What Once Was: part one


At the moment now, Bruce had returned with Xack to the Batcave before the police arrived at Wayne Industries; of course though, not before leaving the antidote to Joker's laughing gas. Bruce sighed heavily as he treated Xack's hands with some sort of healing solution that she had never seen before. She watched with curiosity when he rubbed her hands with a soft, cotton rag.

"Are -- um, are my hands going to be okay?..." Xack asked a bit nervously.

Bruce was silent for a few seconds. "Yes...you'll be fine."

Xack looked away but then she turned back to him with a fearful look on her. "Are you...mad at me?"

With Bruce exhaling roughly, she knew he was upset with her in some way. "No Xack, it's just...I want to find Joker before he can harm anyone else -- or even Eddie and yourself. I have a feeling you don't understand how dangerous he can be..." His eyes locked with her wide, tear-filled ones. He sighed once more and put the medicine away in his medical cabinets. "I just...don't understand how anyone could even like Joker, if your former relations with him are even that... I have a feeling..." He paused for a moment as if she was going to say something. Silence still lingered, so Bruce continued, "...that you are not going to share what you know about him any time soon..."

Xack shook her head and Bruce sighed depressingly. "Well...I think you should go back upstairs and rest. I'll walk you to your bedroom..."

As Bruce guided Xack out of the cave, the girl's mind couldn't help but think of Bruce's words. If only he knew what she went through. If only he knew what goes through her mind.

"If only... If only..."

Chapter Ten:

What Once Was

part one

I've always been depressed. For as long as I can remember. I remember mom telling me, "You've always been an unhappy baby...an unhappy child. You hardly smiled..." Even though I always look happy; smiling and acting so nice to everyone...but inside, I'm so depressed. I feel...no one's ever paid any attention to me. I've never gotten much attention; especially since Eddie was born. I don't blame him. I don't blame him at all. It makes me wonder...how Shaun felt about me when I was born...

Dad...dad's death felt so cold. Even though hardly any attention was brought on me, but at least mom was there. Mom...was there...was... One night -- well, it was around six, and mom wanted to get some milk since we were out of it; and water, and a newspaper to read...I'll never forget that... I remember her saying to me, "Don't worry. I'll be back before you know it." I had a bad feeling about her leaving. Who knew this bad feeling would come...true. I get a call on my cell phone about two hours later from the police...saying that mom's car slipped off the roads...and crashed into a tree. It was raining that night after all.

I was depressed enough as it is, but...both parents were the ones who kept me from breaking down; from going crazy -- going insane! I've tried to kill myself so many times. I was tired of living! I was tired of being depressed! Who wants to be miserable for the rest of their lives? From then on, I was sent to asylum, after asylum...after asylum -- why? Well, I was considered so 'extreme' to the doctors, that they just couldn't keep their eyes on me on the times I've tried to die! Why wouldn't they let me die?

Then...before I was sent to Arkham Asylum: the one asylum I never dreamed of ending up, I was sent to an asylum in New Jersey. Nothburn Asylum, was the name...

Xack sat on a couch in the recreational room of Nothburn Asylum. She drew in her drawing book and at some points, she would gaze up to watch the news on TV. Xack had first heard of Batman six months before her mom died. That is...this is when Batman became national. Shortly after the Caped Crusader became national, world-wide news, so did the villains; the media had more interest in the Joker though.

As Xack continued to draw in her drawing book, a nurse walked in and her utmost attention turned to the TV, which the media seemed to be talking about the Joker. The nurse sighed heavenly and clasped her hands together as she saw his image appear on the screen. The nurse appeared to be in her early twenties, with her long blonde hair almost touching her backside, and she even had a few black highlights as well.

"Isn't he fascinating?" The nurse asked in a somewhat dull voice. Even though she tried to sound cheerful as possible, but it just wasn't working. "The Joker has to be the most interest character I've ever seen!"

Xack erased something and shrugged slightly. "I don't know..." she barely got out. "He's from that...Arkham Asylum, right?"

The nurse nodded, "Yep, and someday, I hope to be a doctor and work in that place -- after all, that's why I took up this job in the first place: to be a doctor; a psychiatrist..."

"Everyone's only interested in Joker, because of the way he looks," Xack added to her statement, "I mean...I never seen a man having a permanent white face, and green hair, but...that's why news people are more in to him."

The nurse crossed her arms and leaned towards one side as she continued to gaze up at the TV. "Still...I think he's pretty awesome looking. Whoever is Joker's doctor, is a lucky one I think. What doctor wouldn't want to talk with the Joker? To learn his secrets...his life..."

Suddenly, both women saw a doctor enter the room, and this man had an irritable look to him as he eyed the blonde nurse. "Miss Quinzelle, you are supposed to deliver your round of medicines to the north wing; instead, I find you in here! You're never going to be a doctor if you keep slacking you know!"

The nurse rolled her eyes and put her arms down now, "It's just Harley, okay, and I'll get to that right now -- God! Why do you guys have to be such dull bums?" The doctor grunted as Harley stormed out of the recreational room angrily, and the irritable man followed after now. Now Xack was alone from the two.

Xack just starred blankly at the door for awhile, but then her eyes shifted back to the TV image of Joker. She watched the news camera zoom in on the Clown Prince as the police held him down in the stretcher that would take him back to Arkham Asylum. An idea had suddenly flashed through her mind, and thinking about it long enough, she decided to draw more rapidly than before.

I thought...Harley was sort of annoying. I know she always talks about being a psychiatrist and hopes to work with extreme patients like the Joker, but...I just have this feeling, that her 'obsession' like this, just might drive her to the point of insanity. Shoot -- I wouldn't be surprised if she ended up in an asylum one day...

I didn't stay at Nothburn Asylum that long...because I tried to cut myself allot of times. The doctors were just stressed on keeping their eyes on me. With decision among the doctors, they saw me as an 'extreme' person...so they sent me to the one place I never would of thought of ending up in my life: Arkham Asylum. I was very scared going, but at the same time, I wasn't. It was the strangest feeling to be this way. The orderly and nurses showed me my room, which was different than most rooms of asylums I've seen; I guess the word is...nicer.

As the nurses and orderly guided me down the dingy halls of Arkham, my head was full of questions -- mind-boggling with questions everything about this place...and its people.

"Has anyone...ever left this place?" Xack asked meekly to whoever would answer her; the orderly or the nurse.

The orderly man raised an eyebrow to this and slightly looked down on the darkly-dressed girl. "Do you mean...had any patients been cured and left, or escaped?..."

Xack gazed up at the orderly with wide eyes, "What do you mean 'escaped?' Have many...gotten away?"

The orderly thought on this and shrugged, "Well...usually Joker, Penguin...oh, and Mr. Freeze..."

Xack turned away for a moment, "I never thought of Penguin and Mr. Freeze to be...crazy. Is it just because of the way they look that doctors consider them...insane?"

Xack's spine tingled a bit as the nurse answered that, "We are not to discuss the nature of our patients. If your doctor wishes to do so, then ask him instead; otherwise, it is none of our business, just as it is none of yours..."

"Um..." Now Xack didn't know what to say. She thought the nurse had responded to her in a rather rude way. "Will I...ever come across the Joker? I hear from the news...that he is dangerously insane...to anyone's health..."

Both the orderly and the nurse quickly glanced at each other somewhat nervously. "Unlikely..." the nurse responded quietly. "The only time any of the patients see Joker is mainly the recreational room we have; there is also group therapy sessions...and that's all I can think of at the moment. Otherwise, you shouldn't worry Miss Hathaway. Chances are you won't meet him at all..." The nurse formed a little smile of reassurance to Xack, but no matter how warm the smiles are, the young girl would not feel comfortable here at any time.

When the workers reached Xack's room, they unlocked the door and showed her inside. "Your doctor is Mr. Bagley, and you'll have a session with him tomorrow after your free time at the recreational center, okay?" The nurse smiled sweetly once again, but as before, it wasn't comforting to Xack. The nurse and orderly bid their farewells and closed the cell door on her, and the girl felt -- as before in other asylums, insulted when she heard the lock click in.

Xack gazed around at her new surroundings, and as she continued to look things over, she missed her old homes, her mom and her dad's. She sat on the bed and sighed deeply with depression, then her attention turned to her suitcase that was mostly filled with clothes and her one drawing book. She went through her bag and got out the pad, and as another image came into her head, she opened up the book and began to draw in it again. The doctors, nurses, and even the orderly, kept her in that cell all night long, and partially the morning as well.

A few hours after the sun rising, Xack was disappointed when the orderly presented her with Cheerios as breakfast. She tried to tell them that she hated the cereal, but they wouldn't listen. Knowing this, just made the girl feel more depressed inside, and she couldn't help but feel that she'll be treated just like a regular, ignored outcast among the patients. "The doctors here are only going to pay more attention to the criminals..." Xack thought irritably, "After all...they're the ones that are more interesting than...the rest of us..."

Xack hated to be kept in a cell that long, but with so many patients in the asylum, she could understand why most of them had to be kept in their rooms. When the orderly finally unlocked her cell door, they announced that she was to be escorted to the recreational room with the rest of the patients.

"...because of the number of patients at the asylum, we'd broken down to which ones be let out at certain times," Explained an orderly to Xack as he walked right next to her. "If you have any problems with any of the patients in the room, make sure you tell the guards or your doctor about it. We can't do a thing; after all, we are just the orderly."

Xack's eyes widened as she saw the room. The recreational center had to be the largest room she ever seen! There were many TV's along the walls, and she could see that some of the patients were fighting over what channels they wanted to watch. She saw other patients at tables reading, coloring in books, or just chatting with their fellow friends. Unfortunately, the atmosphere of the room was anything but comforting though. Like the asylum itself, the recreational room was about as dingy as the hallways of the place. The walls were bricked and looked as if they needed to be scrubbed badly, and even the floors needed a good wax-down.

An orderly formed a wry smile as he handed Xack a large, hardcover book. "This is the Hobbit book that you requested, isn't it?" Xack merely nodded. "Okay...we're going to be leaving now, but remember: if you have any problems, just tell it to the guards in the room." She watched as the orderly man gestured to the whole room, and then he and some other orderly left her to stand there alone.

Xack slowly gazed around nervously for a place to sit; where she could be alone and no one to bother her. She felt relieved as she saw a lone couch in front of a television. She cautiously walked over to the couch and sat down gently. Just when Xack turned to watch the TV, she jumped slightly when she heard a woman patient giggle childishly.

Xack groaned and slightly tilted her head in the woman's direction. To Xack's dismay, this woman sat on a lounge chair that was about a couple feet from the couch. "What?..." Xack growled to the woman.

The woman, who had the strangest psychotic smile on her face, rasped, "I cut myself at night..." Then she held out her forearms, and Xack saw thick, white bandages wrapped around from her elbows, just past the wrists. "I like to see them bleed, but the mean people keep taking my knives, my razors...and my scissors away..."

Xack shifted around nervously and cringed with some disgust. "Um...that's nice..." she said with no interest in the matter whatsoever. She then turned her attention back to the book she was reading.

After a minute had passed by, the woman never took her blood-shot eyes off of Xack. "What's your name?..."

Xack sighed quietly before responding, "It's Xack..."

"Xack?" The woman wheezed, and she giggled oddly. "What a silly name for a girl..."

"Yeah..." Xack added sarcastically. "I know...Thanks for bringing that up..."

"No sympathy from me, girly." Xack frowned to the woman's statement. "My name is Alyssa by the way..."

Xack sighed once more and rolled her eyes at this Alyssa. "That's nice, but can I please read my book now? No offense, but I really don't like talking to people..."

Alyssa slouched in her chair and crossed her arms. "Fine...all I wanted was someone to talk too..."

Before Xack returned to her book once more, she mumbled a, "Whatever," to Alyssa, which the queer woman did not hear.

Then...silence; what Xack was hoping for this whole time. After all, the girl wanted nothing more then to be...alone. Although, the Alyssa sitting and pouting nearby did not help Xack feel more secluded.

Xack jumped slightly in her seat when she saw groups of the orderly entering the vicinity and circling around the room; securing the windows and making sure the rest of the patients were acting as calm as possible. She knew the patients must of known what was to come, for they were all clapping, jumping, and making abnormal sounds. Xack put her book down and gazed all around herself, feeling a bit astonished.

"Wh-what's going on?" Xack asked to whoever would answer her.

Xack grunted in annoyance when she heard Alyssa's wheezing giggles again. "The Joker is coming..."

"Huh?" Xack frantically contemplated. "The...Joker?...But...the nurses said that I wouldn't...huh?..." Alyssa laughed hysterically and clapped her hands strangely when she watched Xack shift around nervously on the couch.

"You're new here, right?" Alyssa asked curiously, and then she giggled. "Joker always loves new people..."

The moment of truth -- is that what they call it? It was for me... The Joker...I could feel it when he took his first step into the room. My heart turned to a rock, my head felt...lightheaded... I didn't dare to turn around and face him then. For me, less communication among these 'people', the better...yes. Less likely a chance that they'll be after you in the future. That's why I prefer to be alone.

When I had first seen the Joker, he was wearing an unusual costume. Similar to a straightjacket, but different. The sleeves of a spiraling purple...and long, navy-blue pants that almost dragged past his bare feet. His face seems ageless to me, and even the features, it's hard to tell of his age... I know he's a grown man, but still today, no one knows of his real age...as I said: ageless.

For me, I felt excited to see this Joker, but at the same time, I was terrified. He was like meeting a celebrity, but one that was actually a horror monster as well. I would of never dreamed of actually...'befriending' him in the future... At the time, I knew something like that would never happen...

With the orderly showing him roughly into the room, the Joker stretched out his arms and let out a relieved sigh. "Oh finally, I get to shed my outrageous joy and jokes to my folks! Ha, Ha, Hah!" Xack groaned tiredly and covered her ears when she heard the clown laugh heartily. He quickly scanned the large room so he would find something that would catch his eye, after all, he found Arkham Asylum to be rather boring after spending so much time here. When he saw some familiar orderly to taunt and tease, his eyes caught sight of someone of more...interest. A young, darkly-dressed girl sitting alone on the couch. His grin widened as he knew he found something fun to do.

"Ooooh...the Joker is coming this way!" Alyssa wheezed excitedly. "I think he notices you, new one!"

"Oh...joy..." Xack whispered sarcastically, and she held the book in her lap and tried as hard as she could to pay attention to the words rather than the approaching Clown Prince.

Alyssa sighed dreamily and waved courteously to Joker, but he had no intention of eyeing her. His eyes were still drawn to Arkham's new patient. He saw plenty of empty space on the couch so he sat down on the other end of it. Seeing that Xack was still trying to keep her intentness on the book, Joker decided to slide himself on the cushions, so that he was now so close to the girl, she could feel his heavy breathing on her skin. Xack took a quick glance at him, but turned away just as such and shuddered in revulsion at just how close he was.

"Ah...I see we have some new, fresh, 'mince' meat here, heh heh..." Joker rested an arm on top of the couch and continued to stare at Xack with growing curiosity. While he looked her over oddly, Xack tried to lean far to side as possible, and away from Joker. "So...what's a little girl like you, doing at an 'Arkham' like this?" He chuckled quietly and mischievously as he put an arm around Xack. Even Alyssa leaned forward in her chair as she was also curious to Xack's nature.

Unfortunately for the Joker, Xack remained silent. Joker rolled his eyes and hugged the girl closer, which Xack gasped to that. "I'll find out sooner or later, so you might as well tell me..." Xack turned and gazed into his red eyes, which he starred back at her hard.

Xack shuffled her feet around before she replied, "I -- um...I try to cut myself...so I would die..."

Joker scoffed and laughed, "That's it? They sent you to Arkham because of that little --"

"I've tried to do it so many times..." Xack added lowly, and now she glared at Joker. "Will you go away and leave me alone now?"

Joker released his arm from her but he still continued to gaze at her strangely. Xack wanted to return to her book, but with Joker practically drooling over her, she couldn't. Xack shot a dirty look at him. "What the hell's your problem?" She growled angrily.

The Joker covered his mouth as he began to cackle, "Don't know, but if you find out what it is, be sure to tell my doctors!" Xack covered her ears once more as he started to laugh hysterically; pounding the cushions and hugging his gut.

"Will you just get away from me?" Xack snapped at him, and now she surveyed the room for a guard to call over.

Joker saw the angry expression on Xack's face, and quickly quieted his laughs. When he was through, he sat up straight and put his arms comfortably behind his head. "So...what's your name?..." He asked softly.

Xack sat up as well and turned slightly to look at Joker, but as soon as she saw the usual sinister grin on his face, she immediately turned back. "I'm not telling..." she muttered ever so quietly. "The less you know, the better..."

Both Joker and Xack looked at Alyssa as she had her giggles again. "Her name is Xack," she replied. "Strange, isn't it?

"'Xack?'..." Joker scoffed and shifted a bit in place. "Why do you have a boy's name?" Now Xack growled with most annoyance when his psychotic laughter was brought out again. "You are a girl, aren't you?"

Xack crossed her arms, but without looking at him, she answered bitterly, "Yes, I'm a girl -- God! Will you leave me alone now?"

Joker placed a hand to his chin as he looked her over more slowly this time. "Hmm...I hope you're a girl, for you sure do have the body of one! HAH! HAHAHAAH!"

"I hate when people are crude!" Xack yelled at him, and then she bolted up from the couch and headed straight for the nearest guard.

The guard crossed his arms and looked down on the girl with a serious expression. "Yes...what is it?" He asked gruffly to Xack.

Xack pointed to Joker, "He won't...leave me alone... That Joker..." She rasped, and now she cringed and clutched her head tightly with her hands. "Make him go away!" She now shrieked.

The guard took a few steps towards the Joker. He grunted and tapped a club in the palm of his hand. "Joker...how many times do we have to warn you about bothering the newcomers?" He asked tiredly to Joker, and then he pointed to Xack. "Especially with this one; we gave orders -- even to you, to not bother her!" Some of the other guards joined the one who spoke.

Joker shrugged and slouched on the couch, "Give me a break here. I can't help it if this little girly is such a cry baby..." he scoffed and now glared at Xack angrily. "You're no fun!" He whined to her.

The guard turned back to Xack, but by the look on her face, she dearly wanted Joker to leave the room. "Alright Joker..." stated one of the guards, and a few of them approached the clown somewhat cautiously. "You need a timeout in your cell for awhile, and think about what you did." Without warning, the guards tightly grasped Joker's arms and started to haul him out of the recreational center.

With Xack watching in some relief, Joker barely turned to her to say somewhat depressingly, "You're definitely no fun..." Xack sighed sadly, not knowing to feel a bit sorry for Joker, or to feel more remorse for herself.

That night...I heard Joker hollering, crying, and screaming sounds that no one could make out. I don't know why he was doing this. Was it because of me? I don't know, and I never want to ask him, and I never did.

After our incident, Joker and I didn't speak to each other anymore. Then again, he constantly escapes from Arkham so often, that it made me wonder why the people here admire him so much. Do you want to know something? Secretly...in some odd way, I...admire Joker too. I just...don't get it. How can a man that withstand such a change to himself...go on living? What motivation keeps him going? Just how does Joker do it? Why can't I have that same motivation to wanting me keep alive and well?

Well...I can't say we never spoke again, we did have the same group therapy sessions and the free time at the recreational center. Joker would sometimes stick his tongue at me, or even make mean expression in my direction. Other then that, neither of us spoken since that time. It became weeks now...and we still haven't spoken then.

During weeks, my growing hunger to kill myself once more had risen. Fooling the doctors that I didn't want to die anymore was a perfect solution to somehow escape and find a secret place to cut myself. All I want to do...is see that blood gush out...and my last breath escape my throat. Hopefully...I will leave my old, damn life behind me...

Those doctors...they don't care about me. They act like they do, but everyone knows they really don't. Acting like they care...they think people would not want to be crazy anymore. Doctors think they know someone's minds so well, but the truth is, they don't... No one -- I mean no one, will understand why people do what they do. Only the mind of the beholder knows such answers: yourself.

Those weeks later, and back in the recreational center, Xack quietly sat on her usual couch. With her drawing, she drew silently and without anyone around her. Or so, this is what she thought, but to her dismay, her secluded time alone was interrupted by the Joker, who she was actually surprised to see coming over. After all, it's been so long now since he had even been close to her.

Joker sighed tiredly and plopped down into the lounge chair near Xack. He gazed all around himself before he stared at Xack irritably. "I'm only talking to you now because I have nothing to do here..." Joker groaned, and he slouched more in his seat.

Xack turned to him slightly and rolled her eyes at him by the way he was acting. "You're bored now, but I know you'll escape this place again soon; you always do, so please don't moan and groan about it." She blinked at Joker, but then she returned to drawing in her sketchpad.

Joker looked at Xack, and he opened his mouth to say something, but thinking about it, he decided not to. Instead, his attention turned to the TV above, and his face furrowed when the news was reporting about the Batman seen in some districts around town. "Agh...Batman..." he growled lowly, and he pounded a fist into the arm rests. Xack's expression remained blank though. "Why can't Batman ever be foiled?" Joker whined, and he turned to Xack for a reply, or even a comment. Nothing came out of her mouth though, and her focus remained on her drawing.

Joker became a bit annoyed by this. "What are you drawing anyways?" He wondered, and now he sat on the same couch as Xack. The girl gasped as he grabbed the drawing pad, and was now trying to pry it from her.

"Don't! I don't want you to see!" Xack pleaded loudly. "Leave me alone! Don't see what I'm drawing!"

"Saying that...," the Joker grinned mischievously . "I think I'll continue to defile you, ha ha!" His hands began to shake when he pulled more forcefully on the sketchbook. Xack loved her art more than anything now, and she did not want them to get torn apart by the clown; she gave in, and let him have the book.

Joker squealed with glee as he held it in his hands. "Now...lets see what I've got..." Joker laughed manically as he opened up the sketchbook, his face suddenly turned astonished. His fingers dug into the paper at what she seen her drew: him. It was him -- Joker. He couldn't believe it. Joker never would of imagined that somehow had sparked an interest in him. The only 'interest' that came out of him was a story for the reporters to tell. Other then that, no other person took the time to get the real scoop out of him.

Joker turned a few pages; still him, but in different poses, such as being on top of buildings, and even standing side-by-side with Batman. While the clown slowly and cautiously turned the pages, Xack cowered and clutched her head with shaky hands; not knowing what to think about this awkward situation. Somehow, she just couldn't look at him, but turn away in shame oddly.

"You...you drew me?" Joker asked meekly and full of shock. He stopped on one page, where the girl had drawn him sitting inside his cell. His sleeves were long and hands were placed on his lap as he starred at the viewer. Joker was perplexed at how Xack could draw him so well; and with pencils to boot! "Why...draw me?"

While the clown was still very bewildered, Xack rudely snatched her drawing pad back from him. She held it close to her before she answered quietly, feeling somewhat embarrassed to even say why, "I...I...think you are interesting looking..." Xack now looked at Joker and saw him blink, and having a blank expression on his face. Joker didn't know if he should feel honored, or to just beat on the girl for the hell of it. "I saw you...on TV, and...I drew you. After all..." She opened up her book and pointed to a picture of him in his purple tailcoat jacket. "It's not everyday I see someone who is permanently a clown..."

Joker opened his mouth but no words came out; he didn't know what to say. "So you...really think I'm 'interesting' to you?" Joker stressed unbelievably, and he placed his hands roughly on his legs.

Xack shrugged, "In a way, yes, or else I wouldn't have drawn you... Like I said: I draw what I find to be interesting or cool. Before, I just drew a bunch of fairies and other crap, but when I saw you...I just had to draw you." Joker smiled at her, and it wasn't a smile of mischief or devilry, it was a smile of content. "So...um -- if I may ask, but what do you find...interesting?..." She asked him somewhat cautiously, for she did not know if Joker would get angry for her asking questions.

Joker leaned back on the couch and sighed; thinking since he found everything to be fascinating. "Art of course," he answered bluntly. "I thought you watched the news, you should of known that one. I find all art to catch my eye...especially yours at the moment..." he grinned as his eyes gazed at Xack's drawing book. With that, his grin faded quickly as he now saw a small, folded piece of paper sticking out at the end of the book. "What is that?" He wondered dully, pointing to the nearly visible paper. "A drawing of me gone wrong?" He chuckled teasingly.

Just as Joker was about to take out this piece of paper, Xack swiftly held the drawing book high above, and away from the clown. "It's not a drawing," Xack replied sternly. "It's...a...poem I wrote..." her voice got quieter when she added, "I don't want anyone to read it...yet..." She hugged the drawing book tighter in her arms and slightly turned away from him. With Joker's nosy behavior, he desperately wanted to see what kind of poem she was hiding, but knew this wouldn't be a good chance to snatch it from her. Just a bit while longer...he thought in his mind.

"Oh well then..." Joker said with a hint of feign disappointment in his tone, he then crossed his leg and started to flex his fingers. "But you will read it to me sometime -- soon, won't you?..." He grinned childishly at Xack, and the girl couldn't help but get the feeling that he was slowly edging his hand towards her drawing book.

"Um..." Xack blinked slowly. "Maybe..."

"So..." Began Joker, trying to change the subject. "How can I make you smile?"

Xack's eyes widened, and the expression on her face looked confused. "What?"

Joker's lips curled and he shrugged a bit. "It's just that I never seen you smile ever since you been here, dearie. So...what does make you smile? I mean, look at me! Almost everything puts a smile on my face...everything except for Batman of course..." He growled for the last part, but that quickly faded when he gazed back at Xack.

Xack looked down on her feet sadly. "Nothing...makes me happy anymore. I was never a happy child...and now...I...I'm never gonna be happy." She now turned to look at Joker once more, "I know what you're thinking, and it's not going to work, so don't even try to make me laugh by your jokes or your poses. It's not going to work..." Xack got up and starred down on Joker one last time. "No matter what...I'm never going to be happy. I'm never going to smile again..." Joker watched glumly as Xack walked up to one of the orderly men in the room and asked to be returned to her cell.

When Joker was sure Xack wasn't in the room anymore, the he snickered quietly into his hands. His eyes lit up when he saw the little folded piece of paper he secretly, and very carefully took from Xack's drawing book while she wasn't aware of him for a brief moment...whenever that was. "Time to see what she's been hiding from me..." he said somewhat boldly as he quickly unfolded the paper.

Straightening it out first to read better, the Joker scanned over the contents of the paper...and didn't like at all as to what he saw. Not at all indeed. His eyes widened and even the smile faded to that of a shocked person. What Joker read was a poem alright, but a most disturbing piece from the girl...

Cut the wrists to make me bleed.

Blood flowing from veins is what I need.

Cut the wrists to make pain no more.

Soon death is all I live for.

Cut the wrists to make me glad.

I will no longer be happy nor sad.

Cut the wrists to see the blood;

seeing it run like the thin mud.

Cut the wrists to bring the darkness.

To end my world of complete madness.

Cut the wrists to end the depression.

No more doctors and their meaningless sessions.

And now, to you, I say goodbye,

For it's time I cut my wrists and die.

Before Joker could start to think about all this, there was a small side note by the poem: It was never you doctors to drive me to this; it's always been me. You should of known I was never happy. You should of paid more attention to me. Instead, all your curiosities were drawn to Joker, Mr. Freeze, and the likes. By the time you read this, you should of seen that my wrists have been cut, and the blood pooled around me. Please tell both Shaun and Eddie...that I love them, even though they drove me crazy all the time.

The Joker quietly and carefully tore the poem up into little, tiny shreds, so that no one would be able to decipher it.

Still perplexed by the poem, Joker just sat their with a blank expression on his face. His lack of emotions are trying to adapt to this morbid problem, but no matter how hard he tries to care, his body just couldn't care less. Even so, something deep down inside of him...just didn't want to see her go through with it.

What if an orderly, a doctor, or anyone caught her in the act? That would mean...no more drawings of himself, no more talking about what interests them, no more of an attempt to make the girl smile, laugh, and no more...her. Xack would most likely be placed in solitary confinement, or even worse: move to another asylum...if someone would take her again. Joker knew this wasn't just any old poem, it was something that she was planning to do to herself; to cut herself -- to try and kill herself again, and very soon by the looks of it.

"Why?" Joker whined in his sadistic mind of his. "Why, when I find something I actually like...be taken away from me like that?"

Joker leaned back in the couch and crossed his arms; thinking hard on what to do.

I did it! I-I actually got a 'thing' to cut myself with! What I've been waiting for so long to get again! I fooled those doctors. Fooled them, I tell you! Even I can fake that I am sane again! I took some small scissors from Dr. Bagley's office while he wasn't looking one day. But I...I won't tell how I actually did it. I will never tell you!

I took apart the scissors quickly inside my cell...and now I have a razor of sorts. should I cut myself then? No...not in my cell. Usually some cells have cameras in them. Does mine have one? Breaking my privacy...is something I don't like at all. No matter though... I would wait till I have my recreational time again. I will sneak out, and hide in the shadows where no cameras can see me! I am a good hider of such things.

So...the very next day after I got the scissors, I very quietly and carefully snuck out of the recreational room. I knew I had better find a place to hide or someone, or something would find me out! That's all I need: to be transferred to solitary confinement...or worse -- which...I really don't know what would be worse than that.

Then...I found a small, and very shadowy alcove that had no cameras around it. I was glad that even security cameras have their blind spots. I plopped down to the ground and took out that scissor blade, and I breathed out heavily. This is it...isn't it? Is this what goes through the mind of people who are severely depressed? To end their lives this way...as the only way to salvation -- peace?

I held that blade in my hand, thinking if I should really go through with it. Now though, I knew this was my only opportunity to do this to myself...or else I would have a chance no more. With the drawing book on my bed with the poem, and my note. The doctors will know it was not their fault to bring me to this. So...I lightly placed my fingers on the blade, and raising it slightly; hovering above the wrist. I took my last long breath, and just when I was going to quickly slice my veins --

Someone snatched up my wrist in a definite heartbeat. I turned my head to see another figure in the shadows. Is it an orderly? No, it was --

"Joker!" Xack gasped with a harsh tingling feeling going down her spine.

Xack couldn't believe that Joker would know where to find her. Just how did he do it? Did he already know she was going to do this to herself? Why would he stop her anyways?

Xack struggled a little against the clown's tight grasp, but she knew he was not going to let her hand go.

Joker shifted his eyes to her legs, and then back to her face. His lips widened a bit into a small grin. "You're shaving in the wrong place, dearie. Your legs are down there." He gave out a few chuckles at the end, but even though his voice was somewhat sarcastic, Xack could hear a hint of sternness in his tone.

"Um..." Xack looked around herself, but her eyes fell upon Joker again. She shook her wrist once more, but Joker was not going to let up anytime soon. "Will you please..." she wheezed quietly, "Let go of my hand..."

Joker's grin grew to that devilish smile of his. With his other hand, he very gently placed a finger on the blade and trailed it down to the palm of hers. Thinking that she might pull something though, Joker grabbed her other hand, and now the girl's hands were held in his. "What were you going to do with that blade?" Joker asked lowly, and now he took up the scissor blade in his hand.

Xack shook her hands violently so she could grab what was hers. "Why do you care?" She hissed at him, and her eyes gave Joker a most threatening stare. "Let go of my hands, and give me back my blade." When she growled under her breath, Joker's skin crawled; hearing this from the girl.

Even though he was stunned by her behavior, the Joker managed to keep that nerve-breaking smile on his face as he asked again, "What were you going to do with that blade?" By the stress of his voice, Xack knew he wasn't kidding around. Even though he knew what she was going to do with the sharp object, he wanted to hear the answer from her.

"Isn't it obvious?" Xack finally answered rudely, "I'm going to cut myself, so that I can finally die and not be depressed anymore -- there, you got your answer, now give that blade back to me!" Her voice rose a bit, and she didn't want to raise it anymore than that. She did not want anyone else to hear her and Joker talking.

"Hah, you think you have problems?" Joker shrugged his shoulders and, letting go one of her hands, he gestured to his face, "At least your face is peach!" Thinking for a second, he replied to his statement, "Then again, ever since my change, I've been leading a new life. Much more fun and exciting than my dull, old one..."

Xack looked confused. "And...your problems have to do with mine...how?"

"Don't you see?" Joker exaggerated, "I don't want you to die." Xack blinked to this. "Ever since...your drawings of myself, you're actually worth staying at Arkham!"

Xack rolled her eyes at him, "So you're saying: I shouldn't die so I can draw more pictures of you? Please -- you're not worth it."

"It's not just the pictures..." Joker mumbled, and his voice quieted down; feeling somewhat embarrassed to say what he really wanted to get out. "You're the first crazie to actually interest me. Batman is no fun to talk with, you know; neither are those pesky detectives, the police, and not even the flunkies here!" Xack gave out a soft yelp when Joker tightened his grip on her hand. "When I thought you're actually fun to talk with, you decide to commit death! What's up with that now?"

Xack turned away from Joker. She was now thinking hard on herself. "Heck," Joker added sarcastically, "When I had that chemical bath, I could of 'pushed up daisies' then, but did I? No...I didn't, for I knew I can start my life a whole new -- uh, clown..." Xack leaned back as he leaned towards her. "How about you?..."

Wow...was the first word that came into Xack's darkened mind as she heard Joker speak these words. In all her life, this was probably the best thing said to her on why she shouldn't give up on life. In Joker's case though, it's to live a new life after a dramatic change. Would it be the same for her? Xack thought to herself...yes, it would.

As Joker loosened his grip on her hand, Xack slowly stood up, and he followed along. "I...I can't believe you said that..." She barely squeaked. "I didn't know...you could 'speak' like that..."

Joker scoffed and tucked away the blade in his baggy pants. "I may be an extreme clown to everyone, but I'm not stupid, you know. How else do I make my laughing gas, or my razor playing cards, hmm?"

Xack muttered a few things, but Joker couldn't understand what it was. Joker looked around for anyone nearby, and then he stepped out of the shadowy alcove. "Well...I'll see you at the next happy, therapy session then...right?" Joker's eyes widened as he waited for Xack to answer. All the girl did was give a small head nod; gesturing for a 'yes'. While gritting his teeth, Joker gave out a harsh giggle. "Till then Xackie girl: TTFN -- ta ta for now!"

Xack then watched Joker take off down the narrow halls of the asylum. She didn't know if he was planning an escape or even attempting to escape this place at the moment; she didn't care. Right now, all her thoughts were drawn to how she could get back to the recreational room without getting in trouble. Even though she most likely would be caught, at least she could give the excuse that she just wanted to be alone in her thoughts without anyone around to disrupt her.

Now Xack stepped out of the alcove and walked down the halls to the recreational room once more, with the thoughts of Joker going through her head. Even though she was still severely depressed with her life, she couldn't help but smile inside.

Do I say, that the Joker saved me? He caught me right before I was going to slice my vein, and he even gave me reasons why I shouldn't die. Did that mean he saved me? It's hard to believe that someone like him would -- uh, care...if he even does care, I don't know. I thought he was the kind of person who would enjoy a spewing of blood everywhere, and a body to go with it. Was I...wrong about him? Is everyone wrong about him? He's a very unpredictable being...I guess his reasons will always be unknown.

For what he did for me, I like him more then ever before. I feel now...that things are going to change dramatically for me...

I have a feeling...that things will be a lot different for me from now on.

Yes...the Joker...did...save me...

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