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.
Bruce Wayne sat alone in his study, thinking. The room was dark, a single shaft of moonlight the only source of illumination. He enjoyed the darkness. Wrapped in its darkest shadows, Bruce could find solitude. He could hide in its deepest folds – hide from the pain and anguish the world had to offer.
But for once, Bruce Wayne was unable to find comfort in the darkness. Peace eluded him as he wrestled with his inner demons. As he sat staring into the black night, visions of the past replayed in his mind. Visions of the night that began with the promise of hope and ended in disaster and defeat. The night he brought the Joker to his knees. The night the Joker rose up from the ashes to take revenge on those he cared about.
Bruce had been celebrating his victory when he heard the news of the Joker’s escape. The Joker’s revenge had been swift and brutal. The Joker had known of Batman’s relationship with Catwoman and had been waiting for the opportune time to use it against him. Just as Batman had taken away all that the Joker had loved, the Joker would take away the only woman Batman had ever truly loved.
But the Joker wouldn’t allow Selina’s murder to be the only source of revenge he had on Batman. No. The Joker had put a great deal of time and energy into the growth of his crime syndicate. He had to show Batman what it was like to lose something that he had taken time to nurture; to mentor. The Joker wanted to show Batman what it was like to put so much time and energy into building something, and then watch helplessly as it was all torn apart. And this, the Joker would see to personally.
The news of Selina’s death and Barbara’s injuries had come as a devastating blow to Bruce. The blame he placed upon himself was too heavy to bear. The pain he had caused the people he loved cut him to the bone. It was more than he could deal with. He couldn’t stay in New Gotham. Everything was a constant reminder of what had happened that night…of what he had lost…what they had all lost.
A gentle rap on the door of the study tore Bruce away from torturous thoughts of the past, as did the harsh light emanating from the partially open door. “Yes, Alfred.” His voice sounded tired, defeated to his own ears.
“I am about to retire to my quarters and was wondering if there were anything else you might need.”
“No, Alfred. Thank you.”
“Very well.” Alfred began to close the door and then thought better of it. “Oh, and Master Bruce…I do hope you will reconsider your decision on what we discussed earlier.” With that, Alfred shut the door, leaving Bruce to think about what his lifelong friend had suggested.
* * *
Helena was dreaming…or was it a dream? It all seemed so real. She was back in the Clocktower. Barbara sat across from her, a gun held to her head by the firm grip of the Joker. He taunted Helena; dared her to attack him. She fought the desire, the need to see his blood on her hands. She held back the rage within because she feared for Barbara’s life. She was certain that one false move would be all it took to get the Joker to pull that trigger. And so she stood seething with all the hate she’d built up for the bastard since the night of her mother’s death.
But something in his eyes, his stance, something in the way he began to laugh – that sinister blood-chilling cackle – told her that she had made a mistake. In the instant that the realization hit her, a bright flash erupted from the muzzle of the Joker’s gun.
Helena bolted upright, drenched in a cold sweat. The pain struck immediately leaving her breathless. A nurse rushed to her side and gently lay Helena back down. She smoothed the covers around her charge and checked on her vitals. Helena stared into the shadows of the darkened room, frustrated by the pain and the grogginess that once again threatened to overtake her.
She caught a faint glimpse of a silhouette cloaked in shadow in the corner of the room, watching. Anger burned within her so fiercely she shook with its fury.
“You never will stop hiding, will you?! You hid while Mom’s killer went free! You hid while Barbara struggled to rebuild her life! I don’t know what Barbara or my Mom ever saw in you. Hero? Ha! You’re nothing but a coward!!”
The silhouette shrank back into the corner as if seeking to make itself one with the shadows there – to disappear in its welcoming darkness – while Helena spat hateful words at it like so much venom. Finally, it was driven from the room, slipping quietly through the door.
Helena leaned back into the pillow, the hate and anger quickly being replaced by pain and fatigue. Tears of frustration slipped down her cheeks as she recovered from the bout of rage she had unleashed upon the man in the shadows…the man she knew as her father.
Father! Yeah, right!
Her thoughts turned to Barbara and Dinah and the tears flow more freely. They, along with Alfred, were her family – the only family she had known since her mother’s death. Her hands unconsciously curled into fists at the thought of the people she loved in the clutches of the likes of Harley Quinn and the Joker. She closed her eyes and prayed silently – prayed for her strength to be restored, for Barbara and Dinah to be found, for a chance at Harley and the Joker. But most of all, she prayed that it all would happen soon…and that it wouldn’t be too late.
Please don’t let me lose them to that bastard the way I lost Mom! Please!
* * *
Once safely in the hallway, Bruce Wayne leaned back against the door and closed his eyes. Anger raged inside him and he longed for an outlet for that anger. He stalked down the hallway quickly putting distance between himself and his daughter.
He entered his study and slammed the door. With a rigid step, Bruce made his way over to the bar and poured himself a drink. He picked up the whiskey-filled glass and crossed the room to his desk. He sat down, placing the glass on the desk, and studied the amber liquid within. Then, with one swift motion, he swept his right arm across the desk, hurling its contents, along with the whiskey-filled glass, to the floor. He slammed his fists on the desk, the pain of soft flesh meeting that of hard wood barely registering in his rage.
Bruce closed his eyes and struggled to regain control of his emotions. Behind those closed lids, Bruce could see Selina as clearly as if she stood in the room before him. He could hear her voice in his ears as she argued with him – their last argument – about leaving the life of crime fighting behind. He heard the anger in her voice; the pain. She had tried to get him to reconsider his decision, but Bruce had been adamant about remaining a crimefighter, and in the end, it was what had destroyed their relationship.
Oh, Selina…God how I miss you. He buried his head in his hands. She reminds me so much of you. Her eyes, her voice…they’re yours. I wonder if she knows how much she resembles you.
He thought back to the day when Selina had left New Gotham behind to pursue her new life, leaving her criminal past behind. He had been angry at first, but eventually realized that she could never be happy as long as he placed her second to his life’s work. As long as he continued to fight crime, Selina would always come second and it wasn’t in Selina’s nature to stand coming in second to anything or anyone. But he wasn’t ready to leave the life, and so he let her go, and the pain lessened in time.
When she returned to New Gotham, a daughter in tow, Bruce had been surprised at his reaction. He was instantly jealous of the man that had won Selina’s heart, fathering the beautiful child that she doted on incessantly. And in that moment, Bruce realized that he had never stopped loving Selina. He promised himself that once he had completed his mission – once he had rid New Gotham of its chief criminal element – he would give it all up in pursuit of happiness. He had foolishly hoped that he could win Selina back.
He had come close to carrying out his dream. He had brought the Joker to his knees, never realizing the price that would be paid for his victory. Hearing the news of Selina’s death was like having a long-sword thrust in his chest. Realizing that her death was his fault twisted that sword and rend his heart to pieces.
That, combined with what the Joker had done to Barbara, had forced Bruce to leave New Gotham. He could no longer call this place home. Everywhere he looked he saw pain. Bruce couldn’t stand it. He hated himself for the pain he had caused the people he loved most. Everywhere he looked he found a constant reminder of the suffering he’d inflicted on them. And so he had fled New Gotham, not even returning when Alfred informed him that Selina’s daughter was, in fact, his own.
He’d had nothing to offer Helena then. Pain and anguish had left him an empty shell, devoid of feeling. Helena needed nurturing. She needed someone who could give her love freely. This was something Bruce no longer knew how to do and so he provided for her, by sending money to Barbara to ensure that Helena had everything she desired. It wasn’t enough and he knew it, but it was all he had to give.
And now, Bruce knew he shouldn’t blame her for hating him - for calling him a coward. When had he shown her any reason to feel differently? He hadn’t been there for her when her mother died; hadn’t been there for the difficult years following Selina’s death. And when he had shown up - when Barbara had called on him in desperation to help save Helena’s life – he had only stayed long enough to ensure that she would survive.
Bruce sighed. He just couldn’t face Helena. Every time he looked at Helena, he saw Selina and was instantly reminded of how he had failed his one true love. In his mind’s eye he had killed Selina as surely as if he had been the one to plunge the knife into her chest. Why wouldn’t Helena hate him? He hated himself…for what had happened to Selina…to Barbara. And now, she had a new reason to hate him. His nemesis was back and was once again harming those she held dear.
But this time, things will be different, Bruce vowed. This time, I won’t fail you, Helena. I’ll find them and bring them to safety…then I’ll have my revenge on the Joker!