Author's Note:Originally this was supposed to be a one-shot, but due to length I split it into two parts. It makes a good deal more sense to read both parts at once, so therefore I recommend such. Thanks!

Disclaimer:I own zero of the characters in this story. All characters named here and otherwise portrayed here are property of DC comics and their subsidaries or whatnot

Decrescendo

It was warm in the enclosed house. The curtains were pulled across the large glass windows, keeping curious glances from the outside where they were. The inside of the room was brightly-lit from side-lights on the walls, along with an electric chandelier hanging from the ceiling from a chain. peachy-blue carpeting covered the wooden floor, giving a person walking across its surface a comfortable feeling on the soles of their feet. However, most of the things with their "feet" on the surface at the moment weren't human. Several tables sat in the four corners of the room; one with a mirror on it; another with a tray and a few glasses; a third with an old hourglass; and the fourth with a vase and flowers. The doorway to the room stood next to the table with flowers on it, rectangular and wooden in build. A bookcase was diagonally-positioned from the doorway, holding numerous books. For the most part, the room was otherwise pretty much empty.

Except for a brown piano in the middle of the room directly beneath the chandelier, along with a small bench with matching color in front of it.

And of course, a small child playing at on it.

"Hmm-hmm..." The young child hummed to himself, even as his small fingers moved over the white and black keys of the instrument. The chords inside the piano were struck quickly, releasing a harmonious sound when joined with the others.

"Joey." Came a sweet, feminine voice from the doorway. The boy looked up in its direction to see a woman, standing there. Her slightly-bushy brown hair lied down across the top of her back and sides, though a few stray strands from the day's stresses stood out. Her light-purple clothing, top and bottom pieces of a pair of pajamas, contrasted with the whiteness of the room's walls. "Time for bed dear."

"Okay mommy." Joseph responded, his voice a bit lower than usual. The boy moved his small hands away from the keys slowly. His mother watched him from the doorway, an arm perched on its side to lean on. He came over to her, the other door in the room behind leading to the kitchen, instead of where he was now going. The woman bent down on her knees even while he came over to her. Joseph moved in and allowed her to grab him gently by the sides of his arms, planting her lips lightly on his forehead, right below his curly blonde hair.

"Good night Joey." she said softly, even as Joseph leaned in and pecked her on the cheek once himself. His mother smiled, before then ushering him around and upstairs again. "Perhaps tomorrow we can sing that song together that goes along with your piano recital this saturday." she added even as he walked to the next floor. A smile grew on Joseph's lips even as he heard the words. He loved to sing and had been practicing for the past two weeks on that, when he hadn't been playing the piano at least. He began to run up the blue-carpeted stairs, hoping to get into bed as soon as possible.

But first to get ready. Joseph ran into the bathroom as soon as he got to the top of the staircase. The room was quite large, but with what every bathroom would come with. A sink with a mirror above it to his left. A white bath sat next to the wall opposite the entrance, along with a toilet adjacent to it. A trash can was next to the sink, and the usual assortment of dental care instruments were on the counter. Joseph moved a box from the other side of the sink over to in front of it, and stepped onto box. He grabbed several of the items there, including a cup which he filled up, a toothbrush, and a tube of paste. He stared at himself for only a few seconds in the mirror before turning the water on below, getting the bristles on his toothbrush wet. His green eyes seemed to stare out at him, reflecting back almost errily. Joseph however put some toothpaste on the brush, and began to clean his teeth. After a few minutes of doing this, he finished and spit into the sink for the last time, pouring the rest of the water in his cup out to get the gunk down the drain. He then jumped off the box and put it back into its original position before leaving the room.

He turned to his right and ran down the hallway. He passed a single door, only stopping at the second. Joseph grasped the handle quietly, and turned it before pushing forward. The door opened, catching itself only once or twice on the soft carpet below. He moved inside quickly the pitch-black room, throwing off his outer clothes and jumping into already laid-out light-blue pajamas. He then crawled over and into bed, pulling the covers over him. Joseph closed his eyes and smiled, trying to drift to sleep as soon as possible. The thoughts of his activities with his mother tomorrow though kept him awake, too much excitement to let him drift to sleep.

Plus, maybe his dad would be home to, and he could play for him. Joseph turned in his bed, ruffling the covers. His daddy wasn't at home right now though, his mommy had told him he had gone somewhere else with friends. Somewhere on another continent even! She said he might even bring him back something from where he was, and tell him about it! The thoughts churned in the young Wilson's head, keeping him awake even longer.

Aftter several minutes more however, the stress of the day on Joseph's small body was getting to him. His eyelids felt heavier, and his lips drier. Slowly, he closed his eyes, letting the darkness of the room overtake him. The bed felt so comfortable, soft without any lumps in it. He turned again, the bed taking to the shape of his body. Everything seemed... so much fuzzier if he opened... his eyes...

CRASH.

Joseph sat up in the bed, eyes wide again. Something had made that loud noise downstairs, he was sure of it. But what could it be? Maybe though it was just his mom. Maybe she just dropped a glass or somethingNothing to be scared of...

Muffled shouts suddenly added to whatever was going downstairs. Joseph fell back into bed on his back, and pulled the covers back over him completely. More noises were being made. Something sounding like... rapping... but not like on his piano keys. No... they sounded more like... the noise his brother Grant's gun made! But why was Grant home again? Wasn't he off at school now, in an academy? Why was he home again, and playing with his gun in the house? Their mom would be really mad at him for that.

More rapping noise continued, then... nothing. Joey gripped at the covers over him more, clenching them under his fingers. Large thuds now were making themselves known, louder and louder. Suddenly, they were at his door. The noises stopped for a moment. Then, the door handle to his room squeaked. Joseph stared out into the darkness, the glint shining in his wide eyes for only a second before it moved away and towards the wall opposite him. Dark shapes moved into his room, the light in the hallway only briefly illuminating them. Red... suits?

"Mommy?" Joseph called out slowly, moving the covers away from his face a tiny bit. The shapes then rushed at him. He felt several large things come under his body and clasp around him. Joseph let out an involuntary gasp even as his body left the bed. The covers were ripped from his hands by another force, his grip gone. He looked back at the bed, and reached back for it. "Let me go!" he said, kicking his legs back and forth.

Then, a sharp pain exploded in the back of his head. His sight glazed over, the darkness again becoming fuzzy. Darkness danced about in his vision, until it completely swallowed him, and his last feelings of consciousness slipped away.

"We have the kid, now Deathstroke will have to answer to our demands."

-T-

Bright lights... really bright...

Joseph William Wilson awoke with a start. His first reaction was to reach up with his hands and rub his eyes. They hurt so bad... why were the lights here so bright anyway? He rubbed them for a minute or so, they felt so dry, itchy too. He finally turned his head away from the lights in the... ceiling of wherever he was, and to the side.

Lots of red and black, in two lines with creases and bends in them. It took Joseph a few seconds before he recognized the lines to be legs, even as he looked up. A man stood next to him, looking right back down at the small five-year old. In his hand was a... gun. The man held it firmly, against his chest with the nozzle pointing down to his side. His face was covered up completely by a black-ski mask. Joseph looked away, and around the place he was at. His covers were gone, and so was his bed! His whole room was! Where was he, and why was there a man with a gun like his brother and daddy had next to him. The child tried to stand up, swaying a little at first. His legs weren't used to being back up, they still wanted to rest and sleep. After a little bit though, he was able to be steady, and try to see the surrounding place.

"Get back down." The man next to him said, picking up a leg and pushing him back. Joseph fell down from the blow, landing on his bottom hard. He gritted his teeth together, eyes closed. His back burned from the wood as he lied back on the ground. A tear welled up in one eye, and rolled down his cheek. That hurt... why had the man done that to him? What had he done to him anyway!

"Is that the son of the famous Terminator? I thoguht his spawn would be much tougher." Another voice in the place Joseph was at said. Joseph looked up, rubbing a hand against his cheek to wipe the tear away. His gaze centered on a man in a green trenchcoat, with both his hands in oversized pockets on the outfit. Head nearly devoid of hair, the man's returning gaze was... scary. Joseph however kept looking at him.

"Where-- where am I?" he asked in a small voice, sitting up in his position. The man next to him shifted from one leg to the other, looking over at the man. The other person however, shook his head with closed eyes.

"We need him alive for this to work Gorchej, don't get impatient now." The man next to Joseph nodded, and returned his head to looked down at the child. Joseph didn't like the person to keep staring at him, it was weird. Why was he here anyway. He hadn't done anything bad. In school, you only got sent to punishment or time-out when you were bad, and he was never bad. His mother always told him to be good and nice to other people, because that was the only way to treat other people. So why were the people here now treating him like this? What had he done? And what was going to happen now?

Joseph bit his bottom lip and thought a little on the questions. But then, he switched to looking around wherever he was. It was a big place, a lot bigger than his room. There were crates and boxes all over the place, mostly stacked up. His brother Grant probably could climb them though. Other than that, the room was just gray, with a few windows near the ceiling. But it was dark outside, so the only light getting through was the bright ones hanging from the cieling. Most of them were still, but a few swung from the ropes holding them up.

"Boss, they're coming." Another man dressed in similar clothing to the one next to Joseph said. The man in the large green trenchcoat turned to the person standing next to Joseph, and nodded. Suddenly, the man standing closest to him reached into a side pocket, and pulled out a large knife. Jericho's eyes opened more as the knife glinted in the light of the room. The man then grabbed Joseph by the back of his shirt, and picked him up.

"Let me go!" Joseph cried out, trying to get away. The guard however, ignored the child's protests and held him against his own body. His arm moved around, until it was across Joseph's chest. The left hand wielding the knife, which reminded Joseph of the kind his mommy used to cut food in the kitchen. moved closer and closer to him, eventually right next to his throat. Joseph's eyes moved from the knife, back to the trenchcoat-wearing man, and back to the knife again. The "boss" moved a hand out of his right pocket, and signaled in the air with the entire arm.

Suddenly, half a dozen men in red top and bottom khaki suits with black masks and boots emerged, from behind the different boxes and crates that had hidden them. They ran about, some crouching down behind other boxes, though in better sight of the entrance. Others moving closer to him and the other man holding him. And finally, one next to the person wearing the trenchcoat. Each of them had guns like Joseph's dad, but not his brother this time. They were bigger than the "rifles" his brother got to shoot, with more things coming out of them.

A door opened on the other side of the room. Two figures entered, one a good bit shorter than the other. Joseph instantly recognized the one, her clothing only different from normal.

"Mommy!" Joseph cried out, seeing his moom walk forward with another. She herself wore a brown trenchcoat, and green leggings underneath it. Black shoes, nothing special on her feet. Her hair was like it had been the last time he had seen her in the living room. She saw him, and nearly screamed.

"Oh my God, Joey!" she tried to run forward, but the other with her grabbed onto her arm. Joseph looked at him next.

Black clothing... a lot of it. But around his tummy was an area of grey cloth. But shinier... metal was on top of the black and grey clothing in some places. Around his neck, and his shoulders and forearms, along with his legs. A sash went over his chest and to his left, with some kind of pole attached to it on his back. He also had a belt on, and what Joseph remembered as a... pistol from watching his father one time fire, holstered there. But his face was the weirdest of all. Whoever he was wore a mask, like from Halloween over it. It was like a pumpkin even, completely orange. Only two eyes poked out of the mask, along with a few slits over the person's mouth.

"Addie, don't." The person said, holding onto Joseph's mother. The voice... Joseph remembered the voice. It sounded familiar, really familiar.

"Da-daddy?" Joseph called out to the man with his mommy. Adeline still tried to fight, though barely, against her husband's grip, the men along the room tensing their grip on their weapons. Joseph felt the knife come come closer, the slight flinch in Gorchej's arm visible.

"Smart move Terminator. Your son may have been just a minor nuisance, but we'd do away with him just as easily." The man wearing the trenchcoat said, taking the family by surprise. The Terminator let go of Adeline, and faced him.

"Who are you?" he asked, his voice cold, calculating, not giving away anything. Muscles tensed, and fingers inched together.

"You can call me the Jackal, and I'd be surprised if you didn't know who that is." The man replied, all the while keeping his hands in his pockets, facing the Terminator. Joseph watched his mother's eyes widen, and a hand brought up to slightly-ajar mouth.

"The Jackal now resorts to kidnapping his target's children to get their attention? My my, the name doesn't do you much good anymore then, I take it." The Terminator responded, standing completely still while he said his part. The Jackal took the verbal attack, and continued standing as if nothing had just transgressed. "Then again, I suppose without the Agandian government able to back you anymore, it's understandable why you'd have to resort to this sort of thing."

"Make no mistake Deathstroke, your job only temporarily put my operations on hold. They'll be back up soon enough, which is the cause of me abducting your child." Joseph listened to the words the two men; his daddy and the other guy; said. Who was this Ugandian person, and what had daddy or this guy done to him? Was that why he was here?

"Revenge? Trust me Jackal, you'll all be dead if you do anything here."

"Slade..." Another voice sounded behind Deathstroke. It was Adeline again. She was looking over at Joseph, her eyes wide in fear. She looked ready to start running no matter what happened, and get to her son. The Terminator however, continued to face forward, ignoring his wife.

"Listen to your wife, Terminator. We're not here to take revenge on you or your family. All we want is the name of who hired you to eliminate our supporters, and we'll let your son go. On a businnessman's honor."

"You know I can't do that, so why even ask?" Was all that the Terminator said in reply. Jackal nodded his head curtly, before picking it back up opening his mouth. His eyes sprang open.

"KILL THEM NOW!"

Deathstroke immediately pushed Adeline to the ground before grabbing the staff on his back. He tossed it quickly towards Joseph's position. Why was daddy throwing something at him, why wasn't he--

Joseph stopped even as something slipped against his skin. It was cold, and sharp. The world seemed to freeze over, his eyes widened, the green pupils seemed to shake, shimmering almost. The pain was miniscule, but he felt it all the while, going into his throat. His sight began to black out quickly, images of his mommy... daddy... brother... flashing before his... eyes... A numbing hand went up to his mouth almost instinctively, covering it as spastic coughs began. The knife clattered to the ground, the tip with a red liquid covering it. Joseph's body found the flooring only a second or two later. He looked out in the hazy darkness, barely able to see anything going on. But... something else flashed before his eyes... for some reason.

The piano... his mommy teaching him how to play for the first time...

Gun shots sounded off, screams and grunts were made. More things making noises against surfaces. More shots, another scream or two...

Singing for the... first time... his mommy telling him... how good of a... voice he had... laughing with him...

"KILL HIM! KILL--" Another thump against something.

"I told you what would happen."

His brother... firing his daddy's guns... his mommy watching the other two... next to him...

"Slade... SLADE! Oh my God, is he--!" His mommy's voice...

Something came under him and... lifted him up from the ground. Everything was so... blurry... Another cold thing clasped around his neck. He could still see the... bright lights from the cieling, but they were getting... dimmer...

"He'll still alive Addie, they only started cutting his throat. But he have to get him to a hospital." His daddy's voice...

The lights blurred together... and the grey walls seemed to move away. His eyesblinked. He tried to... say something... but an excruciating pain shot through his neck... it hurt so bad...

What had he done?

-T-

Darkness. Total pitch-black. Like how his room was at night, if the night-light wasn't on. Voices played in his ears... one of them a stranger's...

"Well mam, your son is now perfectly alright. The skin has healed up correctly. Thankfully the knife didn't get too deep into him, or there'd be some more serious damage."

"But Doctor Decarlo... his voice?" His... mommy's voice...

A pregnant pause.

"... I'm sorry mam, but there's nothing we can do for that. He's lucky to be alive after the accident. Now I have other patients to attend to Mrs Wilson, I need to see to them. Please... just take it slowly with him. He can still hear, and the hospital here has a complete class on sign language. He'll be fine."

"... Thank you Doctor..."

Something echoed wherever Joseph was... like shoes or boots on a floor, but one that was hard. The world was nothing but blackness, darkness, with no light invading. Joseph felt something on his... arm, after a a couple of seconds of gaining back some feeling. His body still really numb though, he could barely move his fingers even. Warm, covering his small wrist entirely. But tight, almost... afraid to let go. He couldn't see though, not yet at least.

Slowly... carefully... Joseph opened his eyelids. The room swam into murky focus, fuzzy to the extreme at first. His eyes adjusted little by little, bringing the place more into focus. They then traveled, landing on the person next to him, a woman in a light-pink t-shirt, with an opened neck area. His mommy. He noticed he was laying in a bed, like his own at home. There were less covers though. He opened his mouth a little bit, the dry lips cracking at the movement even as he tilted his head more to her. Her hand was on his wrist, still holding tightly. He had to ask where he was and had been, and where... he looked around, seeing no one else... where was his daddy? He moved his tongue a bit, and licked his lips more. He wanted to know where his daddy was, and what had happened! Why did those men... bad men take him where they did? He began to move his mouth, to give the words in his head shape and sound.

Only... nothing came out.

Joseph's eyebrows shot up. He tried to speak again, with the same result. He tried a third time, but still no sound. Why was this happening? Why couldn't he speak? Was he still asleep maybe? Were his slips not wet enough? He licked his lips fervently. His heart was beating fast, like it was thumping against his rib cage. He desperately tried to speak.

But...

Nothing. The words sat in his head, unspoken. But why! Why couldn't he speak, what was wrong with him! Had he done something bad, and someone wasn't letting him speak? Was he sick with something? Why couldn't he speak! He looked up at his mommy, eyes wide and mouth open. She stared back into his green eyes, motionlessly.

She grabbed him by the back of the shirt and dragged him over to her, into her chest. She stroked his golden curls gently in her left hand even as she broke down into sobbing, her right hand clenching his clothes. Joseph was shocked, his faced buried in his mother's body. And then it hit hi. He wasn't being punished at all, because he hadn't done anything bad. Mommies didn't hold you and cry when you did something bad, they spanked you, or at least that's what his friends had told him at school.

He hadn't done anything bad... but he just couldn't speak anymore.

Joseph cried with his mother. But unlike hers, his tears were silent.

-T-

"Addie, there's no way this will work."

"It has to Clarton, it just has to!"

Joseph sat next to his mother, a boy of the age of six, dressed in a neat little blue suit with matching tie over a white undershirt. His blonde hair had stayed curly, uncombed for today. His mother wore a purple suit, with a skirt matching the same color that went down to just above the knees, and pantyhose underneath that. A nice white blouse completed the outfit, showing only at her neck, and a little below at the opening of the two flaps of fabric. For her head, she wore a matching small stand-up cap, balanced neatly on her brown hair. Joseph looked down at his black dress shoes underneath the table, which he moved up and down according to his feet. He looked back up even as the man across from them, Mr. Clarton Jurgens, spoke again.

"Addie, you're not going to win this custody settlement. Slade wants partial custody of Joseph, and there's no reasons that show that he's not a capable father to the boy."

"You know what happened to Joey, we both know what happened-" Adeline snapped back, but Clarton put up a hand.

"And we both know what you did afterwards. And what happened before is so unbelievable to any judge that it'd never be accepted, and you'd probably lose full custody on grounds of insanity! And besides, Slade could easily as I said bring up your actions after that incident, and bring assault charges to you for it! Whatever we do Addie... you're not going to win this case..." Joseph rapped his small knuckles on his pantlegs, moving his head from side to side. He hadn't seen his daddy in almost a year, at least according to his mommy. But today, he actually got to see him again! He didn't know why his mommy was so upset by that though...

"We can still use the fact that he never went to the hospital to see Joey! Show that's he's an uncaring bas-" Adeline stopped herself as her eyes moved over to Joseph. She then took a breath, and sat back in her chair. The back was comfortable, shaping to her skin. "Please Clarton... you're been our family lawyer and friend for decades... you have to do something to win this... you have to keep Slade from Joey..."

Clarton sighed and snapped his briefcase closed on the table in the middle of the three. He then tilted his head down, so that he could peer at them from behind his glasses. Joseph thought it looked a bit funny, but didn't smile at it. Laughing at others wasn't nice at all. And besides that, he didn't even know why they were here. Why couldn't his daddy see him anyway? He wouldn't do anything to him that would be bad.

"I'm so sorry Addie... I'll try... but that's all I can do..."

-T-

Joseph held on to the much older man's gloved hand, even as he continued to walk down the large and sometimes dark halls. He didn't like them all that much. There wasn't enough light in them, and no windows.

"I'm sure you'll find your stay here very comfortable, young master Joseph." The butler said to the small boy. Joseph looked up at him, and nodded his head. he was going to see his daddy, so of course he'd like it here! His mommy hadn't seemed too happy though about it. She cried a couple times after they had gotten home. Eventually though, she stopped and they played some songs on the piano together. That's what they usually did anyways, but his mommy for the last few days before today had done it a lot more than they usually did.

"Well, here we are." The slightly-elderly man said as the pair reached a door. He moved his white-sleeved arm up to a button on the side of the door, and pressed it in. A metallic "clinking' sound was made, before the door rolled away. Another room, this time even darker than the hallways, was what came next. Joseph almost didn't want to enter it, it seemed too dark, and a little scary. The butler however led him in, tugging on his smaller arm. For the day, his mommy had dressed him in a white sweater and blue jeans. The sweater had a high collar though, and that made Joseph's neck itch.

The room wasn't as dark as Joseph thought at first. There was a light inside, just not that much. Long and thin bars illuminated the room; his mommy had one time called them fluorescent lights when they had gone into the grocery store. He looked up across the room as the elderly gentleman continued to lead him in. His white suit with the black dress shirt underneath becoming somewhat paler under the location's lights. After about another half-minute of walking, Joseph felt the hand holding his slip, the gloved appendage sliding away.

"Your son is here, sir." The man suddenly announced ahead of them, into the darker reaches of the room. Joseph looked forward, but saw nothing ahead of them. None of the lights stretched that far back. The child stood next to the other person for a bit, shifting favor from one foot to the other every few seconds. Another voice then rung out, in response.

"Thank you Wintergreen, you can go now."

The butler nodded and without another thought turned around, and began to walk away. Joseph almost turned and followed. He didn't want to be left alone, why was he leaving him here! The voice called out again however, catching the small boy's attention.

"Joey..."

Joseph turned his head back around, only to be facing a very large man in front of him. He stumbled back a step, the armor on the man's lower legs reflecting his wide-eyed appearance. He turned his head up to look at the rest of the person. The man wore the same clothing as he had on... that night, lots of black and grey. Everything about the shiny armor too was the same except for one detail. His face had a different mask on... now it was two colors, one side still orange, but now the other black.

The voice though, was exactly the same, even though he hadn't heard it in a year. He hadn't talked during the "custidy" battle, only his lawyer had. But Joseph remembered it from before...

His daddy's.

Slade moved down on one knee, closing in on Joseph. He leaned his face into his son's, the one eye protruding from his mask calm as could be.

"You've grown Joey... a year older now."

Joseph nodded numbly, his green eyes never leaving his father. His birthday had just been three weeks ago. For some reason though, when his mommy had left the party to get the mail, she came back crying. He didn't know why though, but she tried to hide it from him when he saw her come back in. She just wiped her eyes on her sleeve and sat back down next to him and Clarton, and started cutting the cake.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be there Joey, but now that we can see each other again, we can do more things like that together." Joseph's head picked up a bit at that. Was that why he was here, to have fun? Was his daddy maybe going to play piano with him? He said he had always liked hearing him play, just as much as he liked to help Grant play in the backyard with targets. maybe even his mommy could come over, and they could all be together again playing--

"But not today Joey." Slade started back up again, interrupting his young son's thoughts. The man stood back up, and began to walk off. The figure moved out of the lights' ranges, and was enveloped back into the unlit areas of the room. Joseph sat on the ground a little while more, before getting back up himself. Where had his daddy just gone? He just disappeared, right into the dark! His heart began to pump faster, as he twisted his head around, the blonde curls swaying a bit by the fast moments.

His father's voice rang out into the room and to him, echoing in the chamber.

"Today, we start our practice."

The room was suddenly illuminated in bright lights... like the ones in that... room. No parts of the chamber were left darkened. Joseph shot his arms up to his face, shielding it from the surprise. Slade stood several yards away from him, next to a large metal chair. He reached behind it, and pulled out two identical metallic bars. He walked back over to his son, holding them in one hand.

He then grabbed one out of his right with his other hand, and outstretched that arm to Joseph. The small child stared at the item for a while, wondering what it was. Maybe it was his daddy's present for his birthday? Joseph reached out finally and took it from his daddy, holding it in both hands open-palmed. Slade nodded, before reaching around his back to his belt. A small "click!" could be heard before he moved his free arm back to his front.

Joseph nearly jolted back even as the object in his hands made a small noise back, and shot out horizontally both ways. The item extended until another "click!" made itself known, locking the object's segments in place. The six year-old stood in awe at it, looking at the sleek and refined metal in his hands. The other one in Slade's hand followed suit, shooting out to the same size. The father then turned to the side, gripping the weapon in both hands tightly.

"This, Joseph, is a bo staff. This is where we'll start today, learning how to use it. Now, follow my lead."

-T-

The day was bright outside today, with the sun shining down on the pair, even as they walked across the asphalt belt. The road hugged against a small uprise in the land, creating a hill with a nice gathering of trees on it. To the opposite side was almost the opposite, with a dip in the land at an angle. Adeline held onto Joseph's hand, the nine year-old looking around the path a his mother partially guided him down it. Many other people walked or ran past him, all intent on the same things he and his mom were today.

Getting to see all the animals at the zoo!

"This way Joseph." Adeline said gently, pulling him over to the left, a smile adorning his face. The path was beginning to diverge now into two seperate ones. Joseph moved his feet in the direction his mom pulled, the soft-soled shoes only making a little noise as the slight suction between the ground and shoes' bottoms. The jeans he wore ended at just below his ankles, the top of them disappearing underneath the white shirt with a high collar his mom had picked out for him today. His mother had taken a pair of brown khaki pants with black heeled-shoes. Her top was a light-weight yellow t-shirt, the sleeves ending a couple of inches up from the elbow.

After a couple of minutes walking down the left path, they stopped at the side of a fence seperating the path and a large field. Joseph put his arms on the railing, and stared up at the giant, long-necked creatures with yellow skin and brown spots all over their backs. His eyes widened, even as one came a bit closer over to them, and reached up into a tree, pulling some leaves off to munch on. Adeline leaned down onto the railing with her son, staring at the beasts with him. She turned her head to him, smiling.

"Joseph, you see these things every time we come here. Don't you want to maybe see something else a little more?" she asked him, smiling with her cherry-red lips. But Joseph continued to look at the giraffes, and his mom shrugged, keeping her smile. The boy stood, captivated by the gentle creatures. Their long necks allowing them to eat from the tallest tree here. They were so huge, yet... so gentle... and nice. Joseph's gaze changed to another giraffe farther out, walking around on it's long legs. Near it's feet though, coming up to the animal's version of ankles, was almost a miniature version of the animal. A baby giraffe. The sign next to him on the railing said there had just been a birth, and this must be the one. He continued to look, even as the smaller creature walked, a bit unsteadily next to it's own mom. For a second, Joseph's vision changed, shifting over to the woman that stood next to him. His mom was smiling as she stared out at the animals, her arms crossed and supporting her body against the fence. She seemed so... happy here, spending time with him. Ever since his dad had started getting the weekends with Joseph, his mom started trying to take him somewhere special once every week. Generally, she also seemed happier now than she used to when he first started being with his dad again.

The shrieking noise of metal on metal crossed Joseph's mind suddenly, and he turned his eyes away from his mom. He went back to looking at the animals, putting the last memory away... for the next weekend. He kept watching the giraffes as they continued to graze, eating from the large trees in their pens across from the fence and safety ditch.

"Joseph, would like to go look at other animals now?" His mother's said to him. He turned to look at her, staring at him as she stood back up from the fence. Joseph nodded, and moved away from the fence himself, turning his body back to the path. His mother stretched out her hand, and Joseph grabbed onto it. The two began to walk to their left, towards a small building with a large piece of glass in front of it, with space underneath it. Two clerks sat in the building, with groups of people coming up to the window, exchanging some talk, and walking away with pieces and stubs of paper in their hands. Joseph watched even as they then moved towards a set of wooden steps, right of the shop.

"Joseph honey, I need to go up to the counter there to get us tickets for the next section, we'll come back here before we leave. Alright?" Joseph nodded, his head feeling a bit heavier. Adeline moved over to the booth with her son, and waited in line for a few minutes. When the other people had already gotten their business done, the woman stepped up, putting her hand onto the counter.

"I'd like two tickets please." she asked. The clerk behind the window nodded and bent down. A little while later he came back up and handed them to her. Adeline then reached into her purse and pulled out several bills. The man took them and stashed the money away in a box before smiling and telling her to have a "good day".

Joseph felt a slight squeeze on his hand even as Adeline began to glide him away. He began to walk again alongside her again, to the right as she handed him a small piece of rough paper, which read "zoo ticket" with some other things written on. Joseph. They moved to the wooden steps and got up them quickly. A few other families walked with and past them, laughing and playing. Joseph looked at a couple of them. Some of them were like him and his mom, just the two of them, and maybe a another brother or sister. But some... some had both their mom and dad...

"Something wrong, Joseph?" His mother's voice called out to him. He looked up to his mother's face. Her mouth had turned down and opened a touch. He smiled and nodded at her, and began to swing his arm with hers. Adeline smiled with him and continued to walk.

They got onto the boardwalk from the stairs and took a left after a few steps. Guard rails were on either side of the path, with boards supporting their slanted faces underneath. Their shoes made loud "clacks" and "clunks" on the wood as they progressed. Joseph turned his head back and forth, looking at the fields on either side of the boardwalk. The one side was the same from before, with the long-necked giraffes grazing in them. The other on his left however had lots of rocks in it, and a big ditch like the one in the giraffe's home, going right in front of the boardwalk's side. The animals in the field there didn't seem very interested in coming close to them though. They instead sprayed themselves with water that they sucked up through their noses, getting it on their backs and down their sides. Joseph kept moving his head in front of him, so that his mom's body didn't get in the way. Their gray skin stood out from the brownish-white dirt they were standing in, making them even easier to see than they already were. Joseph continued to watch them, even as his mom and him walked farther away. He strained his neck to catch a last glimpse of the creatures, before the boards got into his line of sight.

Those elephants were always neat here! Maybe if there were less people though, they'd come closer to the boardwalk. Oh well, it was still pretty easy to see them, at least at first.

"Alright Joseph, show them your ticket." The words pulled the child out of his thoughts. Joseph looked up and saw himself standing in front of another booth, but smaller. There was only one person inside too, but it was a lady. She smiled at Joseph, and outstretched her hand as the bonde-haired boy reached up and put his ticket onto the counter. The woman took the ticket from him and moved her hands back behind the counter after his mom gave the lady her ticket as well. He heard something like paper tear and before he knew it, his mother handed him back his ticket, missing a part of the side. The woman in the booth waved at the two then as they walked past her.

Joseph looked around as they came into the zoo, and underneath the large wood gates like always. They were just so big, with the two doors all the way opened and banging on the backs of the gate walls. Other families walked with them, and Joseph saw just like him other kids looking up at the doors. In fact, just about everyone here that he could see had kids like himself with them, just walking and looking around. Everybody, everywhere except--

--Except that guy. Joseph looked over at a bench sitting next to the inner gate walls. A man rested in the seat; his collar drawn up around his face. He wore a big rain coat, made up of a khaki tan. Joseph looked around him. Where was his kids, or wife? Were they somewhere else right now? Joseph saw a gift shop a step or two away from the bench; maybe his family was in there.

"So Joseph, where would you like to go first?"

The child looked up at his mother at the question. He thought for a bit, moving his gaze out towards the park in front of them. There two paths he could take, and he knew which way they went to. If Joseph took the left, then he'd get to see the reptiles and other animals that lived in the water and aquariums there. But if he took the right path, then he'd get to see all the other caged land animals. Tigers... and lions! And there were birds too, in their own seperate cages of course. That way, the lions and tigers wouldn't hurt them.

"Well Joseph?" Adeline asked him again, waiting patiently. Joseph's eyes went from one path to the other. Which one? He wanted to go on them both, and see all the animals, but he knew he'd already get to do that. They'd just circle around the park like they always did, and see the other group of animals after they saw the first. Finally after a couple more seconds of thinking and biting his lip, Joseph took his index finger and stuck it out, pointing towards the right one. His mother nodded, and the two began to walk towards the path.

Joseph smiled and held onto his mother's hand, looking around a little bit more. Most of the other groups were going the other way. The child smiled, knowing that the path they were taking would be less crowded. He never liked lots of people surrounding him, anyway. His tongue and mouth always got dry, and he had a hard time signing for large groups. He turned his head around, just to see how many people were behind them.

Not a whole lot. About two other families were walking behind them. One of them had a stroller with them, and a tiny baby in it. Another kid walked beside the woman pushing the stroller. Joseph stared at the baby for a little bit. He still couldn't believe he had ever been that small before, even if his mom told him he had. The other family a little farther back only had one child with them, a girl a couple years younger than Joseph himself. She walked holding both of her parent's hands, and skipped along with their strides. Joseph almost turned his head back to the front, seeing no other families behind them.

At least, no other families.

A figure caught Joseph's eye from behind the other two groups. The child strained his neck to turn and and get a better look. It was the man again from the bench! But he still didn't have anyone with him. It was strange, why was he at the zoo if he didn't have a family to go with? He didn't seem really old either, no gray hairs or anything.

But he was just by himself, walking behind all three of them. Joseph thought for a little more on the man, but eventually decided to stop. His mom had told him it wasn't polite to stare at people, anyway. After a few minutes he forgot about the people behind them, and stopped over at one of the first cages along the path. He read the sign in front of the cage, which had a photograph of the very bird in the cage.

Cockatiel. Joseph looked up at the bird, with it's yellow feathers around it's face; orange patches around the ear-holes. A black-and-brown eye spied out from both sides of it's face, and to Joseph it looked like the bird was angry when seen from the front. White feathers intermixed with gray ones along the sides of the wings, and a large group of long feathers stuck out from it's back, making the tail. Joseph thought they reminded him of the kind people used to write with in some of the movies he watched before. The bird walked sideways from branch to branch, keeping one of his eyes on the people watching him. The animal then moved his head forward at an angle, and let out a small "chirp", before moving away again.

Joseph moved away from the cage after a little while, and began to walk away. The animal was funny looking, with that yellow and orange on him, but there were other animals to see too. Maybe he could come back before they left and see it again. Almost as soon as he moved away however, the bird began to shriek and chirp at a very high pitch. Joseph and his mom turned back to the cage, trying to see what the matter was. One of the other family's kids from the stroller group, was clapping his hands at the noise. The other group had pulled away from the cage, the parents staring at the animal cautiously. Did one of the people or kids do something to the bird? Joseph looked at them all again. They weren't really that close to the cage, at least none of the families.

But that one man was. He wasn't staring at the bird though, even as the creature took its wings and extended them from either side, squaking furiously. The man just continued to look off, standing next to the cage. Joseph stood there for a little bit more, until his mother finally tugged on his arm. The pressure on his hand increased a little, no longer so loose.

"Come on Joseph." His mom said. The two began to walk, although Joseph noticed his mom was taking longer strides. Faster strides. He looked up at his mom. Her face was... not as happy as it had been. The smile wasn't there anymore, but now replaced by a slight frown. Joseph turned his head back in front of him, trying to think. Why was mom upset all of a sudden. It was just a bird getting frightened, or angry. Lots of animals did that when people got close to them, it was just natural. So why was his mom upset about it?

Joseph looked back at the cage one last time. The bird was still hissing, but it had changed it's direction. The man in the tan coat had left the railing next to the cage, and began to walk again. The other two families followed him, although the smaller kids passed him up, followed by their parents chasing after them. Joseph eventually settled back down as the other children's laughter and words filled the air around him. His mother's hand however refused to lessen up. What was wrong with her?

The groups continued to walk on the path, going up a slight incline in the ground. The chatter from the other kids and parents began to come closer to Joseph. He turned again, and noticed the two families coming up on them. In only a few seconds they were on either side. The man however, was still a little farther behind, and to Joseph he looked like he was actually going slower than before. Puzzled, Joseph turned back up to his mother. She looked no less calm than before, her mouth still turned down and eyes darting back and forth. Joseph's own mouth sagged a bit at the sight. Today was supposed to be a happy day, like it always was on fridays. So why was she so... worried?

Adeline's head suddenly snapped back, her pace at a dead stop. Joseph felt the grip on his hand tighten so much that it started to hurt. He closed his eyes and flinched for a second at the surprise pain. He turned back quickly though, just as his mother had. The man in the tan jacket brushed by them, nearly colliding with his mom. He was holding his arm... funny. It was in his coat jacket, as if he was trying to grab at something. But Joseph's attention shifted from the man, as someone screamed.

"Someone, call a paramedic!" Adeline ushered Joseph to the side before he could see anything, keeping her body in front of him. He tried to get around her, but she pressed her free hand to his head and shoved it back behind her. All he could catch was a glimpse of one of the other men. He was standing over... something. The little girl with him seemed to be as well. Before his mom could cover his ears though, Joseph heard another voice. It sounded younger and much softer than the first.

"Mommy... get up mommy..."

"Joseph. come on." Joseph felt his mom pull at him. He let her guide him away from the scene, keeping the hand he wasn't holding on his back. Without the arm around his head he could hear more of what was going on, but too many people were screaming and running to hear really anything. His mother kept pushing him away though, and Joseph was almost glad. Whatever was going on wasn't good at all. He just hoped no one was hurt.

His mother guided him down a smaller path then the one they came on. Joseph barely remembered ever going this way. It was a dirt one, with trees on both sides. He almost hadn't seen it before they came up on it. They traveled down the path, the farther they got from the main one the less pressure Joseph felt his mom put on him. He could understand his mom was worried, but someone had just gotten hurt. They were calling the doctors over, and everything would be all right soon. No reason to get really scared or anything.

But then, his mom did this a lot. Joseph remembered as they continued to walk down the path one time, when he had fallen onto the ground while playing in the yard. It was a year or two after he had... lost his voice. He had fallen down, and started to cry. He knew he wasn't supposed to, but his knee had hurt so bad. His mom had come running out after seeing him through the window. She had been really upset, almost crying as she got him into the house. All he had done was scrape his knee though, so why she got so scared had confused him.

The two made it down the rest of the way, and emerged into a small clearing. An observing deck was close-by, so Adeline led him over and onto it. He stepped up the stairs and kept going until they were in the middle of the wooden structure. There was nothing else around them except for a lot of tall grass and trees. His mom moved over to a bench on the deck and sat down, already beginning to rummage through her purse. Joseph walked around a little. There were a pair of binoculars across from his mom on the deck. Joseph motioned to them with a finger. His mother looked up and nodded several times, before putting her sight back into her bag. Joseph moved over to the binoculars, and pressed his face into them. He looked around in them, spotting a few free birds in the trees nearby. He smiled, caught up in waching them fly around from branch to branch.

And causing him to not notice the sounds of someone approaching.

-T-

Adeline scrambled around in her purse. She kept taking objects out and placing them next to her as fast as possible. Where was it? She had to find it, call for help. Her Searchers Inc. could be here in minutes with a copter to pick them up.

To try to kill them here of all places! Adeline couldn't believe it. She had had attempts on her before, but always, always at her business, or at her private home. It'd be foolish of her to think that they wouldn't try here of course, but--

Why couldn't they just leave her and Joseph alone?

"Adeline Kane?" Came a small, quiet voice. Adeline looked up quickly. She saw out of the corner of her eye Joseph, still at the binoculars. A thought to smile passed through her mind. But not here, not now. Instead, she stared up at the person speaking to her.

A man, wearing a high-collared khaki-tan coat. He had no hat on, letting his short black crop be exposed. From the looks of how he carried himself, she could tell he was muscular. There was no way she was going to be able to fight him off, unless she could land a good hit in his windpipe.

Or... a good slug to the forehead. Her hand tensed in her purse, already curling along the handle. The index finger began to find it's way into the trigger.

"Don't bother Ms. Kane." The man started, exposing the barrel from between his coat flaps. Adeline let her hand slip on the weapon. Already beaten to that. The man sat down next to her on the bench, keeping his gun pointed towards her. Adeline stared at it, not flinching a bit.

"That your son over there, Ms. Kane?" he asked her, flicking his hand in Joseph's direction. That got a reaction.

"If you try anything to Joseph, so help me God I'll--"

"Relax Ms Kane, I won't kill him until you're already dead." The woman sat there, listening to his words. Her hands clenched before releasing. She had to do something here, get her son to safety. It didn't matter at all if she died, but Joseph-- she couldn't let anything happen to him, never again...

"You know how many children have lost their parents because of your husband, Ms Kane?"

"Ex-husband." Adeline spat back. The assassin continued, as if she hadn't interrupted.

"Hundreds, maybe thousands. Kids, wifes, husbands, he kills and doesn't care. So why should we let all those people suffer, and not make him lose anyone at all." Adeline's eyebrows went down, and her eyes narrowed. She and her son were being targeted because of her husband! They'd never be safe as long sa he was still alive, never. And her one chance to end all of this before it started up had failed four years ago. Slade was still alive, still had contact with Joseph, and still put them at risk.

"I split up from Slade a long time ago, why do you still have to target us?" she demanded. The man just stared back at her, keeping his gun on her. She already knew the answer, but any kind of resistance, vocal or otherwise was better than just sitting here and listening to the crap. The assassin and the peopel he was working for didn't care at all for the people her husband had killed. Hadn't he just shot a wife and mother less than a couple minutes ago? She couldn't do much, but anything she could she would, even if that meant pleading with him for her son. Nothing could happen to Joseph... not again, and not because of Slade.

"My employers just figure that after all that, maybe he deserves a little payback. Think of this as all those families getting their just desserts." The assassin chuckled to himself at the pun. Adeline sat next to him, not knowing what to do next. She had tried to keep her son, keep herself safe. Searchers Inc. had done so well at stopping so many attempts on her and her family, along with her employees with their work. But now... it looked like that extra time she bought had run out. She stared at the gun barrel, waiting.

The sound of shoes pounding lightly on wood caught both of their attention. Adeline turned her head, just in time to see Joesph stop in his tracks, only a few steps from the binoculars. His eyes were wide, and fixated on the pair.

"No..." was all Adeline could say.

-T-

What was that man doing there!

Joseph stared at the pair on the bench. His mom was sitting with a half-dozen things out of her purse, like she had been looking for something. The other person though, he was the same man from before. At the entrance and bird cage. What was he doing sitting next to his mom though?

But that didn't cause Jericho to look with wide eyes at him, his mouth open. The man... in his hand... he held a... a gun. And it was pointed at his mother! He had to do something, but... he couldn't. His body felt like it was frozen. None of his arms of legs would budge, no matter how hard h he tried to move them. He could feel his heart beat faster and faster, almost beginning to hurt.

The man lifted his head up, and looked at Joseph in the eyes. His expression remained neutral.

"That's your son, right? The Terminator's son. Know how many sons he's killed, Ms. Kane? Maybe I should start with him first--"

"NO! Kill me, just leave Joseph alone! Please, just kill me! Kill me!"

The man however moved his hand away from her, and towards Joseph. The boy felt his heart-rate go up even faster, faster than it had ever gone before... but for some reason, his eyes just... stayed like they were. His body... couldn't move it. He could still hear his mother's pleas though, grabbing onto the man. But even vision was now getting fuzzy. She got knocked away and fell to the deck... it was so hard to see it though. Everything was so blurry now... everything...

Except for the man's eyes.

A feeling ruptured through Joseph's body. He felt like collapsing and throwing up. But his body remained rigid. Almost everything around him was blacked-out, everything but the man's eyes. Had he been shot? Was he dying? He didn't want to die though, and hadn't felt anything hit him! Maybe though, bullets didn't hurt at all, he'd never been shot before. Or maybe the way his body was, he couldn't feel anything anyway. Whatever was happening, he couldn't see anything, except...

A new sensation came over Joseph. It felt like he was being torn apart. He wanted to let out a silent scream, but couldn't move his mouth. Everything on his body felt more numb than they had ever been. The man's eyes catapulted themselves forward at him, enlarging themselves in front of him, like a projection. Then--

CONTACT.

Joseph felt his body lift off the ground, and soar forwards. The feeling was over in less than a second, and he felt his feet on the ground again quickly. He wobbled a bit, but got his footing after a few seconds. His eyes were still closed though. He didn't want to open them, didn't want to see whatever was making him hurt so bad--

--Except there was no pain anymore. His body still felt numb... but not as much. He moved an arm forward, and flicked his fingers. Something was... different now though. His arm... it didn't feel normal. Joseph began to open his eyes, his vision as blurry as it was before. He could barely make out anything, except his arms in front of him. But something... something was different about them.

"Oh my God, Joseph!" he heard his mom scream. Joseph turned left, to his mother, but... Joseph now saw her at an angle he never thought he would. He didn't have to look up to see her face anymore, but down. His vision was coming back to him. He looked down after taking his eyes from her, and saw the rest of his body.

But it wasn't.

These weren't his clothes! He had on a... a tan coat. His view from the ground was... higher than he'd ever remembered on his own. He moved a foot forward, his eyes opening at the sight of the leather shoe. He looked back up at his mom. Something was wrong, really wrong.

Another voice spoke though first.

"Wha'... what's going on!" Joseph looked around with his body, trying to find the source. There was no one else around, just his mom. "My-- my neck moved right now! How!"

Joseph stopped at the sound of the voice the second time. It wasn't coming from around him but...

From him.

"Joseph! Joseph, where are you!" His mother screamed. She ran up to the man, and started to shake him. "Give me back my son! What have you done with him!

"Lady I haven't done anything to your son!" The voice screamed back at her. Joseph felt a twitch run through his arms. He felt... like raising them, and pushing her back. But he stopped the thought. Why would he even think of doing that to his mom! He wouldn't do... anything to her. More thoughts churned through his head, all about stopping his mom. He tried to block them out, why was he thinking these things! He could never... a gun, in his hand... No! He couldn't do that to her! She was his mom!

Adeline suddenly reached up and grabbed him by the coat. She pulled him down and with her other hand slapped him. His face shot to the side, and Joseph felt his cheek burn. He stood in place for a while. His mom... she had... she'd... hit him. Whatever was wrong with him, or wherever he was, he was still himself! But she... she hit him. His mom had never hit him before.

Joseph slowly turned his face around, the cheek beginning to turn read. The other voice (was it his somehow?) spoke.

"That hurt, you stupid--" Joseph clenched down with his lips, not letting the last word be said. He turned completely back to his mother, who looked ready to hit him again. He just stared back at her, his eyes open and... just staring back. His mother kept tense, but after a few seconds, lost her focus. His eyes... shimmered, their green pupils looking back. She dropped her arms.

"Jo-Joseph?" she said, her voice higher than normal. Joseph nodded, before his stomach convulsed again. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes even as the other voice tried to say something. His head began to suddenly feel lighter... and he felt like he was... floating in the air.

Suddenly he collided with a hard surface. Joseph reeled on the ground. His limbs felt numb again, he couldn't move them. He tried to turn his neck though, ignoring the tingling sensation in his skin. His eyes opened slowly, blurred by dizziness and... a stinging feeling

"What the--" The man's voice got cut off as Joseph heard something hard made a snapping sound, followed by a collapse of a large object onto the post's surface. It was followed then by the sound of... running feet. The child felt two appendages come under him and lift him up. His vision was swimming back into focus. The image of... his mom came to him, staring down. He took a hand and placed it next to his cheek. It was raw.

"Joseph... I didn't know... Oh God, what just happened to you?" She moved a hand over his face, and rested it on his cheek. Joseph flinched, finally letting go on holding back. A tear streaked across his face, flowing down and coursing over his mom's hand. He looked over at the man's limp form across the deck from him. He saw the tan coat around his body. He had been... wearing that before. When his mom slapped him.

A thought crossed his mind. His tears stopped, and his eyes widened.

He had... been inside of the man. Somehow... he'd jumped into him. Like he was... in control, or they were the same person. But how? How did he do that? All he had been doing was staring... at the man's eyes. Joseph looked away from the motionless person, and back to his mom. He clenched his eyes shut as soon as his met hers.

He didn't want to see them, he didn't want to have whatever just happened to happen again. His mom hugged him close, whispering to him.

"It's alright Joseph... I'm so sorry..."

Whatever he'd just done, he never wanted to do it again.

End of Part 1