The halls were eerily quiet. The clock on the wall droned on with its constant ticking, yet the woman at the desk couldn’t be bothered. Her fingers glided across the pages of a magazine, turning the page finally after a few minutes of reading. It was around two o’clock, and it was her lunch break.
Her boss had been locked up in his office with one of the higher-ups, Jeremy Blaire, she believed. She knew that the two were close, and if anything this meeting was supposed to be over an hour ago. They were just talking now, catching up; talking about when they would meet up outside of work again. She couldn’t bother to focus on what was being said behind closed doors, after all, she was too caught up in her gossip magazine.
The soft ticking of the clock was slowly overtaken by the sound of heels clicking against the linoleum floors. The woman couldn’t help but look up, intrigued by the sudden presence of another person. The day was usually dead around that time, and aside from brief visits from Mr. Blaire, not a soul would be seen walking down the hall. She watched as a woman approached her desk.
She was rather tall, with a cold demeanor and a piercing stare. She wore mostly black and white, with the only accent color coming in the form of her hair which was the color of chocolate. When she arrived, Denise could have sworn she felt the room drop in temperature. Yet, she smiled, hoping the woman would be on her way sooner or later.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” The older woman asked, sitting a bit straighter in her seat and sliding her magazine away. The woman’s steely gaze flickered between the empty tupperware, the magazine, and Denise before she finally spoke.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I was wondering where I might be able to find Dr. Wernicke?” The woman asked, her voice just as aloof as her demeanor. Denise’s eyes widened, though her smile never faded. She wasn’t quite sure how to answer her question, seeing as she herself didn’t know the answer. She had almost nothing to do with Dr. Wernicke, yet here was this woman who was clearly lost, asking for her help. She felt her mouth go dry.
“Well, um, I don’t work in that division so I’m not exactly sure where he is…” Denise trailed off before she reached for the phone. Is he even alive? Denise wondered. She could have sworn that she heard somewhere that they used treatments from the late Dr. Wernicke, meaning he would be dead.
“I’ll ask for you.” She finished, bringing the phone up to her ear and pressing on the keys frantically. The woman flashed a tight-lipped smile before returning back to her blank stare.
“Thanks.” She muttered. Behind Denise, the door opened, revealing two men. The woman’s eyes snapped to the new disturbances, and - somehow - she became colder than before. Denise leaned up, the phone concealed on her shoulder.
“Sorry but, what was your name?” She asked.
“Dr. Catarina Crane. I’m Wernicke’s therapist and he hasn’t been at my office in a while.” The woman, Dr. Crane, explained. Denise nodded, seemingly ignoring the men behind her who were still chatting nonchalantly. One was shorter than the other, with black hair that was slicked back and subtle facial hair. He wore a black suit that was neat and seemingly tailored. The other man, on the other hand, had wild, honey colored curls that looked like there was an attempt to pull them back. He wore a bright pink button down shirt that was only half tucked into his khaki pants. To top off his flamboyant attire, he wore a blue sweater over his shoulders. She barely noticed that the shorter one was paying more attention when she announced who she was.
“Well, apparently he’s on the lower floors, but I don’t think you have the clearance-”
“I can get her down there.” The shorter man announced. Dr. Crane stared at the man for a brief moment, waiting for him to continue. He reminded her of a rat, though she couldn’t put her finger on why. It was something about his beady eyes, they were off-putting. He checked his watch, then put a finger up, shaking it with slight urgency.
“Actually, I’ve gotta check on something real quick. Just stay here, then I’ll escort you to Wernicke.” The man muttered, not making eye contact with Dr. Crane the entire time. He looked behind him at the other man, smiling.
“I’ll see you Saturday, Rick.” The man stated before running off in the other direction. The hall was silent for a few moments, with the only noise being the soft ticking of the clock. Dr. Crane didn’t even notice the flamboyant man turn his attention to her.
“So, Wernicke has a therapist?” He began, catching the doctor’s attention.
“Yes.” Her answer was short and simple, lacking emotion or care. She wasn’t there to make small talk, she was there to do her job and make sure her patient was okay. She knew he did time consuming work, but she didn’t think it would affect their appointments. He was an interesting specimen, someone obsessed with his nightmares and fears, and Dr. Crane knew a lot about fear.
“Catarina, huh? How about I call you Cat?” The man continued, leaning against his assistant’s desk. Dr. Crane glared at him.
“It’s Dr. Crane.” She corrected, her voice bordering on irritated. She wasn’t angry, not yet at least. His grin was annoying as it was.
“I figured I’d call you something a little more personal, I like to do that. Skip the formalities and cut to the chase.” His carefree tone was slightly grating to Dr. Crane, and the fact that he was still talking to her bothered her to no end.
“You know, I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger.” He muttered while Dr. Crane nodded along, barely listening to what he was saying.
“Yeah, I didn’t really get too far with that one…” He stood up straight and held out his hand, and on his face was a large grin that set Dr. Crane on edge.
“Richard Trager, but you can call me Rick.” She glanced down at his hand, then looked him in the eye. She was surprised he didn’t wink, like others would have. He seemed like he was genuinely trying to be friendly, but she wasn’t there to make friends. She flashed him a brief smile.
“I appreciate the sentiment, Mr. Trager, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing each other again.” She stated, trying her best to not be rude. She watched his smile falter as she said ‘mister,’ which she quickly took note of. She figured she struck a nerve, and hopefully she could use that to get him to leave her alone. Just beyond Trager, she saw the man rushing back, his eyes trained on the floor.
“Never say never, Dr. Crane.” She couldn’t bother to react to what he was saying. She was sick of him already, and all she wanted was to get in and get out. Not only was Trager unnerving her (which was not a common occurrence in her life), but the whole aura of the asylum was off putting. The dingy, yellow walls looked like they needed a new coat of paint, and the furniture looked like it had been there since the seventies. Everything in the asylum looked like it had been there since the seventies, including the people. Especially the man who couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off of her.
“Dr. Crane, right this way.” The shorter man said with a smile on his face. She nodded briefly, following the man toward the elevator, passing by Trager without another glance. As a matter of fact, she seemed smug, as if she was right about never seeing him again.
As the elevator doors closed, which were more like gates if anything, she could still see the bright pink of Trager’s shirt. It stood out compared to the dull backgrounds of Mount Massive, but she knew it wasn’t a welcome sight. If she saw that damn shirt, she’d go in the other direction. She felt like she could breathe again when the cement from the other floors overtook the view of whatever floor that was.
“So you’re Dr. Crane.” The man muttered. She nodded, hoping that this wasn’t a cheap attempt at flirting like Trager was doing.
“I’m Jeremy Blaire, head of Global Development at Murkoff.” He introduced, holding out his hand for her to shake. He wasn’t quite as unnerving as Trager, but she knew no harm would come to her career if she pissed off Trager. This man, though, could do some damage. She appreciated his slight professionalism, so she shook his hand.
“We’ve heard of you, and honestly we’re interested in hiring. Your father’s work in his field was revolutionary, and while I don’t know anything about what you study, I know that we’re interested in hiring.” He proposed. Dr. Crane’s eyes widened. She couldn’t believe that he knew who her father was, and now she wondered how much Murkoff knew about her. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, but regained her composure.
“Hiring who, me or my father?” She quipped, smirking slightly.
“Well, I know your father’s retired. So’s your mother. You followed in his footsteps for a little bit. You started in Arkham, correct?” He continued, and she was slightly impressed. He knew where she came from, where she worked for a while, and she assumed he knew everything else about her and her family.
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“And the experiments?” He asked. Her heart practically stopped. Of course, she wasn’t the only one in her family to perform experiments on her patients, her father did the same thing. Neither of them were caught, so she had to wonder what lengths this company went through to uncover this information. What would happen if she refused the job?
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mr. Blaire.” She deflected, hoping it would work. Her cold demeanor should have been enough to throw him off of her trail, but she knew better. He was clearly a businessman, there was no throwing him off.
“I think you do. There’s a reason why your father was revolutionary, Dr. Crane. He experimented on patients, and so did you, well, before you moved on, that is. All I’m offering here is a new place to continue your research. We have our own project that we feel your research would help. You’re more than qualified I would say.” Jeremy went on, though Dr. Crane only felt like he was trying to butter her up. She was intrigued though, the idea of new test subjects was something she was interested in. It wouldn’t hurt her to ask further about the potential job, would it?
“So this job you’re offering involves me continuing my research?” She inquired. Jeremy nodded.
“Our project practically depends on it.”
“If I do this, I won’t get caught?” She continued, and once again, Jeremy nodded.
“Looks like I’m in, Mr. Blaire.”
Screams filled her ears and echoed in the halls. It was her work at its finest, though her victims probably wouldn’t agree. She was sure their cells had morphed into some hellish realm, with their worst fears surrounding them. One was screaming about spiders, which was amusing to Dr. Crane, and the other muttered about water. She was more intrigued by the water inmate.
He was huddled on his bed, looking down at the floor with wide, glassy eyes. He was sobbing, begging for help. She wondered how long it would take for him to realize the water wasn’t real. Another doctor was standing next to her, she was shorter than her, with long blonde hair and bright green eyes. She was young, and she just finished her residency at another nearby asylum. She was sweet, but Dr. Crane suspected that she wouldn’t last another few weeks. It almost felt like she didn’t know what she was getting into when she accepted the job.
Her name was Lillian Dawes, and she wouldn’t last longer than a year.
“Is that normal?” She asked, placing her hand on the glass and stepping closer. Dr. Crane grabbed her shoulder and gently pulled her away.
“I wouldn’t get too close, Dr. Dawes. I’ve seen people break through observation glass like it was nothing. Fear is such an interesting thing, but the mind can only take so much. Let’s see how long this’ll go on for.” Dr. Crane stated, watching intently as the man stood on his bed and reached for the ceiling. He was definitely panicking now, and he was calling for help.
“Shouldn’t we send someone in?” Lillian asked, clearly distrubed by the scene in front of her. Dr. Crane shook her head.
“No, check on the other subject.” She nodded and walked toward the other observation cell. The scene before her, however, was gruesome. Blood covered the walls of the cell as well as the floor. The man had clawed the skin off of his arms, and now he was laying on the floor unconscious. Lillian gasped and jumped away from the glass, shocked by the scene before her. Dr. Crane practically rushed over, a little too excited about the situation. She peered into the room with a sickening smile before looking back at Lillian.
“Get security. Tell them to take this man to the medical center immediately,” she turned back around as Lillian ran past her, “if he isn’t dead already, that is.” She finished, watching the man lay there motionless. Sometimes, the toxin was so potent the person dies, but she wanted a strong reaction without the death, and Murkoff wanted the same. They believe that her fear toxin would help in Project Walrider, but she needed strong doses to keep the subjects in a terrified state for hours on end. Most of the time - with the stronger doses - people only lasted five minutes. At this rate, she’d go through the whole damn asylum and not even be able to perfect the toxin.
She moved back to the water patient and, just as she predicted, his heart gave out. The stress of the constant terror (and the brain believing he was drowning) put enough strain on him to kill him. Depending on the fear, they either die from self mutilation, or they have a heart attack. She suspected the man didn’t realize it was his heart that gave out, and she had a feeling his last moments were far from pleasant. He was lying face up on the floor, with wide, blank eyes staring up at the ceiling. She was surprised he didn’t pass out from holding his breath, but she figured his heart stopped before he suffocated.
She quickly wrote down the results of the tests, and felt disappointed. She knew she could do better than that. Fear toxin that lasted hours normally created hallucinations that came and went in waves, what she needed was something strong enough to create a panic even when the hallucinations died down. They needed to be aware of their surroundings when they weren’t hallucinating, but afraid of what would come next.
Dr. Crane decided to take a break and return to her office to try to figure out where to go from there. She ignored the guards rushing into the cell of the mutilated man, and ignored Lillian as she asked a slew of questions. All she wanted to do was lock herself in her office and think for the rest of the day; do a little problem solving.
She rushed through halls full of screaming patients, not bothering to stop on her way to her office.
Yet, when she got there, a familiar face was waiting by her door. She’d worked there for weeks without running into him again. Bright colors seemed to be his thing, though this time he wore a blue shirt and a white sweater over it. Instead of khakis, he wore black dress pants, and black shoes that shined under the lights of the hallway. Dr. Crane stopped in her tracks and gritted her teeth.
“What are you doing here? You’re not in this division.” She asked, daring to step a little bit closer. He smiled widely, but there was something off about it. It looked like a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, and that was just one of the many things about him that was off-putting to her.
“Relax, doc, I was just coming to congratulate you on the job!” Rick explained in his usual cheerful tone. Dr. Crane couldn’t help but glare at him. He was in her space now, even if he wasn’t exactly in her office. She wanted him to go away, and when she accepted the job nearly a month ago she figured the facility was big enough so she wouldn’t see him again, but she didn’t account for him seeking her out. The fact he did seek her out sent shivers up her spine.
She hadn’t felt fear in a long time, but when she was around Rick Trager, she was terrified.
“Thank you,” she responded, “I’d like to get into my office now.” Rick nodded and stepped aside, letting her step into her office. She didn’t stop to close the door properly, instead she let the force of the door shut it for her. However, the door didn’t slam shut like she thought it would. She let her shoulders drop and let out a small sigh of irritation. He was still there.
“Don’t you have anything better to do than bother me, Mr. Trager? After all, I assumed you worked here and had actual stuff to do rather than wait outside my door.” She asked, not even attempting to hide her disdain. He let out an airy chuckle and took a step toward her. He towered over her, despite the fact that she was rather tall herself, and while he was jovial in tone there was almost something sinister about his action. It felt like he was trying to intimidate her for whatever reason. She wanted to act like she wasn’t afraid, but too many things about him didn’t add up. He scared her more than anything.
She took a step back before turning around and sitting at her desk. She hoped she could get her act together and seem calm when she was sitting down and going over various medical records. He didn’t follow her - not right away, at least. He watched her walk behind her desk and sit down, much like how a predator would watch its prey. He would learn though, sooner or later, that Catarina Crane was not some small, meek creature to be devoured. She was much more than that.
She wasn’t completely aware of how he had her picked out from the moment he walked out of his office to see her asking his assistant a question. Murkoff might’ve known about her before him, but he was going to take what he wanted from her eventually.
“So, Cat, I was wondering,” he began, leaning over her desk and peering at the documents in her hand briefly.
“It’s Dr. Crane.” She interjected, speaking through gritted teeth this time. He ignored her obvious annoyance.
“I was wondering if you wanted to go out to dinner sometime this weekend?” He flashed her another smile, but she could only stare at him blankly. In spite of all the signals she gave off that she wasn’t interested, he still pushed forward. This time she was cornered in her office, but she wasn’t afraid - not this time. She was frustrated. She was borderline angry.
“I’d rather have my fingers cut off. Let me put it this way, since you ignored my multiple signs that I wasn’t interested, no. I don’t want anything to do with you, Mr. Trager. Please, get out of my office, I have work to do.” She looked back down at the documents in her hand, refusing to spare him even another glance. He scared her, yes, but she was repulsed by him even more. It wasn’t like he was particularly unattractive, but his persistence and refusal to read the signs she put off made him unattractive. He couldn’t seem to grasp that she was uninterested, and that was what frustrated her, and this was only their second meeting.
She didn’t see the dark look that came over his features at her rejection. He knew she would be tough to get, but he wouldn’t give up. He had Blaire to cover his ass, or at least he hoped Blaire would cover for him. He half scoffed, a smirk immediately made its way to his lips.
“Damn, Cat, I didn’t think you could be that harsh.” He stated, this time he stood straight. His hands were buried in his pockets, and despite the fact that she wasn’t looking at him, his eyes were trained on her. She didn’t bother correcting him this time though.
“Perhaps you were more incompetant than I thought.” She muttered, though she didn’t think he could hear her. He did, and it struck a nerve. He turned around and all but stormed out. He stopped at the door, feeling the need to have the last word.
“See ya around, Cat.” He said, but Catarina thought nothing of it. He left without another word spoken between the two of them, though she could have sworn she heard him greet someone happily outside of her office; a faint ‘hey buddy’ that slightly concerned her. She wasn’t entirely sure that he wouldn’t spread nasty rumors about her - not that she cared if he did - but after their conversation she could see him doing it.
Little did she know, he had bigger things to worry about than her.
Shortly after that uncomfortable exchange, Catarina decided to actually go to lunch. She locked up her office, but deep down she wished she could double up on security to keep creeps like Trager out. She really didn’t feel like getting ambushed again, though she doubted he’d do it twice in one day.
The walk to the cafeteria was almost as tense as the walk past her father’s office when she was younger. He always had frightening masks and other scary things hanging in his work space, and chances were he would try to get her to understand why she feared those things. He’d try to make her feel better about it all, but there was always one mask that terrified her, and that terror never faded. It was a burlap mask with straw coming out of the top and various stitches around the mouth. It had blank button eyes that stared down at her, much like the blank eyes that would stare up at her in her career. It was a scarecrow mask, and nothing sent shivers down her spine more than scarecrows. She was lucky to grow up in the city, the same couldn’t be said for her father. It was an interesting case, the fact that they were both afraid of scarecrows, but it was enough to get her interested in fear and phobias, like her father before her.
The line in the cafeteria wasn’t too long, with only a few members of staff waiting on line to order something. The man in the front of the line was staring at the menu on the wall and placing a seemingly long order, which had Cat mentally rolling her eyes. She wondered if there was another place she could get something to eat in the building. Going to lunch off the premises wasn’t allowed, so it was eat at the cafeteria or bring something from home.
In front of Catarina was a short, plump woman with red hair. She wore a light blue dress and a string of pearls around her neck, she was dressed nice, though Cat doubted she was an executive. The woman glanced at her nervously, and it was obvious to Cat that she was getting impatient too, but she doubted this woman would speak up about it. She smiled awkwardly, letting out an airy chuckle.
“If I knew he’d be ordering for a whole circus I would’ve brought something from home.” She joked, prompting a small smile from Cat.
“Sorry, it just feels like I’ve been standing here forever.” She continued, turning completely around this time. Now that Cat could see her completely, she came to the conclusion that this woman was pregnant.
“I’m Michelle, by the way.” Cat smiled at her, and while normally she’d formally introduce herself with her title and whole name, she decided against it.
“Catarina.” She introduced, and for a moment she swore she saw something short of recognition flash in her eyes. If she had heard of Cat, she didn’t mention it to her. Instead, she went the more predictable route, recognizing her as the new doctor and welcoming her, even if she had been there for nearly a month.
The line had finally moved up, but Michelle hadn’t noticed. Cat smiled awkwardly and pointed behind the woman, who promptly turned around and moved up a little. This time the line was moving faster, with people knowing exactly what they were ordering unlike the man who held the line up. After ordering and paying for her food, Cat was going to walk to her office, but she was stopped once more by Michelle.
“Hey, just let me know if you need anything. I work down in IT, so just call that line and I’ll probably be the one to pick up.” She stated. Cat smiled and nodded, but deep down she knew she wouldn’t really go to her if she needed something. Michelle seemed nice enough, but it looked like she was hiding something just below the surface, like she wanted to reach out to her and tell her something. Cat wouldn’t pry, she wasn’t one of her patients and even then it was up to her to tell her. It was intriguing, and she couldn’t help but see it as a mystery for her to solve. Maybe one day Michelle would open up about what was bothering her, but Cat knew she couldn’t count on that. At least she knew she wouldn’t lose sleep over it.
Catarina’s apartment was a reflexion of herself, or - more accurately - her inner self. Books and papers littered almost every surface in the space: tables, chairs, the couch, the armchair, the little corner between the armchair and couch. On the kitchen counter sat her cat, a russian blue tomcat with eyes the color of shining jades. He was a quiet cat who barely bothered Catarina unless he wanted to eat or lay in her bed. His name was Edgar II, named after her own childhood cat. He stared at her as she entered the apartment, and as usual she shooed him off of the counter, and he circled her legs affectionately. However, Catarina was too preoccupied to even pet her dear cat.
In her bedroom, on her nightstand, was a notebook full of notes from her father. It held his research, and Catarina knew she had to study the pages again. She had lost count of how many times she read the notes, lost count of how many times she sat with her father and worked through formulas, trying desperately to perfect the toxin. The notebook sat atop a terrarium. It held a Chilean Rose Hair spider, though it wasn’t very active. Tarantulas normally weren’t too active, or at least, not in Catarina’s experience. She had one of those as a child as well, named Marianne. This one was a beautiful female as well, but her name was Angelica.
As soon as she grabbed the notebook, her phone went off. She had a cell phone, but she also had a landline. Her landline was specifically for business calls, and she wondered who might’ve been calling that late at night. She navigated the halls again, rushing to the phone muttering things like ‘I’m coming, I’m coming.’ It rang for a fourth time before she answered.
“Hello, this is Dr. Catarina Crane.” She greeted, though she sounded weary. Her time in the asylum had made her slightly paranoid, though she hadn’t felt that way in years.
“Cat? I’m so happy I got the right number.” A familiar voice said. She couldn’t help but gasp.
“I... J.J?” She hadn’t heard his voice in years, and she was so happy to hear from him. J.J. was a childhood friend, she met him in kindergarten, and she had been friends with him ever since. He was one of her only friends, ironically enough.
“No way! How did you get a phone in there?” She asked excitedly. J.J. was taken to Arkham back when Cat graduated college. He was in a really low place, and while Cat knew she couldn’t see him, she hoped knowing his mother was there was comforting enough. His mother, nor Cat, could visit him. They couldn’t treat him themselves, someone else had to. His mother was a mess, and Cat was surprised to see that his father was doing just fine. Well, as fine as the best detective in Gotham could be.
“I’m better, Cat. I got released last week.” Those words hit her like a ton of bricks. She figured his mom would’ve told her this… but the more she thought of that, the more she realized how no one could really get in touch with her. She changed her number a while back, and she got a new email (she forgot the password to the other one). The only way to contact her was the phone she was talking to J.J. over at that moment, and the only people who could contact her were her parents. It wasn’t like she didn’t have his mom’s number, she just never called her, or texted. She felt it wasn’t in her place.
“And how did your parents take that?” She asked, genuinely wanting to catch up with him. He laughed awkwardly.
“Well, ma was really happy. When I got let out she practically tackled me. She was cryin’ and stuff. Da was a little more relaxed, but when I got home he got me in a big ass hug.” Cat couldn’t help but smile at this.
“So, what’re ya doin’ now?” He asked. Cat looked down at the notebook in her hand and swallowed thickly. For a moment she had forgotten about Mount Massive, and the Morphogenic Engine, and Rick Trager. Now, she was back in her reality, and she had to tell him.
“I’ve been working at Mount Massive Asylum. I left Gotham ages ago.” She responded, her voice quiet and almost solemn.
“Not enjoying it?” He asked. She let out a small sigh.
“No, I am. It’s just different. They knew about my dad and I… I have a lot to live up to.” J.J. chuckled softly, and for a brief moment it felt like he was there.
“So, what you’re saying is expectations are through the roof?”
“Yeah, imagine if someone walked up to you and said that they knew of your dad or your mom’s work then offered you a job.” She was blunt about it, but J.J. found humor in the situation. He always did.
“Well, I’m nothin’ like them. I’m one of a kind, baby.” Cat couldn’t help but laugh. He could say that he was unique, but he was like his mother in so many ways.
“You know, that sounds like something Dr. Napier would say.” She muttered as she opened her dad’s notebook. J.J. faked being offended over the phone, droning on and on about how he’s the furthest thing from his mother.
“Oh please, when you were a kid you were the spitting image of your mother!” She argued, which shut him up for a few moments just as she turned to a specific page in the notebook. Then, he let out a hearty laugh, one that brought a smile to Cat’s face.
“Alright, alright. Ya got me there. But ya had those chunky glasses when we were younger! Say, ya still wearin’ those?”
“Nope. Got contacts.” She stated. It felt like he said something else, but she couldn’t hear it. She found the compound she was looking for.
“Hey, sorry to cut things short, J.J., but I gotta go. It’s work related.” She said, and J.J. said something else that she assumed was a farewell, but she wasn’t paying attention. Instead, she hung up the phone and took the notebook into her room again.
Just as she stepped through the door, the phone rang again. She let out a groan of frustration, throwing her head back and closing her eyes for a moment. This time it had to be work related, unless J.J. gave her number to his mom. She turned around and started walking to the phone, but the number that popped up was from Mount Massive. She glared, not recognizing the number as one of her superiors, so she decided not to answer. If it were someone important, they’d leave a message. As far as they’re concerned, she thought to herself as she went into her room again, the doctor’s out.
But the peace didn’t last for long.
As soon as her answering machine finished her message, loud noises filled the apartment. It sounded like someone recorded themselves slamming pots and pans and put the bass as high as they could. Then there were random music notes, and screeching voices. Catarina shot out of bed, shutting the notebook and stomping to the living room. She put her hands over her ears and practically dove behind her phone, pulling on the cord desperately, though it didn’t seem like it wanted to budge. Anger was bubbling beneath her skin and the urge to smash the phone to pieces came over her, but just as she rose, the noise stopped.
She stood, looking at the phone in utter horror, but there wasn’t much left for her to do. She went back into her room, shut the door, and locked it.
“Ah, Dr. Crane, this is a surprise.” Rick’s voice was almost chilling, though it hardly affected Catarina. She glared down at him, practically burning with anger.
“Care to tell me what the hell you were thinking with this?” She seethed, holding up her phone as she let the message from the night before play. He stared at her with just as much intensity, though he was clearly finding more enjoyment in the situation than her. She could tell he was holding back a smile, holding back laughter, and that just made her angrier.
“This is harassment, Mr. Trager. Do you seriously think this is funny? I should report you for this.” She stated, watching as his face slightly dropped. He looked down, letting out a small sigh.
“How do you even know it was me?” He asked finally, looking at her again, though this time he looked slightly remorseful. She was sure this was an act.
“The number was from here.” She answered confidently.
“Do you remember it? Let me see.” He stood up, stepping a little too close to her. He looked at her phone, though it didn’t have the number on it, just the video. She stepped to the side, just to get away from him.
“I have it written down.” She said, pulling out a piece of notebook paper and handing it to him. He glared at it, but it wasn’t out of anger. He genuinely looked confused.
“This isn’t my number.” She snatched the paper back, frustrated and unsurprised by his reaction. Of course he’d deny it, she threatened to report him.
“Here, I’ll show you.” He said as he walked to the phone, picking it up off of the receiver and waiting for her to give him her number. She saw right through it though.
“I’ll do it.” She said as she snatched the phone out of his hand. She blocked him from seeing what she was typing, then, she waited. When her cell phone rang, a completely different number appeared. Her eyes widened and she could’ve sworn she felt her cheeks heat up.
“It’s fine Dr. Crane. Sorry if I made you feel like I’d do something obnoxious like that.” He stated, placing his hand on her shoulder. In an instant, it was almost as if all the red flags he gave off had disappeared. At that moment, she was sure she was going crazy. Her hand lingered on his for a few seconds too long before moving it off of her.
“Whatever… just forget I came here.” She said as she turned around to leave. He followed her to the door.
“You know, my offer still stands.” She rolled her eyes and fought the urge to groan.
“Please, Mr. Trager. I have bigger things to worry about.” She stated as she walked out of his office. All he could do was watch her leave, though he couldn’t help but notice someone wandering the halls.
Catarina collided with a man on her way out, nearly collapsing to the ground from the force. A hand shot out and caught her, and she looked up to see a familiar face. He was smiling widely, his green eyes shining with mischief and excitement. She gasped and immediately pulled him into a hug.
“J.J.! What’re you doing here?” She asked, completely unaware of the eyes watching from down the hall.
“Ma knew you got a new job out here and I figured I’d come see you. That was about a week ago.” She couldn’t believe it. It was her first time seeing him since high school and he had traveled so far just to visit her.
“Actually, I was planning on exploring. I was gonna go all around the country but I wanted to see you first.” She smiled at this, her heart beating just a little bit faster. She would never admit it, but part of her was in love with J.J., and she had been since high school. Of course, she never planned on acting on it, and she wasn’t going to start then. She valued him as a friend, and she would keep it that way.
“Well, I was on my way back to my office, I had to ask a colleague a question.” She explained, her voice becoming colder as she went on. J.J. arched an eyebrow at this, and he assumed she wasn’t very fond of said colleague.
“I’ll leave you to it, then. We should hang out tonight, though, if you’re up to it.”
“Of course I am.” She told him before taking out her phone.
“Give me your number, I’ll text you.” She handed him the phone and he got to work typing immediately.
“Well, I’ll see you later.” He muttered, handing the phone back to her.
“Yeah.” She whispered, not even realizing how quiet she was being. He walked off waving, and she went her seperate way.
J.J. had no idea what he was getting himself into.
That night, Catarina stood outside the hotel room where J.J. was supposedly staying. She knocked a few times, but received no answer. She felt uneasy, a feeling which she had been experiencing relentlessly for the past few weeks. She hadn’t heard from him since lunch, and now he wasn’t answering the door or his phone. After a few more minutes, she decided to go home.
Her mouth felt dry, and her heart was beating loudly in her ears. She couldn’t stop worrying, she feared the worst. She wasn’t sure why though. For all she knew he was just out and his battery was dead, but something was off. For some strange reason, ever since she accepted the job at the asylum, she had become more paranoid. Every little thing had a horrible reason behind it.
She was Dr. Catarina Crane, the mistress of fear! She shouldn’t be afraid of anything! She was utterly baffled by how quickly fear had taken over her life.
As she pulled into her parking spot, she thought about how the next morning she’d get a call from J.J., and she’d see how completely ridiculous she was being. Or, at least, that’s what she hoped.
But the next day, that call never came.
She sat in the cafeteria, Michelle sitting beside her and rambling about something that Cat hadn’t been paying attention to. Cat thought she was a sweet woman, but at the moment her mind was racing. Little did she realize, Michelle noticed her worried expressions and blank eyes.
“Hey, you look like you’ve been through hell. What’s up?” She asked as her hand grazed across Cat’s. She was right, the doctor had dark circles under her eyes, and although she always did, this time they were much more prominent. Her bun was slightly messier than usual, with her brown curls cascading in individual ringlets. The doctor looked up at her, the pain clear in her eyes this time.
“I think a friend of mine’s missing.” She whispered, not entirely sure of the situation herself. Michelle, despite knowing the severity and awfulness of the situation, looked slightly relieved. Of all the things she thought might have been bothering the doctor, her friend going missing was not one of them. The older woman brought her in for a hug, but Cat didn’t return it. She, for once, was terrified. She wondered how something like this could have happened, and she only hoped he was still alive.
“Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry.” Michelle tried comforting her, but all Cat could do was pull away slightly. The red head looked remorseful, but not much more could be done. Cat had settled on filing a missing person’s report that morning, and she figured she’d wait a bit to tell Harleen and Jack. Hell, maybe she’d tell them first considering the fact that Jack was the best detective Cat’s ever encountered.
“If it’s not too impolite,” Michelle began now that her mind’s started wandering, “how long has he been missing for?”
“Since yesterday afternoon. He came to see me while I was working, I ended up bumping into him on the way to my office. The last thing he told me was where he was staying, then, nothing. I went to his hotel room but he wasn’t there. None of the staff had seen him since that morning.” Cat explained as her eyes welled up with tears. Michelle looked away and bit the inside of her lip. She felt dread wash over her. If Cat’s friend was last seen at the asylum, chances were he was still there. She suspected that someone around there had to know where he might’ve been. She looked back at Cat.
“Maybe we can check the security room? I’ll meet you there after work and we can ask to see yesterday’s footage, okay?” She suggested, to which Cat only nodded. She felt helpless; she felt like him going missing was her fault somehow.
However, Cat wasn’t there after work. Michelle waited for her, checking her watch every few minutes and looking down the hallway both ways, waiting for the brunette to round a corner. She decided to go in alone and check the footage herself. She was sure she could find him with what Cat told her. She walked into the room, and the guard immediately got up. He looked like he was ready for a fight, but when he realized she wasn’t a threat he relaxed.
“I’m just here to check on things.” Michelle explained as she moved closer to the computers. The guard simply nodded, though he still watched her closely. She began to type in the date from the day before, and all the monitors changed to the previous footage, and then Michelle started her search. After a few minutes, she sped up the tapes, only to see Dr. Crane entering Trager’s office.
“Cat what are you doing?” She whispered, almost horrified. She had her own problems with him, though she was going to take care of that soon enough. She only hoped that Dr. Crane was careful around him.
Meanwhile, Dr. Crane was still held up in her office. A few patients had made it hard for her to finish up before her shift was over, even though she found it impossible to focus on her work. Her mind kept wandering toward J.J. and Michelle, who was no doubt waiting for her by the security room.
Her hands worked quickly to organize the files in front of her. Beside the folders were her notes, spread lazily along the side of her desk, with the only difference between the two things being her cursive handwriting and the bold, stiff typewriter font. When a shadow came over the window of her office door, she barely thought about it before allowing them to come in. Naturally, she was rather annoyed when she realized that the person waiting outside her door wasn’t Michelle, but instead Richard Trager.
He walked in with a large smile on his face, with a dazed look in his eyes. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say he was high. He stopped mere inches from her desk, and she knew he was looking down at what she was so preoccupied with. She couldn’t help but wonder why he was there and what he wanted. She already told him off, and he had no reason to be on her floor, so why the hell was he there? She placed the files away in her desk drawer and began to organize her notes, placing them in a special folder that went in a completely different drawer.
“What is it now, Mr. Trager?” She asked, though this time she sounded more tired than annoyed.
“I heard the IT girl was looking for you.” He answered rather casually, and when Cat looked up he wasn’t looking at her. She was rather surprised by this, and for a moment she wondered if she was projecting the idea that he was obsessed with her onto him. Perhaps it was her who was obsessed with him.
“I know Michelle’s waiting for me, I just needed to finish some things up in here.” She explained, her voice carrying none of the hostility it normally did.
“Well what’s she looking for you for?”
“It’s nothing too important.” She muttered as she stood, making her way around the desk. He grabbed her wrist gently, yet this was still enough to make her arm break out into goosebumps as a shiver went down her spine. It wasn’t because his hands were cold (quite the contrary, his hands were rather warm and inviting, much to Cat’s dismay), she felt fear take over again. She wanted to tear herself away from him, but for once she wanted to see where this would go. She wanted to see what was so important he felt the need to stop her, felt the need to put his hands on her .
“She said you were looking for someone.” He stated clearly and confidently. His brown eyes were equally as intense as they were caring. Cat had no doubt that he was being insincere, and considering the fact that he was suspect number one with this missing persons case? She had no doubt he was trying to clear his name.
“I am.” She whispered, though this wasn’t what she intended to do. She pulled her arm away and turned away from him, half tempted to run to the door. She was done with the conversation, whether he liked it or not.
“Hey, is it that guy from yesterday by any chance?” He asked, which of course froze Cat in her tracks. She whipped around, a look of fury on her face and a finger pointed in his direction.
“I could help you find him. I saw him this morning.” He said before she could get a single word out. Her eyes narrowed and she grit her teeth, fighting the urge to spout accusations at him that she knew he’d deny.
“But,” he continued, and she balled a fist, fearing what he was going to say next, “if I help you I want you to go out to dinner with me and a friend of mine.” There it was. She wanted to yell at him; she felt as if she could spit in his face.
“Is that it? This is your trump card, huh? You use my missing friend against me?” She seethed, her voice laced with venom and pent up anger. She could punch him.
“I’m the only person who saw him today, Dr. Crane.” He spat, and her title felt foreign on his tongue. He’d only used it a handful of times, yet in this instance it felt far too formal. He loomed over her again, though this time frustration was clear on his face.
“From what I know, he had a meltdown shortly after your little meeting yesterday. He was admitted. I don’t know where he is in the building but I figured I’d ask Jeremy. It might take a while, but I can get him back for you. The least you could do is take me up on my offer.” This information was valuable, too valuable for her to file away for later while she screamed at the person she hated in this world most. From what she knew, a friend would be at dinner with them, they wouldn’t be alone, and while she found him insufferable, at least there’d be someone else there.
She looked up at him, hatred brimming in her bright, blue eyes, and whispered.
“What was that? Sorry, doc, you’re muttering.” He taunted. She bit the inside of her cheek hard, drawing a bit of blood.
“Fine.” She said finally, feeling as if she just sold her soul to the devil himself.
He stood there for a moment, staring at her with a wide smile on his face, but it didn’t take too long before his chapped lips were on hers. It was an uncomfortable kiss that lingered for a second too long. His hand rested on her cheek, pulling her closer to him despite the obvious fact that she wanted nothing to do with him. Her hands were on his chest, pushing slightly at first, only for them to grow more forceful the longer he had her trapped there. With one last shove, he gave, though his fingers trailed down to her chin, where he forced her to look up at him.
“I knew you had it in you, Cat. I’ll see you Friday night, and I’ll find that guy for you.” He winked before waltzing out of her office.
Cat stood in the middle of the room, alone, frozen with fear and disgust. Her hands immediately shot up to her face where she rubbed her lips on the backs of her arms. She felt like she was going to puke, not only from the utter repulsion she felt, but from the fear that crept up her spine and soaked her very being. She was entirely unprepared for what laid ahead of her, but she was willing to endure to get her friend back and make sure he was safe. After all, she was Catarina Crane, mistress of fear, and she was not someone to be trifled with.
She stayed in her office an extra hour before deciding to go home. Her mind was racing as it sorted through all the possibilities - all the ways her search could go wrong. She couldn’t sleep that night. She tossed and turned before finally settling on staring at the ceiling until the sun rose and she had to get ready for work again.
Though her job couldn’t save her either. The hours crept by slowly and the screams of the patients made her wonder who they truly were before ending up in Mount Massive. She found herself looking at the eyes of the deformed patients, making sure none of them were J.J.. He had bright green eyes that seemed almost supernatural. If one of her subjects were him, she’d know. She’d look for other subtle signs as well, taking the time to actually observe them before administering the toxin. This slowed down her progress greatly, and despite the pressure from higher ups she wouldn’t speed up her process. She would brush it off as it being more effective in her studies, but she knew that they’d catch on when she found her friend and could move on.
Hours turned into days. Days turned into almost a week, yet she didn’t hear from Michelle or Trager. She was alone with her paranoia and constant worrying. Her job was on the line now too, and she knew that if she was fired she’d be committed. There was no doubt about it, she’d be next in the Morphogenic Engine program, she’d lose everything. For all she knew, that’s where J.J. was. She didn’t trust the higher ups at Murkoff, she didn’t trust Jeremy Blaire, and she knew that if someone wanted J.J. gone, Blaire would do it and cover it up.
Catarina was smart though, she knew better than to accuse him, or Trager, or write a threatening email about the issue. She knew that if she showed all her cards, Murkoff would come after her, and no amount of connections she had back in Gotham could help her. Though, there was their rival company that she’d been doing business with for a few years prior to her employment at Murkoff. She had friends there, people she knew would help protect her from the reapers at Murkoff. The pharmaceutical company was large and had multiple facilities across the globe, and she knew these friends worked in both Arklay and Paris. Cat would have to flee to Paris if she wanted to get away.
There was a soft knock at her door, and this time Cat remembered to look up before letting them in. The silhouette on the window was small, so she knew it wasn’t Trager.
“Come in.” She said, her voice stern and cold as usual. Lily Dawes walked in, her hands behind her back and her footsteps as quiet as herself. Cat’s harsh blue eyes were glued to her, watching her as she came up to her desk.
“What is it, Dr. Dawes?” Cat asked as she returned her attention to her files. Those precious files , the only thing she could do that allowed her time to zone out and truly think about the situation she’d gotten herself into. She hadn’t even thought of the fact that she agreed to a date with a borderline sociopath, a person she hated, and Friday was tomorrow. She wasn’t ready for it, and she hoped he wouldn’t be able to track J.J. down so she can use it as an excuse to not go. She hoped her and Michelle would find him first.
“The IT girl is here to see you, she was talking about picking up a laptop that was acting up?” Lillian explained, though she sounded weary. Cat never mentioned a broken laptop to her before, so she assumed something was up.
“Oh yes, send her in.” Cat muttered, not missing a beat. She looked back down at the papers in front of her, but Lillian didn’t move.
“You never mentioned having problems before.” She stated, but Cat was still focused on her files. She wouldn’t spare her a glance.
“Because you’re not in IT, are you?” Cat responded, her voice cold and bordering on annoyed. In reality, her heart was beating in her ears and threatening to burst out of her chest. Michelle was waiting to go in, she probably had information on J.J., and Lillian was holding them up.
The small blonde shifted slightly, clearly uncomfortable. Catarina had been more irritable lately, and Dr. Dawes had tried her best not to anger her. She was used to walking on eggshells at home because of her boyfriend, and work had usually given her a distraction from what she would be going home to, up until Dr. Crane started acting in a similar way. She hadn’t seen Cat angry, and she knew she didn’t want to. Cat was scary as it was when she was calm, and Lillian knew that Dr. Crane’s anger was not something to be trifled with.
“I’m sorry, I’ll let her in.” Lillian said quietly as she turned around. Her quiet footsteps grew even quieter as she left Dr. Crane’s office, and she shut the door quietly too. Cat knew that Lillian was a brilliant girl, and she felt a small bit of remorse for how she was treating her. She had to focus though, no one could know about what she was up to, and if she didn’t need him (the thought of needing him absolutely disgusted her), Trager would be in the dark about it too.
The door opened again, and Michelle’s portly form came into Cat’s view. She wasn’t holding anything, but she kept her hands above her stomach as she played with what Cat assumed was a hangnail, pulling at it nervously and seemingly avoiding looking at the doctor in front of her. Cat put the documents back into her folder and put it in the last drawer in her desk, then looked up.
“If you want there are chairs over there, you can pull one up.” Cat offered, gesturing to the chairs along the wall. Michelle looked over and nodded, making her way to one of them and bringing it to Cat’s desk.
“What’s up? Did you find J.J.?” Cat asked frantically. Michelle looked down at her hands which were folded neatly in her lap. This had been bothering her for the past week, and she found that the words she wanted to say were caught in her throat. She wasn’t sure how she’d bring it up, how she would warn her friend, but she couldn’t think of how to do it.
“I haven’t found anything yet. I couldn’t stay in the security room for too long the other day without the guard getting upset and suspecting I was up to something.” Her voice was soft, which alarmed Cat further.
“What’s the matter? You sound like something’s on your mind.” While Cat sounded like a genuinely concerned person (she was using what she called her therapist voice), she couldn’t deny her rising paranoia at the situation. Why would Michelle sound so upset, so distraught?
“I saw something on the footage. I - I can’t just let you hurt yourself like this without at least warning you…” She trailed off, yet this only served to intrigue Dr. Crane.
“Hurting myself? I have no idea what you’re-”
“I saw you leaving Mr. Trager’s office, and I don’t know the situation but… I don’t know if you know, but he’s not someone you wanna be around.” She stopped, feeling as if she were going to vomit. If she was going to get Cat to understand just how awful Trager was as a person, she’d have to tell her everything. Dr. Catarina Crane would be the first person to know what happened.
Yet, when Cat let out an airy laugh, she felt the pressure get worse. Her anxiety practically skyrocketed.
“Oh trust me Michelle, I know.” Cat responded, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms.
“You don’t know, Cat. You really don’t.” Michelle stated, and Cat noticed the tears brimming in her eyes.
“What did he do to you? What happened?” Her voice was a little bit more chilling, but it didn’t mean she cared any less. Michelle looked back down at her hands, and no matter how many times Cat asked her what happened or to look at her, she wouldn’t look up and she wouldn’t respond. She had to gather all the courage she had in her to tell Cat, and she just wanted her to be safe. She didn’t want her making the same mistakes she did, and while no one warned her about Trager, she was going to make sure Cat knew.
“Michelle?” Cat asked, though this time she was next to her, one of her hands over hers and a genuine look of concern in her eyes. This, along with when she first found out J.J. was missing, was the most human she’d seen Cat. Normally she seemed robotic, cold and calculated, but for once she was showing a vulnerable side of her, she was showing that she cared about Michelle.
“I went on one date with him one night…” She began, her voice barely above a whisper. Cat kneeled next to her so she could see her face. She wanted to make sure she was okay and that she was comfortable opening up. Cat didn’t mean to pry, but part of her wants leverage on him. It was selfish, and she knew it was, but any dirt she had on Trager would do her good.
“I agreed to go back to his place, and I don’t know what I was thinking but I went. We had a couple drinks there and… I don’t remember the rest, but I could tell what happened.” Cat suddenly saw red. She was beyond horrified, beyond angry, but not only that she felt vindicated. She knew there was something off about him the moment she laid eyes on him, she had every reason not to trust him, and she was right not to.
“I could tell what happened in the morning, though. Then he was sending me abortion clinic pamplets and threatening me if I didn’t go through with aborting and-” She couldn’t finish, overwhelmed by the memories and the emotions that came with them. Cat froze, staring at Michelle’s stomach and slowly piecing everything together. She was horrified when she finally processed the fact that her friend’s kid was his . Michelle was crying, but Cat couldn’t move. She felt a flurry of emotions, most she couldn’t even identify. She wanted to help her friend, who she knew was having a worse time than she was at the moment, but she was stuck in her own head.
“I’m so sorry.” She could only mutter those three words, and in the blink of an eye she was suddenly hugging her. She wasn’t sure how she managed to get there, but she supposed all that mattered was that she did. She eased away as Michelle sat up a little.
“I just wished someone had told me. I don’t know why I didn’t see it, he was just… charming, I guess?” Cat felt herself almost gag at that description of Trager, yet she knew that not everyone had an undying hatred for him like she did. Some people might have actually liked him, and obviously Michelle was one of them. Was . She stood, but her legs felt like they were made of rubber.
“I’m going out with him tomorrow night…” Cat muttered. Michelle looked up, her eyes wide.
“What?” She asked, her voice shaky. Cat looked down at her.
“Thank you for telling me this.” Cat said as she walked toward her desk. She went to the left side of it and opened one of the drawers, the middle one, and took out a syringe filled with a mysterious, yellow fluid. Michelle eyed it wearily, unsure of whether Cat was truly on her side at the moment or not. What she just told her had given her reason to believe she wasn’t.
“If he tries anything, I’ll make sure he’s never able to form a coherent sentence again.” Cat practically spat. Michelle couldn’t help but feel frightened by Cat’s sudden anger, even if it was for a good reason.
“I’m so sorry he did that to you.” Cat muttered again as she put the syringe in her bag.
“Doc!” That was the voice of the last person she wanted to hear from. She had gone nearly a week without seeing him, and not only that but she had that bombshell dropped on her earlier. She stopped in her tracks, but she refused to turn around. He would make her look at him anyway, who cared if he had to take a few extra steps.
“Look who’s being all cold all of a sudden.” He continued on, attempting to touch her arm. She jerked away from him and watched as his face dropped. He furrowed his eyebrows at this, but she reminded herself that he shouldn’t be surprised. She didn’t like him, and she only agreed to go out with him because he was helping her.
“Cat.” He scolded, but this only annoyed her further. She didn’t say anything though. When he reached out this time, she didn’t move away. I’m doing this for J.J. , she reminded herself as she suppressed the urge to puke. He grabbed her arm rather harshly and pulled her closer to him as he led the way down the hall. She was dragging her feet, not wanting to follow him or be around him, but she knew this wouldn’t deter him.
“I think I found him.” He whispered. She stopped walking altogether and stared at him, bewildered. She didn’t think he could do it, and if he was telling the truth she’d say she was almost impressed.
“Take me to him.” She demanded. Trager smiled at this, at her desperation.
“All right, follow me.” He said as he led her to the elevators.
She wanted to cry. She saw him, sitting alone in a cell and she was sure he was unaware of their watching eyes. Trager stood next to her, his hand on her hip to keep her close. This whole situation, she had determined, was a way to show his power over her. She wouldn’t let him do this to her, though, nor would she allow him to do this to the people she loved. By the end of tomorrow night, he’ll be the one sitting in that cell.
J.J. was staring at the wall blankly, facing them, and she could see the horrible, bloody wounds around his mouth. She was reminded of what Trager said to her when they made that deal, how J.J. was admitted due to a “meltdown,” and she assumed he ended up hurting himself. She glanced at Trager from the corner of her eye. She didn’t trust him one bit, and for some strange reason she had no doubt that he had something to do with this. She had never seen J.J. so lifeless, even when he was in Arkham he was lively and trying his best. Here he looked like he was comatose. His vivid green eyes that were usually bright and full of life were dull and stared blankly at the wall, and she knew someone had hurt him.
“I want him transferred to Arkham back in Gotham.” She stated, loud enough and forcefully enough for Trager to understand that she was going to get what she wanted, whether he did it or she did.
“His doctor’s there and she can help. We can’t treat him here and you know it.” She continued. His grip on her tightened and he seemed to bring her closer to him. He was silent, thinking probably. She could see his face in the reflection and he seemed less than pleased. She knew he could see her too, but that didn’t stop her. Suddenly, a smirk broke out on his face.
“Come to my place after dinner tomorrow and you got yourself a deal.” He offered, and Dr. Crane felt her heart speed up. She knew she was in dangerous territory, and now she had to negotiate her way out of it. After Michelle’s story, there was no way she’d go back to his house.
“Make it my apartment.” She stated, and she watched his eyes widen. He arched an eyebrow, clearly intrigued by her boldness.
“Oh? What’s wrong with my place?” He asked, though she was sure he’d be fine with going to her apartment instead. Either way, he thought he was getting laid, it didn’t matter the setting.
“It’s up to you, really. I’d just rather we go to my apartment.” She explained. She made sure she kept her face blank, or even made it seem like she was mildly interested in the conversation.
“Alright, fine. Your place it is.” He finally agreed. Mentally, she felt herself decompress. If he continued to be so stubborn she had no choice but to reveal what she knew, yet, she didn’t want to do that. The information revealed to her was integral and she knew she couldn’t show all of her cards at once. If she was going to show that she was truly in control, then she would have to wait. She would have to wait until he was at her mercy, begging to be released from whatever bind he was in. Hell, maybe she’d make him fall in love with her - if that was even possible - and then she’d reveal the truth. The whole truth. That she could never love a man like him, and (hopefully) he’d be locked away for what he did.
“I’ll tell Blaire about the transfer request, I’ll say it came from that new girl… your assistant, what was her name again? It’s something that starts with a D, right?” Trager asked, though she felt like he was stalling. Other than how that was obviously a bad idea, she disagreed because she feared him targeting Dr. Dawes after her. She wouldn’t be shocked, after all, she was younger than her, and shorter, and she had blonde hair and bright green eyes. She was stunning, and the creep that currently held Cat like a lover would have to have noticed her. There was no doubt he would go after her. Not only that, but she was young and impressionable, she was new too, which would give him even more power over her than he ever held with Michelle and Cat.
“Dr. Dawes? No, she’s too close to me. They’d suspect I put in the request the moment they confront her. Just skip the middleman and say I did it, after all, I knew his doctor, I know who can treat him.” She stated calmly, and she could have sworn she saw him thinking, saw him putting the pieces together, and it made her sick.
“Alright, whatever you say Cat.” She remained calm, her face stoic.
He pushed a few molars around in the palm of his hand, completely fascinated by how the light reflected off of the bright, white teeth. He had cleaned them off to the best of his abilities, though he was sure his buyers wouldn’t mind. They were more than capable of removing any evidence that someone could trace back to him and Mount Massive, though maybe that’s what they’d want. In order for that to happen though, they had to be caught, and they wouldn’t want that.
He was getting a pretty penny for ol’ Jack Jr.’s teeth, and the less Cat Crane knew about that, the better. As it turned out, J.J. showing up that day was a godsend. He had a history of mental illness, though his files said nothing about self harm he knew from his experience working in the asylum that a mental breakdown could trigger an extreme reaction like that. J.J. was the perfect person to do that to, and he served a few other purposes. He needed teeth for his buyers, and he needed Cat’s attention, something he could hold over her for a little bit until she was desperate. He succeeded in that.
For some strange reason, he felt like she was someone who could understand him. He thought this the moment he laid eyes on her, and he wasn’t entirely sure why. He enjoyed the little game they played, where she acted like she despised him when he knew that deep down, she was as fascinated by him as he was with her. Yes, he did hope things would go his way tomorrow night, and he would absolutely love to just do his thing and leave her behind, but he was coming to the realization that he just couldn’t . If he were to have her, there would be no going back, he wouldn’t be able to get rid of her if he tried, even if she wanted nothing to do with him in the end.
They were people of science, after all, and while he was a doctor in everything but name, he felt she could complete him in that sense. Under all that cold, bitter attitude, he knew she was just as unhinged and violent as he was. He was the antithesis of everything she was, and that’s what he liked about her. She wasn’t like him, but he could tell that at their very cores, they were the same. He wanted to show her that.
Deep down, he wanted to believe she’d be lost without him.
Blaire strolled into his office, making Trager curl his hand into a fist, hiding the teeth from his friend. While he was sure he knew about his little “business,” Trager didn’t want to risk anything. To be honest, he wasn’t in much of a talking mood at the moment. He wanted to clear his mind and get ready to bring the teeth to his customers, and he wanted to think about his next move. That was the thing with Cat Crane, when he thought he was ahead, she was only a step ahead of him. It didn’t take much to change that little pattern, but he hadn’t gotten as far as he wanted to. She was still able to take control of her situation - and he knew it was a situation she wasn’t fond of - and turn the tables on him. Now he was stuck having to improvise.
On one hand, he’d now know where she lived, but on the other… there was no way in hell Cat was gonna let him anywhere near her willingly.
“You’re coming tomorrow, right?” Blaire asked after what felt like forever. In reality, it had only been a moment. Trager was stuck in his own head that day, but it was something that couldn’t be helped.
“Yeah, totally, bud. Don’t worry. You won’t believe who I got to go out with me.” He told him, leaning forward with a wide smile on his face. Blaire scoffed.
“Ugh, don’t tell me it’s that weird broad you’ve been bothering for the past few weeks.” Blaire rolled his eyes at the thought of it. There was no doubt Trager blackmailed the new doctor into going, and he was sure the fallout of his terrible decisions would end up hurting the company. He warned him when they first hired Dr. Crane, but he knew Trager wouldn’t listen.
“Oh yeah, it’s her alright. That guy I had you admit was the bait.” Blaire glared at his friend.
“Ricky,” he began sternly, moving closer to the nonchalant man’s desk. “Don’t tell me that’s why you had me do that.” When Trager didn’t answer, Blaire knew he was right.
“Oh god this is gonna be terrible for the company.” Blaire muttered, running his fingers through his thin, greasy hair.
“Come on, Jer. I made sure he didn’t know it was me. If he does know, he won’t figure it out for a while. Cat wants him transferred back to Arkham, but if you really don’t trust it we can just send someone with him.” He practically watched the small man’s face grow red.
“Oh? And who the hell would that be.” Trager stopped to think about this, before the image of the small, blonde doctor came to mind.
“She’s new, but she’s been around Dr. Crane’s experiments. Too risky.” Trager shook his head.
“If you think Arkham isn’t crawling with corruption too, buddy, then you have another thing coming.” Trager answered, his tone bordering on threatening.
“I assume you’ve done your research?” Blaire asked, and Trager nodded. With a sigh, Blaire finally agreed, leaving Trager’s office shortly after, leaving the man alone with his thoughts and teeth again.
This chapter is kinda inspired by Mad Love, which I think most are aware is a famous Batman story. I know that Catarina Crane is more intertwined with the Scarecrow rather than Harley Quinn (*Spoiler*which I argue J.J. is more the Harley Quinn of this universe, even if his character is going to be more of a mixture of his parents), but there are aspects of that story that I felt would benefit this one, that being the way Harleen Quinzel falls in love with Joker. The way Catarina Crane falls for Trager is going to be similar, though not as extreme and will take a lot more time, especially considering Cat’s mission when going on this date.
So, without further ado, enjoy!
“Hello, this is Dr. Catarina Crane.” She greeted, one hand holding her phone to her ear while the other was on her steering wheel. Other cars zoomed past her, coming across as shining, colored blurs on the other side of the road. She was a little bit more at ease knowing that J.J. wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere, but his face haunted her. She couldn’t close her eyes without seeing his blank eyes and bloody pseudo smile. She barely got any sleep the night before, and she was surprised she functioned at work.
“Hey Cat, I need the address.” She rolled her eyes. She wasn’t even home yet, and of course he was already calling her. She couldn’t help but wonder how he got her number.
“How did you get my cell phone number?” She asked, carefully concealing her temper behind a callous voice. He laughed, and in that moment she realized how he got it.
“You didn’t delete it off of the call log on my work phone, I wrote it down.” Damn! She thought, gripping the phone harder. I knew I should have gone through the phone after that. Truth be told, Dr. Crane was far too embarrassed after that moment to stay in his office any longer than she had to. She made a mistake, and that was another defence that she lost to him.
“So?” He asked. She sighed loudly, yet none of the frustration from the situation left her.
“So what, Mr. Trager?” She asked.
“Hey, remember, it’s Rick when we’re not working.” He reminded her. She racked her mind as she thought of ways to not call him that.
“I’m not calling you that. I hate the name Rick.” She practically spat. She heard him chuckle over the phone.
“I don’t care what you call me, baby, just none of that Mr. Trager stuff. You make me feel old.” She scoffed at this, slamming on her brake as she hit a red light.
“I can drive myself tonight.” She told him, though this wouldn’t deter him. She could practically see his smug smile, and it made her blood boil.
“Sorry, babe, I wasn’t raised that way.” He spun around slightly in his chair, smiling wider as he heard her sigh. It was a loud sigh, one that should have reminded him that she was getting annoyed, and she wasn’t someone you wanted to annoy. That never stopped him in the past though, and part of him really enjoyed getting her all riled up.
“Fine.” As she pulled into her parking spot, she told him her address. She figured it was better than letting him follow her home.
When he arrived at her door later that night, he couldn’t help but be shocked. He always knew Catarina was rather attractive (her blue eyes and high cheekbones were enough to make any man or woman swoon), but he quickly realized she cleaned up rather well. Her brown curls that were usually in a (sometimes frizzy) ponytail were finally let loose, cascading over her right shoulder and looking like silk. She wore a sleeveless, backless black dress with a plunging neckline and a slit down the left leg, leaving almost nothing to his imagination. On her lips was a dark red that almost looked black in a certain light, and her eyes were done with a smoky grey color. Around her neck was a choker with a blood red gem in the center, though this small pop of color didn’t distract him from everything else.
He was wearing one of his usual button down shirts, this time it was a plain white, with black dress pants. His hair, as usual, looked as if there was an attempt to gel back the curls. He wasn’t dressed quite as vibrantly as he normally did, and she almost appreciated that.
She felt a shiver go up her spine as his eyes roamed her body, and she was sure she wasn’t prepared for the rest of the night. In a way, she viewed herself as some sort of femme fatale. She would make herself look irresistible, and when he fell into her trap, she could rub it in his face. Not that he’d be able to tell what was going on after she got her way.
“What’s wrong? Scared?” She asked, sadism flashing in her eyes. Trager thought his heart would explode at this. He looked down and checked his watch, hoping that maybe he could spare a moment before heading out. He wanted her badly, but he knew they had to go.
“No, not scared. You do have me feeling a certain way though-” He went to grab her hand, but she moved away. It was instinctual, and part of her wondered if she was going to do anything but move away from him. His words disgusted her, and she wanted to tell him that, but she knew she had to suck it up for a night and put on a happy face. She had to ignore his comments, ignore his advances, just long enough to get the toxin in him.
“Let me grab my bag, I’ll be back. Either wait in the hall or come inside and close the damn door.” She told him, only for him to realize the reason why she said this. Edgar II strutted toward the door, and Trager quickly stepped in and closed the door to prevent the cat from escaping. He knelt down, running a hand along the cat’s back.
“You have a cat?” He called, which prompted Catarina to come back into the room. In her hand was a small, black handbag, and her eyes were full of fear.
“Don’t touch him. Let’s just go.” She said, taking the cat up into her arms and putting him on the couch. Trager just stood there, watching every move she made. When she returned, he took her hand, and this time she didn’t flinch. While he was sure it was just him, he felt a spark when he touched her. He knew that she hated him, and he knew damn well that she wouldn’t enjoy the hand holding, but so far she didn’t say anything. He considered this a win.
Maybe, just maybe , he wouldn’t leave her in the dust when the night was over.
They got to the restaurant around twenty minutes after he picked her up, yet his friend still wasn’t there. Cat was sitting on the bench outside while Trager leaned against the brick wall. They could hear the chatter of people inside, a few times they could hear laughter, and the sounds of metal on glass. The warm lights from inside illuminated the outside, casting a soft light on the duo. It was chilly, which was to be expected around that time of the year, and the inside of the restaurant was warm and inviting. Cat dug around in her little handbag until she pulled out a thin, black shawl. She figured it was better than nothing.
She wrapped the cloth around her shoulders and held it close to her chest, catching the attention of the man beside her.
“You know, I have a sweater in the back of my car. I could get it for you.” Trager offered, but Cat shook her head.
“I’m fine.” She answered, and again an awkward silence fell between the two. Trager sighed and sat down beside her, looking at his watch and rolling his eyes. This was the first time she had seen him be slightly annoyed.
“I really thought Jer would be here by now.” He muttered to himself, though Cat heard him. She was sitting close to him, close enough to smell his cologne, close enough to notice his small, subtle ticks. He would bounce his leg, and adjust his watch on his wrist nervously. He leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees, and for once Cat wanted to say something.
“I’m guessing this friend is Jeremy Blaire?” She asked, but he only nodded. When he looked up at her again, she saw a certain vulnerability in her eyes. She wasn’t sure what to make of it, and she wasn’t sure why he’d be feeling that way at that moment. She couldn’t help but wonder if he wanted that night to be perfect.
“I wouldn’t worry about it, he’s an ass anyway.” She stated in her usual tone, which brought a smile to his face. He liked that about her, she was blunt and humorless at times, with a certain bite to her when she was joking, too.
“I haven’t been much better,” he began, his voice low. She couldn’t be sure if he was being genuine, but if he was, she was intrigued. “I’m sorry, really, for how I acted before all this. I shouldn’t have blackmailed you into this.” He let out a small laugh.
“I really thought the night would’ve gone better than this.” He finished, his voice soft. She wasn’t used to him whispering, and when he did it frightened her. The idea that this man, who was the item of her hatred, had feelings and thoughts that didn’t revolve around annoying her and making her uncomfortable, bewildered her. She didn’t say anything, she didn’t trust that he was sorry for blackmailing her.
She was right to think that way. He didn’t regret it. In fact, he believed it would have been the only way to get her to go out with him. He was right about that. She’d do anything for J.J., and that was her weakness. Her love for her friend didn’t matter when she could be there with him, even if it was only for a few hours. He was going to get what he wanted, and he wasn’t going to feel bad about how he got it. Yet, as time went on, he realized he wanted her more than just in the physical sense.
“I guess we can go in and get a table before they get here.” He suggested, and she wholeheartedly agreed, to the point that she stood first, offering her hand to him. He still led the way inside.
They sat down at a booth, the waiter left menus for them, and two more for the missing people in their party. She was still cold in demeanor, but she was sitting much closer to him than when they were on the bench. He had already ordered their drinks, she chose a simple sparkling water, while he had ordered wine. He learned that Cat wasn’t a drinker. She wasn’t fond of the taste of alcohol or the feelings that came with it, and he was practically mystified. He hadn’t considered the fact that she wasn’t a drinker, but it made perfect sense. He bit back the urge to make a smart comment about her being a stick in the mud, or something along those lines.
Almost a half an hour later, they began opening up to each other.
“So your dad had a room full of weird masks? That’s why you think you have daddy issues?” He sounded surprised, as if he couldn’t believe it. She chuckled.
“I didn’t say I did!” She slapped his arm, a smile on her face. It was a smile that mirrored the one from when she saw J.J. again, even if she didn’t realize it. In turn, Trager didn’t realize the fondness in his eyes.
“It was just weird and, yeah, it freaked me out. It’s why I do what I do. That and the expectations from my family.” She explained finally. She didn’t consider this information important, and she didn’t think he could use it against her in any way. These were things she told Michelle after hanging out with her in the cafeteria - common knowledge.
Trager, on the other hand, was a wildcard at this point. She felt like she could handle anything he threw at her and there was nothing he could tell her that would change her opinion of him.
“Well, since we’re on daddy issues, I definitely have some. My dad used to be a real dick, you know? He used to call me stupid, fuck up, shit like that. He’s the reason why I didn’t become a doctor. He said I wasn’t smart enough, I believed him, even if my grades didn’t match up with what he was saying. I was popular, and he was convinced I would be dead in some gutter somewhere by thirty five because of it. Turns out I was just really good at talking.” Well, prepared for anything but that.
Despite what he told her, he laughed. She felt a familiar tug at her heart, and as much as she hated to admit it, she felt bad for him. She wanted to laugh along with him, and she did, albeit awkwardly.
“He did hit me once, but he never laid a hand on me after that.” He got quiet again, as if he didn’t realize he was talking.
“I’m sorry.” She muttered, taking a sip of her water. He seemed to snap out of it at the sound of her voice.
“No, no, I’m sorry. I got a little carried away there.” His smile was back, and this time he rested his cheek on his hand, smiling widely at her and waiting patiently for her to speak again.
“You’d do well in Gotham, you know that?” She said to him, and his eyebrows shot up in a look of intrigue.
“I’m not gonna elaborate.” She shook her head and looked to her left. Even though she didn’t want to say it, she wouldn’t mind doing something like this again. He wasn’t as unbearable as he was at work, and in a way she related to him. She wasn’t sure if she should be worried about that or not.
She slipped her shawl off and started wrapping it around her hand so she could put it back in her bag, and Trager watched her silently. She was amazed at the fact that she was enjoying herself, especially considering how she didn’t want to go out in the first place.
Then, her hand brushed against the syringe in her bag, and she was reminded of the danger she was in, and what this man who was getting into her head had done. She had a moral obligation to finish what she started, but she wondered if she’d be able to by the end of the night. She didn’t realize that her face dropped, nor did she realize that Trager noticed this. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye and smiled awkwardly before stuffing the shawl into her bag finally.
She went to say something, but was cut off by the arrival of one Jeremy Blaire and his date.
Philophobia: The fear of being loved or becoming emotionally connected with a person.
There’s a song that I feel goes best with part 3 of this chapter and it’s Tear You Apart by She Wants Revenge (literally I feel like this song sums our favorite love/hate duo up perfectly).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Cat couldn’t help but stare at the shorter blonde woman across from her. She was pale, with curly hair that a curling iron couldn’t achieve. She wore an emerald green dress that complimented her complexion and her body. Green was always her color, and she knew it. Her eyes were a beautiful, vivid green, and they were staring back at Cat with equal intensity. Neither woman said a word to each other after their initial greeting.
Jeremy and Rick continued to talk, as if a staring contest wasn’t happening around them. The air was tense, but not in a negative way. They knew each other, and it could be said that they were friends, but they wouldn’t let the men know that. Cat knew that the blonde was there on business, and the blonde was questioning Cat’s taste in men.
It was no secret that Cat looked to be out of Trager’s league, and in a way Cat was. He looked like a greasy weasel next to Catarina’s elegance, and the blonde woman took note of this. It threw her off to see the doctor sitting so closely and comfortably with him, and when she arrived it looked like they were having a nice conversation.
They both had to bite their tongue when Jeremy introduced the two to each other.
They both sat in silence, letting the men have their fun while they silently sent signals to each other. Sooner or later, one would give and get up to use the bathroom, and that one would be the blonde.
She got up and excused herself, letting her hand run across her date’s shoulder seductively, and Cat couldn’t help but smirk internally at the action. She knew it was all an act, and she knew exactly why the blonde was with Jeremy that night. What she didn’t know, however, was that Trager knew the blonde too. He was well aware of the little games being played that night, and what she was really doing there.
When Cat got up a few minutes later, he didn’t question it. As a matter of fact, he almost expected it.
Cat entered the restroom only to see the blonde leaning against the stone wall, a look of amusement on her face and smugness in her eyes. Cat knew that the blonde’s true feelings could always be found in her eyes, and right now she knew that she was completely entertained by Cat’s situation.
“What’re you doing here, Dr. Greene?” Cat asked. The blonde shrugged.
“The same could be asked for you.” Cat let her shoulders drop slightly at the blonde’s answer. Dr. Greene had no idea the predicament she was in, and it would be hard to explain how she got herself into this situation. If anything, the blonde would be disappointed in her friend’s reckless decisions.
“I’m on a date.” Cat said simply, to which the blonde scoffed.
“Last time we spoke you sounded like you hated that man.” Dr. Greene pointed out, and Cat nodded.
“I do hate him.”
“That’s not what I was seeing out there when Blaire was looking for him.” Cat glared at the woman in green. She was angry, even though she knew that she was right. Cat was enjoying herself, falling for the man even though he was the bane of her existence only a few hours before. She hoped that she could get through the night without feeling any more for him. She hoped she could get over the attraction she felt for him now that she knew him a bit better.
“Does Albert know you’re here?” Cat countered, changing the conversation so she didn’t have to ponder her new feelings. Dr. Greene smiled at this.
“Of course he does, he even helped me snag this guy. I wouldn’t want him getting the wrong idea.” Her words had a double meaning, Cat knew that much, even if she was telling the truth. Dr. Greene loved Albert with her whole heart, almost obsessively so. She couldn’t imagine the blonde being with someone other than him. It was almost as if the heavens had created them together, binding them and making them perfect for one another. Albert felt as if he were better than everyone else, carrying a god complex that would make an actual deity blush, and Dr. Greene was an extremely loyal woman. She was smart and devoted to him, she’d do anything for him, and it helped that she was beautiful, too. He was a man that wanted to be worshipped, and she was a woman who wanted to worship him.
“I didn’t think you were capable of feeling attraction, Cat.” Ivy taunted, watching as her friend walked to the wall she was leaning on.
“For him? Yeah, I didn’t think I was capable either.” She responded, her voice softer than she wanted it to be. She wanted it to sound like she was agreeing with Ivy, like she didn’t feel anything for Trager, yet she did. After their time alone she did, and she was starting to fear those feelings. She feared him, and she feared how he was making her feel. He was sleazy and dangerous, and Cat knew this. He represented everything she loathed in a person, yet she fell for a sob story, one that she knew had been an exaggeration, though what parts of it were lies was a mystery to her. “I’m assuming you’re here for business purposes?” She asked, quickly changing the subject to distract Ivy from her response.
A knowing twinkle flashed in Ivy’s eyes, and Cat couldn’t help but inwardly scold herself. Ivy was a smart woman, almost as smart as Cat herself, if not more. Anything Cat did, Ivy would pick up on.
“Of course. I managed to get Blaire to open up a bit about the morphogenic engine, among other things.” Cat grimaced at the thought of what Ivy had to do to get Jeremy Blaire to talk about Murkoff secrets. She knew that her last statement wasn’t a threat, but she knew where Ivy was going with this.
“You want a sample of my fear toxin.” Cat accused, to which Ivy nodded, a smirk present on her face.
“We both know that Al and I’s company’s been very interested in your work for a while-”
“And I’ve made it clear that I have no interest in genetically engineering weapons.” Cat countered.
“I think we both know that Murkoff’s going down at some point or another, and you’ll need a company that’s willing to cover your ass when it happens.” Ivy told her, not bothering to sugar coat what she was saying. Ivy, in the right circumstances, is as blunt as Cat. She had a sharp tongue that could no doubt get her out of any situation, but when it came down to it, she wasn’t afraid to say just what everyone was thinking, harsh or not. “And it’ll happen, trust me.”
“I believe you. When the time comes, I’ll be there. Now, for the toxin…”
“I’ll pay top dollar for that shit.” Ivy cut in, looking as if she were ready to pounce. Cat smirked, knowing damn well that Ivy was desperate for it, and with her field of study the toxins would do her well.
He maintained the appearance of not caring that Cat was back, but she noticed how his eyes lit up at the mere sight of her coming back to the table. She felt her heart speed up, but this wasn’t due to her newfound fondness for the man; she was scared.
He reminded her of what she was: a scared girl.
“You took a while in there, Ives.” Blaire slurred, leaning in for what seemed like a kiss. Ivy declined politely, to the best of her ability, that is. She gently pushed the man away from her, which only brought a lopsided smile to his face, and more begging from him.
Cat sat close to Trager, his arm over her shoulders. His touch brought goosebumps to her arms, but she didn’t bother making her discomfort known. She was there for J.J., she would remind herself of this over and over, but deep down she was slipping.
How much of the night was part of her act? How much of it was how she genuinely felt? Was she falling too deep into the role she created for herself, or was she actually relating to the monster next to her? Was this some sick form of Stockholm syndrome?
Ivy and Jeremy’s now obvious bickering brought Cat out of her thoughts, as was the soothing sensation of Trager’s fingers caressing her shoulder.
“How much did you guys drink while we were in there?” Cat asked sincerely, concerned for her friend who she knew would blow her cover if this continued.
“I’m still finishing my first glass,” Trager began, holding up the nearly empty wine glass for her to see. “Jer on the other hand…” She didn’t need him to finish his sentence. She could see the larger glass surrounded by smaller shot glasses and she understood. Though, she wasn’t entirely sure what Jeremy thought this night was going to be. Cat sure as hell wasn’t going to go partying with these two, and she was sure Trager would rather be in her bed than in a club after dinner.
She couldn’t agree more with that sentiment, even if it disgusted her to think that way.
“I think we better get going.” Ivy smiled, giving Cat a knowing glance. It was a look that told her that 1) Ivy was getting what she wanted and even more that night, and 2) she caught on to how Cat truly felt about Trager, and she understood Cat completely now. She figured it out before Cat had even known that there was something to figure out in the first place.
“I agree, get that idiot to bed.” Trager smiled, both at the idea of him being alone with Cat again and at the fact that they’d get to leave earlier. Ivy went to signal a waiter, but Trager stopped her.
“I got it.” He told her, and she furrowed her brow.
“Alright.” She muttered, practically dragging Jeremy out of the booth and toward their car. She had his keys, and she knew that she could easily overpower him if he tried to take the keys. She silently thanked her dear Albert for that.
With Ivy and Jeremy out of the way, Cat and Trager were alone again.
One word coursed through her mind as she sat in silence with him:
They talked a bit more on the car ride back to her place. She told him a bit more about Gotham, and even mentioned that she knew Ivy from college.
“If all goes well, I wanna do this again.” He admitted, this time leaving it up to her to decide whether she wants what he wants. While she was in the bathroom with Ivy, he listened to Jeremy brag about the absolute bombshell Ivy was, and he listened, knowing damn well that Ivy was a taken woman who wouldn’t dare look at a rat like Jeremy if he wasn’t in the position of power he was in. When Jeremy mentioned how he knew Cat was probably one of those kinky goth girls, he couldn’t help but feel a bit possessive. All this time, he talked about Cat that way, but the moment Jeremy said it he felt like taking his tongue and handing it to Ivy (free of charge, nonetheless!). This whole endeavor had truly warped his mind further, and he wasn’t sure what to do anymore.
What would happen if she rejected his offer like she did many times before? Would they just finish the deal and go on as if nothing happened? He was sure he couldn’t do that. She got under his skin and he was sure she felt the same way about him.
“You’re not hiding some secret weapon to coerce me into this one, right?” She asked, her voice quiet. The bright red from the traffic light painted her body, casting long shadows onto her face and making her look more like a ghost than a live person. She was beautiful, and he wondered if she even cared that she was beautiful. If she said no he wouldn’t know what to do. He wanted to keep her all to himself, even though he knew she would never allow that so long as she was alive. He would tear her apart.
“No, not this time. It’s all up to you, babe.” He responded, trying his best to keep calm. He didn’t want to scare her, even if she’d probably like it. She looked at him, her blue eyes doe-like yet full of fear.
“Fine.” She told him in a voice barely above a whisper, her wording as if he were asking her all night.
The roads were empty and dark, with no one behind them, and no one in front of them. She was leaning closer, and for a brief moment he wasn’t sure what to do. He wondered if it were a trap, but he realized he was the only one setting traps, or at least, to his knowledge.
He leaned in, pressing his lips to hers which she reciprocated enthusiastically. As they collided, the light turned green, painting the whole scene in the color, as if the world was telling them that this was right . This wasn’t their first kiss, that one was stolen by him and she was far from thrilled with it, but this one was different. It felt like their first real kiss, one where they both felt electricity coursing through them with every slight touch, and as her hands slipped into his hair, he knew that he had her.
Her heart was racing and she felt as if she was going to cry. She was having a panic attack, and the words of her friend came to the forefront of her mind. She was reminded over and over of why she should hate him, why she should be afraid of him! At the same time, she felt as if she finally found someone who could understand her on a deeper level, someone who was like her whether she liked it or not. She was attracted to him in every sense of the word, and the one thing she longed to see was the look of fear in his eyes when they finally came together. She wanted him to feel the emotion she felt whenever she was around him. Yes, he was obnoxious at times, but that hate she felt for him was what led her to that moment. That hate for him made her hope she’d see him everyday, even if it was subconscious.
When they pulled apart the light was red again.
As they sat in silence, panting away to regain lost air, Cat had made up her mind. The vial in her bag would stay in her bag.
She only hoped Michelle could forgive her.
If any of you have read The Dulvey Operation then you know damn well who Ivy and Albert are, but the question is, how does Trager know them?
There's smut in this chapter and I'm kinda rusty at writing it so I apologize in advance.
They were in her room, on her bed. She felt nauseous, like she was going to puke at any moment due to her nerves. All in the course of a day, she went from hating him, to sympathizing with him, to wanting him more than anything. Maybe it was her wanting him to get her, to make him understand her love of fear and her fear of love. In the top drawer of her nightstand was a wrap-like container with multiple syringes. Each one was different in intensity and duration.
For that night she’d only want one that lasted a few hours.
The only light came from a red, neon sign outside her window, which sat between the two apartment buildings. It hardly ever bothered Cat, but that night it set the mood more than anything. Her fan whirred loudly, but kept the room cool enough while they went at it. When they got back to her apartment, they wasted no time and went straight to her bedroom. It went according to plan for her. She would have control, and he wouldn’t have enough time to drug her drinks if they weren’t sitting around and talking. She made sure not to touch the rest of her drink at the restaurant when she came back from the bathroom, not wanting to risk giving up control.
She was on top of him now, her dress was on the floor, as were her shoes. His shirt was unbuttoned and his belt was with her dress and their shoes. Her lips were on his, dancing to an almost feverish rhythm that made him question her intentions. She was almost too willing to sleep with him, and that was putting him on edge. Her hands danced along his chest and made their way up to the metal bedpost. She was grabbing something, but he couldn’t see this. It was only when a silk-like fabric was draped over his eyes that he realized what she was doing.
Her hands were wrapped around his wrists, pinning them down with all her weight so he wouldn’t be tempted to take off the blindfold. She needed time, a moment to think for herself, a moment to calm down.
“What’s the deal with this?” He asked, genuinely interested in what she was doing.
“When I get up, don’t move. Keep the blindfold on, I got a surprise.” She whispered in his ear before leaning back. He laid perfectly still, grateful that he wasn’t tied to the bed (yet) cause he was sure she’d leave him there if he was.
Quietly, she slid the drawer open and grabbed the container with both hands, then she went to her wardrobe. She did have something that she wanted to wear, but it was more for her than him. She didn’t want to go under the covers, and she didn’t want her whole lower half exposed, where anyone from the next apartment building could see because her curtains were translucent.
Now she carried a silk lingerie nightgown, and the syringes, and she carried them into the bathroom. She placed the items on the counter and glanced at herself in the mirror. She could hear her heart beating, and it practically felt like it’d break through her chest at any moment. Her lipstick was visibly smeared, but she knew that. If she looked at Trager in the other room she’d see that lovely burgundy shade all over his mouth and neck. Her mascara ran slightly, but she liked how it looked, and she wondered how that would look on the toxins.
She slid her panties down her legs, the lace balled up in her hand as she considered using them to tie him to the bed. Then, she pulled the plum colored dress over her head and inspected how she looked. Her breasts looked much fuller than they normally did in that dress, but that was mostly due to the bra she kept on underneath. In her right hand was a syringe full of her fear toxin, one that would last an hour. It wasn’t like what she promised before - he would be fine by the next day, and at most he’d be a bit scarred from the experience.
She left the bathroom, syringe and underwear in her hands.
He jumped slightly as she climbed back on top of him, though this time her hands quickly made their way to the buttons of his pants, which she undid and pulled down with little resistance from him. In fact, a smirk was on his lips as he waited for her to take the blindfold off. She ignored what he wanted for a moment, instead choosing to sit on his stomach for a moment while she bound his hands together and tied them to the headboard. A breathy laugh escaped from him as he realized what she was doing, though he was anxious about it. He was tied up now, not wearing pants or underwear, she could leave him there and ridicule him if she wanted to, but she wasn’t going to. She leaned closer to his ear, and whispered something to him, it was so quiet he couldn’t really hear her, but he understood when he felt the sharp pinch and warmth spread throughout his neck.
“What the fuck-” He was cut off as she slid down his length, groaning slightly at the sensation. She watched as he tried to move his arms, and gave an open mouthed smile. She was letting out shaky breaths as she moved up and down, enjoying herself for a moment before deciding to take the blindfold off of him.
His brown eyes were wide, but he wasn’t showing any of the signs that the toxin was kicking in. She cupped his cheek, stopping her movement for a moment to explain herself. The act was almost tender, despite what she had done.
“Don’t worry, it won’t last forever.” She panted, rubbing her thumb along his cheek. “I’ve been interested in how this works during intercourse, and you’re the perfect test subject. I can’t do this with the patients at the asylum, and quite frankly I don’t want to. Truth be told, fear gets me hot.” She admitted before grinding down on him again, and there was a shift in his eyes. First, it was confusion, then a brief flash of anger that was quickly overtaken by lust again. He wasn’t fond of the idea of being under the influence of her fear drugs during sex, but he couldn’t help but be completely into her. Only she could do such a fucked up thing and he’d be fine with it.
She could see when the toxin finally set in, mostly because he seemed to be completely out of it as she rode him. He was breathing heavily, holding back screams of fear but also groaning in pleasure. She wasn’t sure what he was seeing, but the look in his eyes was absolutely delicious, and she couldn’t help but go faster.
It felt as if the stars were aligning - no - it felt like stars were colliding, exploding. She never thought she’d find any pleasure in being with him, yet there she was. She leaned down, smashing her lips into his again and shoving her tongue into his mouth. She loved him, as much as she hated to admit it. The hatred she felt for him was merely a defense she had, something to avoid coming to terms with her fears, and she got drunk off of it. Watching him squirm under her, his eyes wide with fear and his arms pulling slightly on his bindings.
She was getting close, and she knew she wouldn’t last longer than a minute. She leaned forward and untied him, and he practically lunged forward. Nerves took over as she realized that the toxins could elicit a violent response, but he didn’t do anything to hurt her. He pulled her close, hugging her to his body and burying his head in the crook of her neck, thrusting into her faster than she anticipated. She threw her head back, finally coming undone as her hands raked down his back, her nails digging into his flesh.
A few more minutes passed before he let out a strained groan, finishing inside her before collapsing back onto the pillows. His eyes, from what she could see, had returned back to normal, and she wondered if he had sweated out the toxins. She didn’t realize that might have been possible, and now she had something new to study.
She climbed off of him, and instead chose to curl up next to him. He was warm, and his skin was damp, which only cemented her opinion further. He definitely flushed the toxin from his system, probably in more ways than just one. It hadn’t been an hour yet, she realized their activities had just barely reached fifty minutes.
“I…” He wasn’t able to finish his sentence. He just stared at the ceiling, as if he was trying to piece his mind back together. She stared up at him, her eyes glossed over with exhaustion.
“That was… something.” He was quiet, quieter than she’d ever heard him before. When they were alone, she found that he was a lot quieter. He was normally a lot more boisterous in public, like he had a point to prove and an act to keep up. She found that she preferred him in private.
“Might even be better than sex on cocaine.” He joked, smiling down at her, but he was shocked to find her seemingly asleep already. He hoped he wasn’t just some experiment for her. For once, he felt something for someone else. It wasn’t like before, where he wasn’t afraid to ruin whatever potential relationship he had in order to sleep with someone. It wasn’t that Cat had changed him, if anything, she sparked something new in him. He had a respect for her, and after what she pulled earlier in the night, that respect grew. She was just as unhinged as he was, and he loved every second of it. He knew she wouldn’t be thrilled about him staying the night, but he didn’t want to leave.
He glanced at the empty syringe on her nightstand, then felt at the small welt on his neck. He couldn’t believe she did that, but in the end he couldn’t be surprised.
Her eyes opened slowly.
The world around her came in a fuzzy blur, then faded to darkness again. She’d wake up again almost an hour later, but it felt extremely difficult to actually get up. When she did wake up finally, it was to the smell of coffee. At first it didn’t click; she didn’t think twice about the enticing smell from the other room. It wasn’t until she shifted, and she felt a disgusting trickling from between her legs. She shuddered, remembering just why that was happening, and suddenly she felt the urge to gouge out whatever was down there with a spoon and change her underwear.
She thought she loved him. She didn’t say it, of course, she would rather die than admit that thought process aloud. Thinking it was bad enough, and he didn’t need the ego boost of hearing her admit it. Now that she was awake (and thoroughly disgusted), she could tell that her mind was clouded by lust and curiosity. Now that she was awake, she realized that the syringe she used on him the night before was missing, and so was he. While she would normally be overjoyed that he wasn’t in sight, the fact that the syringe was also missing troubled her.
Not to mention that the coffee machine was left on .
She slipped out of the sheets, shuddering a bit at the chilly morning air, and grabbed her robe off of the end of the bed. She didn’t leave it there, but she assumed it ended up there on accident seeing as she normally kept it on the footboard.
She held the fabric close to her chest, shivering slightly from the cold silk. It wouldn’t help much, but as the morning went on she’d warm up to it. Her bare feet trotted along the wood floors, taking her to the kitchen where Edgar no doubt sat waiting to be fed. She’d be yelled at by him, and she would probably make jokes that he wouldn’t be able to understand about her being at her lowest point.
Her living room was brighter than usual, with the curtains drawn back to let in more light. This time she could actually see the city outside, which was the main reason why her apartment cost so much. The skyline was pretty, with skyscrapers in the distance and a quaint park just across the street from her building. She liked it there, and it quickly became one of the only reasons why she stayed in that city.
Not only were the curtains open, but her dark wood floors were clean. There wasn’t a book or paper in sight, but her shelves were full again. She glared at it, feeling a bit of frustration build up in her. She normally wouldn’t complain about a clean house, but she kept everything in a particular order for a reason. If she left a paper in a certain place, she’d remember it was there, and the same thing went for her books. The sudden tidiness was a surprise, to be sure, but she knew it wouldn’t last too long.
She was going to venture to other corners of her apartment, but her attention was quickly drawn by the sound of soft purring and whispering. She practically felt her heart stop when she realized she wasn’t alone, and her cat was in the presence of that other person.
She knew damn well who did all that, but she wasn’t willing to admit it.
“I have to feed him.” She said as she entered the kitchen. Trager looked up at her, almost startled by the sudden sound of her voice, and for a moment she hoped the fear toxin didn’t completely wear off.
“Already did.” He told her, but this did the opposite of what he wanted. She grimaced and crossed her arms.
“He needs a certain amount that I doubt you knew-”
“Cat, there’s a little measuring cup in there for him, I’m pretty sure i got it right.” She shut her mouth after that. An almost uncomfortable silence came over them, with only the purs of Edgar saving them from complete silence. She watched as her cat rubbed his head on that man’s hand, and it made her equally as angry as she was disgusted. She let that man touch her , before she tied him up, of course. She was shocked to see that he was still there in the first place, after all, she assumed he got what he wanted.
“I made you coffee.” His voice cut through the silence like a knife, but her words were much sharper.
“I’m not touching anything you give me.”
“I didn’t do anything to it-”
“Why should I trust you?” She asked, cutting him off quickly to spare her some time. He stared at her, as if she were some secret that would unlock if he looked in the right place.
“I’d say we’re past all this, Cat. I mean, you touched a lot worse than whatever I could do to that coffee last night…” He trailed off when he watched her expression change. She looked like she was going to explode, and he realized that there was nothing he could say or do to change that.
“Alright, I’m sorry, that kinda slipped out.” He muttered, shaking his head, though this did nothing to soothe her.
“I really enjoyed last night, though. I wanna do it again sometime, it’s kinda why I stayed this morning, not gonna lie to you.” She could barely hear his ramblings as her mind started to wander. She thought of every little thing that she hated about him, and found that the one thing that bothered her the most had yet to be addressed. It seemed like he didn’t understand why she would say that she wouldn’t go near anything he’d give her.
“You don’t get it.” She finally whispered, which got his full attention. He stopped talking altogether, staring at her with intensity and confusion, as if he were hanging on her every word.
“You’re just an experiment to me. That was nothing, and I learned a lot from that little test, so thank you.” She watched an emotion flash in his eyes, one she only saw once, but it was gone just as quickly as it arrived. He practically glared at her.
“Just an experiment?” He asked, and for once in his life he genuinely sounded hurt. He stood, making Edgar run off toward her bedroom. She had to look up at him now, but she wouldn’t let that intimidate her. It never did before, so why would she let it then, in her own home of all places?
“Baby I made you scream last night! I might’ve been high outta my mind half the time, no thanks to you, but I know that much!” He yelled. His volume did nothing to move her stone-like facade, in fact, she barely jumped at the sudden volume.
“Yes, just an experiment. You forget yourself. I told you this last night, I didn’t think you’d stay. I’m not gonna be someone you get to fuck and forget about, so I figured I’d use this occasion to my advantage!” She shouted back at him.
“ You forget yourself , what are we, in the 1800’s?” He taunted, making her roll her eyes at his comeback. “And I didn’t want this to be it, Cat. I want you! Don’t you see that?” He took her hand, which she promptly ripped away from him, cradling it to her chest as if his mere touch burned her. Tears were flooding her eyes and her heart sped up, reminding her that she feared this exact situation. Heat blistered on her cheeks and she could see the red tint when she looked down. She was blushing, though she was sure it was from embarrassment.
“I can’t. I can’t trust you. Not after what you did to Michelle.” She watched as his face dropped. “Yeah, I know about what you did to her and how you’re blackmailing her. I won’t let you do that to me.”
She opened her eyes slowly, only to see her bedroom ceiling. The fan buzzed loudly, moving at its fastest setting and making the room much cooler than it normally would be. Her head hurt slightly, and she felt congested. Her head was close to pounding, and she had a feeling it had something to do with the toxin. She knew well enough that she didn’t take any, and she quickly put together the pieces.
“Lovely.” She muttered, knowing how he got rid of that extra ten minutes now. On the bright side, she now knew, and understood why she kept having nightmares all night.
Edgar was on the foot of the bed, purring softly near her feet, warming her up slightly. She took a deep breath, choosing to turn over and get a few more minutes of sleep, bringing the blanket up over her shoulder to shield her from the chill from her fan. However, instead of closing her eyes, they opened wider. She was stunned, at a loss for words.
Trager was staring at her with the same expression, though he looked more scared than she did. She wondered for a moment if she was talking in her sleep, but she realized that this was most likely the case. What else could she have said to him the night before that would cause such a worried look?
She admitted that she knew what he’d done.
“Morning?” She muttered, as if that would make the situation any better. He didn’t say a word, though she doubted he would. “I didn’t think you’d be here this morning.” She admitted, albeit quieter than she’d said it in her dream.
“That lying bitch told you, huh?” His voice was as icy as the temperature in her room. For once, he actually frightened her. His actions frightened her instead of the idea of him loving her. This time the threat felt more real, and she felt her body go numb.
“Fuck. No, this can’t happen.” He sat up, but she reached out and grabbed his hand. She wasn’t sure what she was doing, it was as if her body was operating on autopilot.
“You do know she was lying, right? Do you actually believe her?” He asked, this time a bit more frantically than before. She stared up at him with glassy eyes, and he felt himself being pulled back to her, though not physically. It was like her stare was holding him back. He was angry and scared all at once, but her expression told him something. It told him that she was scared. He liked to think he knew Cat, and what he did know about her was that she didn’t get scared.
Her expression told him everything he needed to know. Michelle told her, and she believed her. He was shocked she let him get that close to her knowing what she knew, and yet there she was, begging him to stay with only her eyes. She would never ask him to stay out loud, but he knew what she truly wanted, so he leaned back.
“She’s trying to ruin my life, Cat. God, you and Jer are the only ones I have left. You get me, doc.” He said, his gaze fixated on the wall instead of her. She had a hard time believing him, but she gave him the benefit of the doubt. “Don’t do this.” He practically growled, and this time she felt his hand squeezing hers. She wasn’t sure if he was about to cry or not, but she hoped he wasn’t. She didn’t deal well with people crying, mostly due to her not knowing how to act.
“I believe her, Ricky.” She muttered, not noticing that she called him this. He caught on though, whether she realized it or not. He pulled her closer, smashing his lips to hers in an intense, passionate kiss.
Next thing she knew, she was on top of him again. He was sliding her underwear down her thighs again, hiking her nightgown up around her waist and pressing himself against her. This had to have been the worst time for them to do this, but that wouldn’t stop them.
He flipped her over. This time he wanted control, and she wasn’t going to complain. He needed this, though that hardly factored into her decision.
Edgar hopped off of the bed and ran into the living room, leaving the duo alone as they sealed the deal on their strange relationship.
High key thinking about putting Cat Crane's playlist on here-