against her lips, the movement against her lips entrancing her. "Now, we've made our feelings for each other very clear. What do you propose we do now in celebration? More Merlot?"
"I was thinking of something more…provocative," Amelia beamed, her hands landing on his chest, clasping her hands around his neck.
"Oh, really? And what would that be?"
"You're the genius college professor with a 189 IQ, Jon. You figure it out." Her eyes glinted suggestively.
Jonathan held back his head and laughed openly, the most she'd ever heard him laugh at one time. "Ah, I see what you're implying. Quite erotic thoughts you have."
He turned over so that his body was over hers, whispering, "Allow me to entertain them."
The rest of the night sealed the whole evening's perfection.
Despite the rain from the previous night, the sun managed to come up the next morning. Through the bay window, it shed light on the nightstand, the closest doors, the three bookshelves, and the couple in bed.
Jonathan was the one awake this time with his elbow propped up and his face leaning against his palm. All that occupied his attention was the blond woman sleeping peacefully next to him. A vague smile was on her face, blissful dreams controlling her.
He couldn't believe this was happening. His dream from two years ago realized. She wasn't in drugged sleep but natural sleep beside him.
The night of lovemaking was what he anticipated and much more. He put in as much passion as what fueled him, and she reciprocated in kind. It was beautiful, what they shared and what they would in the future. He would attain it not only for himself but for her as well. He had an idea in mind he would address once she woke up.
"I knew you could do it, Jon," Scarecrow leaned back, grinning. "The v-card is no more!"
I can count on you to cheapen the most fantastical of moments. He sighed
"She was great."
My thoughts exactly.
"Good morning," he said in a raspy voice, worn-out from their active night.
"Morning. Mm…" She stretched her arms. "That was a great night, wasn't it?"
"To say the least. I've never been happier, that's for certain." Placing his arms around her, he just held her like he'd been doing. He was addicted to her but not out of obsession, out of genuine joy over finding something legitimate.
"You know, when you said you loved me, I almost couldn't believe it. I thought you never would, given your prior circumstances. I also felt that…that you would see this as a fling," Amelia confessed haltingly.
"I had similar worries," he responded in turn. "I worried that one day, you'd realize the error of your ways and leave me of your own accord."
"No." She kissed him on the forehead. "Of course not. I'm here to stay."
"With that in mind, would you want to move in with me?"
Amelia raised her eyebrows in surprise, bewildered that he would make that offer. A week ago, he barely kissed her in public. Now, he did something brash, something more up Scarecrow's alley than his. Then again, he was becoming his own person. Scarecrow still stayed, but he wasn't that lethal any more. He somehow became as gentle as her cat Persephone in comparison to where he used to be.
Nonetheless, she asked, "Scarecrow's idea or yours?"
"Mine. Though consider it a gift from the both of us." Jonathan winked.
"When would be a good time for me to move in?"
He laughed, pressing her close to his body. "Next weekend would be ideal."
"Good. Now, let's get dressed and find something else to do," she suggested with a kiss to his lips.
All he could do was chuckle.
Jonathan Crane and Amelia Harland made for the perfect couple, unarguably. One complimented the other. And there was no way they would break up any time soon. Amelia had gotten her wish.
A/N: Ah, Jonathan Crane...That last Batman movie with him in it was amazing *sigh*. Well, I won't say any more, as I don't want to make this any longer than the story, haha. So, I hope you all really liked it. Thank you and if you want to review, please do. I'm not going to stop you. :)