DISCLAIMER: Birds of Prey and its characters are the property of Miller/Tobin Productions, Warner Brothers and DC comics. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: OK so first off the standard disclaimers: Birds of Prey does not belong to me it is the property of people who make far more than I do and are far more creative than me. I am just borrowing their characters for my own whimsical uses and make no profit off this at all.
WARNING: With that out of the way, here's another disclaimer: This story is dark and graphic and deals with some pretty strong subject matter. I wrote this story a few years back when I was in a dark place and what is now the prologue was actually just a one shot I posted on another forum. But everyone wanted to see more, so I ended up writing an entire story. It will eventually have a light at the end of the tunnel…but if angst and character torment is not your thing…well you have been duly warned.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To xfiredancerx[at]gmail.com

Dark Prodigy
By Firedancer



They took no note of her as she strolled through the corridors. To them she was nothing but a shadow…a ghost of some poor bastard that had died within these reinforced walls over the decades. Not even the cameras would record her image as she strolled past them on her journey into the most secure section of the facility.

When she reached her destination, she stood before the clear plastic cage that held her prey and watched with smug satisfaction as the blonde inside flinched when she saw her visitor. "Hello Harleen," she purred as she walked around the reinforced glass, casually dragging a finger along it.

For a moment, her prey showed a hint of her old self and the shorter blonde stood up defiantly. "Not through having your fun with me? My dear, I must say…I was definitely focusing my attention on the wrong vigilante. You have a mean streak that could rival mine. Think of all that we could accomplish together."

And then she was on the floor of her cell screaming and writhing in unseen pain. After a couple of minutes, she was finally allowed to roll to her knees and gather her composure. "Well….that was particularly brutal…." she panted shakily. "Having…a bad…night?"

Dinah cocked her head to one side and simply stared at the woman in front of her. If she could feel anything at all anymore, she supposed she would be frightened of just how much her life had changed the moment she had touched Quinn's mind. It was like a light switch had been thrown on in her brain. In the seconds that had passed while she had been linked to Quinn, a lifetime of experience and knowledge had been passed on to her.

The price of that gift had been steep however, and was a two edged sword. The sudden insight and access to all that the madwoman knew about the human brain and psyche allowed her to tap into powers she hadn't even suspected before. But it had also awoken something dark and primal within her. And she knew that if she didn't get it under control soon, it would drive her as insane as this woman before her.

But for now, she would find release in the pleasure of giving Quinn her memories back for a few brief moments each night and then brutally ripping them from her. Payback was a bitch, and no one deserved it more than this one.

"You know…you won't be able to keep this up forever Dinah. That Barbara is a smart one...she will figure you out one of these nights."

This earned her another round of mental torture. As Quinn lay shaking in the center of her cage, she rolled her head towards Dinah. "My, my……someone is walking….a fine line…tonight…."she taunted. And was rewarded with more agony.

"You'll never quit will you?" Dinah mused as she watched her victim curl up in a fetal ball.

"It's who I am little girl!" Quinn ground out once she could speak. "The real question is, who are you and what do you want with me?"

"I want you to pay for what you did to me and my family."

Quinn's eyes flashed, and Dinah realized she had said too much. "Awwwww….did one of the birdies fly the coop? Lemme guess. Helena couldn't take the guilt of how I used her and she ran-," the taunt was cut off by a high pitched scream. Which lasted for nearly ten minutes.

When Dinah released Quinn finally, the telepath was shaking in fury as she watched Quinn convulse on the floor. "I've been inside your mind Quinn and I know just how much you fear death. So before you make another smart ass remark, I should like to remind you of who is in charge here. And yes, I'm sure you'd be pleased with your…handy work. But if Helena dies because of what you did, I swear to you that you will wish you were dead before I am through with you."

Quinn lay on her floor, twitching, but she forced herself to open her eyes so she could see Dinah's when the girl made that threat. A shiver ran down her spine when she realized the teen meant every word she said. The madness that began to surface in her eyes was the same as the one she saw every day in the mirror. A part of her was jumping in absolute glee over the fact that she had permanently scarred this sweet innocent little thing into such brutal darkness. But the other half was truly frightened of what the girl could and would do to her if something happened to Helena.

"Well, I must be getting back to the hospital. Enjoy your nap until I come back," Dinah smirked before she raised a hand and with a wiggle of her fingers, stole half of Quinn's life away from her mind.

And then she simply disappeared.


Chapter 1: Everyone Walks a Fine Line

Alfred Pennyworth watched from a silent distance as Miss Dinah stood alone on the balcony, in yet another trance. In his decades of service to Master Bruce, he had come across many an individual with special gifts and powers. And more than a few had possessed powerful minds like young Miss Dinah.

The moment he saw the distant and glazed look in her eyes, he knew immediately that her mind was elsewhere…quite literally even. But she had managed to avoid him rather skillfully over the last two weeks, and he had not been able to pursue the matter any further. The fact that not even Miss Barbara knew what the girl was up to, coupled with Dinah's drastic change in attitude the moment she touched Quinn's mind, was enough to set off every warning bell in the butler's still sharp mind.

Normally, he wouldn't even be at the Clocktower at this late hour to be witness to an event that Miss Barbara recently admitted occurred nearly every night since the attack. But with Miss Helena in the hospital and Miss Barbara by her side - well he felt someone should be here to keep an eye on things. Most especially, Dinah herself.

He quietly moved out onto the balcony and waited until Dinah's gaze returned to normal before announcing his presence with a soft clearing of his throat. Dinah's head snapped towards him, and for the first time that he could ever remember, the once sunny teenager gave a glare that would have done Miss Helena proud.

Having been subjected to a number of powerful glares over the years, Alfred simply dismissed it and stepped forward holding out a saucer and cup filled with her favorite brew of tea. "It is a bit chilly out here this time of year and I thought you might appreciate a spot of tea to warm up while you do whatever it is you have been doing out here every night for the last two weeks."

Dinah's glare softened as she blinked at him for several long seconds and then snorted in wry amusement and shook her head with a sigh. "Anyone ever tell you that you're too damn perceptive for your own good Alfred?"

Alfred's lips quirked slightly. "I have lost count Miss Dinah." He scowled when he watched her gaze on him go suddenly sharp and felt a prickling on the fringes of his awareness. "And I will not stand for that kind of intrusion either young Miss. If you wish to know something, you only need to ask," he told her firmly.

She took a sip of her tea, seemingly unfazed by what was a strong rebuke for him. Her head tilted to the side and he felt a chill run up his spine as that gesture reminded him so much of another blonde that had recently wreaked so much havoc.

"You know," she said slightly surprised.

"That you are mind traveling? I recognized the signs, yes. But where, and to whom…well one can only guess. As I'm sure you've just found out for yourself, I have my strong suspicions," he added in as cool a tone as he could appropriately muster.

"Your demeanor has already been altered with just the one brief contact with that wretched woman Miss Dinah. I fear that it may be permanently. Don't compound your issues by furthering your pursuit of her- nothing good will come of that."

"Whatever," Dinah mumbled as she set her still full cup on the ledge and walked inside and up to her room.

Alfred stood on the balcony alone for a couple of minutes and sighed heavily. He moved over to pick up the tea and returned to the kitchen. There he busied himself for a short while with mundane tasks before he walked up to the Delphi's platform.

He looked around at the mess of wire and cables strung all over the floor and shook his head. The massive super-computer was finally up and running again, but just barely. Miss Barbara had been so distraught and distracted after that horrific night, that for once she hadn't been able to focus on much more than eating, sleeping and sitting out on the balcony.

She had only fixed it enough to accomplish the most basic of tasks. And to keep continual tabs on Arkham's security. It was yet another reminder of just how badly Harleen Quinzell had shattered their lives.

Alfred sat down in front of the single keyboard that hadn't been smashed beyond all repair during the battle, and typed away. The live feeds of Quinzell's cell came onto the small monitor that had also been spared damage and he watched as the blonde psychopath sat in the glass room curled up in a ball, her face a rictus of pain and fear.

With a few more typed commands, Alfred had access to every security measure and monitor set in place especially for Arkham's most dangerous criminal. A replay of the last couple of hours revealed an odd energy surge which shorted out all the security feeds for nearly a half hour. The same surge was present in every security log starting two weeks ago.

Sometimes they last a few minutes, but one lasted over an hour. There was no question it was Miss Dinah. What unsettled him the most however, was that he was not sure what exactly she was up to. Another look at the figure still curled up on the floor, gave him a fairly good idea.

And if Dinah was indeed slipping down that dark path, it frightened him as to what someone with her abilities could do if she slipped over the edge. Continuing any contact with Quinzell would only drive the teen into insanity. If it wasn't already too late.

As he continued to stare at the woman on the screen contemplating all that the damage she had wrought on his family, Alfred finally began to feel the long suppressed anger build up inside of him. It had been many a moon since he allowed himself the brief luxury of allowing his cool demeanor to slip, but with the overwhelming events of the night, he felt he had earned a bit of slack of one night.

His breath quickened, his jaw tightened, and his hands began to shake. His eyes tracked to the right of the screen where the list of security measures were displayed. His gaze sharpened on the last resort method and he unconsciously pulled that up.

Should Quinzell escape her cell, the entire section she was in would be sealed off immediately and a powerful gas would be released into the air. In small doses it would knock her out and leave her with a wicked hangover. At full strength however, it could kill a person in less than a minute.

And the controls were all at his very fingertips right now.

His hands trembled even more as the illogical half of him debated over the practical reasons for staging such and 'accident'. However he regained control of his emotions and as the trembling in his hands ceased, he sat back and instantly recalled that his ethics could never be compromised so terribly.

With a superior 'hmpf', the aging butler reached out and powered down the Delphi. As the screen went dark, Alfred glanced towards Dinah's room.

"We all walk a fine line at some point in our lives Dinah," he mused quietly. "You just have to be strong enough not to give in."


Chapter 2: Sundered

For the third time in as many decades, Barbara Gordon's life had been ripped apart and trampled on by Fate. As she sat on the balcony, staring blankly out into the night, the redhead found herself once again teetering on the brink of a complete emotional breakdown.

When she had woken up in the hospital eight years ago to find out that the Joker's bullet had robbed her of the life she had once known, Barbara had simply shut down for several weeks. During that first harrowing week, it was even unclear as to whether she would survive or not since she had seemingly lost all will to live.

Once she had been given a purpose- guardianship of an equally emotionally devastated Helena Kyle- Barbara had fought valiantly to pull the shattered pieces of her life back together so she could help Helena rebuild hers. It had been a rough first year together, but they scraped through, and had developed a relationship that nothing could break.

At least that was what they had both thought.

When Barbara had spoken over the phone with Quinn that night, her analytical mind had told her that the bitch had indeed killed her boyfriend. But it wasn't until she saw his lifeless body spread out on her bed after the battle, that Barbara realized that deep down in her heart she had been desperately hoping that Quinn had just been trying to get under her skin. That the madwoman was just bluffing in an attempt to throw her off balance.

If Reese hadn't already taken Quinn off to be locked up in Arkham, Barbara knew she would have rolled right back into the main part of the Tower and murdered the woman with her bare hands. Helena walked in a couple of minutes later to find Barbara staring at the corpse cruelly lain out on the white sheets.

It wasn't until Helena had finally broken out of her own horrified stupor and had moved to cover him up that Barbara spoke. "Don't you dare touch him," she'd hissed out with so much anger and venom in her voice that Helena froze in shock.

Hurt and infinitely sad blue eyes turned her way, but Barbara had been so consumed by her rage by that point she didn't dare look at the younger woman. "Just leave," she commanded roughly.

"Barbara…I'm sor-,"

"Leave. Now."

Half a second later, the rustle of leather signaled Helena's departure. She absently heard Dinah's startled yelp and then protest as Helena fled the ruins of their home, dropping her comms next to the remains of the Delphi. It had been the last time she had seen or heard from the brunette.

What tortured Barbara the most was how torn she was in trying to decipher how she felt about that. Half of her was still furious with Helena for the recklessness that ultimately lead to the events of that disastrous night. But a deeper part of her reminded her that even she had innocent blood on her hands, and that it wasn't fair to blame Helena for what happened that night. That half wanted to desperately to go out and find the young woman, hug her tightly and tell her that she was sorry.

Barbara Gordon didn't do big emotional trips, yet here she was, spirally downward a little bit further and further into the dark pit of the emotions that she had spent a lifetime of controlling. It was frightening just how dark her thoughts had become, and she realized with startling clarity just what Bruce and Helena had battled with every day for years of their lives.

The anger still burned deep in her gut with a fire that made her want to lash out physically at anyone and anything that got too near her. Her mind had been consumed by it to the point of distracting her from being even partially productive. The Delphi still lay in a mess of wires and half rebuilt parts.

And then there was Dinah.

When Barbara saw the teen reach out to touch the psychopathic bitch, the redhead had tried to call out a warning. But she had been too late and the second the brief link ended, Barbara had sensed the change in the girl.

And then she found Dinah out on the balcony every night, staring off into blank space, and completely unreachable. The blonde refused to tell her what was going on, and Barbara was too deep into her own personal issues to fight with the girl over it. Alfred had inquire about her mental state, and Barbara had relayed her observations.

But even the potential danger to her current ward couldn't seem to snap her out of her funk, and that made her even more frustrated and angry. So here she was, once more sitting out on the balcony, body trembling as she struggled with the myriads of feelings running through her analytical mind, and trying to make sense of her life once more.

Realizing she would be getting no where tonight, she gave up after awhile and headed back inside to attempt working on the Delphi for at least another hour or two. Half an hour into working, she watched as Dinah strolled out onto the balcony that she had recently vacated and got lost in whatever she was doing.

An hour later, she finally came back in and silently moved to help Barbara in piecing the Delphi back together. The redhead found herself a bit relieved to have to silent companionship, and was able to focus enough over the next hour to get the most basic of the Delphi's monitoring programs to work.

The first hint of a smile that had touched her lips in two weeks quickly faded when Alfred appeared in the main room, his normally unflappable appearance, replaced by a grim look. Barbara sat up straight in her chair as she felt Dinah stiffen next to her.

"Alfred. I thought you had gone back to the Manor for the night."

"I'm afraid an emergency has come up Miss Barbara and we are all needed at Wayne Tower immediately," he said as calmly as he could muster.

Barbara's brows furrowed in confusion. "Wayne Tower? What kind of emergency would require us at this-?"

Dinah cut her off, her voice completely flat. "Helena."

Alfred scowled slightly but nodded. "Miss Dinah is correct. There was an…incident and she is being treated by the staff there as we speak. Dr. Thompson is already on her way, but I think it's best we do not waste any further time."

Barbara however, found herself frozen in place. Dear god no, she thought wildly. This can't be happening. She knew more than anyone else in the room that Helena had her physical limits. And if she wanted to push past them on purpose….well Wayne Tower was the only building in town to do just that. And her final words to Helena rang over and over in her head.

"She tried to jump…didn't she?" she finally managed to ask in a choked whisper.

Alfred's troubled look was all she needed in answer.

The redhead felt all the blood drain from her face as she dropped her head into her hands. "And I was right there pushing her," she said in a bare whisper that Dinah only caught on a telepathic level.

Alfred's hands resting gently on her shoulders finally brought Barbara out of her shocked daze. "Miss Barbara, I realize this is yet another devastating blow to your already fragile state. But I was informed that while Miss Helena lives, the situation is dire. We need to leave, now."

"Of course," Barbara said weakly, and then steered herself towards the elevator.

During the drive to the hospital, Barbara wondered if this was what it had been like for her Helena and her father all those years ago when she had been shot and Selina killed. It was yet another insight into the nightmares that her former mentor and protégé both dealt with on a daily basis.

Nightmares that would haunt her for the rest of her life now as well.


Chapter 3: Darkest Hour

Helena Kyle took her last look around at the city she had once tried to protect and then focused on what had once been her home for so many years. Through the silent tears that occasionally streaked down her bruised and gaunt features, she could just make out the tiny speck that sat out on the balcony as it had every night since Quinn's attack.

Two weeks.

Two weeks had drug by since that night, the days and nights blending together in a constant nightmare that no amount of drugs, alcohol, or pain could chase away. Desperate to forget just how badly she had fucked up and hurt the only ones she loved, Helena had tried everything. Last night, when she had willingly allowed herself to be beaten within an inch of her life, and lay there in that dark, rank ally, she realized only one thing was going to release her from the torment that Quinn had trapped her in.

Helena snorted in disgust. Quinn was trapped for life in a plastic cage, her memory wiped by a girl that had lost her innocence the moment she had touched that warped mind. The psychopath would have cackled in maniacal glee had she know just how much damage she had wrought on her enemy. Quinn may have lost the battle, but it seemed the Birds had lost the war.

That night, their family had been ripped apart in a way that could never be mended. And it was all her fault.

Helena viciously scrubbed at the tears, reminding herself that she didn't deserve the luxury of feeling pain and crying. She shoved her battered hands deep inside of her pockets, and clenched the small packet of letters she had there. She didn't know what had possessed her to include one to her father and to Dick, but it had been an emotionally weak moment she supposed.

Keeping her hands firmly at her sides, Helena took one last longing look at the tiny speck in the distance, and then stepped to the edge of the spire atop Wayne Tower. She stood there for several moments more looking down at the streets far below before turning her head towards the shadows to her left.

"Picked a helluva time to come back dad," she said hoarsely.

The shadows shifted and her father stepped forward. "Please don't do this Helena," he said quietly. His face was as emotionless as always, but there was genuine concern in his voice and eyes.

She looked away, closing her own eyes as she swallowed past the lump in her throat. "You shouldn't be here."

"I know the pain you are feeling right now. But this won't solve anything Helena. Please," he asked gently as he shifted slightly closer and held out his hand.

Helena's eyes flashed angrily as she spun to face him. "Leaving didn't solve anything either, did it?" she snapped. "You abandoned us when we needed you the most, and I GET why you did it. But you want to know what hurts the most? Not once did you try to contact us. I KNOW Alfred was in contact with you, but you kept us out of your life and all you accomplished was hurting all of us even more. That was worse than my own mother dying," she spat at him, her eyes going completely feral.

The hand that had been outstretched dropped in resignation, and eyes so much like her own, looked away in old pain. "I won't do that to her," Helena said harshly. "That bitch broke Barbara because of me. I failed the one person that reached out to me when everything in my life had been ripped away. She sits out on that balcony every night, torn between loathing me and everything that I allowed happen, and wondering if I'm still around and safe. I don't deserve that kind of concern, and she doesn't deserve to go through that kind of emotional torture again."

Helena shifted backwards, her heels hanging over the ledge. She pulled the letters out and threw them at his feet. "I suggest you take those and go," she told him flatly.

Bruce Wayne looked down at the letters and then arched an eyebrow when he saw one addressed to both he and Dick. Slowly he bent down and picked it up, absently noting how much Helena's writing was like her mother's. And suddenly it really hit him.

Helena wasn't just another lost person he was trying to talk down. She was his and Selina's daughter. Like him, she had given her heart and soul to protect this city in his absence and it had ripped both from her in repayment. And right now, she had far more courage than he did almost a decade ago when he was in this exact spot contemplating the very same decision.

"I'm not giving up this time," he told her firmly.

He expected some kind of comeback, a goodbye, a curse…something. But her eyes had gone so dead after her angry rant, that not even they had given him any kind of warning. She just….fell.

"HELENA NOOOO!!!!!!" He shouted as he leapt over the edge without a second thought. He wasn't in costume, but he had had enough sense to don his utility belt and harness under the dark clothes he had on.

He watched as she fought her natural instincts and slam into a lower spire, knocking her unconscious. He grimaced as the impact broke bones, and the sharp stonework ripped into flesh, before she continued her plummet to the rapidly approaching street below.

The only thing he had to be thankful of, was the fact that her encounter with the spire gave him the precious two seconds he needed to catch up with her. Calling on every bit of skill and strength his aging body still possessed, he narrowly missed the spire himself, caught her limp figure as it bounced off the edge and pulled her to him as he fired his grappling hook.

The jolt nearly tore his arm out of it's socket, and he grit his teeth as he and his daughter slammed hard into the side of his building and spun wildly for several second before he managed to plant his feet against the wall and they skidded sideways a few more feet.

He hung there for nearly a minute, breathing harshly as he tried to get his heart and mind back under control. It had been so long….

The familiar cold mask finally seemed to descend over him and he swiftly got them both to the ground. He did a quick check and swallowed hard as he realized Helena wasn't breathing and her heart had stopped. He pulled his phone out.

"Marcus please tell me you are still at work."


"Marcus are you inside the building?"


"Get the med team out to the alley behind exit fifteen now."


"Damnit Marcus just get them out here!" He shouted, losing his control as he slammed the phone shut and began CPR.

Two minutes later, half a dozen of his employees poured out of the door, Marcus Benton right on their heels. Everyone stared at him in shock, and then they remembered there was a patient to attend to. Marcus reached out and drew Bruce back as they went to work on his daughter. "Bruce…is that…Helena?"

The younger man had been made privy to Helena's existence when Bruce had placed him in charge of Wayne Enterprises and had set up the various trust funds for his extended family members. But in all these years, Marcus had never met the young woman since she had not once touched anything that had her father had set up for her. Having Bruce show up like this was enough of a shock, but to have them both here like this….it was a bit overwhelming even for him.

"Yes," was the quiet and grave answer.

"Dear god, what happened to her?"

"She jumped," Bruce whispered hoarsely.

Marcus's moment of near panic finally passed however and he snapped to full alertness. After all, Bruce Wayne hadn't been a fool when he'd chosen Marcus to fill in during his absence. Recalling everything he'd been briefed on in case a medical emergency with Helena should arise, he pulled his phone out and hit a preset number. "Dr. Thomspon? Yes it's Marcus Benton. Yes I know I'm overdue for my company physical and I hate to interrupt my impending lecture, but we have a rather pressing situation at the Tower that needs your…special attention." Marcus paused.

"Leslie, I wouldn't bother you at this time of the evening for something as trivial as that," he sighed impatiently. "It's Helena and she's seriously injured. You need to get down here right away." Another pause. "Yes….it appears she did. Please hurry Leslie, my team will do what they can for her until you arrive."

Bruce watched numbly as the medical team loaded Helena onto a gurney that had been brought and continued to work on her as they prepared her to be moved inside. To their credit, the team worked quickly, and efficiently, and Helena was inside and upstairs in a matter of minutes.

Marcus pressed a damp towel into his hands, and Bruce looked down to see blood covering both his hands and clothing. "I called Alfred. He is heading over to Barbara's right now to pick her up. Given rumors of recent events, I felt it would be best if he informed her and drove them down here. Thankfully, Leslie was just closing up her clinic which is only a few miles from here. She should be up momentarily."

Bruce just nodded.

Leslie arrived ten minutes after the call, and merely blinked once in her surprise to see Bruce before diving into the fray and taking control. The medical teamed deferred readily to her command, realizing she had better knowledge and familiarity of their unique patient. The room was quickly being transformed to an operating room, and the staff was scurrying about to prepare for surgery.

Leslie finally broke away from the group and pulled Bruce out into the hallway just as Alfred arrived with Barbara and Dinah. Barbara looked at the amount of blood still covering Bruce and swallowed hard, her jaw trembling with barely concealed emotion. "Bruce?"

Finally faced with his former partner and protégé since her paralysis, Bruce suddenly found himself unable to speak. Leslie spared him for the moment, and knelt next to her old friend and pulled her into a fierce hug. "I'm going to do everything I can to save her sweetheart. That cat still has a few more lives left in her and I'll be damned if I let her check out early like this."

"She actually jumped?" Dinah asked, her face devoid of almost all emotion.

It was the first time Bruce had really noticed the girl, and what he saw, chilled him to the bone. There was nothing of the sunny disposition Alfred had described to him. Now there was only, a cold and haunted look. And a tinge of something that almost looked like madness on the fringes of those icy blue eyes. Obviously her encounter with Quinn had scarred the girl badly…perhaps even for life.

Bruce nodded slowly looking back at Barbara and Alfred. "I tried to stop her….but she hit one of the spires before I could catch her."

Leslie rattled of the number of injuries that they were aware of, knowing Barbara would want to hear the cold hard facts. Fifteen broken bones, a shattered collarbone, dislocated left shoulder, lacerated kidney, massive cerebral bruising and swelling, three fractured discs in her spine, a punctured lung, and bone fragments all over.

"She's pushed her body past it's healing capabilities this time. The medical team was able to rescucitate her before I got here, but it's been touch and go several times since," Leslie admitted. "My surgical team will be here shortly, and with Bruce's own team, we should be able to repair most of the damage."


"We won't know how badly the damage to her spine or brain will be until she wakes up."

"If she wakes up at all." Dinah added flatly into the silence.

"Dinah!" Barbara gasped.

Dinah continued to stare at the doctor who finally sighed and looked at the ground. "That's awfully rude of you in this situation young lady," she reprimanded even as she admitted to what Dinah had said out loud for her.

"Despite Bruce's efforts to save her, the blow to her head was severe. She's in a coma right now and completely unresponsive. Her body is barely even able to keep its normal autonomous responses like breathing on it's own. We are most likely going to have to place her on a respirator. But since the subject has been brought up," Leslie said with a hard look to the teen who simply shrugged indifferently.

"I need to know at what point do you want me to stop?"

Barbara lost it at that point. She stared at the floor, her features going pale in shock, and dropped her head into her hands as tears formed in her eyes. "This can't be happening," she whispered, as Alfred moved forward to rest his hands on her shoulders in comfort.

Bruce empathized with her completely, and could see that even Alfred was struggling mightily to keep his own composure. "Do whatever it takes to keep her alive Leslie," he answered tightly. "We won't make any decisions like that until there are no other alternatives left."

"As you wish. I should continue preparing my patient and we need to keep that room sterile so I am going to have to ask you all to remain out here from now on."

With that, the older woman pushed back through the large doors and left the small group in apprehensive silence. Dinah finally muttered something about needing air and left. Alfred was looking expectantly at him, and swallowing hard, Bruce knelt down next to Barbara.

"I'm sorry," he whispered as she allowed him to gather her into a hug for the first time in her life. "I tried to stop her. But I was too late."

"I can't do this again Bruce. I can't lose her too," she wept as her finger left bruises in his arms.

"We won't," he said, knowing he would do everything in his power to fulfill that one promise.

Part 4

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