It wasn't a dream, of course. So Selina leaves behind her life of crime, more or less. Because now she has the money to do things, really good things, without needing to obtain funds through less than legal means. It's not necessarily as fun, mind you, but a hell of a lot easier on her body and her lifespan.

The years that follow are bright years for Selina, perhaps the happiest of her life. The deceased Bruce Wayne makes headlines when it is discovered that he willed Wayne Manor to a school for orphaned boys. Selina is more discreet about her philanthropy, opening small shelters for strays, both of the human and animal sort, in an attempt to preserve the innocence in others that she never had the chance to preserve in herself.

Since Bruce Wayne's estate takes care of Gotham's orphaned boys, Selina begins to focus her efforts on girls, girls like herself, who were on the streets from a young age and quickly got in too deep to get back out again. She opens homes and schools for them, first in Gotham, then abroad as she begins to understand the power and influence that comes with serious cash.

She hires Judith full-time to help her with these things; the hag's hard edges have softened considerably since the old days, and she is loved and revered by the girls, despite her sometimes brusque manners and unkind tongue. Selina hires teachers to give the girls an education, not only academic but also in the things that Selina deems important; self-defense, athleticism, useful real-world skills of various sorts…

Sometimes, Selina remembers Bane. The smell of mint or wintergreen unexpected always sets her heart racing with anxiety and something else that she can't quite place (and doesn't want to anyway). The last vial of his anaesthetic she keeps in a drawer in her office, where its smell tickles her nose once in a while, on rainy days especially.

The city – and the country – remember Bane for a long time. Tremendous amounts of money are wasted trying to find the man, once searchers realize that he does not number among the dead and that his body is nowhere to be found in the sewers. The searches are fruitless and over the years eventually they slow, and, finally, come to a stop. He is presumed dead, or otherwise so far away and so bereft of resources that he is no longer a threat to the city. Babies are born and grow with no recollection of Bane's near-cataclysm, and people begin to start looking forward instead of back.


And so Selina blinks and one day eight years have passed since she saved Gotham from Bane, and Bane from himself.

She is hard at work, making a newly-bought duplex feel more like a home for the 15 or so girls that will live there. They will be watched over by a handful of the girls (young women now) that she saved from the Black Spades so many years ago, who are now old enough to help her run the place and serve as mentors to the younger ones.

Her phone buzzes expectantly at her just as she is in the process of hanging a mirror in one of the bathrooms. It is Judith, who never calls just to chitchat, so Selina puts down the mirror and picks up.

"Yes?" says Selina.

A chorus of distant "Hi Selina"s cause her to hold the phone away from her ear with a grimace. Jesus, they're loud.

"Sorry," comes Judith's customary croak through the speaker. "The girls knew I was callin' you. You in the new place today?"

"Yeah," says Selina. "Unpacking – putting stuff together – hammering my fingers for fun. You know."

"You know we've hired people to do that, right?"

"Yes, I know, thank you," says Selina. "Today I wanted to be alone."

"Alone? S'too bad for you," says Judith. "I'm sendin' a guy over. He replied to one of our ads about the training for the girls. Says he's an expert in hand-to-hand combat and a whole shitload of martial arts… whatcha call'em, jiu-jootsu, tay-quan-doh… I'm not good with them Chinese things."

Selina tries not to laugh at Judith's creative pronunciations. "What were his qualifications?"

"Didn't ask," says Judith. "I figured you'd put him through his paces. See if he's legit."

Selina shakes her head, but can't help the flicker of amusement that flits across her face. Depend on Judith to schedule a fist-fight for her on a Friday afternoon.

"I sent him over for five," says Judith. "That work?"

"I'll be here," says Selina, just barely stopping the mirror from crashing to the floor with her foot. "I'm hanging up now. I almost dropped the phone into the toilet."

Judith laughs her wheezy laugh. "Alright. He ain't a pretty boy, mind. Scarred-like. But he's built like a brick shithouse. You'll like him."

"I'm sure," says Selina, though her tone says the contrary. Whatever – she'll spar with the guy and decide whether or not to hire him depending on whether he lasts 30 seconds or five minutes.

She busies herself with unpacking more boxes of new stuff for the rest of the afternoon. It is heavy work, but she deliberately arranged to be by herself as she did it. Her moments of solitude and peace are few these days, since she officially became a do-gooder, with a foundation in her name, and actual staff, and all this white-collar stuff… it still blows her mind sometimes, her transformation from philanthropist thief to philanthropist billionaire. She knows who she has to thank for it; she thinks of it every time she spends his money.

Something about the conversation with Judith niggles at her a little, but she cannot place it. She pushes it from her mind and occupies herself with dragging furniture in place, filling cupboards with canned goods, making sure all the bathrooms have an adequate supply of toilet paper, stretching fresh new sheets on mattresses… and still her mind returns to the innocuous conversation, Judith's casual description of the guy, scarred-like, and built like a brick shithouse. And this self-proclaimed expertise in hand-to-hand and martial arts…

She knows that she's being silly. And yet, inexplicably, she also feels hopeful. And, more inexplicably, it feels like a thousand butterflies have taken residence in her tummy.

It isn't him. She's being stupid. It can't be.

Can it?

At precisely five o'clock, the doorbell rings.