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.
Detective Jesse Reese, weapon drawn, cautiously entered the Clocktower through the side entrance. He noted the two clown-faced thugs lying in a crumpled unmoving heap in the hallway. He noted the drops…and sometimes smears…of blood on the floor as he approached the sliding door that led deeper into the hidden recesses of the Clocktower.
Detective Reese noticed all of this as he edged forward with trepidation. He’d been sent here by an anonymous caller – not by Oracle or Huntress, but by a woman he didn’t know who claimed to be a mutual friend. That didn’t bode well. It meant that the girls had their hands full with the Clocktower invaders.
As he rode the elevator up to the top floor of the Clocktower, Reese grew more tense, wondering what he would find when the doors opened. Steeling himself for the worst, he was still unprepared for the destructive scene before him as the elevator reached its final destination. The headquarters was a shambles, broken furniture, glass, computer components, paper and more strewn all about.
Even more worrisome was the silence. As Detective Reese inspected the area, the silence threatened to close in on him, suffocate him – because the silence meant that he was too late. He advanced toward the remains of the tower’s clock-face and stopped short. Lying amidst the shards of glass was a black-clad form.
Reese ran out to the balcony and knelt beside Helena, indifferent to the glass that cut into his knees.
“Helena,” he whispered, as he reached down to check for a pulse, praying he’d find one. Helena’s eyes fluttered open and she groaned. Amazed to find Helena still alive, Reese reached for his cellphone to call for an ambulance, but Helena caught his hand before it could reach inside his jacket.
“Reese…” Her grip on his wrist was weak, her voice still weaker, and Reese had to strain his ears to hear her. “You have to stop him…” As she spoke, she made a feeble attempt to pull herself up. The pain hit her in waves, each one worse than the first, and she cried out in agony.
Reese’s eyes widened in fear. He had never seen Helena in so much pain before…and the ground beside her was covered in her blood. He pulled out his cellphone and made the call, praying that they would get to the Clocktower in time.
“Easy, Baby…I’m here…Help’s on its way…”
“No! You have to stop him!” Tears began to course down Helena’s cheeks as she struggled to make Reese understand.
Jesse reached out a hand and gently wiped the tears away. “It’ll be okay, Helena.”
“No! You don’t understand!...Barbara…He has her…The Joker has Barbara…you have to find him…stop him.”
“Shhh…we will, Baby. We’ll find him…We’ll get Barbara back…Helena? Helena! Stay with me, Baby. C’mon.”
But for all his words, Helena’s injuries were too great, the pain too much to bear, and Helena sank into unconsciousness.
* * *
Detective Jesse Reese paced the floor in the waiting room outside the Emergency Room of New Gotham Memorial Hospital. He’d tried sitting, but after 10 minutes of that, he’d gotten up and begun pacing, much to the chagrin of several other waiting room patrons.
Jesse halted in mid-pace as he recognized the clear, concise pronunciation of his name. Relief flooding his features, he turned to greet Alfred, and found that he was not alone. Jesse’s eyes narrowed as he took in the man standing beside the black-clad, ever-dapper butler. He had called Alfred as soon as he’d gotten to the hospital, knowing that Alfred would want to be here. But he had expected Alfred to come alone.
Alfred’s face registered shock and dismay as he took in Jesse blood-soaked attire. Jesse looked down at the blood staining his clothing, at his blood-covered hands, and went pale. He took two steps and sank into one of the waiting room chairs, staring at his hands. It wasn’t the sight of blood that made him feel ill. It was knowing just whose blood it was and seeing so much of it.
Jesse hadn’t bothered to wait for the ambulance. When Helena had lost consciousness, Jesse reacted instantly, scooping her up in his arms and racing to his car. Lights and siren blaring, Reese tore up the streets of New Gotham en route to the hospital, all the while praying that he’d get Helena there in time. He’d been so worried about getting her to the ER, about knowing what they were doing in there to her, that he hadn’t even realized he was covered in her blood.
“I…she…They won’t tell me anything. I don’t know if…” Jesse tried to form words, but found they wouldn’t come. He stared up at Alfred, then at the well-dressed stranger standing beside him. Tall, with a dark and somewhat broody countenance, there was something familiar about the stranger that Jesse couldn’t quite place. The man reminded him of someone. As he wondered about that, the stranger gave Alfred a nod, and then headed toward the Nurse’s Station. Alfred watched as he left, then sat beside Reese.
“Don’t worry, Detective. Master Bruce will find out.”
Jesse’s eyes widened at Alfred’s words.
“You mean that’s Bruce Wayne…the Bruce Wayne….Helena’s father – that Bruce Wayne?”
Alfred nodded in assent. “One in the same. Master Bruce has many friends here. Miss Helena will be well cared for.”
* * *
Moments later, Reese found himself standing outside a private room in a little used section of the hospital. As it turned out, Helena’s doctor was an old college friend of Bruce Wayne’s and was indebted to the man for grants that the Wayne Foundation had sent his way. It seemed that Dr. Brennan dabbled in research and Bruce Wayne had thought his research important enough to donate to his cause.
Reese and Alfred waited outside the room while Dr. Brennan and Helena’s father stood beside her bed, discussing her condition. Reese could barely control himself – he wanted so badly to be in that room; to by Helena’s bedside. But Alfred had warned him to stay in the hallway until they were beckoned in by Wayne.
And so Reese waited, peering in through the door’s small window, wondering what the two were discussing.
* * *
“It’s not safe for her here, Parker. If the Joker knows she’s alive…”
“I know, Bruce, but she needs constant supervision right now. Her wounds are serious. And she lost so much blood. Had she not been a member of the Wayne family, I wouldn’t have expected her to survive.”
“I understand. But if she stays here, it won’t remain a secret for long.” Bruce Wayne gazed at his daughter lying in the hospital bed. Most people would not have survived what she had. Her wounds were extensive and she had lost a great deal of blood. And although her meta-human genes would allow her to heal quickly, he wasn’t sure how long it would take for her to be completely healed.
He stroked his chin as he looked at Helena, in some ways so much like her mother and yet, there was a hint of his darkness within. He wished he had known about her long ago…wished Selina hadn’t kept her a secret. But he understood the reasoning behind the secrecy. How safe would the daughter of Bruce Wayne, AKA: Batman, have been back then. No one was safe from the wrath of his enemies…not even Selina. She had been murdered in an effort to prove that fact.
“I have an idea.”
Turning to the doorway, he beckoned Alfred and Reese into the room. Reese made a move toward Helena’s bedside, but Bruce grabbed his arm as he passed. Reese spun around to face Bruce, eyes blazing, giving Bruce one more reason to think highly of Jesse Reese. Bruce had already decided he’d liked the detective from the things Alfred had told him and the things he had observed about Reese tonight.
“I need your help keeping Helena safe,” Bruce explained.
“Anything,” Reese said, without hesitation.
* * *
Carolyn Lance stared at the television set, willing the report not to be true. She glanced over at her daughter, still unconscious on the bed in Carolyn’s apartment.
How am I gonna tell her this?
Dinah stirred slightly and Carolyn jumped, momentarily forgetting the morose news report as she hurried to her daughter’s side.
“Dinah? Dinah, can you hear me?”
Dinah moaned as she slowly regained consciousness. Opening her eyes, she could make out a blurry figure leaning over her. Dinah struggled to focus. As her vision cleared, she began to make out the concerned features of Carolyn Lance. Carolyn reached out a hand to brush a strand of hair out of her daughter’s face, but Dinah flinched back.
“Don’t touch me!” Dinah’s features displayed a mixture of anger and disbelief. Carolyn pulled her hand back. “How?! I saw the explosion. They told me you were dead!”
Carolyn looked away from Dinah, the anger in her eyes cutting through her like daggers. “I was…in a way. The explosion…the flames…” She halted as the painful memories assaulted her. She reached a shaky hand up to brush her hair out her eyes and her fingers brushed a scar just below the hairline…just one of the handful of painful reminders of her ordeal in the warehouse.
“I barely managed to escape…there was fire everywhere…”
She shook her head, as if to erase the memory of the hot flames searing her flesh. “I…I was burnt…badly…My mind was reeling from the pain and all I could think of was running…running as far as I could from the flames that threatened to engulf me. I ran until I collapsed. I didn’t know where I was…just that I couldn’t run any longer.”
The anger began to slowly ebb from Dinah’s eyes as she saw the pain in Carolyn’s. She had felt the heat of the flames licking at their backs as the explosion threw them to the ground. But they had been outside the inferno, Carolyn had been inside. Dinah felt slightly ashamed at her anger, but there was still something she didn’t understand.
“If you were hurt, why didn’t you go to the hospital? Why didn’t you contact us?”
Carolyn sighed. “If I could have, honey, I would have. But I lost consciousness, and when I awoke, I was lying on a cot in a lab. You see, there are still a few kind people in New Gotham willing to help, no questions asked and nothing asked for in return.”
She smiled at the memory. “He was taking out the trash when he spotted me slumped on the ground in the alley. Hale is a doctor at a local clinic and so, he took me to his clinic and patched me up as best as he could.
When I was conscious and aware of my surroundings, Hale told me that I should really be in a hospital more equipped to handle my burns. He said he would have taken me sooner, but in my delirium, I begged him not to. I agreed to let him take me to a hospital outside New Gotham. While we were on the road, he told me about the warehouse fire and how a woman had been killed. He looked pointedly at me – I’m certain he knew – but never once asked if I was the woman that the police had presumed dead.
Don’t you see, Dinah? I’d heard the story of my so-called demise. And I knew Al Hawke had escaped police custody. You have almost been killed twice because of me. Hawke now knew your identity…knew how to get to me…through you! I had to let him think I was no longer a problem. I had to make him think I was dead. But in the process, I had to be dead to you as well. And it killed me, Dinah. I swear to you, nothing hurt more than to know I could never finish forging the bond we’d begun.”
Tears fell freely from Carolyn Lance’s eyes as she looked into those of her daughter.
“I waited until I knew Al Hawke was in prison…until I knew that he wouldn’t escape custody this time. Then I started checking up on you. Through contacts at first – Hale and I have grown close and he was more than happy to help. Then on my own – at a distance. That’s why I knew where to find you when the Joker’s men took you. I was there…I couldn’t prevent it, but I could sure as hell stop the Joker from hurting you!”
Tears spilled from Dinah’s own eyes as she realized how much her mother had gone through to protect her; how much she was willing to go through to keep her safe.
“I’m sorry, Baby. I swear. I wish I could take all the pain away - from living with the Redmonds, from thinking I had died in that explosion, and now…” Carolyn’s voice trailed off.
Dinah’s eyes widened at her mother’s words. And although she was certain she wasn’t going to want to hear the answer, Dinah asked Carolyn to finish the statement.
“And now…what? What aren’t you telling me?”
* * *
Barbara opened her eyes and winced at the pain slicing across her skull.
“Well, look who finally decided to join us?!” Harley Quinn sang out to her lover, the Joker. The green-haired clown-faced criminal sauntered over to join Harley as she leaned over Barbara where she lay on the floor of a cage.
“Morning, Toots! How do ya like your new home?” The Joker cackled and Harley joined him. The sound echoed in the cage making Barbara moan in pain and cover her ears.
“Awww…she doesn’t seem to like it here, Mr. J. What’s the matter, Barbara? Did my sweetie hit you too hard? He doesn’t know his own strength sometimes, do you, Sweetie?”
Harley turned to the Joker and batted her eyes. The Joker scoffed.
“Hey! It was her own fault! Look what she did to my foot!” He pointed to his foot, now bandaged where Barbara had driven her wheelchair over it. “She deserved it! And she’ll get more of the same if she doesn’t give me what I want.”
Barbara pulled herself into a sitting position, leaning back against the bars of the cage. “What the hell might that be?” she asked, defiantly.
“I wanna know where the bat-freak’s hiding, Babs!”
“Oh please! Do you really think I know that? And if I did, would I actually tell you?” Barbara laughed incredulously. “I’ll be out of here soon, Joker. And when I am, you and Harley are going back to Arkham…forever this time.”
“Oh really,” sneered Harley. “And who’s gonna break you outta here, huh? Who’s gonna come to your rescue, hmmm? Huntress? I very much doubt that! I very much doubt that dear Helena Kyle will ever don the mantle of Huntress again, much less come to your rescue! You see, the most she’ll be donning is a wooden box. She’s headed to the New Gotham cemetery as we speak!”
Fear gripped Barbara’s heart as she listened to Harley’s words. She did her best to keep it hidden.
It’s a trick…a trick to make me think I’m alone. A trick to make me talk.
Holding on to that hope with a vise grip, Barbara growled, “You’re lying! Helena’s fine. You may have put her out of commission for a round, but she’s most certainly not out of the game. And when she comes for me…”
Barbara stopped as Harley threw back her head in laughter and ran toward a table on the opposite side of the room. Grabbing something off the table, she rushed back to the cage. As she neared, Barbara could see that Harley was holding the latest edition of the New Gotham Herald in her hand. She slapped the issue up against the cage, laughing and smugly reciting the title of the newspaper’s front page spread.
“Clocktower Disaster: New Gotham Mourns the Loss of the Wayne Heiress!”
“NO!!!” Barbara dragged herself across the cage, lunging at Harley.
Harley laughed as she backed away, then tossed the paper into the cage with Barbara, who sat staring at Helena Kyle’s photo strategically placed in the center of the front page. The words on the page became blurred as the paper became wet from Barbara’s tears.
“So you see, dear, no one is coming to your rescue now.”