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The cycle of pain

Chapter Text

When the Joker went feral, there was always someone who would willingly stand be him. Who would do anything for him, even if it meant working against the own benefit. Someone willing to bring huge sacrifices and win fights, if not wars, just for him.

Of course it must be Harleen Quinzel, also known as Harley Quinn. It was widely known how the Joker had the poor, naive girl in his hand. That there was nothing in the world he could do to lose her. Well that wasn’t the truth. Actually it were two, the only difference being that one of them got to be known as ‚Jokers girlfriend‘. The two partners in crime sticking together like nothing else, they seemed inseperable almost. They would go through fires and the coldest of waters for each other. Or better said, one would do that fort he other, who would leave them behind without blinking, if push came to shove.

Until one day a quiet little rumor made its way through the Legion of doom. Just a little truth, that sounded like the biggest and stupidest lie someone could come up with right on the spot. Although nobody believed it at first, it spread like a wild fire. Everyone who heard it, would tell his colleagues, family, friends, pets, anything that had ears. And one day a certain rogue known as the master of fear heard of it.
At first he, much like everybody else in this entire universe, didn’t believe it. It could just not be possible, that Harley finally rid herself of the Joker and was still alive. Both proven though by not only Jokers destroyed hideout, but also by the news confirming it, evoking an unwanted spark of hope in Scarecrow, that made his heart beat faster. Finally had his chance arriven. He could finally be with the Joker! After all those years!

The Legion of doom didn’t stay quiet though, as he was taunted and teased for his alleged crush on the Clown prince of crime. Of course he denied it and told them how silly they acted, but he was open with Two face and bane, as they were his best friends in the whole legion of doom. He expressed his excitement, his fear, his panic and his thoughts about the whole situation to them and they wished him luck. Two face wasn’t quite sure about this and personally didn’t think it was good for Scarecrow to be in a relationship with the murderous Clown. He had seen how Joker would talk about Crane behind his back, how he would claim that Scarecrow would do anything for him and that he could taunt and insult him as much as he pleased, Crane would forgive him. Joker would also get purposely close to him just to get an often embarassed and flustered reaction from him, for which the other Legion of doom members would laugh at him and tease him even more. Two face didn’t like it at all, when they did that to Scarecrow or a friend in general and would try to get him out of these situations as good as he could, by chatting him up, distract him or just simply tell the Joker to fuck off.
Banes reaction was a whole lot different. He was happy and excited for his friend. He really hoped Crane could finally get what he had wanted so long.

Things got even better for Scarecrow, when the Joker asked him to stay in his hideout, since his own had been destroyed. Without hesitating he agreed and couldn’t help but feel the butterflies in his stomach raging up a literal storm.

Chapter Text

„It could have been better, it could have been worse“

No other words could describe Jonathan Cranes current Situation better. It took him a while to adjust to Joker now temporarily living with him, especially because of the Jokers unfamiliar and certainly wild lifestyle. He was often loud and tried to get on Scarecrows nerves by sneaking into his lab and bothering him while he worked. Joker often succeeded in distracting him and getting all of Cranes attention towards him and he rarely had to do something big. Ever since Harley had left him he was basically starving for attention and unconditional admiration and Scarecrow was just right for that.
Sure he could have stayed at literally any other rogues hideout. Mr. Freeze? Cold for sure, but not impossible. Bane? No question at all, that mountain of muscles was such a pushover. Two Face? That would have been a hard one, but he would have come around eventually, they all did.
But Scarecrow was by far the easiest, since he had this incredibly obvious crush on the Joker for years. And now it was time to savor it.

Scarecrows hideout didn’t quite match Jokers expectations, but to be fair, he thought the scrawny Scarecrow would live in a barn at best. He did not expect a giant labor, experiment rooms and unholy amounts of toxins of all kinds, syringes and high-tech machines. Crane later told him, that this area was only for bigger projects and they would stay at his personal living space.
Still not quite matching the Jokers expectation but getting closer he looked around Scarecrows hidout. The floor was wooden but didn’t creak and didn’t have loose floor boards. The walls had a muddy orange color, which was with covered in notes, scribbles, plans and other papers. Joker could imagine Scarecrow ranting on and on about plans, ideas and the flaws and mistakes each of them had while having a mental breakdown. It put a smile on his face, which only grew wider when he realized, that he could now witness it live. There were also a few rooms connected to the living room only seperated by doors without lables. Joker made a mental note to go check them out after being done here, if Crane didn’t choose to make a whole Tour.
The room had also multiple jack-o-lanterns scattered, each of them having a creative and unique face carved into them. A few of them even stood around the unsurprisingly present lab space, no doubt, that some of them were filled with fear gas. Joker saw multible empty mugs of coffee too, wondering how many cups of coffee one man could survive.

„Uhh, sorry about this whole mess, visitors are something I usually avoid“, said Scarecrow, interrupting the Jokers train of thought and breaking the silence.

„Oohh, no need to be ashamed of your hideout, baghead, it matches you and your spooky farmboy nerd appearance perfectly“, answered the Joker speaking in his exaggerated Clown voice as usual, looking at Scarecrow for any sort of reaction, which he of course got.

Scarecrow stiffened slightly and put his hand at the back of his head, clearly bothered by the nickname and his so called ,,spooky farmboy nerd appearance‘‘, but didn’t mention nor dwell on it for too long.

„Yeah, right… Anyways I don’t really have any guest rooms, but you can take my room. I don’t sleep very often and if I do it’s mostly just passing out on the floor or couch at best. But you probably have noticed that already.“

A smirk made it’s way onto Jokers face before he said in a mocking tone: „Aw, what a pity, and I was looking forward to sharing a room with my favorite Scarecrow.“

Despite his mask, Cranes face spoke for itself, slight embarassment clearly visible on his face. The Jokers smirk grew into a grin as he saw an opportunity arise.

„O-oh, uh, well I’m-‘‘, before he could stammer a response, Joker cut him off.

„Now that I actually think about it, why the hell not?! We can share your room! Nothing bad about being roommates with a fellow villain buddy! What do you say? Yes?“, the Joker yelled in an overexcited voice, not letting Scarecrow progress what in god’s name he just said and if he had heard him right by stepping closer towards him and practically leaning over him, making Crane flustered and uncomfortable.

The pressure of the situation was lifted of him as he heard one of his henchmen tell him through the speaker, that he had a visitor. Although Scarecrow was in the back of his mind confused, he did not hesitate to take several big steps away from the Joker and towards the door to let his visitor in.
The Joker straightened his posture, his smile fading a little as he looked at Crane, being bitter, that this wonderful moment had ended and Scarecrows attention wasn’t on him anymore.

„I didn’t know you were expecting guests, I thought I would be special“, said Joker trying to sound mocking and not as upset as he really was.

„Me neither“, replied Scarecrow in a low voice, not really intending for Joker to hear it.

„What did you say?“

„Nothing, just not happy with the incompetent work of these lousy henchmen“, he lied, not fully believing Joker would be satisfied with that answer.

Distracting himself from the kind of awkward situation, he activated the screen for the securitiy cameras so they could see who it was. To Scarecrows pleasent surprise it was Two face, one of his best friends, who was currently having a small argument with a henchman, who insisted Harvey had to put everything that contained metal off, including his special coin.
Crane had told his henchmen countless of times, that they could make an exception for Bane and Two face, but of course they didn’t listen. Via speaker he told his incompetent employee to let Harvey pass or else and turned to the Joker with an almost apologetic smile.

„Sorry, those henchmen, right?“, he said a bit sheepishly.

„Oh, tell me about it! I swear those losers don’t understand simple a instruction even i fit bit their nose off!“, the Joker cackled now being in a better mood. Scarecrow smiled this time more confident and amused before he gave a small chuckle.
They heard a small knock on the door, before it was swung open and Two face entered, an annoyed look resting on his face but fighting with a bemused smile, which promised no sour mood.

„God, what a drama they make for one little coi-“, Harvey began but cut off immediately when his gaze fell upon the Joker, who gave him the biggest smile he could muster, which almost seemed impossible. Two faces smile fell in no time as the annoyed expression won the fight and distrust formed in his eyes.

„What the fuck is the clown doing here, Jon?“, his deep voice spoke in a tone that wasn’t yelling but neither calm or toned down, it sounded more demanding.

„Happy to see you and your other half too, Harvey!“, the Joker retorted unphased by his voice.

„Oh, I forgot to tell you“, Scarecrow spoke up, „Joker asked me to stay at my hideout, since his own was destroyed by Harley so I agreed. Sorry, sorry, I would have told you sooner or later anyway.“

Two face hummed in response, not once taking his narrowed eyes of the Clown Prince of Crime, a hint of anger spiking his voice. His gaze became more alerted and wide when the Joker took several quick steps towards Scarecrow, before he put an arm around his shoulder. Crane did not protest in any way, although he became a bit flustered by the close contact, the Jokers grin forming into a knowing smirk again.

„Yeah, I didn’t break in or something, I’m here because my best straw filled friend lets me stay here. How incredibly nice of him, isn’t it, Harv?“
Two face wasn’t willing to give him the satisfaction of driving him mad, but neither wanted to seem as if he was okay with this situation. He just forced a small smile, eyes still narrowed before he took Scarecrow by the arm and pulled him away from the Clown.

„Of course it is, Joker. You must be happy not to live on the streets between garbage cans and hobos like I imagined you would“, Two face answered watching as now Jokers grin grew more forced and became smaller as he gave Harvey a dirty look. „Now if you’d excuse us, but I came here for a reason. It was as always a pleasure talking to you though“

He pulled Scarecrow in his study room which was admittedly a huge library with books, not fitting in the shelves, piling up and a desk with only more books, a reading lamp, a couch and two cozy armchairs in front of a fireplace. In the center of the seating area was a small table with unsurprisingly more books. Two face knew this place all too well, since Scarecrow, Bane and himself would sometimes spend their evenings together there, either squished together on the couch or Two face and Crane sitting in the armchairs with Bane having the whole couch to himself.

„What in Gods name are you thinking, to let Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime and biggest asshole towards you, live in your hideout?!“, Harvey whisper-yelled at Scarecrow, not fully knowing if Joker was spying on them. Crane was more than taken aback by his not-really-question.

„What do you mean by this? Don’t you approve of him living here?“, Scarecrow replied still irritated.

„No! Or course not! This is dangerous, you can’t let Joker live with you, he could find out your plans, attack you or worse! He can’t be trusted, especially because of the way he treats you!“

„You said, you would be okay with it, if I were in a relationship with him, so why do you think it’s such a bad idea to have him live with me?“

I never said, I were okay with it. I wished you luck and hoped the best for you, but having the man, who abused his ex-girlfriend for years live with you directly after the breakup, after which he might be a little unstable? Might be just me, but that does not sound like a good idea at all.“, Harvey retorted, his hushed voice becoming a bit louder at the end.
Scarecrow stared at him unbelievingly like he could not or didn’t want to process, what Two face just said. None of the two men was in the mood for a fight, but while Harvey would do it, i fit meant to protect his friend, he would fight a whole war on his own.
But after seeing Scarecrow averting his gaze with a sad and almost pleading expression, he softened a little and his voice turning into a soft and quiet tone.

„Hey, I just don’t want you to get hurt, okay? Do you really think this is a good idea?“

Crane let out a small sigh before he looked in Harveys eyes again.
„I don’t know. Look, this might be a stupid stunt to do this, but I didn’t wait for so long just to miss my shot. It seemed like the right thing to do so I just listened to my heart. I am aware that you’re worried about me, but I swear, I’ll be fine, you just have to trust me on this one. Please, just do it for me, okay?“, he said a small reassuring smile forming on his lips as he gave Two face a hopeful look.
Harvey let out a reluctant sigh before he nodded hesitately.

„Okay, I trust you. I was just scared, that you cannot defend yourself when push comes to shove.“

Scarecrow huffed, his soft look forming into a bemused frown.
„Not able to defend myself? Me? Uh, excuse me, I am the master of fear, my friend. I can bring terror into anyones heart. Do not forget that.“, he laughed.
Two face also broke into a light chuckle, his mood being lifted. They just enjoyed the moment for a while, two old friends laughing, before Scarecrow remembered something.

„Why did you come here in the first place?“, he asked happy to change the topic, but didn’t dwell on it. Harvey smiled at him, his posture relaxing.

„Oh, I just thought we could spend the evening together, since I don’t really have any plans and Bane went to his favorite bar to see the game at gotham stadion tonight. And you know sports aren’t really my thing. But I think I’ll leave, because you seem to have a certain clown as your guest.“
Two face was ready to leave, but Scarecrow stopped him and looked up to him.

„Wait! You don’t have to go, you can stay. I mean, it’d be nice to not spend the first night of Joker living here alone with him. I want to be prepared.“

Now Harvey had two options:
To go and leave Scarecrow alone with Joker tonight and enjoy his night without the annoying Clown.
Or stay and watch out for Scarecrow and sacrifice his last nerve by enduring the Clown the whole night.
There was really no question there, if he was completely honest.

„Sure, I’ll stay“

Chapter Text

In Scarecrows opinion, the evening went good enough and by good enough, he meant he succeeded in stopping Two face from smashing the Jokers head with a chair, which was admittedly a close one.
They spent the night drinking, talking and playing games of cards, Harvey being 100% sure Joker cheated at least 9 times each round. Crane didn’t care much about it though, he wasn’t an expert at it, like Joker and Two face were. Joker tried to have them all bet, but at that point Harvey was done with the Jokers shit, the alcohol not doing anything good in that situation either, which led to another incident, this time with one of the jack-o-lanterns.

Scarecrow had never been this grateful for morning to arrive amd had a feeling Joker and Two face felt the same way. He made himself and his guests coffee putting three mugs and various sorts of milk and sugar on the kitchen counter, sitting down on one of the bar stools around it and pouring himself some while waiting for his visitors to arrive.
Harvey was the first one to show up, his facial expression telling a the story of a nightmare like hangover. Crane immediately handed him pills against head ache, he got from the cabinet in the bathroom, already expecting to see him like that.
He himself held back when it came to drinking, not wanting to risk any unpleasent incidents in his drunken and automatically more controlless state.

„Good morning, Harvey. You look tired, didn’t sleep very well?“, Scarecrow asked keeping an innocent tone in his voice, the hint of mockery well disguised, but that didn’t fool Two face.

„Oh fuck off, you try sleeping on the floor between your piles of books“, he said a small smile present on his lips.

Scarecrow chuckled in response. „I have two couches and one bed, you didn’t have to do that.“

„Well, drunk problems call for dumb solutions.“

They continued their small chat until Joker showed up, his make up surprisingly still fit, although a bit smudged, but it didn’t seem to bother him. Instead he went straight for his coffee, which Scarecrow had already prepared. Because of countless encounters in the Legion of domm kitchenette, he knew Jokers drink of choice was basically sugar with a bit of coffee in it.

„Good morning, Jack. How’d you rest?“, Scarecrow asked carefully. Since Joker was the first one to give in to the alcohol, Crane had to carry him in his bedroom, which was easier said than done. Joker weighed more than he let show and stumbled the whole time, once even falling face first onto the carpet with Scarecrow having to hurl the drunk fallen Clown up again.
Joker had a small bruise visible on his chin but wasn’t too bothered about it, he just drank his coffee while grumpily responding something inaudible.

Two face left shortly after that, leaving The Clown and the Scarecrow alone to do whatever they pleased with Scarecrow saying goodbye at the door. Crane was nervous at first, since he didn’t know what to say or do, but quickly jumped over his shadow and approached the Joker, sitting down next to him.

„So what’s your plan for today?“, he asked putting his elbows on the counter and his chin in his palms, while looking at the Clown. Joker made an effort to smile before responding, letting Scarecrows heart skip a beat ever so slightly.

„Oh, I don’t know. Maybe create some plans to destroy the bat or meeting up with the architects I hired to repair my hideout.“ He hummed lowly like he was considering his options before turning to Crane. „What about you, baghead?“

„Oh“, Scarecrow let out a small chuckle, „I’ll probably be working on my fear toxin again, I have some test subjects with quite unusual phobias like Xanthophobia, the fear of the color yellow or Ovinophobia, the fear of sheep. This will be fun.“

Joker hummed again, his small smile forming into a smirk.
„But Scarecrow, your fear toxin already does it’s job perfectly fine, what other thing than entertainment do you gain by it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always up for a good show, but that makes zero sense to me.“

„Well, I want to know exactly what they see, by using my specialized toxin. You see, I have my regular fear toxin, which if it affects someone, shows them their biggest fear, but mostly in the shape of a scenario, like your best friend betraying you or your parents dying, but I also have another toxin, which shows them their biggest fear manifested in let’s say a person or some sort of grotesque creature. Having a whole scene play in their head takes way more time and often is easy to walk off, by saying it’s all just a nightmare, but by having your own personal creature of terror, you have something to haunt you in your dreams, something you catch a glimpse of in day time before it’s gone. Fear lasts way longer that way and these test subjects could help me improve it.“

Joker listened with great interest as Scarecrow was going on and on about his different toxins, not going into detail with every one, but rather talking about the effects. Though after a while he felt himself getting bored with only listening, his attention wavering. He waited until Crane took a pause from him endless talking, but it never came and the Joker grew more and more impatient so he decided to cut him off.

„Yeah yeah, highly interesting, catch your breath. Jesus Christ, you talk more than a highschool girl, baghead.“
Scarecrow fell immediately silent, taken aback by the rude intervention and a little hurt, but he wasn’t willing to show that, instead he tried to cover it up by fake embarrassment.

„Oh, oops. Sorry, I… I just get overexcited when it comes to, you know… fear toxin.“ He gave a small chuckle at the end, hoping to seem authentic.

„Yeah, I get it. Just hold back next time“, the Joker said slight annoyance stinging his voice, before he noticed Scarecrows sudden reluctance to talk. The clown cleared his throat before he spoke up again.

„But I understand that. Hell! I could talk for hours upon hours, if someone wanted me to speak of all the crimes I committed, all the tortures, murders and kills just for the kicks!“ The Clown chuckled a few times between the sentence until it formed into a fullblown crazy laugh of morbid glee.
Scarecrow watched him, flinching when it started but soon joined in, as he was glad to see Joker not angry with him anymore.

Joker later went off to meet with the architects to plan the rebuild of his hideout, while Scarecrow went to his labor to go through with testing the subjects and trying different amounts and toxins on them. He had a blast doing it, feeling satisfied with their screams and descriptions of their hallucinations. The results were as good as he expected them to be and was sure, he could soon make some improvements.
He just wanted to start working on them, as one of the henchmen knocked on his door, saying he had a visitor. Crane asked if it were Bane, Two face or the Joker, to which the henchman told him, it was neither of those, which left Scarecrow slightly irritated. But who knew, maybe it was one of the other rogues or Legion of doom members asking for his assistance or help, which wouldn’t be the first time that happened.
Crane quickly cleaned his work up, telling himself he could continue tomorrow. He had worked for hours in his lab, it wouldn’t hurt to stop now.

By the time he made his way to the living space, he had run down all possible options who his visitor might be, but none of those included the actual guest, who was none other than the King of Gotham Oswald Cobblepot or better known as the Penguin.

„Jonathan Crane! My old friend! Good to see you!“, the Penguin said walking with open arms towards the Scarecrow, as soon as he saw him.

„Oswald! It’s a pleassure to see you as well, it’s been quite a while“, Crane gave him a small friendly hug, having to bend down a bit, because of their height difference. They couldn’t be more different when it came to their body types. While Oswald was small and a bit chubby, Jonathan was scrawny and tall. He led Penguin towards the couch as they sat down, debating on wether or not he should offer him something to drink. Crane had a feeling he wasn’t here just for a friendly chat, but neither did he give off the vibe he came here to talk about business. He didn’t notice anything ordinary on the Penguin either, he had his umbrella with him, but Scarecrow highly doubted that he was here to attack him, leaving him curious and the gears in his head spinning until Oswald spoke up.

„You probably wonder why I’m here, don’t you, my friend?“

„Correct. Too obvious?“

„Not very subtle, if you ask me. The reason for my sudden visit is the bar mitzvah of my nephew Joshua at the iceberg lounge on Saturday, I want to invite you.“

Scarecrow smiled at him, he had known Joshua for quite some time and while he wasn’t very good with kids, Crane tolerated him and Joshua respected him. He had often seen Bane being basically another parent towards the kid with Scarecrow sometimes helping him lecture Joshua when he had one of his bratty tantrums. Penguin looked at him, still waiting for an answer, when it came to Crane it was hard to tell if he would say yes or no.

„Sure, I’ll come. Wouldn’t want to miss Joshuas big day“ He responded. Penguins smile immediately brightened up upon hearing his answer.

„Excelent! Glad to hear that! Oh, I invited Two face and Bane as well, if you want to, you can bring a plus one, the more the merrier.“ Oswald told him, getting ready to leave.
Crane hummed in response, crossing his arms without any meaning to it.

„I might think of it“, he said without really any intend behind it. Penguin smiled at him as they made their way towards the door. They shook hands as a less hearty goodbye before Oswald went on his way.

Chapter Text

The same day in the evening, Scarecrow had Bane and Two face over again. The trio sat in the library in front of a crackling flame in the fireplace, giving them dim light alongside of old stand lamps. They were a bit unsure about it at first, seeing as Batman was currently looking for Bane for blowing up Gotham stadium and Two face didn't like his Clown companion, but Joker hadn’t bothered to show up the whole day and Bane said he wasn’t safe in his own hideout, so they settled on having a nice evening together.
The trio talked about all kinds of topics, in the spotlight still Joshuas bar mitzvah and disgussing different gifts for the spoiled youth with Bane being the onmost excited about it.

Some time later Scarecrow heard the door opening, guessing the Joker must’ve returned. He got up and headed to the entrance to greet his temporary roommate only to find him covered in blood, but obviously not his own. The still fresh liquid dripped to the floor leaving a trace behind the Clown as he walked past Crane and towards the kitchen, only to get a shot glass and a bottle of cheap alcohol, sitting down on a bar stool and pouring himself a drink. His face showed a sour expression as he downed the fluid at once.

Crane debated on wether or not to talk to the Clown, but decided for it. He sat down next to him hesitating a bit before he asked.

„Uh, is everything… alright? You kind of seem to be in, how do I say it…? Sour mood?“

Admittedly Scarecrow never was good at comforting people, not that he ever really had to, but there was something difficult in trying to soothe the wicked murderous Clown. Joker was unpredictable and could lash out any moment, he knew that, having heard of the many times that happened to Harley and by no means he wanted to end up like her. Still he had to try his best, not willing to leave him alone when obviously something happened.

The Joker looked at him with a frown, that made Scarecrow feel smaller, before snapping at him.

„Oh, whoever would have guessed?! And here I thought I look like the personified fun! Thank you for pointing that out for me, Baghead, what would I do without your genious!“

Only a braindead idiot wouldn’t recognize the harsh sarcasm dripping from the words like the blood still leaking from the Clown in front of him. Jokers words were obviously an insult, but weren’t as hurtful as Scarecrow thought they would be, meaning what happened might not have been as bad as it seemed, though he wouldn’t count on it.

„Do you might want to talk about it?

The Joker narrowed his eyes dangerously at him, giving of the hint to stop pressing and to leave him alone and although Scarecrow still didn’t want to, he gave in for both their sakes.

„I, uh, should probably tell you, that Two face and Bane are here. They’re waiting for me in the library, if you want to you can join us, when you’re cleaned up.“

Crane did not want to risk his books getting blood stains, because of the Clown. He had to draw the line somewhere.
Joker gave him a sort of perplexed contrasting the one of anger, before he stood up and went wordlessly tot he bathroom. Scarecrows eyes were on him until he shut the door and turned the lock, before he sighed. Hopefully this wouldn’t happen more often, he liked it when Joker was in a happier mood, even if it meant enduring his teasing and taunting, after all, he was used to it.

He went back to Two face and Bane, who were in a heated discussion about wether or not to use booby traps at their next encounter with the bat. While Bane listed all the advantages of them, Two face thought they were too Riddler-like and have almost never worked on the caped crusader.
As soon as they saw Crane, they started asking him aboout his opinion on that matter and who of these two was right. He shrugged before answering.

„Traps are only acceptable, if fear toxin is involved.“

Two face and Bane groaned at the same time upon hearing the response.

„I knew you’d say that“, Two face told him while shaking his head. Bane nodded at that, agreeing with that statement. „It’s just too obvious.“

Scarecrow chuckled before sitting down. It was true, what they said. But in his opinion, without fear toxin capturing and torturing the Bat was just half as much fun, same went for terrorizing his victims and the whole city. They continued talking about that subject, neither Twoface nor Bane giving in and standing their grounds, before Crane suggested to change the topic, for their friendship’s sake, seeing as they both got a bit too worked up about this petty thing. Bane and Harvey agreed though reluctantly and Scarecrow was relieved, that it didn’t evolve into an argument.
After a while of Smalltalk and joking around Bane asked Crane something that had obviously bothered him.

„Who was that coming through the door?“, he questioned the Scarecrow, who was taken by surprise at the suddeness oft he question before Bane continued.

„Shouldn’t you have gotten notified by your henchmen, if you got a visitor? No one except us is allowed to just come here as they please, I thought.“

It was easy to see Banes confusion and irritation of it. It could not have been a henchman, as they weren’t allowed in the living area and only if there was an emergency, in which case an alarm would have went off, which obviously didn’t happen. But It had always been this way, just the three of them and nobody else to enter this bond. It was understandable though, Scarecrow hadn’t told him about Joker staying here for a while and as he was about to open his mouth, the library door swung open and the Clown Prince of Crime entered the gigantic room.

To say Bane was surprised was a massive understatement, shocked came closer but nothing could really describe his face, albeit the mask, when he saw that it was the infamous murderous Clown, who entered the library, walking in on their little round. He shot a look at Harvey, but all Two face did was narrow his eyes, or rather eye, since the acid had burned his eyelid on the other side away, and stiffen a bit. Then he stared at Crane, who only put his hand at the back of his head and looked sheepishly at him. Scarecrow didn’t know what was going through Banes head at that moment, if he was perfectly honest. Did he believe they let Joker in their tight bond just like that? Or maybe he thought him and the Clown were in a relationship without telling him?
It was no secret that Bane wasn’t the biggest fan of the Joker, he tolerated him and tried to stay on his good side, but would never willingly spend time with him.

Joker let his gaze wander over them, his smile having returned and the blood having disappeared. Scarecrow considered asking him now what had happened, but hesitated when he sensed Harvey tenseness and didn’t know what would happen if the Clown reacted badly to his questioning.
He gave out a small laugh before sitting down on the couch right next to Bane who distanced himself as subtle as he could from the Joker. Scarecrow noticed this and stood up from his place on one of the armchairs to switch seats with Bane. When he took his place next to him, he held a respectable distance to the Clown.

„What’s up with you, Bane? You look like you’ve seen a ghost“, the Joker mocked, watching Bane for his reaction under his gaze.
Bane hesitated before giving his reluctant answer with a forced laugh.

„Haha, I just did not expect to see you here, Joker, that’s all. What are you doing here on this lovely day?“

The Clown Prince of Crime smirked, malice glinting in his eyes, as he realized Bane didn’t know yet.

„What? Did Scarecrow not tell you? What a surprise! For your information, I live here now!“
„Temporarily!“ Crane threw in. „Since his hideout had been destroyed by Harley, he asked me to stay here until it’s rebuilt! I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you…“

Albeit Banes look of betrayal, he caught himself rather quickly, which was unusual for him.
Instead of answering Scarecrow he turned to Harvey.

„You don’t seem very surprised. Did you know about this?“ he asked and Crane believed to hear a hint of hurt out of his tone, which did no good to his already ruined conscience.
Now Two face wasn’t prone to lying and was known for his honorable honesty, so it didn’t come as a surprise to hear his firm voice telling the truth.

„Yes, I did. Yesterday, when I wanted to visit Scarecrow, I found out about it. I was as surprised as you are now and I didn’t tell you about it, because I thought Jon would take care of that. I did not expect you to find it out this way.“

Bane let out a heavy sigh and nodded to Harvey before he looked at Scarecrow again, who looked at him with an apologetic look and a small hopeful smile. He could not resist that smile and knew all too well that Scarecrow on the other hand could not resist saying yes, when the Joker asked him for this temporary stay, thanks to his long known crush on the Clown, so it was understandable. After this short rollercoster of feelings, Bane returned the smile, letting Crane know, that it was okay.

They started talking again, Bane questioning about the Jokers current situation, the Clown mostly complaining and whining, telling the trio, that this day he had to kill one of the architects constructing his hideout in progress, because the poor man pointed out, that the Jokers hideouts are so easily detectable because he wants them to look shrill and colorful, suggesting to make it more decent. Apparently that was enough for Joker to kill him.
They listened as the Clown told the story with malicious glee, describing how he tore the unfortunate guy apart, piece by piece, which explained why he was covered in blood earlier and his frustration with the incompetent workers. They laughed while he told the story, Two face because of the sake of being polite, Bane because he didn’t want to piss off the Joker and Scarecrow because he was genuinely happy, that he was in a lighter mood. He didn’t notice how he was getting closer until their thighs touched, leaving the Joker smirking cognizant while he kept talking and Crane flustered and blushing underneath his mask.

„So have you heard of young Joshuas bar mitzvah on Saturday?“ Bane asked the Joker smiling, to which he responded with a headtilt and a look of confusion on his face, looking to Scarecrow, who only nodded in agreement.

„Yes, Joshua, the Penguins nephew, will celebrate his bar mitzvah on this Saturday in the iceberg lounge. Didn’t you know?“

„No, I did not. Would be a damn surprise if that fish deepthroating asshole would invite me.“

Scarecrow and Bane exchanged confused looks at that statement, while Two face remained unphased by the obivious disliking Joker has for Penguin. Seeing their expressions, the Clown gave a vague explanation.

„Me and that fat mafia wannabe king haven’t got the best history together“ he said making hand gestures for emphasis at the end.

That again left Two face unsurprised, and who could blame Oswald. Joker was a nuisance and in general not well liked by the other villains, but respected and partly feared instead. Penguin was one of the few to openly show his loathing for the Clown Prince of Crime and get away with it alive, but not without times of mockery and insults of the Joker, but that did not bother the self proclaimed king of gotham in the slightest.

„Do you… Do you want to come with us there? Oswald said I could bring a plus one.“ Scarecrow suggested a bit abashed, fearing the possible revelation of his true intentions.
The Joker just waved a hand, his smile long faded and a look of boredom gracing his face.

„Nah, I don’t want to come to this stupid thing. Let that stuck up snob have his pity party without me. It’s gonna be boring anyway, since that fatasses idea of fun is emptying an all you can eat buffet of posh morsel all on his own.“

It took all of Harvey power to hold back from screaming at the clown and starting a fight. He despised it, when someone insulted his friends and got away with it. Crane noticed that and decided that this evening had to come to an end. He exchanged a look with Two face hoping he would get the message, which he luckily did.

„Well, it was a nice evening, but I and Bane have to take our leave now, right, Bane?“

Harvey look was intrusive and Bane knew he didn’t have much of a choice now, but Scarecrow doubted he understood why they had to go. Harvey would probably explain it to him later.

„I’ll bring you to the door“ Crane insisted, already standing up and muttering a short „Excuse me“ to the Joker.

The trio exchanged their goodbyes, Harvey promising Bane to explain everything to him as Crane shut the door. He stood there for a few seconds. Engulfing the silence for just a moment, as he thought about the situation and deciding on his next move.

His thoughts were only interrupted by the Joker calling his name out of the library. He stood still for only a moment before he sighed and headed back to the Clown.

Chapter Text

„Yes, Joker?“ Scarecrow called out as he entered the library anew.

The Joker sat cross legged on the couch, still in the same spot, jokingly pouting like an impatient child waiting for their parent to turn their attention back to their kid.

„What took you so long?“ he said in fake grumpiness still pouting. „Thought you left me forever! Don’t ever do that again!“

Scarecrow smiled at that before he broke into a short laugh and sitting down next to Joker again, this time putting effort into creating a respectable but not offensive distance between them and hopefully keeping it.

„Sorry about that. Won’t happen again, I promise.“

Joker smiled, it wasn’t a grin or a smirk, it was genuine, though Scarecrow saw something mischievous in his eyes, that slightly irritated him. They stared into each others eyes for a few moments, none oft hem saying anything or breaking eyes contact. It gave Crane time to admire the Clowns shining pale green eyes with that slightly irritating glint of whatever it was making the seem to sparkle.

„What?“ Scarecrow decided to break the silence.

„Hm?“

„You were staring.“

„Was I?“

„Yes.“

Scarecrow hesitated before continuing.

„What were you looking at?“

The Joker smirked again, not in a mocking fashion rather something else, but he could not pinpoint what it was exactly.

„Your face, or rather the bag you wear over your face. And you?“ he retorted, taking Crane by surprise at the end. To deny it wouldn’t do anything except making this even more awkward for him, so he had to swallow his pride.

„I was staring at your eyes“ he admitted unwillingly, closing his eyes to try and hide his shame. He waited for something coming from the Clown, a laugh, more mocking, him making fun of Scarecrow, anything really. But when he didn’t hear a response he reluctantly opened his eyes again, only to see Joker smirking again, but no sound of amusement leaving his lips, excluding a hum, that was spiked with fake thoughtfulness, yet by no means sounding scornful.

„Is that so?“ he asked drawing his voice in the length.
Crane nodded, not able bring himself to say anything, shame rising up again.

„Do you like them?“

Scarecrow was taken aback by this question, but before he could start thinking, he answered without any sort of hesitation.

„Yes! I like them, they are really pretty!“

As soon as Crane had spoken those words, he mentally jumped in front of a train. His face was bright red under the mask and he could not stop himself from putting his head into his hands in frustration. Joker only chuckled at that, now fully grinning.

„Awww, thank you! No one has ever told me I’m pretty! Although I am aware, that I’m quite a great catch, am I right?“

Scarecrow didn’t even respond, but began slowly lifting his head.

„Can we please change the topic?“ he asked hoping not to sound desperate.

„Sure, but only because it’s you“

Scarecrow felt his face heat up again, but decidedly ignored it, instead focussing on possible ideas to fill the silence suddenly surrounding them.

„I think I can get used to that.“ The Joker broke the silence. A deep sound of satisfaction filling his voice, as a lazy smile graced his lips, his eyes not as wide and alert as usual.
„Hanging around with you and your friends without having to kill my nerves over Harley or the Bat, now that’s fun.“

Crane wore a curious expression, it was rare to hear Joker talk like this. He sounded strangely at peace while speaking this way and his usual wicked smile was not present. Was this some kind of show or something? He couldn’t tell, it all was so unrealistic but didn’t feel like a dream or a delusion.
He got a bit closer to the Clown, still looking attentively at his face before speaking up.

„That’s coming as a surprise, if I’m being honest. I thought you enjoyed hatching plans against the Batman and fighting against him.“

A small glint flashed through the Jokers eyes, gone as fast as it came and to quick for Scarecrow to decipher it.

„Oh, I do“ the Clown assured, before putting on a charming smile, sitting up in a more mature pose, getting closer to Crane and locking their eyes, „but I like this too.“

Upon hearing these words, Scarecrows usually busy mind went blank, his heart beating at such a fast pace, that he thought it was trying to jump out of his chest. He never thought he’d be so grateful for wearing his mask, as he was fully aware that underneath it he was as red as a tomato.
How could simple words like these get such a reaction out of him? It should have probably alerted him a bit more, that someone could catch him with so much easo of guard, but in that moment, no thoughts came near his mind, the words just kept replaying in his head.

He finally snapped out of his trance like state and brought out an answer.

„O-oh, thank you, it means a lot, especially hearing something like that from you“ he stammered.

„Does it? That’s nice to hear, but don’t make too much out of it.“ The answer came quick, as if he knew Scarecrow would say these exact words. He had no time to dwell on it, as Joker already continued.

„You know, it’s nice talking to you, but I barely know anything about you. Care to tell?“

The Clowns smile remained charming, but turned ever so slightly in a small smirk, as he waited for Cranes response. Reluctance filled the Master of Fear upon hearing the obvious request of information about his past. He preferred to keep his Story buried deep down in the ground alongside many other thinks he’d rather forget.

Far embed in his brain laid every single repressed memory of his childhood and early adult life. Memories of childhood bullies, an unloving family, if you can call it that, and failures upon failures and betrayal started to fill his mind. Nobody knew about it, at least none of his fellow villains or even his close friends, he made sure oft hat. He didn’t like to give out his trust just like that and the only thing that he shared, were the obvious ones, like the fact, that he did not have an easy childhood, but nothing else.

Bane and Two face knew that he didn’t like to talk about it and did never press further. The only one who knew at least a bit about his early life was Edward Nygma, otherwise known as the Riddler. That pesky naive nuisance liked to know as much as he could about people, who might be possible foes for him and apparently Scarecrow matched this type. So he began doing research and found some aspects of Cranes early life, no one else, except maybe the Bat, knew. But the master of fear couldn’t care less about the Riddler, he did not pose any threat towards him in his eyes.

He snapped out of his thoughts, when he noticed the Joker waving a hand in front of his face, low grumbling coming from the Clown Prince of Crime as he mumbled at first inaudible words, that grew clearer and clearer for Scarecrow as he was pulled further into reality and out of his paradise of thoughts, but in this case hell of thoughts.

„Hello? Hellloooooo? HELLO? Is anyone there?“ the Joker asked over and over again.

Scarecrow swatted his hand away, before bringing more distance between the both of them and getting in a somewhat defensive pose, by crossing his arms.

„I don’t think I want to do that“ he finally responded hesitately.

The Joker frowned a bit, his smile somewhat smug still present as his facial expression gave off mockery.

„Leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it?“

Crane flinched at the change in his tone, sudden vulnerability stinging in his chest. He did not like it to feel this weak and even helpless in front of the Joker, instead he straightened his posture slightly, uncrossed his arms and abandoned the shaking stinging his voice.

„That’s not of your interest.“

„Ooohh, someone’s getting defensive.“

Joker saw Scarecrow getting more and more distant and that the adoration had disappeared from his eyes, which was inconvenient for the Clown and he almost frowned. He wanted to see the fondness and attention again, it was meant for him. It bothered the Clown Prince of Crime, not to have Scarecrow in his hand, he had to do something about that as quick as possible.

He let his mockingly smug smirk turn back into a charming smile, that in his opinion seemed genuine enough, before he decided to do something drastic. He reached out to lay his hand upon Scarecrows, surprising the Master of fear and making him stiffen.

„I want to get to know you. How about we do something together tomorrow? Not here, maybe in the park or somewhere else?“

He watched as Cranes eyes widened and could all too good imagine him blushing underneath the burlap, before he nodded in agreement.

Chapter Text

It was Thursday in the legion of doom and everybody had work to do and evil plans to hatch, Scarecrow being no exception. Everybody had their own office room and was free to do whatever they wanted there, as long as it wasn’t anything destructible. Members were also allowed to work together with other villains who were part of the LOD, hence why the rule was set in the first place.
Almost every Legion of doom member was present today, which was surprising, considering how most villains preferred working on their evil schemes and attacks in their own respective hideouts, Crane being one of them, but had a special reason coming here today.

He made his way through the LOD, greeting his fellow scoundrels on his way, being more or less happy to actually see them, depending on who it is. While maintaining his usual rather cheery facade, his mind was elsewhere. The thought of the date with the Joker on Friday didn’t leave his head once, and he needed to talk to someone about it. Of course there had only been his two best friends as options, but he felt, that if he talked to Two face about his so called „date“ with the Clown, the selfproclaimed man of justice loathed, wouldn’t be a pretty good idea. So his only hope was to speak to Bane about this whole mess.

When he reached Banes personal office, he carefully knocked. There was shuffling on the other side of the door for a few moments until there was a loud crash with Bane audibly cursing a chair out. His face of anger softened as soon as he swung open the door and saw Scarecrow.

„Hello, Bane. May I come in?“ Scarecrow asked politely, as Bane stepped aside to let his scrawny friend entert he room.

„Sure thing. Do you need anything or did you just come to hang around?“

„Actually yes. I’ve had something on my mind the whole day and really need to talk about it.“

He drew in a deep breath, he was nervous, no denying, but he knew he could trust Bane.

„Really? What is it then? Don’t keep me waiting.“

His excitement was obvious, but the mountain of a man made no effort to hide it at all, one thing Scarecrow adored about him. He just loved seeing the enthusiasm in Bane, even for petty little things. It made him feel alot safer and more comfortable to talk.

„Well, believe it or not, but … Joker … has asked me out on a, uh, date?“

Crane was surprised he could bring out the whole sentence, albeit the pauses, he was glad his courage and confidence hadn’t left him midair.

Bane just stared at him for a while, not long enough to make it uncomfortable though, but with a neutral expression that did make Scarecrow a bit nervous. He had never seen his friend be so silent and still for a seemingly endless amount of time, despite it being mere seconds.

But as all things do, that came to an end as well, when Bane finally decided to cut the heavy silence.

„What?“

A *what?* was all the had to say? Scarecrow quickly covered up his disappointment of the response by instead answering.

„I said, Joker invited me on a date.“ He repeated, this time slower and putting more power in his words in a matter of fact kind of way.

Again silence. Crane was starting to grow annoyed by it and decided to break the awful quietness himself.

„Don’t you have anything to say?“

Bane did not stay quiet this time fortunately and answered his question.

„No, no, I do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he did that and all, but aren’t you moving a bit too fast?“

That question pushed all possible responses out of Scarecrows head and replaced it with sudden doubt. Were they moving too fast? Joker had and him had lived together for maybe two weeks?
Time was passing by so fast, he barely registered it. It had been quite a ride to share the same living space with the infamous Clown Prince of Crime, and admittedly he and the Joker did not know each other well enough, excluding his years of an unrequited crush. Some part of him also still believed, that there was a possiblity, that he and Harley would get together again. After all, she had been an obedient servant and girlfriend to the Joker for years, so it did not seem unlikely to happen.
Scarecrow could not risk that. He could not dare to slow the pace down and perhaps lose the interest of the clown now. Not when he was this close and had the perfect opportunity practically laying at his feet.

He shook his head after a while of staring into space and letting the gears in his head run with an ungodly speed.

„No, no, I don’t think we’re moving too fast, after all, this is what I wanted. I want to be with the Joker and now’s the perfect time to make a move. I can’t throw away my shot, when it’s right there.“

Bane wore an understanding look, while he was nodding along, taking in every word the Master of fear said, and making his own opinion out of it, but having the decency not to shove it down his throat.

„Suit yourself. If it makes you happy, I’m okay with it.“

Scarecrow sighed in relief at these words before smiling gratefully at Bane. Now that they had it settled, they were glad to carry the conversation on.

„So where will you two be going?“

„I don’t know yet. Joker’s planning it as a surprise for me, and I’m pretty sure that we’ll be committing at least one murder that evening.“

Bane snorted at that, as the Smile on Cranes face grew bigger.

„One? You set your bar pretty low.“

„Oh, lay off. I’m not one for ruthless murder, y’know.“

Bane hummed in response.

„Wanna go get coffee? Haven’t had one all day and I feel like my head’s gonna explode.“ Scarecrow said, putting a hand to his forehead for emphasis.

Bane nodded wordlessly, approaching the door, and holding it open for Crane to go through first, who rolled his eyes with a playful smile on his face.

„Ooh, what a gentleman.“ He laughed lightly.

„What can I say, I try my best“ Bane responded with a chuckle.

They talked about all kinds of stuff while heading to the Legion of doom kitchenette, unintentionally ignoring their fellow villains, who attempted to greet them, they were just too entangled in their light conversation. Crane found out during their little talk, that Two face wasn’t even present that day and was slightly disappointed by not having the chance to talk to him over a coffee.
It was probably for the best, since if he were here and they’d have talked together, Bane might have mentioned Scarecrows date with the murderous Clown, and Two face would probably not have approved.

When they arrived there, it was mostly empty. They saw Killer Croc and Man bat sip their coffees while having small talk, Sinestro drinking tea instead of coffee as he was dealing with the annoying reverse Flash and Cheetah having milk out of a bowl for no good reason.
They went to their usual spot and made themselves their beverages, still not breaking the conversation. Scarecrow and Bane appreciated these moments, where they could just talk in peace and not have to worry about a single thing. Both took comfort in it.

Bane his special huge mug with the sentence „caffeine is my reckoning“ printed on it as Scarecrow just grabbed a regular one. The kitchenette really was the best thing about the Legion of Doom, it gave of the feeling to belong there, to be right in place. Alongside having good relationships with his respectable colleagues and being respected himself, which only made it better, almost gave Crane an impression of complete peace and calm. Deep down he knew, that this was all just a wishful illusion and that most of his fellow LOD members would stab each other in the back, if one dared to step out of line.

But he found himself not caring at all about that fact and instead kept relishing in his thoughts, wondering if the future would look as bright and beautiful as now.

Chapter Text

It was currently early evening on Friday, the day of the „kind of“ date between Scarecrow and Joker, and Scarecrow was practically terrified. Not even the good kind of fear, no adrenaline pumping through his veins to get him to run, no dreadful goosebumps sending chills down his spine and no spluttering shaky breaths coming out of his lungs. Just the enormous feeling of uneasiness and his inability of stopping himself from fidgeting his hands, which honestly got annoying after about three seconds, but he couldn’t bring himself to cut it out.

He had been standing for at least 45 minutes in his bathroom, getting ready for his „date“. He didn’t even know why he was spending so much time in there. He didn’t need to put on make-up or anything really, but felt the need to at least change out of his casual usual clothing and wore his only other option: A greenish-yellow sweater, much like his typical red one, but not as comfortable and well had another color. Except that, he hadn’t bothered to do anything else with his looks, he still wore his mask and did not dare to seperate himself from his dearly loved fear toxin, y’know, just in case of a case.

Joker had told him that he would pick Scarecrow up at 9:30 p.m. and to Cranes relief, it was only 9:15 yet. For some reason the Clown had decided to go wherever, just to prepare everything and also himself for this „special occasion“, probably fort he sake of surprise or so. Not that Scarecrow complained or anything, he was glad the Joker went for that, because this way, the Clown Prince of Crime wouldn’t see him nervously pacing back and forth, upon desperatly waiting for 9:30 p.m. to arrive.

Shortly after the clock hit 30, a henchman, humorously dressed with a bow tie and a suit jacket above of his usual working clothes, entered the room, after a short and quiet knock on the door.

„Mr. Scarecrow, sir? The Joker’s at the entrance and asks for your presence.“

The goon spoke in a quiet tone, that sounded as if he was terrified of talking to the Master of Fear, but maybe it could also have been because of whatever the Joker had planned for the both of them. Crane decided not to worry about it too much.

„Sure, I’ll be there in a few moments, you may take your leave now.“ He said, having already taken his eyes of the frightened man, and instead focussing on searching through a drawer, to find something he didn’t want to leave there. The pitiful goon let out a quiet, almost inaudible sigh of relief as he went his merry way, when Scarecrow finally found what he was looking for.

A full set of six syringes filled to the brim with his fear toxin. Three with his regular toxing and the other three with his phobia toxin. Might come in handy.

He put it in his pocket, before opening the door leading through the long halls and to the entrance. He began to walk a bit hastily, not wanting to keep his „date“ waiting too long and risking to infuriate the murderous Clown.

When he arrived outside his gaze fell immediately on a medium limousine parked right in front of the gate with a few of his own and seemingly Jokers henchmen scattered in that area. Each oft hem being dressed in the same attire as the goon from earlier, some of them having enthusiasm grace their faces, while others (mostly his) wore a more fit for business expression and Scarecrow wondered if they knew anything about the „date“ or if they were just wicked by nature. For some reason he found this question rather difficult to answer.

As for the infamous Clown Prince himself was at first no sign, which made Scarecrows confidence waver and gave him a good dose of uncertainty. He was tempted to head back inside when axiety joined the party and started to make itself at home in his chest, until one of Jokers brainless goons came over to him.

„Mr. Scarecrow, the boss wants you to get in the limousine, he’s waiting in there for you.“

Truth be told, Scarecrow found these henchmen worse than his own. The man was scarred practically everywhere and spitted slightly while talking, seemingly not handling his own tongue while speaking ver well. He could not define his eye color, since it look as if he was blind on both of them, which could not have been the case. When the mans eyes started drifting in opposite directions, Crane decidedly stepped away from the unsettling husk of a human being and moved towards the limousine wordlessly.

He climbed inside the car, as one of the goons promptly shut it behind him and gave the driver a sign to start driving. The driver immediately departed with massive speed, catching Scarecrow off guard and making him tumble back in surprise. His expected and basically given fall onto the floor of the limousine was interrupted, by someone catching him, before he could hit the ground, surprising the master of fear even further.

His saviour was none other than Joker, coming in as not so much of a shock. The clown had caught him, holding the arms of the almost fallen man and keeping him steady, while wearing a huge grin on his face.

„When I said, that I come pick you up, I didn’t expect you to drop by so literally.“ The Joker said amused.

Scarecrow scrambled to his feet, balancing himself before turning around to better face the Clown and take place on the opposite bench. He let out a light chuckle, trying to hide his embarassment.

„Me neither, but I just know how to make an entrance.“

The Joker gave a loud short laugh at that, before putting on a charming smile and a flirtatious tone.

„You look good. Did you really change out of your usual attire, just for me?“ his voice became a bit teasing at the end, but went undetected by Scarecrow, as he started blushing at that.
He tore his gaze off the Joker and looked sheepishly on the floor while giving a nervous laugh.

„Well, yeah, I-I did, huh. It just seemed appropriate. Y-you look really good as well!“

Joker really must have put more effort than usual into his appearance, because he looked even better, if that was possible. He wore a dark green and purple striped suit with a yellow dress shirt and a green bow tie, making him not as flashy as usual. His hair was slicked back and neat, instead of standing off his head, while his face was mostly left unchanged.

He shot Scarecrow one of his biggest and widest grins, upon hearing the praise.

„Why thank you, I wasn’t sure if anyone would finally tell me how good I look, but I knew I can always count on you with that, since you seem to like the way I look a lot, don’t you?“

Crane felt himself redden at this. It really was that obvious? Oh dear.
He cleared his throat awkwardly, avoiding the Clowns deep gaze on him once again. There was a heavy awkward tension in the air for a few moments, Joker relishing in it and Scarecrow cursing it.

„So, where are we going?“ he asked sincerely.

„Hm?“

„What’s your plan for us this evening?“

„Oh, it’s a surprise, can’t tell you.“

Scarecrow sighed in frustration, this was wrecking his nerves and he wasn’t willing to back down just yes. After all, there was a silence to fill.

„I’m curious, can you please tell me?“

„And spoil the fun? Never!“ Joker responded with an amused laugh almost immediately.

Scarecrow let out a light huff at that answer, which only bemused the Clown further making him break into a full on cackle.

„C’mon, tell me!“

„I knew this’d bother you.“

„What? Not knowing what the surprise is? Yes, it does.“

Jokers delighted laugh didn’t leave him in the slightest bit, as he tried to bring out an answer through his laughing fit.

„Aww, sorry, did not mean to.“

„Yeah, right.“

Crane promptly got annoyed with the Clown, rolling his eyes as he waited for the handsome psychopath to calm down.

„Don’t you worry, we are-“ he made a pause to pay a quick glance out the window, „-almost there. Just hang on for four or five minutes.“

„Okay then.“ Scarecrow replied reluctantly.

They spent those left five minutes with Crane staying silent and Joker humming a huppy tune until the car came to a stop. As Scarecrow was about to exit the vehicle, he felt his Clown date grab his arm in a tight grasp. He raised his eyebrows in confusion, irritated by the touch and the Jokers wide grin, as he lifted his finger and shook it in a „no“-gesture.

„Ah-ah-ah, not yet.“

Now Scarecrow groaned in frustration, promptly getting fed up with the Jokers shenanigans.

„Ugh, what is it now?“ he almost snapped.

With an innocent blink he got something out of his suit pocket and holding it in front of Crane, revealing a long piece of dark blue fabric.

„First, you gotta put on this blindfold.“ He said in a singsong voice looking demandingly at Scarecrow.

„Uhh, no thank you, I prefer to keep my eyesight whenever I get driven to an unknown location.“ He declined lightly shoving the material away from him, but to no surprise, the Joker didn’t back down.
He released his grip on the scrawny man, only to tackle him tot he ground and forcefully tie the blindfold around the eyeholes of his mask. Scarecrow was just no match for Joker when it came to physical aspects.

„Oh c’mon, don’t be a joykill! Let’s have some fun instead.“

The Clown roughly shoved Crane out of the car, watching him trying to keep his balance but utterly failing and almost hitting the ground again, only prevented by Joker catching him once again.
In his current helpless state, Scarecrow was incredibly easy to handle and clung onto his dates arm to steady himself. To say Joker enjoyed that was a massive understatement, he was having the time of his life, just watching this like a really good show. He did not know why in the world Crane played along, he could have taken off the blindfold by now, his devotion to the murderous psychopath must really be strong.

Joker led his date, all gentleman like, forward, being somewhat careful not to trip the Scarecrow, despite thinking it would be funny. Although Crane looked as though he could snap like a twig if someone spared him a strange look, he found to his surprise, that the man was pretty resilient, which was a good thing for him. Easy breakable toys were so boring.

„Almost there. Just a few steps and there!“ The Clown sang in a cheery tone.

Scarecrow went to get the obnoxious blindfold off to regain his sight, only for the Joker to grab both of his wrists, immediately stopping him.

„Wait, wait, wait! Did I tell you to take it off? Just hang on there, I’ll give you a sign.“

Before he got the time to respond, Joker already went on his merry way, leaving Crane there, feeling oddly exposed and a little vulnerable. But he told himself, to just trust him, after all, he didn’t have much of a choice. For a few moments he just stood there, not knowing wherever the hell he was and what he was about to do, while he counted the seconds. Not having to wait to long, he heard the Clowns voice mere moments later, sounding as enthusiastic as always.

„Okay! You may now take it off!“

Scarecrow remothed the pieco of fabric blocking his eyesight, relieved to finally do so, as he blinked a few times and started looking around.

Where was he?

They were at Gotham Pier, probably the ugliest part of this whole fucked up City, but the spot they were at was decorated with a whole lot of string lights, each of the lightbulbs shining in a different color, giving it a light hearted atmosphere. There was a wooden table with two chairs placed in front of a small stage, having the curtains drawn in. Accompanying the low lights, a few candles in open jars were lit, some of them even being jack-o-lanterns with heart eyes carved into them, a sweet gesture. There was quiet jazz music coming from undetectable speakers, playing the soft tune with a light static, but nothing too major. He was astonished by the beautiful sight of it all. At a closer look, Scarecrow noticed that they were at Jokers to-be-rebuilt-layer, which admittedly didn’t look as if the workers had done much by now.
Joker himself was standing on the little stage, striking a confident pose and patiently waiting for him to take it all in, his wide grin never leaving his face.

„So? What do you think? Do you like it?“

„If I like it? I love it! It’s so beautiful, Jack, you must’ve really put some effort into doing this.“

The Joker waved one hand in false modesty at that, a small smirk resting on his striking features, as he stepped off of the stage and towards Scarecrow.

„Oh, it sure was some work, but nothing I wouldn’t do for you.“

Instead of him growing flustered and his mind going blank again, Jon smiled lovingly at Joker, not avoiding his gaze this time. It felt nice.

„Oh, that’s uh very sweet of you.“

They sat down wordlessly at the table, no drinks or dinner in sight, which none of the both really minded. Scarecrow glanced a few times at the stage, wondering what might be behind the curtains, after all, he expected murder this evening. After turning his attention back to the Joker, he saw the man with a wide grin, obviously having noticed his curiousity and pondering. A playful sigh escaped Cranes lips at that, as he leaned forward and let his elbows rest on the table and his chin in the palms of his hands.

„You’re just full of surprises this evening.“ The Clown giggled at that, but not in an obnoxious way.

„Not just this evening, it’s up to you to find them out.“ He said with a cheeky wink, making it Scarecrows turn to laugh.

„We’ll see about that.“

Joker hummed in response, letting a moment of silence pass between them. There was a warm breeze in the air, which wasn’t something common in the usually rainy Gotham, even in the middle of summer. This City just had something sinister to it, like the dark clouds let misfortune and sadness rain down on the people. Humping cars, breaking glass and shrill screams were no strange sounds in a typical Gotham night, even in this one, though thanks to the jazz music, they were drowned out. From the corner on his eye he could even see a guy at the docks getting shot by a group of men, and tossed carelessly into the dark water, getting engulfed by a wave to be forgotten. God, Joker loved this City so much.

He turned his attention back to Scarecrow, who was enjoying the ambience and his gaze laying on the jack-o-lanterns. A smirk appeared on the Clowns face, as an idea shot into his mind.

„Would you like to play a game?“

Crane looked back at him, curiousity flashing through his eyes and Joker knew he had his full attention.

„What kind of game?“

Careful as always, whoever would have guessed, but he enjoyed it.

„A guessing game! Before I will open the curtains, you have to guess what’s behind them.“ He said in a singsong voice.

It was so harmless, honestly. Who could say no to such a simple game? Scarecrow sure as hell could not.

„Okay, sure. Why not?“

Joker beamed at Scarecrow, obvious excitement present in his features and movements, as he stood up from his chair and hurried towards the stage. When he finally stood still, he made an offering hand gesture, giving Scarecrow the hint to start now.

„Is it a person?“

A head shook in a no.

„Are it several people?“

A nod.

„Children?“

A head shook, thankfully.

„So adults.“

A nod again,

„Are we or you going to murder them?“

It took Scarecrow by surprise, when the Clown shook his head, saying no.

„Uh… torture them?“

A nod.

Great. They were going to torture people on their date, probably in the worst and grossest way possible, knowing the Clown. Not really to Scarecrows enjoyment though.

„Bravo! You guessed it right! Took a bit, but you got it!“ Joker said not moving from his spot, but also not making a move to open the curtains, to Cranes irritation. Joker relished the confused look on his face by his lack of action, before continuing.

„Buuuuuut, you didn’t quite get it right. Torturing doesn’t sound right, studying sounds more like it!“

The Clown clapped his hands, causing the curtains to draw open at the sound, revealing three people. A middle aged man, a woman probably the same age and a young man, all of them tied to the chair they were sitting in, their mouths covered with duct tape, They were all crying rightfully.
The middle aged man was seated on the left, the woman in the middle and the young man on the right. Scarecrow could hear their muffled bawling get more intense when they saw him and Joker, who had a content smile on his face, not matching Cranes own still irritated gaze, as he eyed the kidnapped people.

„I guess, you probably thought, I had planned a murder for out date, but I know your not one for violent and senseless slaughter, so I figured, since you want to improve your phobia toxin I could just kidnap some citizens with rare phobias.“

Joker offered as an explanation and walked towards the man on the left.

„This good gentleman is called Thomas and he suffers from Trypophobia.“

*The fear of holes*, Scarecrow repeated in his head.

Joker went over to the poor lady, who let out a muffled cry, when he put his hand onto her shoulder and leaned down resting his head next to hers.

„Meet Evelyn! She’s got climacophobia.“

*The fear of ladders*

„And last, but not least, Jeremy! Poor boy has Dontineraiphobia!“

Now this took Scarecrow a moment. After all his years of studying fear, this was an exceptionally rare case. Dontineraiphobia was the fear of the toothfairy. An irrational and admittedly embarrassing phobia, he never had the pleasure of meeting someone who had it before. Barely contained excitement and a huge feeling of euphoria started rising in his chest, but he couldn’t find words. He was speechless.

„What are you waiting for? Get up here“ Joker said, his loud voice filled with anticipation as he walked towards the edge of the stage and held out a hand.

Scarecrow stood up from his chair and waked towards the stage, taking Jokers hand, who promptly helped him up. Albeit his current delight about the situation, a question popped up in the back of Cranes mind and he couldn’t ignore it.

„How did you know, I had fear toxin with me?“

Joker snorted at that, as if it were obvious, but gave an explanation when he noticed, that he was sincere about that.

„Oh please, I know you. I would have worried if you hadn’t taken it with you.“

Crane shot him a sheepish smile, before it turned back into a sinister filled one. Joker would haven never admitted it, but he was smitten by it. He shook his head to get that thought out of it and instead focussed on their victims, a sadistic grin finding it’s way onto his face, as Scarecrow approached his first victim, the middle aged man.

The night was filled with screams and laughter, as the pair enjoyed the psychological torture on their poor victims.

Chapter Text

Saturday night, the night oft he Penguins nephews bar mitzvah had finally arrived and nobody really knew what to expect. The iceberg lounge, a proud and noble place only for the high society of Gotham and Oswalds business partners, was decorated like at a kids birthday party. A whole bunch of people were present there as well, the majority of them being noisy and annoying kids, alongside their parents, who didn’t seem to be bothered at all with what a mess their children caused, much to certain peoples distaste.

Scarecrow should probably have guessed, that this wasn’t going to be as classy and formal as he was used to when it came to Oswalds parties, after all it was a kids bar mitzvah. He shouldn’t have bothered to put on something nicer than his usual clothes, but what could he do, he had decency. Two face and Bane wore their usual costumes, although in Harveys case, it could still pass as something formal as he was dressed in his half-and-half-suit. The two of them were the first ones to arrive and gather at an offside dinner table, away from the obnoxious children.

Harvey and Bane sat in silence at the table, a bored look resting on Two faces features, while Bane seemed to wait for his friend to break the silence. They had already talked tot he Penguin right away, and he told them how glad he was they could come, how important this is to him, how grateful he was for their gifts for Joshua, etc. etc…. Nothing special over all, but Bane seemed excited, while Two face wanted to get it over with.

„Oswald said he had planned a surprise for Joshua, supposedly the big event. What do you think it might be?“ Harvey decided to break the spell of silence at the very last. He shot a glance at Bane, having the mans full attention.

„Hmm, I don’t really know, it’s hard to tell, what Penguins up to.“

Two face hummed in response, averting his gaze but going on.

„Knowing Oswald, it’s probably got to do something with money or crime. Everyone knows the first step to become a man is to break the law.“

„True, true, but there are witnesses. He wouldn’t pull something big off if there are enough people to watch.“ Bane retorted.

A playful tsk escaped Harvey lips, a smile forming on his lips as he did so.

„Please, it’s Penguin we’re talking about, he can get away with anything, if you tell him your price or have a will to live.“

Bane chuckled at that. They had their eyes on the infamous king of gotham now. He had a conversation with some adult man, Joshua standing next to him. His expression basically screamed to get him the hell out of there.

„Do you know where Jon is? He said he’d be there at the same time as us.“

Harvey looked up at that. He hadn’t noticed Cranes absence until now, surprisingly.

„No, I don’t. He might still be at his hideout, maybe still getting ready.“

„I’m a bit worried.“ Bane confessed, taking Two face by surprise. His words sounded heavy with a hint of frustration, not so well disguised in his tone.

„Why’s that?“

Harvey sensed something was wrong, that Bane was hiding something from him and let him know by putting suspicion into his voice. Two face noticed how he stiffened ever so slightly, his posture confirming that something was going on without his knowing of it. He chose to ignore the pang of hurt at the thought of Scarecrow and Bane having secrets from him.

„Well, we haven’t really seen Jon in 24 hours or more, I’m just worried, that…“

Bane stopped in an instant, when he saw Harveys narrowed eyes now wide in shock.

„Are you telling me, you think something happened to him?“

„Uh, w-well… I-“

In that moment Bane caught a glimpse of a all to familiar burlap sack and immediately averted his gaze from his outraged friend.

„Hey! Scarecrow!“ He yelled over the noise, catching the masters of fear attention and shooting him a smile. Crane smiled back, literally beaming of happiness, giving the assumption that the date had gone well. Bane ignored Harveys narrowed eyes boring into him, betrayal evident on his features, before he turned to their in burlap masked friend.

„Hey, you two. Sorry, I’m late, I completely lost track of time.“ Scarecrow told them a half sheepish, half apologetic smile on his face.

„Oh, it’s fine. No need to worry.“ Two face responded, keeping his voice steady and neutral, which irritated Scarecrow a bit and made a flash of shame cross Banes features.

„Alright then.“

He sat down next to Two face, the former lawyer now being in the middle of the trio.

„I’ve already talked to Oswald and he told me he had planned something big for Joshua, do you know what it clould be?“ Scarecrow said, the tone in his voice giving off a light mood.

„No, we have no idea.“ Two face replied shortly, not seeming to want to draw this conversation any further than that. Crane shot Bane a questioning glance, but getting no explanation out of his I’m-sorry look.

„Where have you been yesterday?“ The question came out of nowhere and with heavy accusation in ist tone.

„Excuse me?“

„What were you doing for the last 24 or so hours?“

Scarecrow gave Harvey a strange look, but noticed that the man meant it seriously.

„Well, what to say, I was in my labor for most of the day, as usual.“ He hesitated, avoiding his eyes.

„That’s all?“

„Yes.“

„So you haven’t been in any danger that day?“

„Uh, no. Of course, dangerous chemicals were involved, but that’s all.“

„Ah, okay then.“ The suspicous tone never left Harvey voice, much to Scarecrows confusion.

They started to chat for a little, an attempt to lighten up the tense mood, with little but at least some success. With the change in a topic, the mood was slightly lifted. Oswald briefly joined them, after all invited guests had arrived and finally had a break from greeting them with fake enthusiasm. At least Scarecrow thought it was fake, Penguin was used to having huge crowds around him and wore a big confident smile almost all the time, so it was hard to tell. He knew if he were in that situation, he’d quickly grow tired and sick of it. What could he say, he had always preffered an introvert lifestyle.

Oswald usually had his signature cigarre in his mouth, which was not the case for Joshuas bar mitzvah, making Crane raise an amused eyebrow at that. He could imagine, Penguin missed the lack of nicotine, especially with so much children around. His slight frustration was evident and easily recognizable, as he sat down at their table with a heavy sigh, but a small smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

„I think of all the parties I’ve ever thrown, this one is the most stressful of my life.“ Oswald let out a chuckle at that, a huge amount of exhaustion clearly in his voice, making Crane wonder if it was real or him just being overly dramatic.

„Yeah, but it is going pretty well so far. Successful, one might say.“ Two face said a small teasing grin resting on his face.
Penguin straightened his posture ever so slightly and raised his chin a little before responding.

„Of course it does! Unsurprisingly, my parties are always a success, one mere bar mitzvah would hardly be a challenge.“ Arrogance was dripping from every word, the true Oswald showing and not some happy-face party host. Scarecrow admired how well he played this role though.

„We never had any doubt, Oswald.“ Crane said in a playful tone, getting a short laugh from the king of Gotham in response.

„Yeah, besides, Joshua seems to be enjoying himself greatly.“ Bane chimed in cheerfuly.

Penguins smile grew into a grin at that.

„Yes! And it will even get better for him, when he sees what big surprise I have planned for him!“

Oswald was pretty sure of himself at that, Crane thought.

„You wouldn’t mind telling us what it is, would you?“ Scarecrow asked with an innocent voice, which was responded with an amused cackle of the infamous mafia boss.

„Ah-ah-ah, you’ll have to wait like everyone else. Wouldn’t want to spoil everything, now would we?“

„It was worth a try.“ A small laugh escaped his lips as he shrugged.

„Mhm, I’ll go get something to eat. Does one of you want anything?“ Oswald said politely as Harvey, Crane and Bane shook their heads in response, before he went on his way.

A comfortable Silence fell over them, as the trio watched with mild interest, what was happening around them. Scarecrow didn’t care at all about the party and rather got lost in his thoughts again. It was a pity, Joker wasn’t here. Everything always seemed more interesting when the Clown was around, he could even make this event not as boring as it was.

His train of thought was interrupted, when the entrance door were swung open with a loud bang, immediately taking his attention. It took him a moment to recognize the face oft he person who had entered, but was almost shocked to see, that it was none other than the one and only Harley Quinn in company of the infamous Poison Ivy.
The jester outfit she used to wear was replaced by something… revealing, but still had some resemblance to her Clown theme. She wore sunglasses and had a fucking tiger on a leash. All eyes were on her, as she opened a bottle of Champagne and drank from it.

When she finally took the sunglasses off and looked around the room, she looked shocked to see that the so called „party“ was basically the equivalent to a kids birthday party. The room was silent, as she gave her tiger some emloyee of Penguin and disappeared into the crowd. In Scarecrows opinion, a great entrance at the wrong event, so it was rather awkward.

„I didn’t know Oswald had invited Harley as well.“ Harvey muttered. He seemed genuinely surprised.

„I don’t think Oswald even knows he had invited her.“ Crane hummed.

Before silence could fall over them once again, he stood up.

„I’m gonna take a short break from all of this for a moment. I just can’t take this for too long.“ He said gesturing losely to the crowd of people. Two face stood up from his chair as well and walked towards Crane, mumbling a quiet „Me too“, as they went out for a bit, leaving Bane by himself.

_____

At the same time at Gotham Pier, Joker was tempted to shoot every single one of his employees for wrecking his nerves. Since he passed on Scarecrows offer to come with them to the Penguins nephews bar mitzvah, he had instead settled on finally working on rebuilding his hideout. The decoration of his and Scarecrows date was long gone.

„I need a permit for a trap door?! The whole point ist hat no one is supposed to know about it! Especially the City! I need this layer rebuilt now!“

The Clown yelled at one of the hired architects, who remained a bored expression, until the Joker pulled out one of his own designed guns, one he was admittedly proud of, and pointed it at the poor man, whose eyes went wide and fell quiet in an instant.

In that moment his phone rang in the honking noise of a clowns nose. His gun still raised he pulled the device out of one pocket and answerd the call.

„Knock! Knock! Who’s there? It’s me! Joker!“ His tone was rather bland and there was no energy behind his words. He was surprised to hear Bane on the other end of the speaker.

„You will never guess, who’s at the bar mitzvah.“

Joker couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Why did that idiot have to call him for every single stupid thing that happened in his life.

„Jesus, Bane! I don’t have time for a guessing game! Wait hold on“ He yelled into the phone, but fell quieter at the end.

„Those shoes have black soles! Put plastic booties on!“

Bane continued unphased by the obvious struggles with employees of the Clown.

„Harley is at Penguins nephews bar mitzvah“

„She crashed this stupid thing?!“ Joker shouted into the phone unbelievingly.

„Yeah, seems like she’s doing pretty well. Brought a tiger, pretty cool.

„What, anyone can buy a tiger. You know she has HPV, right?“

He could hear Bane slurping peacefully his drink on the other end of the line, before responding.

„Most sexually active adults do.“

Joker let out a frustrated growl, before finally putting the gun down.

„Shut up! I’m on my way.“

____

„Oh-oh! Who are these troublemakers?“

The trio, Scarecrow and Two face having long returned, looked up from the silence upon hearing that. The voice belonged to the one and only Harley Quinn, who stood in a confident pose near their table with a smirk resting on her face as she walked towards them.

„Nah, I’m just kidding, I know it’s you, Scarecrow, Two face, other half of Two face, Bane.“

She said as she went through each of them hurriedly. When she greeted Bane she made fun of his reputation of being basically all muscle and no brain, by striking a meant-to-be-strong pose, letting her voice sound awfully and hilariously dense and looking cross-eyed into nothing. Scarecrow and Two face couldn’t help but laugh at that, as Bane offendedly crossed his arms and mumbled something about blowing up this bar mitzvah.

„Quinn! Great to see you, where you been hidin‘?“ Harveys tone was cheerful and inviting, as Harley sat down and put her feet on the table.

„On your left, where ya can’t see shit!“ That caused the three Legion of doom members once again to laugh, as Harley continued.

„So! Guess who has a plan to finally get rid off Batman. Ya girl.“

Harley didn’t notice how a certain figure came up behind her, being threatingly close, but the others did, as the good-natured mood suddenly took a 180° turn and became tense.

„Look who’s trying to run, before she can crawl.“

The tone was sinister and dark, hiding just a bit of smugness, as her ex laid his hands on her shoulders from behind but then getting better into view of her. The trio laughed at Jokers sentence like it was the best joker he had ever told, and bane screamed „mazel tov“ out of nervousness.

„Glad you’re here J-man, pull up a chair doesn’t bother me. So who’s goin‘ beef and who’s goin‘ chicken?“ Harley didn’t seem bothered at all by Jokers presence.

„You are going somewhere else! Because this is the Legion of Doom table. Why don’t you go find the Crazy-Bitch-Table?“ Joker almost snapped with barely concealed anger.

„Spoiler! It’s not a real table!“ Bane chimed in.

„That was implied!“ Joker lashed out, Scarecrow feeling sorry for Bane, but also knew to better keep his mouth shut than to join this slowly evolving argument.

Harley apruptly stood up from her chair, her face speaking a story of anger and pure hatred.

„Who wants to ditch this jester and tear up Gotham with me?“

Joker wasted no second to start laughing at that, while the others just kept quiet. It was starting to really feel uncomfortable by now. The clown stopped his cackling, to glare at the trio for a few moments.

„Laugh! Laugh with me!“

The three forced themselves to laugh along, Scarecrow keeping it short, Two face balancing it perfectly and Banes being the most obviously fake one, probably because of his fear oft he menacing Clown Prince of Crime.

„You know what? Who needs ya? This table is too far away from the dance floor anyway!“

And with that and some admittedly weird dance moves, she was gone and Joker took her seat instead. He wore a big triumphant grin, as he leaned back in the chair and let his satisfied gaze wander over Harvey, Crane and Bane. Scarecrow shot him a nervous smile, still not feeling all too comfortable. Two face glared at him before averting his gaze and Bane had his attention on Harley still.

„Hey, glad you could make it.“ Scarecrow began to break the short-lived silence.

Joker did not answer, he simply nodded in return, before closing his eyes in satisfaction and leaning his head back.

„See how long it’ll last.“ Harvey mumbled, catching Jokers attention in an instant.

„Why’s that?“ He spoke in a low tone, not exactly threatening but coming close.

„Well, one, you weren’t invited and two, Oswald can’t stand you. I bet security’s already on their way.“ Harvey retorted, he was obviously annoyed by the Clowns presence. It was true though, Penguin wasn’t known for his kindness, and if anyone he disliked had the audacity to pull off something like that, they were basically a dead man. Harley was lucky, Oswald had nothing against her.

„Speaking of the devil, there he comes.“ Harvey mumbled.

Scarecrows gaze snapped towards the crowd and sure enough, Penguin was already heading their way, keeping a fast but polite pace through the throng of people. He wore an expression of displeasure and Crane was sure, this was the Clowns end.

„Didn’t even know he could walk that fast.“ Joker muttered amused.

When Oswald reached the, he straightened his posture and raised his chin a bit higher. His height was still a considerable amount shorter, than them, even though they were sitting. Still Crane knew not to underestimate the man, especially since he was carrying his signature umbrella with him.

„Jack, what gives me the honor to see you at my nephews bar mitzvah?“ his tone was sharp and cold, but contained politeness.

„Oh, you know, I would never miss out on Julians bar mitzvah.“

„Joshua.“

„His too.“

Joker enjoyed getting under his skin and was always happy to see how easy it was too. He leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms behind his head, before continuing.

„Besides, I thought I was allowed here, since everbody just comes here as they please. Hell, even the C-villains!“ he gestured in the direction of Charles Brown, otherwise known as kiteman, who was currently talking to the infamous Poison Ivy.

„I need you to leave now, Joker. Or else.“ Penguin said menacing and cocked his gunbrella.

Scarecrow, who had kept quiet this whole time, didn’t know why he said, what he said next.

„Actually, Oswald. Jack’s here because of me, I invited him. I thought that’d be okay, since you told me I could bring a plus one.“ He hurriedly blurted out, almost tumbling over his own words.

He always found keeping eye contact was hard, but keeping eye contact with one of the most powerful and menacing mafia bosses of Gotham, who stared at him like he had lost his mind, was even harder. Whoever would have guessed?

„Joker… being your… plus one? Have I heard that right?“ He asked, his voice full of disbelief. Crane felt himsefl redden under his burlap mask, when he heard these words spoken out loud. It sounded differently in his mind. He did not dare to even glance at the Clown, he didn’t want to see his expression. Was it smug? Was it shocked?

„Yeah… Is… is that okay?“

Penguin hesitated only for a moment, before a smirk found its way onto his face.

„Sure, I don’t question your taste in men.“

Crane believed even through his mask, it was clearly visible how red and flustered he was, and had to bite the inside of his cheek to supress a frustrated groan.

„Thank you, Oswald.“ Was all he managed to say and even then it took all his power to not let his voice waver.

The selfproclaimed King of Gotham just nodded at him, before he went on his merry way.

„You didn’t tell me, that Joker was your plus one.“

Harveys voice broke Scarecrow out of his trance like state. Now he was forced to look at them and saw Jokers smirk, Banes confusion and Two faces accusing look.

„Well, it was kind of a spontaneous decision.“ He admitted, as his breathing slowly went back to normal and his face began to cool down. He managed to look Joker in the eyes, before addressing him directly.

„I hope that’s okay for you.“

Jokers smirk went even wider as he waved a hand and shrugged it off.

„Of course, I don’t mind being your plus one.“ He put his emphasis especially on „plus one“, draging into unnecessary length just for the fun of it.

It was silent after that, as Bane seemed generally uncomfortable and Two face sullen just because of Jokers sheer presence, while Scarecrow on the other hand enjoyed it. His gaze wandered over the crowd and he noticed Harley was nowhere to be seen, neither was her lady friend Poison Ivy. Did they leave? Crane doubted it, Jokers honestly rude intervention, couldn’t have caused her to take her leave, she was stronger and more stubborn than that.

His eyes fell onto the Clown, who still relished in his victory over his ex-girlfriend. Their „mad love“ had really taken a turn, it was unbelievable, that such a thing had even happened. A pang of insecurity suddenly hit Scarecrow. Deep in his chest and in the darkest corner of his mind, he felt as if Joker was not willing to let go of Harley. As if he did all that just to anger her and hurt her. Something deep inside of him even quietly mumbled, that maybe Joker was even trying to win her back, but he promptly smothered that thought. It can’t be.

He hadn’t noticed just how deep he was into thoughts, when Harvey shook him a little on purpose. Scarecrow looked irritated for a moment until Two face pointed towards Oswald. He stood alongside Joshua in the middle oft he crowd, who had formed a circle around him, as he got ready to hold a speech. Joker, Bane, Two face and Scarecrow arose from their seats and joined the party guests, it was almost funny how quiet they were now, as Penguins words, spoke a story of pride and sentimentality.

Joker roughly nudged Scarecrow to get his attention, and formed his hand into the „blah-blah-blah“-gesture. Crane escaped a small chuckle at that, but he quickly shut it down, not wanting to seem inpolite.

„And now without any further or do, here’s your surprise, Joshua!“

With that the curtains opened, sparking faintly the memory of last night in Scarecrows mind, but what it contained was nothing like the well thought out gift Joker had had for him. On the stage was Harley, standing in the middle of badly injured security guards scattered on the ground, some of them groaning in pain, some of them not giving any noise at all. They all were in front of a giant opened safe, filled tot he brim with money with Harley holding some of it.

After that everything happened too fast for Scarecrow to comprehend, since Joker held him in a strong grip, shaking him back and forth in excitement. He heard crying, screaming, Harley saying something and then a loud thud. When the world around him stopped spinning, he saw Harley lying on the floor, seemingly unconscious, Joshua looked angry and Penguin wore a half satisfied smirk, mumbling something about a change in plan.

Joker started giggling right next to him, which evolved into a full blown cackle quickly, his grin was sadistic and his eyes had something malicious. He was watching Penguins goons tying Harley to a chair and Oswald himself talking to his nephew, whose angry face slowly turned into an insidious smirk. Scarecrow did not know what to think of it all, he never disliked Harley nor did he hold any grudge against her. He wondered where Ivy could be, she would save her friend immediately and violently.

„Oh, this is gonna be good.“ Joker chuckled in a sinister way, sending shivers down Cranes spine.

Who would have known, the evening took a sharp turn so fast.

Chapter Text

The ice sent burning pain through Scarecrows arm, as the soothing cold was placed on one of his bruises. He should have known fighting Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy was a bad idea, maybe he should have taken on Kiteman, that’d been much easier. He could have refused fighting, no one would have stopped him, but when Joker told him to do that, he knew he had no choice. But he could not figure out why the others had joined the fight, must have been out of habit.

*His only power is bullying you into doing what he wants.*

As much as Scarecrow tried, he could not get these words out of his mind. *Or use their feelings for him*, he thought bitterly. Getting beaten up for his – by the way unharmed – crush, really left a bad taste in his mouth, but that was what he had to deal with. It was his choice after all, might as well live with the consequences and pain of it.

He made a mental note to later apologize to Penguin for accidentally spraying his party guests with fear toxin. Hopefully he would understand, if not, hell was coming for him.

He sat on one of his bar stool around the counter, just trying to have one moment in peace and quiet. He wasn’t able to get any sleep and had just given up after a few hours. It was currently like five in the morning or earlier, he didn’t really bother to check the time. The headache and the pain of his arm were bothersome, but he had endured far worse, so it was acceptable.

*His only power is bullying you into doing what he wants.*

The scene kept on replaying in his head. After Harley said that, Bane somehow found the courage to speak his mind, and stopped fighting, he could see all of them consider Harleys words. Joker had had enough of it at that point and pointed his gun at Harley, but Ivy protected her. She looked ready to kill the Clown, making Scarecrow panic internally, when luckily Jokers phone rang and he needed to leave.

Part of Scarecrow was reliefed, he didn’t have to get home with the Joker, thinking the Clown might be angry at him for failing such easy task. Truth be told he still was afraid this was the case, Joker hadn’t bothered to show up since and stayed out the whole night.

He swirred his coffee a little, feeling no motivation for anything at all. Crane would just skip doing experiments this day. He hadn’t planned anything big anyway, might as well take a break. Then again, he hadn’t really been active lately - not counting studying those people at Jokers and his date - which was a stark contrast to his usually overworked and near collapsing form. It almost felt weird, he got enough sleep, ate and drank enough and yet he was not satisfied. The domestic life just wasn’t right for him. He needed a goal. Something he could work towards. Maybe he just needed kicks again.

He rubbed his eyes, as if it would bring him an idea. He needed screams, he needed fun, he needed attention. And who gives him attention when he makes someone yell in fear? The Batman.

Slowly a sinister grin found its way onto his lips. That’s it. That was what he needed. And he needed to do it alone this time. He couldn’t let Joker distract him from doing what he loved so much. He considered just going out there and gassing people just like that, but as soon as that thought reached his head, he quickly got rid off it. He was not that foolish and reckless. If he just did that, he would be in Arkham in no time.

Almost unconsciously he had stood up, abondoning his ice but taking his coffee with him on the way, and walked towards his study room. It felt like he didn’t have any control over what he was doing, as he sat down at his desk and started to scribble down plans and notes. But he knew it was right. Back into habit. Away from feelings for at least a few hours.

He would deny it, but lately he did not feel like himself. What had happened to the sinister and mighty Scarecrow? His recent activities were just so… petty to him. Not even the Bat bothered to do something against his „crimes“ and it enraged him to no end. Hell! Even the citizens of Gotham must be more afraid of the Riddler by now. Scared of Edward Nygma! Ridiculous.

He needed to keep his reputation and not focus on love or such thing. The desire of attention and approval was so tremendous, it felt as if it was eating him alive, as his hand almost automatically wrote ideas down onto the paper. Before he noticed it, Scarecrow had filled both sides of it, without even realizing any time had passed.

His eyes flew over the words quickly. The plan was not bad, but he could do better, he knew that. There were just too many possibilties of him getting caught and sent back to Arkham.

He crumpled up the paper and grabbed the next one.

He needed to think, to cosider everything that could go wrong, to plan the perfect getaway, to have something up his sleeve when it comes tot he confrontation with the Batman.

And he needed to do it alone.

 

The time read 7 p.m. and loud footsteps echoed through the hallways of Scarecrows hideout, but went unnoticed by the owner, as he was too caught up into his work. Joker trudged towards the living area with a sour and tired look on his face. It had been a very long night for him and he just needed some time to himself. At this rate, his hideout would be rebuilt, when he was dead. It annoyed him endlessly, he needed to strike fear into his workers hearts, so they’d finally get their asses off the ground and start working.

He had the brilliant idea to get some of Scarecrows Fear Toxin and gas a few employees with it. Y’know, for more efficiency. So he had to go all the way back to the layer and get it, since he did not trust these idiotic henchmen to bring it to him safely. He was just going to make a quick stop, take it and then leave. Simple as that.

When he entered the living room, Scarecrow was nowhere in sight. Good. Crane had the awful tendency to get all defensive about giving his Fear Toxin away, especially without his permission. And after last nights incident, he wasn’t all too sure, he had him wrapped tightly around his finger anymore. Frustrating for sure.

He searched through the drawer, he knew Scarecrow kept some of his Fear Toxin in, but only found empty syringes. Angrily he closed it. Damn it. Where could he have hidden more of it? Probably in his lab or something. Or maybe in his room? It was worth a shot.

Joker was already heading towards Cranes bedroom, when he heard something and stopped dead in his tracks. It was Scarecrows voice. Low and quiet mumbling, but his words were clear. It was coming from his study room and Joker – curious as he is – decided to do some good old eavesdropping. He could only hear Cranes voice, so he was not so sure, if there was another person in there.

He held his ear to the thin door, making it easier to understand what Scarecrow was saying.

„No, no, no, no, no, no! This ones even worse than before! It wouldn’t even work, if the Bat was old and grey!“ Crane sounded frustrated as he kept on ranting. „Why can’t these work? Why can’t any of these work?!“

It took Joker a moment to realize what was going on with Scarecrow, the lack of sleep had definetly not left him unaffected. What the hell was he talking about? He sounded like a sleepdeprived lunatic, who belonged in Arkham, which actually perfectly describes Crane, albeit his often collected and calm demeanor.

Realization finally dawned upon Joker and he could not help but grin widely. Oh. Oh this was good. He must have been the most lucky man alive to finally get to witness Scarecrow in his overworking state. He almost thought it’d never happen, but life seemed to be kind for once to him. This was going to be fun.

He straightened his posture ever so slightly and knocked with utmost care on the door, replacing his grin with a polite smile. Shuffling could still be heard from the other side of the door with no reaction at all. Silence means yes.

Joker turned the doorknob and silently entered the room. Scarecrow did not seem to notice him at all, he was still ranting and mumbling, having his back turned to the door and the Clown who was standing in the door frame. Fatal mistake.

Without making any noise, he made his way towards Crane. He was walking like a person in one of those cheesy 80s cartoon series, who was trying to be sneaky. If Jon had been sober from his workoholic state, he probably would have noticed Joker, but either way it worked. The Clown was just mere inches away from the masked man, waiting for nothing specific, before slowly extanding his hand towards the Scarecrow.

But Joker seemingly made up his mind. He jumped in a quick move forward, gripping Cranes shoulders with both his hands and giving him a light shook.

„BOO!“

Scarecrow jumped as soon as Jokers hands touched him, stumbling forward while swatting losely in the Clowns direction as if he was trying to scare away a fly. His eyes were bloodshot and wide, like the way a mad misunderstood genius would look, desperate for the appreciation of his mind. Or just some lunatic out of Arkham after shocktherapy.

Joker was holding his stomach from laughing, while Scarecrow looked as though he was deciding on wether or not to give his „attacker“ a genuine dose of Fear Toxin.

„You should have seen your face! It was priceless!“ Joker wheezed out barely, before falling back into his uncontroled cackling.

Scarecrow would have rolled his eyes, if they didn’t hurt as though someone had given him two black eyes.

„Really funny, Jack. Your jokes are getting old.“

The Clown gave a dramatic gasp, which would have passed as more genuine, if he had managed to rid his neverdying grin of sheer amusement off his face. He stumbled and covered the part of his chest where his heart was – that is if he had one at all – and put his other hand to his forehead before letting his head fall back.

„How can you say that?!“ His voice was shrill and exaggerated. Just the way Joker liked it.

Scarecrow sighed, but let a playful smile rest on his lips at seeing how much of a drama queen his crush really was. Unsurprisingly if he was honest.

„How long have you been standing there anyway?“

„None of your concern, Jonathan.“

Joker managed to pull himself just enough together to let his reply seem at least a bit serious. It let Scarecrows heart skip a beat, but only because of the Clowns use of his name.

„Can’t believe, I didn’t notice you.“ He muttered mostly to himself.

Joker let out a light hum, not as a response, but more like singing a tune, as he folded his hands behind his back and stalked towards the wall behind Scarecrows desk. It was covered in notes and some red string connecting multiple ideas and thus forming losely a plan. He didn’t bother to understand what the wall was trying to tell him, instead he let his attention fall upon his dearest Scarecrow.

„Oooh, someone’s been doing some hard work. Been here all day?“ Joker kept a light, almost innocent tone, which Crane would have probably seen through, if his head had been clear, and not throbbing in pain.

„Maybe. Is it still dark outside?“ He responded a bit lazily.

Scarecrows tired voice made the Clown turn around, a bit too fast for his liking. He noticed how Crane was swaying ever so slightly, while he was rubbing his bloodshot eyes. He looked tired and dazed, almost vulnerable. The mighty and sinister Scarecrow, a symbol of fear and terror, reduced to a lanky exhausted man with his guard down.

A amused smirk turned into a cunning grin on Jokers face. He must’ve been the luckiest man alive, to be able to see Crane in such a state. The possibilities were endless.

„Oh, Scarecrow.“ He started in a singsong voice, catching the former professors attention first.

„Yeah, Joker?“

„I was wodering, if I you were so kind to borrow me some of your Fear Toxin?“

Easier said than done. Joker did not miss how Crane tensed up a bit, albeit his current state.

„I don’t know, Jack. I’d rather not give it away.“

Joker supressed the urge to scream at him. Damn it. Why’d he have to be a bitch about his oh so precious toxin? He needed to change his tactic.
He let his now forced grin, soften into a concerned smile and tried to make it seem as genuine as possible.

„You look tired, Jon. Have you gotten any rest?“

The amount of false worry in his voice was almost dripping from his words. Scarecrow visible struggled to keep his eyes open and his mind must’ve already lost its usual sharpness, or else he would have noticed how awfully fake Joker was acting.

„No, not really.“ He answered honestly. Joker wouldn‘t miss his shot.

He walked up to Scarecrows side, takig both of his hands smoothly and started leading him out of the room. Crane did not resist, though he looked confused.

„You need sleep, Jon. Wouldn’t want you to overwork yourself.“

Joker would never admit it – at least not to Scarecrow when he was in need of a favor – but he was slightly disappointed by how easily Crane wore himself out. He thought that the man could last days and nights on end without any rest. Probably just needed to get back into habit.

He turned the doorknob to Scarecrows bedroom and led him towards the bed. The bed was big enough to fit two people into it, surprisingly, since Crane preferred to sleep alone. Maybe he just liked to have much space.

He sat slowly onto the bed as the Clown let him go. Before he could lay down or do anything else, Joker knelt down to him, bringing the both of them onto the same eyelevel.

„Before you go to sleep, I have a question for you.“ His tone was quiet, and he was speaking as though he was talking to a child. Crane would have felt insulted, if he had been right in his mind then.

„What is it?“ he just whispered.

„Where is your Fear Toxin?“

Scarecrow blinked a few times, seemingly debating on wether or not to tell him that. By now Joker was fighting with his patience. That took way too long. As he was about to raise his voice, Crane finally answered.

„I have a few gallons of it stored in my closet. If you use it, be sure to use a gas mask.“

And with that he rolled over and slowly let sleep take him. Finally Joker let his smile fall and a triumphant grin take it’s place, as he made his way towards the closet. Scarecrow didn’t lie, a ten or so metal cans were neatly placed upon and next to one another. The Clown helped himself and put one of them under each of his arms. He let out a low chuckle at his success and left the room.

Chapter Text

Today was the day. Or rather the night. Gotham would finally be filled with the screams of its terrified citizens living through their worst nightmares again. Once again Scarecrow would do justice to his title of being The Master of Fear and make thousands upon thousands of civillians quiver in terror and the thought of him. These words sounded so sweet on his tongue he almost feared to get caries.

But it was not simple as that. He wouldn’t have bothered to spend weeks on planning and perfecting everything, if his idea was to merely gas the city. No, no, no. Instead he thought of something a tad more… complex. If he stuck to such an easy plan, he would basically play right into the Dark Knights hands and fists. He had something better up his sleeve.

Despite his perfectionated organizing and considering of every possibility, he was prepared for some bruises, cuts and at least one or two broken ribs. But it was part of the plan, hell, the whole point of it was getting the attention, the rush, the adrenaline he craved and that would hardly work without his favorite foe.

It seemed like an eternity had passed since his last big attack on the city and he felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Sheer anticipation flooded through his veins all day as he ran mentally his check list down. Nobody knew about his plan, safe for goons and henchmen, and he only made sure that Bane and Two-face would be safe as soon as the fun began.

But it would be one hell of a boring and stressed time until then. He would doublecheck on everything, pace the floor back and forth and chew on his lip impatiently. Exactly on 9 p.m. would the show begin, when the streets were crowded enough and the protecting darkness engulfed him and his men into the shadows.

He was outside of his layer, watching his goons chat with one another, waiting by their trucks filled with fear toxin. Alongside the casks of his precious toxin inside of the vehicles was a bomb in each of them. The trucks would drive to marked spots all over town and when the timer hits zero they will explode. Upon the explosion his toxin would evaporate and spread throughout the city and make hundreds of people victims of its effect.

That was only to get the bats attention and to already have a head start in the game. The best part would wait. He checked his watch only to see he still had about two hours left. Gothams traffic was a bitch at 7 p.m. People working extra hours or starting their night shift filled the roads and he needed his henchmen to get going.

Scarecrow clapped his hands a few times, immediately catching all of his mens attention, as they quickly gathered in a half circle around him. For this big scheme he had chosen the most respectable of his goons, those who actually had a brain and the will to work for him, for the sake of bringing terror and destruction in a smart way. He liked this kind of henchmen.

„Okay, boys. You all know the plan and the part you play, right?“

„Yes!“ They said in unison.

Scarecrow nodded satisfied, letting his gaze wander over them. They all stood in groups, organized by their respective tasks. He pointed towards the group of men, dressed in different uniforms, those who would drive the trucks. The trucks themselves were pretty plain and held no resemblance to each other, they all had the name and logo of some company on them and their drivers were dressed as workers of said company.

„You will go now. Do each of you know where they have to drive and where the meeting point is?“

„Yes!“

„Good, then go.“

And with that they went to their trucks, started them and drove off into two directions of the road, careful never to stay too close to one another and have some of them take the long route to a different spot the same way. Wouldn’t want to raise suspicion after all.

Some of his men had quite a way to drive to get to their spots, but Scarecrow trusted them enough not to get caught and follow the plan. He had marked several places all over the city, City Hall District, East End, Bristol, Old Gotham and more. Hell, he had even highlighted not so important parts like Grand Avenue, Park Row and Fashion District. Most of them just because Crane knew there would be a lot of people. Only two trucks had their spots in Chinatown, since Scarecrow wasn’t very keen on catching the wrath of the Lucky Hands Triad. He was 100% they’d never try to mess with him, but he did it anyway just in case he ever needed a favor.

He turned his head towards the next group, a whole bunch of henchmen dressed with makeshift signature Scarecrow masks and armed with guns and fear toxin. They all wore a determined expression as they straightened their posture upon meeting Scarecrows gaze. Their villainous boss just smiled cunningly at them.

Scarecrow had also made sure bruises and broken rips wouldn’t be the only thing he would gain from all this. Several vans would seperately take the route towards the Financial District of Gotham, the district with the most banks in the whole city. When all hell breaks loose, his men will have an easy time robbing bank after bank, since Batman won’t bother with them, he’ll focus on finding the Master of Fear.

„You all will get going too. You know the plan?“

„Yes!“ There was obvious enthusiasm in their voices, much to Scarecrows delight.

„Very well, now go!“

Wordlessly they made their way to their vans, six in each of them all with the same equipment and one – chosen by the Scarecrow - of them took the lead, so nothing could go wrong. Good planning was the key to successful crime after all. Crane was almost sure if he wasn’t so keen on encountering the big bad Bat, he could go without even seeing him even once and vice versa. The thought let a short low chuckle escape his lips.

Next up were his own personal chemists, still wearing their protective gear and gas masks. They were useful, the only people who knew how to make many gallons of fear toxin aside from him. Scarecrow half trusted them, but only because he knew, none of them had the capacity to make it on their own, they were henchmen, but also huge pushovers and cowards.

He folded his hands behind his back, a posture signaling people the plain simple phrase „Do not touch me“ while also putting automatically confidence and conviction in his words and movements.

„You have done well, but there’s nothing to do for you anymore. You can either go home or stay in the hideout.“

There was no choice and Scarecrow knew it, if they went home, they would be exposed to his fear toxin knowing Crane had no mercy for them and the hideout on the other hand was safe. Predictably they chose to stay in the layer and quickly went inside.

Last and probably least were the typical average goons. They weren’t qualified in any way, excluding the fact they had the muscle to put at least somewhat a fight up to the Batman. He had even borrowed some from the Legion of Doom. They had no job, other than to tire the Bat out before Scarecrow had to face him. Admittedly, if the Batman would square off against Scarecrow, without being tired out from fighting the goons, it would be a much quicker fight for the caped crusader.
Jonathan was in no shape to even slightly do some damage to Gothams hero without his Toxin, though he didn’t like to admit it.

Scarecrow turned towards the henchmen, watching as some of them straightened their posture upon being so subtly addressed, while others didn’t notice his gaze at all. He would have lied, if he said that it surprised him. He surpressed the urge to sigh in frustration and decided to get it over with already. He didn’t ask if they knew the plan and instead explained it again, knowing that at least one of them had forgotten it.

„Alright, boys, we’ll now get to the base. Everything there is already prepared, so you only have to guard the place and watch out for the Bat. If any of you see him, call alarm and fight him. Whatever you do, don’t let him get to the roof top. Understood?“

„Understood!“

„Good.“

And with that the rest of the henchmen and Scarecrow went into the two left over trucks and drove off. He sat in the front seat, going once again over his mental checklist. Thankfully the driver kept his mouth shut and didn’t try to ask any stupid questions, so Crane had some peace and quiet before it was showtime.

The don’t-let-Batman-reach-the-roof-thing wasn’t meant serious. He only said it to put some more extra pressure onto his goons. He wanted them to give their best and not go down like flies. Unfortunately his men always tended to loose their strength and courage when it came down to actually fighting Batman.

He rubbed his eyes, as he felt a wave of exhaustion pass over him. He hadn’t slept in several days and passing out did apparently not count, if one believed Harvey Dent. The tiredness was slowly catching up to him, but he ignored it. The adrenaline would do its job once the fun began and hopefully he could manage to stay awake until then.

„Are you okay, boss?“

The drivers voice broke him out of his thoughts. There was slight concern behind his words and he passed a quick glance at Crane, before he focused back onto the road.

„Hm?“

„Is everything alright with you, Boss?“

To say Scarecrow was surprised was an understatement, he was rather… startled by one of his henchmen showing almost real worry for him.

„Yeah, yeah. I’m just having a hard time thinking straight.“ He replied shortly, not wanting to carry this conversation any longer. The perplexed look on the goons face didn’t fail to catch Cranes attention and he briefly wondered if the man was worried about him or the plan, but decided to keep his focus elsewhere.

„Oh, okay then.“

The ride continued in blissful silence until they arrived at the base. The base was a relatively new Clock Tower, Scarecrow had debated on using this one or the one in old Gotham, but decided to take this one, because it was closer to the city center and gave the best view over the chaos that was about to ensue.

The streets were still full of people, not necessarily crowded, but they’d give a nice scream chorus anyway. The trucks drove one into an alleyway and stopped right next to the side entrance to the tower. Thankfully, but unsurprisingly nobody seemed to notice them, not even as all the henchmen stepped out oft he vehicle and made their way inside the building. Gothamites almost never noticed what was happening right in front of their eyes and Scarecrow sometimes asked himself if they were really that oblivious or just chose to ignore it. It was hard to tell.

The Clock Tower was built about 5 - 10 years ago, as far as Scarecrow knew, had a flat roof, multiple floors with glass windows and was mostly made out of metal with a few brick built walls. Not very tasteful, you could tell the architect tried to create a mixture between the gothic old buildings and the new skyscrapers in Gotham but failed miserably. But it fulfilled its purpose and the roof gave the perfect scene for a fight, while not being unsafe. Scarecrow had six different escape routes and only one required jumping from leg-breaking height. The buildings surrounding the tower thankfully weren’t high enough for Batman to jump from roof to roof, meaning he had no other choice than to fight off the goons first.

Scarecrow entered the building last, after going over his plan one last time. There were two options to get to the rooftop. One, take the elevator, or two, take the stairs. Now, despite Cranes dislike for anything that required physical activity, he took the stairs. He only did it, to keep himself occupied as he felt sleepiness slowly creeping up to him. The walking would surely tire him a bit, but he didn’t care.

After he reached the rooftop, he took a moment to see if everything was ready. There were canisters full of Fear toxin for later use and a headset so he could communicate with his henchmen, lying on a table next to a chair. He was alone, all his henchmen were scattered around the place and no one seemed very keen on guarding the roof for some reason. Maybe the building pressure and fear from hearing your colleagues getting beaten up by a man in a Bat costume.

Sitting down at the table, Scarecrow took the headset into his hands. It was one of his own design and though he didn’t like to admit it, it was hard to build it. He was a chemist and not a technician for gods sake. He spared a quick glance at his watch only to see he still had about half an hour left until it was showtime.

In a swift motion he pulled his mask off his head, revealing brown-gingerish mob of hair and tired icy blue eyes, before he quickly put on the headset, switching the device on in the progress, and pulled the bag over his head again. Scarecrows tiredness was shoved aside, as nervousness took him over and he bounced his feet impatiently. Everything was in place, only waiting for his signal to begin.

He always hated these moments. The sheer anticipation when he was about to commit a crime. His heart pounding harder, without the sweet adrenaline giving him the rush he needs. It was torturous, there was no other way to describe it. He didn’t know if all rogues felt like him when it came to that, and it seemed stupid if he took the time to think about it. But in that moment, only succeeding mattered to him, regardless of how silly he acted.

Jokers crimes always went flawless, without the Clown unintentionally making a fool of himself. There was a certain irony behind it, but when it came down his schemes, Jack was collected and knew what he was doing. It was admirable to Scarecrow, how he could pull that off, but still keep his image as an unpredictable crazy Clown and nothing more. Sometimes he wondered, if that was Jokers intention, to be underestimated and labeled as less of a threat. Yet Gotham sure as hell didn’t underestimate him, they respected him and feared him, but other villains were conflicted. A lot hated him. A lot admired him. A few had unwanted feelings for him. God, what a mess.

If only Scarecrow understood how he did it, how he got everyones love and hate, but made them ultimately respect him. People always said respect had to be earned, a stupid concept for society, but a useful one for villains and rogues. Nobody will look twice at you, much less respect you, if you have no reputation, if they can put nothing to your name, as if you were non-existent, just a nameless plain figure without purpose and too unimportant to care about. But if you have done something to earn yourself a title, things get a little more interesting. Nobody cared about Jonathan Crane, only Scarecrow, the Master of Fear, mattered. A title, a symbol, a reputation. Game, set and match.

Just what was it that made Joker so respected? More than half of the Legion of Doom members could kill him in one blow, yet the Clown seemed invincible. More than human, less than a god, but nothing inbetween. He was a symbol. Just like the Batman. Nothing more, nothing less.

Scarecrow didn’t notice how deep he was into his thoughts, until his watch started beeping, pulling him back into reality. He had set himself an early alarm, letting him know, that he had five minutes left until it was time. He stood up from the table and walked towards the railing of the roof to let his gaze wander over the city. He didn’t notice the sinister grin spreading on his features.

 

***

Scarecrow had no taste in any kind of art. He could go into a museum and spit onto each painting. He could call paintings like the Mona Lisa or Starry Night a waste of good resources and thought Picassos obsession with shapes and forms was ridiculous. But seeing one after one truck exploding and sending clouds of dust and fear toxin off into the sky had something cinematographic. It was no matter of seconds, before the sound of screams filled the air, making this just better.

But the cherry on top was probably now alerted. Scarecrows grin only widened, as he recklessly bend over the railing to get a better look at the people on the streets. One of the trucks had only exploded a block away and the Fear Gas had long clouded the sky and engulfed innocent and less innocent bystanders. Those were now squirming on the streets, shouting things like „Get them off me!“ or „Go away!“. Sadly none of them were all too interesting, just people screaming about bugs, but that didn’t take his good mood away.

Suddenly the Batsignal popped up on the sky, letting Crane and the citizens know Gothams hero was on his way through the still crowded streets. The Bat probably knew exactly where Scarecrow was, somehow he always did, but must’ve been slowed down thanks to the sea of cars blocking the road. That gave Crane some time to prepare, not physically but mentally. It had been so long and the adrenaline was making his skin tickle and brought his senses to high alert. Anticipation was killing him and he could barely stand still.

Leaning his torso on the railing, he let his feet bounce impatiently. The chaos around him was delightful, but he couldn’t help but wonder how his friends were doing, if they were safe. Most likely, they wouldn’t dare to ignore his warnings, he knew that for sure. At least for Bane and Harvey, Joker was another league.

Another explosion ripped him from his thoughts, catching Scarecrows attention in a heartbeat as he hurriedly fixed his gaze toward the street. The big bad Bat must’ve gotten tired of cars blocking his way and decided to just blow them apart. Wonderful. Batman seemed to be on edge as he exited his infamous Batmobile – without the company of his newest boy wonder – and fought off a few on his henchmen, attempting to attack him.

For a few seconds their eyes connected, his yellow-black ones with Batman white slits. Yet he could feel how much anger they concealed. Scarecrows grin was met with a frown, as he waved at the Bat in a cocky and daring movement.

Let the fun begin.

***

„Did you know about this?“

„No, he didn’t tell me about this.“

Lex Luthors finger was pointing accusingly at Bane, who held his hands up in an innocent gesture, careful not to drop his coffee filled mug, he was holding in his right hand. They argued in the kitchenette, less to Banes delight. Around them sat a few other LOD-members, some watching their fight, others looking disinterested, while others were just chatting. Scarecrows attack being their topic by choice.

„I swear, he told me nothing.“

„Oh really? So he did this on his own?“

Lex’s voice was dripping with disbelief as he frowned at the much taller and broader man in front of him.

„Yeah, he did. What’s the big deal? It’s not like this has happened for the first time?“

A frustrated growl escaped Luthors lips, as he turned his frown away from Bane and instead stared out of the transparent walls of the Legion of Doom, thankful the building had air filters keeping out any of Cranes wicked chemicals.

„You know how much I hate Scarecrows schemes. Bastard doesn’t even bother to warn us, talking about comradery.“

„There’s no honor among thiefs, y’know.“

Two pairs of eyes were fixated on the two-faced man, who decided to chime into their conversation.

„Harvey, good to see you, and good to see your other half as well. You were exactly who I wanted to see right now.“

Two-face narrowed his eyes at the friendly tone the man took, there was no sarcasm behind his voice, yet there was obvious mockery. In a seemingly nice gesture, Lex walked towards the man with outstretched arms, attempting to tower over him despite being only mere inches taller than him.

„Bane didn’t know Scarecrow planned something, quit being a dick towards him.“

„Ah, good pals stick together. Fine, fine, have it your way, but let it be known, we only had a nice chat.“

„Uh-hu.“

Luthors left eye twitched for a brief moment, blink and you’d have missed it. But Two-face did not miss it.

„And you? Did you know anything about this?“

In a vague movement, Lex gestured towards the window, showing dark green clouds of Fear Toxin and screaming people surrounding the area. Harvey almost looked bored, as he looked back to Luthor, who wore an expecting look on his face.

„No, I did not. You do know Jon prefers to keep his plans secret, right? He cannot risk any of his schemes leaking, now can he?“

„That does not justify in him, not warning us. I mean he doesn’t have to give me the details of his plan, just a warning. Is it too much to ask for?“

„But he did.“

Bane chimed into the argument, successfully gathering both participants attention, as they turned their heads towards him. Speechless, it seemed as their gazes bore right through the man, Lex’s undescribable and Harveys angered.

„He what?“

Luthor finally managed. Bane seemed to notice he said something wrong, but continued non the less, fiddling nervously with his thumbs.

„Well, he told me to stay in my Legion of Doom today. He didn’t tell me why, but I knew he was serious about this.“

Lex took a few steps towards the man, disbelief still present on his face.

„So what you’re telling me, that Scarecrow, one of Gothams most powerful and fearsome villains, who is especially known for his fear inducing toxin, told you to stay in the building with air filters on this specific evening, without giving you any reason and you weren’t at least one bit suspicious?“

There was a deafening silence in the room, every LOD member seemed to be watching the fight now, waiting for Bane to answer.

„If you put it that way, it sounds kinda obvious…“ he finally quietly admited, avoiding Lex’s eyes.

Before Luthor could retort anything, Two-face spoke up.

„God, you’re pathetic. Will you calm down and stop being bitch about it? Scarecrow didn’t have to tell anyone, don’t act like you’re entitled to know everything he does. What are you? His mom?“

Laughter echoed through the room, as Lex turned bright red. Either from anger or embarrassment was anyones guess.

„I bet he told it Joker.“ Riddlers shrill voice screamed as the laughter was near dying down, only to evoke again. Harvey made a point glaring at each of them, but it did very little.

„Do we even know its Scarecrow who’s doin‘ this?“ Solomon Grundys voice. „I mean for all we know he would Joker have his toxin for schemes.“

„Nah, Scarecrow’d rather die, than give his toxin away.“ Killer Croc protested.

„Where the hell is that Clown even?“ Sinestro threw in. He seemed bored by the debate, despite his liking for picking on Crane, much to Harveys surprise.

„Who cares?“ Penguin spat, „that Bastard could be out there squirming while witnessing his worst nightmare and I’d still worry more about the ants he’s squashing.“

„He’s in the meeting room. I saw him watching the chaos outside while muttering something about Scarecrow. It was beyond creepy.“ Black Manta finally spoke up, sounding a bit hesitant.

„What did he say about Crane?“ Two-face immediately asked, suspicion clearly in his voice.

„Uh, I don’t know. Couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, just heard his name.“

„Oh.“

After that the room went back to normal. Lex went off, probably to question the Clown next, as the Legion of Doom members went back to their usal chatter. Harvey and Bane sat down at one unoccupied table, none of them daring to talk as Two-face couldn’t shake off the concern he was having for his friend.

„You don’t think Joker knew about this, right?“

Bane finally broke the silence. There was a long pause on Harveys side, as if he was thinking of something to say or just wanted to skip the question.

„Do you?“

That took the man a bit aback, but he recovered quickly.

„I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me. Now that they live together and all that.“

Two-face nodded understandingly, taking in each word and forming his own opinion. It would make sense, it wasn’t easy to hide something like that from someone like the Joker. Then again, if the Clown had something to do with it, he would be right there where the action and Batman is. Harvey was torn.

„Maybe Joker found it out without Jon telling him about it.“ he suggested, getting a short hum in response.

„Yeah, maybe.“

***

 

Many people thought Crane was a sick twisted psycho without empathy or any sanity. And that even without ever meeting him in person. It was impressive, but a shame really. If they had the chance to encounter him in person and got to know him, they would see he was 10x more twisted and sinister than they ever dreamed him to be.

Moments like these were simple proof. Right then and there, where he stood in front of the door leading to the inside oft he building, awaiting for his knight in black armour to arrive. He could hear a variety of painful and almost inhumane noises arising from the other side. Punches, cracks, clangs, screams and even gurgling. Every normal sane human being would feel a giant amount of fear, if they ever were to face such a situation. And Scarecrow? No fear in sight, but an unhealthy mixture of anticipation and sheer glee. No therapy in Arkham could ever cure him.

He didn’t even need to press his ear to the metal door to know the Dark Knight was getting closer by each passing second. When the Bat finally beat the last man standing black and blue, and his heavy panting was in earshot, Scarecrow made a quick retreat from the door. Lucky him, then not even seconds after he was somewhat safe, the door was blown right out its hinges, a small cloud of dust settling in ist place as a dark figure came into view.

With how fast Scarecrows heart was pounding and how close he was to just squeal of pure happiness, he could as well have been a school girl getting asked out by its crush. Instead of shrieking and loosing all his dignity, he settled for a admittedly high-pitched giggle.

„Look who it is! Gothams one and only hero, the man of mystery, the villains worst nightmare, the lurking shadow on the streets, the Batman!“

Their eyes met once again. Scarecrows full of unleashed insanity and malicious happiness. Batmans somewhat tired, but still ablaze with anger.

„Scarecrow.“ Was all he responded, letting a small huff escape Cranes lips.

He already sounded unenthusiastic and Jonathan hadn’t even started to crush his spirit. Not much of a great start, certainly. It almost took the fun out of it. But just almost.
Without wasting any more time, Batman charged at him, swinging a fist directly at his face. Scarecrow barely managed to duck before it connected with him.

It went on like that, Batman attacking and Crane dodging it. Fighting was tiring and never his expertise, he only needed to parry every hit, which, thanks to his lanky frame, was often successful. Only after a whole minute of this dangerous dance, the Bat managed to hit Crane right between the rips, not wasting any time to wait for recovery as he immediately went for another punch to his ripcage. A sickly satisfying crack was heard, alongside Scarecrow grunting, as imense pain shot through his whole body.

There were the broken rips he suspected, he would gain from this. Agony made his whole body feel like living hell, but he was far from giving up. The adrenaline pumping through him, let him manage to ignore the stinging sensation, and dodge another close punch, which would have landed right in his gut.

Using one of his spindly long legs to entangle it with the Batmans broad strong ones, he tripped Gothams hero, bringing him to the ground with a painful grunt. Scarecrow needed to act fast or else he would be on his feet in no time again. Using all his weight, to keep the caped crusader down, he got on top of him and pressed his hand to his throat. The immediate reaction he got, was to get his wrist grabbed in a crushing grip.

Scarecrow yelped, giving the Dark Knight a chance to turn the tables. Quite literally at that too. He took ahold of Cranes wrists once again, who struggled but couldn’t loosen the chain like hands, before the world was suddenly spining. Batman had rolled them around and now it was his turn to be pinned to the ground, much to his dismay.

He struggled and struggled, trying to escape, without any success. It would have taken Jonathan a while to accept his defeat and stop fighting, but Batman obviously hadn’t got any patience left.

„You’ve lost, Crane. Can’t you see?“

„I prefer ignoring my defeat.“ He retorted playfully.

Batmans annoyance was so sweet to him, he could see it, even right through the white patches of the mask.

„You’re-“

„-going back to Arkham, where I belong?“

He did not reply, he just grabbed both of Cranes wrists into one iron grip, before pulling them both up. Scarecrows feet dangled helplessly in the air for about three seconds, before he was roughly set to the ground again. As Batman escorted Scarecrow towards the door, Jonathan spoke up, a sinister grin on his face.

„You really think I don’t have one last Ace up my sleeve, huh?“

He was met by Batmans confused glare, before he smashed his head against his, dazzling Gothams hero, but letting a violent headache arise in his head. But now was not the time for selfcare. Swiftly he pulled a syringe out of his sleeve and lunged at the Bat, bringing the needle down forcefully to his neck and injecting him the substance.

The effects were immediate, no time for pain, no time for anything, just nasty hallucinations right away. Sadly he had no time to watch the misery unfolding in front of his eyes, since the toxin didn’t last very long, and he needed a quick escape.

„And that my friend,“ Scarecrow brought out somewhat breathless, „was Plan C. Have fun with your fears, I’ll be off.“

As he walked towards the exit, he spared one last glance at the Dark Knight, who was screaming at the top of his lungs.

„See you very soon.“