The Only Fear - aqua_theauthor - Batman (Movies (2024)

Professor Hux had been a deep contrast to the man before you. Psychiatrists by principle inspired a caution inside you but Elnor Hux had been one of the few you had felt comfortable with, despite him being your teacher and mentor. You had only become interested in psychology after working with a non-profit aiming to reduce substance abuse in Gotham City. You had always aspired to become a doctor or even a nurse, having lost both a parent and an aunt to chronic illnesses early in life but your grandparents could not afford to send you to a medical school on top of raising you, your grandfather being a modest worker in a contracting firm and grandmother a simple housewife. Forced to take a job in an attempt to scrounge up enough to perhaps put yourself through nursing school, it was there that you had met your esteemed mentor, one of the few psychiatrists who provided therapy to recovering addicts with whom you worked. His dedication and generous nature were what drew you to follow in his footsteps and get a degree in psychology, enrolling at Gotham University at his behest. But now that time came for you to pursue some graduate fieldwork, he was forced to retire in lieu of his advancing age and you were stuck with his successor.

Professor Dr. Jonathan Crane.

Where your old colleague had inspired warmth and openness, Crane’s very demeanor instilled a chill in your bones. The cold, calculating way he spoke set your teeth on edge, his eyes reducing your own gaze to furtive glances, his intelligence intimidating you into submission. This was not the kind of relationship you had envisioned for yourself when you had approached him to further your career but your hands were tied. He was the leading psychiatrist in the city at the moment, teaching graduate students at Gotham University, acting as a visiting consultant at your place of employment and provided you access to his patients at Arkham, an opportunity very few graduates could boast to possess.

So, no matter the cons, you had to bite the bullet and work with him, unable to ignore the fact that he had chosen you out of the handful of students he had interviewed for the position. To your relief, his demeanor softened overtime. You wouldn’t exactly describe it as friendly but the two of you seemed to work out a system.

You helped him frequently with his paperwork and he became much more amenable to sharing his knowledge and observations outside of class. Now, when you brought him tea in the morning, he would offer the barest lift of his lips in acknowledgement. Before when he would react to your errors during your study or participation with disappointment, he would now attempt to quietly correct you instead of reprimanding. You told yourself it was the most you could expect from a man as busy and self-assured as him so you took it in stride.

Lately, he had taken up the habit to spend his evenings grading papers or completing other paperwork at a small pub after his consultancy hours and invited you along more often than not. The place was close to work and only ten minutes by walk from your apartment so even though you were on a leave from work, you found yourself accompanying him. The two of you never drank but the pub was a reprieve against the bitter Gotham winter, heady with the buzz of conversation and the food was warm but cheap.

That was where you found yourself at this moment, seated across from him, chin in hand, lost in thought as you watched him frown over his research papers. Despite the warm environment, his cheeks were tinted pink, plump lips turned down at the corner and you wondered for the millionth time in weeks why his raven black hair always looked so soft. Recently, you had been tempted to just reach out and muss it up at an alarming rate, consequences be damned.

You sighed and reminded yourself these thoughts were just a result of working in close quarters with the man. After all, you saw him at school, work and occasionally attended his sessions at the asylum, whenever he permitted. In a way, your life revolved around him, Jonathan Crane becoming your life’s compass ever since he became your thesis supervisor six months ago.

“I take it you’re finished for the night?”

You blinked owlishly at the soft timbre of his voice, drifting down to Earth.

He seemed amused at your lack of response, blue eyes luminescent under the yellowed lights.

You smiled sheepishly, rubbing your neck.

“I’m done with these papers, unless there was anything else you needed?”

You had discovered by now how to phrase your sentences to appease his demanding nature and it was beginning to work in your favor.

Dr. Crane responded with a quirk of his lips before slipping off his glasses, rubbing a hand over his face.

“I think what I need is a break from all this.”

You couldn't help the disbelief that coloured your nervous chuckle.

“Well, that’s a first!”

Dr. Crane leaned back in his seat, pinning you under his gaze.

“I wasn't aware you had such a poor opinion of me.”

Your heart thrummed dramatically against your ribcage.

“You know that’s not true,” you rushed to assure him, frowning indignantly and he smirked.

“What I meant was - it’s just that… I've never seen another person with your work ethic.”

He arched an eyebrow.

“Or dedication.”

“Sounds like the Gotham we live in,” he responded sarcastically, leaning forward, beginning to gather his papers.

You scoffed.

“That’s a bit cynical, professor.”

He hummed, only sparing you a glance that suggested he didn’t agree with your assessment, shuffling papers into his briefcase.

You bunched up the ones you had been working with, pushing them in his direction with a pout of your lips, shoving your own pens into your bag.

“I’ve never seen you drink.”

His out of the blue comment made your head snap up.

“Oh…well, I don’t drink.” You were tempted to retort that neither did he but you had a feeling he only disagreed with you so often because he liked to push your buttons.

“Hmm. And here I thought it might’ve been because of your work ethic,” the tilt of his lips suggested he was joking and your animosity at him deflated quickly.

“Well, it’s just rare that I do. My, er, grandfather used to and it only seemed to make things worse…so I never much liked the idea.”

He had a strange affinity for drawing these quiet confessions from you. Not that you didn’t talk about your personal life with friends or colleagues, but Dr.Crane hardly fit into any of those categories. You knew the bare minimum about his own life except what he did for work. You had never even dared use his first name, unable to call him anything but doctor or professor. The thought of saying his name made your stomach churn and your body sweat. Like many other things with him, it was restricted territory.

“That’s understandable,” he shrugged, sounding more indifferent than understanding.

Your eyes flitted nervously over your surroundings before returning to him.

“Why did you ask?”

His mouth twitched.

“I thought we could celebrate.”

“Celebrate,” you questioned.

“It’s been six months since you’ve been working with me,” his spider-like fingers intertwined where he had placed them on the table. “You’re halfway to achieving your goals.”

“Like an anniversary?” you looked at him, baffled.

His head dipped in acknowledgment.

“Like an anniversary.”

“I’m sorry, but you don’t exactly strike me as someone who celebrates anniversaries.”

You swallowed thickly at the realisation that you were passing judgment on him for perhaps the second time this night.

To his credit, Dr Crane’s eyes only wandered to his glasses for a moment where he had placed them on the table, as if debating their validity, before he looked back at you.

You groaned and hid your face in your hands.

“You know I don't mean it like that, Dr. Crane!”

“Mean it like what,” his tone remained neutral.

You peeked at him through your fingers and sighed.

“In a bad way. It’s just …you’re not…” you struggled to find the words while he stared on

“Well, you’re very reserved,” you finished lamely.

He continued to stare you down.

“And there’s nothing wrong with that,” you floundered. “I actually really like you...I mean that you’re reserved-”

“You like me?” he interjected softly.

Your eyes widened in alarm.

“Not like that! I mean not inappropriately...just as a person, I mean.. ugh!!”

You groaned again at your hapless babbling and knocked your head against the table, covering it up with your arms.

“Please say something,” your muffled plea drifted up.

“I like you too.”

Your head shot up at his words, eyes wide as saucers as you stared at his quirked lips.

“As a student and work assistant, I mean.”

His eyes twinkled with what you could only describe as mischief.

You rolled your eyes and gave him an easy grin.

“Never would’ve guessed,” you chuckled lightly.

At your words, Dr. Crane looked away, pensive.

“I'm aware of my reputation, darling. I just don’t much care what people think of me.”

Your legs squeezed together at the sound of the pet name he occasionally used.

“But you do care what people think of your work.”

His gaze snapped sharply to you, making you suddenly feel shy. It was thrilling the amount of emotions he could elicit in you within minutes. You continued to squirm under his gaze until he looked away, making you sigh in relief.

He put his glasses back on and pushed off his seat, briefcase in tow.

“I want to show you something.”

You looked up at him dumbfounded.

“Right now?”

But he was already moving away, so you quickly grabbed your bag and followed.

Chilled, wet air assaulted your body as you stepped out the wood and glass door, immediately making you miss the pub.

Before you could say anything, Dr Crane opened his driver's seat.

“Get in,” he instructed, sliding in.

Deciding against arguing, you cast one last glance in the direction of your home and then opened the passenger side door.

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You couldn't remember coming home but the bed covers were warm and you burrowed deeper into their comforting embrace, eyelids still heavy with sleep.

A quiet sigh escaped your lips as fingers softly raked through your hair, resting at your nape in a gentle vice…

Your eyes shot open, lungs gasping for air.

“Good morning.”

You blinked owlishly in the dim light, heart beat picking up even as your limbs weighed down with fatigue, trying to make out the figure next to you.

“P-professor?” you whispered.

Dr. Crane hummed in reply, his ocean blue eyes finally coming into view.

“I-what? What’s happening?”

He tsked lightly, fingers drawing lazy circles on your skin.

“You couldn’t hold your liquor, I’m afraid,” he sounded amused. “And you insisted on sleeping in the bed. You said my couch was ugly.”

You swallowed thickly, throat dry, eyes darting between him and the room.

“I’m s-sorry.”

He hummed in response.

“It’s fine. Although, I haven’t shared my bed in a long time.”

His words finally gave you the strength to move, removing yourself from his grip, pushing away the covers as you sat up in bed.

The loss of his skin against yours left you feeling cold.

“You look thirsty.”

His voice sounded cooler but you didn’t dare look at him as you heard him shuffle around, the sound of water splashing against glass.

“Drink this,” he instructed, a glass of water penetrating your vision.

You greedily took a few sips, ignoring the way your fingers had grazed his as you took it.

The water calmed you down.

“I’m really sorry, about this.”

You finally looked up at him, his face pensive, not a morsel of fatigue in his eyes.

“It’s of no consequence,” he assured you, and the words made your stomach twist strangely.

As he took back the now empty glass, you quietly assessed the situation.

Your clothes from last night were still on, and he seemed to be wearing his night clothes. You couldn't feel any soreness…anywhere. No strange marks marred your skin.

You sighed, head dropping into your palms.

“Not a morning person, I take it?”

His words startled you, making you stare at him in bewilderment.

He was talking as if this was a daily occurrence. Was he truly unbothered?

“I’m- I’m not,” you agreed quietly, something about the way he was looking at you, making the hair on your neck stand up.

You licked your lips nervously, sliding out of the bed, grounding yourself as your soles touched the cold floor.

“I really am sorry about this. This-it’s not-well, it’s hardly professional.”

You looked at him as you spoke. A shadow seemed to pass over his eyes, gone as quickly as it appeared, making you wonder if it was just the pale light peeking through the curtains.

“I think I can excuse it this once…since you’ve been nothing but professional so far,” his words were teasing as he too stepped out of the covers, mirroring your posture across the bed.

Your eyes dropped to his shorts, gaze quickly darting away in embarrassment. Of course, it was his bed, he could wear whatever he wanted to sleep in, you told yourself.

You missed the way his predatory gaze noticed the clenching of your abdomen, smirk widening.

“I do hope you’re still a breakfast person,” he said as he turned away, walking towards what you assumed must be the bathroom.

You looked at him questioningly.

“Breakfast?”

“First meal of the day,” he quipped, paused in the doorway.

“I know what-” your shoulders dropped and you rubbed at the bridge of your nose, stifling a yawn at the same time

“You want me to stay for breakfast,” you asked incredulously.

“You’re here aren’t you?”

You gaped open mouthed at his retreating form.

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This was surreal. You were sitting in Professor Crane's home, having breakfast (had you dreamt about this before? Sure. You were prone to day dreams. But you were trying not to think about that right now).

He was in gray sweatpants now (another thing you were trying to ignore). This was the most dressed down you had ever seen him and it was a shock to your system.

You cleared your throat before you could chicken out.

“So, what exactly happened last night?”

“You drank too much.”

He took in your clueless expression

“The wine,” he gestured to a glass bottle sitting on a nearby shelf. It was mostly empty.

“For the ‘celebration’ I suggested?” He made finger quotes and you almost fell off your stool. “Well, I suppose you might not remember much. You told me you had a two glass limit but I believe you had at least five…you said it was the best wine you’d ever had.”

Mortified, you dropped your head in your hands.

Dr. Crane hummed.

“I may have....indulged a little myself. After you went to sleep of course,” he assured you, sliding eggs onto your plate, sunny side up.

“I’m so sorry, profess-”

“As I said, it’s of no consequence….”

You picked at your food as he brought his own plate to the small table in his kitchen.

“Are you feeling sick? Do you want another painkiller?” he asked, spearing his own eggs with a fork.

“No, thank you.”

You both ate in silence.

“You said you were going to show me something!” you remarked suddenly, finally remembering why you had come with him in the first place.

“Ah, yes,” his tongue clicked against his teeth. “Obviously, we got sidetracked last night.”

You waited for him to swallow another mouthful.

“I can show you once you finish up here.”

You blinked in confusion.

“Up here?”

“Yes, the set up is in the basem*nt.”

“….trying to keep up the mystique are we?”

“Hmm,” he smirked but didn’t say much else.

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Being a tad claustrophobic, you weren’t exactly thrilled about having to follow Dr. Crane down into a basem*nt. But you couldn’t just admit that to him; the man studied phobias with a zealous passion and you weren’t about to give him another reason to analyze your psyche (he had plenty of data just from working with you, you were sure).

“Don’t the other tenants complain about you using the basem*nt?” you wondered out loud.

“I have a separate lease for its use,” he told you, unlocking the door and gesturing you inside. “And frankly, people in Gotham rarely care much for what others are doing.”

You refrained from reminding him he was part of that data set, instead allowing your eyes to adjust to the fluorescent lighting he switched on. Taking in the surroundings, you missed the quiet click of the door locking behind you.

“This looks…vaguely familiar,” you voiced your thoughts, speaking to yourself as you perused the sterile tiles.

There was a desk and chair in one corner, another chair by the wall, some shelves stacked next to it. Close to the middle of the room was an examination table with straps hanging loosely at the sides. Metal containers lined a few walls, a metal door set in one of them leading to what you presumed might be more basem*nt space and a chemist’s setup spanned a larger desk on the wall opposite the first.

All in all it made your stomach drop.

“I concede, I tend to have the same set up in all my labs.”

You looked at him quizzically.

“This is a lab?”

Looking around, you began to realize he was right; the positioning of the furniture and the mess of papers reminded you of his office in Arkham. But you had only been with him to a lab in there once…and suddenly you realized why the table looked familiar.

“Why do you need a lab…here?”

You refrained from asking if this was legal.

“My studies have allowed me to develop a…potent solution. To fear.”

“What do you mean?”

“You understand the concept of exposure therapy…this is similar. Except there won’t be any real exposure. Only guided visualization of one’s fear….and then the solution.”

“What kind of solution?” you couldn’t help the question tumbling across your lips. If your curiosity perturbed him, he didn’t show it.

“I can’t disclose details, even to you. At least not like this,” he said, fingers tapping rhythmically on the nearby desk. “I’ve commissioned this place to take on volunteers for my trial….I was hoping you could be the first.”

“I’m sorry?” you asked incredulously.

“With your consent of course.”

“I don’t understand…”

“I don’t see how I can explain further.”

You tried not to grind your teeth at his curt reply.

“You want me to be a guinea pig?”

“Nonsense. Guinea pigs are inadequate subjects at best.”

He removed his thin-rimmed glasses, placing them on the desk, and pinched the bridge of his nose as his eyes drew shut. A long exhale seemed to restore his patience and he looked at you again.

“Your responses will be as much a guide to me as my question framework,” he stated by way of explanation.

“Why me?”

It made no sense. If he wanted volunteers he could just ask his patients or recruit via the university.

“The information is sensitive….I would like to begin by disclosing it to someone I can trust.”

His admission left you blinking.

“You trust me?”

“Do you trust me?”

You looked away but sensed him move closer from your periphery until you were forced to look him in the eyes.

“Do you trust me?” he repeated, the softest you had ever heard him speak.

“Of course,” your own voice sounded small.

He clapped his hands together, the sudden movement jolting you as he turned back to the desk.

“We can begin straight away.”

“What?” Your confusion returned.

“I just need you to sign these,” he shuffled a pile of papers into one hand.

“Oh…I’ll need a minute to read,” you muttered, still trying to wrap your mind around what was happening.

Couldn’t this wait until you went home and got a shower at least. But you didn’t seem to be able to voice your concerns, blindsided by his apparent enthusiasm.

“It’s a standard agreement,” he said dismissively, impatiently clicking a pen and handing it to you. “I’ve had you draw up similar stuff many times. We can begin with a few questions.”

Your eyes barely skimmed the words as he pointed to the dotted line and you resigned to his will, signing out of instinct as he loomed over you.

As soon as you were done, he discarded the document on top of others, guiding you to sit on the examination table which you stiffly perched on, legs dangling awkwardly.

The click of a recording device reached your ears.

“Please state your name for the record.”

You gave it up meekly.

“Do you understand what you’re here for today?”

“I-yes?”

It came out as a question and he looked at you pointedly until you cleared your throat and repeated yourself.

“Yes, Dr. Crane.”

He turned a little in the direction of the black device on his desk.

“For the record, the participant is not a patient of mine, so I have no pre-existing conflicts of perception that may lead to bias.”

“Are you currently taking any psychiatric medication for any ailments?”

His tone was bored, as if he already knew the answer and you repressed the urge to frown. It probably sounded that way because it was the likely script he had to follow to guide the process.

“No, I do not.”

But it made sense now why he didn’t start with a patient, perhaps not willing to have his results clashing with their current line of treatment…

“Wonderful. Please state what you consider to be your primary fear.”

Your eyes widened slightly at the bluntness.

“Umm…fear of death?” you said, the first thing that came to mind.

His jaw clenched.

“Your own or that of a loved one?”

Your lips parted, the follow up question unexpected.

“Well I’ve already lost people I love…so my own I suppose,” you picked at your nails, unable to look him in the eyes.

“And does this fear affect your daily life significantly?”

“Well, not really I suppose…it’s something that’s just…there? Like something in the back of your mind. There’s more immediate dangers to worry about.”

“Such as,” he urged you, stepping closer.

“Well…fear of failure, I guess. I want to be good at what do. I don’t want to fail...you,” you swallowed loudly at your own honesty.

He hummed.

“Go on.”

“Well, spiders obviously. Definitely scared of those and you never know where you’ll find one,” you chuckled nervously.

However, you could read him well enough by now to know that last one didn’t amuse him.

“That’s a common one,” he replied drily, fingers curved around the edge of the examination table, one foot propped up against the floor, as he leaned his weight on the piece of furniture.

“I guess.”

You chewed on your bottom lip as you thought and looked away.

He tapped his finger once against the leather surface, the sound resounding in the quiet room and you caved.

“Claustrophobia. I have claustrophobia.”

You saw him straighten up in your periphery.

“You’ve been diagnosed?”

He seemed offended at the idea of not knowing this particular detail about you.

“Not technically,” you scoffed. “But doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.”

You looked up to find him looking skeptical and sudden annoyance flickered in you.

“I’ve never tried therapy myself. I suppose that sounds strange…Dr. Hux never could convince me to. But he told me my panic attacks were a symptom.”

“I wasn’t aware you had panic attacks,” he griped, the syllables cutting through you like ice, making you look away again.

“They started in college. Things were overwhelming with school and work and home…” you tried to shrug indifferently. “Anyways I'm also afraid of drowning.”

“Not surprising,” he noted almost dispassionately, before casting a glance at the ceiling.

“Does our present setting make you uncomfortable?”

There was that softness again that set your teeth on edge.

“It’s fine,” you muttered.

“Is it reassuring to have me here?”

You stared up at him, his question once more shocking you.

“Umm…I suppose…”

You coughed slightly when all he did was blink in response.

“I mean, it helps.” you shied away again.

“What about Arkham?”

He moved away from you now…fiddling with something on his desk.

“Do you feel smothered there? Most people do.”

“It’s….alright. I think the fear of one of the patients…escaping or losing control takes precedent.”

“I would never let a patient close enough to harm you.”

The boldness of his admission startled you.

“I didn’t mean it like that…it’s just…they don’t realise what they’re doing-”

The low chuckle coming from him gave you pause.

“Do I need to remind you that those people aren’t just insane, they’re criminals. They want to hurt people, and in fact did before they were brought there.”

You frowned. Usually, you excused his lack of empathy to him having to detach himself from the patient but it troubled you all the same.

“Yes, but they're still people.”

“Barely.”

His head tilted as he observed you and you recognised the expression there: pity. A stark contrast to the indifference he seemed to reserve in most clinical settings you had observed him in.

As he turned back to the desk your frown deepened.

Was he truly this dispassionate about his patients? Did he really consider them beyond hope? But then what about his other patients, the one at the organisation? Of course you couldn’t be privy to all his sessions for sake of patient confidentiality but a few of them did show improvement…that couldn't be a coincidence.

“We will be moving to the next stage of our therapy now,” he announced, breaking you out of your thoughts.

You bit your cheeks as you refrained from scowling at his wording.

“I think it’s safe to assume your claustrophobia does in fact impact you significantly…even if you’re having trouble admitting it to me.”

He turned around to face you and as he did, he stretched a mask onto his face; an old fashioned gas mask you’d only seen in movies and pictures.

“What-”

“The agent I use is in gaseous form, it will induce a flight and fight response, allowing your biological processes to mimic a fear response.”

Panic already tinged the edges of your consciousness, your body preparing to slip off the examination table of its own accord.

“But- that’s- I don’t think I like that-”

“You already signed the consent form,” he reminded you nonchalantly, making you frown as your palms flattened atop the leather beneath you.

“Yeah but you didn’t tell me-”

“I divulged as much information as I could beforehand…”

Your frown deepened as something tugged on your subconscious, but you couldn't figure out what.

“I need the mask to remain unaffected so that I can still observe you,” he continued, the words taking an otherworldly quality under the metal contraption.

He moved forward, placing a hand on your thigh, fingers moving in circles to placate you. You had a sudden sense of deja vu, as if you had been in this very position before.

“It will be a controlled dose…and I’ll be right here with you.”

You swallowed thickly, thoughts already feeling fuzzy, breath laboring.

“Okay,” you whispered weakly, looking into the blue orbs visible behind the thick glass of the muzzle.

“I trust you,” you said, not sure if you were trying to convince him or yourself.

His fingers dug into the skin of your thigh making you wince.

“I know you do.”

You barely processed the muffled words before you were choking on a cloud of gas. Thick fumes blocked your line of sight as your breathing got more ragged, the walls closing in on you

“There, there,” the words registered vaguely in your ears, spindly hands slipping into your hair and scratching against your scalp.

Your own hands fumbled trying to hold onto the shadow of the man before you.

“Tell me what you feel,” he demanded ominously.

You whimpered, shaking your head as your vision tunneled, black bordering the edges, before a harsh smack landed against your cheek.

“Use your words, girl!”

“Ummm,” you stuttered helplessly. “P-professor crane-”

“I’m here,” he sounded angry and it made you cry out in further despair.

“Please, I’m scared-”

“Stop stating the obvious and tell me what you're feeling!” his voice rang in your ears.

This time, his nails dug into the skin of your scalp and you almost slipped off the table as the pain shot through your consciousness.

“I- I can't breathe-” you tried to gulp down more air but it wasn’t enough.

“What else,” he sounded bored.

“The walls,” you choked out, and the pressure on your scalp eased a little.

“The room, it’s spinning. And I can hear my heart…”

You sobbed, powerless against the fear gripping your body.

“I’m sorry it’s too much,” tears flowed from your eyes unbidden, further compromising your vision.

“No, continue,” he said…gentler?

You tried to focus on your breathing and remind yourself that this was only simulated. You'd had panic attacks before…what did you do?

“I asked you to continue.”

He gripped your throat this time and your choking started anew, more tears streaming down your cheeks.

“I can’t breathe-”

He let go of you completely, taking a step back and you braced yourself on your hands.

“If you’re just going to waste my time, there’s no point in proceeding.”

“No, wait- wait please,” you tried to move towards him but only succeeded in slipping off the bed and almost crashing to your knees.

His arms caught you around the waist, your eyes coming face to face with the hideous mask, your own reflection glaring back at you from the glass eyes.

You were nothing compared to him, you realised in a moment of fearful awe.

Had he always been this tall? His lean frame so solid? His words this powerful? His eyes so blue?

Had you been here before?

An image flashed before your eyes, the same mask leering down at you but you were lying down and it obscured the ceiling behind it; a specter of horror.

“I see you,” you whispered and finally his muscles stiffened under you as you gripped him tight to stay upright.

“What do you see,” his words were husky from behind the mask.

“I was here,” you looked up at the ceiling, recognising the fluorescent lights, the one in the far corner blinking in a pattern that reminded you of the stench of chemical and leather.

His grip on you tightened again and you almost sagged into him.

“Before! I was here before, I saw you,” you rambled against his chest. Head shaking, tears flowing openly as you strained to remember more.

“You brought me here, you hurt me-”

He tsked loudly, firmly manipulating your body to lie back onto the table.

“I would never hurt you, darling girl,” he cooed softly, knuckles caressing the column of your throat and your memory became reality as his head blocked the ceiling light once again.

Nails curled into the flesh of your arm and it was the only warning you had before another sharp slap knocked your head sideways.

“Don’t you see it? The pain helps you breathe.”

You gasped at his manic words, thoughts tumbling more clearly through your head.

He was right.

The room had stopped spinning, your vision only blurred from moisture, chest still heaving as you recovered…

A succession of faint clicks drew your attention back.

“What-what are you doing,” you mumbled, exhausted, arms weakly straining against the cushioned cuffs now tying you down to the bed.

Dr. Crane gripped the edge of the mask, tearing it off his face. His raven black hair fell into a disheveled halo around his face, eyes the brightest blue you had ever seen.

“Now that the cat’s out of the bag,” he grinned widely, fingers trailing down your body before he pulled the hanging straps around your torso, conveniently binding you down.

You whimpered and struggled half-heartedly, body drained of all fight.

“Indeed, we were down here before,” he said, playing with a cuff at the foot of the bed. You tried to pull back your legs as your brain caught up, but he was quicker.

“Last night in fact,” he gloated, confining your other ankle as well. It was only then that you noticed the lack of clothing on your legs, the chill of the room and his trailing fingers seeping into your bones.

When had you lost your pants? You glanced around, discovering a dark swath lying in your periphery, on the floor.

You sniffed, glaring at him accusingly, and he rolled his eyes.

“I didn’t lie to you, sweetheart. I told you I needed a volunteer…I simply failed to mention I only needed one.”

Your brow furrowed in confusion and he sighed, rubbing his temple.

“I knew I shouldn’t have given you so much of the memory blocker,” he muttered almost to himself before pouting down at you.

“I just couldn't risk you not consenting again,” he spoke quietly.

“You drugged me?!”

Of course, it was only half a surprise, given the circ*mstances. Only because you couldn’t remember all of what he was talking about

“I almost lost you last night,” his lips brushed your temple as he breathed the hushed words against your skin, your whole body shivering. You had never heard him speak like that before.

With doubt.

“I’ll never lose you again.”

His eyes found yours and you knew he intended to keep that promise.

“I don’t understand…”

A lone tear escaped the corner of your eye, and he observed it unmoving, catching it with the tip of his finger before it fell to the bed. He brought the drop to his lips, sucking it in, eyes closing in bliss.

He smiled before he looked down at you again.

“You are afraid of failing me,” a slow smile uncurled on his face, fingers grasping your chin. “Aren’t you, darling?”

Your own eyes closed as you shuddered, exposed to him body and soul.

“Shh, it’s alright to be scared.”

Fingers carded through your hair, moving in gentle circles.

“You can be afraid with me.”

His words brought an onslaught of tears as quiet sobs racked your body.

He pressed another kiss to your forehead and then your cheeks, lapping up the salt water as if it were the elixir of life itself.

“You’ll stay here until you learn to live with your fear. That’s the whole point of this trial, sweetheart,” his grip in your hair tightened, making you cry out loud, body arching off the bed.

“You’re the only subject I need.” He made you look at him again. “This was always about you….for you.”

His lips finally met yours and your shoulders slumped in relief, even as your legs kicked beneath you, hips squirming.

You wanted to fight him and bring him closer at the same time, head spinning from fear and need, unable to choose between the two.

“This is where you’ll stay until you can learn the truth about your fear, what it can do for you. Once you’re able to prove that you’ve reached the goals I’ve set out for you, I will consider taking you back upstairs,” he smoothed back your hair as you whimpered. “All the arrangements have been made down here. You will be well fed and clean. We will proceed until you show the promised results.”

The switch back to his methodological approach left you feeling cold and empty. It also didn’t help that he moved away from you, back towards the desk, a low whine leaping out of your throat.

You heard a drawer open and shut and then he was back by your side, positioning himself close to the foot of your bed as you tried to peer up at him.

“We have a lot to work through today. I had intended to take this slow but your progress shows promise. And your need to prove yourself is…endearing,” he husked, fingers trailing along your calf, circling your knee before tracing your thigh. You eyed the dark, black paddle in his hand with suspicion and it must have shown on your face because a quiet huff escaped him.

His fingers pushed aside the crotch of your underwear, making contact with your aching folds, hips canting into his touch and you gasped breathless, shocked by the acuteness of your reaction.

“Hmm.”

He rubbed tight circles over your bud as you mewled, only able to squirm uncomfortably under the bindings.

“You’re so sensitive already. Does it turn you on? Being so helpless?”

You shook your head, fresh tears spilling across your cheeks.

“I think it does, darling. If you weren’t positively dripping,” he pushed a digit inside as if to make a point before withdrawing and holding it up to the light so that it glistened with your arousal. “…I would add it to the list. Fear of losing control, hmm?”

He leaned in close as he said the last bit, his tone and eyes mocking.

“Please…”

You vaguely registered him placing the black paddle on your stomach and leaving it there. You didn’t know what you were begging for and you had no time to guess, when two of his fingers breached your hole.

Your mouth opened in a scream that was cut off as the fingers of his other hand form a tight ring around your throat, effectively suffocating you, your insides gripping him harder.

You wheezed and spluttered but the press of his thumb against your pulse only hardened, your eyes squeezing shut as the room spun. His fingers sped up and you could already feel the coil inside you threatening to break, the exposure to the fear gas having weakened your defenses, your senses distraught.

“Come on, you can do it, good girl,” his whispered praises floated over you and the dam broke, warm slick spilling over his fingers and onto the leather under.

But his fingers never paused, instead a thumb joined in, rubbing clockwise over your nub, and your body stuttered and jerked as you rode the tailcoats of your first org*sm, falling headlong into a second.

Your head lolled to the side, barely registering the way Dr. Crane’s eyes were fixed on your clenching muscle, pupils blown wide, only a thin ring of his brilliant blue irises visible.

His fingers slowed down as he licked his lips but they never left you.

“We’re going to try something else now, I want you to be brave, alright, darling?”

You shifted limply and moaned, his words not making any sense, your body feeling like a livewire, static crackling through your brain.

The hand on his throat snaked its way down your chest, groping at your breasts before it left your line of sight, returning almost immediately with a small canister.

You tried to wail in protest, realising too late what he was about to do but your movements felt as though you were fighting against a current, only a faint whine rumbling through your chest.

“Hush now, you already know what’s coming,” his words more mocking than reassuring, as once again smoky fumes enveloped you, making your throat itch and your eyes water.

The more you inhaled, the less oxygen you seemed to take in.

The pace of his fingers picked up once more, and your mind split into two entities; one floating somewhere above your body, only knowing the pleasure of his ministrations, the other huddling into the very depths of your ribcage, terrified and unable to breathe.

At first the hard smack against your puffy lips didn’t even register, your body jolting against the straps out of reflex. It was only when he brought the paddle down a second time, the very edge of it hitting over your swollen cl*t that you let out a scream, pain shooting through the haze in your brain.

“There she is,” he practically purred as you hyperventilated and suffocated at the same time, muscles sore all over, as if they couldn’t make up their mind whether to relax or to keep contracting.

“Hurts,” your voice was unrecognizable and he ignored it as his fingers left you, the paddle landing on its target three times in quick succession.

Your head spun, the world tilting, your stomach turning as you retched violently but only saliva and tears dribbled down your face.

“Poor thing,” he cooed lovingly, one hand threading through your hair, scratching behind your ear as if you were a pet, coming down to cup your chin, trailing your juices in its wake. The other left the harsh round instrument by your feet, causing relief to flood your body.

He used the pointer finger of that hand to delicately trace the reddened muscles of your labia and garbled pleas of mercy broke across your lips.

He hushed you again, fingers finally withdrawing their assault, his lips finding yours again, his breath cool and soothing against your heated mouth.

“We’ll stop for now, I’ll let you rest.”

His words had your eyes drooping, muscles finally losing their tension. You wove in and out of consciousness as you heard him moving around. Sighs escaped you at the cool, wet sensation between your legs. Then a small pinch on your arm had you craning your neck to the side.

As Dr. Crane loomed over you, undoing the straps over your torso, your vision cleared up somewhat and you realised he had hooked you up to an IV.

“Can’t have my pretty little subject dehydrating herself, now can I?”

His smile should have made your skin crawl but you only hummed in agreement, almost snuggling into the hard bed, trying to stretch yourself as much as you could with restraints still shacled around your wrists and ankles.

He bent down to kiss your forehead and the gesture was so gentle, you forgot the predicament he had put you in, body yearning only for the sweet escape of slumber.

“These will have to stay on, until we repeat these exercises and the results are reproducible….until I know you’ve truly learned what I’m trying to teach you,” he trailed a finger over the cuff on your wrist, making it clink dully. “Then you can have free reign of the room.”

You peered up at him, gaze passive, merely blinking.

“You do know what I’m trying to teach you, don’t you?”

His eyes hardened the slightest bit, but he really had no need to worry.

You had always been a quick study.

“Yours is the only fear I need.”

His teeth untwisted into a cruel smile then, but you only nuzzled into the warmth of his hand against your cheek, all fight drained from your body, leaving only heady compliance in its wake.

“The only one,” he confided softly, as you tumbled into a dreamless sleep.

The Only Fear - aqua_theauthor - Batman (Movies (2024)
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