Dr. Fenton: The Center of a Reality
"I could ask you the same question… Little Badger."
Little Badger. Little Badger. Little Badger. The man's words banged through Danny's head, forcibly halting most coherent thought that didn't surround the subject of the damned man in front of him. His body continued to shake involuntarily, and he struggled to keep his face blank while a trickle of cold fear shot through his heart and spread through his entire body.
When was the last time he heard that term of... endearment? No, endearment sounded wrong. A pet name? Yeah, pet name…that made sense. Vlad always wanted to make an obedient slave/son out of him. Calling him his Little Badger was just a way to dehumanize him into a piece of his Fruitloopy schemes.
To be his perfect Little Badger and perfect little tool and perfect little evil model son.
But why was the man even here? It didn't make sense. There would be no way that Vlad could have located him; the G.I.W. had made sure of that years ago. Officially, Danny Fenton died about three years ago in some accident that the government presumably made up and Danny Phantom disappeared without a trace at the same time. There could be absolutely no reason that after all this time, especially considering the overwhelming evidence of his apparent eradication, that Plasmius would still be trying to find him.
And that was another thing! How could the one person he didn't want to know his location not only find out where a dead man was, but also get a one on one session with an inmate who, due to the amount of inhibitors he had, was one of the most dangerous criminals within the facility?
None of it made sense, which ironically made the situation clearer and as a result, much more frustrating for the long lost halfa, Danny Fenton-Phantom.
None of this was real, and he was dreaming.
At the realization that, no, the real Vlad was not actually in front of him, his body stopped shaking. It made sense in a nonsensical way. He was in one of his stupid nightmares that refused to let him wake up until they were done torturing him.
Talk about beating himself up.
For most people, the extreme of detail of the room wouldn't have led them to this conclusion, but more… detailed dreams was just another side effect of becoming a halfa.
Yay! Hyper realistic dreams where he was either dissected in the most creative ways, or lost everyone he loved, or even destroyed the world were the best! Wasn't being a freak of nature great?
Somewhere in the back of his mind he vaguely remembered Lancer saying that sarcasm was the lowest form of wit. However, that was just one tiny part of his mind that needed to be shoved and locked away for bad behavior, lest it bring out less than desirable memories.
What made matters worse was that although the sedatives the shrinks gave made Danny's nights nice and bearable 95 percent of the time, they had a nasty side effect when his body decided to screw him over and adapt to the amount of chemicals the facility pumped into his bloodstream. Not only did he get nightmares instead of a nice, dreamless sleep, but the stupid medicine made him have lucid dreams. Jazz, excuse him, Dr. Fenton said that the sedatives made him became aware of his actions within his own personal hells instead of a simple spectator.
Not in those words, of course, but that was the general summary of her long winded explanation.
The torture didn't even end there though, oh no. Clockwork forbid that Danny actually caught a break for once. He couldn't actually control his stupid extremely realistic and emotionally traumatizing dreams like lucid dreamers usually could.
Every time he tried, his mind revolted on him…. like always.
Instead of giving him a boring dream of watching paint drying or even an annoying one where he was pestered to death by Harley Quinn and the Box Ghost, the nightmares intensified more than ten-fold. For example, say that a slightly traumatizing dream, of let's say Plasmius succeeding in marrying his mom and killing his dad, was interrupted by Danny's actions due to his self-aware state; his mind would then counter his attempts to have a pleasant night for once, and the dream would transform into a nightmare where Danny turned into an ice elemental version of Dark Dan. If that wasn't horrifying enough, he had to feel the emotions of glee and satisfaction as his friends and family pleaded to him for their lives.
The one time he had that… experience (nightmare was not enough to describe what happened), he could almost feel the blood trailing down his fingertips as he punched a hole in Sam's chest and clutched her heart in his razor sharp icy claws. Then with ecstatic, sadistic glee, he literally smashed it in a million pieces right in front of her. All the while, he saw the sad yet horrifyingly knowing look in Sam's usually stubborn purple eyes fade into oblivion until they became blank forever more.
His dream-self felt nothing but intense satisfaction and almost lustful glee at the death surrounding him. He had felt this glee grow, as he destroyed everyone he had ever loved, one by one, until all that was left in the area was his own ghostly form, his mere presence freezing the remains around him.
After nearly destroying his cell in his sleep from that nightmare, he received his eighth and hopefully final inhibitor.
Danny learned never to mess with his dreams after that, which was easier said than done sometimes, especially in the dialogue heavy ones like this one seemed to be.
Oh, well. Talking with Dream-Vlad was a good brush up on his acting (lying) skills.
As he stared at the older halfa, Danny wondered what role he should play. Should he be a defensive brat, or a hopelessly broken version of himself before Vlad ultimately took him to be his stupid apprentice? Defensive would make more sense considering he had growled at the man earlier.
So the boy leaned back semi-casually in his chair (or as much as he could while being shackled to the desk and chair), giving Dream-Vlad a sharp glare, the type he would have given before everything had happened to them. Actually, some inner part of Danny was nostalgic for the normalcy of his animosity towards the older halfa, but that was something for Jazz to psychoanalyze when he woke up from this stupid nightmare.
He considered flashing his eyes, but thought it would be overdoing it. Instead he settled with a cold, sharp tone, "I asked first, Fruitloop. Where's your manners? I thought you prided yourself on stuff like that," He smirked, "What? Have you changed that much in three years?"
As he watched the projected image of his ex-arch-nemesis gape at his words, the young adult couldn't help but find the irony (hypocrisy?) of calling someone else a fruit loop when he was so sick in the head himself.
Whatever. It wasn't like he was talking to the real Vlad.
Dr. Jasmine "Jazz" Fenton knew something was off that day.
It was ridiculous to think so. Her day had been normal so far, or as normal as one's life could be when one worked as a psychologist at Arkham Asylum.
She had woken up from her regular eight hour sleep cycle and gotten ready with nothing out of the ordinary in her morning routine. She put on her navy blue scrubs, tied her flaming hair back at the base of her neck, and made sure she had her pens and other essentials. Like all her mornings, the psychiatrist cringed as she drove through Gotham traffic before pulling up to the mental asylum. Dr. Fenton parked in her assigned place and made her way to the employee only entrance. The guards patted her down and checked if the doctor held anything unusual on her person, which there wasn't. When she was deemed cleared, they let her into the main building, automatically clocking her in when the scanners recognized her face. From there she chatted a bit with the guards and other doctors before starting her shift. At the moment, Jazz was checking her schedule for the day.
No, her morning had not been out of the ordinary, so there was no reason to be fretting. However, something within the shrink's gut told her something was wrong. She just couldn't place a finger on it.
Logically, it made no sense, and the redhead knew this. However, her sisterly instincts and years of ghost hunting made her trust this feeling. After all, it was this gut feeling that told her to work at Arkham and that turned out exceptionally well. Besides, the one time she ignored it, everything had, in an almost literal sense, fallen apart in her life.
No, she would never ignore this feeling again, no matter how 'normal' the day had seemed so far.
The shrink pursed her lips as she read through her schedule. Nothing different from the usual, an extra session with Number 25 but that was nothing irregular considering the facility was eager to actually get a reformed patient for once. He had been one of the few patients that had actually exhibited improvement, in contrast to the other inmates. If he was technically to be counted as sane, Arkham could get their first official discharge for someone with a power level of his caliber, since he technically wasn't there for committing a crime.
Jazz nearly snorted, but the dark feeling in her gut dug deeper. That would require that he actually wanted to get out. The stupid ex-hero had way too much of a stupid self-sacrificing hero-complex to understand that others wanted him out and living his life, instead of spending it trapped with these villains that were nothing like her little-
The doctor took a breath and calmed her shaking hand, which had nearly torn a hole in her schedule from the sheer force with which she gripped paper. She couldn't let her thoughts go down that way. The young woman had to separate her own platonic feelings towards Number 25. She had been doing so well over the near… eleven months? Yes, it had been nearly a year hadn't it?
The doctor put the paper down on the table in front of her, looking at the colored panels and different names incomprehensibly. The feeling in her gut threatened to overwhelm her with its insistent prodding. For a moment, just one small moment, Jazz allowed herself to think about the teen that plagued her mind, Number 25… her little brother… Danny.
A small wave of despair washed over Jazz, forcing her to close her eyes. She didn't cry. No. The woman hadn't cried since she had first seen Danny again after thinking he had died. Even then, she only shed tears in her small little apartment in the city away from those hauntingly broken blue eyes. Instead of crying, she clawed at the edges of the desk, pressing her palms against cool metal, wishing it wasn't as dull so the pressure could snap her out of her stupor.
Her parents had always taught her never to hate anyone (except ghosts, but they weren't alive and therefore didn't count in their books). Their house had always been filled with love and understanding. Even during Danny's freshman year of high school, where everyone seemed to be in their own separate worlds, their mother and father had always assured them that they would always be there for them, no matter what. They would always love them…
Jazz never thought she could ever feel true hate, but after what the Guys in White did to her life, what they did to her family, what they did to Danny…
The shrink breathed deeply and shook her head. After a moment, she let go of the counter as she slowly reigned in her cantankerous emotions and forced the disturbing mental images out of her mind.
However, even as Jazz did so, she came to a resolution. She had to check on him. Screw her schedule. She had mastered her emotions years ago, and to suddenly nearly have a near emotional breakdown was not like her at all. Besides, this feeling in her gut made it so that Jazz couldn't focus on anything other than the fact that something was wrong and go check on him before something happens. She would be useless to her other patients if she concentrated on Danny's mental health and not theirs.
At least, that's what the psychologist kept telling herself as she packed up what little she had in the break room and headed towards the scheduling office.
Jazz walked down the familiar hallways. In the back of her mind, she noticed the usual occurrences, other psychologists chatting despairingly about a certain inmate, stern looking jailers guarding the doors, the occasional shrink marking something on their chart with a frown, all the usual at Arkham.
She turned into an open archway, barely noticing the slight beeping sensors as they recognized her face. The ex-ghost hunter did, scan the room though, just in case.
The scheduling office was a secluded room in one of the deepest regions of Arkham. Not many people went into the office itself since they usually just received a paper version every morning from one of the machines in their respective break rooms. (Arkham would have become entirely electronic, but it was expensive to get a tablet for every worker, especially considering the fragility of said tablets in a place where explosions were not an uncommon occurrence. No, they would be destroyed too often to actually be useful.)
The room was simple enough. Two round, pearly white tables with four laboratory-white chairs each were on either side of the room. There was even two vending machines on the right wall, one for snacks and the other for drinks. What made the room interesting, was the back wall.
When one walked into the scheduling office, they would think that they went into the wrong room, for at first glance, all they would see would be the snack machines and tables. However, in the left corner, there was a small opening, almost like a ticket center for a movie theater. If one were to look into this opening, they would see a computer to the left, a curtain blocking the rest of the back wall, and the scheduling manager himself on his favorite rolling chair.
The job of the scheduling manager, or the schedule master as twenty eight year old Charlie Loe liked to call himself, was more of a technical job than an organizational one. True, organization played a major factor in the job, but regulating who was where and when was supposed to be was done in a complicated process of programs that would leave most people confused. The techie had both the jobs of keeping schedules organized and making sure the systems were running the way they were supposed to in order to keep the facility in order. He was the one who adapted schedules for each person while keeping track of where every patient was supposed to be. (Well, officially. Breakouts put a hole in his carefully defined schedules and were, as a result, the bane of his existence).
It was a mundane job, sure, in comparison to trying to reform super villains or making sure said villains didn't escape, but Charlie did his part, which, in the long term, was no small feat.
It was well known that there was something important beyond the curtain. Probably people relaying information so that Charlie could focus on his job and not going back and forth on the last minute schedule changes. Many people teased the man for being the Wonderful Wizard of Scheduling that hid what was really beyond the curtain. He would laugh at their jokes, but would always say that he had no jurisdiction to reveal what was going on back there and that they really didn't want to know anyway.
When asked why, he would simply shrug, smirk, and say it would ruin the fun behind the mystery.
Either way, if one wanted to do something that wasn't written in their schedules without annoying Charlie too much, they would need to ask him directly. After all, he was the man who gave them their shifts, and if one angered him they could very well get the short end of the scheduling stick.
However, Dr. Fenton wanted to inform Charlie of her schedule change for multiple reasons. One: It was just plain rude to disturb someone's work, especially when their job revolved around scheduling everyone else's day. Two: the pair had became sort of friends after Charlie had helped convince the Warden to give Jazz more sessions with Number 25.
Overall, it was imperative that the scheduling manager should know of the situation and help her… for Danny's sake.
Jazz walked up to the counter, clipboard and schedule close to her person. She waited a moment for the man to notice her, but then realized Charlie was too distracted by whatever was on his computer. He reminded her of Tucker in that sense, even if their looks were almost entirely different. Charlie was pale. As in, vampire pale (she would say pale as a ghost, but Danny's ghost form being tanner than his human one disproved that saying). The thousands of freckles that dotted his face, however, made his skin look tanner than it actually was. He had long, stringy red hair that he didn't bother to tie back, since his Arkham employee hat kept most of it out of his face anyway. He had a long nose, a baby face, and wide eyes that crinkled a bit when he grinned his mischievous looking grin. The only similarity the two boys would have had were their green eyes. Even then, Tucker's eyes were more of a tealish green, much like her own. In contrast, this man's eyes were a deep evergreen.
She was glad he didn't look a lot like Tucker. Otherwise it would have been nearly impossible to talk to Charlie.
The psychologist smiled at the man, "Mr. Loe? May I speak with you?" Charlie jumped slightly from the sudden noise, looking sharply in her direction. When he seemed to realize that no, she wasn't a super villain threatening him with a weapon, he blushed, embarrassed and relaxed in the chair. To his credit, though, he acted as if nothing unusual had occurred and turned away from the computer and towards the counter, his hands resting on the arms of the chair.
"Dr. Fenton? Is there an issue with your schedule?" She nodded.
"Unfortunately, I have something to do this afternoon, and as I had a session planned for Number 25, I would like to shift my schedule to see him immediately. He has attached himself to me as his center, and in order to improve his well-being, it is imperative that he gets the proper amount of contact with myself in order to continue to count on some form of stability within his psychological plane," She finished as professionally as possible.
Jazz was quite proud of her little speech. While she didn't actually have anything to go to this afternoon, the woman had a feeling whatever made her uneasy would take up the rest of her day. Plus, her excuse sounded professional and plausible, or at least she thought it did.
The techie starred at her for a moment before shaking his head in what seemed like amusement, "If you wanted to see him, you could have just said so," She blinked as the man turned his computer and started typing on it.
"What? I don't know what you're talking about. I want to assure that my patient has a stable environment," The man snorted. He paused in his typing and gave her a pointed look.
"A stable environment? At Arkham? Really?" Jazz couldn't find a good answer to that and the techie knew it, but she kept her expression even. Charlie smirked, shaking his head in amusement again, "Look, I'm not here for interrogation. That's your job."
"It's not interrogation!" To her annoyance, he simply chuckled and continued typing. After a few more clicks, he leaned slightly back, arm closest to her on the top of the chair the other still on the mouse. There was a softer expression on his face than before.
"I know you care about Spooks. As much as you like to hide it, nearly everyone here can see that," Jazz pursed her lips, but didn't comment otherwise. Charlie sighed and looked back at his computer, "Fine. Whatever. By the way, you can't see him, and it's not because your attitude," He added at her hostile look, "Look, if I could, I would reschedule everything to let you have your little psych session with the kid, but he's busy right now."
She tried not to physically freeze when her insides gave a nasty, piercing lurch. Jazz swallowed and took a breath. After calming herself, she asked evenly, "Busy how?"
He arched an eyebrow at her reaction then looked back at his computer, "Well… it looks like he's… well that's weird…" Charlie frowned scratching the top of his head with his free hand.
Another lurch, "What's weird?" The man shook his head in confusion.
"Well, it says here that Spooks got himself a visitor in one of the interrogation offices, number four? Yeah. Number four. And lookie here, it's not just any visitor, it's…." He read the name a few times, making sure he didn't read it wrong, "It's…Vladimir Masters?" He didn't notice Jazz freezing in place nor her widening eyes, "Huh. Why would a billionaire want to visit someone like Spooks?" He shook her head, frown still on his face, "It's weird. What do you think Doctor-Huh? Dr. Fenton?"
When Charlie had turned back to the shrink, she was already gone. Only the sound of shoes tapping against tiles echoing down the hallway left any clue she had been there.
"Well, you're welcome," He grumbled, turning slightly towards his computer and reading the billionaire's name again in the schedule. He frowned deeper. Something occurred to him, and he scratched his head again, "I wonder why no one told me of the schedule change…Weird," He again mumbled at the machine. Then Charlie, scheduling manager/techie, thought of the weirdness no more, for at that very moment, a guard walked up to him to discuss changing shifts next weekend, so he could go to his kid's birthday party.
Jazz rushed down the halls in a mad dash, ignoring the startled cries of the people around her. After practically running down a series of confusing turns every which way, she walked into the observation room for the interrogation chamber number four. The room was tiny, only having a one way bullet proof mirror with speakers to hear the conversations in the next room. There was only enough space for four to five people to stand comfortably. As the rest of the facility, the room was covered floor to ceiling with pearly white tile. At the moment, only one other person occupied the space, one of the head guards. The middle aged Mr. Rusher, aka the bane of her existence.
Of course it had to be him.
The man turned sharply at her entrance, instantly muting the conversation with a quick push of the button, the one-way mirror becoming shadowed as well. His eyes narrowed slightly. "Ms. Fenton, what are you doing here?"
The shrink suppressed a scowl at the guard. The man didn't respect her authority, quite possibly due to her young age. He treated her like a child rather than the respected doctor that she truly was. The only reason she didn't report him was because he treated Danny with more kindness than most of the other guards did, even if the only reason he did so was the same exact reason why he was treating Jazz like she was inferior to him.
While she had the willpower not to scowl, the psychologist did glare at him, "What am I doing here? Number 25 is my patient. Did you forget that? Why did no one tell me that he had a visitor? Any and all changes to his environment should be sent through me or did someone forget to inform you of that?"
He pursed his lips and Jazz could see the disbelief hidden beneath his eyes, "Ms. Fenton-"
"Dr. Fenton," She corrected quickly, "And as his doctor, I have every right to know what is happening to him. And before you correct me about the supposed trustworthiness of higher class citizens, which to be completely honest I have little trust for, I don't care if Vlad Masters is the President of the United States; I should be here doing my job and evaluate the person or at the very least be informed of the person who will be conversing with my patient, who may I remind you is deemed unstable," She let out a sigh, releasing the pent up frustration and anger that coiled in her heart before staring determinately at the baffled guard.
It was silent as they stared the other down. After what seemed like forever, the guard finally let out a disgruntled sigh and looked away, "Fine… Dr. Fenton."
She smiled, ignoring the obvious distain in his voice, "Thank you. Now if you would please turn on the speakers and clear the window? I would like to actually know what's going on with my patient."
He grumbled something unintelligible under his breath but did as he was told. The guard pressed a couple buttons and with that, the mirror became clear once more, and the previously mentioned inmate's voice poured through the speakers.
"What? Cat catch your tongue, Fruitloop? Other than that creepy white one that is. I mean, really? You named the cat Maddie? Could you get more obsessive?" Jazz did a quick look over on Danny. He was locked in place to the chair and desk, but otherwise looked unharmed. Actually, he was looking pretty well considering he was talking to Vlad… too well.
Her eyes darted the billionaire. To say he was surprised would be an understatement. The man was gaping stupidly at Danny like the boy had grown a third head. She looked over his physical state. Vlad looked as crisp as ever, she supposed, but the years of grief had really done a number on him. His hair had always been unnaturally white, but it had grayed and lost its sheen. Even from this distance, Jazz could see the tried wrinkles under his eyes, and she found it was hard to be entirely annoyed him for going behind her back to see her little brother.
Not that she wasn't still mad. Jazz just wasn't entirely angry as she should have been at the man. After all, just by being here, Vlad was endangering the year worth of progress she had on getting Danny used to some form of normalcy.
Danny shifted uncomfortably in his seat, snapping Vlad out of apparent shock. The billionaire looked at him oddly before speaking in a low voice, "Well, it seems you've changed less than I thought you would have. Do you realize that I was under the impression that you were dead?"
The boy rolled his eyes, "We're already dead or did you forget? Memory loss is common with people your age after all. What's wrong, Masters? Old age finally getting to ya?" The younger halfa smirked. Jazz watched as the other guards in the room shifted in place nervously, their eyes darting between Vlad and Danny as if trying to make some unknown connection. Vlad's frown deepened, and Jazz could see a bit of anger flaring beneath those aged blue eyes.
It was that instant that Jazz knew something terribly was wrong. Danny would never have casually said something that could endanger his hidden identity, especially not if there were other people in the room. She glanced at Rusher. He was writing something down with a small frown on his face. The doctor couldn't see what he was writing from where she was standing, but nothing Rusher could be writing would be good for her little brother.
Jazz knew she would get a lashing about this later, but at the moment all she wanted was for Danny's identity to stay a secret. Almost as quick as the Flash, she pulled the notepad from out from under the guard.
"What are you-?"
"Get Masters out of there now, erase all the footage of this session, and don't repeat a word of what you have heard in here," The guard looked a bit taken aback by her sudden orders but, to her annoyance and ever growing frustration, he quickly turned hostile.
"What are you talking about? And give me that back! They just started-" She cut him off before he could finish.
"Number 25 has trouble distinguishing reality from his dreams... or nightmares as the case may be. Based on his reactions at this moment and his previous sessions, I believe that right now he doesn't know he's talking to someone in real life. It is imperative that we get Mr. Masters out of there before the situation escalates."
"It seems like your wit hasn't diminished during your stay," Vlad's voice blasted through the speakers, sounding almost relieved, although his annoyance was clear, and the shrink refocused on their conversation, watching their reactions, "Tell me, why are you here? Did Jasmine think it would be for the best to hide you from me? Does she think me a monster?"
"Once a Fruitloop always a Fruitloop," Danny grumbled, though he obviously looked less sure of himself. The young adult started to shrink back into the chair, if only unconsciously. His fingers started to twitch again against the cuffs on the desk as his right foot tapped nervously on the floor. Jazz saw Vlad frown once more.
Rusher chuckled darkly, pulling Jazz out of her observations, "Why do you need to erase all the footage?" His eyes sparked with a certain cruelty, "Trying to hide something, Fenton?"
Jazz pursed her lips, anger welling up inside her. However, she would not let him overpower her for his own self-satisfaction and self-assurance. Rusher was simply another bully from her high school days, "The warden has specifically told us that any and all information on 25 should be erased when dealing with his sessions. You should know that, Rusher."
There was another stare down between the two of them. Jazz's gut feeling was screaming at her to push the man out of the way, go into the interrogation room, drag Vlad by his stupid pony tail, and give him the yelling of the century. Fortunately, she was more professional than that. She knew when to redirect her more… unorthodox emotions to be productive.
If only the rest of society could know how to do that.
Finally, much to Jazz's relief, Rusher sneered and looked away, "Alright, Dr. Fenton, have it your way, but if Masters starts looking to shoot someone down, it's not my ass that's being targeted. Got it?"
Jazz smiled sweetly at him, not at all phased by this threat, "Thank you for your concern. I'll keep that in mind."
He scoffed as he leaned against the back wall of the observation room, eyeing Masters warily, "I'm not getting the guy out of there either."
She nodded, "Very well. I will talk to Mr. Masters. Keep the mirror fogged until I come back in." Jazz walked past him, ignoring his scathing expression. As she reached the hallway outside the door, she heard him mumble under his breath.
"Very well, ma'am." The door slammed shut.
The moment the door closed, Jazz let out a strangled sigh. She wanted to throttle Rusher sometimes. He thought her as the child yet acted so immature and unprofessional that it was downright hypocritical of him to look down on her. Case and point, Jazz was 90 percent sure that Rusher would probably not take her order, but instead, was going to watch the conversation play out, ignoring her orders, ignoring her authority, ignoring her years of studying and hard work, and therefore, insulting her in almost every way possible.
That man was lucky that he was so good to 'Spooks,' or he would be out of Arkham faster than he could say 'Ms. Fenton' in that stupid, infuriating tone of his.
But enough of that idiot. Jazz's first priority was to get Danny back to his cell and away from Vlad, which meant she had to get to the interrogation room.
All the interrogations and observation rooms, numbers one through ten, were connected by one long, two person wide hallway. Not unlike the pearly white of the rest of the building, the hallway had a more industrial version of the continuity. The walls, ceiling, and floor were made entirely of titanium metal lined with the material used in inhibitors, and each door had face recognition software to get into the rooms.
Jazz quickly walked to the door for the interrogation room, waited impatiently as the system slowly scanned her face, and took a deep breath before walking into the open door.
Four heads turned to her at her entrance. The two guards looked entirely confused to the point of awestruck. Poor guys were new and stuck under Rusher of all people. Danny looked surprised for a second before his eyes widened almost comically, darting between the billionaire and the shrink.
Vlad looked startled as well. At least for a second. Then he smiled with what she supposed was him trying to be polite, "Oh, Dr. Fenton. What are you doing here?" He asked, his eyes furrowed in 'confusion.'
His reaction would have been more convincing if his eyes didn't tell her that he was furious at her. Unfortunately for Jazz, his scathing looks could actually kill. Fortunately for her, he had to play his part as the concerned billionaire, much like she as the protective psychologist.
She ignored him for a moment and looked at the guards in the back whom had been looking at Vlad, "Guards, you are dismissed. Mr. Rusher will handle the situation from here. This order is directly from the warden herself. No information learned or said will leave this room. You heard nothing. You know nothing. Understood?" They were unsure for a second. However, the two nearly ran out of the room at her glare.
"Impressive," Vlad commented as the door slammed shut at their exit, but his anger didn't diminish in the least, "Now tell me why you are here again and interrupting my valuable time?"
Jazz frowned slightly, flipping through her papers for a second as if to check them and looked up at the billionaire, "Mr. Masters, I'm sorry for the interruption, but there seems to have been a misunderstanding."
He arched an eyebrow, the fury in his eyes increasing, "Oh? What misunderstanding would that be, my dear?" It was amazing that he kept his voice even.
"Patient Number 4025, the resident of cell 25, or Number 25 as he is to be known as, is not to have visitors of any kind unless approved by both myself and the warden," Jazz finished. She gave a reassuring nod towards Danny who had all but froze in his chair (no, there was no actual ice… hopefully).
"I hardly see the confusion. Am I not a trustworthy individual in the eyes of this facility?" He tried to look concern, but there was a small smirk on his lips.
"Of course you are, Mr. Masters, but-" He cut her off, his smirk growing.
"Then I don't see why I must leave my session with Number 25 as I am a trusted member of society."
"My trust in you has nothing to do with this situation. It's my patient's health. Please. Step inside so I may explain."
He didn't budge from his position. In fact, he placed his hand on the chair opposite of Danny and clenched his hand possessively on it, "I believe that whatever you say there may be said in front of your patient. Trust is important as you say, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to show the extent of it."
"Yes, but 25 here trusts me to know there are reasons why I keep certain things away from him. Maybe for his own good. Maybe for the good of others. It depends on the information. However, people have their secrets Masters, and in your profession, I'm sure you know all about that," She finished.
Vlad actually did pause at this. He watched her, and Jazz could practically see him putting the double meaning behind her words together, his fingers tapping on the metal chair.
Suddenly the tapping stopped, and he placed his hands behind his back, holding himself up even greater than before. He looked towards her, nearly glaring. She could have sworn he might have flashed his eyes, but that might have been her imagination. Slowly, Vlad took a few steps toward her until they were nearly face to face. While he was much taller than her, it didn't diminish the intensity between their stare down. His eyes were calculating and untrusting just as hers were hardened and unrelenting.
After a moment, he spoke quietly, his tone dark, "If I were to leave this room right now would you tell me everything about your patient?"
"I will tell you everything I feel I should disclose to you and can disclose to you for my patient's safety," She countered.
He scowled at her, his voice nearly a growl, "I thought I was a trustworthy individual. Did that change in the span of this conversation?" So that was it. Vlad thought she was treating him like a villain. Like before… this all happened. Of course, the Fruitloop would come to that conclusion.
She rolled her eyes and whispered, "No, but eyes and ears are everywhere and I would hate for the wrong person to overhear the something and take advantage of anyone," Then she spoke louder so the microphones could hear her, "If you would like more information about Number 25 here is my number. I'm sorry I can't give you more information over a file. Everyone, even villains have some privacy. Again, I'm sorry for the inconvenience," She took a second to write down what she needed and handed the paper towards Vlad, who merely looked at it for a second in faux interest before his expression turned into actual surprise.
Jazz saw a bit of true humor spark in his eyes as he smirked triumphantly, folding the paper neatly into his jacket pocket, "It seems like someone has trust issues. You might want to have someone to help you, my dear," She rolled her eyes, but straightened again at his over dramatic sigh, "But very well, I will leave for now. I expect some answers. I do want to know why I must leave my session when we just were getting started. Would you please move aside so I may leave?"
"Of course, Mr. Masters," She said, moving to let the billionaire through, "The exit is at the end of the hall where a guard will lead you out of the building. But I have to say, one might ask why a billionaire would go all the way across the country just to visit one patient."
Vlad rolled his eyes at her a smirk on his face, "Oh, both you and I know the answer to that one, my dear. I do have an eye for the unusual you see, and an unnamed, unknown patient with strange and powerful abilities is something I have to see," She pursed her lips, saying nothing. He chuckled at her reaction, "I will be seeing you, Jasmine. I look forward to our little chat after your talk with Number 25 here," His eyes lingered on Danny for a moment but stopped at Jazz's look. Vlad smirked one last time before strutting out of the interrogation office, leaving a tense mood in his wake.
"I'm sure you are..." She mumbled. Jazz didn't let her eyes off Vlad until the door clicked behind him. Even then, she waited for a moment, just to make sure he wouldn't enter once more. Vlad would do something like that just to annoy her.
"J..Jazz? What's going on?" Danny's voice shook her out of watchful stance. She turned towards him, slowly of course, so as not to startle him. Her little brother, dear Clockwork, he was looking up at her with slightly widened eyes, fear trying and failing to be concealed from her. His hands were shaking violently, his fingers clenched in a ball and biting into his palms. The boy's eyes were pleading, wanting Vlad to just be some hallucination in his head instead of a potential nightmare brought to life.
As much as Jazz wanted to reassure him that this was all a dream, that Vlad wasn't there, she couldn't. Cementing the difference between dreams and reality was the first priority to his recovery. Even though she was his big sister, they weren't little kids anymore. She couldn't hold him until he fell asleep and tell him that the demons would go away if he closed his eyes and willed them to leave with all his might. He had his own inner demons to conquer and, as much it pained her, shielding him from the truth would only backfire in the end.
She hated her job sometimes.
Jazz placed her clipboard down on the desk and slowly walked towards her brother, inwardly hating that she had to treat him like a frightened animal. As she came close, she gently placed her hand on top of his clenched one, rubbing gently circles on the fist. He tensed at first, startled by the contact, but then started relaxing under the familiar touch. Once Jazz felt like he was ready, she knelt down until she was looking into his slightly less frightened blue eyes.
"Jazz?" He asked again, more desperate sounding this time. She smiled softly at him, continuing to rub small circles on his fist.
"You're awake. This isn't a dream, but you're okay and I won't let anyone hurt you," The boy's eyes widened. He shook his head furiously as if to deny her words.
"He couldn't have-" He shut his eyes suddenly, holding them so tight that it probably hurt. Jazz placed a gently hand on his shoulder to bring him back before he got too deep inside his own head. Danny flinched slightly, moving away as much as he could away from her.
She took a small breath before speaking, "Vlad is here. You are awake. Repeat that for me."
"You can't deny he's here," Jazz said more firmly, "Even if you don't want to get better, you need to know the difference between reality and fantasy."
He pursed his lips and turned his head away from her. Jazz watched as his eyes opened again, looking at his right fist unseeingly. He spoke in a whisper.
"So I'm awake?"
"Yes," She confirmed.
He paused before continuing, his hands tense again, "And Vlad is…here?" He questioned.
"Yes," Jazz simply continued rubbing her calming circles, waiting for Danny to respond. Suddenly, his shoulders slumped, and he groaned.
"Shit," The shrink nearly rolled her eyes. The only reason she didn't say anything about his language was because she knew there was little to nothing she could do about it. They were in a mental asylum for super villains. There wasn't much she could do to censor what went through his ears. Besides, he was eighteen… oh, Clockwork he was eighteen, technically an adult. An adult who shouldn't be told by their older sisters that they could or could not curse.
Danny was eighteen, and she had to talk to him like he was five.
She resisted the urge to physically shake the idea out of her head. That was another thought that Jazz had to dwell on later lest she have another emotional breakdown in the worst possible of places.
Jazz let out a shaky breath, trying to look into Danny's eyes, "Now, what are you going to do when you go back to your cell?"
He snorted. "Bang my head against the wall until I pass out or wake up from this nightmare?"
"25…" She said, her tone warning. He turned suddenly to her, his eyes showing slight betrayal before angering.
"What do you want me to do!? Pretend that everything is alright and that Fruitloop over there isn't going to come into the night and take me away and-" He stopped when the shrink clenched her hand on his shoulder. He bit his lip and tried to look away, but Jazz placed a soft yet firm hand that had been on his fist onto his cheek and forced him to look into her eyes.
"He's not going to take you away," She said, her tone leaving no room for argument, "I'm not going to let him," Danny watched her for a moment, his eyes calculating and scared. His gaze flickered away from hers and settled at looking at her wrist.
When he spoke again, his voice was merely a whisper, "How did he find out where I was in the first place? How can this be real...? I..." He closed his eyes once more, "Jazz for once, why can't this be a dream?" He asked desperately.
She sighed and allowed Danny to rest his cheek on the entirety of her palm. She brushed her thumb lightly back and forth not unlike her calming circles from earlier. He tensed slightly, again, but then pressed deeper into her palm. After a moment, she whispered quietly in his ear, "I don't know how he found you, but rest assured, I will find out."
They stayed like that for a while, both trying to calm themselves for different reasons. However, while Jazz wanted to stay in the little world the two of them created, she knew that she had to face the real world eventually. She sighed, "Now, 25, what are you going to do when you get into your cell?"
"No," The doctor stopped her thumb and stared directly into Danny's eyes, icy blue colliding with stern teal, "You will get one of your crayons and write in your Real section that 'Vlad and I talked in interrogation in room four.' Understand?" Danny tried to look away but Jazz's hand stopped him from turning. Instead he glared at the titanium arm of the chair that separated them.
He bit his lip, "But-"
"Do you understand, mister?"
He laughed humorlessly, still not looking at her, "You sound like Mom."
"And I'll keep acting like her too until you agree," When he didn't say anything, she sighed and squeezed his shoulder, "Please? For me?"
Danny looked back at Jazz's eyes, pleading for her to change her mind. She gave him a stern look once more, and he sighed in defeat, "Fine. Vlad was here and I talked to him in interrogation room four…" He smirked dryly, "And Dr. Fenton is a pushy, know-it-all."
She laughed quietly and smiled back. "I'll ignore that last one," Her face grew serious again, "Now, I'm going to leave the room and have Mr. Rusher take you to your cell, okay?"
Danny looked unsure, like he might not accept this deal, but then gave in with a sigh, slumping slightly into his sister's palm, "...Okay…" He rested for a second or two before biting his lip and whispering unsurely. "Jazz?"
He took a breath and continued, still quiet, "How do you know that… that he isn't going to get me? He's a fruit loop, the Fruitloop… How can you stop him?"
Jazz had to look away for a moment. This had been the conversation that she had been dreading ever since she had found out Danny was alive. She couldn't say everything she needed to at the moment since she was pretty sure Rusher ignored her orders and was watching them.
No, at the moment, Danny only needed to know the basics. She smiled reassuringly and leaned closer to his ear, "A lot has changed since you've been gone. Vlad… Vlad isn't as bad as he was before. It doesn't excuse what he did today or what he has done before this mess happened but…" She tried to find the right words to describe Vlad. Honestly, she didn't particularly know either, "He's different," She concluded, "And he won't try to take you away if he knows if it's better for you to stay here. That I will guarantee."
Danny looked like he was about to protest, but stopped. His expression changed into a confused one as he starred. He shook his head and asked Jazz quietly, "Are things going to change?" He sounded like a small child being told they were going to move away from a place they've known all their life.
She wanted to hug him to comfort him, but knew she couldn't. Instead Jazz aimed to reassure him, if only a small amount, "I don't know, Danny… I don't know, but I do know one thing. I will do my best to keep you safe. That's a promise."
He bit his lip at her look, emotion brimming in his blue eyes. Suddenly he looked down again at the cuffs, seemingly trying to hide his face. However, Jazz could see a small smile grace his lips, "Thank you," He whispered.
Jazz smiled as well and leaned in close and whispered, "Love you, little brother."
His smile grew slightly, and he replied, matching her volume, "Love you too, Jazz. Just…" He bit his lip again, looking worried, "Just be careful."
She rolled her eyes, "Of course. Being reckless is your job. I'm the careful one."
"Right…" Jazz didn't miss his uncertainty and the increased wariness in his tone as he tried to scrunch himself up into the chair and make himself as small as possible. She watched him revert into himself, closing off all emotions and keeping his face blank. He did this once he had enough talking for one day. Even an overprotective big sister could only do so much.
Mentally, Jazz sighed and stood up from her position on the ground, ignoring her protesting muscles. Then, like a script from a movie, she smiled down brightly at him, trying to keep her expression reassuring and optimistic, "I will see you tomorrow, and remember what I said, 25. Real and not real," She walked back to her position behind the chair opposite of Danny, picking up the nearly forgotten clipboard.
Danny shifted slightly in his seat and gave her one last look. Nothing. There was absolutely no emotion in his icy blue eyes. It was like he thought he was looking at a stranger instead of his sister. He looked away and back down at his hands, his fingers tapping at the cuffs impatiently, "Fine." He replied, his voice even.
And then they were done. It was his trigger word. Once, he said he was 'fine' or his day was 'fine' or that something or another was 'fine,' he wouldn't say another word until their next session. She hated the word 'fine.'
She actually did sigh out loud this time, shaking her head before walking back towards the shadowed looking door. Jazz paused, the feeling in her gut wanting her to have one last look at her little brother.
And so she did.
Jazz watched him for one last moment, eyes lingering to take in every detail on his form. His messy black hair had grown until it reached the bottom of his neck; the hair could have easily been pulled into a pony tail if he had a tie to hold it back. His bangs nearly covered his once shining blue eyes, eyes that had turned icy with distrust, unfreezing only in her presence or occasionally the Warden's. He was being fed well enough, (Jazz had saw to that the moment she saw his malnutrition), but that didn't mean he wasn't still skinny. While his skin didn't cling to his bones on his arms or legs, Jazz would probably be able to count at least a couple ribs if he were to lift his shirt. The round boyish face he once had was changed in favor of a more chiseled one, although he did retain full cheeks and their mother's high cheekbones. Light stubble dotted the bottom of his chin and the side of his face. Absentmindedly, Jazz thought he needed a shave. While the facial hair make it harder for people to recognize him, it also didn't particularly fit him.
Or at least that was what her big sister mentality was thinking.
The orange uniform, the stubble, the older features, all of these made him look older yet younger at the same time. It was like a mismatched puzzle trying to create one picture, all the pieces technically fitting but not creating what it was supposed to be in the end. He was a mixture of the kidnapped fifteen year old, the hardened hero, and the tortured, guilty soul all wrapped up into one.
Jazz starred at her brother for what seemed like an eternity, taking in his form. She wanted to make him better, but she didn't know how. If she didn't think Desiree would change the wish and make it worse, Jazz would have tried to use her in some way to make Danny's pain to go away.
But alas, fate had never been kind to them.
The shrink sighed softly one last time and turned back towards the door, determined once more. She would find a way to make him better. She had to. Until then, she would do her best to help Danny in any way possible.
Meaning, it was time to deal with an annoyed Fruitloop.