CATverse A/N: Hey, don't know what the CATverse is? Go to catverse. com to find out.

A/N: This was born, oh, ages ago, I suppose. I wasn't going to finish it, for reasons that were my own, but the Captain got wind of the idea and got all excited, so I had to finish it. It's tacked to the end of the companion stories Masque and Calamity, in arc five.

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Generally speaking, a ball gown is not proper jogging attire. Furthermore, a pair of pumps—no matter how sensible the heel—are not a suitable replacement for a pair of sneakers. Dashing across Wayne Manor's grounds, blue taffeta hitched up to her thighs, trying to keep her footing with Nightwing hot on her peacock tail, Techie was more aware of those two facts than she'd ever been before. Oh, she could run in heels—it was her opinion that any woman who was going to wear the things should have been required by law to learn how—but running in heels on an uneven surface? Yeah. Not so much.

She knew it was only a matter of time before he caught up with her. His athletic ability was clearly superior, and she'd always been more of a sprinter than a long distance runner, but since her revolver was spent, she decided to take her chances. Ignoring the pain in her side, she ran as fast as she possibly could without tripping and falling on her face. Her kneecaps protested the brutal movement as she leapt over one of the short hedges, losing a piece of her crinoline underskirt in the process. The material snagged, tore and ripped free as she made her escape.

Techie stumbled, caught herself and started running again. She cursed the few seconds lead she'd just lost with her clumsiness and further swore inside her head as she staggered across the lawn. The ground sloped downward ever so slightly the closer she got to the wrought iron fence that circled the enormous estate and it became increasingly difficult to keep her balance. Puzzlingly, the fence seemed to be both just within reach and a million miles away. She huffed and puffed and spared a glance over her shoulder at her masked pursuer, who was rapidly closing on her position. He was almost within arms reach…

Oh, she was never going to make it.

"Ack!"

The solid weight of the vigilante smashed into Techie's back, his arms wrapping around her waist and dragging her to the ground. She hit hard, sucking air in through her teeth as her ribcage collided with the earth. Splinters of agony emptied her lungs of air and she felt light headed as he twisted one of her arms in a direction it really wasn't meant to go in. She fought the sensation and struggled to throw him off her back, ignoring the fact that she would probably pull her own shoulder out of its socket if she succeeded. It was little use to fight him, she knew that, but her pride demanded that she give it the old college try anyway.

A metallic click made her double her efforts and the cold steel of a handcuff closing around her wrist gave her enough of an adrenaline boost that she managed to twist her torso just enough to clip Nightwing in the jaw with the fist he didn't hold captive. With grunts and growls, she hoisted herself up just enough to set him off balance and flipped over onto her back. Only once she'd done this did she realize it wasn't a particularly good move, strategically speaking, as it gave him the opportunity to sit astride her and grab her wrist as she swung at his face.

She kicked like a mule, arms straining against his strength and wriggled beneath him. There was no finesse in her escape attempt, she was just thrashing and hoping to get lucky. It was discouraging just how easily he pinned her arms above her head, but she didn't give up floundering. She even added a heated glare for good measure. This only seemed to amuse him.

"Let me loose!"

Smirking, he regarded her from behind his mask, eyes twinkling in a way that made her want to tear them out of his pretty little face. "I admire your tenacity, but it's pretty obvious you're not getting away."

"Oh, well, aren't we sure of ourselves?" she grunted, throwing all her power into pulling her right wrist free. It was a pointless expenditure of effort: she didn't get even an inch off the ground before the back of her hand hit the grass again.

"I'd say we have good reason to be sure of ourselves." He flashed her a thousand-watt grin and she wished more than anything she could knock every single one of his teeth out with a crowbar.

"Smugness is a very unattractive quality in a crimefighter," she groused, tugging as hard as she could at the iron grip he had on her.

The fact that he could hold both her wrists captive in one freakishly strong hand infuriated her even further. She knew she had tiny, weak little girl wrists—tiny, weak little girl wrists that had no business being on her otherwise sturdy frame—but this was just embarrassing. With ease, he reached over and grabbed the handcuff that dangled freely from her left wrist, moving to secure it around the other. "Smugness. Unattractive. Got it. I'll make a note to work on that."

She growled at him and fought with all her might as he tried to click the handcuff into place.

"Why don't you just give up?" he asked, a flash of annoyance in his tone. "You're not going to escape."

"I might just surprise you." She shifted, bending at the waist, hoisting her legs in the air, up and over, snagging his shoulders with her heels. She threw all her weight forward and miraculously put him off balance, heaving both of them over so that their positions were reversed. The instant his back his the soft, damp grass, she slunk her legs out from under him and planted herself on his torso, slamming her hands down on either side of his neck so that the linking chain between the handcuffs pressed into his windpipe, drastically reducing his air supply.

"See? Tenacity and ingenuity," she gave him a smirk of her own, though the effect was somewhat ruined by her heavy breathing. "I'm the whole package, baby."

"You know," he choked out, "I can see how that smugness thing could be off-putting."

She couldn't stop herself from smiling, even as she gasped for air. "That's what I like about you, Nightwing. Never lose that sense of humor."

"That so?" Despite the fact his oxygen supply was greatly diminished, Nightwing smiled right back. "Know what I like about you?"

"No," she answered, leaning forward until their faces were inches apart and giving him a haughty smirk, "What's th—ACK!"

He slammed his forehead directly into hers and somehow—she wasn't entirely sure how—in the ensuing tussle, their positions were reversed once more. Techie hit the ground with a thump and croaked, "Oh, dick move."

"You talk too much," the vigilante-shaped blob in front of her intoned from between the stars that were swimming in her field of vision. "Rookie villain mistake."

"I do not talk too much," she grumbled, shaking off her head-injury stupor, even as Nightwing hauled her up off the ground. "I banter."

He shrugged, putting himself behind her and prodding her into walking. "From where I stand, you talk too much."

She turned and glared at him from behind her mask, stumping along and doing her level best to trip him up. "You are definitely single."

Not a single muscle in Nightwing's face twitched.

Techie huffed. "Also, you are so not Batman."

"No!" he exclaimed in mock horror. "Was it the ears that gave me away?"

"See?" she said with a sudden infectious grin. "Banter! Fun! Also? Distracting!"

She swung her arms up and attempted to strike Nightwing across the face with both fists. He caught her by the handcuff chain and stared her down.

"Think you're pretty cute, don't you?"

"No, I think I'm adorable!" She kicked out, somehow managing to dig one of her high heels into his shin, then threw all her weight in the opposite direction, successfully pulling her arms free from Nightwing's grasp. "HA!"

She took off like a shot, running fast as her legs could carry her, straight for the wrought iron fence that had been her original goal. She flung herself against it and started climbing like a clumsy chimpanzee. She almost made it over, but the layers of her dress got tangled in the more ornate parts of the ironwork and with a tremendous screech, she lost her grip, falling backward. Instead of hitting the ground, though, her dress—wrapped several times around the spires of the fence—kept her suspended above it. She swung freely back and forth like a bright blue pendulum, arms flailing as she tried to find something, anything to grab onto.

"Treacherous taffeta!"

Nightwing, who had foreseen this eventuality the moment she started shimmying up the fence, adopted a casual stance, hands on his hips, smirk fixed firmly in place. "Need a hand?"

"You can take your hand and shove it straight up your—"

"Manners," he chided, still unmoving.

She glowered. "Are you going to get me down from here?"

"Are you going to behave yourself?" he countered.

"Are you kidding?" she laughed at him. "No."

"Then you can swing there until the police show up."

As if on cue, sirens wailed in the distance, growing closer by the second. Techie's eyes went wide with panic as a squad car pulled onto the lawn behind the fence. The moment the car came to a complete stop, two armed police officers exited the vehicle and trained their weapons on her.

"Freeze! GCPD! Hands in the—" She looked incredibly comical, swinging back and forth from the spires by her ballgown, backlit by the red and blue flashing lights of the squads, glaring at Nightwing, so it was no wonder there was a bit of unprofessional snickering from at least one of the uniforms. "—air?"

Nightwing moved in towards her. He wrapped an arm around her waist, hoisting her up on his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, pulling her dress free of the iron and then climbing over the fence, all in one smooth, graceful movement.

Techie didn't fight him—there seemed little point—but she did glare at him just the least bit harder. "You're making me look bad, twinkle toes."

With a smile she couldn't see, Nightwing set Techie on her feet. She stumbled in the grass, losing a shoe in the process, and fell flat on her rump in front of two of the cops. Without ceremony, they pulled her up by the arms and held her between them, giving her barely enough time to snatch her lost pump off the ground. "You have the right to remain silent—"

"Thanks for the assist," one of them offered awkwardly as Techie struggled against his arms and his partner continued reading her rights.

"No problem," the hero replied.

"—against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney—"

Techie ignored the cops and kept her eyes fixed on Nightwing. Even as the policemen started leading her away, she looked back over her shoulder at him, scowling. Then, suddenly, her frown morphed slowly into an impish twist of her upper lip.

"—afford one, one will be appointed for you—"

Without warning, she twisted her upper body, wrenching her arm free of the cop on her left. Weakly, but with a cry of triumph that suggested otherwise, she flung her shoe at Nightwing's head.

Unsurprisingly, he dodged it with ease. After all, her aim was worse than that of a one-armed archer.

Nightwing leaned over and scooped up the deep aqua blue pump, as the police officers wrestled their rebellious charge to the earth, mashing her face into the dirt. She came up sputtering, spitting out grass and leaves. When she was fully pinned with no chance at escape, he strode up to her and placed her shoe on the ground in front of her face.

"Ball's over, Cinderella. Time to go back to the ash heap."

She smiled bitterly and went limp with compliance. The police pulled her up again and her face was smudged with stains in various earth tones. "Thanks for the dance, Prince Charming."

She was stuffed none-too-gently into the back of the squad car, but just before the door slammed shut, she heard Nightwing call, "You know, we really ought to try doing it to music sometime."