Cell of a Splintered Past

Interlude: The Dog of Arkham


"'And all the people say…'
'You can't wake up, this is not a dream,'
'You're part of a machine, you are not a human being,'
'With your face all made up, living on a screen,'
'Low on self-esteem, so you run on gasoline,'

(Oh, ooh oh, ooh oh, oh)
I think there's a flaw in my code…
(Oh, ooh oh, ooh oh, oh)
These voices won't leave me alone…

My heart is Gold, and my hands are Cold…"

"Gasoline" ~Halsey


Everyone was looking, but nobody was truly seeing him. Not really. They saw the nervous jitters and his strained face, but they didn't see the utter wreck his mind had become in the last few hours… well, an increased wreckage to be more concise. For a good comparison, it was like his mind transformed from a three car pile up to a six lane one on a major highway with raging fires and cool explosions.

Danny absently wondered how many movies with epic car scenes had come out in the last three years.

Harley would laugh at his dilemma about his insanity. Say that he needed to embrace whatever was making him break and use to his best advantage. Say that it was okay. Say that being sane was overrated.

But if he let go of his fears and caved into insanity, what would he become?

Danny didn't know himself anymore. Not really. He thought he had been improving. Jazz had said so, but in the end that was a lie. An unintentional one built off his positive reactions, of course, but a lie nevertheless.

Stupid Vlad. Stupid medicine. Stupid PTSD. Stupid almost everything other than Jazz.

One little thing had set him off, and he could barely get the will to stand up to go to the cafeteria with the other villains. How pathetic was that? Okay, maybe Vlad scrambling his mind by making his stupid nightmares a reality was not something little, but literally having an emotional breakdown over the color red was absolutely and utterly stupid. Heck, it didn't even look like blood!

Stupid Vlad for making him ultra-sensitive to the color red. Stupid hyper-realistic nightmares. Stupid Guys in-

Danny had to stop himself from continuing that train of thought before he accidently blew up the cafeteria or something stupid like that.

Did he mention how stupid this situation was?

Looking back, he would concede that today wasn't his worst day ever (which, if anyone said they had a worse 'worst day of their life' than him, either they were a liar or they had been through hell and back at least five and five ninths times and had his complete and utter sympathy). However, that wasn't such a glowing endorsement considering he felt completely and utterly drained from acting like a mad man. He did get some energy when a guard showed up, but it had been a near thing. Even so, he almost didn't make it to his usual place in the cafeteria before collapsing in a chair.

Currently, Danny was sitting at his table, body scrunched up, swirling his mashed potatoes in circles. Half his mind was mesmerized by the patterns he was making in the food, and the other part of him simply trying to find something to hold on to lest it break down into tiny little pieces.

Although, the mental images of Vlad suddenly bursting through the cafeteria doors and dragging him off by the scuff of his neck was not helping matters at all.

Pathetic.

"Hey Spooks, what was with your little freak out earlier, huh?" Harley, some vague part of him answered. But he ignored her, too preoccupied keeping himself together long enough to get back to his cell, "Spoooooks," She drawled childishly.

This continued for a while. She was whining and drawling out his name to get his attention. At one point, she stole his apple and starting crunching it loudly right next to his ear. The villain seemed to be trying every tactic in her repertoire that didn't require poisoning, maiming, or otherwise hurting him in any possible way to get his attention. She probably wouldn't have been so insistent if Joker and Ivy hadn't broken out a couple months ago. But as fate would have it, they were gone, and Harley had no one to 'play' with, so to speak.

Other than 'Spooks,' of course.

Danny didn't know what to think of the nickname. Yes, he was terrified that someone would connect his flashing green eyes to his ghost half, but who could care enough to figure that out? Because, really, who could connect Spooks, unknown inmate, clearly alive and unwell, to Danny Phantom, the ghostly hero of Amity Park that disappeared years ago? It was ridiculous.

Vlad did.

Yes, Vlad did, but he was a fruit loop. The Fruitloop. And besides, he had known his identity beforehand, so he didn't count.

…And now he was talking to himself. Great. Fan-freaking-tastic. Mentally, he added 'potentially schizophrenic' to reasons why he might be insane.

Maybe he was already insane. If he talked to Harley about it maybe she could even make it out as something to celebrate and throw a party of sorts. The mental image of Harley holding up a banner saying 'welcome to insanity!' and getting chased around by guards for having unauthorized items amused him.

His thoughts came to a sputtering halt when he felt someone grab him from behind. Instantly, his reflexes went into overdrive. He elbowed the person in the gut, twisted out of his seat, and pushed the potential threat to the wall behind him with one fluent motion. Instantly, one of his arms was pressed against the attacker's neck, the other on the wall above their head, caging the person in case they tried to strike back.

"Oww! Geez, take it easy, Spooks. No need to get so worked up!" Danny blinked at the feminine wheeze, his mind finally caught up to what was happening. Dazed, his looked down at the person he captured.

Oh… he attacked Harley. Further, he currently had her pressed up against the wall, almost cutting off her flow of oxygen and probably looking like he was either going to murder her or feel her up…Or both.

Shit.

Before he could even react, he felt two rough hands pull him away from her. He resisted the urge to fight them off, knowing that if he tried to attack the people restraining him, who he supposed were the guards, that the situation would end badly. Instead, he allowed the people to knock him down to his knees with nothing more than a grunt as a response.

"Behave like the dog you are," One of the men hissed into his ear, as if mere words would assert his authority.

An odd thought distracted him. Was he a dog now? That seemed like an improvement to his current situation. At least dogs were happy creatures most of the time. Look at Cujo! He was dead and still was a happy puppy at heart! …Okay, maybe that was a bad example, but Danny certainly didn't feel the joyful freedom that being a dog could bring. Wait, no, that wasn't fair to Jazz. He felt happy when he was with her, and he sometimes felt a marginal bit of happiness when it came to Harley's annoyance. With that logic, he could be considered a dog. He surely attacked and obeyed like one.

As he contemplated his identity dilemma, he absently noticed being forced to stand from his position on the floor and having cuffs clicked onto his wrists behind him (second time today, he noted). They dragged him away, away from Harley, away from the cafeteria, and away from any more potential disasters today. As he was again pushed to the floor of his cell for the second time that day, he was left on the white tiled ground, but this time without being uncuffed. He sighed from his uncomfortable position on the floor, thinking that the day couldn't get much worse.

Wait, a minute, did he just...? Dang, Murphy was going to be a bitch wasn't he? Considering Danny's life, yes, yes he was.

…Stupid Murphy's Law.

With a resigned sigh, Danny peeled himself from his position on the tiled cell and crawled to his bed, not particularly having the urge to stand up. Well, kind of crawled. The boy didn't know if walking on one's knees counted as crawling. He stumbled to the floor enough times in the process to count at the very least, so he designated his movements as such.

He didn't bother getting under his blanket when he finally made it to his bed. The thin fabric provided little comfort against the cool metal, but he was used to the hardness by this point. In fact, sleep sounded very good to him at the moment.

Suddenly, he just felt tired. Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. It was if the entire day's events just caught up to him in that one moment and decided to assault him. Judging by how hard it was to keep his eyelids open, the attack was working quite effectively.

Some minor annoying part of him was against sleeping. Something disastrous would happen… maybe? He ignored the feeling in favor of laying against his side, curling in on himself with a small sigh.

As Danny's eyes drooped closed, the sounds of the world around him seemed insignificant, a mere annoying buzz compared to the seductive pull of sleep that promised to bring sweet relief. Sleep was a siren's song in this never-ending typhoon, and Danny didn't have the will or the need to stop its call.

And so he fell asleep, chained, tired, but hoping for a nice, dreamless night.

Unfortunately, in the excitement of the day and the exhaustion of the afternoon, he had forgotten about a very important part of his routine, a part that would lead to a torrent of ice unconsciously creeping from his ice core, powerful enough to break the eight inhibitors and cause chaos around Gotham. It would seal his inevitable fate, leading to the chain of events that would change everything, may it be for better or for worse.

Yes, in his need for rest, he had forgotten his medicine.

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