The Onion Metaphor
Disclaimer: Not mine. Sadly.
Summary: "I encourage you to take out your aggression on idiots. It's therapeutic and they deserve it." Selina doesn't deal with her issues. Bruce and Eddie oblige.
Notes: AU. Really. There are other Bruce/Selina/Eddie fics but you don't have to read them. I had no beta, so all mistakes are my own and I'm sorry.
Arthur Brown was not, as he claimed, a man gifted with an overwhelming intellect. This was especially apparent when he had imbibed a bit too much alcohol and decided to start drinking with and thus talking to Tom Blake. Selina could understand, to a degree – it was difficult not to feel superior when one was forced to interact with the Catman—but it certainly did not provide an excuse for doing something incredibly stupid. Strolling up to the Riddler and informing him that he was a barely literate ape with the brain power of a defective lab rat, for example.
Eddie hadn't been drinking, so the fallout wasn't as bad as it could have been if both participants were impaired. Personally, Selina wouldn't put much stalk in getting out alive if one insulted the same man who had strapped a bomb to you and left it up to the Batman to save your life, but that was just her opinion. She'd also been drinking, so said opinion didn't take much precedence in her thoughts when Blake figured it'd be a good idea to come join to party. It started with verbal jabs, as one might expect from this particular group. She wasn't quite sure, after, what had sparked the physical, but it didn't really matter in the long run, nor did the fact that she just might have been the one to start it.
"You two, you're the obnoxious drunks. Very cliché, really. We're just the violent psychotics. No need to worry." Selina waited just long enough to see Blake's eyes widen before she launched herself, claws first, across the pool table.
In her defense, it was Blake.
She'd had a very bad week. Bruce was out of town on unavoidable business and Eddie had disappeared with nothing more than a neatly written 'back on Thursday' taped to the inside of her door. Not even a riddle, which had immediately drawn her concern, but he wasn't talking. Monday night she'd decided that hitting the new diamond store would be a good way to keep herself amused. Bruce would never know. That was a lie, she knew, but he'd known what he'd been getting himself into when they started this relationship and he would just have to deal with it. The owners were either painfully oblivious or horrifically confident, having all of the stock blatantly displayed in the windows, with both a cat pendant and a yin yang pendant in prominent positions. They were also lying about the value and cut of their product, which angered Selina on principle. It was Monday the 13'th, around three AM. There was no possible way she could have predicted that Two Face would strike at almost the exact moment she'd chosen.
Harvey Dent's darker side was not subtle, nor was he particularly concerned with the preservation of human life. He definitely did not give a damn that Cat Woman was there first and had just as much right to be there as he did. The night had ended with her running from the police and on the bad side of one of Gotham's more violent Rogues. She'd landed at Slam's place, just to make her night that little bit better as she implicated him in yet more criminal activities. But the police hadn't found her and she'd managed to get the pendant (both of them, because she was feeling petty) and while the evening was nowhere near a success, it was better than many alternatives.
She stayed with the detective while he worked on his most recent case. A pair of twin sisters who had been taken from the back yard of their white picket fence house in the suburbs. According to the father, the police were doing nothing because they'd been paid off by the Mob. Privately Selina had doubts the size of the Min Shan Mountain, but she kept them to herself. They found the children Wednesday morning. Their bodies had been sliced into ribbons of rotting flesh, white bone poking up obscenely through the soggy mess. They'd been left in the sewer, dumped on a metal walkway like so much trash, faces virtually unrecognizable due to the amount of mutilation. She'd fled the scene before the police arrived, returning to her own apartment to throw up.
She'd seen worse. Her life was entwined with some of the most dangerous psychopaths in the country. She was certainly not unfamiliar with the destruction of the innocence of children. Logically, she knew that this should not effect her to the degree that it did. Logic did nothing to stop her mind wandering back to the brutal scene over and over again. She'd found out later that the time of death had been placed over a week beforehand, which would explain the signs of scavengers and that one tiny bloated hand, floating in the water like a gruesome puppet, only attached to the arm by tattered skin and tendons.
She felt that her hair-trigger temper was justified. They were kicked out bloody and bruised, but Selina was laughing as she balanced against the wall of the alley. Eddie just looked angry and in pain. She caught his fingers in her own and pulled him closer, nuzzling his shoulder. "Meow?"
He winced. "I think I've dislocated my shoulder. I should have killed him when I had the chance."
She shrugged. "That's what you get when you go up against the Bat."
Eddie turned away. "I liked life when it wasn't complicated by emotions."
She laughed openly. "They do have a nasty way of fucking things up, don't they? Welcome to my world."
He limped away and she went back to her apartment, miscalculating one jump so badly that she came very close to taking a fifty story dive on her way. Holly was sitting on her sofa with a box of Corn Pops and a sardonic little smile. "Would this be one of those cases of 'do as I say, not as I do'?"
Selina shook her head, which was starting to pound rather badly. "No. I encourage you to take out your aggression on idiots. It's therapeutic and they deserve it."
She went into the bathroom to wash up and change. Her phone rang just as she was pulling on a tee-shirt. Looking down at the call display, she came close to laughing aloud.
"Welcome home, Bruce. Whatever you've heard, it's not true."
"Would The Riddler lie to me?'
"Yes," she responded promptly. "What the hell is he doing there?"
"I think he was hoping that Alfred would patch him up. And, you know, he's a loving boyfriend. That too."
"We back in grade school?" She ran a brush through her hair as she talked, jerking at the knots fiercely.
"What would you prefer I call him? Lover sounds far too elicit."
"Like we aren't? And besides, I wasn't talking about that. Playing the guilt card won't work with me and you know it."
Bruce choked on the other end of the phone line. "If that's what makes you feel better."
She hung up on him.
The next morning found her perched on a stool in the Wayne kitchen, drinking fantastic coffee and watching Alfred bake banana bread. The scent of cinnamon wafted through the warm air and the rich sound of a symphony floated from the small radio on the counter. It was one of the most awkward experiences she'd had in her entire life.
She was bored. When she had arrived at Wayne Manner shortly before eleven AM she was greeted by the butler, who informed her that Bruce and Eddie were still in bed. She'd spent an hour in the library, killing time until they awoke, but by noon she had given up on books and started pacing the halls, exploring the seemingly endless rooms in the mansion, all of them meticulously clean and equally as impersonal. She had wandered into the kitchen because she had nothing better to do. Her relationship with Alfred was a strained one. She knew that he did not approve of his employer's choice in lovers, and yet the older man greatly wished Bruce to be happy. Alfred was, however, still a gentleman and thus Selina had found herself plied with coffee and muffins and really, she couldn't just walk out after such a generous, if awkward, welcome. They had tried to make conversation, but their mutual interests extended no farther than historical art and Bruce Wayne, though not in that order.
The rules of common courtesy dictated that she stay at least half an hour. She folded her hands and smiled at the back of the old man's head. Five minutes later the door to the kitchen swung open and Bruce entered, appearing still half asleep. She slid off of her stool and crossed to him, wrapping her arms around him. "Good morning, sleepy head."
"It's still early," he retorted, returning the embrace.
"Nocturnal, I know. Where's Eddie?"
Bruce shrugged. "When I left he'd already filled about a quarter of my legal pad. I don't want to know what he's doing."
She grinned. "So what did he tell you about last night?"
"My trip was fine, thank you for asking. I think the merger is going to be very profitable in the long run, though there may be a few snags along the way. With the market the way it is right now there's a mild risk inherent in any kind of overseas investing, but I'm confident that by this time next year everything will be running smoothly."
"Fantastic. Wonderful. I love you. What did he say?'
Bruce walked over to the coffee pot. "Good morning, Alfred."
"Good morning, Master Bruce."
Selina tapped her foot. Bruce poured his coffee and turned back to her. "Why do you care so much?"
"I don't. But he likely blamed me for parts of it." This was a very weak excuse and she knew it, but the longer she could put off the inevitable conversations about her heist or the murder the happier she would be.
"He mentioned that Arthur Brown and Tom Blake were causing some problems, and that you two… took care of it." She didn't need to look at him to know that he was frowning.
"Selina, what don't you want me to know? I've already spent the last eight hours being shut out by Edward and I'm not in the mood to deal with your games right now."
Her eyebrows arched. "My games, Bruce?" Her tongue darted out over her lips. "I wasn't aware we were playing."
Bruce was not comfortable flirting in front of Alfred with anyone who wasn't a brainless bimbo used solely to further his playboy façade. This was one of those facts that Selina rather enjoyed taking advantage of. She stepped closer, tilting her head to the side.
"Two Face hit a diamond store on Monday," Bruce commented in a seeming non-sequitur. She tensed automatically but forced her muscles to relax. He wouldn't do anything. They had an agreement and she had won fair and square.
"Mmm. Did they catch him?"
"Don't, Selina." Bruce ran a hand through his hair in frustration. Alfred placed the loaf pan in the oven and walked calmly out of the kitchen. An outside observer would have considered his actions to be out of respect for their privacy. Selina knew better. The put-upon expression on the butler's face had made it obvious that he considered their semi-argument to be tiresome and superfluous. She wondered if she could just walk out as well, find a blanket to hide under until the week was over.
"Bruce, I came here because I've had a fucking horrible week and I would like to spend the day with the men I love in order to remind myself that the universe is capable of being kind and fair. I'm not going to fight with you. I'm not going to apologize and I'm not going to try and prove that I'm right. We both know the facts and that's all there is to it."
She stepped past him to the coffee pot, letting her entire body brush up against his side. His hand rested against her hip. "I--"
The door to the kitchen swung partly open and Eddie poked his head in, looking distracted. "I'm redesigning your operating system on the cave's central computer for increased efficiency," he told Bruce. "Hi, Selina." The door closed. Bruce stared at it. Selina tried not to laugh and failed.
"He can't--" Bruce shook his head and headed off in pursuit. Selina took time to add cream to her coffee (taking an extra few seconds to damn Eddie for influencing the way she took her coffee) and by the time she found Bruce and Eddie in the library they were deep in a full blown argument conducted in half sentences, scribbled equations and meaningless, frantic hand gestures. She settled herself in a deep leather chair to watch the fireworks. She couldn't actually make sense of what they were fighting about, but the way Bruce got more and more stoically grumpy and Eddie's words got faster and faster as he became more high-strung provided a great deal of amusement. She was content to remain the observer, to sit back and let the two of them play their own private game.
She was pretty sure that Bruce won. They both knew that kissing Eddie was an excellent way to shut him up, and Bruce took full advantage of this fact about ten minutes into the argument. She insinuated herself between them when it turned to more than kissing.
"sex in the Batcave?" Selina sing-songed temptingly, jerking her head toward the grandfather clock. Eddie winced, rubbing his shoulder. Bruce muttered something --probably related to mixing business with pleasure-- and pulled them both out of the room.
They did not discuss the diamond store, nor was their any mention of the murders, but when Selina woke from nightmares of small shredded bodies lying in puddles of blood and muck, they held her between them in silence, kisses pressed to her hair and skin until she fell back into slumber. It may not have been the healthiest way of dealing with the situation. Selina didn't care; the day she sat down to converse about her issues would be the day that the Joker decided to volunteer at seniors Bingo Night. They each had their secrets, their own thoughts that would never see the light of day. Respect represented a great portion of their love, as did trust. Without that, they were nothing.