title: what Lies in Dreams
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Crane, Bruce
rating: Teen
warnings: sadism
summary: Bruce Wayne goes to Jonathon Crane for therapy (pre-movie)
notes: for kneazles, for this request on fic on demand.

It looked like any other TA's office at Princeton - too small, too many books, too hard to move around. Bruce Wayne didn't want to be here. He fussily made a show of finding someplace to stow his $1500 wool trench, just because he could see it was annoying the grad student.

Stupid therapy assignment; this was not going to help his 'anger issues.'

"Please, Mr. Wayne, just have a seat," the grad student protested wearily. He tapped his Bic pen on his legal pad, and fussed with his glasses. "So, I understand that you've been having disciplinary trouble."

He could hear the sneer. Pansy little queer, looking down his nose at the rich boy... He probably assumed that the rich only pretended to have problems. Right. "Oh, you know how it is... Doc. They just hate it when you try to have a little fun." He reached out and squeezed the jerk's thigh. Give him a little thrill, so he can get some sympathy and get out the door as fast as possible.

Jonathon Crane narrowed his eyes. "Indeed. Two brawls, disturbing the peace, found in incriminating circumstances with a young lady in a public fountain... You have varied interests, I see." He flipped through the thin file. "And you've complained of nightmares. Which is an area of expertise of mine."

"I like to experiment," Bruce provided, cheerfully.

"I see," Crane wanly smiled. "Something we have in common, then. Would you mind if I close these blinds? I've been doing some research into nightmares, Mr. Wayne." He shut the blinds, tight, and then turned back to face Bruce. "I suppose someone with your... history... is probably used to troubled sleep."

"Gee, Doc, whatever do you mean?" Bruce's eyes narrowed. He didn't like the way Crane seemed to enjoy this.

Crane just smiled. "Now, I realize you are... reluctant to share. That's completely understandable. But... I've been looking into some Eastern herbs. Would you like to learn more?"

"Experimenting with Eastern herbs? Sounds like fun," Bruce grinned.

Crane smirked. "I'm sure." He pulled a small bowl out of the desk drawer, and a lighter from his bag. He started to burn whatever was in the bowl, and then set it on the floor in front of Bruce. "This will be easy. Just take long, slow breaths. Listen to the sound of my voice. You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to, but please, try to fully experience everything. Be completely aware of your surroundings. Now, Mr. Wayne, long, slow breaths..."

Crane fit a cloth mask over his nose and mouth. Bruce closed his eyes and took a long breath. He felt a little... funny...

"Gotham's greatest son... but... in your dreams, you are as weak as any of us... I grew up in Gotham, you know. The Narrows."

"I... I like the Narrows... Should I feel like this...?" Bruce fidgeted in his narrow seat.

"You haven't been to the Narrows in a while, I presume," Crane yawned, and slipped his glasses off. "And you should feel however you feel. Society likes to demonize your feelings, but what's natural is natural. Think about your dreams, Bruce. Think about how you feel. That's natural. After all, life isfragile. Do you dream about your parents, Bruce?" He got up from his seat and circled Bruce.

Bruce started to sweat. He palms were clammy and cold. He could hear them, screeching. Flying right past them.... Touching him...

"You're alone now, and you always will be. Thus is the frailty of human life. No matter how insulated we feel, we're all really isolated. Alone. Lost. Abandoned. Rejected..."

They were crawling under his clothes, slithering over his skin, biting his nipples, nibbling on his neck... Down in his pants, controlling him...

"Can you still smell their blood, Mr. Wayne? All those billions don't mean much when you are a child, alone in a big house, no more mother to tuck you in, no more father to tend to your wounds. You were leading the life we all wanted. And then it was stolen from you. If it could be stolen from you, it could be stolen from anyone. No one is safe. No one is secure. My god, your pain makes me hot."

He screamed, or he tried to, but they were in his mouth now, they were choking him. His body was spasmming, hot and cold, fire and ice, everywhere, they were going to eat him, he was going to be consumed...

"Look at what a beast you are. Writhing, screaming, coming... we are animals, Mr. Wayne. The mind is a cage to hold in all these... primal urges. Find the key to let them out... and look what happens. Drench yourself in fear. Because you are a maggot; you, more than anyone, because you think you are above us. Oh, yes, we can all see it. You think no one can understand your pain. Your misery. You have the angst of a nine year old, Mr. Wayne. Monkeys understand your pain. It's maybe time for you to just get over it? And stop bellyaching and whining to the rest of us who have real problems? Do you think? Maybe?"

They were inside of him! They were moving inside of him! They were going to tear him apart from the inside out and eat his brains, oh god, oh no, make it stop, make it stop, make it...

He woke up in his bed, naked, and covered in sweat. On the nightstand, there was a signed form, indicating that he was done with his therapy.

He couldn't remember a thing, though.