Wayne Manor; September 22nd, 21:56 EST
Sitting silently in the rocking chair in his daughter’s newly decorated princess room, Bruce just watched his daughter as she slept so peacefully. The soft glow from her Wonder Woman nightlight was the only source of light as he absorbed the tranquility of the moment. She had the most angelic expression on her face, her beloved kitten curled up against Kaia’s stomach.
His lips curved into a soft smile as she murmured “daddy” in her sleep accompanied with a little giggle. The evening had been a complete whirlwind of activity, endless chatter and teasing, and emotions that seemed to range from happiness to confusion and everything in between.
It had been overwhelming to say the least. It was even exhausting at times just trying to keep up with everyone and everything that had been going on, but he just somehow knew this was where he belonged. He had no idea how he’d been so fortunate to have so many amazing people in his life that seemed to care so much about him…people in his life that he had the privilege to call family.
When he’d first escaped Hades’ palace in the Underworld, he’d never dreamed that he had children or a wife to come home to, a life that was completely surreal compared to what most people considered to be normal. He knew there had to be a reason he had been dressed like he had been, carrying bizarre gadgets that made little sense to him at the time.
Bruce drew a deep breath through his nose, releasing it slowly as he considered everything that he had to relearn. There was so much about his life that was still missing to him, laying so far beyond his reach that he couldn’t begin to hope to grasp hold of it.
He was going to have learn about so much starting with Gotham—who the enemies were, what his company was comprised of, his life growing up here in this city. Then there was the matter of the Justice League. He had no idea who they were or where he fit into the whole scheme of the superhero world. Then there was his family and his wife…Diana. He needed to remember their story.
He leaned forward, his elbows coming to rest on his knees as he raked his fingers back through his black hair. He didn’t know how he was going to get to the place that he needed to be, but he knew that he needed to do it as soon as possible. It sounded as if things in Gotham could be escalating at a frightening pace if the way Dick, Jason, and Tim had talked had been any indication.
If he was going to help, he was going to have to get up to speed quickly with everything.
Bruce lifted his head as he heard another sleepy giggle emanating from his daughter, causing the corner of his lips to tick up. Whatever she was dreaming about seemed to be making her happy. The very notion that her dream included him made his heart swell in his chest.
He looked up at the soft sound of the bedroom door opening, Diana appearing in the doorway. “Are you all right?” she softly asked.
“Yes,” he murmured as he stood to his feet.
“So, many books did she con you into reading to her tonight?”
“Only one,” he revealed with a smirk. “She fell asleep halfway through the first.”
Diana smiled at him as she came to stand beside him, amazed at the beautiful job they had done redecorating the kids’ rooms. “Bedtime stories with her father is her favorite time, but there was a lot of excitement tonight. I’m sure it wore her out.”
Bruce couldn’t help but beam as he stared at his little girl. “I just can’t believe that I helped make something so beautiful…so absolutely perfect,” he quietly said, wonderment filling his voice. “I can’t believe Nicholas and Kaia actually my children, a part of me in them.”
“They are both definitely yours,” she reassured him with a knowing grin on her face.
“Ours,” he corrected her, turning to look into her eyes. “They’re our children. It’s difficult not to see the two of us in Nicholas and Kaia. They both carry physical and personality characteristics that are very much us in every way.”
Diana was beyond delighted that he was already able to see that. It gave her hope that he’d be able to regain more of what he’d lost. “We better go to bed,” she suggested. “It’s been a very long day and tomorrow is also going to be a big day for you with going to the Watchtower and meeting with J’onn.”
Bruce nodded in agreement as he followed his wife out of Kaia’s bedroom, glancing back over his shoulder to see his little girl. “Did Nicholas go to sleep without trouble?” he asked.
“Yes, he was exhausted,” she informed him. “I let them stay up later than normal because they were so excited to have you home.”
“I should probably spend some time with them tomorrow…make sure that they feel secure and know that I’m not going anywhere,” he thoughtfully told her as they stood in the hallway.
“They would love that, Bruce,” she readily agreed, unable to hide the happiness that shined brightly in her eyes.
“I should probably go talk to Dick in that cave beneath the house,” he said with a frown. “I have to get caught up on what I’ve missed while I’ve been gone. I’m sure they’ll need some help with Gotham.”
Diana laid a hand on his forearm, squeezing it gently. “They’ve got it covered for tonight,” she reassured him. “Tonight, you should just enjoy being able to sleep in a real bed in your home.”
He shook his head as his lips thinned into a cheerless line. “It doesn’t feel right for some reason,” he grumbled. “I feel like I should be doing something, but I don’t know what it is.”
“It’ll come back to you,” she assured him. “You just need to be patient and give it time.”
Bruce stared at her for a long moment before finally responding. “I’m not a very patient person, am I?”
Diana chuckled softly as she shook her head, giving him an affectionate look. “No, not at all.”
“That’s what I thought,” he muttered.
“Come, I’ll show you to the master bedroom,” she offered.
“I thought I was sleeping in the guest room?”
“No, you deserve to sleep in your own bed,” she replied, glancing back over her shoulder as she led him to the room that they shared. “Besides, being in your own bedroom might help trigger some memories for you.”
“Diana,” he groused. “I don’t want to kick you out of your own bed. It makes more sense to let me take the guest room. I probably won’t even remember this room anyway.”
“Don’t worry about me,” she said, opening the door to their bedroom. “I’ll just be down the hall. Just let me get a couple of things and I’ll be out of your hair.”
Bruce frowned as he watched her go to the dresser and retrieve a negligee, his thoughts beginning to run rampant as he wondered how many times that he’d seen her in that very piece of clothing…the fevered nights spent with her removing it and making her cry out his name. He wished he could remember it.
He wanted to remember the life they’d made and the love that they shared. He wanted to remember the good times and even the bad. He wanted it all and he wanted it for not only himself but for her as well. Although she tried to hide it, he could tell this was very difficult for her.
Diana grabbed a couple other personal items as well as some clothes before making her way towards the door only to be brought to a stop by Bruce’s hand capturing hers. “Thank you, Diana,” he softly said.
“You don’t have to thank me for anything,” she replied with a warm smile. “Just having you safely back where you belong is more than enough for me.”
He nodded in response as he released her hand, not knowing what else to say or what he could say to make any of this easier for her. He hoped with time and maybe J’onn’s help that he’d be able to find a way to repay her for all that she’d risked and done for him.
“Sleep well,” she told him.
“You too,” he replied.
Closing the door behind her, Diana left him all alone in their bedroom. Bruce took his time exploring their bedroom, running his fingers along what he assumed was his dresser, pausing before her dresser to pick up a bottle of her perfume. He brought it to his nose, closing his eyes as he inhaled the exotic scent.
He set it down, moving on to the framed picture of them from their wedding day. The look of love that shown in both their eyes was undeniable, the happiness and adoration on their faces stunning him. Diana still looked at him with that very same passion and love even though he couldn’t return it just yet. It proved to him just how unconditional her love for him was, making him that much more desperate to remember and be able to return that love.
Placing the frame on the dresser, he turned his attention to his waiting bed. He stared at it for a long moment, fighting to recall something…anything about the intimate moments that he’d shared with Diana there. Unfortunately, nothing came to his mind.
With a huff of annoyance, Bruce flipped off the lights before removing his clothes, tossing them onto a nearby chair and crawling into the bed. He settled on his back, staring up at the ceiling as his mind wrestled with so many things. He couldn’t help feeling as though he should be out in Gotham with his sons, but he knew that he needed to try to restore at least some of his memories first.
Although tired, a part of him felt restless, his thoughts constantly returning to the beautiful Amazon in the bedroom down the hall. He rolled onto his side, his gaze falling on what was supposed to be her side of their bed. He reached out to run his fingers over the cool sheets, a sense of loneliness drifting over him as sleep finally claimed him.
Diana saw Tim exiting his bedroom, talking on the phone with someone as she came down the hall. It was more than likely Cassie. She was sure they hadn’t gotten to see very much of each other since this whole disastrous event with Hades taking Bruce. She hoped they’d be able to spend some time together now that they were home.
“Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” Tim softly said. “Yah…love you too. Night.”
Diana tried to keep the smile from reaching her face as Tim looked up to see Diana coming towards him. “Cassie?” she said.
“Yah,” Tim sheepishly said as he slipped his phone into the back pocket of his jenas. “I just wanted to talk to her for a minute before starting patrol.”
“You’re fine, Tim,” she reassured him. “I’m just sorry that our absence interfered with you being able to spend time with her.”
“No worries, mom,” Tim told her. “Cassie totally understands. She’s been great through all of this. In fact, we’re going to go out this coming weekend.”
“Maybe we should have her over for dinner some time,” she suggested.
“Uh, yah…we’ll see about that,” Tim said, embarrassment staining his cheeks a soft shade of pink.
Diana laid a hand on Tim’s forearm, squeezing it in reassurance. “I promise I’ll keep your father and brothers in line.”
“They don’t have to come to dinner at all,” he recommended, all sorts of tortuous thoughts running through his head with the very notion of Dick, Damian, and Jason attending family dinner with Cassie there as his guest.
Diana chuckled softly. “It’s whatever you want,” she decided. “Just tell Alfred what night works best for you and Cassie and I’ll make sure it’s just us.”
Tim seemed to visibly relax a little as his shoulders slumped with relief. “That would be great,” he agreed, his expression growing somber. “I’m so glad you guys are home. Nick and Kaia aren’t the only ones happy to have you back.”
She pulled her son into a fierce embrace that left little doubt about how she felt about him. “I missed you too,” she revealed, her voice choked with emotion. “There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t thinking of all of you, wishing I could see you and talk to you…wondering if you were okay.”
“I’m just happy you both made it home in one piece,” Tim told her as he returned her hug. “And don’t worry about Bruce. He’ll get his memories back. We’ll do whatever we need to do to help him remember.”
Diana pulled back, her eyes shining brightly as her hand came to rest against his cheek. “I know you will,” she replied. “I love you, Tim, and I’m so very proud of how you and your brothers handled everything while we were gone. We couldn’t have done it without you.”
Tim grinned. “I love you too, mom.”
“All right, Timmy,” Donna interrupted as she approached. “Dick, Damian, and Jason are waiting on you downstairs and I need some sister time.”
“See how bossy she’s gotten now that she’s pregnant?” Tim said with a spark of amusement lighting his eyes, grinning as he ducked away from her attempt to smack him on the back of the head.
“She’s always been bossy,” Diana confirmed. “It’s just going to get worse with the hormones.”
“I better run for my life now,” Tim agreed as he walked away.
“You better run, Drake,” Donna called after him before turning her attention to her sister. “Why aren’t you sleeping in your bedroom?”
“I let Bruce have it,” she revealed, looking down at the clothes in her hands. “I was hoping it might trigger some memories for him.”
“Which room are you sleeping in?”
“This one here at the end of the hall,” Diana indicated.
Donna looped her arm through her sister’s, leading her down the hall towards the guest bedroom. “Come on,” Donna said. “We need sister catch up time.”
“I can’t believe how much bigger you’ve gotten,” Diana told her, her hand falling to Donna’s growing belly.
“That’s not something a sister wants to hear, Diana,” Donna curtly responded with a frown.
“I just meant your babies are growing,” she clarified. “Oh, mother insists that you come for a visit soon. She’s dying to see you.”
“I know I need to go,” Donna agreed. “It’s just been difficult to find time.”
“Well, now that we’re back, you can make the time,” Diana pointed out as they entered the guest room.
“How bad is it there?” she hesitantly asked as she made her way towards the bed, sitting down as Diana began to prepare for bed.
“It was devastating to witness,” she softly revealed, her heart clenching painfully with the memories that attempted to overwhelm her. “It’s going to take a long time to recover and heal…both the island and for our sisters. It will take time to rebuild, but they’ll be able to do it.”
Donna’s eyes fell closed as she sent up prayers to her goddesses for protection and blessings upon her sisters and mother. “Now, tell me how you are doing,” she prompted as Diana slipped her nightgown on over her head before making her way to her bed.
“I’m sure you felt some of it,” she replied as she settled on the bed.
“Yes, but I want to know how you’re really doing,” Donna stubbornly pressed, taking her sister’s hand in hers. “Talk to me, Di. I can tell that you’re holding so much inside. You need to talk about it and get it out.”
Diana glanced down at Donna’s hand holding hers, her emotions bubbling up to the surface against her will. “It’s okay…really…I’m fine,” she attempted to reassure her.
“You remember who you’re talking to, right?”
“Can we talk tomorrow?” Diana asked. “It’s been a draining couple of weeks and I’d just like to sleep right now.”
“Fine,” Donna relented, pulling Diana in for a hug. “I want to hear about everything tomorrow.”
“I will…I promise,” she told her as Donna released her hold on her, pausing to kiss her sister on the forehead.
Donna got up off the bed, heading for the door. “Sleep well, Di.”
“You too,” she replied, crawling under the covers as Donna turned off the light and closed the door.
Diana released a weary breath as she sank into the bed, her eyes falling closed. Exhaustion still consumed her, but the ache in her heart had definitely diminished now that they were finally home. Seeing her family and her children had gone a long way in helping to ease the grief and loneliness that she’d been carrying in her heart.
She smiled to herself with how well things had actually gone tonight. She was relieved with how well Bruce had seemed to handle everything despite how overwhelming it had to have been for him. He had taken it all in stride, never once letting on that he didn’t remember Nicholas or Kaia. He had spent equal time with both of them, reassuring them…making sure that they felt loved and safe.
Dick, Jason, Tim, and Damian had graciously allowed Bruce to spend time with the little ones, knowing that they needed to be comforted. There would be plenty of time to catch up tomorrow once things had settled down a little. They had so much they needed to get caught up on including the Justice League.
Despite knowing that she still needed to heal from her encounters in the Underworld, Diana couldn’t help but feel as though she should be out in Gotham with her sons helping them search for Joker. All three boys had been adamant about her staying home and resting tonight and, as much as she wanted to, she just couldn’t summon enough strength to argue.
She turned onto her side, finding it strange to be in a room separate from her husband, but she knew it was for the best right now. She didn’t want to push him or make him feel uncomfortable. She wanted him to want her in his bed again, but she needed to give him time.
She needed to be patient, but it was more than difficult. It felt like an eternity since she’d been with him. She missed the feel of him against her and inside of her, the heat of his kisses and the intense passion that they always created together. She ached for his kisses and the feel of his hands on her body.
Reaching for the other pillow, she pulled it against her, wrapping her arm around it and holding it close to her body. She pressed her face into the pillow, wishing it was Bruce, but she refused to give up on him. He would never give up on her and she would do no less for him.
She just prayed that J’onn would be able to restore what had been taken from him.
Gotham; September 23rd, 02:23 EST
Harley Quinn walked out of a bar, swinging her baseball bat back and forth as she made her way down the sidewalk. She weaved from one side of the sidewalk to the other, her glass of alcohol still clutched in her other hand as she softly sang to herself.
“A toast!” she yelled, holding her glass up high in the air and talking to no one. “I propose a…a…a toast. I propose a toast to me!”
Looking around and finding no one to drink with her, Harley brought her glass to her lips. “A toast to me finally being my own woman,” she softly mumbled to herself as she fought back tears.
She tilted her head back as she downed the last of her liquor, casually tossing the glass over her shoulder. Her glass shattered as it landed on the sidewalk, shards flying in all directions. She spun on her heel, her eyes darting about to find out who had made that noise.
“Who’s there?” she demanded to know, pointing her bat at the ghosts she believed her following her. “Ya better not be following me! I’ll take ya down…all of ya! Do you hear me? I don’t need no help from no one!”
Finding no one behind her, she turned back around, continuing on her way with her bat propped against her shoulder. She attempted to put one foot in front of the other but was having great difficulty with the simple task. She had been at the bar for hours, pouring her heart out to anyone would listen to her as she drowned her sorrows in alcohol.
It was during that time that she came up with her own plans…plans that involved taking Batman and Batwoman down by herself. Once they were permanently out of the way, Joker would realize that he needed her and would finally marry her. They’d be free to do whatever they wanted together.
It was all Batman’s fault that they weren’t married by now. She was going to make sure that the Bat suffered before she finally ended his life, making him watch as she took her time cutting up his Batwoman. Then, maybe Batsy would know at last how much pain he had caused her over the years.
The sound of a glass bottle rolling against the asphalt caused her to stop and look around. “Nobody better be following me!” she screamed, looking up at the night sky as lightning streaked across it. “I’ll make ya pay big time! Do ya hear me?”
She continued down the sidewalk, mumbling something about taking out Catwoman too while she was at it. She was more than ready for a fight, but, in her drunken state, she was an easy target…a sitting duck just waiting to be plucked off the street never to be seen again.
She swerved, narrowly missing a trashcan only to stumble over her own feet and fall to the ground. Her signature baseball bat fell out of her hand, rolling along the sidewalk just out of reach. She cursed as she sat up, checking her skinned-up knee that was beginning to bleed.
With a cry of frustration, she staggered onto her feet, nearly falling again as she attempted to retrieve her baseball bat. She placed her hand against the brick building to her right in an effort to steady herself as rain began to fall. She muttered under her breath as she started to grab her bat only to accidently kick it away from her.
Harley chased after her bat as the sound of footsteps coming from behind her filled her ears. “I hope that’s you, Bats, cause I’m coming for ya,” she growled. “Let’s do this.”
Her fingers wrapped around the bat, lifting it and swinging it awkwardly. The momentum caused her to stumble and fall once more, her bat rolling down an alley. She slammed her fists down on the sidewalk, tears filling her eyes again as she looked up at the shadowy form drawing near to her.
“What do ya want?” she spat out with a fierce scowl on her face as she glared up at the stranger.
“Someone wants to see you,” he said with an ominous tone as he came to a stop before her.
“Who are you?” she demanded to know as she got to her feet, her legs like rubber as she attempted to stand upright.
“Your worst nightmare, sweetheart.”
Gotham; September 23rd, 02:30 EST
“Anyone got eyes on her yet?” Nightwing demanded to know, his frustration running at an all-time high as he pinched the bridge of his nose. It had been a long night so far, scouring the city for someone who didn’t want to be found.
“Nada,” Red Hood responded after several seconds. “There hasn’t been any sign of her on this end.”
“Nothing here either,” Red Robin added soon after.
“We haven’t been able to locate Joker or Harley before tonight,” Jason commented. “I doubt we’re going to be able to suddenly find her tonight or that she’ll lead us to where Joker is keeping Firefly.”
“I know, but we’ve got to try,” Nightwing insisted, glancing at Damian on his left who was using a pair of binoculars to survey the streets below in an effort to find Harley Quinn.
“I don’t know why we’re even bothering to look for her,” Damian groused with a patented Bat-scowl. “I say let Penguin have her. She deserves everything that’s coming to her with the trouble she’s caused.”
“We can’t let Penguin do what he wants with her,” Nightwing told him. “He’ll have her carved up and dumped in Gotham Bay before the sun comes up.”
Damian shrugged an indifferent shoulder as he continued to search the streets of Gotham for Joker’s psychotic girlfriend. He actually didn’t care what happened to her, but he still wouldn’t mind getting another shot at her. He owed her for their last encounter that hadn’t gone as well as he’d hoped.
“Fine,” Damian reluctantly agreed. “Doesn’t mean I have to agree or like it.”
“No, it doesn’t, but if there’s one thing you should know about your father or need to learn from him, it’s that all life is valuable and should be saved at all cost…even the psychotic criminals,” Dick replied, his voice holding so much conviction. “They deserve a second chance to make the right choices and turn their life around.”
“And what about a third or fourth chance?” Damian challenged him. “What then? Do you just keep giving them more second chances?”
Nightwing released a ragged breath as he considered his questions. He knew it was difficult to understand and even more difficult to explain, but he knew that he needed to try to help him understand if he was going to be Robin and work in Gotham.
“I know it’s hard, but yes…that’s exactly what we do,” he told him. “The next chance you give them just might be the time that causes them to change or get the help they need. I know it doesn’t make sense, but once you’ve worked with Batman more, it’ll make more sense.”
“Grandfather doesn’t believe in second chances,” Damian stated, his shoulders straightening as he thought about the training that he’d received from him. “You either do or die.”
“That’s just…sad,” Nightwing finally said, searching for the right word.
“It’s efficient,” Damian replied.
Nightwing glanced at him, a frown adorning his face. “It’s contemptable,” he countered. “You’re basically saying that life has no value or meaning…that everyone is expendable and replaceable.”
“Hey!” Robin said, pointing to his right. “I just spotted Harley over there…and she’s got company.”
“Let’s go,” Nightwing responded as he pulled his grappling gun and fired it.
Robin exchanged his binoculars for his grappling gun, following Nightwing to Harley’s rescue. He still wasn’t in full agreement with saving Harley Quinn, but he would put aside his beliefs for now in order to continue participating in patrol as Robin. He was going to have to figure out what he believed later, attempt to reconcile what he’d learned from his grandfather and mother and what his father’s strict moral code encompassed.
Following Nightwing, Robin landed on the pavement beside him and right behind the large man who was looming over Harley Quinn. She was searching the ground for something, clearly intoxicated and not thinking clearly as she screamed obscenities at the man.
“Leave her alone!” Nightwing ordered as he drew his escrima sticks.
The man chuckled as he turned to face the new arrivals who had come to her rescue. “Well, this is a little unexpected,” the man said. “I was all set to face Joker. Didn’t anticipate you two.”
“Well, now that we’re here, you’re going to have to deal with us,” Robin retorted as he appraised his opponent. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to be much of a fight.”
The thug grinned as he folded his arms across his broad chest. “Did you actually think I would go after Joker’s girl by myself?”
At that moment, several of Penguin’s henchmen seemed to appear out of nowhere, surrounding them. “You had to open your big mouth,” Nightwing hissed under his breath at Robin.
“How was I supposed to know?” Robin shot back.
“Someone need some back up?”
Nightwing and Robin looked to their left to see Red Robin landing in the middle of the ruckus, coming to their aid. “Not a moment too soon,” Wing responded with a grin.
“Get them!” the thug yelled, pointing at the three heroes.
Harley crawled on her hands and knees on the pavement, searching everywhere for her fallen baseball bat. “Where’s my bat?” she muttered to herself as an all-out brawl broke out around her. “It’s gotta be here someplace.”
“Someone wants to see you, Harley,” the head thug told her as he grabbed her by the back of her neck and hauled her onto her unsteady feet.
“Hey!” she cried, trying to wiggle free from his grasp. “I ain’t goin’ nowheres with you!”
“I don’t think you have a choice, sweetheart,” he told her. “Penguin wants to see you.”
“I think I do have a choice!” she yelled as she kicked him in the crotch, forcing him to drop her.
The thug cried out as Harley crawled down the alley towards her baseball bat, trying to avoid the fight taking place all around her. She didn’t get far as the thug recovered enough to lunge for her, grabbing her by the ankle and yanking her backwards.
Harley screamed as he dragged her back across the pavement, blood oozing from her scraped up knees. He flipped her onto her back, looming over her with a sadistic grin on his face. “Penguin really wants to have a little chat with you,” he informed her.
“Well, I don’t wanna see him,” she retorted, kicking her legs as she tried to escape.
The thug reached for her only to receive a Batarang to the back of the head “Hey!” he yelled, rubbing his head.
Turning, he stumbled backwards as Robin’s boot connected with his jaw. Robin didn’t let up in his assault, attacking with a vengeance and a burst of kicks and punches that took the thug by surprise. He didn’t have a chance to defend himself as Robin used a drop kick to take him down.
He quickly cuffed him before turning his attention to Harley Quinn who was sitting on the sidewalk with her knees bent. He folded his arms across his chest, scowling down at her. “Still not sure why I’m helping you,” he spat out.
“I don’t need your help, squirt,” she shot back, grabbing her bat as she got up on wobbly legs.
“Yah, right,” he stated in obvious disgust. “You can hardly stand up straight.”
“Look, I didn’t ask for your help so leave me alone,” she shouted at him.
“Hey, I’m all for just leaving you out here to fend for yourself,” Robin growled at her. “You’re a psycho who should be locked up.”
“Why you little—”
A firm hand on Harley’s shoulder as she lunged at Robin caused her to stop in her tracks. Turning, she found herself looking into the face of Red Robin. “Oh, hiya ya, handsome,” she flirted with a grin. “This little guy is such a cutie, ain’t he?”
“I’m not little,” Robin ground out as he took a step towards her, his fists clenched at his sides.
“It’s back to Arkham, Harley,” Red Robin told her.
“I ain’t going back there!” she declared, yanking her shoulder free from Red Robin’s grasp as she wielded her bat at them. She stumbled and fell to the pavement again, unable to maintain her balance. Getting up on her hands and knees, she began vomiting.
“Yah, whatever you say,” Robin muttered with a shake of his head as he glared down at Joker’s girlfriend with undisguised revulsion.