Obsession

The Chemical

"You still never told me how you got into the Batcave," Bruce said impatiently, as he sat on one of the couches in the living room. Both Xack and Eddie sat on a different couch together, while Alfred was sitting comfortably in a lounge chair reading a mystery book of his. "Why did you have to be persistent on finding out my secret?" Now Bruce eyed Xack meanly.

Xack crossed her arms and rolled her eyes, "Like I'm gonna go to the newspaper people about this? I mean, who's gonna believe me? No one's going to believe a 'crazy girl' anyways; so why do you worry? Besides, you should of well known that I was going to find out sooner or later. Me and my brother have been here close to a week now -- speaking of which, how come you haven't found the Joker yet? I mean, you're Batman! You must be losing your touch if you haven't found him by now!" She chuckled slightly but stopped when Bruce's expression turned more angrily. Xack cleared her throat and placed her hands in her lap neatly.

Eddie looked at Xack and then at Bruce again, "She did it, Bruce. She wanted to go down there. I didn't want to though..." He smiled innocently at Bruce after saying this.

"Well... I had to come save you with the Batbot, Mr. Wayne. You were in trouble from... Bane, is it?" Bruce just gave a slight nod in agreement. Xack continued, "I would of let it go by itself, but I got myself stuck inside; so, I saved your life. It was the least I could do since you've been saving me and Eddie from Joker a couple of times now." Xack's face gloomed when Bruce still did not speak of the matter. She slouched further into the couch. "You're welcome..." she barely wheezed out.

"The robot was very cool," Eddie added, and still continued to smile innocently at Bruce. Bruce now saw the little boy's cute expression and couldn't help but smile himself to it.

"I can keep your secret, Mr. Wayne," Xack tried to add a little reassuringly. "I still kept Joker's secrets from all of you, and I'm doing a good job of it. You can trust us with your secret identity..." She turned to Eddie who rocked back and forth on the couch, with a strange smile on his face. "Eddie here though...he's a bit of a blabber mouth, but I'm sure he'll be okay."

Bruce exhaled and leaned back in the couch more. Xack and Eddie gazed at each other nervously. "Come now, Master Bruce..." Alfred began, and he placed a bookmark in his book. "They're only children, and I am sure they are trustworthy enough to keep secrets."

Bruce got up from the couch and slowly paced over to the windows. He examined all the buildings of Gotham City and even watched the sunset slowly sink beneath everything. "I have to go find the Joker once more..." he murmured quietly, and then he turned around and walked over to the two children. Bruce handed them both a small, handheld device. Xack observed the object over and realized that this was the batwave communicator. "If there are any emergencies, regarding any of the villains; if you two get into those situations, you can contact me by those. Remember that: Only for emergencies." Xack and Eddie nodded, and everyone watched Bruce start to walk out of the living room.

"Mr. Wayne..." Bruce slightly turned his head towards Xack. "Um... be careful out there. No one wants you to get hurt, and I really mean that."

Bruce smiled warming, "I'll try," he replied, and he left the room.

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"You call yourself my goonies?" Exaggerated the Joker to his henchmen, Punch and Judy, who were both carefully carrying large equipment for Joker into their van. Since it was very late in the evening, or even the early morning, no one could tell where the clowns were at, but it appeared that they were in front of some factory. "You two are so slow! I've seen sloth's move faster than you!" Joker now tapped his foot in a slow, rhythmical way and waited for the two lugs to load the strange metal parts into the van. "Gotta be quick, you know; don't want Batman to come sniffing around. He'll ruin my wonderful plan!"

Joker sighed and had a slight depressed look on him, "Oh, how it would be more fun to have a Joker of my own. I'm so tired of doing everything myself..." Now both Punch and Judy looked at their boss a bit irritably. Joker saw their faces and demanded impatiently, "Why are you starring at me for? Do I look like a van to you? Now load those parts in and be quick about it!" Punch and Judy jumped to Joker's angry tone and now their actions were a little quicker than before.

Joker chuckled under his clenched teeth. "Ooooooh... this is going to be the best idea I ever had! All I'm missing are a few chemicals, and some very special guests..."

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In the morning, Bruce was angry to hear on the news that Joker and his men had broken into a factory of metal and stolen large parts from it. He slammed his fist down on the couch and growled angrily in frustration. Xack and Eddie jumped slightly from the couch that they were both sitting in, for they had never seen Bruce so angry before. "Damn!" Bruce muttered under his breath, "How does Joker keep eluding me? How is he getting around without any witnesses?" Both children shrugged to this.

"Calm down Sir," Alfred said calmly as he handed the newspaper to Bruce. "I am sure you will find this mad clown and put him away before he does any more harm."

"Smarter and more cunning than he looks; that's a definite," stated Xack as she was referring to the Joker. Xack leaned back on the couch, but then she suddenly got up and went over towards the TV to change the channel. "The news is boring anyways, and all it does is bring grief to us now."

"Ooooh! Oooooh! Change it to SpongeBob!" Squealed Eddie.

Xack shrugged, "Let me see if Monk is on first..."

Bruce let out a soft chuckle and began to read the newspaper, but as soon as he saw the headline -- the top story, he growled once more and set the paper beside him. Eddie blinked at Bruce and took up the newspaper himself. Even though he wasn't the best at reading yet, but he knew why Bruce was angry; the title read: JOKER KIDNAPS 13 MORE CITIZENS. WILL THE MADMAN EVER STOP? The little boy put down the paper as well and looked up at Bruce. "You will catch Joker," he said with a little smile on his face. "You the Batman. The Batman always catch the bad guy."

Xack bit her lip as she watched Bruce get up from the couch. "I hope so, Ed," Bruce replied. "So far he's being really clever on not to leave any trails, or any leads. Whatever he's planning must be big, and I'm running out of time..."

Xack looked down and then at Bruce again, "Well, you have that date with 'Vicki Vale' tomorrow, so hopefully a break will help you think better. Besides, if the Joker was really after me and Eddie, I'm sure he would of done it by now. Something tells me he doesn't really want us as a part of his plan."

"Maybe..." Bruce mumbled, "But with Joker's twisted mind, nobody can tell."

Eddie now gazed outside and a low whimper was heard. "It gonna rain." Everyone else looked outside too, and saw some heavy storm clouds pulling in. "It look like it gonna rain hard."

Xack went up to the window and stood next to her brother. "I hope the power doesn't go out. I hate the dark. The dark terrifies me..."

"Don't be too worried," Reassured Bruce, "We have a backup generator incase of situations like that, but I only have one for the Batcave; not the manor."

Xack groaned, "That doesn't make it any better, sorry."

Bruce placed a hand on both children's shoulders, "When I catch the Joker, I promise to take you kids somewhere fun. I know staying here isn't exciting at all, and I'm really sorry for that."

"Are there fun places here?" Eddie asked curiously.

Bruce started to think, "Well... there used to be an amusement park -- Gotham Flags was the name, and it used to be here on the outskirts, but because of other competitions, the place closed down. Been like that for a few years now."

Xack frowned, "I hope you checked there in case Joker decided to make it his hiding place."

"Yes, trust me Xack, I did check that place -- twice actually, but no sign of him there. Joker must be lurking at a different location."

"I heard you have a Medieval Times here," said Xack, changing the subject. "Someone told me that."

"Who?" Bruce wondered.

Xack cracked a smile on her lips, "A friend of mine... It's just, I always love to go to that place. It's really cool, and every time I go there, my dad would get me a necklace. Unfortunately, the doctors took all my necklaces away. They were afraid I might use them to cut myself, so this is the only one I have..." Xack showed Bruce her necklace, which consisted of a castle with a very large crystal at the end of it. "This necklace I got when I first went to Medieval Times, but the doctors took that one away too. I got this one from my friend a while back."

Before Bruce questioned about how exactly she acquired the piece of jewelry, Eddie beamed up at him, "So, can we go there when you catch Joker?"

Bruce smiled at both children, "Sure, we'll all go there. My treat for capturing him. I'm hoping it'll be soon." He then sighed and glanced down at the watch on his wrist. "I should visit Wayne Industries tonight. Showing my face gets my workers less suspicious of my actions." His eyes widened as he just thought of an idea. "Hey, how about you two kids come with me to work? I can give you a tour of the place."

Xack and Eddie looked at Bruce dully, "Um... aren't we not supposed to go anywhere because of Joker?" She asked glumly. "What made you change your mind?"

"Well..." Bruce put his hands in his pockets, "It wouldn't hurt for you two to come with me. Just as long as you stay with me, of course, so how about it?"

Eddie's expression cringed like he just smelled something horrible. "I don't wanna go. It sound boring." Then he plopped himself down on the couch and watched the show Monk that was on TV right now.

Xack exhaled, "Well... I really want to get out, so I guess I'll go. I just hope it isn't as boring as Eddie thinks it is."

Bruce patted Xack's back, "I'll try not to make it boring, but Eddie..." he looked back at the little boy on the couch, "Just what are you going to do while were gone?"

Eddie began to think, but it was Alfred who spoke up, "I and young Eddie can watch a movie of sorts. This time around, I took the liberty of buying the popcorn that he requested." Both Eddie and Alfred smiled at each other.

Bruce nodded, "I guess it's settled then: Eddie can stay here with Alfred, while Xack comes with me to work." He turned to the girl and said, "I'll try to make the tour as interesting as possible." Xack slowly smiled up at Bruce for this. "We'll leave in the evening, and hopefully the storm won't come at all."

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Actually, the storm did come, but the downfall was not as bad as everyone thought it to be. Along the drive to Wayne Industries, Bruce couldn't help but notice that Xack looked terrified by the whole ordeal. Her hair was slightly matted, and even her face glistened with cold sweat; fear obviously, but Bruce couldn't tell what was bothering her.

"Don't worry, Xack. I'm a good driver," Bruce tried to reassure Xack. "I'm going as slow as I possibly can on these roads."

Xack trembled slightly and shook her head, "It doesn't matter if you go fast or slow, people get into accidents everyday from weather like this and even die."

"Xack, don't worry. We're not going to die from this. It isn't raining that hard."

Xack was silent for a moment. "My mom still died though..." A strange sensation went through Bruce when he heard this: cold, almost an odd spark. "It was at night, just like this. She was going to the store to get some missing things...next thing I knew...she was dead..." Xack wiped a few tears from her eyes. "I shouldn't be thinking about this. It happened about a year ago. I have to put it behind me..."

Bruce sighed sadly in remorse. "I'm sorry Xack..." he whispered quietly to her. "I really am..."

Xack sniffled a bit and took a quick glance at Bruce. "I know Mr. Wayne..." she whispered back to him. "Don't feel sorry for me, because you lost your parents in a state worse than mine." Neither of them spoke after that.

"Don't worry about me, Mr. Wayne. Worry about yourself..."

What seemed to be a long ride in the rain, Bruce had finally pulled into the parking garage of his company. While exploring the company of Bruce, Wayne Industries had to be the most confusing place to Xack, for she thought the whole tour was absolutely boring, and some of the floors, hallways, and even rooms looked the same to her. Although, Xack did like the whole floor with the art gallery. She really enjoyed staring at the artwork, but she was the kind of person that only wanted to look at paintings and such for only a few seconds. She was an artist herself, but she even has told people that she doesn't stare at her own works of art. With all the art, chemical labs, electronics, and even vehicles being made at this place, Xack wondered why the enterprise hasn't made their own videogame system or even its own line of games.

Xack yawned tiredly as Bruce, and one of the higher employee's took the girl on a tour of the place, but now everyone was on a floor where the ground had white tiles, and the walls were white themselves. Xack didn't like this location, for this was one of those places where everything looked the same to her.

"...and this is where we make our medicines, and even the chemicals for the antibiotics," Explained Bruce as he, the employee and Xack were slowly trailing down a hallway full of closed doors.

Xack crossed her arms and even her eyes could barely keep themselves open because of boredom. "Huh..." was all the girl could get out of her mouth, for she didn't care at all on what was on the current level. "Hey, Mr. Wayne, can I be honest with you?..."

"Sure..."

"This is really boring, okay? I'm the kind of person who loves videogames, arcades, and even thrilling and extreme rides. This is none of that, and I thought you said you were going to try and make this fun..." Xack sighed depressingly. "Eddie was right..." she mumbled softly.

Bruce glanced at his employee, but all that person could do was shrug at his boss. Bruce grunted quietly and approached Xack. "I'm sorry if this is none of the things you have mentioned, but taking you to any public place can be dangerous for you; you know that." Xack cringed slightly to that. "Okay...how about we check out one of the rooms here..." Bruce gestured to his employee to open one of the lab doors. The employee nodded and began to shuffle through the keys he had in his pocket. The man found the right key and opened a lab door that was next to them.

Everyone went inside, and Xack did not seem impressed with the room at all. It was nothing special, all the exception that it had little vials of medicines or chemicals lining the shelves. Like the hallway outside, this room appeared to be all white as well. It still bewildered Xack as to why such an area like this was painted to be white.

"Like most of the rooms here," Bruce began explaining to Xack. "We do our testing for new cures to illnesses, and we even make our own medicines here." Bruce and the employee watched the girl walk slowly towards a window in the room. Her eyes widened a bit as she looked at the fallen rain.

"It's getting worse..." Xack mumbled nervously, and she even gasped when the electricity flickered a bit. "I hope the electricity doesn't go out." Everyone's body felt a strange sensation go through them as the lights began to flicker oddly. Xack took a step back and squealed loudly in fright when she heard thunder crashing down; making the loudest, and most unnerving sound anyone has ever heard of. As this noise died down, all the lights -- everything, went out into darkness.

"Bruce! -- Mr. Wayne!" Xack cried out, and she outstretched her arms for him, because her eyesight becomes blind in the dark. Mr. Wayne! I-I can't see anything in the dark!" Xack gasped when Bruce grasped her hand tightly.

"Don't worry, I'm right here," Bruce tried to reassure her, and he jerked her body close to his. "Why isn't the backup generator working though?" Unfortunately, he couldn't see that his employee shrugged to the question. Bruce sighed and let go of Xack, which made the girl even more nervous. "Can you stay here with Xack while I go see what's wrong?" He asked his employee through the darkness. "I should be back here in about ten minutes."

"No! Don't go, Bruce! Don't go, Mr. Wayne!" Said Xack, her voice quivering badly. "Please, I don't like being alone in the dark!"

Bruce sighed and held both of her hands tightly in his. "I'll try to be as quick as I can. I have to know for sure what caused the power outage. If I see a security guard along the way, I'll send him up to you. Will that make you feel better?" Xack was silent, and before the girl knew it, Bruce had left the room to go down to the basement of Wayne Industries.

As he left the room though, he was perplexed to see that the power only went out in certain places of the building. For instance, when Bruce had reentered the hallway once more, it was dark of course, but down another hall, the lights were still on. "Very strange..." he murmured, but when his mind was about to question this further, the terrified Xack popped into his head. Bruce quickly got back into reality and hurriedly went down the long flight of stairs to the basement.

Unfortunately for Bruce, the journey to the basement was longer than he thought, and the two he left behind were becoming more anxious as to what was keeping him. Xack and the employee stood quietly in the dark room for about ten minutes now, and both of their senses went on alert when they heard footsteps in the hallway over. The employee exhaled in relief and found his way to the door. "I am sure that this is the security guard Mr. Wayne had sent up. I will tell him to stay with you while I go see how Mr. Wayne is progressing..."

Xack crossed her arms and closed her eyes. She wanted to complain about being left alone for a very short time, but she knew it was no use to do so. When Xack heard the employee leave the room, the girl very slowly and cautiously sat on the cold floor and waited for someone to come to her.

After a few minutes had passed by, Xack's fear of the darkness rose greatly, and she started to whimper frighteningly to this. She knew where the door was, but she felt safer being in an enclosed place; going out into the hallway of black would make her even more terrified, but she wanted to know what was happening with the employee and possibly the security guard. So, the girl carefully crawled her way to the door and opened it quietly. Xack stood up and peeked out to see if anyone was there: no one, not even the sounds of talking were heard. She bit her lip, and felt more nervous about the situation.

"Hello?..." Xack barely squeaked, and she took a step out of the room to get a better look around. No matter how hard she tried though, her eyes just couldn't adjust to the dark.

Xack's spine shivered when she suddenly heard footsteps down the lighted hallways, and even the sounds of chattering can be heard as well. She cracked a small smile of relief on her face as she listened to these noises, and now the girl was walking down the hallway to see the employee and the security guard. As the sounds grew louder, her actions quickened so she could be with people and feel safe with them.

Unfortunately, as she turned a corner to the source of these sounds, she stopped dead in her tracks as to what she saw before her. Yes, there was the security guard and the employee that Xack was happy to see, but to her dismay, they were unconscious on the floor; and not just knocked out, but they had the most disturbing grins on their faces! Xack's eyes shifted from the two comatose bodies, to the Joker that stood with a blank expression on his face as he starred right back at her. Xack was also horrified to see Punch and Judy standing right next to him, but the girl narrowed her eyes slightly as she saw the two lugs holding crates of...something, but she did not know what was inside.

Joker blinked, and seemed very confused at the moment for some reason. He slowly looked to the right, and then to the left of himself before he gazed back at Xack. "Am I...am I dreaming?" He asked somewhat dumbly to Punch and Judy. Xack hesitated, but then she spun around and ran down the hallway from which she came from. Joker stood there for a second, but then a menacing grin came upon his twisted face. "On with the show..."

Xack skidded to a halt when she reached the dark portion of the floor, and now she was more frightened than ever for the Joker would soon find her. The girl looked all around herself and adjusted her eyes as best as she could so she could find a room to run into. Xack pressed herself up against a wall and started to feel around for a door knob. When her hands barely touched the outline of a door, she hurriedly grabbed the door knob, flung the door open and closed it softly behind so that it wouldn't make much noise.

"I...I have to call Batman..." Xack whispered, and she began to fish around in her pockets for the batwave Bruce had given her. She felt relieved when she had the object grasped in her hand. Xack pushed a button on it, and the little thing started to give off an irritating noise. She panicked from it and hid the thing inside her shirt so it would not give away her hiding spot. Just as the noise died down though, Xack gasped softly when she heard the door kick open.

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"Long way to the basement..." Bruce thought to himself as he was still trailing down the long flight of stairs since the elevators don't work. Unfortunately for him, just as he was nearing the first floor, the batwave in his suit pocket went off. He jumped slightly to this, but quickly took it out to see what the problem was. "Oh no..." He muttered as he saw who gave off the signal. "Xack?..." Bruce gazed around himself and wondered what he should do. "The electricity will have to wait..."

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Xack pressed herself up against -- well, what felt like a desk of sorts, as the Joker took a few steps into the dark room. Xack could hear Joker 'hmming' to himself, as if thinking what to do next. He narrowed his eyes as he gently placed a hand to his chin. "Thought she ran in here..." He chuckled softly, and the girl shuddered badly when she heard him now cautiously scanning the room! When he started to circle the desk she was currently hiding, Xack very quietly and slowly crawled around it in a clockwise rotation, while he did the same.

When the Joker grew tired of this, he sighed somewhat sadly and said to himself, "Oh well, I have no time for 'cat and mouse' anyways. Gotta go back and get those lovely bottles of chemicals I need..." Xack covered her mouth to silence her breathing as she heard the Joker's feet shuffle across the ground and then out the door. Once she heard the door close behind her, she sat their ever so quietly as to make sure he wouldn't come back into the room.

"Batman...where are you?" Xack wondered worriedly, and then she stood up and grasped the desk for support of herself. The girl then turned her head to where she thought the Joker had left from. Her expression seemed rather nervous as she pondered, "Should I...go out and find Batman myself? Should I stay in here?" She looked all around herself and shook badly. "No. I can't stay in here. I don't like the dark at all. I-I have to get out of here." Xack put her arms out and cautiously trudged through the darkness until she hit a wall. She started to feel around the wall, but then her hands hit the doorknob. She felt relieved inside as she jiggled the knob a little and opened the door...only to realize that the Joker was standing right there; leaning against the lining of the doorway and having a grin of triumph on his face.

"I knew you would come out sooner or later," the Joker stated happily. "Might as well take you with me now..." Xack yelped out in fright when he quickly snatched her wrist. She whimpered in pain when he started to squeeze it tightly with his fingers, along with the discomfort feeling of his nails digging into her skin.

"No!" Xack cried out in pain, and then she threw her weight down to the ground hard. The Joker's eyes widened in shock as his body was dragged down to her as well. Xack knew this was her chance to try and get away before the crazy clown got back his bearings, so she released herself from his grasp and started to run down the hallway; whether dark or not, she did not care. She kept on running until she saw Punch and Judy come from around a corner and halted in front of her. Xack skidded to a stop and now she was beginning to panic.

Fortunately for Xack though, the reason Punch and Judy came in the first place, was that Batman was hot on their trail. The Batman walked out from the corner as well and stood behind the two large henchmen. Xack's eyes darted from Punch and Judy to Batman, and then the henchmen again. She suddenly jumped and glanced over her shoulder to hear the Joker slowly walking up to them all. He seemed shocked to see everyone in the hallway, but scoffed and crossed his arms as he saw Batman further ahead. "Oh...not you," Joker whined sarcastically, and both Batman and Xack saw some bottles in his arms. "You always try to ruin my fun, Batman!" He put the small bottles in his jacket.

"Your kidnappings have to end!" Batman growled furiously to Joker. "You're going back to Arkham, Joker!"

Joker grinned and gestured his arm out, "Not on a first date, Batsy," he joked lightly, and then he pointed a threatening finger at Batman. "Punch and Judy! Take care of Batsy-watsy here!"Batman jumped back as Punch and Judy spun around to throw their fists into the floor, and he had to keep backing up for dodging those husky men in a narrow hallway was rather difficult.

"Batman, wait!" Xack called out to him, and she started to run after him. Just as she was a few feet forward, she cried out when the Joker took her hand up in his tightly.

"Xackie! Where do you think you're going?" Joker sneered lowly to her.

Xack gazed back at Batman, and then the malicious grinning Joker. She heard the sounds of struggling in the distance between Batman and the henchmen, and knew that a rescue was not going to come soon. Joker was surprised to see the girl shake viciously from him, and then dart into the nearest lab room.

Xack was glad to see that this certain lab room was still lit from the storm, and noticed that this was a room that kept many chemicals to make medicines and anything of the sorts. The room seemed almost empty, but for the exception of a couple of tables that sat in the middle. There were many chemical bottles on the table, and even around it.

When circling the room quickly though, she saw that there was no way out other then the door she came in from. She then hurriedly went back to the door to try and lock it, but just as her hand hovered over the doorknob, she saw it turn on its own and watched the door slowly open. Xack gasped quietly and backed up into the shelves of chemicals as she saw the Joker enter the room and gently shut the door behind him; he kept that sadistic grin on his face as he just stood there with his hands clasped neatly behind his back.

While the girl very cautiously slid against the wall in a clock-wise rotation, the Joker did the same, and that grin only grew wider on his face.

Xack's mind was racing on miles a second, thinking of a way out of this, since her only escape is through the door that Joker happens to still be guarding. She knew if she panicked now, all thoughts on plans of getting away would just go over her head. Then, as he hands slightly clawed the shelves, she felt her fingertips hit the chemical bottles. Xack didn't look back at them, but kept her gaze on the psychotic clown. The girl gasped softly as Joker now advanced towards her. At just the right moment, when Joker was halfway towards her, Xack took up a chemical bottle in her hand and threw it at him. Seconds before it hit the clown, Joker coward a bit defensively as the bottle slammed and broke against his side; the contents sprayed a little on his face.

The Joker just stood there with a puzzled expression on his face, wondering what Xack threw at him. After a few moments passed by, he took a tiny bit on his finger and lightly tasted it. He narrowed his eyes as his mind wandered to find the right word to describe the chemical. "Vinegar..." he mumbled.

Xack hesitated, "V...vinegar?..." she repeated, and couldn't believe that with all the chemicals on the shelves, that vinegar was the one she grabbed.

Joker wiped most of the liquid off of himself, and now he glared back at Xack. Now she was panicking, and took her chances by trying to dash past him to the door. The escape was futile though, for the Joker was too quick and snatched her arm up. The girl cried out in fear and crashed gently into the table next to her.

"Now, now Xackie," Joker lilted, "We gotta leave before Batsy decides to crash our party."

A serious struggle broke out between Joker and Xack, and the clown knew she was not going with him without a fight; no matter how weak she happened to be. Xack even grabbed onto the table next to her as support as the Joker continued to drag her towards the door. Without even thinking, Xack took up one of the chemical bottles on the table and smashed it against the Joker's face, and some of it splashed onto her hands. Immediately upon impact, the Joker dropped Xack to the ground and began to shriek loudly in pain. Her eyes grew wide as she saw the skin on his face sizzle and smoke! Now she wondered what the hell she threw on him.

"It burns! It burns!" Joker hollered, and before Xack knew it, he ran out of the room.

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Batman grunted as Punch roughly grabbed him by the arm and lifted Batman off the ground. Batman's eyes widened in slight panic when he saw Punch drew in a clenched fist, and Batman knew he was preparing for a damaging attack. Batman quickly reacted by throwing a smoke bomb in his face, and as the fog filled the area, Punch dropped Batman to the ground. At this moment, Batman threw out his foot and tripped Punch, which caused the brute to collapse with his partner, Judy.

Just as Batman was about to tie up the henchmen, all men were drawn to a room in the distance, where they all heard Joker give out the most ear-piercing shrill. Not a second too soon, everyone saw Joker stumble out of a lab room and now was hurriedly staggering towards Punch and Judy, but not before halting when Joker saw Batman standing between them all. Batman looked very stunned to see the Clown Prince's face sizzle a bit.

Batman knew this was his chance to catch the Joker while the clown seemed to be in a weaker state, and just as Batman lunged towards him, Joker quickly leaped right past him to be with Punch and Judy again.

"Joker..." Batman wheezed angrily, and now he was growing impatient with the Joker's childish acts.

While the Batman was now quickly heading towards the three bad clowns, Punch and Judy gathered up the crates they were once carrying before, and now all of them were backing away from Batman.

At what appeared to look like Batman would finally put away Joker and his men, the Caped Crusader stopped in his tracks as he heard a painful cry come from the lab room Joker had exited. "Batman!" Batman turned slightly as he heard Xack call out to him urgently. "Batman! It hurts!"

A decision Batman must make, and Joker knew it too. Batman could either hurriedly catch up to the clown and arrest him and his men, but at the cost that Xack might be in serious danger; or Batman could run to Xack's aid, but as soon as he would do such a thing, Joker would know this would be an opportunity to run for it while he had the chance.

"Batman!" Xack called out to him again, but more frantically than before.

Batman starred long and hard at the Joker, while the Clown Prince himself did the same. As the cries of help continued from the girl though, Batman had no other choice but to turn on his heel and quickly dart into the lab room which she was currently in. The Joker formed a wry smile and he turned on his heel as he ran down the hallways with a demented laughter escaping from his throat. One would wonder why, since his skin still burned painfully, but with the Joker, it seems no one will ever know.

The Joker's henchmen though, Punch and Judy hurriedly, cautiously followed the clown with the chemical crates in their arms.

When Batman ran into the lab room as to which he heard Xack's cries, his eyes first caught sight of her hands, which sizzled and smoked just like Joker's face. He watched her hands tremble badly in pain.

"Batman! It hurts... It hurts!" Xack screamed, and she staggered toward him and held out her frying hands. "I...I don't know what I threw... I don't know..."

Xack lightly rested a head on his chest as pitiful cries and tears came about, and Batman gently patted her back in some support. Batman sighed. With the two bodies that had Joker's grins, and with Xack that had a strange sensation going on through her hands, Batman knew catching Joker would not be done any time soon. Batman could feel it in his heart that Joker's plan was close to being finished, but Batman did not know what those kidnapped people would have to do with it. Batman knows time is running out for him...and those victims.

"He wasn't looking for me..." Xack wheezed out softly to Batman. "He didn't know I was here... He was looking for...something else..."

Batman thought for a second, and then the images of Punch and Judy holding those crates popped into his head. "Chemicals..." He murmured, "But what could Joker be making with them?"

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