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Family Reunion

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Chapter 7

Underworld; September 16th, 11:33 EST

Batman couldn’t believe that Hades was idiotic enough to let him keep his utility belt. While he’d been feigning being under his father-in-law’s mind control, he still couldn’t help but feel that Hades was either too arrogant or too foolish for not taking away anything and everything that he could use to aid him in his escape.

Deciding he couldn’t wait any longer for Ra’s to make an appearance, Bruce removed the lock pick he kept hidden in his gauntlet. He quickly set to work on freeing himself, knowing that he couldn’t afford to stay here much longer. He was already beginning to forget things about himself and his life. He wanted to get back to the world of the living before he lost much more.

Faces were familiar but becoming nameless, places that held so many special memories and feelings were growing foreign to him. He hated it with every fiber of his being. He had always prided himself on his aptitude and sharp mind, his ability to think and reason and remember everything that occurred in his life.

Losing his mind…losing himself…was one of his greatest fears in his life. It vied with the never-ending fear of becoming just like the monsters he did battle with every night in Gotham. He refused to allow either of those things to happen to him.

The shackle on his left wrist easily popped open with little sound, the right following just as quickly. He went to work on the shackle and the thick chain around his neck, anxious to remove the pride-crushing metal from his body. He would love nothing more than to bind Hades with these chains, but he couldn’t allow himself the luxury. He was already on borrowed time.

The thick metal around his neck snapped open, slipping off to land on the ground behind him with a clank. He took a moment to stretch out his neck muscles that had become stiff from his prison. Moving his legs, he began to pick the locks on the chains around his ankles, pausing when he heard movement.

“Ah, Detective, I was right about you.”

Batman sneered as he continued to work on the locks, freeing his legs in a matter of seconds before standing to his full imposing height. “Right about what?” he darkly rasped.

“I had a feeling you were faking being Hades’ slave,” Ra’s astutely replied, his hands clasped behind his back as he began to pace before his nemesis. “It was a sham to buy yourself time…to wait until Hades had fully let his guard down.”

“What do you want?” Batman demanded with a dark glower. Ra’s was either coming with him or he would deal with him here and now.

“I’ve actually been waiting for you to decide when you were ready to escape this captivity,” he calmly answered, pausing to pick up a small statue to inspect it.

“So, you’re coming with me?” he deduced.

“Well, I refuse to stay here for all of eternity,” Ra’s icily stated as he placed the statue on its podium. “I have too much to do, too much to live for to surrender and give up my life now.”

“Are you sure you want to leave?” Batman questioned him as he stepped away from his spot beside Hades’ throne.

“Yes, why wouldn’t I be sure?”

“You and my father-in-law have become quite close…far closer than he and I have ever been or ever will be,” he dryly responded. “I’m surprised you would want to leave now that you’ve become best friends with the god of the Underworld. I would’ve thought you’d want to try to usurp his authority and steal his throne.”

Ra’s al Ghul’s head fell back as a deep, baritone laughter spilled freely from his lips. “Detective, your sense of humor was always a bright spot to me.”

“I don’t have time for this,” Batman spat out. “I’m going now with or without you.”

A single eyebrow arched in shock as he stared down the Dark Knight before him. “You were actually considering taking me with you?” he questioned him. “I’m touched.”

“I’m not going out of my way to bring you with me and if you slow me down, I’m ditching you,” he bit out.

Ra’s eyes narrowed slightly as he thoughtfully considered his words. “You need me, don’t you?”

“I don’t need you or anyone else to help me get out of this hell hole,” Batman uttered with a sneer as he stalked towards the double doors of the throne room. “Now, you either can tag along or I’m leaving you here.”

“Already beginning to lose your faculties, are we?”

Batman froze in his steps, his hand extended to open the door. “No,” he flatly stated, but he knew that his momentary hesitation had cost him the upper hand. Ra’s knew.

“You can pretend all you want that your mind isn’t beginning to slip away from you, but I know that it is,” he told him. “Hades already told me the effects of the Underworld on the mind. Fortunately for me, Hades felt generous enough to shield my mind from the effects.”

“Good for you,” Batman ground out as he opened the door, pausing to glance back over his shoulder at Ra’s. “Hope you enjoy your stay here.”

“Wait!” Ra’s called after him, quickening his step to catch up to him. “I’m going with you.”

“Now who needs who?” Bruce questioned him.

“Face it—we need each other right now,” he pointed out. “Your mind is crumbling and we both know that our chances of survival are much higher if we work together than trying to escape on our own.”

“Fine,” he stated. “Let’s go.”

“After you, Detective,” Ra’s said, his lips curving in satisfaction as he followed him through the doors of the throne room.

“Which way now?” he asked.

“To the left,” Ra’s informed him. “Going to the right will take you deeper inside the palace where Hades spends most of his time.”

“So, you’ve been exploring in your free time.” It was more of a statement than a question.

“Thought it might come in handy when you finally decided to make your move.”

“Then, you should lead the way,” Batman decided, stepping aside to let Ra’s pass. “Just know if you lead me into some sort of trap, I won’t hesitate to slice your throat.”

Ra’s glanced over his shoulder to notice the deadly sharp Batarang gripped tightly in the Detective’s gauntleted hand. The point of it glinted in the torchlight that lit the gloomy hallway. The eco-terrorist merely snorted in amusement before continuing down the corridor.

“You must have already forgotten that I am not so easily intimidated,” he replied with a smirk.

“I haven’t forgotten as much as you think that I have,” Bruce retorted, constantly looking behind for any signs of trouble. “I still remember all the trouble and chaos that you’ve created over the years.”

“Do you remember my daughter, Talia?”

Bruce’s brow furrowed beneath his cowl as he hesitated in his step. “Talia…” he softly said the name. “I do know her…had feelings for her at one time.”

“You should know her,” Ra’s said as he paused at a hallway that crossed their path. He glanced around the corner before continuing on. “You and my daughter have a son together.”

“Damian,” Bruce murmured, an image of his son popping into his mind. He felt a warm rush of love overwhelming him as he thought about his son, but something didn’t seem quite right about it all. “Damian is my son, but Diana is my wife.”

“Yes, you are married to the Amazon princess,” he confirmed.

Bruce silently repeated Diana’s name over and over again in his mind, fearing that she was going to vanish from his life or that he’d never remember how much she had come to mean to him. He was terrified by the thought of forgetting her. He was already beginning to forget his children. How long would it be before he forgot the woman who was his whole world…before forgot his entire life?

He shuddered just thinking about it. “How many children do I have?” he asked, wanting to confirm that Ra’s was willing to tell him the truth.

“You have two biological sons and a daughter plus three adopted sons,” Ra’s told him.

Five sons and a daughter. That was right…wasn’t it? A daughter…he had a daughter.

"You're doing great, Diana," he encouraged her. "Soon, we'll have a beautiful little girl in our arms."

"Bruce…some…something isn't right," she murmured.

His gaze immediately narrowed, his heart pounding a little harder with her words. "What is it? What's wrong?"

"I…I don't know…" she said with a shake of her head. "I feel so lightheaded. It…it's so hard to breathe."

His hand went to her face that was growing paler by the second, her breathing becoming more ragged and erratic as her eyes fell closed. "Diana," he growled. "Stay with me!"

Brushing her damp raven hair off her face and behind her shoulder, he found a bullet hole a couple of inches beneath her collarbone. Blood was oozing onto her white dress and spreading quickly. One of the bullets had gotten past her bracers.

Diana looked at him through her eyelashes as she fought to stay awake. "What…what is it?" she asked, her brow furrowing with worry.

"You've been shot," he growled, white-hot rage searing through him along with cold fear.

"What?" she gasped. "No…no, I…I would've felt it."

"The contractions and the adrenaline of the fight kept you from feeling it," he replied, looking behind him to see Robin and Nightwing coming towards them. "Where's Leslie?" he demanded.

Neither knew what was more frightening at that moment as they approached – the terrified expression on Bruce's face or how terrible Diana looked. "She's stuck in traffic," Nightwing informed him. "There was a four-car pile-up that has traffic backed up for a couple of miles at least."

"What happened?" Robin asked, stunned to see Diana like this.

"She's been shot," Bruce ground out. "We have to get her out of here."

"Bruce…" Diana murmured. "I…I have to…push."

"Hold on, Princess," he gently told her despite the firestorm of emotions raging within him, turning his attention back to his partners. "We're going to get through this together. I just need you to stay with me, Princess. Keep your eyes open…focus on me."

"You…you were right," she softly admitted with a faint smile, staring at his handsome face filled with such worry.

"About what?" he asked as he checked her again. "You're almost there, Princess."

"Tonight," she replied, gasping as she clutched her knees again. "You were right."

"Can I record you saying that so I can use it in the future to remind you of this the next time you disagree with me?"

"I'm pretty sure I'll never…forget this…" she told him, sagging against the wall, her eyes falling closed.

"Open your eyes, Diana!" he sharply ordered her, his hands covering hers on her knees again. "You're not allowed to leave me, remember? You promised me, Princess. Don't you dare break that promise you made to me."

Diana smiled softly at him, fighting for each breath she drew. "Never," she whispered before releasing a cry of pain. "We have forever together."

"It's time to push, Diana," he told her.

Diana fought to remain conscious, knowing that she had to bring their daughter into the world before she could finally close her eyes and sleep. The feel of warm lips moving against hers forced her to open her eyes again.

"You can do this," he murmured against her lips. "I'll be right here the whole time."

Leaning forward, Diana began to push, gritting her teeth as she gripped her knees. Every breath she drew was not nearly enough, creating sharp pains in her chest, but she was determined to safely bring her daughter into their family.

"Okay…good, Princess," Bruce encouraged her as she sank back against the wall. "The head is crowning. Just a few more pushes and she'll be here."

Diana panted heavily, her chin falling to her chest as her eyes fell closed. She just wanted to sleep now, finding it harder and harder to keep her eyes open. She just wanted to lay down, for the pain to stop and to be able to finally hold her daughter.

"Diana!" Bruce yelled her name. "Don't you dare leave me, Princess! You are an Amazon damn it…a warrior! Now, fight like one!"

His chest was clenched so tightly he could hardly draw a breath. He was gaining a daughter and losing his wife at the same time. He knew that targeting the fierce warrior spirit that lived within her was the only way to get her through this until he could get her the medical treatment that she so desperately needed right now.

"Bruce…" she weakly said his name, her strength waning.

The fight with those men on top of being in labor had drained her considerably. Her mind was spinning…swimming, Bruce's voice beginning to grow distant as she clenched her teeth. She pushed again, her heart pounding and her head throbbing. Her limbs felt like jelly, her body reacting on pure instinct now with the natural process of childbirth.

Bruce's heart swelled with utter joy as his baby girl finally entered the world, the beautiful little life that he and Diana had created together finally in his arms. He never knew such pure happiness until Diana…their children.

"You did it!" he cried, holding up their wailing daughter who was very unhappy at that moment. "She's here, Princess."

He mentally shook himself as memories of his daughter’s birth flooded his mind, furious with himself. He had to be stronger than this. He had to remember everything. He had an iron-like, formidable will. He needed to fight the effects of the Underworld with everything that he had if he was going to escape with his memories intact.

“Which way now?” Batman questioned him as he glanced back over his shoulder.

“Are you done testing me to see if I’ll tell you the truth or not?”

“Which way?” he bit out, his anger taking over.

Ra’s merely smiled in response, shaking his head with a patience Batman was not feeling at that moment. “Patience, Detective,” he replied. “You can count on me to get us out of Hades’ palace.”

“We’ll see about that,” he murmured, adjusting his grip on his Batarang, the white lenses of his cowl narrowing.

Themyscira; September 16th, 15:00 EST

“Are you sure about this, Diana?” Hermes inquired as he looked around him at the mess they’d already made.

“I have to admit I’m feeling pretty skeptical about this,” Artemis agreed.

“Honestly…no, I’m not sure, but we’re quickly running out of options,” Diana confessed, blowing a raven curl out of her line of sight as she glared at the ancient text before her.

“What made you even think of this?” Shayera asked her.

“Actually, Hermes did,” the Amazon princess admitted as she looked up at them from her position on the floor. She straightened up to sit on her heels, pulling her hair out of her face and over her shoulder.

Hermes looked at Diana in disbelief, reclining on his side on one of the alters. “What did I say?”

Diana impatiently waved her hand in the air as she turned her attention back to her book. “Doesn’t matter now,” she dismissed it. “The answer has to be here somewhere.”

“I don’t know, Diana,” Artemis interjected. “We’ve been going through books and scrolls for hours.”

“I thought your mother had Amazons already going through the ancient texts looking for the information?” Shayera asked with a frown, her hands coming to rest on her hips.

“They are, but they’re in the library that houses the majority of the texts,” Diana explained. “They weren’t sent to Hera’s Temple where these texts are kept.”

“Oh…that explains it,” Shayera muttered with a roll of her eyes as she turned her attention back to the book in front of her that was thousands of years old.

“Texts and books that reference Hera are kept in her Temple,” Artemis continued, Shayera and Hermes staring at her in astonishment. “Hey, that’s all I know, though. Further explanation needs to come from the princess.”

Diana released an exasperated huff, sitting back on her heels again. Now, she understood why Bruce hated having to take the time to explain himself all the time. “Hermes told me that Hera wants me to learn from this…to consider it a test,” she clarified. “If Hera wants to test me, then Hera must have the answers that I’m looking for.”

“And what if this doesn’t work?” Hermes asked, casually flipping through a book as if he was looking through a fashion magazine.

“I’m going to petition Hera to allow me trade places with Bruce,” Diana announced with a steel-like resolve.

“Diana!” Shayera yelled, taken aback by her answer. “We’ll be no further ahead. We’ll still have to find a way into the Underworld in order to rescue you.”

“No,” she adamantly stated with a decisive shake of her head. “You will not come after me nor will you allow Bruce to. I forbid it.”

“She’s lost her mind!” Shayera exclaimed more to herself than anyone else as she threw her hands up in the air. “The anguish of Bruce being in the Underworld has pushed her over the edge.”

“I know exactly what I’m talking about, Shay,” Diana insisted, her tone sharp and her gaze fierce. “I can endure being in the Underworld far more easily than Bruce can. Besides, I can handle my father and whatever he wishes to do to me.”

“So, you’re just planning on staying down there forever? Leave Bruce as a single father to raise your family?” Artemis demanded to know, clearly agreeing with Shayera. “He’s not going to just sit by and let you go like that. He’ll never give up trying to get you back.”

“No, I’ll find my own way out of the Underworld,” she reassured them. “My gifts will protect me from the effects of the Underworld on my mind. I also know the Underworld better than Bruce. I’ll be able to fight my way through it.”

“I don’t know about this plan of yours, cousin,” Hermes chimed in, sitting up on the alter he’d been lounging on. “Hera isn’t going to just let you take your mate’s place if she wants to test you through this.”

“What better way to test me than to be sent to the Underworld?” she questioned him.

“But what about the price required?” Artemis asked her. “There’s always a price when you’re dealing with the gods.”

“Or blackmail,” Hermes muttered under his breath in annoyance as he shot Diana a dirty look.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to get Bruce out of there and away from Hades.”

“What if Hades banishes you to the Pits of Tartarus?” Hermes pressed. “What will you do then? I can’t come help you.”

“I won’t need help,” she stated. “I can fight my way out of Tartarus.”

“I don’t like this one bit,” Shayera groused with a scowl as she began to pace back and forth. “This has disaster written all over it. Hades wants to punish you for interfering with his plans again. I highly doubt it’s going to be a happy family reunion for you two.”

“I don’t plan on it,” she bit out with unmistakable disdain for her father. “I would love nothing more than to get my hands on Hades for what he has done.”

Artemis crossed her arms against her chest as she leaned against the edge of a table. “And taking Bruce’s place is going to solve everything? What about your children, Diana? What about Bruce? He’s going to need you to help him regain his memories and you know that he won’t go on in life without you. You two need each other.”

Diana stubbornly shook her head, her lips pressing into a thin grim line. “J’onn has already said that he’ll work with Bruce on recovering his memories and my children need their father. I have a greater chance of surviving the Underworld than he does. I will not lose him because I failed him.”

Shayera’s eyebrows knitted in confusion. “How on earth did you fail him, Diana?”

Diana dipped her head as she averted her eyes, her teeth raking over her bottom lip. “It should’ve been me that Hades took to the Underworld with him, not Bruce,” she confessed. “I should’ve fought harder to save him, should have done more…done things differently.”

“Diana, you were badly injured,” Shayera reminded her. “You had just allowed Bruce to nearly beat you unconscious in an effort to get through to him. You could barely stand let alone fight your father to keep Bruce from being taken.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Diana softly replied. “I love him more than my own life, Shay, and I’ll give it up if I have to in order to save him. I should’ve done more to keep him here.”

A few suffocating moments of silence passed before Hermes finally spoke. “Okay, come on, girls,” he said. “We’re not going down this path so chins up…end of discussion. Let’s just concentrate on finding another gate so we don’t have to talk about this ridiculous plan anymore.”

“It’s not ridiculous,” Artemis countered as she turned her back to them. “It’s just…what a person does for the one they love.”

Hermes sat up a little straighter as he stared at the Bana-Mighdall Amazon. “When did you get so sentimental and romantic?”

Artemis shrugged a shoulder, a frown appearing on her face as she finally turned towards them again. “I’m not,” she defended herself, her stoic expression firmly in place once more. “I’m just saying that is what Diana and Bruce would do for each other. Ra knows I’ve lived with them long enough now to predict what they would do for one another.”

“Don’t let her fool you, Hermes,” Diana said with a soft chuckle. “Artemis is in love.”

A sour expression quickly replaced the frown on Artemis’s face. “I am not in love,” she insisted.

“Oh, really?” Shayera said with a grin. “So which Wayne heartthrob did you fall for? Can’t be Dick. He’s happily married and Tim’s a little young, but not out of the question. Wait…don’t tell me it was the resurrected one?”

“What if it is Jason?” Artemis shot back defensively.

“It is!” Shayera crowed with amusement. “I bet you two could start fires just being in the same room together.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Artemis demanded.

Shayera held up her hands to show she meant no harm. “Nothing…nothing at all,” she swore. “I just think you both have very strong personalities that would cause instant combustion…in a very passionate way of course.”

“Can we please change the subject?” Diana interjected, cringing. “You’re talking about my son and my friend.”

“Hey, I’m just saying I think they make a good match,” Shayera told them.

“Thanks for your stamp of approval,” Artemis retorted.

Shayera chuckled as she returned to her book. She liked poking and teasing the red head, but it was time to focus. If Diana was hell-bent on taking Bruce’s place in the Underworld, there was nothing on heaven above or earth below that would ever change her mind. She could hardly blame her though.

If it was John, she would do no less.

“I think I found something,” Artemis suddenly announced, her brow furrowing.

“What is it?” Diana demanded as she stood to her feet.

Artemis’s lips slowly stretched across her face, her green eyes brightening as she looked up at Diana. “How do you feel about a trip to Greece?”

“Opa!” Hermes cheered, throwing his book onto the floor and jumping off the alter.

Gotham; September 16th, 23:48 EST

“This is so boring,” Damian complained, his head propped against his fist, his elbow leaning against the passenger window of the Batmobile.

“I never said that patrol was a constant source of excitement,” Dick told him. “Sometimes it’s a sit and wait game that feels as if it’ll never end.”

“Well, it’s boring,” he groused again with a pouting expression. “What are we doing here anyway?”

“This is the first pharmaceutical company that Joker hit,” Dick explained. “We’re watching it to see if he comes back around again.”

“Why?” he asked. “Doesn’t he already have what he wants?”

“Not necessarily,” Dick continued. “It’s been enough time that this company has had time to restock what was stolen. If Joker needs more, this is the place he’ll come to first.”

“We don’t even know what he’s up to, though.”

“If we can catch him or some of his lackies, we might be able to find out what his plan is.”

“Oracle to Nightwing.”

Nightwing leaned forward to push the button on the console of the Batmobile, Oracle’s face appearing on the small screen. “What’s up, O?”

“Finally got the autopsy report back on that DOA you guys found last night,” she revealed with a grim expression.

“Whatcha got?”

“Antonio Ramirez,” she replied. “Twenty-year-old cocaine junkie…been living on the streets for the last year at least. Missing for the last week. Made for easy pickings since he’s high most of the time. Autopsy shows that Joker really worked him over but good.”

“How bad?”

“Lacerations, electrical burns, needle marks both old and new,” she informed him. “Several broken bones including his jaw and both hands, bruises from head to toe, a head contusion…”

“What’s COD?”

“Cause of death is drug overdose,” she said. “If that hadn’t gotten him, the severe blunt force trauma to the head would’ve done the trick. Poor kid didn’t stand a chance.”

Nightwing released a frustrated huff of air. “Do you have the tox screen yet?”

“Nope, not all of it,” she uttered with a shake of her head. “The drug that killed him was insane doses of LSD.”

“LSD?” Dick repeated more to himself than her. “What is Joker up to?”

“Wish I could tell you, but whatever it is, it ain’t pretty,” she replied. “This guy was used as a test subject or Joker wanted information from him.”

“I wonder what kind of information Antonio would’ve had.”

“Maybe he was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Oracle suggested.

“See what you can find out about this guy and let me know,” Dick requested.

“Already on it.”

“Thanks, O,” he replied. “Nightwing out.”

“She’s hot,” Damian commented.

Nightwing cast a sidelong glance at his brother, his lips curving into a frown. “Careful,” he warned him. “She used to be my girlfriend.”

“So, what happened?” Damian asked. “You wanted an Amazon like your father?”

Dick snorted in response as he turned his focus back to the pharmaceutical. “Not quite,” he replied. “It’s a long story. We just decided that we’d be better off as friends.”

“So, you screwed it up, huh?”

“Yah, pretty much,” Nightwing confessed, suddenly noticing something. “Heads up. We’ve got a white van approaching. Nightwing to Red Robin.”

“Got a hit?”

“Got something,” he responded. “A white van just pulled up…and Harley just got out with some of Joker’s gang.”

“Kind of tied up now with a jewelry store robbery,” Red Robin responded. “You’ll have to call in Hood.”

“Nightwing to Red Hood.”

“Just heard,” Jason answered. “I’ll be there in two.”

“We’re going in,” Nightwing told him, ending the transmission. “Well, you wanted some action. Looks like you’re going to get it. Just try not to get another black eye.”

“Funny,” Damian bit out as he opened the car door. “It wasn’t my fault.”

“Sure,” he muttered, pulling his escrima sticks out as they crossed the street. “Just remember to duck this time.”

“Just worry about yourself and not me,” Damian shot back, more than determined to prove himself.

Nightwing just rolled his eyes as they surreptiously slipped through the shadows of the street, keeping a close eye on the door that Harley and her henchmen had just used to break into the building. He couldn’t help wondering what Joker wanted this time that they hadn’t gotten before.

“Stay behind me,” Nightwing told Damian who merely glared at him.

“Stop treating me like a child,” Damian hissed.

“You are a child,” he pointed out with equal irritation.

Approaching the door that was hanging open, Nightwing peered inside to find the hallway dimly light and no sign of Harley Quinn or Joker’s men. He silently entered with his sidekick reluctantly in tow, making their way down the corridor.

The sound of Harley’s singing echoed through the hallway, leading him in the right direction. None of the goons accompanying her seemed inclined to silence her or hide the fact that they were there. It was pure arrogance or complete stupidity.

At this point, he was leaning toward stupidity though Harley Quinn was far from dim-witted unless it involved Joker. When it came to the sadistic clown, she had blinders on that kept her from seeing the reality of the violent, dysfunctional relationship that she was in with him.

He could feel Damian practically vibrating from behind him, anxiously awaiting the fight that loomed on the horizon. He knew that Damian felt he had something to prove, but he just wanted to make sure he safely returned home every night with as little injury as possible.

“Hurry!” Harley ordered. “We need to get in and get out just like Mistah J said.”

Nightwing spotted Red Hood coming down the hallway from the other direction. They silently nodded at each other, both anxious to catch Harley and hopefully get something important out of her though trying to get the full plan from her would be next to impossible.

Nightwing allowed Red Hood to take the lead, ready to back him up while trying to keep Damian out of it for as long as possible but knowing that wasn’t likely. The kid was a hothead and very impetuous to say the least. Trying to hold him back was proving to be difficult.

Red Hood moved into position, filling the doorway. “Harley…long time no see, babe,” he greeted her.

“Hiya, Red,” she gleefully replied, propping her signature baseball bat on her shoulder. “I been working. How about you?”

“Oh, you know…the usual,” he casually responded. “How about you tell me what you and your boyfriend are up to before things get nasty around here?”

“Now, what would be the fun in that, cutie?”

“Thought I’d give it a try for a change,” he told her, twirling his gun in his hand which always made Nightwing a little nervous. “Are we going to do this the hard way or the really hard way?”

“You know I like it really hard,” she quipped with a giggle before launching herself at Red Hood.

Holstering his gun, Red Hood swiftly moved into a crouching position, flipping Harley over his shoulder as she lunged at him. She squealed as she flipped, righting herself as she landed on the balls of her feet. “That was fun,” she flirted. “Let’s do that again, handsome.”

“Harley!” one of the goons yelled. “We got the stuff. Let’s move!”

“Sorry, love,” she told Red Hood, blowing him a kiss. “I’d like to stay and play some more, but Mistah J is waiting for me.”

“You aren’t going anywhere, Harley,” Nightwing stated as he moved to stand in her way.

“Ah, pooh,” she pouted. “You’re always such a downer, ‘Wing. Who’s the kid with you? A new Robin to play with? Hey there little birdie. I’m Harley.”

“I’m not a kid,” Damian spat out, taking off in a dead run towards her as Nightwing reached out to grab hold of his cape, missing him by centimeters.

“Oh, he’s a feisty one,” she commented. “Too bad I can’t stay. I’d love to get to know you, kiddo.”

Harley swung her bat at Damian who ducked this time, coming up with an uppercut punch that rattled her teeth. “How’s that for a kid?” Damian yelled at her as she stumbled backwards.

All hell broke loose as Joker’s men began to attack Red Hood and Nightwing. Batarangs flew through the air, taking out a couple of Joker’s goons as Harley ran for the bag of goods that they’d been able to gather. She was anxious to return to her man to show him what a good job she had done for him.

“Sorry, boys, but I gotta run,” Harley called as she slung the bag over her shoulder, waving goodbye to them.

“Robin!” Nightwing yelled as he fought off two of Joker’s men. “Stop her!”

Damian threw a bola at her legs, Harley leaping at the last second and vaulting herself over a table. Infuriated, Robin attempted to follow her only to be grabbed from behind by one of Joker’s thugs. He kicked his legs an in effort to break free, his teeth latching onto the hand that held him secure.

“Hey!” the thug cried out, releasing his hold on Robin as he shook his hand.

Robin didn’t waste any time, throwing an elbow into his gut as he stomped on his foot with all of his strength. The thug yelled as he doubled over, Robin taking advantage of the situation by slamming his fist into his face. Blood gushed from the thug’s busted nose as Robin finished him off with a series of punches that took the guy by surprise.

He groaned as he collapsed onto the floor, blood still leaking from his nose. Robin didn’t waste any time grabbing his arms and placing handcuffs on him. Without another look at his partners, he took off from the room, chasing after Harley Quinn.

He could hear the click of her boots against the linoleum floor as she ran through the pharmaceutical lab. It seemed to echo all around him as he raced after her, more than determined to stop her. He pulled out a Batarang, ready to throw it the second he spotted her.

Reaching the door they’d entered through, Robin stopped dead in his tracks as he watched the white van take off, tires squealing as she made a sharp right and disappeared around the corner. He cursed under his breath, shoulders sagging with the knowledge that he’d failed. He’d just let her get away and their best chance at finding out what Joker was really up to.