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.
Carolyn drove up to the Wayne Mansion gates and patiently waited for them to open. She snuck a sideways glance at Dinah in the passenger seat. The young blonde was fidgeting in her seat, her knee bouncing up and down, her right hand absently playing with a strand of her golden hair. Dinah stared out the window in silence, not knowing what to expect, but needing to do something – anything – that didn’t involve being holed up in Carolyn’s apartment while the Joker and Harley Quinn held Barbara Gordon captive.
Carolyn knew that Dinah had her reasons for disliking Bruce Wayne. The Bruce Wayne she had met was a mere shell of the man Carolyn had once known. At the restaurant, Carolyn noticed the change in him almost immediately. She had to admit that he was no longer the Bruce Wayne she had known and respected and fought beside. But he wasn’t as far off from that man as Dinah had described him. They said that time heals all wounds. Perhaps Bruce had finally begun to heal.
As she steered the Firebird into the circular driveway, Carolyn spied Alfred waiting for them just outside the mansion entrance, and smiled. Dinah was out of the car before Carolyn could put it in park. A look of pure surprise and utter joy crossed the butler’s face as Dinah encircled him in her arms.
“Miss Dinah, I’d thought…”
“Alfred,” Bruce stood just inside the doorway of the mansion. “Please show our guests in.”
Alfred regained his composure. “Certainly, Master Bruce,” he replied, sneaking a wink at Dinah. “I know someone who would be most pleased to see our guests…most pleased indeed.”
Alfred led the pair toward the library, while Bruce headed up the stairs.
* * *
Helena scowled at the knock on the door. She had just finished the painful process of getting dressed and was now seated at the edge of the bed, a sheen of cold sweat covering her brow.
“Helena, our guests are here…May I come in?”
“Whatever…it’s your house,” she scoffed.
Bruce frowned and entered the room. “Helena, this is just as much your home as it is mine.”
Helena flashed an angry glare in Bruce’s direction. “The Clocktower is my home! My apartment above the Dark Horse is my home! This! This will never be MY home!”
Bruce just stared at his daughter for a moment, the outburst momentarily stunning him. Then he noticed the pallor, the pained look, and the painful sting of rejection was forgotten.
“Still in pain I see.”
“I’m fine,” Helena snapped, jumping up from the bed in an effort to prove her statement. But she faltered as the pain of her injuries gripped her and staggered slightly. Bruce quickly moved toward Helena, offering his hand to help support her. She batted it away, not wanting to look weak at this critical moment. She knew that if she looked like she couldn’t handle herself, Bruce would cut her out of the rescue attempt. Helena couldn’t allow that to happen.
She pulled herself painfully up to her full height and tried to exit the room, but Bruce blocked her path. Angrily, Helena tried to go around him, but Bruce refused to give her leeway. Instead, he grabbed her hand and gently placed something in it.
“I know what you’re thinking. You think that if I know how much pain you are truly in, I’ll try to stop you from helping to rescue Barbara. I’m not as much of a fool as you think, Helena. I know how much Barbara means to you and that there would be no stopping you. I’ve been in your situation more than once. What I’ve given you should help, if only temporarily.”
Helena looked down at the pills resting in her outstretched hand and scowled. She hated taking medication of any kind. Barbara knew that. He would too if he’d taken the time to get to know her. She reached out to give them back to Bruce, but he shook his head.
“I know how you feel about these things, but if you want to help Barbara, you’ll need something to dull the pain. Don’t get me wrong, Helena. I’m not advocating using these things all the time. They’re fairly strong and highly addictive, but they work extremely well. I’ve used them in cases of extreme emergency and I’m sure you would agree that this is one such case.”
Helena held Bruce’s gaze for a moment, surprised to discover that her father knew her better than she had originally thought. She made a mental note to discuss that fact with Barbara once she had her safely returned to the Clocktower. She eyed the pills once more, turning them over in her hand in a moment of indecision. Then, deciding that her father was right for once, she swallowed them without water and pushed her way past Bruce without so much as a thank you.
Bruce grinned, in spite of himself.
Was I this difficult at her age? Poor Alfred.
He followed her out of the room.
* * *
Carolyn could barely suppress a grin as Dinah gazed around her in awe.
“So this is the infamous Bat Cave! Wow! Look at all this stuff!” She hurried toward a bank of computers.
“Miss Dinah, I wouldn’t touch that,” Alfred warned in a worried tone of voice.
“Relax, Alfred, I just want to see what this does…”
Just then, a door slid open and Bruce strode through. “Ahem!”
Dinah jumped, looking as guilty as she had when Barbara had caught her cutting class with Gabby less than a month ago.
Thinking of Barbara at the hands of those monsters sobered Dinah, bringing her focus back to the matter at hand. She stepped back from the computer and opened her mouth to apologize just as Helena stepped through the door behind Bruce Wayne. Dinah’s mouth dropped open and tears sprang instantly to her eyes.
“So where are these guests you’re so fired up…?” Helena’s words died in her throat, her body frozen in place as her eyes took in the scene before her.
All was still but for the humming of high-powered electronics as the occupants of the room stared at each other in anticipation, each unable to find the proper words to break the silence. Suddenly, Dinah found her way through the shock, launching herself at Helena and pulling her into a fierce embrace - an embrace that Helena returned in equal force, heedless of the pain from her injuries.
“I…I thought you were…” Dinah struggled with the words.
“I know. It’s a long story.”
“One we don’t have time for I’m afraid,” Bruce Wayne interrupted, holding up a video tape. “As you all know, the Joker has contacted me concerning Barbara. I know how disturbing watching this again is going to be for you Helena, but the others need to see this. They might notice things I’ve missed that could help when we make our move.”
Dinah searched Helena’s face for some idea as to the contents of the tape and was dismayed to see the brunette blanch in response. Dinah thought back to her nightmare and was suddenly very afraid. All eyes turned reluctantly toward the video monitor as Bruce inserted the tape.
When it was over, the group was once again at a loss for words. Helena’s gaze drifted away from the screen toward Dinah, who was still staring at the blank monitor. The hand that had reflexively grabbed Helena’s as she watched the Joker and Harley Quinn viciously torture their mentor was bone-white at the knuckles. To Helena, it seemed that Dinah wasn’t staring at the monitor, but rather, through it, as if she were there in the room with Barbara being tormented along side her. Helena touched Dinah’s shoulder and she jumped.
“I saw it!” she cried, staring accusingly at her mother. “It wasn’t a dream! I told you!”
“Dinah, take it easy,” Helena soothed.
“No!” the teen cried, turning to Helena. “I told her…I told her it was real.”
Bruce turned a questioning eye toward Carolyn.
“She had a nightmare…or…at least I’d hoped it was a nightmare…but now…I…”
Bruce didn’t wait for Carolyn to finish the explanation. He walked over to Dinah, who was now enveloped in Helena’s protective embrace. Helena glared at him, instinctively knowing what he was going to say to the girl – knowing that what he was going to ask of her would be more painful than watching the torture on video. But she also knew that it was necessary to Barbara’s survival. Gently, she turned Dinah to face Bruce as he patiently explained what was needed of her.