When Bruce was driving back to Wayne Manor with the exhausted Xack, the young man couldn't help but feel awfully sorry for her. He took a few quick glances at her, but every time he would look in her direction, he saw Xack starring out the windows and still crying a bit. Bruce sighed, he just didn't know what to do about her. He wants to say something that will make her feel better, but she was most likely the one to throw something negative at him; despite his best efforts.

"I'm sorry for what happened back there," Bruce apologized sternly.

Xack slightly shrugged her shoulders, "Then why didn't you help me? Why didn't you stop that mean man from yelling at me?..." A single tear ran down her cheek, "I hate people yelling at me..."

"I --" Bruce thought of the right words to say, "I can't interfere with police business, you know that."

"That detective guy did though. He went in and saved me."

"I would get arrested though."

"That detective didn't worry about that." Bruce took another quick glimpse at Xack as she said this. "He went in and saved me, and it looked like he didn't care of the consequences." She then crossed her arms and slouched in her seat, "I wish you would defend me, Mr. Wayne..."

Bruce sighed once more and neither word was spoken between the two. When they both reached the manor though, the young man had to 'guide' Xack through the doors since she was still a wreck for what happened, and she even didn't want to get out of the car! As they walked inside, Alfred was standing nearby and waiting their return. Alfred's eyes widened a little as he saw the red-eyed Xack staggering in with Bruce. "Good heavens, what happened to her?" Alfred questioned Bruce, rather concerned about Xack. Alfred quickly walked over to the girl and started to comfort her.

"The police interrogated her too roughly," replied Bruce.

"Oh dear," Alfred looked down on the sniffling girl, and then back to Bruce, "What did they want of her?"

All Bruce could do was sniff quietly himself. "They wanted to know what she knew of the Joker, but she wouldn't tell; so they got angry." He took a couple steps towards Alfred and said, "I will take Xack to the living room, after all, I'm hardly here for her and Eddie as it is."

Xack couldn't help but look up at Bruce with surprise. Bruce cracked a tiny smile on the edge of his lips as he put an arm around the girl and then started to head up the stairs to the living room. Just as they both reached the steps though, the sound of a doorbell was heard. Bruce and Xack gazed at each other; wondering who could be at the door. Alfred sighed gently and strode over to the doors, "I'll get it..." he murmured. When the loyal butler opened the doors, he was surprised to see the beautiful Vicki Vale at Wayne Manor!

Vicki Vale shied away from looking at Alfred by turning her attention to the ground. She also began to twirl one of her blonde strands as she seemed to be nervous as what to say. "Is Bruce here?" She asked softly to Alfred.

Alfred glanced over his shoulder to Bruce and Xack. Bruce sighed and let go of the girl. "I'm sorry Xack, but I have to go to the door," he mumbled somewhat apologetically. Xack watched him go to the doors for Vicki, and as he reached her, Xack breathed out hard; as if trying to fight back any depressed tears that wanted to be set free. Xack then turned around and slowly trudged up the stairs to the living room.

"It's been a long time," said Vicki in a soft voice, and she took a step forward closer to Bruce.

Bruce smiled, "Yeah... and I'm sorry Vicki, it's just I've been very busy lately."

"We're still going out on a date aren't we? This weekend?..." Vicki bit her lip and fidgeted with the gloves on her hands. "You haven't paid any attention to me for the past two weeks, Bruce! What is going on here?" She now put her hands on her hips and leaned in towards Bruce in a threatening manner.

Bruce scratched his head nervously and didn't reply to Vicki's rude question until moments later. "Vicki.. as I said before: I've been very busy -- work especially, but I promise that we will go out to dinner this weekend." He held both of her hands and repeated softly, "I promise."

Vicki sighed and her eyes darted around the room before she looked back up at Bruce. "Alright..." she said, her words uncertain about Bruce's. "I am really looking forward to this, so please do not cancel out on me..." She sighed and slouched a bit forward.

"I won't..." Bruce whispered. "Not this time..."

"Alfred, who's that lady at the door?" Asked Eddie in his childish, curious voice. At the moment, Alfred and the children were in the living room, where Xack was sitting on the couch playing a videogame. While Alfred was sitting comfortably in a lounge chair drinking tea of some sorts, Eddie was watching the TV with wide eyes.

Alfred turned in Eddie's direction and answered in a somewhat monotone voice, "That is Miss Vicki Vale, young Hathaway. She is currently seeing Master Bruce." He sighed in a way of relief to this. "Master Bruce surely needs someone special in his life..."

Xack quickly darted her eyes to Alfred before she turned to the TV once more. "Isn't she a reporter?" She asked in an irritable tone. "I've seen her on TV, and to be honest, I don't like reporters." Alfred and Eddie now gazed at her. "Reporters are people who will do anything for a story; and that means try to ruin other peoples lives by learning their secrets and stuff..."

"Not all reporters are that way," Alfred stated somewhat defensively.

Xack merely shrugged, "That Vicki woman seems like the type. I see her on TV, and... I don't know, it's just that I really don't like her attitude."

Alfred's mustache furrowed a bit. "Unfortunate to you then, that she is with Master Bruce now, and I suggest you not try to ruin his relationship with her."

Xack grumbled a few words before she returned to playing the videogame on TV. Eddie's eyes grew wide at what he saw on the screen, "Xack! Watch out for that scary monster!"

Xack rolled her eyes and began to mash the buttons on her controller, "Yes, Ed! I see the monster! It takes up the whole screen! Don't worry, I'm not gonna d -- oh, David just died. Oh, and now Yoko did too. Well at least I'm still ali -- oh, nope; I just died too. Ah crap... I almost beat that world, and I didn't even save! That's just crap!" She threw down her controller and crossed her arms. "Resident Evil Outbreak is more annoying than scary..." As some time went by at this point, Everyone saw Bruce finally enter the living room, where he had just said his farewells to Vicki. Xack narrowed her eyes at Bruce, "So how come you haven't told us about her?"

Bruce smirked, "Since when are you suddenly interested in my love life?"

Xack opened her mouth to say something, but no words had come out. She folded her hands neatly in her lap and tilted her head downwards to avoid Bruce's eyes. "I... I'm not interested in your 'love life,' it's just that I'm a curious and nosy person, and all I was is just wondering..."

Bruce gave out a slight chuckle and sat down on the couch close to Xack. "I didn't think my relationship with Vicki was a tale to tell for you two," Bruce replied casually as he looked at both Xack and Eddie. Then he looked up at the TV to see what everyone was watching. "What is this?" He asked, confused not to see the news and such on the screen.

"Xack was playing Resident Evil," Eddie said cheerfully.

Bruce raised an eyebrow, "Resident Evil? What's that?"

Xack had a blank expression on her face as she looked at Bruce, "You've never heard of Resident Evil? The game or even the movies?" Bruce cracked a smile on the edge of his lips as he shook his head. "It's a game where this virus spreads from person to person turning them into zombies. You're like, one of the survivors in the zombie-infested city, and now you have to get out alive... or something like that." Xack took up the controller in her hand and showed it to Bruce, "You want to play?..."

Bruce thought for a moment and then took the controller out of Xack's hands, "Sure, why not? Couldn't hurt." Alfred smiled himself as he watched Bruce play these games with the children.

Unfortunately for Bruce, he did not fair so well with videogames, nor the villains within them. For him, he'd rather be fighting justice to the evil in Gotham, rather than the ones in these virtual realties. Who would? They were much scarier -- then again, between the villains that were still running around the city, the videogame bad guys seemed just as frightening.

Bruce chuckled as he set down the controller and leaned back on the couch. "Guess I'm not as good at these games as you are," he said as he turned his head slightly to look at Xack. "I'm not much of a videogame person for that matter anyway."

Xack shrugged, "That's okay, but um..." she leaned in to him to say quietly, "Thanks for doing this." Bruce raised an eyebrow slightly. "Thanks for being with me... and Eddie." She smiled now, and it was not one of those pitiless smiles, but an actually smile. Seeing this made Bruce feel relieved inside for some reason.

"You don't have to thank me..." Bruce replied to Xack, and he put a hand gently on her shoulder, "I really do want to spend time with you -- and Eddie, for that matter." Xack's smile widened a little more.

Later into the evening, everyone had gathered into the living room once more to watch a movie. Between all the electronics and such from when Xack and Eddie went to Best Buy Ultimate, the girl had picked out a few movies of her taste, as so did the boy. Xack had gotten all three of the Lord of the Rings movies, and is now watching the first with all the rest. To be honest, nor Bruce or Alfred had seen the Lord of the Rings, and Xack was surprised to hear this.

"Dude... are you from Mars or something?" She wondered sarcastically as she looked over to Bruce who was sitting close by her. "How come you never seen these movies? Lord of the Rings are like epics!"

Bruce smirked, "Well, with work and everything else, I really don't have time to watch movies like this."

Xack turned away from Bruce, but then gazed back at him, "But you do now? How come of all times, you decided you want to actually sit down and watch this?" She cracked a small smile as she waited for an answer.

"Well..." Bruce thought for a moment on this. "I guess... with you and Eddie here, it's... different for me now. Not in a bad way, actually... in a good way. Change is good for me." He smiled back at Xack now, and the two didn't realize that they were both smiling at each other for a few moments, but Xack noticed this and quickly turned her attention back to the TV. Bruce scoffed and did the same.

After a few minutes, Xack leaned forward and placed her hands on her knees. "You know the ring that Frodo wears in the movie?" Bruce merely nodded. "I remember asking that ring from my parents for a graduation gift for me when I graduated high school. Didn't happen though; that ring's around three-hundred bucks!" She sat back and sighed, "Still an awesome ring though, don't you think?" She turned to Bruce to see if he would reply or not.

Bruce shrugged and joked, "Just as long as I don't attract the attention of those... 'Ring Wraiths', right?" Xack smiled and nodded, and then the two continued to watch the movie.

"Alfred..." Eddie looked towards the butler's direction and asked, "Can you make some popcorn?"

Alfred was silent for a moment before he answered solemnly, "I apologize, young Hathaway, but this manor does not have any popcorn."

Eddie turned away briefly and then back at Alfred, "Why do you call me that? My name is Eddie, you know; and can you buy some popcorn?"

Alfred gave the boy a warm smile, "Yes... Master Eddie, I also apologize for that, and perhaps sometime during the week I will go and buy this... popcorn." Eddie smiled as well and started to watch the movie again.

Bruce felt very relieved now that Xack and Eddie were enjoying their stay here. After some thought, he began to feel sad. He really liked the company of both Xack and Eddie, it's just that when he caught the Joker and returned the psycho to Arkham, the children would have to go back with the clown. "Maybe I can keep them with me somehow..." Bruce wondered to himself, "Maybe the doctors will somehow let me... adopt them..."

It's been at least a few days now, and so far Batman had no leads as to the Joker's whereabouts. Wherever the Joker was hiding, he was doing a great job of it. This frustrated Batman greatly, for he knew he was running out of time before Joker would put his latest scheme into action. Even though the Joker was kidnapping people, the Batman knew there was more to that than meets the eye.

Then, one afternoon day, the children watched as Bruce was rushing around the manor, and seemed to be in a hurry for something. Both Xack and Eddie gazed at one another, wondering what the young man was doing, but by their expressions, they did not know. "What's wrong?" Eddie finally had asked Bruce.

"I'm late for work..." Bruce barely mumbled out. "Have you two seen my --" Suddenly, Eddie held up Bruce's tie. Bruce smiled and kindly took it from him. "Thanks... Well, I got to be heading off now, and you two better stay out of trouble."

Xack rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, "Like we ever do?"

Bruce sighed, "And I do recommend that neither of you go out; especially what happened at the store you went too." Both children whined to this. "Goodbye until the evening then..." he waved farewell and then he was out of the manor within a few minutes, leaving the children to stand at the stairwell.

Xack sighed and shrugged her shoulders at Eddie, "So... what do you want to do?" Eddie merely shrugged as well. "Okay... then... how about we explore this place more. After all, there's still allot of ground to cover here, and there's still rooms in here that we haven't been to yet." Once again, all her little brother did was shrug his shoulders. "Okay, I'll take that as a 'yes', so then, let's start that... fun exploring... thing."

While Alfred was doing his routine chores of tidying up the mansion, Xack and Eddie began to explore the rooms they have not yet been in. Besides their rooms, and the exception of Alfred and Bruce's since that would be rude to peek in their bedrooms, the children searched around other rooms that might spark their interest. Unfortunately for the kids, nothing really seemed that exciting -- although, Eddie enjoyed looking around a room that was full of artifacts from around the world; especially the different weapons that Bruce collected.

As Xack and Eddie walked into Bruce's study, the girl sighed somewhat depressingly and crossed her arms. "This is so boring..." she grumbled irritably, and then she looked left to right of the study. "I rather go out somewhere and meet the Joker than stay here in this... creepy mansion."

"The room with all the weapons was fun to see!" Eddie piped up, but his cheery smile soon faded when he saw the bored expression on his sister's face.

The study was a very large room, but it seemed almost empty, for all the place had was a couple bookshelves at each ends of the room, and the vast desk that sat in the middle. Along with the desk, there was an arcade machine that stood a few feet from it. Eddie smiled and pointed to this arcade, "Hey! A game!" He squealed with glee when he quickly strode on over to it. The boy started to jam on the buttons and his face grew solemn when the game appeared to not work. He examined the machine to see if there was any way to turn it on, but there wasn't. "This is broken," he said dully, and he crossed his arms in frustration.

Xack leaned to one side and began to think. "Hmmm..." she walked on over to Eddie and looked over this arcade machine herself. Her eyes gleamed when she saw something suspicious on it. She pointed to the screen and said, "Oddly enough, if you look at this thing at an angle, you can see that there's a handprint right in the middle of the screen. Gamers like me know you should not put fingerprints on the screen of things, for it just annoys you in the future. What's also odd is why Mr. Wayne would have such a thing in the middle of his study, for a guy who seems clueless on videogames." Xack started to think silently a bit longer before she turned back to Eddie and asked, "Can you go to the kitchen and get... a rubber glove and some flour?"

Eddie cocked his head to the side, "Why?..."

"It's best not to ask why, Ed. I would get this stuff myself, but if Alfred happened to be in the kitchen, he'll just get suspicious of my actions, so it's better to send in a kid like you." She smiled innocently while Eddie just eyed her oddly.

"Fine..." Eddie grumbled, and then he stomped out of the study to get the items that Xack requested. The girl just sat around the arcade machine and waited for her brother's return, and after much time, the boy finally came back with the things she wanted. Her eyes widened and smiled as she saw Eddie walking to her. "So what are you gonna use these for?" He wondered somewhat curiously.

Xack took the rubber gloves and flour and replied quietly, "I just want to see something... I hope it works..." She put on the rubber glove and approached the arcade machine once more. The girl sprinkled a pinch of flour in the palm of her hand and swiftly blew the powder all over the screen so that the hand print became visible to both children. Xack then placed her gloved hand precisely on this handprint and waited. After a few seconds, the screen scanned her hand. She gasped as the arcade machine shook slightly and raised itself above the ground; turning into a small elevator of sorts. "Whoa..." Her mouth was left a gap as she looked over this 'private elevator'.

Eddie fidgeted with his fingers and cautiously turned in place to see if Alfred or Bruce had come in. "We should put the game back to the way it was..." he said a bit nervously. "We could get in trouble..."

"I have to know something..." Xack said to Eddie without turning to him. She got into the elevator and gestured her brother to come in with her. "Come on! Let's see where this goes!" Eddie shook his head. Xack rolled her eyes, "What's the matter? Come in already!"

Eddie was still skeptical about going in with her, but he did anyways. After all, there was nothing better to do in the manor. When he got in, Xack pressed a button that would make the elevator go down. Both kids gasped as the arcade elevator closed its doors and went down swiftly into the ground. It was not long at all when the elevator came to a halt and opened up slowly for them to get out. As Eddie appeared to terrified as to what they found, Xack's eyes sparkled and her face gleamed as she knew as to what she and her brother had discovered. It was a darkened, and damp cave that was so grand in size, and both children couldn't believe there were actually caves this big! This cave was no ordinary cave though, for this chamber had a computer board of sorts that clung to the walls. As both Xack and Eddie neared this computer board, all the screens -- big and small, lit up and began to flash a certain symbol that was very familiar to them. The symbol... of a bat!

Xack grinned and crossed her arms, "Oh... either I'm dreaming, you're dreaming, or Mr. Wayne has some explaining to do..."

meanwhile... across a deserted part of town...

A lone figure, cloaked in a long trench coat, slowly walked the chipped sidewalks as he neared the bustling part of Gotham City. The tall, and muscular figure stopped at the border and looked over the city. "My absence from prison has not been declared yet..." Spoke the figure in a Brazilian accent. "The Batman will pay for what he made me endure. This time... I will crush every bone until it becomes limp as a jellyfish!"

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