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.
Dinah sat staring out of the window at the alley below. There was nothing of particular interest to be seen in the alley, but it was the only window and Dinah needed to see the light of day. She’d been living in a nightmare for the past couple of days and she needed some proof that she was awake.
She watched as a cat prowled the garbage cans in the alley below, searching for a left-over morsel to soothe its hunger. It was small consolation that life in the world outside Carolyn Lance’s apartment was continuing even as Dinah’s own fell apart.
Dinah had finally found a place where she belonged. She’d finally found a family – people that treated her like she wasn’t a freak. People who accepted her the way she was and even encouraged her to explore her abilities further. And she had finally come to grips with the fact that her mother was gone – this time for good.
Now, in one night, all that she knew, all she believed in was dashed to pieces. Dinah glanced at the armchair where Carolyn Lance slept. Her mother was alive! Just to see her there – to watch the rise and fall of her chest as she slept – was incredible enough. But discovering that Carolyn had been watching over her from the shadows all this time was almost too much for Dinah to handle.
If that wasn’t bad enough, she had failed to get to the Clocktower in time to warn Barbara about the Joker and Harley’s plans. Her failure had proven fatal for one of the members of her new family. Helena was gone and Dinah would never forgive herself. A tear made its way down Dinah’s cheek as she thought of Helena, how she had pushed Dinah away at first, and then accepted her as a member of the family. She’d treated Dinah like a younger sister, showing her the ropes and giving her advice. And she had been there for her when Sylvestri…Dinah shook her head at the memory.
She was so engrossed in thought that she hadn’t noticed Carolyn had woken up and was now standing beside her. Carolyn glanced at the view of the alley, then concentrated her gaze on her daughter. Carolyn placed a hand on Dinah’s shoulder making her jump.
“Hey, it’s just me,” she said. “You okay?”
Dinah looked at the woman she’d thought was lost to her forever and found that she couldn’t find words to describe how she felt at the moment. She opened her mouth to speak, but as she looked up into Carolyn’s sympathetic eyes, all that could escape was a sob. Carolyn pulled Dinah into an embrace, holding her daughter tightly as she smoothed her hair and spoke soothingly to her.
“It’s okay, Baby. Let it out. Let it out.”
Dinah stayed in her mother’s embrace for a while. When the sobs faded and she pulled back, there was a look of determination on her face.
“We have to find Barbara,” she said. “We have to get her back.”
“Dinah…” Carolyn began, but Dinah interrupted her.
“NO! Don’t say we can’t! Don’t say it’s too dangerous! We have to find her! God knows what they’re doing to her…what HE’S doing to her! I failed her once…I won’t fail her again. I owe it to her to find her….I owe it to Helena.”
The tears began to fall again and Carolyn once again pulled her daughter into an embrace.
“Oh, Honey, that wasn’t your fault. You didn’t fail anyone. You couldn’t have gotten there in time. It was impossible, Dinah. I promise you, we’ll find her.”
She held her daughter back so she could look into Dinah’s eyes.
“I promise…We will. But first, I have to get in touch with some old contacts. We can’t rush headlong into this. As Oracle has always said, ‘We need a plan’.”
As Dinah returned her mother’s gaze, she knew what she was saying was true. She also knew that whatever contacts Carolyn was going get in touch with and whatever plan she was going to hatch had better happen quickly. There was no way that Dinah was going to sit back and wait while the Joker and Harley had Barbara in their clutches.
* * *
Barbara lay curled in a corner of the cage the Joker had imprisoned her in. The newspaper Harley had thrown at her lay beside her. Every so often, Barbara would reach out and touch the photo on the front page, gently tracing Helena’s face with her fingers as tears pooled on the floor of the cage. She hadn’t known it was possible to cry this much, but every time she thought of Helena, the tears came yet again.
The Joker and Harley had returned several times since she had first heard the news. They taunted her continuously. The Joker and Harley were trying to break Barbara’s resolve – make her tell them where to find Batman. But even she didn’t know where her mentor was, nor did she care at this moment.
All she could do is stare at the newspaper photo and cry. Naturally, she blamed herself for what had happened. It mattered not that Helena was Batman’s daughter and that the Joker would have gone after her eventually. What mattered to Barbara was that the Joker had come for her and Helena had died trying to save her.
She could still see her as she crashed through the glass clock-face - could hear the glass shatter as if it were happening right there in the warehouse that was now her prison. She saw it all vividly, right down to the look of shock on Helena’s face as she broke through the glass. She wished she could make the vision go away. She wished it had never happened. But more than anything, Barbara wished it were her picture on the front page of the paper instead of Helena’s.
* * *
Detective Reese dropped the latest issue of the New Gotham Herald onto his desk. He ran a hand over his shaven pate and leaned back in his chair, sighing heavily. His partner, Detective McNally, studied his partner from the other side of Reese’s desk. McNally noted the bloodshot eyes, the harried look, the beard stubble, the rumpled suit. He’d never seen Reese like this before, but he was certain he understood why.
He’d seen the front page of the Herald and had thought of Reese instantly. McNally had seen Reese hanging around the girl that the paper toted as the Wayne heiress. He thought that they might have been a couple, but was unsure how serious a couple until this very moment. Looking at Reese, McNally could see he was more upset by the news than he would be if she had meant anything less to him.
McNally was about to ask Reese about it – to suggest that maybe he take the day off – when the phone rang. Before McNally could think of answering it, Reese snatched up the receiver.
“New Gotham P.D., Detective Reese speaking.”
McNally watched as Reese listened intently, slammed the receiver down, and raced out of the office. He shook his head and sighed.
I’ll never understand that kid, he thought.
* * *
Harley stared at the Joker with the intensity of a lovesick puppy as he contemplated his next move. It was quite obvious to him at this point that Barbara didn’t know the whereabouts of his nemesis. He looked up at Harley and became instantly annoyed.
“What the hell are you looking at?! Don’t you have something to do?”
“I can think of plenty of things to do, my green-haired Adonis. Most of which would involve you.” Harley batted her eyelashes for emphasis.
“Oh, would you please stop fawning and get with the program! Things become more difficult now. I have to figure out a way to use Gordon as a lure for the Bat-Freak. I could have used the daughter, but you just couldn’t restrain yourself, could you?!”
The Joker gave Harley Quinn a withering stare that deflated her flirtatious mood in an instant. She looked dejectedly at the floor, like a child scolded for having misbehaved.
The Joker smiled inwardly at how quickly he could affect Harley’s moods. She was putty in his hands and he enjoyed belittling her. He had never really liked her at all. She had just been a plaything at first – something to keep him occupied while he served his time in Arkham. After a while, she had become a means to an end – he would use her to get revenge on his enemies.
But she had failed to do this herself and he was growing tired of her swooning over him. She still had some usefulness, so he kept her around, but soon that usefulness would end and he would get rid of her – one way or another. He almost laughed at the thought. In fact, the found the idea truly intriguing, but forced himself to concentrate on the matter at hand.
“I have to find a way to get Batman’s attention – to bring him to New Gotham to rescue Batgirl…Oracle…whatever. But without a location, I can’t exactly drop him a ransom note!” He slammed his fist down on the table, causing Harley to jump slightly.
She looked at the Joker with a mixture of fear, love and excitement. She had an idea – one she hoped would place her back in her dear Mr. J’s good graces.