Chapter 4: Cat's Cradle
Kissing Selina Kyle wasn't a new experience for him. He'd done it numerous times, both as Bruce Wayne and Batman. His first impulse, as it always was with her, was to kiss back. But he never worked on impulses. And he hated being surprised.
He grabbed her arms to pull her away from him. Apparently, he wasn't the only one who'd had this idea.
Catwoman let out a small gasp as she was yanked backwards and up. Batman tilted his head back to see Selina suspended in mid-air by the same lasso that had subdued Cheetah. Diana was hovering a few feet above, gripping the golden ends, a frown etched onto her mouth. Damn it.
"What the hell are you doing?" Selina yelled up to her captor
"I won't stand by while my teammate is being attacked."
"Attacked?" Selina laughed as she grabbed the lasso above her head. "You really are from an island with no men." She pulled hard on the rope.
Diana held firm. "You can struggle, but it'll do you no good. This lasso was forged from the gold of Olympus and cannot be broken."
"Oh, I'm not trying to break it," Catwoman said, extending her petite legs forward, backward and then forward again. The pensile rope moved back and forth with her actions, providing her with the momentum she needed to swing upward. She pointed her toes, and before Diana could react, she delivered a kick to her midsection. The force of the impact caused Wonder Woman to drop the ends she was holding.
With the lasso still attached around her waist, Catwoman curled herself into a small ball, preparing to flip and then gracefully land on the ground. A cat always landed on its feet. Before she was able to execute her maneuver, however, the lasso constricted against her stomach, and she felt her torso jerk upwards again. Casting a glance behind her, she saw Wonder Woman once again holding the end of the rope.
"You recover fast," Selina told her, "but don't worry, I've got plenty more where that came fro-"
"Enough!" Both women looked away from each other and back to the man they'd forgotten on the ground. His face was hard, and his mouth a thin line. "Diana, put her down."
Wonder Woman's mouth flew open, while Selina folded her arms and smirked. "You heard the man, Diana. Down I go."
Diana ignored her. "But she's a common criminal!"
"Common?" Selina uncrossed her arms and bared her razor sharp fingernails. "I ought to tear a hole in your-"
"I said enough," Batman growled again. "Diana, let her go. She's not here to fight." He gave Selina a pointed look, warning her against trying anything.
Diana glared at him, looking like she was going to argue. Instead, she slackened her hold, and let the lasso drop Selina to the ground. Catwoman landed lightly, yanking the rope from around her body and tossing it back up to Diana. The Amazon caught it and refastened it to her waist as she landed behind Selina.
"Why are you here, Selina?"
"Can't a girl just drop in to say hello?" She leaned casually against the Batmobile.
He wondered how she'd been able to get into the vehicle again. He'd increased its security features the last time she'd done so, but apparently not enough. Selina always found a way to breach his defenses; he fluctuated between liking and hating her for that. "No."
She frowned at him. "Always the pessimist." One side of her mouth slowly lifted. "That's what I love about you. It keeps me honest."
"How wonderful for you." Diana placed her hands on her hips, narrowing her eyebrows.
Catwoman glared at Diana, and then back at Batman. "Where'd you pick her up?" She asked, jerking a thumb in Wonder Woman's direction. "Ms. America swimsuit cont-?"
"Why are you here?" Batman interrupted. Allowing Diana to be further taunted would not be a good idea.
Selina pushed her hips off the Batmobile first, cocking her head to the side. "I already told you." Pulling the rest of her body off the car, she stepped lightly towards Batman, gently leaning against him once at his side. She put her left arm around his neck, and gently traced the bat on his chest with her right. "It's our anniversary. Seven years ago today, was the first time we met."
Batman's mouth stayed in a firm line. "You were trying to steal something, and I was trying to stop you."
"See, you do remember," she purred. "I guess it was burned into your mind too. We always were quite the pair, weren't we? Two lovers, trapped on opposite sides of the law, both fighting for justice. It's quite poetic, don't you think?" She tilted her head, looking back at Diana with a slight smile on her face.
Diana hands remained on her hips, and she ignored Catwoman's grin. "We should take her to the police," she told Batman forcefully.
"No?" Both women asked simultaneously. Catwoman's surprise melted into a smile, Diana's into a scowl.
"She hasn't done anything wrong."
Diana met the hard slits in his cowl. "Yet."
"She won't do anything wrong."
"You can be so sure about that?"
His tone was so confident, so final, that Diana could think of little to say in rebuttal. It made her blood boil. "Fine." She uncrossed her arms and fisted them at her side. "I should go. You seem to have everything under control here." She turned sharply on the heel of her boot, ready to life herself off the ground.
"Diana." She turned to look at him from her position three feet off the ground. He didn't speak again, and if she hadn't known any better, she would have thought he was unsure of what else to say.
Finally, he nodded to her, and she found herself slowly nodding back. Her early anger dissipated as she looked at him. "Contact me if you need anything." She took one last look at Catwoman, who had unwrapped herself from Batman and was now standing on her own. She couldn't help the small frown that tugged at her lips.
Catwoman watched the retreating back of the Amazon with slightly raised eyebrows. Through the corner of her eye she could tell that Batman was doing the same. Well, this was certainly a new development.
She turned her body to face him, hands placed gently at her hips. "She doesn't really seem your type." Her voice didn't sound as indifferent as she hoped it would.
He didn't answer her, but she hadn't really expected him to. That was the dichotomy of their relationship. They were close, but not ever personal.
"Selina." His voice was pointed. This was a question and warning rolled into one.
She raised her hands in mock capitulation. "Hey, don't worry. I'll be on my best behavior." She crossed her pinky over her heart. "I promise, nothing funny."
He looked at her for a second, and then nodded.
"I might have information."
"It's nothing concrete, but I thought you should know about it. Think of it as an anniversary present."
He nodded again, before glancing quickly at the alley they still stood in. "Not here. Let's go."
She felt the fabric of his cape brush against her body as he moved quickly towards the sleek car behind them. The touch was gentle, subtle, just like it always had been.
"Get in." His gruff order forced her back into reality. He was already seated in the driver's seat, and was watching her, waiting for her to sit too.
She smirked and lightly lifted herself over the passenger side door and into the black leather chair. "I like this, is it new?" she asked, patting the upholstery.
He closed the over-hatch and gunned the accelerator.
"There's been a lot of activity recently. Underground." She had her legs curled under her so that she could face him as she spoke. Her head rested against her gloved palm.
"What kind of activity?"
"I don't know for certain, but it's big. With a huge payday for those involved."
"Involved?" She let out a short laugh. "No. They've picked up some heavy hitters—Hatter, Scarecrow, Crock—but I was left off the recruitment list."
"You sound disappointed."
"Well, if someone thinks I'm not a top tier player," she flexed her palm and released her claws, "I want to give them a chance to change their mind."
"And you think I'm going to help you?"
"It's mutually beneficial, darling. You get the glory of stopping the bad guys, and I get a balm for my wounded pride. Everybody wins."
"When you're involved, Selina, somehow it's only you who ends up winning."
"Well," she said picking at the fabric of her jumpsuit, "a girls gotta' do what a girls gotta' do." When his face remained stony, the smile melted from hers. He used to enjoy playing the game. Now...she couldn't really tell if he was still playing or not.
"You've changed, Selina. You used to have a cause." He's tone was clinical, but he might as well have been scolding her like a little girl. "Now you'll settle for being a hired gun."
She pushed herself straighter in the chair, feeling more than a little defensive. "Just save those morals you like to dish out for Robin or Nightwing. I don't need them. I have my own reasons for doing what I do. So don't talk to me like I've sold out, because you don't even know me." Her words had become more heated than she'd intended, but she hadn't been able to help herself. He just had a way of pushing her as of late. She hated that this was what they'd become.
He was quiet for a long time, and she thought that that would be the end of the conversation. But his deep voice cut through the silence. "You're right," he confirmed with quiet intensity, "These days, I don't know you." And before she had time to process what he said, he changed the subject. "You have a plan." It wasn't a question.
She smiled hesitantly, extending the proverbial olive branch. "More like a lead. I know two more people who are involved. Maybe we should go pay them a visit?"
"I think that's a good idea."
"Just like old times, huh?" She said, trying to push aside the tension in the car. "Head towards the south end."
He frowned, and she knew that he was making the connection. "The old greenhouse."
"Wonder what the girls could be up to in there."
To Be Continued…