"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known."
~1 Corinthians 13:12
Jon knew he was in Arkham, strapped to a chair, and in a straightjacket. But Scarecrow was being obstinate. He hated him even more as a brainless idiot then he did as a rational… alter ego, hallucination, whatever-he-was.
He tried to get his eyes to focus on the man sitting in front of his body, but it wasn't working. He cursed inwardly.
"What was the plan, Crane? How were you gonna get your toxin into the air?" A man he distantly recognized as Jim Gordon, a police officer, asked. He stared intently, fingering the mask in his hands as his mustache twitched.
Scarecrow corrected him in a whisper, "Scarecrow… Scarecrow." His eyes darted all over the place.
He wants me, stupid! Let me out!
Scarecrow just laughed insanely.
"Who were you working for, Crane?" Gordon said in a louder voice.
Scarecrow's eyes flickered. "Oh, it's too late." He shook his head. "You can't stop us now." He smiled a little.
You leave me out of your schemes that don't make any sense! Jon said, chipping away at the mental block in between them.
"Here," Gordon said, handing his mask to a guard and stalking out. "He isn't any help."
" –And then of course, they remembered they hadn't put any gas in the tank!" Mr. Fox said.
Pamela laughed, mirth bubbling up inside of her. His story about an incompetent technician and a failed test was truly funny. She took a sip from her champagne glass in order to get her breathing under control.
"Lucius, how are you?" a man said, coming up to them in an immaculate suit.
"Quite well, Mr. Wayne. This is Dr. Pamela Isley," Fox said, introducing her.
"A pleasure to meet you," Bruce Wayne said, smiling at her, but his gaze seemed a bit…strained.
"You as well, Mr. Wayne," she replied. "Happy Birthday."
"Thank you, doctor. Do you mind if I steal Mr. Fox for a moment?" He asked, turning on the charm that all millionaires seemed to have. Or perhaps he was a billionaire by now; Pam couldn't remember. She didn't read the tabloids. "I promise to bring him right back," he assured her.
"Of course," she said with a smile.
Mr. Fox's weathered face smiled at her, and they both faded into the crowd. Pamela set her empty champagne glass onto a passing waiter's tray, and surreptitiously walked after them. So maybe I haven't learned my lesson about eavesdropping, but my instincts are always right. And my instincts say that Bruce Wayne isn't just a playboy who's looking for kicks. Something's bothering him. And I'm going to find out what.
Her mother had once told her that with her intense curiosity, she should have been a reporter or a detective, and not a biochemist. But plants were her passion. Sleuthing was only a Nancy Drew fantasy left over from her teen years. She pretended to inspect an ice sculpture in front of her, as the men spoke in low tones a couple of yards away.
"…Manufacture on a large scale?" Bruce inquired.
"Weeks. Why?" Fox asked.
"Somebody's planning to disperse the toxin using the water supply," Bruce told him.
Fox shook his head. "The water supply won't help you disperse an inhalant…" he trailed off.
"What?" Wayne asked.
"…Unless you have a microwave emitter powerful enough to vaporize all the water in the mains," Fox said slowly. "A microwave emitter like the one Wayne Enterprises just misplaced."
"Misplaced?" Bruce questioned.
There was more to the conversation, but Pam didn't hear it. She had locked on the words 'toxin', 'inhalent', 'water supply', and 'vaporize.' She could hear herself saying, many months ago, "So the compound has to be absorbed in the lungs to take effect?" She swallowed hard. I could be wrong, she thought to herself. I might just be drawing the wrong conclusions.
But what if I'm not?
"Don't you just think that sculpture is gorgeous?" A woman in a fashionable dress said, coming up to her. Jumping from surprise, Pam blinked, a little blinded by the vast amounts of jewelry the woman wore. Blast! She thought. The woman continued on, "It was made especially for this occasion. By a Parisian sculpture, I believe."
"Oh," Pamela said. "Yes, very pretty."
"Swans are just graceful animals, don't you think?" the woman asked busily.
"Oh, yes, very much so," the redhead said, finally realizing that what she had pretended to stare at was in fact a ice swan that was beginning to sweat just a tad.
Apparently satisfied with her answer, the woman buzzed off to snatch Bruce Wayne and introduce him to someone. He didn't seem to want to be snatched. Pamela tried to follow them, but almost collided with a waiter and some millionaires. She pulled up short, blushed, and apologized for the near mishap. She adjusted her dress, scanning the crowd. A glance around the room showed that Mr. Fox could no longer be seen either. Where could he have disappeared? Pam wondered. And what on earth was that conversation about? Please don't let it be what I think it was…
A fork clinked against a glass. "Ev'r'one. Ev'r'body?" Bruce Wayne slurred. "I... I want to thank y'all f'r coming here tonight and drinkin' all of my booze." The high society guests laughed politely, thinking he was joking. "No, really. There's a thing 'bout bein' a Wayne that you're never short of a few freeloaders… like yourselves to fill up your mansion with. So here's t' you people. Thank you."
"That's enough, Bruce," a man said to him. They thought he was drunk. You could see it on their faces, but…Pamela clenched her purse with white knuckles. She had just heard him speak very reasonably and rationally to herself and Mr. Fox. And she was a scientist. She knew it was impossible to get drunk within the space of five minutes. But he was a very convincing drunk.
Bruce Wayne, the undiscovered actor, continued, "I'm not finished," he said taking a sip of champagne. "To all'a you. All'a you phonies, all'a you two-faced friends... you sycophantic suck-ups who smile through y'r teeth at me…please, leave me in peace. Please go. Stop smiling; it's not a joke. Please leave. The party's over; get out."
She could almost sense what he was thinking: I'd like to thank the Academy…
Pamela was caught up in the crowd that began to filter disgustedly toward the doors, disgruntled looks on their faces. But she could see tall pillars of men that didn't move as the crowd oozed toward the doors. A select few people remained in the room. Her instinct told her that there was a reason for Wayne to act like a drunken bum. She slipped behind a pillar disguised by a drape and a palm, opening her ears as wide as possible.
"Amusing. But pointless," a cultured, European voice said. "None of these people have long to live. Your antics at Arkham Asylum have forced my hand."
Pamela pressed a hand to her mouth, muffling her own gasp. What antics at Arkham Asylum?
"So Crane was working for you," Bruce said, all traces of drunkenness gone.
Wait, Jon had been working for this man?Why?
"His toxin is derived from the organic compound found in our blue flowers…"
Pamela, you're a fool, she told herself, you're a blind, ignorant fool! Something was wrong, and you never thought to ask or press for any sort of explanation? What did he do with the toxin I helped him create, the toxin that has to be absorbed into the lungs?
"…He was able to weaponize it."
Fear… her blood ran cold.
Bruce questioned, "He's not a member of the League of Shadows?"
"Of course not. He thought our plan was to hold the city to ransom."
"But really, you are gonna release Crane's poison on the entire city," Wayne said, in tones of disbelief.
"And then watch Gotham tear itself apart through fear," the European voice said.
Pamela moaned inwardly, slipping after the men, who were walking away. What had Jon been thinking? The signs were there. How edgy he had gotten when she told him about Jason and Marc's smuggling, his change of behavior after she had gotten back from her trip, his concern for her… she remembered the conversation about the canister. She had never thought to ask why she would need a canister to deal with an alternate personality. Never thought to ask why he was so against his alter getting out. Was that what happened, Jon? Did 'scarecrow' get out? And poisoning Gotham? Had he been worried 'scarecrow' would poison her? Poison her with fear?
And was the canister the antidote?
"You're gonna destroy millions of lives," Bruce said, and that brought her train of thought back around to him. How did Bruce Wayne, millionaire playboy and heartthrob who had been missing for years, know this person?
Something flickered in her vision, and her head snapped around. A man, dressed totally in black, had almost snuck up on her. His whole face was covered except for his eyes.
He's going to sound the alarm! Pam thought. I can't let that happen! They can't know I'm here! She ran straight for the man; he hadn't been expecting that. Swiping a hand across her mouth, she lunged for him. She was going to try to poison him.
It didn't work. The man was obviously a total professional at combat, and she was not. But as he tried to pull her hands behind her back, Pamela noted he was a complete amateur when dealing with slippery fabrics. Without stopping to think, she twisted in his grip, using her dress to help her, and planted her lips on whatever exposed skin she could see, which was mostly the bridge of his nose and an eyelid.
The man in black still didn't say anything. What is he, a ninja? Pam wondered desperately, trying to escape and wondering if she had been wrong, if she wasn't poisonous after all.
But then he dropped her like a sack of potatoes to claw at his eyes.
She scooted far back from him and got to her feet as he fell to the ground, thrashing and convulsing. And then he simply stopped moving.
Her breath caught in her throat. What had she done? With shaking hands, she pulling his headpiece off, revealing a perfectly common, perfectly normal person. She felt for a pulse on his neck.
There was none.
Her eyelids fluttered closed. She had just killed a man.
The cultured voice intruded into her ears again, disrupting her inward horror. "No one can save Gotham. When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural. Tomorrow the world will watch in horror as its greatest city destroys itself."
I have to get out of here, she realized. Shake it off. There's more at stake here, like the fate of Gotham. And Jon.
She had to get out of here, and get that canister.
Slowly but surely, that's what Jon told himself. Slowly but surely, the walls were coming down. But it seemed like nothing was happening at all. Scarecrow was still mumbling nonsense inside his head, and Jon still had no control. Not that he could do anything, since he was in a straight jacket, but still. He'd like his body back now, thank you very much.
Crane's eyes flickered upwards as the cell lock snapped open. Two SWAT officers walked into the cell.
Jon felt the swell of pride, villainous intent, and sadistic pleasure that came from Scarecrow as the burlap mask was tossed onto their lap.
"Time to play," the SWAT officer whispered.
Scarecrow smiled. Jon felt sick.
Pam clung to the door of the taxi as it broke the speed limit. She had dropped her purse somewhere, and she didn't have her coat. She had gotten past the door guards with a little trouble. There were two more men on the ground without pulses in that mansion. But she couldn't think about those things now. She had to get to Arkham Asylum, and she had to find that canister.
Okay, she thought, taking a deep, calming breath. Let me recap what I know, and what I've guessed. It's going to take a few more minutes to reach the bridges anyway.
Number one: She and Jon had strengthened a toxin that caused panic and hallucinations in its victims. That toxin was going to be released into the air of Gotham, making the city 'tear itself apart through fear.'
Number two: Jon had a dual personality that might be at fault here. She wished she could just blame 'Scarecrow.' But she didn't know that for certain. You can't count on that, Pam, she told herself.
Number Three: Jon may or may not have told her where the antidote was hidden.
Number Four: Slightly less important but equally as shocking; she had killed a man. Actually, three men. She felt nauseous, and hoped that she wouldn't throw up.
Number Five: Jon didn't engineer this plan. She felt slightly better at that.
She couldn't think of any more numbers, because they were at the bridges.
She opened the door and got out of the taxi, ignoring the cabbie's calls for his money. She had paid him earlier; that was enough. Picking up her skirt and running toward the mass of people, she asked a policeman, "What's going on?"
"Some idiot blew a hole in Arkham Asylum; the inmates are loose!"
That threw a monkey wrench in her plans. She began to run toward the bridges again. Contrary to popular belief, it was possible to run in high heels. You just had to put all of your weight on the balls of your feet and not let the heels touch the ground. Uncomfortable, but she could do it.
They weren't just letting ordinary everyday citizens cross the bridges into the Narrows with homicidal maniacs loose. There was a barricade, and a policeman was waving certain people through and keeping others back. Taking a deep breath, Pamela stopped running but kept up a brisk, no-nonsense pace, arranged her hair, and tried not to look out of breath. As she got closer, a woman a ways in front of her was speaking sharply to the cop. "I am a Gotham City District Attorney; let me pass," she snapped. The man sighed and waved her through.
Pam hurried closer and before the cop could say anything, she announced, "I'm with her," pointing to the dark-haired woman and walking past him before he could stop her. He stared after her with an open mouth, but didn't call for her to stop. Guess they don't see many evening gowns down here, Pam thought, a little amused even now. But she had to get across the bridges. Then to Arkham Asylum, all the while avoiding the insane mass murderers in those cute little orange jumpsuits. Why orange? There are so many other colors, she thought to herself as she finally reached the other side of the bridge. A SWAT truck rumbled past her, but she ignored it, like she ignored the goose bumps on her arms. Harley would tell her that her mind was finding little things to occupy itself with so that she wouldn't relive kissing all those men and go off her rocker.
But she was already off her rocker. She was walking into the Narrows in a green evening gown and heels –strike that, she had just broken one; she yanked the shoes off her feet and tossed them aside, picking up her pace. Where was she? Oh yes, barefoot, with no defense except her toxic lips, up against escaped criminals and racing the clock to get to the antidote of Jon's fear toxin before the whole city got sprayed with it.
Where was Jon, by the way?
And what would she do with this toxin once she found it?
She guessed she'd figure that out once she had it.
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