Clover lounged on her ratty sofa, her legs leisurely placed on her coffee table. Her arms were lazily daped over the back of the couch with both hands occupied, an off brand cola in one and the remote in the other. She'd called in sick to work earlier that morning, claiming to be contagiously ill. In reality, Clover just desperately wanted some time to take a load off. She hadn't taken a any time for herself since the night at the bank, restlessly doing everything in her power to forget. And it was weighing on her. If the purple crescents under her eyes got any darker they'd look like bruises. Her boss had been pretty forgiving about her taking leave, seemingly moved on from her pushing incident a few weeks ago. The whole thing seemed so distant and unimportant now, considering everything that had happened.

Clover flicked through multiple channels idly as she eyed her tiny television set with disinterest. She desperately wanted to buy a new model with the money she'd stolen, but was still paranoid about drawing suspicion. It had been a few quiet days since the heist, but she was still on edge. Only part of that tension was caused by the thought of police investigation.

There'd been no contact from Nygma so far. She'd caught glances of him at the club, but quickly averted her praying he wouldn't notice her. With any luck, maybe he'd become so busy he'd forgotten about her. But considering that he seemed to fancy tormenting her as a hobby, Clover didn't think it was likely. He was probably just biding his time so he could watch her squirm. However, despite the tension and paranoia the followed her constantly, Clover kept going to the clinic. If anything she felt a little bit safer there, knowing that Lee would interfere if he tried anything.

Clover found herself stuck in a limbo where she was constantly waiting for something terrible to happen. For Nygma to contact her, for Robby to break down her door, for Victor Zsasz to assassinate her in her sleep. Actually, that last option wasn't looking too terrible compared to the others.

Clover paused as she came across the news station. Despite the constant flow of horrendous incoming news in Gotham, the anchors still managed to look chipper and polished. Clover would be forever jealous of the people whose job was to read off a teleprompter and smile. It was ten times better than being thrown a crumpled ball of cash and change with remnants of chewed gum stuck onto it, or taking unnecessarily complicated coffee orders that were impossible to remember.

"Welcome back Gotham, our second story of the morning is a follow up on the Gotham Central Bank robbery that took place a few nights ago." The news anchor spoke in an artificial tone of seriousness.

Clover perked up, a sense of dread curling inside her.

"It was three nights ago that bank owner Shelley Mercer opened her doors to find her head security guard dead and over thirty-thousand dollars in cash stolen from the safe."

Clover's jaw dropped. She hadn't done anything to the security guard. So then why was he…

Her thought trailed off as sudden, dreadful clarity hit her. Nygma was responsible for that, he had to be.

A video of a woman began to play. She was dressed in expensive attire, but her hair was disheveled and her eyes were puffy and red.

"Sanchez was a good man. He didn't deserve this, no one deserves this! I hope whoever did this rots in jail!" The woman dissolved into sobs of despair as her sorrowful visage faded from the screen.

A picture of the guard took her place. He was an average sized man with a wide smile and a mustache. He had his arm around a beaming young girl's shoulder, probably his daughter.

"Security footage shows a short figure entering the building from a second story window and going into the safe room. Police suspect a young caucasian male from ages fifteen to twenty-five."

A grainy, black and white piece of footage played on the screen. It showed Clover in her bulky attire climbing through the window and landing in a heap on the floor. She wanted to laugh at how ridiculous she looked, but nothing escaped from her.

"Police have yet to confirm if the robber killed Sanchez. The security cameras in the lobby were remotely shut off a few minutes after the criminal's entry. As of now, he is the main suspect."

Clover covered her mouth with her hand, exhaling harshly into it. She wasn't a suspect, which was undeniably good. But a man had been killed because of her. Her breathing became shallow and fast.

"If you have any information regarding this case, you can call the GCPD at this num-"

Clover hit the off button on the remote, watching as the screen flicked off. She could see her reflection in the blank screen staring back at her with wide eyes. It felt unbelievably hot all of a sudden. Clover abruptly stood up, tossing the remote onto he coffee table. She needed to go out and get some air. It was too cramped inside.

Clover grabbed a change of clothes and headed into her bathroom, locking the door behind her. She still didn't trust that she wasn't being watched by Nygma's hired thugs. She had meticulously checked the bathroom for cameras and felt it was the only place she could change safely. Clover quickly pulled herself into a pair of leggings and a white long sleeved shirt. She haphazardly threw on her pale green parka, not bothering to zip it up. After lacing up her only pair of boots, Clover headed out into the frigid Gotham air. She wasn't quite sure where she was going, but anywhere away from TV's sounded good.

She ended up taking the subway into central Gotham. It was a lot nicer than the Narrows, or less sketchy at the very least. Clover had almost forgotten what it felt like to walk outside and smell clean air instead of drugs and smoke. Although, one could make an argument that the air was far from clean, as the scent of exhaust fumes was still ever present.

'Maybe I'll take a trip to the country after all this is over and get some fresh air." Clover ignored the part of herself that smartly responded, 'If this is ever over.'

It seemed like each part of her life just bled into the next without pause or respite. Just when she thought she'd climbed back on the bull, it bucked her off again. It was distressing to think about, but somehow the walking helped put her at peace. She wasn't quite sure how everything was going to turn out, but Clover felt a little bit better walking among the crowds of people that filled Gotham's streets. Maybe if she just stayed here she'd be hidden from everyone trying to hurt her, just for a little while.

Clover followed the familiar sights of the city, leading herself to one of her favorite parks. She used to come there and read all the time during her freshman year. Being surrounded by nature did wonders for her psyche and actually helped boost her concentration. The place was barren now on account of the cold weather, but Clover still managed to find some beauty in it. The birch trees sort of looked like skeletal arms with thin bony fingers, twisting and reaching for the light grey sky.

'Too bad it's not Halloween.' She smiled.

She walked up to her favorite bench, the sight of it greeting her like an old friend. As Clover sunk down onto it she wondered why she hadn't come back here sooner. She hadn't realized until that moment how badly she missed it all. She'd taken it for granted at the time, but being a college student seriously rocked.

Clover closed her eyes and sat for a few moments, enjoying the sounds of the city around her. Had it really been so long since she felt this tranquil? Her peace was disrupted when she heard a voice calling her name in the distance. Clover glanced up to see a girl in a pink jacket walking towards her, silky blonde hair piled on top of her head. Clover felt a wary smile stretch across her numb face.

"Clovey, is that really you?" The girl called again, breaking into a trot as she came closer.

Clover stood up, waiting for the inevitable hug she would receive. "Hey Kelly, long time no see."

"It is you!" Two arms wrapped themselves around Clover and squeezed, crushing their torsos together. Clover wheezed, but otherwise tolerated it. Kelly finally released her after a moment, keeping her hands on Clover's shoulders as she looked down at her with a smile.

"Oh my gosh it's been so long! How have you been? Where have you been? Have you spoken to Maria recently? She and I-" Kelly fired of several questions at once in rapid succession. Clover decided to tackle them one at a time.

"I'm doing well, how have you been Kelly?" Kelly seemed to settle down a little bit, but there was still excitement zipping through her. If she had a tail, it would be wagging.

"I'm doing great! Me and the gang have been hanging out a lot since Gotham U. is still under construction. I tried calling you, but you never picked up."

Clover tried not to look guilty. "The gang" Kelly was talking about was the group of people Clover had befriended in college. In truth she hadn't been very close to them, but they'd had some fun together. Clover had thought of their well-being briefly after the bombing, but life had been too hectic to give them much thought since then. She'd been so busy since the explosion that she hadn't even thought of going out with her friends. When everything in Clover's life was going down the drain, she'd stopped waiting for their calls. She rarely answered the phone anymore.

"Oh, my bad. We got a new landline a few months ago, the number changed." Clover said sheepishly. It was a sorry excuse, but Kelly bought it anyways. If she didn't she was too polite to call her out.

"Well we need to catch up girl!" Clover had forgotten just how perky Kelly was. Did she really used to not be annoyed by that?

"How about we go for coffee?" Kelly offered. "It'll be my treat." She added with a big smile.

Clover didn't really want to, but the sound of free coffee was too enticing. She desperately needed something to thaw her face.

"Alright," Clover nodded. "That sounds good."

"Yeah!" Kelly cheered, linking their arms and babbling on and on about the "quaint coffee house" she was taking her to.

Clover just nodded along, adding some "hmms" and "yeahs" to the mix occasionally. As much as she wanted to be engaged in the conversation, she couldn't help but feel a little miffed that her peace had been disturbed. She'd been feeling nostalgic for college, but maybe not so much the social aspect.

The funny thing was, she couldn't recall ever disliking Kelly back when they'd hung around at Gotham U. Clover had always respected Kelly for her optimism and creative spirit, even coveting it at times. Now she seemed different, her constant flow of words and affection verging on overbearing. Everytime Kelly put her hand on her, Clover struggled not to tense up in displeasure. When you lived in the Narrows, someone being casual with you like that meant you were probably getting pickpocketed. She'd learned that her second week living there.

Realization suddenly hit Clover. Kelly wasn't the one who was different, it was her who had changed. Kelly had simply continued on with her cushy life, going to parties on weekends and dating lots of pretty boys. Clover had taken a different path, and she'd been irreparably altered along the way. She wondered what she looked like now from Kelly's end.

Clover's frigid body melted as the two entered the upscale coffee shop. The heating felt like heaven compared to the tundra outside. Kelly ordered for the both of them, and Clover was sort of flattered that she still remembered how she liked her coffee. Of course, Kelly ordered the sweetest most caffeinated item off the menu, as usual. No wonder it seemed like she was constantly hyper.

The two sat and chatted for a little while, Kelly doing most of the talking. Their conversation mostly centered around social drama (because what else did Kelly ever talk about?) and Clover felt herself zoning in and out at several intervals. But despite how droll the conversation had become, Clover had to admit that it was somewhat nice to just talk casually to someone. The closest she'd gotten in a long time to a friendly conversation was her frequent talks with Lee, but even those had stagnated and faded away. The topics they conversed on were mundane, but it did help Clover forget about her troubles for a little while.

After a brief lull in the conversation, Kelly finally piped up with a topic that Clover didn't feel completely neutral towards.

"So when are you starting back up with your studies?"

Clover blanked out as Kelly continued on, not noticing the slack look on her face.

"I've been taking some of my courses down at the Y since they switched there, but the main building should be reopen any time now and I heard they're offering a psychology course and I really wanna take it because it sounds cool and plus that way I'll finally know some brainy sounding stuff. Plus I heard the professor is a total hottie. So what about you?"

Clover could feel her face turning red. She'd thought her prideful ways had been swept away after every humiliating thing that had happened, but she was wrong. There was no way she could suffer the embarrassment of telling Kelly she dropped out. Kelly wouldn't get it anyway; they never did. She was from a particular breed of Gothamite that had never had to worry about money. She'd probably suggest that Clover just get a job, not considering that minimum wage was no way to pay a tuition.

Clover fumbled for a response. "Well you know...my dad's kinda sick right now and I wanna be there for him. Maybe after he gets well again…"

Kelly nodded quickly in understanding, even though her eyes were vacant of any such thing. It was just something social required, nod along sympathetically to the sad story so Clover wouldn't prolong it by baring every excruciating, vulnerable detail. No, god forbid they talk about anything of actual substance. No one wanted to hear about dying parents of illness, it was uncomfortable to listen to. Especially if you could afford to see top notch physicians and never suffered from anything worse than a cold. Clover resented Kelly's reaction, but she also begrudgingly understood that it was a trained one.

Suddenly, Kelly's eyes locked onto something just beyond Clover's shoulder. A look settled onto Kelly's face that she knew oh too well.

One of Kelly's favorite pastimes back in college was to play matchmaker with her friends, and there was no one she liked jerking around more than Clover. She had been subject to that look multiple times, right before being pushed at some unsuspecting frat boy, concession stand worker, janitor, you name it. More often than not Clover would simply humor Kelly by talking to her new "love interest" for a few minutes before reporting back that he just wasn't the one. Her intentions were good, but Clover had grown tired of it after awhile. Why couldn't Kelly just focus on her own love life instead of playing with Clover's total lack of one?

A devious grin stretched across her cheeks. "Don't look now Clover, but there's a cutie behind you giving you a look."

Clover sighed, not bothering to even glance behind her. "I'm sure there's just something stuck to the back of my jacket."

She felt up and down her back, coming up with nothing. Still, he could be staring for any reason. Maybe he was just a creep; Gotham was in no short supply of those.

Kelly peeked at him again with that mischievous twinkle only for her eyes to quickly dart away. "Whoops," She giggled, "I think he saw me looking."

Clover restrained the urge to sigh. It was as if she was in second grade again. Maybe she should send him a letter asking if he liked her or if her like-liked her.

"I'm really not interested in you setting me up with a random guy again, so if you don't mind…"

Kelly gave her a pleading look. "But Clover, he's so hot! Well I mean, he's more like cute. Like kinda in a nerdy way, ya know? And he looks so put together! Well, maybe a little too put together... Clover I think he might be gay!"

Clover rested her forehead in her palm, trying to block out every idiotic thing she was saying. After ignoring her rambling for a minute longer, Kelly let out a gasp. Clover looked up to see her staring her watch in alarm.

"Oh my gosh, I totally forgot I have a spa session scheduled at 2! I'm so sorry Clover, but I'm gonna have to dash. Maybe we can continue some other time?"

Clover sent her a genuine smile. It was finally over.

"Of course, go ahead. And thank you for the coffee."

"You're certainly welcome! I'll say hi to the others for you!"

After throwing out her farewell, Kelly quickly rushed towards the door, twisting her scarf around her neck as she went. It was only after she was gone that Clover realized that Kelly had failed to ask for her "new number". But maybe not so surprisingly, Clover found that she didn't really care. She knew there would always be a fondness in her heart for the memories they'd created together, but in the end they had grown too far apart for things to ever be the same. Kelly would continue being her quirky self, while Clover would dive deeper into the underbelly of Gotham. While it wasn't exactly a pleasant thought, Clover was content with it.

She sat there for awhile longer, sipping on her now lukewarm coffee. It really was good, at least ten times better than what she served at her own job. Clover distantly wondered if this place was hiring.

A body hastily slid into the vacated seat in across from her, and Clover nearly groaned. She should've known her distant admirer sounded a little too familiar. The real hint had been the "put together" comment. For all his flaws, Nygma really did know how to dress. He was wearing an expensive looking green pea coat with a black turtleneck and slacks. If she had the gall to look under the table, Clover suspected she'd see a pointy pair of men's dress shoes, probably patent leather. All he was missing was some sort of snazzy hat.

Clover supposed she should've been afraid that the encounter she'd been anticipating for days had finally come to pass, but she was too pulverized from Kelly's questioning to really care. Plus they were out in public, so it wasn't like he could do anything violent. A thought in her mind echoed that if he really wanted to kill her, he wouldn't mind getting his hands dirty in front of everyone there. She chose to ignore that thought succinctly, taking another long sip of her coffee before placing it on the table firmly.

Nygma had made himself comfortable, his arms crossed as his upper body leaned on the table, a smirk ever present on his stupid face. Kelly had called him cute, but all Clover saw was a cold smile and even colder eyes.

"Do you really have nothing better to do than stalk me?" Clover started, knowing that she was playing with fire. Was she really ready to exchange verbal repertoire with The Riddler?

He was completely unfazed, smirk never falling from his face. "I did say we'd be in touch."

"Yeah well," Clover gave him a pointed gaze, "I thought that meant you'd give me a call or something, not follow me around Gotham."

He flexed his fingers and relaxed his hand a few times, never breaking eye contact. Clover finally had to look away out of sheer discomfort.

"I prefer to carry out all my business in person, Ms. Clein. I find there's a certain charm to doing things the old fashioned way."

Clover's eye twitched, but she gave no other indication of her annoyance.

"Call me Clover please, Ms. Clein sounds so stuffy."

Apparently Nygma found something of interest in that, because he steepled his long gloved fingers together and rested his chin on them. He looked like he was getting ready to pay close, close attention.

"Tell me, Clover," She shuttered when he said her name. Maybe Ms. Clein really was better. "When did you acquire your nickname? Why not just stick with June?"

"Why should I tell you anything?" Clover shot back. She realized that she sounded like a petulant child, but she didn't care.

Nygma gave her a stern look. "Have you forgotten that I have evidence implicating you of a certain crime? A crime that will lead to you spending multiple years in a cell."

Clover's eyes widened, quickly looking around her to see if anyone had heard. Nygma chuckled under his breath. She looked so cute when she panicked.

Clover shot him a glare as she finally calmed down. "Okay fine. I'm not sure why you're so interested, but if it gets you to be quiet."

He simply gestured for her to begin, leaning back in his seat to observe her from an elevated posture. Once again, Clover was reminded of their palpable height difference.

"Well, when I was really little I got sick with meningitis. The doctors really weren't sure if I was going to make it." Clover glanced up at him, feeling very vulnerable all of a sudden. He just stared at her with that same neutral look. Clover pushed herself to continue

"When I was sick in the hospital, my brother gave me this four leaf clover he found outside. I kept it by my bedside for as long as it stayed alive. I eventually made a full recovery, even though no one had expected me to. My dad started jokingly calling me Clover after that, saying I had incredibly good luck. And well I guess it just stuck." Clover shrugged her shoulders.

She'd told the story countless times, but doing the same with Nygma just felt strange. She felt extremely vulnerable sharing personal about herself with him, no matter how insignificant the information was.

To his credit, Nygma didn't really react to her story in the malicious manner she expected. He just continued to scrutinize her with dark eyes, imaginary gears turning in his head. Clover was just about ready to break the uncomfortable silence when he spoke again.

"Tell me about your brother." He commanded, long gloved fingers idly tapping on the table.

Oh he was thinking alright. Clover was a bit nervous that Nygma had fixated on Zach so quickly, but she figured that more hesitation from her would increase his suspicion.

"Well, he's about five years older than me. He kinda looks a lot more like my mom than I do…" Clover trailed off, not quite sure what to say next. Nygma didn't prompt her, so she just began talking about his personality.

"Zach was always really into science. He used always go on and on about genetics and cells and whatnot. He kinda did sports to, but mostly as a hobby. He was definitely the prodigy in our family, even got into Princeton. He was shaping up to be a real-"

"Why use the word 'was'?" Nygma cut her off.

"What do you mean?" Clover responded with unease as she belatedly realizing her mistake.

"You keep describing him in the past tense, as if he's no longer around."

"Oh!" Clover laughed nervously. "He's not dead or anything, we just haven't talked for a while."

"Care to elaborate?" It was worded like a question, but Clover knew it was a demand.

She clenched her jaw, shooting him a glare. "I'd really rather not." He didn't seem to like that, so she attempted to redirect the conversation. "Why are you so interested in me anyways. Has it really been that long since you've talked to a girl?"

It was Nygma's turn to give her a nasty look. "Must I really explain it to you again?"

Clover wondered if glaring competitions were a thing, because she had definitely just entered one. "Oh yes, please enlighten me oh intelligent one."

Nygma ignored her sarcasm, moving his face closer to hers. Clover would've moved back if she'd been feeling like her usual self, but she held her ground instead. He was close enough that she could reach out and rip his glasses off his face if she really wanted to. Oh boy was that thought tempting.

"Allow me to enlighten you then, Clover." There it was again. The way he said it was unlike anything she'd ever heard before. Clover hated it.

"You are the embodiment of the average citizen. On the surface you are a naive little girl who has had the misfortune of being thrown in over your head too many times to count. You blush and you tremble as if you are entirely naive to this cruel life that festers in Gotham. You just work at your cute little job, just barely getting by, struggling to pay your poor ol' dad's medical bills."

Clover was getting pretty sick of him knowing her private information, but didn't have time to interject before he carried on.

"I am an excellent judge of character, and I saw you for exactly what you are, or what I thought you were, all those months ago. By all accounts it was clear to me that you were nothing more than a speck of light waiting to be snuffed out in the collapsing star that is Gotham."

Clover glanced down at his clenched fists, wondering if he hear the tight stretching sound of leather as they contracted. She decided to stare at them rather than look into his burning eyes.

"But, and I am loathe to admit this, I was wrong. Yes, you are all of those things, but you are also the exact opposite. You're self serving, and yet you work ungodly hours at Lee's clinic. You are a coward, but you continue to come to a place that frightens you. You're ignorant, but continue to meddle in things you don't understand. You have morals, and yet you'd rob a bank blind. For every cliche, overly predictable action you take, you mirror it with the exact opposite."

Clover shook her head in vehement denial. The man was a lunatic and had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. She wouldn't let herself be caught up in the words of someone who was certifiably insane.

"And that is why I'm so interested in unlocking your secrets. It's so rare that I find a puzzle, a paradox such as you, that challenges my intellect. I won't lie, despite how droll you are, you fascinate me."

Clover gave him a wide eyed look, struggling not to give away the trembling of her hands. In no way did she view his underhanded compliment towards her in a flattering light, but those words, "you fascinate me," spurred an uncomfortable beating in her chest. Accompanied by the enrapturing look in his eyes, the undefinable emotion sweltering beneath the surface of her skin was threatening to spill out like lava from a volcano. The feeling was itching to be acknowledged, but she refused to at this moment in time. Clover quickly searched for anything to latch onto, anything to distract her from the torturous mix of fear and excitement swarming inside her. Luckily, her mind was just able to come up with some meager defense against his tirade.

'He's so used to knowing everything, but he doesn't know me. He's determined to figure me out, which means that he'll keep me around as long as I'm a mystery to him.'

That meant she couldn't show her cards right away. The quicker she gave away information, the sooner her usefulness would pass. It would be hard with the blackmail he was holding over her head, but Clover would have to find a way to prolong their encounters. As much as she hated the idea of spending more time around him, maybe he would eventually give up and leave her alone. It was unlikely, but her best option by far. But how was she going to keep him from asking her every single question he had at once.?

An idea popped into Clover's head. She smoothed her hands, still minutely shaking, down her legs in an attempt to calm herself. Perhaps if she could be just clever enough, she'd make it out of this ordeal with her sanity intact.

"Well that was... a lot." She said dumbly. Nygma glanced up at her, giving her the go ahead to continue whatever she had to say.

Clover laid things out rationally in her mind. Nygma was an egotistical sociopath with a compulsive personality. Once he was set on something, he was going to see it through. What was the only thing she offer in order to throw him off his tracks? The same thing that engrossed all men. Talking about themselves.

"So since I so obligingly answered your questions, how about we talk a little about you?"