Two brothers grow up together, never realizing that one will become a renowned psychopath, while the other becomes an assassin for hire. What secrets do they hold, and how will they react when reun...
READ THE AUTHOR'S NOTE BEFORE PROCEEDING.
A/N: This story is a Red Eye/Batman Begins crossover, but don't worry: if you haven't seen Batman Begins, you'll still be able to understand what was going on.
This story started out as an assignment in my writing class. The instructions were to take an antagonist or minor character from a film, book, or TV show and give him or her a backstory. Well, I couldn't decided between my two favorite villains (coincidentally played by the same actor), Jonathan Crane and Jackson Rippner. So I decided to do both. But how could I incorporate two characters from such different worlds into one story?
That's when I hit on the idea of them being brothers.
The story is a series of vignettes, based on a very twisted, very strange childhood shared by these two characters. As I developed the story, I decided to include scenes from their adult life as well.
Here is the only warning that I'm going to give readers: I don't do warnings. If something controversial, potentially disturbing, or just plain out frightening is going to be featured, than I'm not going to tell you ahead of time. If you are of faint heart or weak stomach, this is not the story for you. There are going to be lots of things people won't like in upcoming chapters, so that's why I asked you to read the author's note now. And if you didn't? At least I tried to warn you.
A Twisted Kind of Brotherhood
The Strength That Comes From Selling Your Soul
Jonathan was called Scarecrow even when he was very young, when his father would send him out into the backyard to scare away the birds. He'd run through the grass, arms outstretched, screaming loudly as a flurry of feathers hurried to get out of his way. By the time he had returned to the back door, sweating and out of breath, his father would be in a fit of hearty laughter. "Good job, Scarecrow," he'd wheeze between chuckles as Jonathan collected his breath.
He hated it when his father called him that. Whenever that name left his lips, Jonathan wanted to run up to him, kicking, hitting, flailing, and screaming, "Don't call me that, you fat pig! Never call me that again!" But Jonathan was smart enough not to live out these fantasies. He knew that no good would come of it. So Jonathan would content himself with fantasizing about putting an end to his father's taunting, comforting himself with images of his father cowering in fear before him.
Jonathan was a master of fear: he enjoyed being afraid, and he took pleasure in watching the fear of others. He became enamored with all things frightening at a very young age, when he realized just how scared of the dark young children could be. He cowered whenever he was left in a dark room alone, and it both scared him and thrilled him. Perhaps that was why he hated it when his father called him "Scarecrow": to Jonathan, the title was one that demanded respect and fear. And Jackson was the only one who respected Jonathan and scared him half to death.
Jonathan and Jackson were brothers, but that was only part of their relationship. They were confidantes, rivals, friends, enemies, and fellow tormentors. Needless to say, theirs was a rather bizarre camaraderie. Only with them could you nearly kill one another, then go on acting as though nothing had happened. In fact, that was generally how things went in their household.
Jonathan could still remember vividly the time that Jackson stole his inhaler before inducing an asthma attack. Jonathan recalled rolling on the floor, gasping for air until his face turned purple, with Jackson standing above him with his inhaler dangling from his fingers. It wasn't until Jonathan was on the brink of unconsciousness that the Jackson had relented, smiling as Jonathan took frenzied puffs from the inhaler.
The next day, Jonathan had waited for Jackson to come home from school, then knocked him unconscious with a baseball bat. He'd tied Jackson to a chair before leaving him outside, in the middle of January, wearing nothing but a T-shirt and jeans as snowflakes began to fall from the sky. Jonathan watched him from inside, using a timer to gauge the number of minutes it would take Jackson to free himself.
Exactly 23 minutes later, Jackson stood before him, cold, shivering, tired, and out of breath. "Good one," he'd panted. "I'll have to try that sometime."
Theirs was not a usual sibling relationship.
Jonathan remembered the first time Jackson took him out into the woods for one of his "experiments". Jonathan had been 6, Jackson had been eight. For the most part, these experiments involved dissecting dead animals Jackson had found in the forest surrounding their house. Jackson, being older, would bring Jonathan with him to show him all the different ways to take apart animal corpses.
During that first excursion, Jackson had showed him a dead raccoon lying beneath a tree. "See him?" Jackson poked the cadaver with a stick. "My guess is he got half-eaten by something. From the look of the bite marks, it was probably a wolf or a coyote." Jonathan frowned. "How do you know all that?" Jackson had arched an eyebrow and smiled. "What do you think I do when I'm out here? Play hide and seek with myself?" Jonathan shrugged, and Jackson chuckled. "I'd have thought you, of all people, wouldn't be squeamish about a dead animal."
Jonathan had rolled his eyes. "Please." He took a kitchen knife out of his back pocket before proceeding to pick apart the raccoon.
Their parents were never aware of what exactly their sons were doing when they weren't home. Mr. and Mrs. Crane were always out of the house: Mr. Crane was busy with his work at construction sites, and Mrs. Crane was busy doing who-knows-what all day. From when they were very little, Jackson and Jonathan were left alone for most of the day, which was when they developed their cruel games of torture.
Jackson and Jonathan had earned something of a reputation in their neighborhood. By the time they were out of elementary school, people made a point of avoiding the Crane brothers. Jackson had a tendency for warped cruelty from his very first days at school, and he remained a social outcast from then on. When Jonathan had started school himself, all of his classmates had heard rumors about his brother and knew well enough to stay away from him.
Jonathan didn't mind, though; he reveled in the thought that he inspired so much fear among his peers.
There were moments when people were foolhardy, and tried to torment the two boys beyond playground taunting. When Jackson was thirteen, a boy shoved him against a wall, calling him a freak of nature and telling Jackson to try and fight him. Jackson had promptly smashed his forehead against the boy's own, knocking him unconscious. Smiling, Jackson had walked nonchalantly away from the boy's limp form.
At another point in time, when Jonathan was only fourteen, a group of girls had made the mistake of trying to hassle him during school one day. They had stolen his backpack, then crushed his glasses under the heels of their expensive shoes. Jonathan had taken it all in stride until one Saturday night, when said group of girls were scheduled for a sleepover. At about midnight, Jonathan knocked on their front door, then watched in the shadows as the girls answered the door to find a group of smashed up porcelain dolls, each one covered in pigeon's blood (Jackson had been a big help there), with the message "You're next" scrawled on a scrap of paper. Needless to say, the girls were somewhat spooked, even more so when Jonathan made a point of appearing at the girls' window periodically, wearing a variety of horrifying masks.
The coup de grace had come when Jonathan knocked on the door again, and watched as they picked up photos that Jonathan had taken of them throughout the night. Of them screaming, crying, cowering. The back of each of the photos had a message scrawled onto it: "/From yours truly, The Scarecrow./" The looks on their faces were priceless.
Jackson had laughed when Jonathan told him about it. "Nice job, Scarecrow," he'd chuckled. "But if it had been me, I'd have set their hair on fire." Jonathan had arched an eyebrow. "Well, you never were one for subtlety."
Jackson shrugged, lying causally on his bed as he tossed darts at the opposite wall. "I guess I get it from my namesake." Jonathan laughed. "You mean Mom's great-uncle?" Jackson rolled his eyes. "Of course not. I'm talking about Jack the Ripper, dumbass."
Jonathan laughed again. "Right. You're Jack the Ripper." Jackson had frowned. "What's so funny?" "You." Jackson threw another dart at the wall, which hit the wall with a satisfying 'thunk'. "You think I couldn't do what Jack the Ripper did?"
"Okay, first of all? Jack the Ripper was a holy terror in London. You're just a backwoods hick from Tennessee. Secondly, Jack the Ripper tore apart prostitutes. The worst you've done is take apart the O'Reilly's Doberman. And thirdly? You're name's not Jack, it's Jackson."
Jackson had shrugged. "Same difference. Jackson's not too far off."
"Still, calling yourself Jack isn't going to make you Jack the Ripper."
Jackson smiled, throwing his last dart at the wall. "I could be, if I wanted to."
This statement disturbed Jonathan, and he wondered whether or not his brother was kidding. Pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, Jonathan asked, "Jackson, you're not...you're not thinking of doing anything stupid, are you?"
Jackson said nothing, worrying Jonathan all the more. "Jackson, don't think of doing something idiotic just because you think you're tough. We're lucky the neighbors aren't chasing us with pitchforks when their pets go missing..."
"Oh, like you have any right to complain. I've never seen you give a shit when you're using your kitchen knives out in the woods."
"Jackson, it's one thing when we're talking about dogs or cats..."
"Says the guy who just stalked a group of girls for three hours. And borrowed some pigeon's blood to do it, I might add." Jackson rolled over, facing his younger brother. "Since when did you care about other people, Scarecrow?"
"I'm not worried about the other people, I'm worried about you. You know that if something bad happens, they'll point fingers right at us." Jonathan frowned when Jackson said nothing. "Are you even listening?"
Jackson turned his attention back to the dart-covered wall, asking quietly, "What do you want to do when we're older?"
Jonathan blinked, not having any idea what Jackson was talking about. "What?"
"When we get older, when we're out of this house...what do you want to do?"
Jonathan shrugged, not having an answer. "We do what Dad does. We work on construction jobs."
Jackson laughed. "Yeah, right. We're weaklings and you know it. We're just scary weaklings."
"Alright, then, what are you planning to do?"
Jackson was silent for a moment before replying. "There's a guy I met in town that's offering me a job. A good one, too. It pays really well, and if I can do one assignment alright, then he'll let me work with them full time."
Jonathan frowned. "What kind of job?"
"He said he'll pay me a thousand dollars just do to one thing for him. If I do it right, he might even pay me more..."
"Yeah, but what is he asking you to /do/?"
Jackson fell silent again. Jonathan would have interrogated him further, but the sound of tires squealing alerted him to the fact that their father had arrived home, meaning that they wouldn't be able to talk openly until the morning. Jonathan glanced at his brother, eyes pleading for an answer.
Jackson merely flashed him a cocky smile, saying, "We'll talk again."
For the next few days, Jackson was nowhere to be found, which worried Jonathan. Rumors circulated through their high school that Jackson had been seen around town with a girl named Anna. Anna, apparently, was new to town, and was the niece of a Mafia honcho. Jonathan tried to hunt for Jackson, but he was nowhere to be found. He wasn't in school, and it seemed as though he wasn't even sleeping at home. Jonathan tried not to think about what he might be up to, but he couldn't stop the nagging feeling in the back of his head that something wasn't right.
Three nights later, Jonathan was bored, so he sat in his bedroom, staring at the ceiling until his vision lost focus. He would have continued to do so for hours if there hadn't been a loud rapping at his window. Confused as to what it might be, Jonathan sat up and peered out his window to see Jackson, looked harried and out-of breath.
Jonathan ran outside. Seeing that Jackson was sweaty, out of breath, and slightly bloody, Jonathan asked him, "Where the hell have you been? What the hell is going on?"
Trying to catch his breath, Jackson panted, "No time...to explain...I ran...as fast I could..." He pointed in the general direction of the woods. "You have...to help me...bury her..."
"Bury /who/? What the hell are you talking about?" Jackson grabbed Jonathan by the shoulders, clearly trying to look in control of the situation. "Jonathan...don't ask questions. You just...just help me out, okay?" If Jonathan hadn't known Jackson better, he'd have sworn he was pleading.
Jonathan swallowed hard. "O-okay."
Jackson led him by the hand about fifty feet into the woods, where something large and bloody was badly concealed by a large amount of leaves. Clearing the leaves away, Jackson looked pale and shaken. When the leaves had been cleared away, Jonathan nearly threw up.
"Jackson, you...you /didn't/..."
Underneath the leaves was Anna's bloody corpse, staring at them with wide, frightened eyes. Her throat had obviously been slit, and Jonathan only needed to glance at Jackson to see the guilt on his face.
"I told you that a guy offered me a job. He offered me a thousand dollars to kill her for him." Jonathan noticed that Jackson wouldn't look him in the eye, that all he seemed to be able to focus on was Anna's dead body. "I don't know why he wanted me to. I don't really care. I got the job done, that's all that matters."
Jonathan stared at him, wide-eyed, not knowing what to say or think or feel. Jackson ignored him, grabbing Anna's body by its arms. "Help me bring her to the backyard. We can bury her there." Jonathan nodded numbly before grabbing Anna's legs and helping Jackson carry her to the backyard.
A few minutes later, Jonathan was crouched in their backyard, staring at Anna's corpse while Jackson rummaged through their shed, looking for a shovel. Numbly staring at the corpse, Jonathan stated quietly, "I thought about what you said last night."
Jackson stopped rummaging for a minute. "Thought about what?"
"The question you asked. About what I'd do once we left here." He paused. "I thought I might make a good doctor. Or a surgeon or something. Hell, you taught me everything about cutting up animals, so I might as well get paid for it."
Jackson smiled a little. "You'd have fun as a shrink. Scare the hell out of your patients."
Jonathan laughed slightly. "Yeah." He took off his glasses, hoping that his vision would be so blurry as to remove the image of a corpse lying in front of him. "It'll never happen, but it's a fun thought."
Jackson came out from the shed, carrying one shovel in each hand. He tossed one to Jonathan. "Here. We need to hurry, before anyone figures..."
Jackson was cut off by the sound of gravel crunching and a revved engine slowly dying. Jonathan realized with a start that their father was home.
"Boys? Jonathan? Jackson? Where the hell are ya?"
Jonathan looked at Jackson. "We have to go. /Now./" He grabbed his brother's wrist, preparing to run for the forest, but Jackson stayed put, staring at Anna's corpse. Panicking, Jonathan hissed, "Forget her, Jackson, we have to get out of here."
Jackson turned to him, and Jonathan noticed how cold and stony his eyes had become. "No." He stated it calmly, as thought it were an irrefutable fact. Jonathan stood there helplessly, until their father's footsteps alerted them to his presence. They turned their heads towards their father, who was gaping at them and at the dead body lying at their feet.
"What...how..." The surprise in his eyes slowly turned to anger, and Jonathan turned to Jackson, his eyes pleading with him to just run now.
Jackson ignored his brother as he calmly pulled a small pistol from his waistband. Before Jonathan could even comprehend what was going on, Jackson had pulled the trigger and fired three shots at their father. As their father fell to the ground, blood forming a lake around his body, Jackson replaced the pistol with the same look of calm with which he'd removed it.
Jonathan, for his part, was horrified. "Oh crap...oh shit...you..." Jonathan tried to continue speaking, but a wave of nausea overcame him. He fell to the ground, throwing up the contents of his stomach onto the lawn. Jackson did nothing, simply staring at the two bodies lying on the grass.
Jonathan weakly sat up, still feeling sick to his stomach. Desperately, he tried to wrap his mind around what he'd just seen: his brother taking out a pistol and shooting his father. His mind replayed it for him, over and over again, but he just couldn't accept it as truth. Feebly, Jonathan looked up at his stony-faced brother.
"We should get to work. It'll take even longer to bury two bodies."
"Jackson, where...where did you get that?"
"The gun. Where the hell did you get that?"
Jackson said nothing. He just cocked the gun and walked up to Jonathan, stating quite calmly, "Anna's parents are going to notice she's missing eventually. And they're going to figure out who did it. Now, I need to know: are you gonna help me or not?"
A long pause ensued, with the two brothers staring at each other as though truly seeing each other for the first time. Several seconds passed before Jonathan finally nodded. "Alright...I'll help you. But on one condition."
"And what's that?"
"Give me the gun. Now."
Jackson considered this for a moment, looking at Jonathan and then staring at the gun. After a few seconds, he relented, handing the pistol to his younger brother. "Here."
Jonathan stared at it for a moment, before putting it in his jacket pocket. "Alright...so what do we do now?" Jonathan looked up at his brother, expecting to hear some sort of plan come from his lips. Instead, his brother seemed to be staring past him towards something near the side of the house. Curious, Jonathan turned around to see what his brother was so intent on looking at.
Standing by the side of the house was their mother, looking at them with a horrified expression on her face, her mouth trying desperately to form words. The blood immediately drained from Jonathan's face as he realized that she must have been in the car with their father when he came home. Before either brother could say anything, their mother began screaming bloody murder, staring at their father's corpse with unbelieving eyes.
As their mother stood there screaming, a thousand thoughts passed through Jonathan's mind in a single second. The way she was screaming, someone would hear her and come to investigate. If they did, they would know that Jackson had killed Anna and their father, and if that happened...
Without even thinking, Jonathan reached for the gun and pulled the trigger, shutting his eyes tightly as he could. When he the screaming continued, he shot again and again and again, not letting himself open his eyes. After a few more seconds, Jonathan dropped the gun, knowing without even looking that his mother was dead. Sure enough, when he pried open his eyes, his mother lay on the ground, blood seeping out her lifeless form.
Jackson turned Jonathan, a cold glint in his eye. "Nice job, Scarecrow."
Jonathan, shaking like a leaf in the wind, glared at his brother with hard eyes. "Don't talk to me."
Jackson was silent, watching his brother before looking at the three dead bodies on the lawn. A long pause ensued before Jackson murmured, "The guy who hired me is waiting in town. If the body's not taken care of in an hour, he's gonna leave without me."
Jonathan, still angry at his brother and himself, glowered at Jackson as he replied, "So what the hell are we supposed to do then?"
"We? We do nothing." Jackson clamped his hand down on his brother's wrist, then twisted his arm behind his back, forcing Jonathan to drop the gun. Jackson picked it up quickly, then pointed it at his brother. "/I/, on the other hand, have to take care of all the bodies."
Jonathan stared at him, wide-eyed. "Jackson...Jackson, you wouldn't.."
Jonathan blinked. "What?"
"Just go! Go somewhere, anywhere, but just get out of here!"
Jonathan stared at his brother, not quite sure what to say. "Jackson..."
Jackson cocked the gun, still aiming it at his brother. "Go now, or I swear I'll kill you next!"
And with that, Jonathan ran, not looking back once to see his sixteen year-old brother and the three dead bodies lying in their yard.
For the next two hours, Jonathan hid in the woods, not daring to leave them for fear of what he might find. His mind raced with all the things that could possibly be happening back at the house, what with Jackson obviously having lost his mind. But when he thought too hard about it, Jonathan would squeeze his eyes shut and will himself not to think about it.
After about two hours, though, Jonathan's curiosity began to get the best of him. He knew that Jackson had told him to leave, but he couldn't help but wonder what was going on back home. Quietly, he made his way closer to his house, resolving to go as close as he could to his house without actually leaving the woods.
About a half a mile from his house, however, he began to smell smoke.
Heart pounding, Jonathan began walking faster towards his house. As the scent of ashes grew stronger, Jackson began jogging, eventually breaking a full-fledged run. He tried to reassure himself, telling himself that things couldn't possibly get any worse than they already were...
That was when he left the forest and saw that his house was engulfed in flames. A large red fire truck was hosing down the house, but it didn't seem to be helping. At other spots, firemen were shooting separate hoses, while others just stood there doing nothing.
Jonathan, eyes wide, looked around feverishly. Where was Jackson? Where were the bodies? Why were those men just /standing there/?
Jonathan ran towards his house, desperately looking for any sign of his brother. One of the firemen spotted him, however, and grabbed him before he could get too close. "Whoa, whoa! What the hell do y'think you're doin', kid?"
"My brother...my brother...is he inside? I have to find..."
"Whoa, whoa, slow down. Who are you? Is this your house?"
"Yes, this is my house! Where's Jackson? What the hell-?"
"Kid..." The fireman's expression softened, and Jonathan realized with a start what had happened.
Jonathan stepped backwards, shaking his head in denial while the fireman looked on in pity. "No...no, it...it couldn't have..."
"Kid, they're all dead. We sent some guys in, and all they found were a bunch of dead bodies." He put his hand on Jonathan's shoulder. "I'm real sorry, kid."
Jonathan said nothing. He wanted to scream at him, to say that this was all his fault, that he'd already known that his parents were dead, that he shouldn't have left Jackson alone with them, that he should have done something to stop him when he'd first started acting weird...
Instead, he just stood there, staring at the man in front of him, and a feeling of numbness swept over him.
A few hours later, Jonathan sat in the police station lobby, hunched over and silent. One of the police officers had brought him cup of hot cocoa, which had made Jackson feel like a little kid stuck playing grown-up. He had said nothing, though, but merely murmured his thanks to the officer.
Try as he might, Jonathan had difficulty accepting the news of his brother's death. To him, it seemed so pointless. Jackson had been doing his best to get away, to cover up what had happened to Anna. Hell, he'd even killed their father in the process. And for what? To die in a house fire? Knowing the dumb bastard, he'd probably been trying to burn the bodies and had set himself on fire instead. It all seemed so stupid, when he'd even killed two people just trying to get away.
And Jonathan had killed their mother...
Jonathan shuddered, repressing that memory as best he could. There was nothing he could do about it now, no way to redeem himself ever again. And he'd done it to save a stupid son of a bitch who'd promptly gone and gotten himself killed. The idiot.
Jonathan snapped out of his reverie when he realized that one of the officers was trying to talk to him.
"Well, we've inspected the house as best we could, but there's not much to go on. Our guess is that it was arson. The bodies are burned to the point of being almost unrecognizable, so our guess is that someone dumped gasoline directly on them before lighting them up. Then the blaze spread to the rest of the house." The officer stared at Jonathan intently, so that Jonathan had to look away and stare at his drink.
"Do you have any idea who might have done this?"
/Jackson/. "No. I don't know."
The officer nodded. "Alright." He adjusted his cap before looking back at Jonathan, who refused to look anywhere but the floor, in the hopes that he might disappear. "I know this is a difficult thing to ask you to do right now, but we need you to identify the bodies. It's standard procedure in a case like this."
Jonathan nodded numbly. "Yeah, sure." He stood up, and began following the police officer, bracing himself for seeing his parents' dead bodies, as well as the bodies of Jackson and Anna.
The officer pushed open the door slowly, then turned to Jackson. "All three bodies are in there. Just go in, and tell us which one belongs to who."
Jackson was about to nod and mutter something agreeable, when he stopped. "Wait...three bodies?"
The police officer frowned. "Yeah, your parents and your brother. Is something the matter?"
Jonathan quickly shook his head. "No...no, nothing's wrong." Inwardly, Jonathan felt his heart race, and he tried to quell it as best he could. But if there were only three bodies...
When Jonathan wandered in, the three bodies were covered in sheets. The officer rolled back the sheets for one, exposing the badly charred face of Mr. Crane. Jonathan nodded quickly, not wanting to linger as memories of his sudden death emerged in Jackson's mind. "That's Dad." The officer nodded before replacing the sheet and moving on to the second body, whose bleached hair was obviously the property of Mrs. Crane. Jonathan shuddered, remembering the cold feel of the gun in his hand, then the sharp scent of gunpowder that was released as he squeezed the trigger. "That's my mom," Jonathan murmured quietly.
The officer nodded again before replacing the sheet and moving on to the third body, rolling the sheet up so that Jonathan could only see as far as the body's upper chest.
Jonathan peered at the body. It had definitely been badly scorched. All of the hair had burned away, and the chest was an unholy wreck. The shoulders were mauled open, and face was almost completely destroyed. The only thing recognizable was a large pair of brown eyes, which immediately told Jonathan that it was Anna's body that he was staring at.
"Yeah," He murmured. "Yeah, that's Jackson."
Thirteen years later, Jonathan smirked calmly at a man cowering beneath him wearing a straightjacket. In one hand, he held a rather eerie mask made of burlap; in the other, he held a canister filled with a highly toxic, weaponized hallucinogen. "Well, Mr. Collins, I'm glad that you decided to participate in this little experiment. I'm sure it must have been unpleasant, so I thank you for your cooperation."
The man writhed within his straightjacket, unable to escape its binds as he muttered to himself, "Scarecrow...Scarecrow..."
Jonathan smiled. "Well, I suppose that'll end our session."
Making his way out of his patient's room, he turned to his secretary. "Leave a message for Ms. Dawes. Tell her that Mr. Collins has yet to improve, so I stand by my previous statement about his treatment."
The secretary nodded. "Sure thing, Dr. Crane."
Gathering his papers in his arms, Jonathan made his way out into the hall, preparing to leave work for the day. After placing his papers in his briefcase, he closed the lid and made his way towards the exit. He had almost made it out of the building when he was stopped by a squirrelly man wearing a lab coat.
"Dr. Crane! Dr. Crane!"
Jonathan mentally winced. It was Wendell again. Ever since Jonathan had been promoted to head of Arkham Asylum, Wendell had been trying desperately to suck up to him in order to win some favors. So far, all his efforts had done was earn him Jonathan's irritation.
Wendell scurried up to Jonathan, grinning toothily as though they were old friends. "How's the patient, Doc?" Again, Jonathan inwardly winced, this time at Wendell's awfully chummy nickname. "Mr. Collins has yet to improve, so I'm hoping that we'll be able to keep him here at Arkham until he's on the path to rehabilitation. I would hate to see him transferred back to prison when it's obvious that he's still in need of intensive care."
Wendell nodded, obviously not having paid attention to a word of what Jonathan had said. Irritation mounting, Jonathan asked him, "Is there anything you needed to speak to me about?"
Wendell shook his head. "Just figured I'd catch up with you, see how things were." Wendell licked his lips and shot Jonathan a toothy smile, which always meant that he was about to launch into some long-winded story as part of Wendell's desperate attempts at chumminess with his boss.
"So, did you hear about that guy they captured down in Miami?"
Jonathan, knowing full well that he'd hear about him no matter what he said, replied, "No, I haven't."
Wendell smiled, and Jonathan braced himself for a monologue. "This guy tried to kill one of the President's advisors- he's in Homeland Security or some other shit -and he gets caught. He was trying to ram a missile at this guy while he's staying at a hotel. Even creepier, his name's something like Jackson Rippner or something like that."
Jonathan, who had been barely listening, perked up when he heard Wendell mention the name 'Jackson'. "Really now? Is that so?"
"Yeah, he must've had fucked up parents, right? But that's not even the scary part. What happened was, this guy gets locked in a room with three cops in a jail cell. He's handcuffed to his chair. Not to mention that he's been stabbed in the leg, the neck, and shot twice. There's no windows in the room, and only one door. Well, he gets locked in this room with the three cops so they can interrogate him, and nothing happens for a while. About an hour and a half later, somebody goes in to check on all of them. They find three dead cops, and a message on the wall: 'We'll talk again.' Spooky, huh?"
Jonathan nodded slowly, absorbing this information. "I see..." He turned back to the other doctor. "Well, in any case, Dr. Howards, I'm leaving for the day. I suppose we'll have to chat some other time."
Wendell nodded, seeming to be disappointed. "Well, if that's the case..."
Walking out of the building, Jonathan made his way towards a newspaper stand, suddenly feeling like the fourteen year-old boy who had realized that his house was on fire. Spotting a newspaper vending machine, he fed it two quarters and ripped a copy of the paper from it. Reading hungrily, the front page article stated:
"Miami police are currently searching for a man named 'Jackson Rippner', who is now accused with murder , attempted murder..." The mug shot showed a man in his late twenties, with piercing blue eyes and a sardonic grin that Jonathan couldn't help but match. After all of these years, Jackson didn't seem to have changed much to Jonathan. Stuffing the newspaper in his pocket, Jonathan made his way to his car, smiling all the way.
And thus, the Scarecrow entered the darkness of the night, grinning from ear to ear.