AN: First: I do not own. SURPRISE. Second: I generally prefer to keep comments to a minimum these days, but I think they might be necessary here. I'm planning to replace an older attempt at a Jonathan/Sherry 50 theme challenge with this one because I don't really like how my first go turned out and I think I can do it better. I don't know how much I'll get done. I'm going to improvise. I will do my best to keep the story accessible to new readers. Hope it's a fun ride. :)

He has become the straw-strung-skeleton Granny knew but never spoke about. He is no longer who he was, child of the country stretched thin, drenched in dust and the dull hum of insects on summer evenings. At least, this is what he hopes or believes or repeats like a mantra in his mind. He wants to be one with Gotham, this city of a thousand screaming tongues. Jonathan Crane offers himself to the smoke and glass and graffiti climbing walls he loves her needle-fingered caress on nights so black the stars seem like impossible memories. She moans for him in terror her innermost secrets, and he promises to keep these secrets in confidence because that is what power means.

And yet.

There are nights when the Scarecrow is only human, and the room is dark and the lightbulbs flicker and he is going to be free just a little longer, and in the afterglow of bourbon he finds himself faced with her freckles, her eyelashes. The lazy curve of her smile. The meticulous straightness of her hair. And in these moments he no longer cares about his new city or his power or the satisfaction of destruction-to-my-enemies. Filmed over eyes and limbs stiffening with rigor mortis, blood caked under fingernails of their own agency, chemical visions lingering on lips like prayer.

He hates her with every aspect of his being, and he hates that he hates her because that means on some level she is still important. Idiot teenage-nothing girl, specter of a past he cannot deny any more than the mask on his face.

She does not make him weak. The defect belongs to him and him alone.