The mansion's deserted—the DeAlmeidas spend January in Rio. The roof is slick with ice and snow and the wind blows at her hair and cape and long purple skirt, but Catwoman makes it to a third floor veranda smooth as silk and tapes the glass before shattering it. She'd cut the power an hour ago, disabling the alarms. She creeps through the house, ghostly shapes and shadows looming in every corner. There's no light but the moonlight streaming in the windows. The first safe is right where she thought it'd be, in the master bedroom behind a Picasso. She'd take the painting too, if it was smaller. A spin of the lock and seven minutes later the safe is open. Three minutes after that it's empty. She's working the second safe, in a study down the hall, when he suddenly materializes behind her. She doesn't turn around.

"Where," Batman says, his voice brittle and chilled as the ice on the windows, "have you been?"

"I'll tell my secrets when you tell yours."

"I've never been the only one with secrets." His breath is hot against her neck, his broad chest an inch from her shoulder blades. "Answer my question."

"Make me."

A split second later and one hand's still on the safe's door, but he's got her other arm pinned behind her, pressed between the small of her back and the Kevlar-covered muscled planes of his torso. He lets her see the batcuffs—they sparkle in the moonlight—and reaches for the hand that was picking the lock. One of his steel bands closes around her wrist, cold and unforgiving.

"Is this the part where you threaten to take me in?"

"No," he says, snapping the cuff closed. "We're skipping that part tonight."

He's only… a few times before given her time to slip out of his grasp before the second cuff, and she has to take the chance. Cuff dangling on her arm, she twists and dodges, launching herself for the window, but he's too fast. His leg sweeps out and sends her sprawling.

She tucks and rolls, springs to her feet, skirt unfurling behind her as she throws herself into fighting stance. But he's not playing fair tonight. He grabs her costume, the swirling cape of her dress, and reels her in close enough that she can feel his heart pound against hers, feel his panting breath on her face, warm puffs of fog in the cold room. She rears back, brings up her knee and slams it into his chin. He doubles over, letting go, and she uses the moment to grab the bag she's half-filled. Her fist closes around the handle of the bag at the same moment his gauntlet grabs her wrist.

She counterbalances, pulling back, a tug-of-war—and the bag flies open, scattering its contents. Jewels clatter on Italian tile and stacks of hundreds fan out into individual bills, raining down around them. She abandons the goods and sprints for the door, making it to the next room, only to feel the—how long has it been?—familiar feel of his batarang twining around her ankles. She trips and falls forward on thick Oriental carpeting.

A millisecond later he's on her, knocking a gasp from her parted lips, the weight and smell and feel of him overtaking her senses. She writhes, hooking one tangled ankle under his, ensnaring him in his own batarang and trying to roll them both.

She can't, though. All she can manage to do is buck him off enough to flip herself over, and then they're face to face, both panting from the fight. She can't escape him this time—he's too big, too strong. Too smart and brave. She's at his mercy. Effortlessly, he pins her wrists to the carpet. She pushes to free herself but it's no use. "Batman," she says between gasps, "Let me get on top."

He shifts his weight, and somehow gets both of her wrists in one huge gauntlet. His voice is a steely whisper. "Work for it."

She laughs, the sound echoing through the frozen mansion.

He tilts his head until they're close enough that his breath—heavy with exertion—blooms against her cheek. His free hand wanders lower, gauntlet sliding across fabric, down along her side, over her hips. Until he's got the skirt pushed out of the way.

"Oh, Batman," Catwoman purrs, languid smile curving her mouth as he buries his face against her neck. "Is this the part where you take me in?"

"Not this time." His own lips quirk up, she feels it on the side of her throat as he bites. "This time I'm taking you here."