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.
As Dinah prepared for school, she felt as if she were moving through quicksand. After last night’s nightmare, Dinah had no desire to go back to sleep. She lay in bed, replaying portions of the dream in her mind, trying to figure out who it was crashing through the glass, what had happened to cause it. At 6:00AM, she found she hadn’t made any progress and decided that she might as well get ready for the days classes.
As Dinah left her bedroom, she was surprised to find Helena seated at the Delphi Monitor station, looking as tired as she did perplexed by all of the technology before her. As the teen entered the room, Helena looked up, relief flooding her features.
“Thank God! I have no idea what I’m doing here!” she said, waving Dinah over.
Dinah couldn’t suppress a giggle. Helena, so adept at tracking down and bringing to justice the most dangerous and hardened criminals, so skilled when it came to fighting and soaring above the streets of New Gotham, was all thumbs behind a computer console.
As she approached the station, Dinah surveyed the room.
“Where’s Barbara?” she asked. As surprised as she was to see Helena seated at the Delphi, she was equally surprised that Barbara was not.
“I made her get some rest. She was falling asleep at the computer, hands on the keyboard, still trying to type. She finally agreed with me when I pointed at the screen and asked her what language she was typing in. None of what she had just entered made sense. Though I don’t think she was too happy with leaving me to watch the Delphi. Kept telling me to wake her up if anything important came in. ‘Promise me you won’t touch anything,’ she kept saying.” Helena laughed.
Dinah laughed as she pulled up a chair to sit beside Helena. She could actually hear Barbara saying the words, her voice a mix of sternness and trepidation as she left her “baby” in the dangerous hands of a non-computer geek like Helena. As she recovered from the laughter, something Helena said sank in surprising her even more than the sight of Helena at the Delphi.
“Wait! You’ve been here all night?”
Helena nodded. “Barbara was worried about me going back to my apartment. I guess she figures that Harley would tell the Joker about my dad and that he would come after me like he did my mom and Barbara.” She shook her head. “She didn’t have to say a word – I planned on staying anyway. Did you see the look on her face when she read the report? She looked so…I dunno…haunted.”
“Yeah,” Dinah agreed, her features darkening with the memory. “It was like, in that one moment, she saw everything she experienced at their hands replayed in her mind. Sorta scared me a little.”
“Yeah, tell me about it. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her like that. Keep this in mind, Dinah – it’s never a really good idea to leave her alone when she’s like that, no matter how often she says she’s okay.” Helena locked eyes with Dinah to make certain the girl understood.
Dinah nodded, not quite understanding just what Helena meant, but realizing that she wasn’t going to elaborate on it at the moment.
Satisfied with Dinah’s response, Helena quickly changed the subject. “Well, let’s see what we can whip up to eat around here,” she said, rising from her chair and stretching out her tired limbs.
“Where’s Alfred?” Dinah asked.
“Barbara called him and told him it would be safer for him to stay at the Bat Cave.” Helena made a face. “She tried to persuade me that it would be safer for all of us there, but I told her that there was no way I was gonna stay in that dank, underground hell-hole!”
“It would still be a lot safer.” The girls jumped as Barbara wheeled into the room behind them. “Harley knows where to find us,” she pointed out.
Helena shrugged, seemingly unconcerned. “You’ve upgraded the security systems since then, Barbara. There’s no way she’s getting in here.”
Barbara didn’t respond to Helena’s statement, but rather moved to position herself in front of the Delphi Monitor.
“She didn’t break anything, did she?” she asked Dinah.
“Hey!” Helena shouted indignantly, while Dinah chuckled. She turned to Dinah. “What the hell are YOU laughing at?”
“Um…” Dinah chose the politician’s way out – she ducked the subject. “So, what’s for breakfast?”
“Just tea for me,” Barbara responded in a distracted voice as she began tapping away at the Delphi’s keyboard.
“You gonna sit there all day staring at those monitors?” Helena asked.
Barbara looked up quickly, annoyance creeping into her voice. “We have two extremely dangerous felons roaming the streets of New Gotham! You have a better suggestion?”
“Well, you DO have this little thing called a day job,” Helena said, raising an eyebrow.
“I called in sick,” Barbara responded, eyes once again glued to the monitor before her.
Dinah, who had been making her way toward the kitchen, stopped dead in her tracks. “WHAT?!”
Barbara turned to face her. “Dinah, do you realize how serious this is – how much danger all of us are in? The Joker is all about revenge – has been for as long as I can remember. Anyone who crosses his path…” Barbara paused as a wave of memories hit her, threatening to overcome her. She forced them back down. “And Harley is just as bad. We have to track them down and bring them in before they can regroup and gain any kind of stronghold on New Gotham’s underworld.”
“Well,” Helena walked toward the elevator, grabbing her coat, “let me know what you find out. I’m going to work. C’mon, Kid, breakfast’s on me.”
“Cool!” Dinah reached for her books.
“Whoa!” Barbara shouted, spinning her chair around. “You’re not going anywhere!”
Dinah looked at Barbara in shock. “Barbara, I have to go to class in an hour.”
“And I’m saying you are taking the day off today,” Barbara said firmly.
Dinah couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
Barbara actually WANTS me to cut class? What’s wrong with this picture?
Helena stopped short on the way to the elevator and turned to study her mentor. Barbara was facing Dinah, a no-nonsense look on her face. Helena put her coat on a chair and walked over to Barbara. Kneeling down before Barbara’s chair, Helena locked eyes with her mentor.
“Barbara,” she began quietly, her voice filled with understanding, “I know you’re worried. Yes, the Joker and Harley are extremely dangerous alone, and together…well, who knows what New Gotham is in for. But we can’t stop living our lives, looking over our shoulder every minute, waiting for them to attack. The Joker and Harley Quinn – they love to play head games. They love it when they can get under people’s skin. Don’t you see, if we hide out, they win!”
Barbara stared into Helena’s eyes, wanting to find argument with what she was saying, but she couldn’t. Helena was right. The Joker and Harley Quinn found it great fun to instill terror in the hearts of their enemies. By keeping the girls here at the Clocktower, Barbara would be unwittingly playing into their hands – letting them win too easily. She nodded.
“Okay, but stay on comms – constant contact!”
“Got it!” Helena squeezed Barbara’s hand and rose to leave.
Dinah grabbed her books and followed Helena to the elevator, pausing to give Barbara a quick kiss on the cheek.
“I’ll stay on comms and I promise not to cut class without letting you know first,” she said, giving Barbara a wink.
Barbara couldn’t help but laugh. “I’ll pick you up after school.”
Dinah wagged a finger at her. “Nuh uh! You’re sick remember.”
“And I’ll make a sudden miraculous recovery by school’s end. No arguments!”
Helena interceded before Dinah could voice an argument. “C’mon, Dinah, I’m really not in the mood to listen to another of Leonard’s lectures on the meaning of punctuality.”
With that, the two girls entered the elevator. Barbara watched the elevator make it’s descent with a mixture of fear and dread. Somehow, she was certain that the Joker and Harley would strike soon. But how?
* * *
“Here, Oracle,” Helena turned to face the shelves of liquor and ducked her head low to avoid attracting the attention of the customers at the bar. “What’s up?”
“Nothing,” was Barbara’s disappointed answer. “Absolutely nothing. The police have made absolutely no progress in their search for the Joker and Harley. Frustrating as all hell!”
“Hey, what did you expect? This is the New Gotham P.D. we’re talking about,” Helena drawled.
“Yeah…I know…Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I was going mobile. I’m on my way to pick up Dinah from school.”
“Duck real low in the Hummer so the other teachers can’t see ya,” Helena joked.
“Very funny. Oracle out.”
* * *
Dinah and Gabby made their way toward the front exit of New Gotham High School, fighting their way through the packs of teenagers, all with one thought on their minds – freedom!
“Ya wanna come over my house tonight?” Gabby asked. “We can rent Starship Troopers. I know how much you love Casper Van Dien.”
Dinah laughed. “Nice try – you’re forgetting that I know how much you lust after Dina Meyer! Besides, I can’t. Barbara’s picking me up. You want a ride?”
Gabby cocked an eyebrow, confusion clouding her features. “I thought Ms. G was out sick.”
“Yeah, so? Am I always sick when I skip class?”
Gabby laughed. “Right. Sometimes I forget that teachers get just as fed up with school as you and I do.”
They both laughed as they made their way out into the warm sunshine and down the steps of New Gotham High School. Dinah waved as she saw Barbara pull up to the curb further down the block. As she turned to repeat her offer of a ride to Gabby, she saw a man approaching them from the right – a man with bright red hair, white face make-up and a huge red grin from ear to ear.
“Gabby! Look out!” Dinah shoved Gabby out of harm’s way, and faced the clown, never realizing that yet another clown-faced villain was approaching her from behind. Dinah tried to scream as a sack was deftly placed over her head. Arms grabbed her, lifting her off her feet, carrying her roughly. Dinah tried to struggle with her captors, but found herself feeling suddenly weak. She soon found it difficult to focus and she realized that the smell of the sack’s interior was a familiar one. The sack had been doused with chloroform. As she drifted unconscious, she barely registered a tiny voice calling out her name. Then the world went black.
* * *
“Huntress, it’s Oracle!”
Helena grabbed her ear, wincing in pain at the loudness of Oracle’s voice. She spotted her boss, Leonard staring at her and quickly recovered, telling him she was going to use the Ladies’ Room. Once inside, she checked all the stalls for occupants. Finding none, she answered Oracle’s hail.
“Dammit, Oracle! That hurt!”
Oracle ignored Helena’s complaint. “Meet me at the New Gotham Police Department! Dinah’s been abducted!”
Without a second thought, Helena raced out of the bathroom, past Leonard, and out the front door of the Dark Horse Bar.
* * *
The Firebird sat outside of an old abandoned building in the old Gotham Dock Yards. Inside the car, hidden once again by the tint of the windows, the woman glared at the building with contempt. The van parked beside it had been empty for some time, the occupants having carried an unconscious Dinah into the building long ago.
She had been at the school when Dinah was abducted, parked in her usual spot across the street, watching as Dinah and her friend exited the school. She smiled, noting the laughter emanating from the two girls as they walked down the steps. Dinah raised her hand to wave as a Hummer pulled up to the curb a few yards away from where she was parked. Then, suddenly, all hell broke loose. Thugs disguised as clowns grabbed Dinah and tossed her into the back of a green van.
She already had the Firebird in gear and was tearing down the street behind the van seconds after it pulled away from the school. She noted the Hummer directly behind her, joining in the pursuit. As the van skidded around the corner, blowing through a red light, a truck rolled through the intersection. She barely missed it as she struggled to keep the van in site. Looking back in the rear view mirror, she noticed that the Hummer had been unable to follow, the truck blocking its path, leaving her Dinah’s only hope.
She pulled back a bit, giving the van a comfort zone, wanting the driver to think he was losing her. At this point, there could be only one place that van was headed, and she knew the route like the back of her hand.
She knew who was in that building with Dinah – the clown-faced thugs said it all. It had to be the Joker. And that meant that Dinah was in grave danger. The woman ran a hand through her long brown hair. She knew she had to get Dinah to safety, but she needed a plan…