Title: Wasting Time
Author: DC Luder
Summary: Selina doesn't believe he's back.
Infringement: All recognizable characters belong to DC Comics, not DC Luder.
Author's Note: Bludhaven challenge regarding Batman's first clash with Catwoman. Meow. References to Batman Year One. Shippy sighhhhhhhhhhhhh.
He had died months ago.
As much as I hated to admit it, I had moved on, accepted his passing and started life anew. The hardest part had been telling myself that I would have to live the rest of my life without the man who had been there for me longer than any other being on the planet. I would grow old and he wouldn't, I would have to live with my regrets where his had been absolved and I would have to soldier on knowing another bore his guise.
In fact, I had just started to enjoy life once more when I had received an unexpected late night visitor. I had a hard time calling him Batman when all I could see was the handsome, young man beneath the cowl. A man who had once been a boy, who's very presence in Gotham had altered the course for all of us…
Having just wrapped up my nightly efforts, I had already changed into casual attire, cotton shorts and a fitted, long sleeved shirt. I was in the process of making myself a three in the morning meal of a toasted pancetta and brie sandwich when he his voice had sounded. He had been dropping by infrequently, rarely with any other reason besides checking in on me.
His way of coping, making sure everyone was all right…
Without looking back to the kitchen entrance, I replied, "Hungry? Certainly enough for two…"
"Selina," he dropped the growl from his voice before continuing, "We need to talk."
"About what, Dick?" I asked, finally facing him. I had been shocked, to see he was not wearing the suit but rather rumpled jeans, hiking boots and black tee-shirt. It was still relatively warm for the end of September and yet his forearms were covered in goosebumps. The look on his face matched the uncertainty in his eyes, forcing my appetite to get pushed aside. "Dick?"
"You might want to sit down for this."
"For what?" I snapped, not one to tolerate being placated.
Seeing that I wasn't budging, he proceeded, "Selina… I should have told you sooner… Tim… he found evidence that suggested that Bruce was still alive. And… we discovered that the body Superman found was in fact the remains of a clone that Darkseid had tried to make of Bruce… that he had been trying to build an army of Batmen…"
He might as well have been speaking in Swahili.
Shaking his head, Dick explained, "Bruce defied Darkseid, shot him with a device that was capable of killing him… and in return, Darkseid…"
"He had this power… the Omega Sanction… it… It sounds insane but… it sends a person's subconscious back in time… forcing them to live countless lives and suffer just as many deaths… It's meant to be eternal punishment, something that is impossible to escape."
I swallowed hard before asking, "Why are you telling me all of this?"
The icy eyes that had been unsteady and glancing about the kitchen finally settled as they stared at me, "Because… Bruce always overcomes the impossible."
It was the first time he had said anything about his mentor in the present tense in months.
When the realization of what he was trying to convey sank in, my feet gave out from under me. He was quick to jump forward, wrapping his strong arms around my back in order to help me up. Dick continued to speak to me, explaining details that washed over me. All I had been able to understand was ,"He's back."
Not a moment later, I was following him out of my penthouse, down the elevator and to the dark coupe double parked on the street. I climbed in and buckled up thanks to my autonomic brain function, still hearing Dick's words echoing in my head. It was impossible. He was dead. Fried to a crisp. Barely even skeletal remains left, although there had been enough to confirm the DNA match.
This wasn't happening.
He was silent for the ride up to Bristol, making my heart thumping in my chest sound even louder. When the Manor came into view, I felt my pulse throbbing in my temples as my thoughts fought one another.
There had to have been a mistake, false hope gone too far. It was physiologically impossible for Bruce to be alive and well. Subconscious sent back in time? It was ridiculous, preposterous even. Perhaps it was all a dream, I was back in my penthouse, fitfully tossing in bed. I would wake up any minute and everything would be-.
Jumping, I looked to my left, Dick's face barely visible in the dark car. He had parked in front of the main entrance, the decorative stone stairway and wrought iron railings looking anything but inviting. What little starlight was making its way through the clouds cast an eerie shadow over his face. Suddenly, I was unable to see the handsome, young face. Somehow, he was a man grown, older than he should have been.
"We're here." When I made no move, he continued, "If you need some time…"
"No…" I drew in a long breath, hoping to calm my rapid breathing, "I just… I don't know, I… I don't believe it. I can't."
He looked down at his lap, nodding slightly, "I know… I didn't at first… hell... I didn't even believe Tim until…" Dick paused before looking to me once more, "But trust me, you'll see."
Exiting the car, I had to force each step I took towards the door, my mind continuing to list all of the evidence suggesting Bruce was gone. Anarchy had taken hold of his city, his eldest had stepped up into the role he left vacant and even Tommy Elliot had been parading around town as his former friend and enemy.
"Alfred?" I heard Dick call out as stepped into the atrium. The lighting had been dimmed given the hour but I was still able to see the gentleman's gentleman approaching from the base of the stairwell. Alfred, if anyone, would have known if it was Bruce.
After clearing his throat, Alfred paused before us, "Ms. Kyle… it has been far too long."
I had lost the use of my voice, leaving me only capable of a curt nod.
He then directed his attention to Dick, "Sir, as honored as I am to have this distinguished guest… I thought we ahd agreed upon the conditions discussed earlier this-."
"If anyone deserves to know, it's her," he was quick to defend his actions.
Given that it couldn't be undone, Alfred relented, "Very well, Master Dick."
Case closed, Dick then asked, "Where is everyone?"
"Master Tim is taking a well deserved rest in his quarters, as is young Master Damien. Mr. Kent and the others have departed, although I do believe they will be returning at a more appropriate hour later today."
I found myself glancing to my wrist watch, shocked to see it was nearly four in the morning.
"In the master bedroom, sir."
Dick continued his inquiry, "Is he asleep?"
Alfred shook his head, "I'm not entirely sure… he requested to be left alone… to think. I have done as asked."
"Well, he's put us through enough this year… he doesn't get to sulk in solitude," Dick gruffed before heading down the broad corridor. When he realized I was still standing still, he glanced back, "Coming?"
"I…" was all I managed to say.
He returned to my side, looking down at me with a smile on his lips, "The Selina I know wouldn't let someone intimidate her."
"Selina… trust me."
Again, I lost track of time as we ascended the stairs. It seemed as if seconds earlier I had been slicing pancetta in the kitchen and yet there I was standing before the closed double doors of Bruce's bedroom. Where my heart had been pounding, it suddenly stopped when Dick knocked softly and a reply came from within, "Come in."
Dick looked down at me and smiled again before opening the left hand door. He stepped inside, not taking a moment to see if I was following him. I listened to a muted conversation, holding my breath as I tried to hear the other voice, to see if it was his. Suddenly, Dick stepped back into the hall, "Go on in."
The bedroom was just as I had remembered, the down blanketed king sized bed on the left hand wall, the sitting area before the massive bay windows and the cavernous closet and marble accented bathroom to the right. Even with the lights turned off, I recognized paintings on the walls, the decorative end tables and faint scent of cologne.
Dick closed the door behind me, cutting off my only exit.
A figure stood beside the leather sofa, silhouetted against the exposed windows. Bruce had always kept the black out drapes covering them, blocking out the encroaching dawn as he finally made his way to bed. I took a few tentative steps forward although he remained still. Making me come to him, also something Bruce wouldn't have done.
Dick was wrong. They were all wrong.
"Selina?" the man asked, the voice seeming foreign and pained. He never said my name like that, it had always been with a hint of a growl, tainted with aggravation and desire.
When he began to approach me, I said, "Stop…" He did. Bruce wouldn't have, not after how we had ended things at the hospital… he would have-.
"Shut up." He did. "How do I know it's you?"
He was silent for a moment before suggesting, "Because it is."
I walked over to the right side of the bed turning the night table lamp on. It didn't even look like Bruce, he looked tired and defeated, his face pale and thin. He was bare-chested, wearing only dark flannel pants. The scars lancing his torso could have easily been replicated after accessing the Cave's medical files…
"Right, you may have everyone else fooled… but… the body was a clone, right? You could be… or even worse… god damn Tommy Elliot."
He took a step forward and I took one back.
"Prove to me. Prove to me, it's you," I growled, despite the tears that were brimming in my eyes.
He nodded before speaking, "That night at the Roman's penthouse. I had gone there for surveillance… I had no intention of engaging him, not yet. But when I got there, there was this woman, in dark purple leather, ears and whiskers on her mask… beating the hell out the Roman's bodyguards. One of them kept screaming about his face…"
The tears finally slipped over my cheeks when his rough hand reached up to touch my chin.
"They all drew their weapons after they decided she was working for Batman. I took them out, although she would have been able to do so herself… although risking grievous injury. I called out to her before I left…"
"That she was wasting your time," I finished for him.
The man stepped closer to me, his palm cupping my cheek so that he could wipe tears away with his thumb, "I left the Roman unconscious on the rooftop… when the ambulances got there, his face was clawed up… although not nearly as much as his bodyguard's."
"He had it coming to him," I felt a smile breaking out on my lips.
A smile that only grew when his lips pressed down on mine. Without hesitation, I fell backwards onto the bed, wrapping my arms around his neck as he reclined on top of me. His muscles tensed under my fingers, his tongue danced over mine, his growl of need rose from his throat, his hand ran through my hair…
He pulled away after a moment, resting his brow against mine, "How do I know you're real? That I'm back… that I'm not imagining this? Or you?"
Drawing in air in shallow gasps, I paused to answer him, "Let me waste some more of your time."