Here it is; Chapter 6! This one was really fun to write. ^-^ And, it didn't take as long as my last one did... Also, I've shortened the title. I got tired of typing/saying the whole thing over and over again. Just in case you didn't notice~ Again, you can skip this part, unless I mentioned you.
Shadowsteed: Glad you liked it! Sorry it was so short. I tried to make this one longer, but I was using a different notebook, and the pages are shorter, so... Yea.
Invisible-Ayla: Well, I'm glad you like it. I hope you keep reading! ^-^
Lil Bits: Thanks! I will try and proof-read more. I just get a little impatient when I'm typing up the chapters, and I don't pay much attention to spelling.
XxCupcake AssassinxX: Do you really think it was good? I think it was kinda lame... But, oh well. Thanks anyway, haha. :D I uploaded it as fast as I could.
Zoé rushed back to the elevator, moving as fast as her short legs could carry her. She had to slow down as she crawled through the vents, the tight space allowing only so much movement.
The lights had stopped flickering, and things didn't feel quite as ominous as they had before. It was a welcome change. Zoé squirmed out of the vent and into the maintenance tunnel, standing up and stretching her cramped muscles, then continuing on her way.
When she reached the ledges she had jumped down from earlier, Zoé stopped, staring up at it with her hands on her hips. The ledge was a good four feet taller than she was, and even standing on the tips of her toes, she couldn't reach it. She was going to have to climb. Luckily, there were plenty of footholds that seemed to be sturdy.
Zoé wrapped her hand around a pipe on the wall to her left, hoisting herself up and carefully placing her foot into a crack below it. She stretched her free hand up, but the edge was still just out of reach.
There was another pipe about half a foot above the one she was currently holding on to, and Zoé grabbed it, pulling herself up higher and quickly finding another foothold. From there, she was finally able to reach the edge, and she slowly pulled herself up.
With a sigh, Zoé stood up and dusted off her coat. She'd wasted too much time trying to scale the wall, and she was going to have to move even faster than before if she wanted to get back to the lobby - and away from the morgue - as soon as possible.
When she got back to the elevator, she was glad to see that it was still working. She had been a little worried that she was going to find it shut down or the doors locked. Zoé pressed the button to call it, letting out a sigh of relief as the doors opened immediately. She rushed inside and pressed the button to go up, tapping her foot impatiently as the doors slowly slid shut and the machine shuddered to life.
Zoé looked over her shoulder at the screen on the wall where Joker had spoken to Jonathan before. The screen had been shattered, presumably by Batman. At least that was one less thing she had to worry about.
The elevator finally stopped and the doors opened, seemingly in slow motion. When they stopped, Zoé exited the elevator cautiously. She knew that Batman wouldn't lie about there not being any inmates on that floor, but it was possible that he had missed one. Zoé wasn't taking any chances.
She looked around as she stepped out of the confined space. The doctors that had been by the elevator the last time she had come through were now free, standing in the middle of the room. Another doctor - Doctor Young, if Zoé remembered correctly - was standing off to the side, talking to a security guard named Aaron Cash. In a chair that had been dragged from one of the mini offices sat Zane, his head hanging low, cradling his gun in his lap. Zoé frowned deeply. He looked awful.
His messy red hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat, and his cheek was caked in dried blood from a long cut under his eye. His skin was paler than usual, the freckles looked like fire ants marching across his face. The worst were his eyes. They were usually the color of moss, bright and full of mischief. Now, there was something missing. Zoé couldn't tell what it was, but something in him had definitely changed.
Zane looked up as his he could feel eyes on him and spotted Zoé almost immediately. He set his gun down on the floor next to him and stood up, crossing the room and pulling Zoé into a tight hug.
"Thank God you're okay." He muttered. "I looked for you, and when I couldn't find you, I thought…" Zane trailed off and tightened his arms around Zoé. She closed her eyes and rested her head against Zane's chest, breathing in the familiar scent of Old Spice and wood smoke. All the tension from before started to fade, and standing like that, Zoé felt safe for the first time that day. It was like they were little again, hanging out in Zoé's room while her parents were out doing who-knew-what to the city.
Zane pulled away and looked down at Zoé, reaching up to touch the cut on her cheek gingerly. "What happened to you?"
Zoé quickly wiped at the blood with the sleeve of her coat, leaving a smear of red on the white fabric. "Nothing. I just got lost, ran into a couple of inmates. One of them cut me." She forced herself to smile, but it felt more like a grimace. "I had a little help getting away."
She had intended for her response to put her friend at ease, but a troubled look had crossed his face.
"Why didn't you just shoot them like I told you to?"
"I lost the gun you gave me. One of the inmates I ran into took it, and I couldn't get it back."
She nhated lying to Zane, but she didn't want him to know what had actually happened. He would worry about it, and it seemed like he had enough to deal with as it was.
"That was my favorite gun." Was all Zane said, giving her a lopsided smile.
Zane's smile quickly faded and he turned to face the man who had addressed him. Aaron and Doctor Young had come up behind him. The doctor had an anxious look on her face, like she was waiting for something. "Sir?"
"I'm going to take Doctor Young to the mansion so that she can collect her notes. I want you to take the rest of the doctors somewhere safe and keep them out of danger." Aaron had his gun resting on his shoulder and was holding onto it with his good hand. Zane opened his mouth to respond, but Zoé spoke up first.
"Let me go with you." She said. Before anyone could protest, she added, "I'm tired of sitting around doing nothing. If you give me a gun, I can help. Besides, it will be safer with an extra person. And I'm a pretty good shot."
"Are you sure? It might be dangerous." Aaron said. Zoé nodded.
"You're not seriously considering letting her go, are you, Sir?" Zane asked, interrupting Zoé. He looked back and forth between Aaron and Zoé, unaware that Zoé had been in the middle of a sentence when he had spoken.
"If she really wants to go, I'm not going to stop her." Aaron replied, setting his gun down. He pulled a pistol from it's holster at his side and handed it to Zoé. From it's weight, she could tell it was loaded. The small weapon was identical to the one Zane had given her, and she held on to it tightly. She wasn't going to lose this one.
"With all due respect, Sir, I don't think it's a good idea." Zane said. "She could get hurt, or… Or worse."
"Stop being such a pessimist. You'll give yourself an ulcer." Zoé said, patting her friend's cheek affectionately. "I will be fine. You just worry about keeping these other doctors safe."
"Batman said that this level is clear. If you take them to one of the main offices, they should be fine there." Aaron put his good hand on Zane's shoulder. "If you want, when the doctors are safe, you can join us at the mansion."
Zane nodded, and Aaron took his hand away to pick up his gun. He looked at the three people in front of him, then turned away and headed for the stairs, Doctor Young following closely at his heels. Zoé started to go after them, but stopped when Zane called her name. She turned to look at him.
Zane stared at her silently for a moment, a hint of sadness on his face. "Be careful, okay?"
"Okay." Zoé replied. She started to move, then paused again. "You'd better catch up with us."
Zoé nodded, then turned to catch up with Aaron and Doctor Young.
"There's the mansion." Aaron announced, stopping in front of the steps that led up to the mansion door. He trotted up the steps and held the door open for Zoé and Doctor Young. Zoé went first, eager to no longer be out in the open. The entire walk there, she had felt like they were being watched, followed. Her sense of paranoia had grown as they neared the large building.
Zoé slowed down and let the other two take the lead once they got inside, looking over her shoulder at the shut door. She had been looking behind her constantly since they left the Medical Facility, trying to find whoever - Or whatever - it was that had been following them, but she never saw anyone.
"Are you alright?" Doctor Young asked. Zoé looked at the door a moment longer, then nodded and looked away.
"I'm fine. Just… Worried about Zane." She lied.
"He'll be fine. The kid is tough." Aaron said, not stopping. "Now, come on. We don't have time to stand around. Batman needs those notes."
Zoé nodded and started walking again, keeping up the rear. The door to the main hall was open, and Zoé shut it behind them. It made her feel a little safer, putting something between herself and whoever it was that was following them.
She looked around the huge room admiringly. It was only her second time in the mansion, her first being when Zane had taken her to meet the Warden.
Now Zoé really was starting to worry about him. Had he managed to get the doctors somewhere safe? Had he been captured by inmates? Was he somewhere in the bottom levels of the Medical Facility? Images of Zane laying dead somewhere rose unwillingly in Zoé's mind, and she quickly pushed them away. She didn't need to distract herself by thinking of things that were most likely not true.
When Zoé turned her attention back to her surroundings, she frowned. She had stopped without realizing it, and Aaron and Doctor Young were nowhere to be seen. The must have gone on without her. "Mr. Cash?" Zoé called, her voice echoing off of the walls. "Doctor Yo- Mmph!" Zoé's sentence was cut off when a large, meaty hand clamped over her mouth and a cloth bag was pulled over her eyes.
"You're a hard lady to find, Doctor Young." A gruff voice said. "Come on, let's get her to the boss." Someone grabbed her arms roughly and started to push her forward. Zoé stumbled along blindly, slowly inching her hand towards her pocket where she had put the gun. The man holding her arms was either too stupid or too distracted to notice. She gripped the handle tightly, waiting for her chance to break free.
The chance never came.
There was the sound of a door slamming, and the man pushed down on Zoé's shoulders, forcing her to her knees.
"We've got her, Boss, just like you asked." He said.
"Well? Take that sack off! Show some hospitality to our guest!"
Zoé's blood ran cold. She knew that voice. It was the same voice that she had heard on the elevator.
The sack was suddenly yanked off of her head, and Zoé squinted at the bright light. Standing in front of her on two crates that had been stacked together, was that Joker. He peered at Zoé, leaning down to get a better look at her.
"That's no Doctor Young, you fools." He said, standing straight again.
"It's not?" The man with the gruff voice asked. Zoé turned her head to look at him. He was shirtless like most of the other inmates, bald, with his face painted like a clown's. He was massive, roughly the size of three average men. Next to him was another inmate, dwarfed in comparison. He stood with his arms crossed, a rifle strung across his back.
"No. It's not. She doesn't even look like Doctor Young." Joker sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Note to self; when I want someone kidnapped, send smarted thugs."
Zoé flicked her gaze around the room, taking in as many details as she could. They had taken her to the Warden's office, and were currently standing in the first section of the room, which was mostly book shelves. The rest of the office was behind Joker. Someone was standing in the room beyond, and Zoé leaned slightly to the side to see past Joker. Her eyes widened.
Victor Zsasz was standing in front of a large portrait of the Warden, a long knife clutched in his right hand. He seemed agitated about something.
"Take her to our good friend Mr. Zsasz anyway. We need to keep him occupied so that he doesn't turn on one of us while we wait for Doctor Young." Joker said, motioning behind him. The inmate with the gun nodded and grabbed one of Zoé's arms, pulling her to her feet. As the passed Joker, he held up his hand to halt them. Zoé held her breath as he hopped down from the crates and walked in front of her, examining her face.
"Say, aren't you the girl that was with the good doctor?" He asked. He didn't wait for Zoé to respond. "I never forget a face, especially one with a scar like that. Is Johnny-boy aware that his new pet has escaped?"
"I am nobody's pet." Zoé snapped. Joker raised an eyebrow, then laughed maniacally.
"You're feisty!?" He said. "It's a shame I have to give you to Zsasz. I wouldn't mind having you all to myself."
Zoé glared and the Joker, who simply smiled and moved out of the way. She tightened her hand around the gun, waited a few seconds, then whipped it out and spun on her heel, firing blindly. The bullet tore through the shoulder of the inmate with the gun. He cried out and released her, pressing his hand against the wound. Everyone in the room stared at her, stunned, and Zoé saw that as a chance to escape.
"How's that for 'feisty'?" She asked as she ran past the Joker. He made a grab for her, but missed by a fraction of a centimeter. Zoé shoved the door open and slammed it behind her. Even through the think wood, she could hear Joker yelling.
"What are you waiting for, you great buffoon?! Catch her!"
Zoé desperately ran faster as the door behind her swung open and rapid footsteps came thundering after her. There was only one person - The large man, from the sounds of it - and he wasn't very fast. But he could probably run a lot farther than Zoé could.
The doors to the main hall were shut, and Zoé had to stop the open them, slowing her down and making her lose the distance she had gained from the man. She did not bother to shut it and rushed to the stairs, taking them three at a time and nearly slipping in the process. The opposite side of the room seemed impossible far away, and it felt like it got even father the more she ran. The door was wide open, even though Zoé specifically remembered shutting it.
As she ran past a short hallway that ended in yet another door, a needle-tipped hand reached out and grabbed her wrist, pulling her around the corner and against the wall. Zoé looked to see who it was; Jonathan. He wasn't wearing his mask, and a dark bruise stood out against his cheek. He pressed a finger to his lips, signaling for her to be quiet.
Zoé nodded and pressed her back flatter against the wall as the footsteps got closer. They didn't even slow down as the man came into view. He ran right past the hallway without pausing to look, going straight out the door. Once he was gone, Zoé looked back at Jonathan.
Never in her life had she been so happy to see a criminal.
I'm thinking about writing a sequel to this. Like, I've already got the plot and everything planned out. I'm one chapter closer! Can't wait to get started on it. Can you tell me how I did with Joker? I was a little iffy about some of the things I had him say. I'm not really sure if I stayed in character...
So, a quick apology to Shadowsteed: I know I promised you that Zsasz would show up, and then it was only briefly... Sorry about that. On the bright side, Jonathan is finally back in the story!
Hoped you like it! Chapter 7 should be up soon. In about a week, maybe? I dunno.