Title: Just Kiss The Girl

Author: DC Luder

Rating: M for violence and mature situations.

Summary: An adventure in the world where Bruce and Selina figure life out…

Infringements: Batman and all recognizable characters are property of DC comics not DC Luder.

Author's Note: References to "A Killing Joke".


I watched silently from the corner of his office as Jim Gordon settled into his desk chair. His face was layered with fatigue and his eyes drooped with the craving of slumber. It was three-thirty in the morning. He should have been home, safely sleeping in his bed.

But he wasn't.

He pushed his glasses up, which was pointless because they didn't fit correctly and slipped down the bridge of his nose almost instantly. While he shoved papers into cardboard folders with his right hand, his left reached over to pick up the phone.

It was then that I cleared my throat.

Jim nearly fell out of his chair while he cursed me under his breath, "Jesus, you'll be the end of me some day…"

"I hope not, Jim."

He looked at me and for once he could actually see my form, which was usually hidden in darkness with only my voice announcing my presence.

"You need to shave," he said.

"You need to go home," I retorted.

He laughed a bit, "I suppose I do. But not yet… What do you have for me tonight?"

Regrettably, I had nothing that could be considered good news. The Joker had escaped Arkham the previous night, killing six guards and orderlies as he skipped his way to freedom. Although there had yet to be any civilian lives taken by his hands in the last twenty-four hours, I had a hard time believing it would stay that way.

Jim cleared his throat, "Well, he's only been out for a day, so don't beat yourself up."

"He needs to be caught before he gets too reacquainted with society."

After he stood, he turned and looked out the window. With a heavy sigh, he allowed his broad shoulders to slump, "We'll find him. We always do."

"But never soon enough," I replied.

A sudden yell sounded from outside the cramped office's door and we both jumped and looked in its direction. The door opened and I dove back into the darkness as I saw Harvey Bullock's large mass plow through, "Commish, you might wanna come out here… Lorraine's here… claims she knows where the Clown is hiding out."

Jim stood a bit straighter and looked in my direction for a fraction of a second. After glancing at his desk, he nodded, "Hard to believe a word she says but… with him, we have to take what we can…" After he grabbed a rumple blazer off of the back of his desk chair, he followed Harvey out into the lobby without giving me a second glance.

My exit cue.

After skimming through the paperwork on his desk, I climbed through the window and shot a line to the opposing building's rooftop. I set it for retraction and in a moment, I was airborne. Once my feet landed, I returned the grapple gun to my belt and proceeded to where I had left Robin not fifteen minutes earlier.

Instead of monitoring my conversation with Jim as I had instructed, he was sound asleep with a chemistry packet in one hand and a calculator in the other. I smirked for a moment upon seeing the ballpoint pen loosely held between his lips.

I cleared my throat before growling, "Thought the school work was all done?"

As Robin jumped, he instinctually threw the calculator at me before scrambling to his feet, "I was uh… just, getting…"

"…Ready to go home?"

He looked at me with an expression of disbelief highlighted with confusion. I turned away and walked to the rear of the building, nearly making it to the ledge before he caught up with me. In near tandem, we jumped the six stories to the 'Mobile and got in.

Neither of us spoke until we made it out of the city limits.

Robin asked, "So no leads?"

I shook my head, "Just before I left a woman was in the lobby who said she knew where he was, but Gordon can handle her."

"Why didn't you---?"

"Her name is Lorraine Hotchkiss. Every time someone breaks out of Arkham, she comes to GCPD and claims she is their secretary and tells us where they are hiding. At which is usually the bar she works at."


We roared into the Cave fifteen silent minutes later. As always, Alfred was there waiting for us when we got out of the Mobile, "Good morning, Master Bruce, Master Tim."

"…Morning?" Tim looked at the watch hidden beneath his gloved wrist, "Oh, man… Quarter to four? Good thing tomorrow… Today is Saturday, huh?"

After pulling back the cowl, I made my way to the computer bay. Tim proceeded to the costume vault to change and restock his utility belt. As I began to log our activities from the evening, he shuffled by, mumbling, "Good night" before he proceeded to navigate to the granite steps.

While Alfred watched him go, he spoke, "Well, Master Bruce, I must say that you do know how to take a young lad out for a good time."

I glared at him for a moment and returned my eyes to the screen.

"Ms. Kyle called earlier this evening."

Hearing her name had caused me to enter a typo. After correcting it, I asked, "What did she want?"

"She would like a moment of your attention if you would be willing to spare it."

I was due to appear at a corporate brunch at ten at Wayne Enterprises. I hadn't slept more than ten hour in the last three days. I couldn't even remember what I had breakfast, or if I even had any that morning. I wanted nothing more than to find the Joker, lock him back up after pummeling him unrecognizable and then bury myself in bed.

Looking up at the monitor, I scowled at the dossier of the Joker, complete with livid color picture of his sick smile. I then thought to myself, One more day… that's all I'll give you.

Although Robin and I had just made the commute from Gotham to Bristol in twenty minutes, it only took fifteen on the return trip after opting for the Cycle in place of the Mobile. Opting for concealment, I parked in an alley six blocks from her penthouse. Using the grapple, I made may from building to building until landing on the small terrace I had come to know all to well.

Looking through the glass door, it appeared no one was home. It was then I spotted the faintest flicker of candle light originating from the large open area that dominated her penthouse. After unlocking the door, I silently made my across dark hardwood floors, finding her on the overstuffed couch. The candle had been burning for some time and the wax had dripped into small, hardened pools on the glass coffee table. After blowing them out, I turned to face her.

She appeared to be deep in slumber and I suddenly regretted coming at all. No doubt she had intended for me to arrive to find her awake as she wore very little. As I adjusted the white cotton blanket that had partially slipped off of her, I noticed that only her undergarments kept her from complete nudity.

Once she was covered, I carefully slipped my arms underneath her and lifted her. I made my way towards the bedroom and even though she was still asleep, she pressed herself closer to my chest and sighed softly.

A moment of my time…

I had never understood the attraction we had for each other and had come to realize that I never would. Although it would seem to be almost magnetic, with opposite sides of the law unable to keep apart from one another, it was far more complicated. Alfred had mused that we would be forever locked in a struggle for happiness, with our differences forever acting as a impassable hurdle.

Fortunately, I had a habit of overcoming the impossible.

I nudged her door open with my knee just as she lifted her head and mumbled, "Bruce?"

"Shh, go back to sleep…" As I stopped at her bed, I let her legs slowly fall to the floor as she continued to lean against me. Once I had pulled back the comforter on the bed she began to recline and I helped her lay down.

Before I could stand upright again, her lips grabbed mine. I first tried to pull away, but soon succumbed to her. Her arms slowly wrapped around my neck, encouraging my body down upon hers. As I tried to break away, her teeth snagged at my lower lip, demanding that I stay put.

When Selina released her hold, she asked as her nimble fingers unlatched my utility belt, "Dare I ask if you brought Bat-cuffs?"

I should have played along with her joke but instead I pushed myself up with my hands and tried to stand.

"Oh, don't leave…" she moaned .

"Selina, I can't, I have to…"

Her lips found mine again, kissing me with an emotion stronger than passion.

It was full of need, hunger. Love.

When I began to lie back down, Selina rolled me over onto my back, proceeding to remove the pieces of my suit in haste. My cape flew across the room, followed swiftly by my belt. I kicked off my boots as she removed my tunic, leggings, body armor and gloves, saving my mask for last. Soon, I lay bare, needing her as much as she did me.

When her teeth embedded themselves into the flesh of my neck, I growled indecipherably.

We made love slowly, doing our best to outlast one another. Even though it had only been a few months since we had actualized our relationship, I now knew her as if we had been together for a lifetime. The fierce independence that had kept us alive and apart for all of these years ebbed when we were together. Whether it was the darkness of her bedroom or lunch on the terrace at Wayne Manor, we had come to trust one another implicitly.

Something I had convinced myself to be incapable of.

Trusting someone.

Loving someone.

Selina fell asleep in my arms, her breath warm on my neck. I buried our bodies deep beneath the blankets and willed myself to sleep after convincing myself that I could still make the brunch. That I could rise in two hours, return home for a suit and tie and get to Wayne Enterprise by…

With unbearable light beating down on my eyelids, I forced them open. As I tried to gain my bearings, I realized I was alone in the bed and that the shower was running in the adjacent bathroom. Propping myself on my elbows, I scanned the brightly lit bedroom that was riddled with my disassembled costume. Finally, my eyes fell on the bedside alarm clock display just as the time changed to 12:20 PM

As the water shut off in the bathroom, I collapsed back onto her bed, cursing myself for such weakness.

Selina entered the room a few minutes later, enveloped in a white bath towel with her long dark hair wound up in a damp bun. She smiled at me, "Good afternoon, Count Dracula."

With a growl in my voice, I stated, "I was supposed to be…"

"...Be sleeping late like normal people do on Saturdays."

"No… a brunch at Wayne Enterprises…" After a sigh, I rose from the bed and approached her, "And I am not normal."

She smirked, "Don't I know it… Besides, I couldn't wake you… Who knows when you're going to sleep again." When I tried to reply, she spoke first, "Not that I mind your current attire, but there's some… Uh… Extra, non-crime fighting garments in the bottom drawer of my dresser… "

It was then that I realized I was standing before as naked as the day I had been born.

When I went to walk by her, she reached behind me, slapping my rear. Forcing myself not to react, I went about rummaging through the drawer until I found a black tee, gray wool sweater, a pair of jeans and boxer briefs. After a quick shower, I emerged dressed for the afternoon although still uncertain as to what it entailed.

While I watched her apply a touch of eye shadow, she suggested, "You missed brunch, how about lunch?" The mere mention of food caused my empty stomach to growl loud enough for her to hear. Her reflection in the bathroom mirror grinned, "I take that as a yes?"

We walked two blocks to a small French bakery. After taking a seat at one of the small wrought iron tables on the sidewalk, we were quickly greeted by a young girl who listed off the day's specials. We both chose to start with café au lait, a Nicoise salad and then shared halves of a prosciutto brie Panini .

As I stirred my drink slowly, I tried to rationalize the best way to salvage what was left of the day without infuriating the woman who sat across from me.

"… Can you, Bruce?"

"What…" I asked, surprised.

"I said you can't even just sit and eat lunch without thinking about something, can you?"

"Waste not, want not."

Selina smiled at me, "I bet I can guess what you were thinking about… and I understand… But, let's think of something more pleasant," she slipped her foot out of her shoe and began to caress my calf with her toes.

I did my best to give her my undivided attention as we shared lunch and light conversation. But when the wheels began turning once more, Selina was quick to see it, "I'll make you a deal… come back tonight, preferably before dawn, and I will let you spend the rest of the day drowning in evil clown-hood."

After a curt nod, I stood and kissed the top of her head, "I'll see you tonight, then."

Luckily, we had walked in the direction of where I had parked the Cycle earlier that morning and it only took five minutes to locate it. After donning a helmet, I sped through traffic, earning a bounty of middle fingers and shouts. Once on the highway, I let her go and cruised most of the way home at ninety miles per hour.

After making my way back to the Cave, I proceeded to drown myself in the realm of evil clown-hood. With Barbara's help, we sifted through endless news reports, police calls and false leads. For nearly four continuous hours, we had managed to sift the mess down to a number of possible credible leads. My eyes had grown tired from staring at the screen and just as I was about to tell her I was taking a break, she had said, "Oop, have to go, my calculus tutoree is here."

With energy and frustration to burn, I chose to hit the training bay rather than to head upstairs. After warming up with push-ups, chin-ups and vertical crunches, I turned my focus to the punching bag. Picturing the black sand filled bag was in fact the joker's pale grinning face led to twenty minutes of furious jabs and uppercuts that left me sweaty and with sore fingers.

So I hit the bag harder.

Tim walked down the steps moments later, dressed in navy sweat pants and a matching hoody with white and teal running shoes echoing on the stone floor. He waved and called out my name, but I ignored him. As he approached the training mats, he said, "Alfred said you didn't come home last night."

After one last blow, which caused the three hundred pound leather bag to fly backwards. I then turned to face him, "I had business to take care of." With a final look, the topic of discussion was terminated.

I grabbed a towel off of a stainless steel rack and wiped myself down as I walked back towards the computer, Tim not far behind. Once I sat in the chair, I glanced to the workstation's digital readout to see it was nearly six. I was about to tell Tim to get his exercises in now so we could head into the city early when Barbara's face appeared on the main monitor.

"You might want to check out channel six, Boss."

Tim turned on the small TV monitor and changed to the channel, which revealed a the station's "we are experiencing technical difficulties" screen. Just as the six o clock news should have been starting, the screen filled with a close up of a massive smile encased in bright red lips, "HELLLLLOOOOO GOTHAM!"

My fists involuntary clenched as I felt my heart rate double.

The Joker stepped back, showing his location to be on a rooftop of a building in Tri-Corner. He was dressed for the occasion in his trademark purple suit and frighteningly enough, he appeared to have had his hair recently cut and slicked back. As he tuned down the smile, he began, "I am reporting live from the rooftop of good old Gotham PeeDee, bringing you a BREAKING news report!! First, let's get a word from Commissioner Jimmy Gordon!! Hopefully he can shine some light on the situation!!"

The screen followed Joker as he skipped towards the unlit Batsignal. After putting his microphone under his armpit, he pulled the lever down and the screen went very bright.

My eyes instantly focused on what was tied to the signal. Or rather who.

Jim Gordon was bound and gagged, tied spread eagle to the metal framework that supported the massive searchlight. His eyes were filled with fear as they darted back and forth between the Joker and the camera. Mortal fear.

When I glanced at the communication screen, tears were fighting to break from Barbara's green eyes.

I already knew what she was thinking. What she was remembering.

Without wasting another second, I raced towards the dressing room and hastily donned the Batsuit, all the while listening to Joker's one-way interview with Gordon. I was quickly checking my belt when Tim came in and began changing into his suit.

I shook my head and growled as I secured the belt around my waist, "No, not tonight, Tim."

"But, Batman…"

"No, I'll need you as my eyes… here. I won't be able to watch your back."

"I promise, I won't leave the car…"

When I turned and faced him, his face was not fearful or defiant but certain and ready. A sudden sense of déjà vu washed over me, and it took a moment for it to register.

God, he looked like Dick when he was…

As I pulled the cowl over my head, I snapped, "Strictly back up."

"It's what I do best," Tim smirked.

While he finished changing, I returned to the computer bay to see that the Joker had left Jim's side and was standing more towards the middle of the rooftop. "This just in, folks… Batman's dead! Oh wait… not yet! But please stay tuned as this story develops!!"

"A trap," Robin approached me from behind.

I nodded and then looked to Barbara's image once more. She didn't say anything.

She didn't need to.

If the State Trooper in charge of speed radar on Highway 106 could have caught me, I would have paid a fine for going one hundred and twenty miles per hour in a sixty-five zone. I screeched to a halt in the back alley behind the police headquarters, not wanting to lose another moment. As I jumped out of the car, Robin was already unbuckling himself.

He looked up quickly when I said, "Under no circumstances do you leave this car. Clear."

"Crystal. But what if he…"

"No. Don't."

Before he could argue any further, I fired my grapple up and was ascending into the Joker's hands. Once I had landed silently on the roof, I set my grapple gun down in case a hasty exit was called for knowing just the usual precautions were never enough with the Joker.

A lesson I had paid too dearly for, too many times.

The Signal suddenly went out, leading to a temporary shock of darkness. My eyes quickly adjusted even as I activated the night lenses in the cowl. Scanning the rooftop, I spotted a TV camera near the door, its red indicator light blinking. I threw a Batarang at the lens and listened as it shattered in the dark. Quietly, I made my way over to Jim and put a hand on his shoulder, hopefully giving some encouragement.

He had already lost so much to the Joker. More than anyone could ever know.

Just as I reached for a knife to cut the ropes off, a soft giggling arose from behind me. I turned abruptly to see the Joker several yards away, a flashlight under his chin, turning his already ghoulish face even more disturbing. "My, my… I guess there's more than just bats in my belfry…"

"What do you want?" I poised myself, mentally planning six assaults that would bring him down. Painfully.

"Oh, nothing out of the ordinary… actually, I wish you had brought along little Bird Boy seeing how I brought a friend..."

A friend? What was he up to now?

"Did The Ventriloquist hook you up with a nice sock?" I growled, secretly pulling out three Batarangs that I was about to embed in the Joker's chest.

"No… Oh, that was a good one, Batsy," he laughed and looked behind me, his smile growing, "But if I do recall, you may remember my new chum. Yes, I believe he had a crush on you!"

I whipped around to see Jim's face filled with terror but his eyes were locked in the direction I had just been facing. When I turned I turned again, I found myself eye level with a massive chest tightly clothed in black leather. I didn't need to look up at the masked face of the Joker's friend.

The face of Bane.

"We meet again, Dark Knight…" his thick Latino voice caused my blood to stop cold. He had been acting as a mercenary for hire, traveling the world and doing the dark deeds of dark men for top dollar. Last I had known he had a bad run-in with Ra's Al Guhl.

Instinct took hold of me and I backed away from him before plunging my hand forward, intending to impale the Batarangs into his abdomen. Just as I was about to make contact, Bane suddenly reached out and grabbed my arm, twisting it abruptly in order to pull me into him.

I crouched down before driving my shoulder into his abdomen, using all of my strength to send him flying over my head. Surprised, he let go of my other arm and landed loudly on the rooftop. Before he was able to rise, I handed Jim a Batarang, hoping he would be able to free himself while I fought Bane.

A half of a second at most.

A half of a second too long.

Bane's iron hands latched onto my calves as he rose, flipping me upside down fast enough to prevent me from tucking my head. After it cracked against the roof, Bane lifted me in the air before slamming me down again.

When he lifted me a third time, I swung backwards and away from him before diving into his midsection, planting of the Batarangs still in my hand deep into his side. He staggered a step back before hurling me across the rooftop in anger. I landed, bounced and found myself coming to a stop at the Joker's feet. His laughter was nearly hysterics as he proclaimed, "Oh, this is worth every penny, all five hundred million of them!!"

As I pushed myself up, I felt the roof shake with each of Bane's steps as he stalked towards me. I dove at him once more, this time using enough force to send him bouncing. As I reached for a tranquilizer dart, one I often used to bring down Killer Croc and Amygdala, I felt a sudden stinging in my back and as the Joker's laughter doubled, I reached back to feel a pair of poison tipped razor cards embedded in my shoulder.

In the fraction of a second I had, I opted to retrieve the antidote gun, which I had Robin stock with anti-Joker venom on the ride into the city. As I inserted the needle into my arm, Bane reached for me and I barely managed to get out his way. I dropped to the ground and then kicked upwards, colliding my heel into his jaw. His head snapped back violently and when he looked back down at me, I knew his eyes were glowing red and not just because of his lenses.

When I moved towards the edge of the rooftop to evade him once more, his finger just snagged on my cape and a before I could detach it, he had reeled me in, wrapping a hand around my throat and the back of my knee. Even as I was being lifted, I tried to strike back at him but I was too late.

A moment later, I went face first into the roof, a sharp snap in my side bringing me to full attention.

His hands found me once more, this time trying to punch the side of my head with enough force to take down a bull. I managed to block and dodge each hit but when I went to resume the offense, he found an opening and chopped me in the left side of my face.

I was in top condition this time.

I shouldn't lose to him.

I couldn't.

As I fought to regain my bearings, he took the opportunity to level me with a single kick. Before I could rise or even roll out of his way, Bane knelt upon my torso and I felt each and every one of his three-hundred pounds. He hunched over top of me as he pinned my arms down to the roof and proceeded put his mouth next to my right ear.

In a low whisper he said, "You will not be spared this time, Bruce Wayne. I have no wish to allow you to live, no more than the Clown does…"

A bitter copper taste rose in the back of my throat as another rib snapped. With my last bit of air, I sucked in my lungs and drew my legs up, kneeing him hard in his lower back. He jumped to his feet, brining his steel-toed boots down on my stomach. Again. And again.

"Disgusting," he muttered.

I had to get up…

"I should have never spared your life."

I had to…

I rose slowly to my feet, blood streaming out of my mouth as my guts and lungs burned in agony. Although my left ear was still ringing, in the right I heard Robin softly screaming my name, for the volume was barely up.

I shut it all of the way off.

Time seemed to slow as I looked over the rooftop once more. Bane stood in front of me, his arms crossed in front of his massive chest, a victorious smile on his lips. The Joker was over by Jim, taking bets on who would win. I counted a number of cracks in the roofing that was now splattered with fresh blood.

Selina's face flashed before my eyes.

Alfred said our differences would be the end of any meaningful relationship.

As I threw myself at Bane one last time, I thought to myself that I would die before I would give up spending my life with her.

After my flattened hand stabbed him just below the Adam's Apple, he hunched over searching for his breath. I proceeded to throw a roundhouse to the back of his head, sending him to his knees.

"Disgusting," I growled before bringing my elbows down hard on the points of his neck.

He ducked suddenly and when my blows missed their target, he was able to spin around fast enough to backhand me to the ground. The iron grip found me again and before I could free myself he began walking towards the Batsignal. I managed to turn my head enough to see that Jim had managed to free himself.

Which was fortunate for him because not a moment later Bane slammed me into it, head first.

As glass shattered around me, the pain in my chest and abdomen was momentarily forgotten as my skin opened on my arms and legs. Before I could force myself to my feet, Bane's hands were already ripping me out of the shell of the searchlight. His right hand gripped the back of my neck while his other closed around my left knee and he held me high above his head.

Just like before…

I struggled against him but the more I resisted, the stronger his hold on me became. A flood of memories flashed before my eyes of the year I had spent paralyzed after losing to Bane the first time. I had to stop him, I had to save myself. Jim. Gotham.

But there was nothing I could do.

Just as he began to bring me down towards his lifted knee, a deafening crack filled the air. Just inside my peripheral vision, I saw something had latched itself to the tubes originating from the back of Bane's skull and a fraction of a second later, the tubes were gone and Bane was screaming. In immeasurable pain and anger, Bane launched my body once more but rather than colliding with the signal or the rooftop, I found myself moving through the air and off of the roof.

With my right shoulder in agony, I was forced to reach across my abdomen with my left hand for my back-up grapple gun. As the avenue below rushed towards me, I focused as best I could and fired, holding my breath until the line went taught.


By the time I managed to retract my way back to the roof, Bane was just making it to his feet, foaming at the mouth. I hit him quickly with enough tranquilizer to talk down a rhinoceros and then delivered a solid blow to the back of his head just to be safe. As he fell and stayed down, I found myself growing light headed as my breaths came shorter. I was in no condition to face the Joker but I had no choice.

As tried to regain my bearings once more, I saw Jim approaching, "God, I'll call the ambulance."

"Not for me.. But he'll need one." I coughed suddenly and spat saliva and blood before asking, "The Joker?"

Jim smiled suddenly, "You're not going to believe this…"

I took a few unsteady steps before I felt his arm wrap around my shoulder. Had it been anyone else, I would have instantly shrugged it away, but Jim…

On the opposing ledge, I heard the Joker long before I spotted him, hanging upside down and bound in rope from his ankles to his shoulders. As he screamed for someone to save him, I spotted a small piece of paper that was tacked to the heel of his right wingtip shoe.

After crouching down, I carefully reached down and tore the scrap free. The Joker managed to look up at me, snarling, "Not fair! My friend was supposed to beat you to a pulp, not other way around!"

I found the energy to grab the rope that anchored him and started him swinging around until he replaced his angry shouting with fearful cries for help.

After making it back to me feet, Jim asked, "What does it say?"

I scanned the feminine cursive penmanship and somehow found it in myself to smile.

Figured you'd rather spend more time with me than him.

xoxo S

After Jim offered to call in a medic once more, and after I declined, I bound Bane far too tightly than necessary before finding the grapple I had anchored when I had first arrived. The clock display in the lenses said only fifteen minutes had lapsed but it felt as if it had been at least a decade. I did my best to land softly on the pavement below but a shock of pain still ran from my heels to my head.

Before I could put the grapple gun away, Robin was at my side, "What happened, why did you turn the radio off?"

"I couldn't afford the distraction…" I began before succumbing to a wave of dizziness. He instinctively put a hand on my arm and although I tried to say I was fine, he knew better than to trust my judgment at the moment. As we walked back to the Mobile, I recounted the events that had transpired, sparring the details of how I had been practically a rag doll in Bane's hands.

After I managed to get to the car, Robin, stepped between me and the driver's side, "Let me drive."

I normally would have yelled at him to get out of my way but he a bold determination in his eyes, just as he had at the Cave earlier that evening. Something that should not be punished but honored.

"One condition. We have to make a quick stop."

"It's not the emergency room, by any chance, is it?" he smirked as he jumped into the Mobile.

I moved less enthusiastically and once I was seated, I answered, "Better."

Upon our arrival, I ignored his questions about my well-being and his offers to deliver a message rather than me making the jump up to the penthouse in my current state of infirm. I finally said, "You're still strictly back-up."

I left him sitting in the car, probably wondering if I had a concussion.

Selina was sleeping on the couch again, although in a pair of black lycra leggings and a matching tank top that I knew she always wore under the soft leather of her Catwoman suit. I felt the need to put her in bed as I had the night before but I doubted that I would be able to get halfway down the corridor before collapsing.

Instead, I knelt next to her and covered her with the white cotton blanket that was draped over the back of the couch. Before standing upright, I kissed her cheek softly and painfully rose to my feet. I had just turned to leave when she said, "Well, it's before dawn… I'm impressed. But it's a shame you're going back for the late shift."

I looked back at her and replied, "No… just going to go home put myself back together."

Selina rose from the couch, her eyes touring my body. Although nothing was visible, there were a score of contusions rapidly developing all over and it would be a few days before I would be able to function without wincing.

She carefully traced her fingers over my torso, finding each pain, "I saw it on TV. Him holding the commissioner hostage. I went over when I saw you on it… after you broke the camera. I didn't want to get in your way with Bane, but when he lifted you up like that…"

"What do they say? You scratch my back…"

She smiled before leaning on closer to me, whispering into my good ear, "Stay… I'll lick your wounds for you."

I hesitated before replying, "As appealing as that is, I'm afraid Alfred would not approve."

"True, I doubt you'd get meaningful rest here," she paused for a moment before tenderly embracing me, resting her chin on my shoulder, "Take it easy… the clown's back in the box… for the time being at any rate."


A sudden beep registered in my ear followed by Tim's voice, "Just kiss the girl and let's go home, I haven't eaten yet." I knew that boy was too good with electronics, it took Dick years to figure out how to override a deactivated comm. link. Selina pulled back and began laughing and it took me a moment to realize she had overheard him. Tim then whispered, "I guess that was a little too loud, huh?"

Selina grinned, "Well, let's not get in the way of a growing boy's stomach…"

We didn't.