A Return to Hell
by Melissa Minners
Disclaimer and Other Information: It should be noted that all of the characters and many of the locales in this fan fiction are not mine. They are owned by The WB. This fan fiction is somewhat of an homage to the series, though I have used a little liberty here with events. The story takes place some time after No Kill Policy, so if you haven't read that particular fanfic, I suggest you do before reading this one. Warning: Parts of this fanfic may be graphic at times. Reader's discretion is advised. I hope you enjoy.
Reese had scarcely lay a finger on the buzzer when the security gate leading to Wayne Manor opened. He pictured Alfred watching the security cameras awaiting his arrival. He parked in the circular driveway and took the steps to the front door two at a time. Alfred had sounded excited when he called telling Reese that he had to return to Wayne Manor right away.
It was with trepidation that Reese prepared to use the door knocker to announce his arrival. He was uncertain whether Alfred’s call had meant good news or bad news. The door swing open and Reese was ushered in by one very happy butler, giving him the impression that Alfred indeed had good news to impart.
“Detective, I’m glad you could come so quickly!” Alfred rushed him toward the rear of the mansion, taking Reese’s coat as they went. They traveled up the winding staircase to the second floor.
“Alfred, what’s happened? Is she…is she okay?”
Alfred stopped and turned to face Reese as they reached their destination. There was a mischievous gleam in the butler’s eye as he knocked on the door at the end of the hallway.
“Okay? Well, you’ll have to surmise that for yourself, Detective.”
The door swung open and Reese was met by one of the many medical personnel attending to the needs of Helena Kyle at Bruce Wayne’s insistence.
“She’s only just regained consciousness. She’s still a bit groggy and uncertain, but Alfred has assured me that you will be a most comforting prescience at this point in her recovery.” The nurse quickly ushered Jesse to Helena’s bedside.
Helena’s eyes were closed, but immediately blinked open as Reese gently took her hand in his own. She looked so different from the day he had first met her. That day, he’d met a hellcat, ready to kick some ass and take names. She was larger than life – laughed at life, in fact. Now, she looked so tiny lying in the hospital bed her father had arranged to be moved into this guest room. Attached to monitors and IVs, Helena looked nothing like her alter ego. She looked fragile – broken – and there was a hint of fear in those blue eyes as she took in her surroundings with confusion.
“What…?” Her eyes focused on Reese. She licked her dry lips and prepared to speak again, her voice sounding raspy and unrecognizable to her own ears.
“What am I doing here?” she asked. “Wayne Manor? Why?” Reese was taken aback. He hadn’t expected Helena to recognize her surroundings so quickly. He pulled up a chair and sat beside her.
“We had to bring you here. The hospital wasn’t safe. Your father…”
“My…father/! He’s here?!” Helena’s quickly changed from blue to the peculiar cat’s eyes that she displayed in times of extreme emotion – in this case anger. Reese noted that they just as quickly regained their former color as the flare of anger receded.
“Why is he in New Gotham?”
“Alfred contacted him, Helena, and with good reason. He’s your father – he should be here. Especially now.” Reese reached out and stroked Helena’s cheek with the back of his hand. “I for one am glad he showed up. I could never have protected you from the Joker and Harley as effectively. And he’ll be invaluable in searching for Barbara and Dinah.”
At the mention of the two women, Helena’s eyes began to sparkle with tears. In a tiny voice, she asked Reese for news of any leads. He wished he had something to give her, but the Joker and Harley had left no clues as to where they might have taken Barbara. And he still had no clue as to where they might have secreted Dinah. He hoped that with his connections as Batman, Bruce Wayne would have more success than he was having.
“I’m sorry, honey. We’re still trying. Right now, I have cops scouring every nook and cranny in New Gotham, interviewing every informant, looking for any leads. I don’t know what else to do.”
The look in her eyes just about broke his heart. Tears fell in streams as she closed her eyes to his words. Her eyes were still closed when she answered him, visions of Barbara and Dinah in the Clocktower – the people she considered her family more so than her own father - floating in the darkness behind them.
“We have to find them, Reese. Dinah – she’s just a kid. Harley will eat her for breakfast. And Barbara…the Joker – that bastard! God knows what he has planned for her.”
She paused, taking in a ragged breath as the endless possibilities assailed her. When she opened her eyes again, Reese witnessed in them a sorrow that went beyond description.
“I failed her. I failed her, Reese! I was supposed to protect her…save her from him. And I failed! And now he has her. He has her and he’s free to do all he wants to her. I should have stopped him…I should have…”
Reese rose out of his chair and bent down over Helena. He wanted to take her in his arms and hold her close as she cried, but the lacerations on her back had not yet healed and he didn’t want to cause her any physical pain in addition to the mental anguish she was already suffering. Instead, he sat on the edge of the bed and leaned forward, rested his forehead against hers.
“It’s not your fault, baby,” he whispered. “You tried. There was nothing else you could do. We’ll find them. I made you that promise and I intend to keep it. But you have to stop beating yourself up. You didn’t cause this and you did everything you could to keep Barbara safe.”
He tilted his head up and kissed each tear-filled eye, whispering soothingly as he kissed away the tears. Then, he rested his cheek against hers, gently smoothing her hair with his left hand as she grasped his right with all her strength.
* * *
Jesse silently slipped out of the room and into the hallway. He leaned back against the door. Somehow, he would have to think up an explanation for running out on McNally this morning. Shaking his head, Reese began to walk toward the stairs, intent on returning to the precinct to finish his tour.
“Leaving so soon, Detective?”
Reese jumped. He was so absorbed in his own thoughts, he hadn’t seen Alfred standing at the foot of the stairs, eyebrows raised in surprise.
“I have to get back to work. Besides, Helena’s sleeping. She asked about Barbara and Dinah and got so upset when I didn’t have any leads that the nurse had to give her a sedative. I should be back before she wakes.”
“Very well, Detective. I’ll keep an eye on her in your stead.”
As Alfred walked him to the door, Reese struggled with a thought that had been nagging at him since he had arrived.
“Alfred, where is Helena’s father? I haven’t seen him since that day in the hospital. Why isn’t he upstairs with Helena?”
Alfred had stretched out a hand to open the door for the detective. His hand now rested on the handle of the door as he contemplated Reese’s question. He turned to face Reese.
“Master Bruce has been seeing to the details of his plan to keep Miss Helena safe. Rest assured he’s been keeping careful watch over Miss Helena’s condition.”
Reese nodded, though he was not quite certain if he bought Alfred’s explanation. From the things Helena had told him, Reese was guessing that Bruce Wayne was acting true to character of late – he was hiding from any kind of confrontation with his daughter.
Noting the expression on Reese’s face as he opened the door for him, Alfred understood that the detective had not quite accepted the explanation he had offered. Alfred frowned as Reese made his way to his car. He couldn’t say that he blamed the detective. After all, he had hardly believed his proffered explanation of Master Bruce’s behavior toward his daughter.
Once Reese had pulled out of the driveway, en route to New Gotham P.D., Alfred closed the door and headed toward the study. He’d made up his mind. He needed to speak with Master Bruce right away.
* * *
“I want to go to the funeral!” Dinah yelled, anger clouding her features.
“Honey, I know you do, but…”
“But nothing! Helena’s family! I couldn’t stop what happened. I couldn’t get there in time to save her! And now you’re telling me that I can’t even be there when she’s laid to rest!”
Carolyn glanced at the nightstand as the assorted items laying atop it began to shake. The whole stand in fact was shaking, and Carolyn knew she had to calm her daughter’s temper before the items on the nightstand – or perhaps the nightstand itself – became a telekinetic projectile.
“Dinah…please listen to me. The Joker and Harley are going to be keeping their eyes on that funeral. You told me yourself that they asked you several questions pertaining to Batman’s whereabouts. They’ll be looking to see whether or not he will make an appearance at his daughter’s funeral.
“Right now, they have no idea that you survived that fire. You can’t be there, Dinah. If we’re going to find Barbara – if we’re going to put a stop to the Joker and Harley – they can’t know you survived. You’re our ace-in-the-hole, Dinah. I don’t have my canary cry to fall back on here. I lost that in the warehouse explosion. I have no idea if it will ever return, but right now it’s gone.
“We need the element of surprise. The Joker knows how to stop you, but if he doesn’t know you are alive, he won’t have made any preparations to keep you at bay. We need to keep his guard down. Especially if my contacts can’t or won’t help us. Do you understand?”
Dinah glared at her mother, but the nightstand’s rattling slowly subsided.
“You’re contact – it’s Bruce Wayne, isn’t it? Why would you think he would lift a finger to help us?”
Carolyn sighed. “They killed his daughter, Dinah. They have his protégé. Why wouldn’t he help?”
“For the same reason that he disappeared after the Joker had Helena’s mother killed. The same reason he disappeared after the Joker shot Barbara. The same reason he took off before Helena fully recovered from her bout with Wade. He’s a coward.”
Carolyn Lance gaped at her daughter in shock.
“How can you say that about him? Do you have any idea how much he’s risked over the years to keep the people of Gotham safe? He’s gone out of his way, risking life and limb to face the world’s worst criminals and put them behind bars. How dare you call him a coward!”
Dinah shrugged and walked over to sit by the window. Gazing out at the alley below, she answered, “Ya know, Barbara once shared the same delusions about the great Batman as you do. Helena always knew better. Barbara had to find out the hard way and, I guess, so will you. The man you once knew – the courageous man who risked all for Gotham – he’s changed. He’s not going to help – you’ll see. Then you’ll understand.”
* * *
Bruce turned as one of the many hidden entrances to the Bat Cave slid open, revealing Alfred, carrying a tray.
“I thought you might be hungry and took the liberty of preparing something for you.”
“Thank you, Alfred.” Bruce returned his attention to the bank of computer monitors.
Alfred set the tray down and cleared his throat, causing Bruce to divert his attention from the screens once more. He arched an eyebrow.
“Is there something else, Alfred?”
“If I may, Master Bruce?”
Bruce nodded for Alfred to continue.
“I’ve been wondering when you were going to visit with Miss Helena.”
An exasperated sigh escaped Bruce Wayne’s lips.
“Alfred, I’ve been keeping a very close watch on her condition. As it is, she’s lucky to be alive. She’s in a frail state right now, Alfred. Visiting her isn’t going to help her recovery.”
“I disagree, Master Bruce. Visiting her, assuring her that you’re doing everything you can to find Miss Barbara and Miss Dinah – I’m sure it would only assist in her recovery.”
“I am doing all that I can to find them. Telling her that isn’t going to make the situation any better. Besides, I’m certain that seeing me will only anger her. And I can’t say that I blame her. I haven’t exactly been the model parent.”
Bruce turned away from Alfred, but the butler and long-time friend was not finished.
“Master Bruce, that is exactly why you should visit her. You need to explain to Miss Helena that she is not alone in this fight. That you are in this battle with her. That you are here for her. Right now, she only hates you because she is certain you have abandoned her. And, dare I say, that your past behavior does little to discredit that opinion.
“Miss Helena has suffered a great loss. In her mind, Miss Barbara and Miss Dinah were all the family she had left. She needs to know that isn’t the case.”
Bruce turned back to face his life-long friend. Alfred raised an eyebrow at Bruce, daring him to challenge Alfred’s statements. Sighing, Bruce Wayne rose from his computer chair and walked past Alfred toward the entrance to the Wayne Manor library..