Obsession

The Sound of Goodbye

While Bruce assumed that both Xack and Eddie were asleep, he sat in one of the many rooms of Wayne manor, but this room had a particularly comfortable atmosphere. A fireplace along the wall brought light to the room, as with the relaxing temperature. What made Bruce love this room the most, is that it had a very large painting of his deceased parents, which the two held hands lovingly. Bruce couldn't help but look to his feet in morose as a small, single tear trailed down his face. In his heart, he could not help but push the feeling that the death of his parents...was his fault. Could he have done something to prevent them from murder?

After a few moments went by, Bruce shook this thought from his head. He knew dwelling on it would probably drive him to madness.

Bruce shifted around in the rather extravagant lounge chair, as he folded his hands and leaned forward slightly. Now his mind played back to the two children, Xack and Eddie; wondering why Joker would want the both of them, and more importantly: when did he plan on taking them? Then again, he knew Eddie wasn't the main concern to Joker, it's Xack that the crazy crime clown wanted more. What would Joker want with a young girl like Xack? Now thinking about this...only brought chills through Bruce's spine.

Suddenly, Bruce jumped as he heard something fall to the floor from above. It came from...one of the children's bedrooms... Bruce snapped back to reality and bolted from his chair quickly to investigate upstairs. God, I hope no one is hurt...

Bruce hurriedly went up many flights of stairs until he came to the top floor at which the children's rooms are. First he checked up on Eddie's room, and as he opened up the door, he saw the little child sleeping soundly in the bed. Then that meant...the sound came from Xack's bedroom. Closing the door and just as hastily to open Xack's from across, as soon as he threw open the door, he scanned the darkly-lit room until he could find the problem. He felt relieved as he saw Xack sitting in a corner of her room, drawing in her book as usual.

"What was...that noise?..." Bruce asked a bit cautiously as he continued to survey the room for the cause.

Without looking up, Xack rolled her eyes and replied sarcastically, "Don't you ever knock before entering someone's room?" She sighed tiredly. "I...tripped off the bed as I...was going to sit here on the floor..." By the tone of her voice, she sounded somewhat embarrassed the incident happened.

Bruce raised an eyebrow to this. Xack scoffed and looked up at him irritably, "Didn't I tell you that I can't see in the dark? For me, it's like closing your eyes and trying to find your way around." Bruce couldn't help but let out a slight chuckle when hearing this.

"Are you okay?" He asked with concern, but could see that Xack wasn't in any pain.

Xack felt around her feet and ankles but shook her head, "No, I'm not hurt..." She then turned back to her drawing book and added quietly, "Thanks for asking."

Bruce smiled and decided to sit next to her on the floor. As before, Xack hid the book from his sight. "Are you ever going to show me what you draw in there?" He asked curiously.

Xack shrugged, "I don't know...it's, kind of embarrassing to show you what I draw..."

Bruce... "Before...you finally started to call me by my first name." Bruce cracked a smile on the edge of his lips. "Why is that?"

Xack gave a slight chuckle of embarrassment. "I, um...I guess...I started to feel more comfortable with you around..." Bruce smiled at her happily. "I called you by...your last name, because I wasn't very fond of you then. Now though...it's different..."

The two sat together silently, but then he stood up and walked towards the bedroom door. "I, um..." He scratched his head as he thought of the right words to say. "I...bought you a present the other day--"

"A present?" Xack now stopped her drawing and approached Bruce like a child receiving gifts on Christmas. "What is it? What is it?" Bruce couldn't help but smirk at the girl's odd behavior.

Bruce chuckled lightly, "I...ordered it and won't be here until tomorrow afternoon..." Xack's smile quickly faded to a sadden look. "I'll tell you what: since I have a dinner with Vicki tomorrow night, when I come home, I'll give you the gift then." Xack's smile pleaded as she heard this. "But, promise you'll show me what you've been drawing. I'm just curious as to what your artwork looks like."

Xack thought for a moment but nodded her head. "Alright."

Bruce then left her room, but not before adding, "Goodnight, Xack."

The man smiled as he heard the girl whisper, "Goodnight, Bruce..."

"It's...It's finally ready!" The Joker squealed ever so loudly as he watched an extremely large vat begin to sizzle and bubble up a horrendous looking liquid. He looked over his shoulder and grinned maliciously to Punch and Judy. "Okeydokey, my two goonies..." His voice suddenly turned sinister, "Bring out our first guinea pig..."

Joker clapped his hands excitedly as he watched Punch and Judy disappear into the shadows, but a minute later, they came back with a shrieking young woman. Crying for help and pleading to be let go.

As Punch and Judy brought this beauty over to the clown prince, Joker chuckled sadistically as he ran a finger over the young woman's cheek and under her chin. "Aaaah...humans and their weeping. Why do you people have no humor in you?" Joker gazed back at the vat and then to the woman, who's eyes got wide with fear as the clown narrowed his eyes menacing to hers. "Don't worry missy, I'll turn that frown upside-down..."

Joker gestured for the two henchmen to bring the woman to the bubbling vat, and as he heard her scream for mercy, the clown giggled uncontrollably through clenched teeth. "This is so perfect! Now...all I need is my Xackie..."

The next night, as Bruce is getting ready for his date, Xack sat on her bed and began racking her brain as she flipped through the pages of her drawing book carefully.

Unlike most girls Xack knew and saw, she loved to wear her pajamas baggy, and nothing on them indicated any signs of 'girliness'. Wearing a black t-shirt with a small flame design, her long, pajama pants were made of all flames, which made the whole attire match. Bruce was kind enough to give her one of his robes, but Xack was dismayed to see it was too big and too long for her, and that it was green. Xack's favorite color is green, but it just didn't match her pajamas. Still, it was better than no robe to keep her warm.

As Xack continued to look through her drawing book, her eyes grew wide as she saw a photo fall through from in between the pages and land by her feet. She took up the photo and examined it carefully.

"The chemicals...the people... Is it...is it because he's using the drawing I made for him?" Xack breathed out and rested her head on her hands as she tried to figure this out. "If Joker is following my drawing...then that means..." She turned her head and looked back at her bedroom door. "...Then he is at the carnival...he must be."

Xack gasped and shot right up from the desk with her drawing book and photo in place. She rushed through hallways, down many stairs until she reached the front entrance of the manor. The girl watched as Bruce was prepping himself up before leaving to go pick up Vicki. Alfred was there as well and making sure Bruce was prepared for the date.

"Bruce! Bruce!" Xack cried as she ran up to the tall man. "I need to tell you something! I need...to show you something!..."

"You're going to be late to the dinner, Sir," Alfred replied to Bruce as he straightened out Bruce's tie.

Bruce pushed away his sleeve as he looked down on his watch. "I know, I know..." he mumbled hastily, and he took a quick glance towards the doors.

Xack gazed at both men and now was starting to get impatient with them. "Bruce..." she whined quietly, and now she shifted in front of Bruce to get his attention. "I have to show you something."

Bruce starred at Xack with growing aggravation. "Xack, can't this wait until I return? I'm running late for my dinner..."

"It's about Joker," Xack spat out, and waited for Bruce to add something to it.

Bruce seemed more interested now, "Joker?...What about him?"

Xack held up her drawing book. "I think I know where he is. I-I think I know what he's planning to do."

"How do you know?" Bruce questioned seriously.

"It's...hard to explain now, but I know he's at the carnival--"

Bruce grunted and clasped his arms to his sides in frustration, "Xack, I have told you before that I checked the carnival twice! Joker is not there!"

"Please Bruce!" Xack pleaded worriedly, "You have to trust me! My drawings--"

"Xack, please..." Bruce was getting tired of this conversation now. "Whatever it is, you can tell me more about this when I come back here. For now, I am late for picking up Vicki and I must go."

Just as he approached the doors, Bruce sighed and reassuringly told her, "I'll call you as soon as am done with dinner. Until then, only contact me by batwave, if it's an emergency of course..." He glared at Xack briefly, thinking she just might use the device just to get him home quicker.

"Okay..." Xack replied, admitting defeat on what she really wanted to say.

Alfred and Xack watched Bruce grab his coat and hurriedly went out of the manor. Alfred approached the stunned girl and put a hand on her shoulder gently for comfort. "Please be patient, Miss Hathaway..." said Alfred as he tried to reassure Xack. "Master Bruce has been terribly exhausted from this Joker matter, after all."

Xack rolled her eyes, "I...guess..."

Alfred turned to her and stated, "It is rather late, Miss Hathaway, perhaps we should all retire for the night... Young Master Eddie is already sleeping soundly."

"I want to wait up for Bruce," Xack told Alfred somewhat sternly. "I want to be awake when he calls; and besides, I still want to show him my drawing book...I really want him to see..." She then handed her book to Alfred. "Please, don't look through it, but leave it in the batcave for Bruce. If you leave it in there, then he'll have to look through it sooner or later..."

Alfred took the drawing book carefully in his hands and seemed bewildered by Xack's action. "Do you not want to hand him this yourself?" He asked. "The manner at which you spoke to Master Bruce seemed that this drawing book here is important."

Xack nodded, "Yes, but...I just feel...it should stay in the batcave... It's safer in there than with me..."

Alfred raised an eyebrow in suspicion to this, but decided to not question her further. "Very well, I will see to it that this stays safely in the batcave." Then he left Xack to stand by the front entrance alone.

Xack breathed out heavily and now headed for the living room. "I guess I'll watch TV...and wait for him until then."

As time went by watching TV, Xack wanted to stay awake for Bruce, but her heavy head...heavy eyelids were preventing her from being up. Soon enough, the girl rested her body on the couch...and fell asleep.

Xack opened her eyes and instantly she saw nothing but pitch black. The sounds of rain hitting the mansion is the only thing that echoed through the place. It took her eyes sometime to adjust to the lighting, which now all objects and such around only appeared as dark outlines that she could barely make out. She sat up and whimpered slightly in fear. Why was the TV off? She didn't remember turning it off -- or the lights for that matter. Did Alfred happen to come by and do this? Xack felt around her until her hands traced the outline of the remote. She smiled in sigh of relief that she could shed some light on this room, but as she hit the power button...nothing happened.

Absolutely...nothing.

"What's going on?" Xack questioned frightfully as she hugged her legs close to her chest.

As matters couldn't be spooky enough, the girl jumped and gasped as she heard the telephone ring. Xack already knew where it was, but finding it was still a big tricky in the dark. She scooted herself to the end of the couch and quickly picked up the receiver at an end table next to her. It had to be Bruce. He said he would call when he left his dinner, after all.

"Bruce?..." Xack spoke into the phone so quietly that she wondered if anyone had heard her on the other end.

"Hello...Xackie. Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh..."

Xack gasped so loudly and almost dropped the phone immediately by instinct. A voice she heard that was chilling to the bone. A voice that is mirthful, witty...menacing...with a sinister edge to it.

"Joker?" She cried his name fearfully into the phone.

Joker chortled a bit before he continued. "Happy to hear from me, dearie?" He asked in a high-pitched tone, almost mocking.

Xack breathed in and out heavily, and her hands shook badly with fright. She was just too terrified to speak.

"Deeeeaaaaaarrrrrriiiiiee?" The Joker rang out in a rather disturbing, charming voice.

"What do you want from me, you crazy bastard?" Xack screamed into the phone, and her voice was trembling badly.

Joker gasped feigningly, "Tcht, tcht...a little girl like you shouldn't use such foul language," he told her with a stern tone. "I only wanted to hear your voice again..."

"What do you want?" Xack asked more forcefully, demanding to hear from Joker what he actually called for.

"You..." Joker answered breathlessly, sounding as if he needed her now.

Xack's eyes widened as the Joker began to cackle manically, and she even had to hold the receiver away from her ears since his voice was so loud. Just as the girl was about to hang up the phone and call the police, she heard Joker's angry tone scream out, "Don't you dare hang-up on me!" He cried angrily. "I can see you clearly from here, you know!"

This made Xack even more nervous as to his whereabouts. If he could see her, then where is he? Wherever he may be, the girl still quickly hung up the phone and picked it up again to dial for the police. Just as the phone reached her ear though, the dial tone was not heard. Xack slammed the phone to the floor as she realized Joker had just cut the telephone lines. No...this can't be happening!...

No electricity...no telephones...just what is she supposed to do now?

Xack pressed herself more into the couch, and hoped that somehow she could mold with it. The room...the manor was all deaf silent, making her even more terrified of the situation. Where...where is Alfred?... What...happened to him?...

As some quiet time went by...nothing happened, but Xack still remained on guard in case she could see something out of the ordinary. Suddenly, she cried out as a pair of strong hands grasped her shoulders tightly. This swift action caused the girl to fall off the couch and land on her back with a loud 'thud.' Before she could get her bearings back, she gasped as a figure hovered over her...getting on top of her to pin her down.

Xack groaned at the closeness, but managed to wiggle out from underneath and quickly bolt to her feet. She kept backing up slowly but stopped dead as she hit a wall behind her.

"Xackie..." A menacing voice whispered in the darkness. "I happen to have excellent vision in the dark, but...you can't see me, can you?..."

Xack let out small pitiful cries as she heard the Joker's mirthful voice, but she could barely see his outline in the pitch-black.

Joker gazed all around himself with a look of awe on his white face. "Nice place that Brucey guy got here." He complimented. "Maybe on some other day I should come back and clean out his box." Joker grinned as he looked back at Xack, "I bet you're wondering how I found you..." Xack remained speechless. "I have my resources, dearie, I am a crime boss, you know... No matter what, I would of found you sooner or later."

Xack gasped as she saw Joker take a few small steps towards her. "Come on Xackie, we need to leave right now. We're wasting valuable time here!" He sounded as if he was in some sort of hurry, and Xack wondered why that is.

As Xack shook her head and slid against the wall, Joker scoffed and approached her more closely. "Why are you so afraid of me?" He chuckled slightly. "I'm not some pervert here!" Xack almost wanted to laugh in her throat after hearing that one.

Ah! The batwave! "The batwave..." Xack whispered inside her mind, and she quickly went through her pajama pants pockets to withdraw it. Just as she was about to press the signal for help, Joker lunged over to her and snatched it right out of her hand. Xack went to grab it back, but all she caught was the air around.

Joker waved the object in her face, back and forth. "Don't need to call Batsy now, do we?" He teased, and before Xack knew it, he threw the batwave to the ground and slammed his foot down on it hard. Xack left her mouth agape as she heard the device sizzle, and even saw a few sparks pop out.

Xack cried out in fear as she spun around and started to dash through the darkness, but at the exact moment, Joker grunted as he caught her arm. Unfortunately for the clown, the girl struggled but succeed in pushing him away and then quickly moving away from him.

"The dark..." She thought terrified. The dark was one of Xack's greatest fears, but on top of that, the Joker wanting to chase her through it put even more pressure on her.

Trying to remember the layout of the manor, Xack felt around and seemed to have found the stairs so she hurriedly climbed up them carefully and quietly so that Joker couldn't hear.

As she made her way to the top, Joker's voice echoed through the manor, "You can't run forever, Xack!" The girl glanced over her shoulder, but then continued to bring herself to the top. "You're coming with me tonight!"

When she got to her feet, Xack immediately began running carefully down at what appeared to be one of the halls. She wanted to go into any room just so she could somehow escape to the outside. So, pressing herself against the hallway wall, she began to slide against it and feel around for a doorknob. Her heart skipped a beat as she found one and fumbled around with it. As soon as Xack opened the door, she literally threw herself in. Her hands shook as she softly shut the door behind her.

It took her a few long moments for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, and as soon as she seemed to recognize the room, her mouth was left agape. "Oh my God..." were the first words that came out of Xack's mouth as she realized what room this is.

It was a particularly large bedroom, but what frightened the girl more was that this is her brother's bedroom! Xack cautiously approached his bed, but cried out when her eyesight came into view at what she saw: Eddie's belongings were all thrown to the floor, posters of his favorite anime shows torn, and his bed sheets were unmade, and all over the room as well. Tears brimmed in her eyes at the empty bed, and all that was there, is a card...featuring the mocking face of a jester.

Eddie...was gone, and Xack knew the child just didn't get up and walk away. He was taken -- kidnapped, by none other than the clown that flashed through her mind.

"Joker...no..." Xack dropped to her knees and clutched her stomach for it felt so horrible, like everything inside had suddenly turned to rocks and fluttering butterflies.

"Oh Xackie..." Joker called out to her from behind the door. Xack spun around as she got to her feet once more. "Are you waiting for me to come in after you?" He squealed innocently.

Xack jumped as Joker slowly opened up the door, with a sadistic grin on his lips. "Oooooo, a bedroom. Unfortunately dearie, we have no time to fool around...heh heh."

Crude...I hate it when he's crude! Xack grunted in disgust at this, and when she saw the clown coming forth to her, she dodged his arms and side-stepped past him to run out of the room.

With no time to waste, she ran straight across to the room ahead, swinging the door open and closing it behind her. This time though, she locked it shut, knowing it would buy her some time on how to get out of the manor.

Xack scanned the room quickly and though the few small windows around, this appeared to be a smaller study to the one Bruce uses to get to his batcave. She thought hard on what floor she was at. "Third floor..." she mumbled ever so quietly, and then she stridden over to one of the windows. She grunted as she forced it open with her weak hands. Xack looked out but suddenly cowered back as thunder was heard. She gasped, but gazed out once more.

Down below, her eyes grew wide with shock as she saw Joker's van, along with Punch and Judy down below. Xack knew her brother must be in that van, but there was no way she could get to it and manage to get her brother out before the husky henchmen grab her first. No...how am I going to get out now?

Xack suddenly got startled when she heard the door behind her jitter, and soon enough, loud poundings came abound. "Little girl, little girl...let me come in..." She started to panic as she heard Joker giggle with glee. Now that he began to kick at the door, Xack had no choice but to climb out the window and find a way down to the first floor of the mansion. If she would to go on the ground, Punch and Judy were bound to find and capture her, let alone the two lugs would somehow signal their boss as to where she is.

Either brave the rain or end up getting caught by Joker. Even though she knew there's a chance she'll catch ammonia or the likes, but she didn't care. Whatever the clown had planned for her was most likely much worse.

Taking a deep breath, Xack found a bit of courage and maneuvered her way out the window and onto the roof, holding the siding for dear life from the rain. A window...I need to get in somehow... I need an open window...

Thinking about it more, she knew there would be no hope on an open window. Bruce is pretty good at locking the windows up tight.

As the girl very cautiously and nervously began to climb down from the siding of the roof, the Joker finally managed to break down the door of the study. He hastily surveyed the room but there was no sign of Xack. Then his sharp eyes stopped dead on the open window, and by an instant, he bolted to it and leaned half of his body out so that he could get a full view of the manor's side. An actual, worried gasp came from the throat as he watched Xack slowly trail down the side.

Joker growled and slammed a fist on the window sill, then he disappeared to go down to the lower levels of the manor.

To Xack's surprise, she saw a partially opened window right below her feet. How this could happen, event the girl didn't know. She knew she couldn't go to the ground, for Punch and Judy had just spotted her and now the two trudged over to the manor and stood under her.

As Xack grabbed the window sill, she cried out as her foot slipped from underneath. Before she could fall any further, she managed to push the window up and slide inside, but not before falling to the floor hard.

No time for pain... Xack quickly regained her posture and rushed towards the darkened door and opened it.

The main entrance chamber...the two staircases. Xack's heart was pounding so fierce as she saw the doors. Knowing she's on the second floor, nothing could stop her from getting out and running for her life...to get help -- any help! Because of the rain, the lighting of the room was quite dim, but it was enough for her to at least see her way down the stairs and out the door.

About halfway down the steps, she tripped on her own feet and tumbled down the rest of the way. As she hit the bottom, she just laid there on the ground and groaned with pain.

Trying to push her pain away from her head, she got to her feet and quickly headed for the doors. Her hands grasped the handles and she threw open the doors--

The Joker stood from beyond the doors with a grin of triumph on his face.

Before Xack could react, the clown chortled as he sprayed a small bottle containing one of his many gases at the girl; a bottle shaped like what perfume is held in.

There was no time to hold her breath or at least cover her mouth, the impact was too quick for her. Xack coughed harshly at the repugnant odor of the fumes. Suddenly, her eyes bulged out as she staggered back a bit. Her eye lids...her whole body started to feel heavy. Feeling like the Earth's gravity was pulling her down.

"Getting sleepy..." The Joker spoke slowly to her, almost as if he was mocking Xack's drossy manner.

Xack's knees wobbled, and because she felt so weak, she fell on them. "No..." Xack whispered groggily.

"Yes..." Joker corrected happily, and now he walked up to her, looming over the exhausted child.

Xack tilted her head upwards to look up into Joker's face, but very briefly, because before she knew it, her body slowly began to slump to the floor. Eyes now shut, she lied there unconscious by the Joker's bare feet.

Joker smiled, barring his teeth widely. "Twisted dreams to ya, Xackie..." He laughed out loud psychotically as he took up Xack and flung her over his shoulder. Before Joker left the manor, he dropped one of his playing cards in Xack's place. A jester smiling with satisfaction.

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