"Taken down on February 2nd," Harvey Dent's visitor said aloud as she wrote the words on his cast, "You really are Fate's bitch."
"Don't be catty, Selina," he objected. He would have liked to point a finger at her, tsk-tsk style, to hammer the point home. But the traction table that held his limbs fast made any such movement a pipe dream. Instead, he opted for eloquence: "From the riffraff of the Arkham Infirmary, we expect scorn and abuse for our misfortune. Only this morning, Catman organized a game of ringtoss around this cat's cradle of weights and pulleys, the object being to bring the cast on our left leg into contact with the cast on our right arm. From his kind, we expect this treatment—no less so because he does have a certain grievance connected with being left at the side of the road somewhere in the Carolinas with a stolen BMW and a neo-nazi auto mechanic name of Billy Bob Jonah Jim—but from you, Selina, we hoped for a little sympathy."
Cold green eyes surveyed him dispassionately. It made Harvey uncomfortable. It made Two-Face horny.
"Sympathy? After what you did? You're lucky I didn't bring the claws."
"When did Pussycat become such a prude?" his darker half asked. "We've done worse. What did we do that's so terrible, roughed up Bridge & Tunnel Boy a little?"
"It's not what you did to Nightwing," Selina insisted, eying the knob that controlled tension on the traction table, "It's why you did it. Harvey, really, the Tattler? The Gotham Tattler. You BELIEVED something in one of those gossip rags!"
"He told me to do it—No, we didn't—Yes, you did!" came the frantic reply.
Selina sighed. What the tabloids had written, what some continued to write, about Catwoman was too repugnant to utter. She didn't care about fools, the ignorant mob, but in her own circle, she took citing tabloids as a personal insult.
And then there was Bruce.
Even if she put the Tattler angle aside, there was no question Harvey's little stunt extended Hell Month. Every night Batman returned to the cave without finding Nightwing, his fury compounded. Rage and fear merged into a dread that could bore through solid rock, through time and space, through human flesh… a dread that could fasten to the spinal column and shake a soul into a gibbering mass of slime. She'd seen him do it: to an Iceberg snitch, a Crips tagger, a Maroni soldier, and a homeless guy who did nothing more than take a refrigerator box from the alley where Nightwing's communicator was found. She'd never understood the way other criminals fear Batman – but she'd never seen what he became in Hell Month… nor when someone he loved was threatened.
How was she supposed to ignore that? Write it off as one of Harvey's little quirks?
No, Harvey was her friend and she would always love him as such. But he needed to be punished. It was that simple. Batman got to take his shot, and now it was her turn.
Glancing at the knob again, Selina assured herself the tension was such that Harvey couldn't move his arms more than an inch to either side. Then she smiled…
…for what he did to Bruce, for what he did to Dick…
She reached into her coat, and took out the gift.
…and for what he did to her, nine nights of Hell…
"It took some doing to get these for you, Harvey. They had to be specially made; only one man knows how to do it. And he wasn't at all sympathetic when I told him who they were for, so I had to ask very nicely…"
She removed the napkin covering the basket and a rich, heavenly aroma tickled Harvey's nostrils.
"Double dipped, double chocolate chip. These are simply the best cookies ever made… Doesn't that smell delicious? I'll leave them right here on this sidetable. Enjoy!"
©2003, Chris Dee
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Adventures continue when
James Gordon traces his roots