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.
Barbara stared at the Delphi Monitor, praying for a sign…any sign…of Dinah, but knowing she wouldn’t find one. Harley knew too much about their operation and she would know that Dinah’s comm set contained a GPS locator device. An unwelcome vision of the Joker as she had seen him last came to Barbara then. She buried her head in her hands, tears streaking down her cheeks.
Dinah! Oh God, I’m sorry! He wouldn’t have taken you if it weren’t for me!
Barbara jerked upright at the sound of the elevator. Confusion marked her features as she turned to face the elevator.
“Huntress…I thought you were going to stay on patrol until you found Dinah.”
Huntress came to a landing on rooftop of the New Gotham First National Bank.
“I’m still on patrol.” Huntress frowned, suddenly worried. “What’s going on?...Oracle? Oracle?!”
Huntress immediately headed back to the Clocktower, praying she’d get there fast enough.
The elevator door opened and a shot rang out. Barbara jumped as electronics exploded behind her, but her eyes never left the face of the man in the elevator. The man whose features were etched in her brain for life…in much the same pose as he was in now. He stepped out of the elevator, revolver trained on Barbara’s chest, and laughed.
“Knock, knock, Batgirl…or is it Oracle, now?”
Barbara sat frozen in her wheelchair. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t think. All she could do was stare at the man that put her in that wheelchair in the first place – a man she thought she’d never see in person again.
“Look at her, Mr. J!” Harley shouted, pointing at Barbara. “You made such a dashing entrance, she’s speechless!”
The Joker ignored Harley and marched straight up to Barbara’s wheelchair pointing the revolver at the center of Barbara’s forehead. He leaned in close, staring into Barbara’s shimmering emerald eyes.
“You and I have a whole lot of catching up to do, Sweetheart. A whole lot of catching up to do.”
* * *
Dinah squinted at the road through the van’s dirty windshield. It was bad enough that she was seeing triple thanks to the drug that the Joker had injected into her system, but the windshield was filthy, making visibility close to nil. She was traveling at unadvisable speeds through the streets of New Gotham, praying that she’d get to the Clocktower in time to warn Barbara.
Dinah still can’t believe her luck at having found this van – the Joker’s crew had abandoned it as quickly as they’d abandoned the burning dockyards building with her still tied to a chair inside. She knew she should have thanked the woman that had rescued her…or at least stopped to see if she was okay, but Barbara was in danger and all she could think of was getting back to the Clocktower.
Dinah silently cursed at her weakness in revealing the Clocktower security codes. Whatever it was that the Joker had injected her with, it was potent. She had found it impossible not to tell him all he wanted to know. She tried coaxing a bit more speed out of the rattle-trap van, wondering if she was really all that lucky that Joker’s henchmen had left this vehicle behind, or if it was just some cruel joke. The speed she was already achieving caused the van to shake and shimmy all over the place and it was a struggle to keep the thing going straight. She just prayed it kept together until she reached the Clocktower.
Now more than ever, Dinah wished she had the power to fly.
* * *
“I’ll cut to the chase, Barbara. It’s been a while since I’ve seen my batty friend and I miss him terribly. So, you can make life pretty simple and just tell me where the bat-loving fool is!”
Barbara flinched as the Joker’s spittle flecked her face and marveled at her composure. True, she was unable to do more than stare into his eyes, but she wasn’t the shaking, jabbering mess that she could have been. She was silently thankful for that. Weakness in their enemies was something the Joker and Harley looked for…thrived on. She was thankful to keep her fear and anguish hidden from the bastard.
“C’mon, Gordon! The bullet rendered you a cripple! Not a mute! Let’s hear it! Where is the Bat-freak?!”
Trying her best to keep her voice even and her tongue sharp, Barbara answered, “I see that years in Arkham did nothing for your sanity. You must be insane to think I would ever tell you where Batman is!”
She was startled to hear a voice from across the room add to her statement. “Even if she had any idea where he had gone off to…Now, I’m gonna say this as nicely as I possibly can – get the hell away from her, you clown-faced creep!”
As Huntress approached, the Joker was quick to place Barbara between her and himself.
“You must be Batman’s little brat. So sorry about your mama. I really liked Selina – I did! But your daddy doesn’t know how to play nice, so I had to take him down a notch.”
“YOU SON OF A BITCH!”
Rage overtook Huntress and she prepared to launch herself at the Joker.
“Helena, don’t!” Barbara yelled, then gasped as the Joker grabbed a fistful of hair and yanked her head backward, using her as a shield.
“Nuh uh uh,” he taunted, raising the gun to Barbara’s temple. “One bullet express to the brain – you know I’ll do it.”
Huntress, still tensed to pounce on the Joker, hesitated. That was when Harley launched an attack of her own. Capitalizing on the fact that Huntress now had all of her attention focused on the Joker and Barbara, Harley attacked from the left, swinging a stool at Huntress’ head.
Huntress saw Barbara’s eyes widen seconds before screaming out a warning. She spun and ducked, the stool missing her head by inches.
“I see you still haven’t learned how to play nicely with others,” Huntress chided, as she launched a side kick at Harley’s exposed right flank. Harley crashed into one of the desks in the Delphi Monitor station.
Meanwhile, Barbara had taken full advantage of the distraction, twisting the Joker’s gun hand away from her temple. She then backed her chair over his left foot and smiled with satisfaction as she heard the distinct sound of bones crunching.
* * *
Detective Reese was just getting back to his desk when the phone rang. He was exhausted, having combed New Gotham for clues as to where the Joker might be hiding out. And he hadn’t gotten any information about the mysterious Firebird that had been at the scene. It was as if the car didn’t exist. The exasperation was evident in his voice as he leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes and picked up the phone receiver.
“New Gotham P.D. This better be good!”
“Detective Reese? You don’t know me, but we have mutual friends who are in grave danger even as we speak! You have to get to the Clocktower!”
Jesse shot forward in his chair, eyes wide open. “Who is this?” he asked as he struggled to identify the background noise on the other end of the line.
“That’s not important! What is important is that the Joker is on his way to the Clocktower! You have to hurry, Detective!”
The line went dead, but not before Jesse recognized the noise in the background – it was an engine racing. Jesse had driven enough cars – and gotten pulled over enough times for speeding – to know that he was hearing a sports car being put to the test on the streets of New Gotham.
The mysterious Firebird! Maybe it wasn’t part of the kidnapping, but was trying to prevent it!
Jesse raced out of the office, almost knocking McNally over in his haste to leave.
McNally turned to watch the man leave, then regarded his shirt and the brand new coffee stain created when Reese had bumped into him.
“Thanks, Reese,” he mumbled. “That was my last clean shirt.” Then he shrugged, mulling over whether he should go to the all night diner around the corner for another cup of coffee and perhaps a donut or two.
* * *
Dinah screeched to a halt in front of the Clocktower.
Please don’t let me be too late!
Her heart skipped a beat as she found the side entrance door ajar. She edged it open slowly and yelped in surprise as a strong grip wrapped around her wrist and yanked her into the hallway. Three of the four henchmen the Joker had left behind to guard the entrance focused their attention on the blonde teen thrust into their midst by the fourth. They converged on her in the cramped hallway and Dinah soon found herself surrounded. She did the only thing she could do – crouched into a battle stance and prepared for the fight to come.
* * *
The black Firebird screeched to a halt beside the rattle-trap van. The brunette driver scanned the area carefully before she stepped out of the car. There was no sign of Dinah in the immediate area. Cursing herself for not having arrived sooner, she ran toward the side entrance of the Clocktower. She skidded to a stop a couple of feet from the door, noting the sounds of an on-going battle beyond.
She kicked the door open with as much force as she could muster, slamming one of the Joker’s henchmen in the face. He flailed backwards a couple of steps, then fell to the floor. Entering the hallway, the brunette took in the scene playing before her. Dinah was surrounded by three thugs, but was valiantly holding her own. She smiled, a sense of pride brewing as she watched Dinah fight. Barbara and Helena had taught her well.
Suddenly, a door slid open at the end of the hallway and four more thugs, armed with various weapons, joined the fight. Cursing, she joined the battle.
Dinah wasn’t sure who it was that she was fighting beside, but she welcomed the assistance. Still fuzzy from the drug and preoccupied with the fight, she wasn’t perfectly certain who she was by looking at her, but she thought the woman’s voice sounded familiar as she shouted threats at her foes. Dinah struggled to keep her mind focused on the battle at hand, but the drug and the fast pace of the fight were making her dizzy. She tripped and one of the thugs capitalized on the error, swinging his tire iron at her midsection and catching her in the ribs.
The mystery woman spun around at Dinah’s pain induced scream. A look of fury settled on her features as Dinah fell to her knees. She moved in her direction and found her path blocked by three of the Joker’s clown-faced thugs. Using the wall to her right as a spring board, she launched a spinning kick that took out two of her adversaries. Before dispatching the final one, she paused long enough to look over in Dinah’s direction.
What she saw spurred her rage to a new height. Dinah was lying on the floor, two of the Joker’s henchmen standing over her. A cry of a fury erupted from the woman like none the henchmen had ever heard. The man standing directly to her left was the first recipient of that new-born fury as he found himself hurled face-first into the opposite wall with a resounding crack. He slid to the floor and remained there, twitching slightly.
She turned toward the others. What they saw in her eyes made them back away in fear. Then the one thug seemed to remember he still held a tire iron in his hand and became bold once again. Stepping forward and preparing to swing the tire iron at the brunette’s head, he was totally unprepared for what happened next. The woman executed a double somersault directly in front of him, her legs landing on either shoulder. She tightened her hold on his neck and then twisted. The bone-breaking snap was enough to send the last thug running out of the Clocktower.
She didn’t waste a moment coming to Dinah’s side. Her blond hair was tarnished by the redness of the blood seeping through the large gash on the back of her head. As she gently turned the teen over, she heard the sound of running feet coming from the end of the hallway.
Reinforcements, she thought. Dinah groaned, dragging her attention from the door at the end of the hallway.
The teen’s eyes fluttered open and struggled to focus.
“We have to get out of here. Can you walk?”
The sound of footsteps grew louder and she knew it was only a matter of time before they reached the hallway. She placed Dinah’s arm over her shoulder and hoisted her up. The teen lurched forward, her knees crumpling from under her and it was all she could do to keep Dinah upright as they made their way out of the Clocktower. She gently placed Dinah in the passenger seat of the Firebird.
As she lovingly smoothed Dinah’s hair back, Dinah’s eyes focused on the woman’s concerned features for the first time since she’d come to her rescue. Her eyes widened as recognition hit her hard.
“Mom?! But you…you’re…” It was too much for Dinah to comprehend and the black edges around her field of vision were threatening to close in. She let them take over and sank into unconsciousness.
A single tear coursed down Carolyn Lance’s cheek as she leaned in over the unconscious form of her daughter and kissed her forehead. She closed the passenger door and hurried to the driver’s side. Starting the engine, she paused for a moment as a sound from above made her look up toward the clock-face of the tower. The face had erupted into shards of glass as something was hurled through it.
* * *
The Joker screamed in pain as the wheelchair muscled its way over his left foot. The heavy motor combined with the added electronic features was enough to crush the fragile bones. In a furious fit of rage, he slammed the business end of the revolver against Barbara’s temple as she rode past.
Huntress turned just in time to see the Joker’s revolver connect with Barbara’s skull. Furious beyond words, Huntress snarled as she pounced on the Joker. They fell to the floor hard, Huntress on top of the Joker, pummeling him with all her strength.
Across the room, Harley had recovered from her tumble with the computer desk. Seeing her beloved being pummeled by her worst enemy, Harley grabbed the closest thing she could use as a weapon and headed straight for the pair.
Barbara sat dazed. The room swam around her and everything she saw seemed distorted. She was vaguely conscious of a warm liquid making its way down the side of her face. She felt detached…as if viewing the room through someone else’s eyes. She watched as Harley approached Huntress, hefting a computer keyboard. Her brain screamed Helena’s name, but her mouth made no sound as Harley swung the keyboard with all her might.
Huntress fell forward with the impact, dazed. Harley reached for the collar of Huntress’ jacket and yanked Huntress off of the Joker.
“No one…NO ONE…treats my Mr. J like that!!!!” Harley screamed in outrage as she tossed Huntress to the floor. She aimed a vicious kick at Huntress’ midsection, then another, as Huntress struggled to rise. Reaching down and grabbing a fistful of Huntress’ hair, Harley pulled her to her feet, then backhanded her across the face. As Huntress reeled backwards from the blow, Harley kept at her, delivering blows from each side relentlessly, backing Huntress into the very desk Harley had been thrown into moments before. Harley delivered a roundhouse punch that sent Huntress sprawling across and over the desk, landing with a crash on the other side.
Barbara stared on, frustrated and fighting the darkness that threatened to overtake her, as Harley stalked her prey, making her way around the computer desk to where Huntress struggled onto a standing position. As Harley approached, Huntress aimed a roundhouse kick that left Harley sprawled on the floor, and Huntress staggering. As Huntress struggled to her feet, Harley, having no such trouble, rushed her adversary, knocking her to the floor inches from the Clocktower’s glass clock-face.
Barbara stared in horror as Huntress once again staggered to her feet. Instinctively, she knew what Harley would do next. It seemed to happen in slow motion as Harley dealt Huntress a powerful side kick. The last thing Barbara saw before the darkness finally took her was Huntress crashing through the glass face of the Clocktower.