05

Jonathan Crane was lost in thought as he lay on the old school infirmary cot, Edward nestled into his side, an arm slung over his chest. There was only a thin blanket covering them, and Edward was curled into most of it. His face was still wet with tears, but he had a placid expression on his face. Crane was stroking his shoulder absently.

Jonathan had never actively pursued another Arkham inmate sexually. The fear gas certainly gave him plenty of opportunity, but watching his victims' nightmares had always sufficed. In fact, he had seldom thought about any of them sexually. Years of repressing his sex drive from being sheltered and kept home by his mother had destroyed any trace of sexuality. Or so he had believed.

But he could not deny how complete it felt to have defiled someone both physically and mentally. He felt different, more of a man and less of the stifled, angry child that Scarecrow had been born from. It was refreshing. It was … addicting.

His eyes went down to Edward, who was silently crying into him now. A nightmare must have waked him. Poor thing. Yes, he did pity him, though he enjoyed his suffering. He had never pitied anyone before. This also felt good, to have sympathy for a change instead of being left cold once the torment was over. He realized then that in comforting Edward, he was also comforting himself.

"I love you."

"No," Edward said certainly, wiping one eye with a fist. "You don't."

"I suppose not," Jonathan smiled. He tipped Edward's face up to his own by the bottom of his chin, rubbed tears away with his thumb. "However, you are my favorite patient."

Edward looked at him expectantly.

"Because you are brilliant and unique," Jonathan said, telling him what he knew he needed to hear. "No one, not even Batman, has been such a pleasure to treat."

"But Batman has resisted," grumbled Edward. "I wasn't able to. I wasn't strong enough. My mind is . . . it-it's weak! Inferior!"

"No, you merely chose to let me break you," Jonathan said. "Remember? You wanted it."

"The guilt . . . " Edward shook his head, rubbing his temple. "Stop. Please, please stop. I don't want to think about myself anymore. I don't want to be . . . Edward Nigma anymore."

Jonathan sat up straighter against the steel bars of the bed, pulling Edward up closer. "Then, why don't we suspend treatment for now? We are free, after all."

Edward looked up at him, and then began to smile. "That's right, we escaped . . . "

"So, what do you say, then?" Jonathan asked, eyes glinting behind his glasses. He wiped away the last of Edward's tears, and kissed his broad forehead. "It might be interesting for the Scarecrow and the Riddler to set a little bat-trap, don't you think?"

He was giving Edward his clothes back, allowing him just that much more of a line to pull himself up with an inch or two. Edward knew it, but was merely grateful. The power of fear truly was one of the most formidable in all of nature, and now he knew firsthand that Jonathan Crane wielded it masterfully.

"Yes, I believe it would," he agreed with a devilish smile. Then he sighed, laying back down on Crane's chest. "Tomorrow night . . . we'll storm the city . . . together."

Jonathan hugged him, kissed his shoulder, and leaned his head back against the pillow. Thoroughly satisfied, he no less began planning for his next conquest. He smiled to himself as he thought of the fear and confusion they would unleash upon the citizens, upon the Batman. Let Edward regain himself. Once in his right mind, the Riddler would make a welcomed accomplice, as he also attacked the mind. Jonathan could work on the emotional mind, while Riddler could conquer the cerebral. It was a perfect match, actually.

"And then the bough will break . . . and more minds will fall . . . "

END