Chapter Nine:

"Jesse, what are you doing?"

"Pardon?" James asked.

They were just finishing up at the restaurant, having had a surprisingly nice meal. With four costumes from different rungs of the ladder of super villainy, small talk had been easy to manage, and even amusing. Every time the chit chat meandered towards dangerous territory (Joker or Golden Glider), someone present was observant enough to change tracks, and really everything had gone smoothly.

So James was surprised Len was snapping at him, up until the man snatched the bill away from Selina (the two couples had gotten separate checks).

"Really kid, you're gonna let your girl pay? I thought you had more class than that."

"Selina makes more money than I do," James whined. He was pretty sure the master thief pulled in more on a single heist than any of the Rogues did in a year, actually.

"I know caveman. Welcome to the 21st century," Selina teased, making no move whatsoever to stop Len from paying for all four meals.

Harley simpered happily, as she had when Len had held doors for her, and pulled out her chair when they sat down. Clearly small, thoughtful gestures went a long way with her.

"Caveman, gentleman, whatever ya wanna call it. I think you're just jealous Kitty."

Selina smiled at Harley, then looked James up and down indecently. "Sure, we'll run with that."

"Well James, I'm sorry I doubted you. It looks like Harley and Len are actually hitting it off," Selina commented, once they'd gotten back to the animal shelter.

"I know. How weird is that?" James said.

Selina leaned against him, running her hands through his hair. "Tonight's actually been a lot of fun. We should go out more."


Was it just her imagination, or had James edged away from her touch? She lightly raked his arm with her long fingernails, then leaned up for a kiss that should have been nothing less than smoldering, given the looks she'd been sending him for the last half of the date. Instead it was awkward and short. No fireworks whatsoever.

"S-Selina, I, um…"

"Hartley," Selina snapped.

James looked down at his wringing hands. "M'gonna go now."

"Yeah, I think that's a good idea."

Selina stalked through the front hall, where Len and Harley were still chatting, then stormed up the stairs. A moment later they heard her bedroom door slam shut.

"That was weird. I mean, I expected her to go for the bedroom, but I figured she'd be yanking Stripes up there with her. Ya think I should check on her?" Harley asked.

"I'd let her lose some steam first," Len suggested. He poked his head into the sitting room. "Hey JJ, everything okay?"

"Oh, yeah. Fine."

"C'mon kid, you're a better liar than that."

James sighed. "I'm gay for Hartley and Selina noticed."

"Took her long enough. I figured that out back when Piper was still sporting polka dots."

James gaped at him. "I wasn't gay for him back then!"

"Sure you weren't. Whatever you wanna believe." He rolled his eyes, then returned his attention to Harley. "I'm gonna get going. I had a nice time with you Harley." He took her hand and gave it a kiss.

Harley let out a little squeak. "You, um, ya don't hafta get going if you don't want. I mean, we could go upstairs…"

"No thanks. Good luck with the dating thing though. Sweet girl like you's gonna make a guy really happy someday."

Harley's face fell. "You're not interested in me?"

He shrugged apologetically. "No chemistry. Sorry."

Harley frowned, then dazedly went upstairs.

James was staring wide eyed from the doorway. "She wanted to sleep with you. Just so we're clear, you just turned down sex with a gymnast. Len, did you really just turn down crazy clown girl sex?"

"Look, Harley's a sweet kid, but that's the problem. She reminds me of my little sister."

"Oh." Now that James thought about it, Harley even looked a lot like the Golden Glider. "Yeah…no chemistry then."

"Exactly. Night JJ. Good luck with the whole gay thing."

Bruce was stuffing goody bags with the same look of intense concentration he wore while mixing chemicals, when Selina knocked on his window. He set the party favors down and let her in.

She spared an incredulous look at the goody bags.

"Damian's birthday."


Then somehow she was simultaneously wrapping her legs around his waist, tangling tongues, and unzipping her catsuit all at once.


"Sex, now."

"Well alright then."

"Hey Piper, can I crash with you tonight?"

Piper narrowed his eyes. "I still haven't come to a decision. Please don't rush me."

"I'm not trying to rush you, it's just that Selina kicked me out of our room and it's kinda late to make other arrangements. I'm probably moving out tomorrow."

"Selina threw you out?"

James stepped aside to give Piper a view down the hall, and waved an arm to indicate the pile of his things heaped in front of Selina's bedroom door. "She butt dialed me too. I'm pretty sure she's having sex with the scary Batman."

"James, I'm sorry."

"It was inevitable. She noticed how I feel about you. I just didn't expect her to flip out like this."

Piper frowned. "I don't think it's a good idea for you to sleep in here with me though."

"Yeah, I guess not. G'night Piper."

James sighed, then went to sit down next to his stuff and think. He decided to wait for Selina to get back, apologize profusely, and maybe he'd be allowed a pillow and a blanket.

Then Harley skipped by with a pint of ice cream in her hand a spoon in her mouth. "Hey Stripes, you okay?"

"Selina and I broke up."

"Oh. I'm gonna get another spoon. You look like you need this more than I do. Hey, do you need to crash with me tonight?"

James shrugged. "Sure." Why not?

Meanwhile, Piper started packing a bag. If James was getting thrown out in the morning, then the ladies probably weren't going to let him keep crashing at their place. But considering the love triangle he'd somehow become the focal point in, he didn't want to head back to Keystone just yet. He'd probably have to get a hotel room.

While he was tossing things around trying to get organized, one of the rats jumped on his cell phone. It started dialing the Not-So-Scary Batman. The rat jumped again and set it to speakerphone.

Piper quirked an eyebrow. "You know, picking out clothes is one thing-" He abuptly stopped chastising the rat, since Batman picked up and he only wanted to look so crazy.

"Hello? Piper? What's up?"

"Hey...I, uh, haven't picked yet, so it's not that," Piper said quickly.

"Damn. Okay, still no pressure. So what's new?"

"Right, um, I'm not going to be staying with the girls soon as possible, actually. I'm packing now."

"Oh. Did something happen?"

"Yes..." Piper wondered if he should tell him. Oh the hell with it, he was Batman, he'd figure it out on his own anyway. "Selina and James broke up. Doesn't look like the best of circumstances, so I'm expecting as his guest I'll be thrown out in the morning with him. But I don't want to head back to Keystone until we've sorted things out."

"You know, I was wondering who B-er, Batman had in there with him tonight. Sounds like Selina's here for a rebound."

"Yep. James mentioned being butt dialed."

Not-so-scary Batman's tone was guarded for the next bit. "So Trickster's single then?"

"Yeah, I guess he is."

"Damn. I seriously thought I was winning by not having a girlfriend. Look, Piper, if you need someplace to stay, I can at least take care of that for you."

"Oh, I couldn't impose like that." Especially not from the Batfamily.

He seemed to pick up on the source of Piper's reluctance, at least, based on how amused his tone sounded. "It's alright, I've got a couple of my own safehouses that the others don't use. It's a boundaries thing, we've all got places we go where we won't get hassled by the others. Besides, the other Batman knows I'm attempting to date you."

Piper tried to sound casual. "Does he seem to...mind?"

"Can't tell, actually. But I think you guys would get along, actually."

Piper sincerely doubted that. "It's very kind of you to offer, but I still think I'm best off getting a hotel room instead."

"Okay. Well, let me know where you end up staying."

"I will. Bye." Piper hung up, and then glared at the rat who was sitting up expectantly, obviously wanting a treat. "Well, I guess the conversation wasn't that bad." He handed the little guy a yogurt drop and resumed packing.