A/N: Part of the CATverse, which, if you don't know what that is...what, have you been under a rock for the past six months or something? See http/ www . freewebs . com / bitemetechie / catverse . html (get rid of the spaces) for the official timeline. This story isn't on it yet...because I came up with it this morning at five or so when I was sipping too much coffee and conferring with Bright Nova, but when it does get on there (curse my laziness), you'll find it in August after Chapel Of Lurve. Onwards!

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Gotham city, more than most other cities, was a land of opportunists. While America was known around the globe as the land of opportunity, Gotham was, without a doubt, the land of opportunists. Hustlers, rustlers, thieves and conmen all found a home in Gotham city. The streets were so thick with them that you couldn't go five feet without running into a pickpocket or someone who ran a floating crap game on the side. It was just the way of things. Most people didn't notice right away when their jackets got just a slight bit lighter, due largely to the fact that most con artists in the area were so good at what they did that you didn't realize you were being had until you'd given away your life savings, house, hearth and the family dog with your blessings. They were that good.

Of course, there were the more ostentatious criminals to be found--aside from the costume wearing variety, that is--the televangelists selling 'blessed' paper napkins to blue haired little old ladies were a perfect example. These were the people with get rich quick schemes, who cashed in on the hard work and lifelong dedication of other people without so much as a backwards glance or second thought to morals of integrity. All that mattered to them was money and the acquisition thereof.

As a general rule in Gotham, criminals could be divided into three separate groups. No matter what anyone said, that's all there was to it. Three groups of distinctly different types of people who were classified by society as 'criminal'.

First there is the casual criminal. The kid who steals a pack of gum, the guy who robs a convenience store because it's easy money, the girl who snatches a pair of bright red panties from a display because nobody's looking at that particular moment in time...

Casual crimes, casual criminals. All of them speaking of convenience and nothing else. Easy money is their foremost concern.

After the casual criminal there is the desperate criminal. This is the one who acts when they have no other conceivable choice except to turn to a life of crime. Vagrants, the guy who loses his job, wife, house and car all in the same week and holds up grandma because he needs to eat…they're the sob stories and the poor S.O.B.'s that become the human interest bits on the local news.

Finally, there's the professional criminal. This is the one category where criminal behavior is an art form, lived out only by those people in the world who dedicate their entire lives to crime, honing their skills, practicing their arts and sharpening their wits, tools and techniques until they have all the precision of a surgical instrument.

Sadly, though they did make the news more often, professional criminals were rare in comparison to the sheer volume of casual criminals. It was like plane crashes in comparison to car crashes. Though there are more people terrified of flying and winding up dead in a twisted pile of metal at the bottom of an ocean, the fact of the matter is you're more likely to die on the car ride to the airport than you are to die on the plane. So it was with Gotham's villainous populace. For every costumed madman who did large amounts of shocking damage in one fell swoop, there were twenty con artist 'casual criminals' whose smaller misdeeds were more detrimental to the city.

All the Joker could do was take your life or your sanity. A good con artist could take your livelihood; house, car and every penny in your wallet just because he wants more out of life and doesn't care if he has to take it from somebody else to reach his goal.

Tammy Wilcox was one such person. A hopeful novelist who had yet to get her 'big break', tired of the daily grind and hard work that came with the world of prose, she took every shortcut she could, hoping to get as much money accrued as possible before she died. Never mind the fact that she couldn't take it with her. Even if money couldn't buy happiness, she figured she could at least rent it for awhile.

With the anonymous publication of Diary Of A Henchgirl, Tammy saw a perfect way to bolster her writing career, which up until then, had consisted of trashy novels written under a nom de plume that she wouldn't even admit to having any affiliation with under threat of torture or severed limb. They paid the bills (barely), but her sensationalist mentality towards writing and her tendency to lean towards purple prose and insipid dialogue would keep her trapped in the world of pulp novels for the rest of her days if she didn't find a way out soon.

She was a talent less hack, to be frank, and like all talent less hacks, she sought to make herself look good by implementing that most popular method of gaining fame and fortune.

Theft.

Diary Of A Henchgirl was published anonymously. Not even the publisher knew the identity of the author and the book was such a success it had sold upwards of three million copies in Gotham alone, not to mention the other cities where it had taken the bestsellers list by storm.

With 'Diary', there was the opportunity for that thing which all aspiring authors crave with all the hunger of a starving man.

Legitimacy, fame, fortune and recognition were all but a single white lie away.

And Tammy was such a good liar…

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It took three months and more charm than Tammy thought she possessed, but she finally managed to get a meeting with Mister Clinton Gillinsby, head of Gillinsby Publishing House, with a fresh manuscript tucked under her arm.

She'd done her research. She knew every detail of Diary Of A Henchgirl inside and out, and could easily copy (and improve upon, in her opinion) the original author's style. With her web of lies spun so artfully it could make any self respecting spider jealous of the skill involved, she convinced poor naïve Clinton that she was the anonymous author of 'Diary' and that she'd come forward with a new text, promising that it would get to be bigger than the first volume had been.

Tammy even graciously said that she wouldn't ask for more than five percent of the profits from the sales of the first tome, provided that she got full compensation for the second one.

Clinton was a nice enough guy, but he was a bit lacking upstairs when there was a beautiful woman sitting across from him, fluttering her eyelashes and gnawing at her bottom lip provocatively every few moments as she told him just how much money he could make from the newer, better sequel to Diary Of A Henchgirl.

He could almost see dollar signs and hear the KACHING! of a cash register over his raging libido.

Almost.

Either way, Tammy and Clinton struck a deal, wound up in bed together (or, more precisely, on Clinton's desk and oh wasn't that desk calendar comfortable when it was imbedded in one's back?), contracts were signed and 'The Secret Diary Of A Henchgirl' was slated for publication and release with Tammy coming away from the transaction several thousand dollars richer.

Clinton walked away with the assurances that the sequel was going to be bigger than the original

Too bad for Clinton that he never learned the ultimate entertainment lesson…

The sequel might cause a sensation, but in the end, it always pales in comparison to the original.