Walk of Shame
Story: The Crazy Crazies from Crazytown
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, even the ones I make up. See Chapter 1 for the full disclaimer.
“If you pull that crap again, I will throw your sorry hide in a hole and forget about you. I have no time to deal with punks like you,” Correctional Officer Aaron Cash berated the one-eyed inmate. Cash knew the fight two days ago wasn’t his fault, but any fight is a problem here. Still, he couldn’t help feeling sorry for the guy. It could be the obvious physical injuries both of them shared, but it could be something else, maybe even compassion. Softening his tone slightly, Cash told Xander, “You may think you have something to prove to them. You don’t. Every day you survive here is a day more than some of them. Inmate deaths are common here, so be careful who you pick a fight with.”
“Thanks A.C., but don’t worry about me. I can hold my own here. I grew up in a tough neighborhood and I’ve learned to take a few punches in my time. You seem like one of the few decent guards here. If you need anything from me, anything at all, let me know. No small print, no hidden strings, just one decent guy to another,” Xander replied. After a few more steps, Xander realized the guard had stopped walking. He stood a pace behind, staring intently at the prisoner.
“What did you call me?” he questioned harshly. His voice was as hard as humanly possible. Any harder and Xander would think he was some demon.
“A.C. You know, for Aaron Cash. Like a nickname,” Xander answered confused. Cash had to have been called A.C. before by someone, and judging from the reaction he got, it had to be someone influential in his life. Whether it was a good influence or bad had yet to be seen.
Quietly, Cash muttered, “No one has called me that since…” Louder, he declared, “Don’t you ever call me that again. I will bust your kneecaps if I hear it from your mouth, or anyone else’s.” Xander wasn’t sure if the guard was bluffing or not, but if he had to guess, Cash would follow through with the threat.
The rest of the walk from Intensive Treatment Center, where solitary is, to the cells in the Penitentiary was silent. The extremely pensive look on the dark skinned man told Xander that he didn’t mind the quiet. As Cash left him in the care of Officer William North, Xander gave conversation one last chance. “Have a good day, Captain.” It was enough to warrant a small chuckle from the otherwise somber man, so it was good enough for Xander.
William and Xander stood outside under the cloudy sky, waiting for their turn to enter the Penitentiary. A young, pretty lady, a psychology intern named Maria if Xander could interpret the uniform and badge correctly, was exiting the building, probably from visiting one of her patients here. As the two held a short, congenial conversation, Xander poured years of practice into his best interpretation of an inconspicuous tree, and was rewarded for it.
“It is nice to see you again, Maria. How are your patients treating you?” They shook hands for a fraction of a second longer than normal.
“As well as to be expected, William, considering I’m a woman interviewing isolated men. For most, I am the only woman they talk to all week. I am making some headway with a few of them, but some others refuse to cooperate.”
He nods his head and, looking into her eyes, finishes with, “Well, good luck, and I’ll see you later Maria.”
“And you William. Good-bye.”
Xander smiled as he watched the guard watch the intern walk away. He had his in. “So, my good man, how long have you been sleeping with her?”
Officer North whipped around and glared at Xander. His features were a mix of guilt and anger, but no shame or regret. Xander recognized the look immediately as one he had seen in the mirror for a while after Anya had died.
“Your wife died a while ago, from what I heard others say, but you still wear your ring. You love her still and miss her, but you have started to move on and you feel guilty about it. You think you are betraying her memory. How am I doing so far?” Xander watched the guard’s expression change to one of hesitation, suspicion, and curiosity. He had gotten his guess right.
“What do you want?” questioned North.
“Simple. We all have needs, and I heard that some of the inmates have gone to the Women’s Section to fulfill them. I would like a visit to Maggie as soon as possible. After all, it is against the rules for romance at the workplace, but it would not be you getting fired if your tryst were to reach the ears of the warden.” Xander didn’t like threatening North, but ends and means and all that Machiavelli reasoning applied more in prison then the outside world.
“I’ll see what I can do. Just keep it quiet, alright. She is a good woman, and doesn’t need trouble here,” Officer North relented. Somehow, he believed that this prisoner might actually keep quiet about him and Maria. She only had two months left in her internship here.
“Will do, Will. Oh, and some advice from someone who has been where you are: Let yourself be happy again. You are not dishonoring her memory by loving another. It took me a while to figure out that she would want me to be happy after she was gone. Just saying,” shrugged Xander as he left the care of North and entered into the Penitentiary. He would get his visit to Magpie soon, Xander was sure, but more importantly he hoped North took his advice to heart. The world could use with a bit more happiness.
William North just stood there, stunned for a moment, before walking back to his regular post. ‘For a guy who is supposed to be crazy, he makes a lot of sense. Hmm, maybe I should…’
In his two days away from the rest of the Arkham inhabitants, Xander expected his reputation to spread around a bit more. When an inmate punches an insane psychotic serial killer in the middle of lunch, people tend to talk. That this killer was Zsasz, they talked even more, but in hushed tones for fear of being overheard. The plan had been to keep a low profile, poke around, and be invisible to everyone. He should have known he doesn’t do subtle; getting the rocket launcher for The Judge should have given him that clue.
“So, Roomie, did you miss me? I know I missed you,” Xander smiled at Rob as he entered his cell. It was unsettling that Xander’s smile had changed from caring to icy. It was a necessary transformation in Arkham, but it was unsettling nonetheless.
“Well,” Rob Iverson began uncertainly. “I enjoyed the room to myself. You missed some excitement when you were in The Box. The Riddler escaped and tried to blow up something outside, a pharmaceutical company or something. Batman stopped him and brought him back here. A bunch of his guys tried to riot when he got here, but they got beat up pretty bad.” If Rob could be honest with most of his self, he was grateful his one-eyed roommate was back. Ever since Rob was knocked out, most of the more vocal voices in his head were afraid of Xander. When he was around, they kept quiet, or spoke only in hushed whispers, like they were scared of him. His headaches were almost gone, so Rob was able to start selling his migraine medication to some of the junkies in the cell block. Even his shrink, Doctor Young, said he was doing better, more coherent, these last few weeks. “How was The Box?”
“Meh, like a cube. Six sides, one door, boring, but I was able to get away from the smell of some of the riper guys. And if all goes well, I’ll be visiting the other side of the compound soon,” Xander finished with a smile on his face.
Rob’s jaw dropped in envy. He had heard rumors of the other guys bribing guards to let them visit the Women’s Section, but he didn’t think it was possible. “How did you manage that?”
“Oh, you just have to have the right leverage and blackmail. Now if you will excuse me, I have some personal matters to attend to,” Xander answered dismissively. Knocking Rob out had done wonders for their relationship, and Xander could see Rob was a decent guy if you could look past the craziness, like Clem with his kittens. He just needed some real help, and Rob had the horrible fortune of being kept above a localized hellmouth while getting psychiatric care.
Shrugging, Xander slid into the corner and painfully retrieved the polished spoon he had hidden on his body during his return, and proceeded to clean it off. He REALLY hoped this idea was worth the effort, because it would be nice to have his she-demon magnetism work for him for once. It all depended on a few rumors Xander heard in the yard, and if it didn’t pan out, then the fight in the mess and his time in solitary would be for nothing. And painfully hiding the spoon would be a waste too.
While most of the male inmates saved and worked to have sex with Margaret Pye, Xander knew that the best place to hear or start a rumor was with the women. Men were too closed off emotionally to convey truth when gossiping, whereas women rarely had a need to exaggerate, just speculate.
“Alexander, welcome back to the land of the living,” the sing-song voice sounded through the hall. “So good of you to return to us lowly folk.”
Before Xander stood one of the few likable residents of Arkham. “Jacob Thalmes, so good to see you. The riot didn’t upset you, I hope. Your roommate is one of Edward’s guys, right?”
“Yeah, he is, but I didn’t get bothered. I convinced him to hang near the back of the pack, that way he was able to get away unharmed when the guards cracked down. It did give me the time to get some more contacts, and I may have a lead on a certain item you were asking about,” Jacob Thalmes responded, dropping his voice to a whisper when he got to the last sentence. He was convicted four years ago for manslaughter, and while he had never attempted to escape Arkham or affiliate himself with any one super-villain, the men in the Penitentiary respected him for his ability to manipulate the system. He could get what was needed if the price was right. “If everything works out, the package should be here by the weekend.”
Tapping his fingertips together, Xander intoned “Excellent” in a near perfect imitation of Mr. Burns. Xander could appreciate what Jacob stood for. He had been drinking heavily when his car hit the 15 year old girl in Downtown Gotham City. His girlfriend and the pedestrian both died within hours, and Jacob received four fractured bones. When he stood trial, he pled guilty as part of the plea bargain. After six months at Blackgate and three stab wounds later, he found it prudent to be declared insane and transferred to Arkham. Some would comment that his wanting to be moved to Arkham was a clear sign of being insane. Xander saw the truth of the matter, though. Just like others before, like Angel and Faith, Jacob wanted to do some good while serving his penance for his crimes.
“Jacob, if you can deliver this, you will be my new best friend for a week. Possibly two weeks. I will bow down to your presence and …” Xander cut off his saintification speech as the new alarm sounded around him. He shot a questioning look to his roommate, who understood what he asked.
“Trying to escape, trying to break out, or Croc moving to a therapy session,” Rob ticked the interpretation of the alarm off on his fingers, then laid down on his bunk and closed his eyes. With Xander back, he could try and get some rest while he could. Even with the klaxon sounding, he had blissful silence in his mind.
Jacob looked thoughtfully at the ground before raising his head. “If I remember correct, he is due to meet your shrink. I hope he doesn’t break her like he did the last one.”
Doing his best to hold back a snort of laughter, and mostly succeeding, Xander took a few seconds to get the hysteria out of his system. “Tell you what, I will pass on some business advice now, and you can pay me back later what you think it was worth. Deal?”
Always wary of an open ended bargain, Jacob tried to see what loopholes Xander could take with the deal. Satisfied, he shook his head in the affirmative and stuck out his hand.
Taking the outstretched hand, Xander provided what would soon become Jacob’s best investment that year. “Get a copy of that interview before anyone else does. It will become a hot commodity before Croc is back in the sewers.”
“I will take that under advisement. Welcome back, and enjoy your visitation tonight,” Jacob smirked as he started to walk out of the cell.
“How did you know?” sounded from inside.
“I never, well, rarely reveal my sources,” came the cryptic response.
Shrugging, Xander laid down on his bunk and waited for the rest of the day to pass. If all went well, he would get to see Margaret tonight, get some information and leads to Willow’s whereabouts, and leave her cell with all of his organs in the correct location. If it didn’t go well, he would be tied to an alter and sacrificed to open up the Arkham Hellmouth, releasing legions of demons to rampage the world. ‘Go Me.’
Night came and after roll call, Xander and Rob heard a knock at the cell, which then opened without a sound. Xander stood up and told his roommate, “Don’t wait up for me.” With a little spring in his step and a polished spoon down his sock, he headed towards the Women’s section. He didn’t know how C.O. William North did it, but he trusted that the night would be unrecorded. Xander knew that Boles would be at home tonight, so he didn’t have to worry about this escapade getting back to him. Finally, they arrived.
“You have an hour. Have fun with them,” and with that Xander was pushed into the waiting room.
Xander’s first thought was “An hour, that is pretty generous. Most get 30 minutes tops.”
Then came “Them?”