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.
Helena looked at her watch and sighed as she realized she had yet another hour to go before her shift ended. She leaned her elbows on the bar, rested her chin on her hands and glanced around the Dark Horse. Business was light today and she was bored. She needed action, excitement, but she knew that the bar wouldn’t really start to fill up until her shift was just about over.
“Huntress, it’s Oracle. Do you copy?”
Helena reached up to activate the microphone on her earring-based comm set.
“Yeah, I’m here,” she said, lowering her head so no one could see she was talking.
“Are you coming home for dinner tonight?”
“Oracle. Really. I mean, isn’t that something you can ask me over the phone like other normal people, instead of me having to talk inside my shirt so my customers don’t think I’m crazy.”
Helena spun her head as the phone at the end of the bar rang. She rushed to pick it up.
“So? You coming home for dinner tonight or what?”
Helena couldn’t help but laugh. Barbara had been this way lately – light-hearted, joking more. It had been rough going for a while. Jason’s death at the hands of Harley Quinn – Helena still had trouble with that; still blamed herself – had been pretty hard for Barbara. And then Dinah was raped – that was hard on all of them. But lately, things had been settling down – becoming more routine. Sweeps were relatively easy and – Helena had to admit it – more fun with Dinah along as a partner, though sometimes she still liked to go it alone. Old habits die hard. But lately, all of them had been in better spirits. None of their nightly sweeps had revealed any ultimately diabolical scheme and life in general was taking on a semblance of normalcy again for all of them.
“Might as well,” Helena drawled. “This joint ain’t exactly jumpin’”
Barbara laughed - a rich, melodical sound that made Helena smile. Helena loved it when Barbara was happy. It was an infectious feeling – one that had been fleeting of late.
I could really get used to this, Helena thought.
“Slow day today?” Barbara asked.
Helena frowned. “Slow’s not the word for it – more like barely breathing. Please say you’ve found some new diabolical plot being hatched in New Gotham’s underworld and that there is plenty of ass-kicking to be done.”
“Sorry to disappoint – just the usual creeps and slime out there,” Barbara said, laughing again. “The biggest news I have for you is that Alfred once again took the liberty of restocking the refrigerator. I guess it was running on empty again.”
This time it was Helena’s turn to laugh. “Thank you, Alfred. I swear, Barbara, Oracle is all-seeing and all-knowing, except when it comes to going grocery shopping. Then she seems to develop amnesia.”
“Cute, Helena. So, I’ll see you in a couple of hours?”
“I’ll be there as long as Alfred is doing the cooking.” Helena’s eyes twinkled with mischief and she could almost see the frown on her mentor’s face.
“What’s wrong with my cooking?”
“Oracle is all-seeing and all-knowing…”
“Funny, Helena, very funny.”
Helena was still laughing when Barbara broke the connection. She moved the receiver from her ear and held it in front of her face.
“Touchy, touchy,” she said, still laughing as she hung up the phone.
* * *
“I take it Miss Helena will be home for dinner,” Alfred said after Barbara broke the connection with Helena.
Barbara turned to face the butler and noticed the look of barely disguised mirth on her old friend’s face.
“I take it you heard every word of that little exchange.”
Alfred’s facial expression turned into one of indignant shock.
“Why of course not, Miss Barbara, that would have required me to be eavesdropping…”
“Which you would never do,” Barbara interrupted, sarcasm dripping from her words.
“Perish the thought,” said Alfred. As he turned toward the kitchen and passed Dinah, he gave her a wink.
Barbara moved away from the Delphi and steered her chair over to the table piled high with textbooks, stopping beside Dinah.
“Is it me, or does this pile just keep growing,” Barbara joked.
Dinah glared in response.
“Oh, it’s growing alright. Soon I’ll have to hit the weight room just so I can carry my books to school each day. Can’t you guys give us kids a break every once in a while?”
“You guys?” Barbara asked, eyebrow raised.
“Yeah,” Dinah answered. “Teachers! Every time I turn around they give me another book to carry. ‘Have to bring it to school every day’, they say. ‘But we only use it for homework,’ we say. ‘Oh, heavens no! We just might glance in it for a second on the last Monday of the school year and what would happen if you didn’t have the book with you then?’ they say! What would happen? My arms would hurt a lot less, my posture would be a lot better…”
“You’d have a lot less to drop when you bump into a hot guy – a lot less for him to help you pick up,” Barbara joked.
Dinah glanced away guiltily and Barbara laughed.
“You have a lot of homework tonight?” Barbara asked.
“Not really. You have a lot of activity on the Delphi?” Dinah asked, a hopeful expression on her face.
“Not really,” Barbara answered, perusing through one of Dinah’s history textbooks.
Dinah’s face fell. “Great! The one night I can definitely go on sweeps and there’s no crime to fight.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say ‘no crime’. Just very little.” Barbara put the textbook down and headed back toward the Delphi Monitor. Dinah joined her.
“I know I should be happy the crime numbers are down,” Barbara continued. “I mean, that is what we want, right? To rid New Gotham of crime and make it a safer place to live. But…I can’t help wondering…”
“What?” Dinah asked.
Barbara met Dinah’s eyes as she answered. “I can’t help but wonder if this is the calm before the storm.”
* * *
“So, Robert, how’s the family?”
The mole-faced janitor squirmed in his seat, looking down at his scuffed shoes.
“Haven’t seen ‘em. They couldn’t care less about me.”
Behind the plexi-glass, Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s features were sympathetic and concerned as she listened to Robert Bledsoe complain about his family problems in depth. Harley Quinn was hidden deep where no trace could be seen by Dr. Quinzel’s former patient. From her hiding place though, Harley was ecstatic.
Still the same old Ballistic Bobby! she thought. Always putty in my hands! I’m sitting inside a freakin’ cell in Arkham and this idiot is still talking to me as if I’m still his doctor! What a nut! Listen to him drone on about his pathetic little life! As if I could actually give a damn!
“I’m so sorry, Robert. I wish I could do more for you. Perhaps a group session with your family.” She paused as Robert’s face lit up with the suggestion. “But…” she widened her hands and gestured at her surroundings. “…I could hardly do that sort of session from here.”
Robert looked back down at the floor. Dr. Quinzel stared at his bowed head, barely controlling Harley as she struggled to break free.
C’mon, you dolt! You know you want to!!
As Robert looked up once more and met Dr. Quinzel’s eyes, he was greeted with a reassuring smile.
“Maybe I can help you with that…You know…The way you’ve always helped me?”