“Believe me, I know.” Strange pointed to another picture prominently on display in his office. That was another young man, probably the most attractive of the three children, but he didn’t appear in any other photos. “I’ve already had one taken from me.” He didn’t mean by the department of social services, either.
Rupert Thorne was to blame. Rupert Thorne was going to rot inside Arkham City and learn what it was like to lose everything. If nothing good ever came from Arkham City again, ever, then at least Professor Strange could take solace in knowing that bloated bastard would meet a tragic fate inside the facility.
Manipulator’s exhaustion from overexertion hadn’t gone unnoticed, either. Even after being thrown back, Strange intended on struggling and making this difficult for him every step of the way. Then came the chase. ‘I’m going after you, you little cad,’ he thought, easing himself up to his feet. In seconds, he was sprinting.
"I extend my sympathy to all family and friends, excluding you." Manipulator didn’t look over his shoulder as he spoke, bee-lining straight for the door. "Because obviously you endangered him by making yourself a beacon— and because I haven’t yet forgiven you for wanting to use a taser on me. How can you have children and still be that much of a jerk to youngins’?"
He slowed as he approached the door, unconcerned, until he realized Strange was coming up from behind. Momentarily fighting with the door-handle to get it open, he zipped out on the toes of his boots and sprinted towards the fallen body of Sigmund.
"Is this really necessary?" he called over his shoulder, exasperatedly raising his hands in the air as he ran. "I have longer legs than you, Hugo. You’re not going to get to me in time."
The moment he reached Sigmund, he dropped to his knees and dove into his pockets for a mobile.
Hugo heard him and the laughter began again. “Do you think you’re the only one who watches films like that?” His late son loved those kinds of movies and often rented them for the apartment. “I keep a clean office.” There shouldn’t be anything incriminating for him at the asylum.
But the moment Manipulator made his way toward the desk, the doctor tensed up. It wasn’t anything that could ruin his career, but it would be too much information for somebody like this. He stepped closer, forcing himself to fight back. Body language said it all: whatever was in that drawer, he didn’t want anyone else to see.
The last thing he needed was some criminal knowing what his daughter and remaining son looked like.
Manipulator observed the tense body language and responded predictably, reaching for the desk in search of the source of Hugo’s distress. He came across it rather quickly, having already emptied the drawers onto the carpet, and pulled out a couple of innocuous looking photos. Nothing incriminating, just a picture of a girl and boy. Family, most likely, as Hugo didn’t seem the type to care for people outside his bloodline.
"You enemies could do quite a lot with this," he murmured with a forced smile, voice blatantly strained. He used his remaining strength to throw Hugo back against the wall, blinking away sweat as he did so. This was the first time he had used— or ever needed to use his abilities so consistently, and it was exhausting. He felt as if he’d done a nine hour shift at Walmart.
Though the photos weren’t ideal, they would have to do. He didn’t have the time to look for anything better.
Releasing Hugo, he pocked the photos and leapt over the desk to start a run for the exit. All he needed was a mobile, and someone Jitter’s age ought to have a mobile, and he could send the photos to his own phone.
This wasn’t going to be so bad. In fact, the smirk hadn’t gone away, even as Strange found himself shoved to the floor. A low and unwelcome chuckle left his throat, soon growing into a laugh. The laugh threatened to turn into a roar, but he halted it before it got that far.
“By all means, help yourself.” His laughter masked something far worse: knowledge that there wasn’t a damned thing in his office that could cause problems for him…save maybe one thing. It wasn’t anything illegal, either. Just really, really embarrassing.
Manipulator turned up papers, emptied the content of drawers onto the floor, felt across the walls for any abnormalities, all the while ignoring Hugo’s laughter. If there was anything, anything at all, he would find it. In the case that nothing came up, there were plenty of other places he could look, and as a bonus, he had the warden of the asylum to direct his search. With a little…persuasion, he was sure Hugo would stop causing him trouble. Even the good guys had to use force sometimes, right? Manipulator wasn’t exactly a good guy, but he thought himself in the grey enough for that to apply.
Papers and stationary crunched underfoot as he poked about the office. “Why couldn’t you be as incompetent as the movie villains?” he muttered, primarily to himself, but probably loud enough for Hugo to hear.
“I’m not most people,” the psychiatrist insisted, rolling up his sleeve to show just what he was packing. This was a man who worked out five times a week, training his body to its peak. He’d been an awkward, bowlegged, weakling of a child with poor vision, messy hair, and a short stature. By college, he changed that.
It was easy to fake frailty with turtlenecks and lab coats covering that body of his, but that was fraud. Hugo Strange was a very built man underneath it all, carrying far more strength than anyone expected.
Sigmund kept giving Hugo apologetic looks, but Strange wasn’t about to have any of that. He could tell the Manipulator was having a tougher time handling him with less fabric on his body. If he were to pull an Incredible Hulk and rip the shirt in two, what then? That was feasible.
The comment about Mexican prisons struck him as amusing and before he could stop himself, he’d smirked.
The smirk was a nice change of pace, really. He’d been getting tired of viewing a scowl every time he looked at Hugo. “Ah, there we go! Given enough time, I could endear myself to anyone,” he said wryly, placing a hand to his heart in a show of pride. “I knew there was a sense of humour beneath that straight-man façade.”
And they were at the office. He dropped his playful manner in favour of cautiously making his way inside, forcing Hugo in after him. He needed to find blackmail material quickly, as he was sure this was one of the first rooms the police would surround— it probably didn’t help that he’d left Jitter’s unconscious body a little ways out, either.
He looked to Hugo. “I’m going to need a few minutes to look around, so feel free to sit yourself somewhere while you wait.” With that, he gave a flick, to send Hugo sprawling to the floor, and jotted off towards the desk.
Sigmund was out like a light and flopped like a rag doll the moment his head met with impact. Manipulator was right. He wasn’t a bad kid, but he really needed to work on his resolve. Somebody like that didn’t have what was necessary to handle the inmates here.
Then again, Hugo Strange hadn’t anticipated an inmate like the ones he’d dealt with in Belle Reve. Gotham wasn’t a metahuman capital compared to places like Metropolis. Very well. He would comply where it wouldn’t make much difference and defy if it would be a great risk to the asylum.
It left him wondering why Manipulator wanted his coat in particular and not Sigmund’s. The doctor slid it away from the black turtleneck sweater he wore underneath…and intentionally ripped it in half.
Manipulator minutely flinched at the riiip of fabric. It was useless, now, with its hems irrevocably frayed. He stared at the ruined article of clothing as if he had never witnesses ripped fabric before. “Oh, well. Uhm.” His eyes crinkled slightly as he glanced Hugo over. “You know, most people would have had trouble doing that. Ripping fabric designed to abide by the set safety standards of this place requires a pretty impressive degree of physical strength.”
He decided to remove the coat from Sigmund instead. It was annoying, having to actually do something physical beyond waving his hand, but the coat would come in handy later.
"I don’t think Jeremiah ever bothered to work out. But you are men of different motivations, and his never really required a lot of physical exertion."
He started to pull Hugo along again, but was evidently having a harder time without the thick fabric of the coat to manipulate. They weren’t far off from the entrance to Hugo’s office, though, so it didn’t much matter.
"Wouldn’t it be a miracle if Arkham had a sane warden running it, one of these day? Hah. I’d rather spend a month in a Mexican prison than a day here.”
Apparently he was feeling talkative, because he continued.
"And those Mexican prisons are horrendous, let me tell you. One guy had his colon burned by hot chilli peppers, and you really don’t want to know how that happened. Poor fellow never tried to smuggle drugs again, however."
Sigmund kept offering apologetic glances to Strange, not that it was going to do him a lick of good. The doctor already made his mind up that, after today, the intern would no longer be working for the asylum. That much was final. “It’s it’s it’s at the e-end of the w-w-w-wing,” he stammered.
Hugo grimaced again, fighting with all the force his body could allow. “You are underestimating the importance of self control,” he snapped back. If the question was if lack of control in a situation was enough to get him riled up and furious, then yes. Manipulator was indeed correct. As soon as he got out, he intended on placing a call directly to Belle Reve to deal with this one.
This wasn’t a case for Arkham. This was a case for Belle Reve and he knew it.
"You don’t appear to have a lot of it," Manipulator said, ignoring Sigmund, for the most part. With an apologetic arch of his brows, he turned on the whimpering intern, and proceeded to slam him, head first, into a wall. The force wouldn’t crack his skull, but there was the potential for a concussion.
That done, he released his grip on the body and allowed it to sink to the floor. “Sorry about that. Your intern isn’t a bad kid— cowardly, but hardly deserving of head trauma.”
Manipulator jerked a hand towards the far end of the wing. “By the way, I’ll need your lab coat in a little while. You probably don’t want me to take it off for you, so I advise taking it off yourself, in a minute. Mildly less humiliating, that way.”
So I’ve heard! I think. Well, you’ve said something similar before, at least.
*looks over page* What, a harem? I don't think so. Try and put me there, and i'll put you in a straight jacket.
Membership isn’t optional. It’s mandatory.
Strange glared blurry daggers and decided to be as uncooperative as his restraints would allow. ‘Note to self,’ he thought. ‘Metahumans are a different threat entirely, as we already knew. For all the money we’ve spent toward designing and maintaining Arkham City for Gotham’s criminal masterminds, a similar internment camp model should be designed to accommodate the unruly and limitless, like this peon.’
And yet he wanted to make one. Yet, he wanted to design one and watch it grow, all the while thinking itself to be as natural and normal as any other human being on the planet. It wouldn’t feel that way for long. “I fail to understand what you’re getting out of this aside from something as simple as bragging rights. What are you gaining?” Aside from added years to his prison sentence, that was.
Sigmund twitched again, pleading and babbling incoherently as he moved along compliantly. Sure, Hugo intended on making this difficult, but not the intern. If he obeyed, he’d be fine! Right? Right?!
"You underestimate the appeal of bragging rights." Manipulator went in the direction Jitters led them, eyeing any nearby exits and entrances for activity. He could deflect bullets and tranqs, to some degree, but he’d much prefer not to try his chances.
"You know, Strange, there’s a point at which strength of character becomes foolhardiness. You have a potentially violent inmate on your hands, and I can feel you actively resisting." He didn’t look at Hugo as he spoke, glancing instead to a door they were approaching. "Does having some sense of control over this situation mean so much to you that you would risk your life for it?"
His steps slowed as they entered a new part of the asylum, and he warily shifted closer to Hugo, just in case he would soon be in need of a meat-shield. He didn’t intend for Hugo to die, of course, but it was unlikely any lingering guards would shoot at the warden of the asylum.
His attention was momentarily diverted to Jitters, “Do we have much further to walk?”
Manip is beloved charactor :)
I really don’t know what I did to deserve such generosity—
Oh, who am I kidding. I know what I did.
I gloriously existed.