Chapter 1: Too Good to be True
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Somewhere in the distance a couple of sirens were whining out of sync too far to alarm the few people left on the empty dark street, the stragglers and the dealers and the tourists who had taken a wrong turn. The latter always confused her, (why would anyone in their right mind choose to visit Gotham?) but they made the easiest targets and she was nothing if she wasn't an opportunist.
There were only patches of light, fluorescent pools of a sickly violet making everyone look paler and more miserable than usual and the steam that rose up from beneath the streets was thick and opaque.
Perfect hunting conditions.
She should've known it was too good to be true.
He looked like any other mark, the way he was standing, a coffee cup in one hand his phone in the other, completely oblivious to his surroundings. Her instincts had pricked at her as she'd quietly followed him around the building into the alley. There was something off, but between his open computer bag and the shiny gold watch on his wrist, she couldn't help herself. It had been over a week since her last good hit and she was getting desperate. She couldn't just let someone else take such an easy get.
She was almost within touching distance when she heard the quiet roll of the tires against the asphalt. She bit into her lip; it was tempting to continue following, but that little voice, the one that had never let her down, was telling her to let it go.
Resigning herself to the loss of such a seemingly easy mark, she was beginning to turn away when she felt strong fingers clamp around her wrist.
"Where you going Sweetheart?"
The shock of being caught only lasted a moment, before she aimed a swift boot to his groin that left him on the pavement, but she didn't stop to enjoy the view. By the rolling sound of the van door and the clamoring of booted men, she knew her troubles weren't over.
Ignoring the direction she came, she turned again, letting her feet carry her further into the alley. A hollow sound cut through the air and she felt something sting her calf, but she ignored it. She could check it later, she needed to get off the street and fast.
The alley was nearly empty, long and narrow with tall straight walls, something she had overlooked in search of easy prey and her heart was beginning to beat double at the realization. She didn't have the time to feel regret at her foolish ambition as she continued to move and scan the alleyway. A spark of hope suddenly bloomed in her chest as her eyes landed on the beautiful rungs of a drawn up fire escape.
It felt miles away as she doubled her speed, preparing to launch herself at her last means of escape, but as she neared the ladder her legs began to shake. Nearly breathless, she jumped for the bottom wrong only to feel it barely brush the tips of her fingers. She stumbled, her knees almost buckling as she made impact with the ground. Something suddenly felt very wrong.
Gruff voices and heavy breathing compelled her to jump again, but her limbs felt like they were full of lead, like she was trying to jump through water. Feeling her knees begin to give, she stumbled into the brick wall of the building beside her.
Her vision was swimming and the world began to tilt. Blinking, she glanced behind her and could just make out three men walking in her direction. Their gate was deceptively calm, but she knew different. Using the wall she moved, stumbling, and gripping every available groove to propel her along.
She had to keep moving.
"I think you may have to shoot this one again," drawled a male voice from somewhere close.
Had they shot her? She didn't feel shot. Nauseous and exhausted, but not shot.
She swallowed, digging her nails into a tiny groove as she moved another step forward.
"Think it's safe?" asked a familiar voice. Was it the man with the shiny watch?
"Yeah, the lil' bitch aint got much left in her."
She could hear their footsteps approaching slow and muffled. She didn't turn to face them, she couldn't spare the energy. Fighting the bile at the back of her throat, she blinked at the empty alley ahead of her. She couldn't run.
This was it. If she was gonna get away she had to find another way.
Taking a series of deep breaths, she stood still, she conserved, she prepared. She smelt him, cheap cologne and cigarette smoke, before he reached her, and the moment she felt fingers against her arm, she swung at him, her fist connecting with his eye socket. She couldn't even enjoy his howl of pain as her legs finally gave up and she crumpled to the ground. Her arm barely saving her from a cracked skull as she landed curled onto her side.
"Feisty little thing isn't she," someone laughed.
She had to move. She had to run. She tried to push herself back up, but even her neck had stopped supporting her head.
"Feisty?" growled the thug she'd blinded, and she barely felt the boot landing against her side turning her onto her back. "I'm gonna gut the stupid little c-"
"That's enough." ordered a third voice, a stern voice. "Hands off the merch!"
She felt something mist against her cheek and she could only assume she'd been spit on. She stared up at the quickly fading black sky and the thick clouds that always seemed to hang over her city. She could hear the sounds of the van, the men moving around, and suddenly someone was leaning down beside her. She struggled to keep her eyes open, the world minimized to a fuzzy titling slit, as someone lifted her, her body thrown like a rag doll over their shoulder.
"All right, put her in with the rest," was the last thing she heard before the world went black.
The first thing Selina Kyle realized as she swam back to consciousness was that wherever she was it was cold, dark and empty. She grimaced against the constant pounding in her head as she tried to stand up only to slide back down her muscles not quite ready to cooperate yet.
Leaning back against the stone wall, she turned her head from side to side, taking in what she could in the darkness. It was windowless and narrow, barely more room than the twin mattress she was sitting on and the large bucket that sat in one corner. Her vision lingered longer on the site, but she chose to overlook it, and her eyes continued to adjust and scan the walls.
She felt a welcome rush of energy cut through her exhaustion as her eyes landed on the archway. Quickly crawling toward it, she gripped the cold black bars feeling her way up to the lock and felt a wave of disappointment almost overwhelm her. It was something she'd never seen before, solid and well built and above her skill level. She knew without looking that she had nothing to pick it with nor would she even know how.
Feeling her heart beginning to quicken, she abandoned the lock and ignoring the pointlessness started to jerk at the bars, using as much of her weight as possible, and nearly cried out at the hopelessness.
She couldn't be caged. She just couldn't.