Obsession

Everyone and Everywhere

The very next morning, or the early morning -- before Xack and Eddie had woken up -- there was a knocking, and heavy chime bells had been rung by the entrance of Wayne Manor. It took a few minutes for Alfred to answer the door, and he wasn't all surprised to see a couple of young nurses carrying Xack and Eddie's luggage. "These are the children's things..." stated one of the nurses, who lightly lifted one of the duffle bags to show.

As Alfred took these bags, another nurse approached him with several hard-covered books in her arms. "These are the girls drawing books, but...I would be most grateful if you give them to her personally. She does not like anyone to see what she has drawn..."

Alfred briefly smiled at this nurse, but soon faded into a serious, but stern look, "I am sorry, madam, but Master Bruce will have to accept those from you. It seems I have my hands full at the moment," he lightly chuckled at that last sentence. "I will bring Master Bruce here to talk with you..."

The nurse who was holding the sketch books, her eyes widened and she quickly nodded her head eagerly, "Oh, please do, for we must speak with him about the children."

"Very well," replied Alfred, then he bowed slightly and left the two young nurses to wait for Bruce to come and talk with them.

"Who's at the door?" Bruce asked, who appeared around a corner and into the main foyer of the mansion.

"It is the nurses from Arkham Asylum, Master Bruce. They wish to speak with you about the children, and one of them appears to have some sketch books for the girl here..." Alfred bowed his head and then slowly walked up the stairs while almost dragging the heavy duffle bags with him. Bruce watched Alfred until he was not in sight no more, then the young man let out a sigh as he walked casually to the doors. He smiled kindly to the two young nurses when he approached them.

Bruce held out his hand for the nurses to shake, and he friendly greeted them, "Hello. I'm Bruce Wayne, and the man whom you just spoke with says you two wanted to speak with me."

A nurse nodded, "Yes we do -- um...how are the children doing this far? Are they getting along with you okay?" She asked a little nervously.

Bruce chuckled, but even he did not know why. So far, he figured he's still having trouble adapting to that young, depressed girl. "They are doing fine, but...that Xack girl..."

The two nurses gazed at one another and nodded their heads, as if they knew what each other was thinking, and both agreeing to it. The nurse who was still holding the sketch books leaned in towards Bruce and whispered, "Bruce...you may not know it, but Miss Hathaway has always admired you..." Bruce was taken aback by this. "You had lost both your parents when you were a child, correct? Miss Hathaway admires your courage on how you got through all of this...for she had lost both parents as well. Don't give up on her, Mr. Wayne. Her behavior is rather inappropriate, but she was always a troubled child from the beginning. Her parents' death has just made it worse for her." She handed the sketch books to Bruce, and said somewhat sternly, "Please do not go through them, for they are Miss Hathaway's works of art. If she wishes to show them to you then she will. Otherwise, just leave it be. She will be furious if you had looked at them."

Bruce looked down on the sketch books but then gazed back to the two nurses. "Don't worry, I'll make sure she gets these." The nurses bid their farewells to the billionaire bachelor, and they got back in their cars and left the manor. When they had gone out of sight, Bruce sighed and slowly went back into his place. As he was going upstairs to the third floor, since that was where Xack had been resting, the young man's eyes had caught sight of Alfred looking over the telephone by the stairs.

"Alfred, what's wrong?" Questioned Bruce as he casually walked over to his faithful butler.

Alfred replied in a monotone, but calm voice, "Master Bruce, Miss Vale has just phoned, and it appears she has left a message for you on your machine here..." he gestured his hand to the answering machine next to the phone.

Bruce was silent for a moment but then he hit the button on his machine so he could here the sweet voice of Vicki Vale. "Bruce...haven't heard from you in awhile. Is everything alright? You never returned my last two calls. I hope we can still meet next weekend at the Blue Ju Diner. I miss you Bruce... Call me, please." Then the machine beeped and indicated that there were no more messages to play. Bruce closed his eyes and thought on Vicki's words.

"Sir..." Alfred picked up the receiver and handed it to Bruce. "There is a telephone here for this occasion..."

A smile cracked onto the young man's lips as he took the phone and began to dial Vicki's number into it. "Maybe I can meet her in a couple weeks. Who knows how long I'll have these children... I better catch Joker soon..."

Upon entering Xack's temporary bedroom, Bruce exhaled his breath and knocked quietly on her door. "Who is it?" Xack asked grumpily from behind the doors. Bruce cleared his throat before he spoke, but right when he was about to speak, Xack quickly replied in a sarcastic manner, "Oh, never mind...I already know who it is. Come in, Mr. Wayne. This is your house after all..."

Bruce grunted softly as he slowly opened the bedroom door and into the room. He could already see that Xack had put some minor touches to the room to make it suit her, for there are drawings and pictures she did of fairies and other mystical creatures on the walls. As soon as Bruce had fully entered the room, Xack's eyes grew wide with shock when she saw her sketch books in his hands. "Those are my sketch books..." Xack immediately snatched her drawing books rudely from Bruce's hands. "Did you get these from the nurses?"

Bruce nodded, "Yes -- and no, I did not go through your drawings. I respected your wishes, and the nurses, for that matter." he shrugged and started to leave the bedroom.

Xack's eyes almost welled with tears when Bruce was at the door, "Wait..." her voice became shaky, and almost to the point of sobbing. "Where...where are you going?"

"I'm leaving," Bruce answered sternly, and without looking over his shoulder to the young woman. "I have to go to work at Wayne Industries. They need me over there... I'm a very busy man you know. Haven't you heard on the news?" In a way, Bruce somewhat mocked Xack on that last sentence, for she should of known -- from watching the news of course, that Bruce works during the day at Wayne Industries.

"Are you always going to leave us like this?" Xack took a couple steps towards Bruce, but no more then that. "I don't want to be left alone again... I'm too afraid; afraid that Joker will come and get us all..."

Bruce turned around and chuckled shortly to this, "Xack, you seem to be very paranoid about this situation. I've taken you in, for if you stayed with the police, that Joker will find you for sure. This 'Clown Prince of Crime' will have to be more clever to figure out where you two are..."

"How do you know that he doesn't know where we are? For all we know, he probably does... Maybe he's just playing us all and waiting for the right moment to strike..." Xack's eyes widened and waited for Bruce to say something again in defense. Bruce did open his mouth to say something else, but thought that Xack will just complain and worry more about this.

"Listen Xack: Alfred will be here all day and attend to you and your brother on whatever you need, but I must work. It's my job and it's what I do."

Before he turned on his heel once more and started to leave the bedroom, Xack crossed he arms and mumbled, "What about at night? I mean, do you work at this 'Wayne Industries' at night? That seems harsh to work that long..." She raised an eyebrow in suspicion as to what Bruce had to say to that.

Bruce sighed but did not look at Xack when he replied softly, "It depends on what I'm doing until the evening. Sometimes...my job requires me to...work the night shift." He looked down on the watch on his wrist and left the bedroom quickly before Xack had anything else to say.

Xack just stood there with her arms still crossed. Her eyes squinted to angry slits and she mumbled once more, "So rude, Mr. Wayne. How very rude and mean you are to people like me..."

Now...a couple of days have passed by; Alfred, Xack, and Eddie were sitting on the couch quietly and watching the evening news as usual to see if the police had new information regarding the Joker, who is still not back in Arkham. Bruce was not with them right now, for he had...other things to do this time of night.

When Chief Angel Rojas of the Gotham P.D., was giving out the latest scoop on their findings and such, the cameraman on that particular channel the three were watching -- well, the guy suddenly swung his camera on over the rooftops to see Joker leaping high over to each building with Batman hot on his tail. Eddie bounced on the couch excitedly to see this. "This is so cool!" He squealed in delight. "Look Xack, look! Batman is chasing Joker when there are people and news people there!"

Xack shrugged and showed no enthusiasm to this. "I'll be happy when Batman catches him, then we can leave Mr. Wayne alone since I know how much he hates me anyways..." She looked around herself but her eyes fell on Alfred, "By the way, where is Mr. Wayne?" She asked the butler.

Alfred cleared his throat before speaking, "Master Bruce has unfinished assignments at Wayne Industries tonight, so he will be late on coming home..."

Xack shifted her eyes to the TV but then back to Alfred once more, "You know...I've noticed this when watching the news; and how come every time we watch TV and see Batman on it, Mr. Wayne isn't here?... Now, I just find that a little odd, but to me, a little bit more suspicious since I know you're lying as to where he goes and what he is doing!"

"Mr. Bruce should see this!" Eddie added to Xack's question. "He's missing on Batman and the clown!"

Alfred smiled down on Eddie, "Yes...Master Bruce...should see this with you..."

The next morning... Bruce had already gone to work, but this time, he's donning the cape and cowl for he has leads as to the whereabouts of where Joker might have gone to. Meanwhile, Xack and Eddie were resting peacefully in their bedrooms, that is, until Alfred had quietly walked into their rooms and gently asked them to wake up.

"Why do we have to wake up?" Xack asked groggily as she buried herself under the covers. "The longer I sleep the better I feel..." She snorted as she added, "Like that will ever happen..."

"Please, Miss Hathaway, it is nearly 9 o'clock. You really should get out of bed now..." Alfred pulled the covers away from Xack's head, and he gazed down into her tired face. "Your brother is already down in the kitchen eating breakfast, but you...you just want to sleep more."

"That's right! Now leave me alone you butler..." Xack grabbed the bed sheets and pulled them over her head again.

"Miss Hathaway, please..." Alfred sounded a bit irritated now, "I hate to think you are this rude to adults. In case you're wondering, I do plan on taking your brother and yourself to get the necessities that will make you two more content here..."

Xack suddenly bolted upright in bed and wide eyed Alfred in shock. "You mean, like videogames and...stuff that's fun around here?" She got out of bed and started to head out the door.

Alfred nodded slowly, "Yes, those things..."

"Um..." Xack turned back to Alfred and bit her lip oddly, "I don't know where the kitchen is from here. Been a couple days and...I'm still lost to where I'm going. The only way I know around here, is from the entrance to my 'bedroom'. Can you show me the way?" Xack tried to smile as sweetly as she could, but Alfred knew that this was poorly done, for her smiles are still pitiless and cruel looking.

Alfred nodded his head once more, "Very well then, follow me Miss Hathaway..."

When Alfred had begun to walk ahead of Xack, the girl replied, "You know, my name is Xack. You don't have to call me 'Miss Hathaway'..."

Alfred grunted very softly and retorted, "Well, you needn't call me 'butler' either..." He smiled inside as he saw Xack's face crunch into this odd, but angered expression on her face. Alfred got her on that one.

As both Alfred and Xack walked down hallways and flights of staircases quietly, Xack broke the silence by saying, "Do you think going out is a bad idea? I mean, what if Joker finds us?"

"Master Bruce assured me that as long as you two do not stick your noses too far out, then you will be fine. I am sure that this Joker will not want to go to the electronics store..."

"What store?"

"Best Buy."

"Really? We're going there?" Xack sounded a bit surprised and puzzled at the same time. "You don't think Joker will want to go into a place like that?"

"I highly doubt Joker will want videogames, televisions and everything else related..."

Xack didn't seem confident on Alfred's words, but she nodded, "Yeah...I guess we'll be okay. As long as that Batman is around...I guess we'll be fine..."

'Best Buy Ultimate,' this electronics store is considered to be the biggest chain of Best Buy's in America! It was so much more grand than Xack and Eddie had pictured it. This place had two floors of appliances, movies, music, and a large space for the videogame freaks from all over. On the ground floor was the usual appliances for any household, but mostly consisted for the kitchen, or perhaps a laundry room. The top floor would be the room to have the most crowds for that is where all the TV's, DVDs, games, and computers of sorts are kept. Getting to this floor was a bit of a challenge, for even the escalators are packed full of people. Alfred and the children were definitely having a difficult time making it to the top floor.

"Why is Best Buy always crowded?" Xack complained while riding the escalator up.

"Xack... It's Best Buy Ultimate..." Corrected Eddie happily, "Because this is the ultimate store for games!" Alfred chuckled softly to the boy's witty words.

Xack rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, "Whatever..." She turned to Alfred who was a step ahead of her on the escalator, "Do you think Mr. Wayne will be okay if we got games...and stuff? It's one thing if he doesn't want us around, or me around to be more precise, but I'm not sure he'll be okay if we get videogame systems. To me, this just means that will be at your guys' place longer than Mr. Wayne hoped for..."

Alfred sighed, "Master Bruce is not used to having company with him for this long; that is all..."

"Um... Who's Vicki Vale?" Xack wondered out loud, changing the subject.

"You eavesdropping now?..." Alfred asked lightly. "First you say you can detect when someone is lying, and now you're a clever spy?"

Xack grunted, "Geez...I was just asking who this girl is -- God..."

When the three had finally got to the top floor, Xack wished to be alone while looking for her own source of entertainment, which then and there Alfred just attended to Eddie. The little boy smiled with glee as he picked out the videogame systems for the games the two children wanted for them. As Xack rummaged for a few very horrific games and even some childish ones, she felt a soft rumble from under her feet. She didn't think much of it since it could of been the people working here, moving heavy objects around below. Yes...that's what it has to be; it couldn't be anything else -- at least, that's what kept going through Xack's mind.

"And...and I want 'Lego Star Wars'...and-and I want 'Mario Golf'...and-and I want 'Pokemon: Gale of Darkness...and-and..." Eddie kept jittering with excitement to all the games he wanted to get and play for himself.

Alfred chuckled softly, "Please young Hathaway, not so much in one day. We can always come back some other time and acquire more of these things to your delight..."

Eddie looked up at Alfred somewhat worriedly and disappointingly at the same time. "But...but I don't think we be here that long... Xack told me that Mr. Bruce don't want us here; that he don't like us..." Alfred exhaled and gazed at the boy with sad eyes. Eddie was right after all.

"Eddie is right..." Xack replied as she walked over to the two males with videogames, and even some movies in her arms. "Mr. Wayne doesn't want us here, but yet, he's the one that agreed to watch over us until Joker is caught." She showed Alfred all the movies and games she carried. "This is all we need...until we leave and go back to the asylum..."

Alfred had no comment. He was tired of giving out advice and such for all it did was make Xack say something in defense. "Very well then, let us leave and return to the manor...after we have purchased these things, of course." He kindly took all the games and movies out of the children's hands and they all began to head back to the escalators to go down to the ground floor. When the three had reached the bottom floor, another rumble was felt, but this time it was a bit more sever. Xack and Eddie looked at one another and then up at Alfred for an answer. "It must be construction. In this city, there is a lot of that going around. Always construction for new buildings..."

"That construction?" Asked a puzzled Eddie, and looked up at his sister who shrugged, but narrowed her eyes in suspicion.

"I've felt a rumble a while ago, but this one is much more intense than the last." Xack urged the males to move quicker to the long checkout line. "Let's just go back to that Wayne Manor. I don't like this 'construction' going on..."

It wasn't that long when Alfred had paid the checkout clerk the money for the entertainment the children wanted, but at that moment, Everyone from within the store began to mumble and whisper worriedly to one another when people from outside were running, screaming, and even shouting past the place! Eddie whimpered, "I don't like this..."

As Alfred had grabbed the bag with the children's things, Xack dashed for the door to look outside to see what was going on. "Miss Hathaway! Stop!" He shouted, but the girl ignored the command and continued to exit the store.

When Xack took her first few steps out the glass doors, people already and rudely crashed into her, knocking her down hard to the ground. Xack just laid on the ground for a few seconds before she groaned in pain and slowly started to get back on her feet. As she stood up, her frightened eyes had caught sight as to why everyone was running around screaming. From across the street, a huge wall was blown away, and this place that was badly damaged had the title above 'Gotham National Bank'. "Such an odd coincidence for a bank to be across a Best Buy...and of course, someone has to be robbing it now -- oh yes, I'm just having a great day today..." Xack remarked in sarcasm, but her fears grew rapidly when she heard a psychotic, witty laugher coming out from the bank building.

"You think a bank would be loaded with gold, but this is just cheesecake to what I've robbed before!" Xack's mouth was left agape when she heard that voice...sounds so familiar...

"Miss Hathaway!" Xack jumped and spun around to see Alfred and Eddie quickly walking up to her. Alfred did not look happy at all. "Miss, I wish you would listen to me and stop when you are told to! For now, we must get back into my car and get you children out of here before something more dreadful happens!" Alfred took the children's hands in his and was about to cross the street to where he parked the car, but stopped dead in his tracks when he saw three, oddly shaped figures exiting the bank. "Oh dear..." Alfred mumbled as he saw, the one and only Joker walking out onto the sidewalks, accompanied by his large, husky henchmen: Judy and Punch. Alfred still held onto the children's hands and tried hard to speak calmly to the them. "We must get into the car now!"

Xack jerked away from Alfred's grasp and shook her head, "No...the car is across the street! Joker is too close!" She squealed frightfully, and she started to take steps backwards towards the electronics store. She clutched her head and muttered some insanities that neither Alfred nor Eddie knew what the words were.

Alfred held out his hand and a look of worry came upon his face, "Please Miss Hathaway, before this Joker spots us. Now is the best time to go. He is not that close to the car. If we go now we'll make it..." Unfortunately, Xack continued to back away, but now she quickly snatched Eddie's hand, as so she knows that if Joker sees them, that the boy would be with her; to be by her if something should happen, he can run back inside the store quickly and hide somewhere.

Xack gasped when Joker seemed to be looking in their direction. Now she knows for sure that the Clown Prince had spotted them, for he squinted his eyes and leaned in more in their line of sight. Xack shook her head and shrieked, "He sees us! He saw us!" Before Alfred could try to run off with the children, Xack and Eddie had darted back into the Best Buy store. The Joker, along with his two clown-faced assistants, slowly made their way across the street and towards the building the children ran into.

"Oh dear indeed..." muttered Alfred, and he hurriedly hid behind the nearest car to take out a small cell phone from his chest pocket. He dialed a few numbers and put the phone to his ear.

"Alfred?" Came a voice from the other end. "What's wrong?"

"Sir, the Joker is here, along with his two horrific looking assistants. He's after the children... They're on..." Alfred quickly gazed around the general area to find a street sign of some sort. He spotted it and replied back in the cell phone, "They're on 19th Hiffman Ave."

"...I'm on my way..."

As soon as Xack and Eddie had ran back into the Best Buy Ultimate store, the young boy immediately took off and went up the escalator. "I'm getting away from the scary clown!" Eddie hollered to Xack.

"Eddie! Come back here! You're not good at finding hiding spots!" Xack looked around herself and replied, "Then again...in this store, I'm not either..." When the girl was quickly heading for the escalator, a loud explosion near the entrance literally through her to the ground. Xack got back up quickly this time and hid behind lined rows of washers and dryers. Her body trembled badly as she heard Joker's nasty chuckling a little ways from her.

"I could of sworn... " Joker slowly looked around the store and at all the screaming people, and the ones who were running around to what seemed like no where. "I could of sworn I've seen some familiar faces... Punch and Judy!" He demanded gruffly, and gestured to the whole store in front of him. "Search around! You see any children...bring them to me!" He snickered as he watched his two henchies begin the search for any children they could get their hands on. A few moments later, Joker started his own search. Now Xack wished she had hidden at the top floor with her brother; at least there she could find an emergency exit and escape with him. She hoped that Eddie would think of that, but chances are he won't.

Xack gasped when she heard footsteps nearing the laundry appliances. Slowly, cautiously...making sure to look everywhere... "He's getting, so close..." Xack panted inside her mind. "So close..." She pressed her back up against the end of the dryer and tried to breath and be as quiet as she could.

"Oh deeeeaaaaaarrrrieeee..." Joker called out to Xack eeriely. "Where are you..." Xack jumped when she heard him shove, either washers or dryers to the floor. "Not a very good hiding place is it..." Xack gasped and tilted her upwards to see Joker looking down on her from over the dryer. He grinned menacingly as he quickly snatched her hair and practically dragged her out of her hiding place. Xack cried out in pain and tried to struggled against Joker, but it was pointless since he had a good grip on her head. She fell on her knees when the Clown Prince released her hair.

Xack sat up and realized that Joker was starring straight into her eyes; making her spine tingle horribly to his intense gaze. When she did try to crawl the other way, Joker wrapped his fingers around her wrist and pulled her up off the ground. "No Batman to save you..." he leaned in and whispered rashly to her ears. Xack was repulsed by the close proximity of his face. "You're mine... Now and forever -- no matter what, I'll always own you ..."

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