Disclaimer: See part 1
She thought, sometimes, how different a mark he would have been if she'd dared to try him eight years previously. "Look at him and his pretty face jizzed across the tabloids," Jen had said once, crude with youth. "I vote him next, Selina. Liberate some of that old family money he's gagging to toss around." She brandished the Star with its cover shot of Bruce Wayne and the debutantes on each arm he'd bought at a charity auction. The billionaire had turned up in Gotham a month before, having gone from the angry, maladjusted youth older Gotham residents remembered to this dim-witted, tumultuous playboy, flamboyant in his excess and charm.
Selina had rolled her eyes in response. "I steer clear of the needy little boys," she'd said of the man nearly a decade her senior. "It's all insecurity and mommy issues with them. He'd hand me an easy million to dress up in leather and step on his balls but where's the fun in that? He wouldn't even miss it."
"Alright there, Robin Hood," Jen said, only tip toeing into what was already an old argument between them. "Just remember that when rent time comes around."
Had she tried the boy billionaire then, wild and reclusive by turns, what would she have found? Would she, younger and newer to her art, have made it past the veneer of lazy, schoolboy charisma? Would her instincts catch on the hooks of the subtle, quicksilver mind buried beneath everything that had ever been said about him? Or would he have taken her out on the town, paid for lavish meals and expensive gifts and then curtly sent her home in his private limousine? It's what the smaller, quieter rumor mill churned out in those days: he surrounded himself with the trappings of debaucherous dreams and then turned a cold shoulder and went home to a cold bed at the end of the night.
If she were honest with herself, she knew he'd have fooled her as thoroughly then as he had later. Had she made it past his public face, into his home heavily populated by priceless artwork and persistent ghosts, into his bed, lightly populated and only then by a body scourged by silent war, she would have fled. Maybe with a painting in tow, maybe a string of pearls, but catching even a glimpse of what he was, what he could be to her, she would have bolted.
Selina Kyle knew the human body the way some people knew dusty grand pianos, or blocks of marble hiding masterpieces. In the span of a night she could teach graying moguls the prowess that had escaped them in vain, unseasoned youth. She could turn the anxious and impotent into veritable gods, always powerful and brilliant, and only ever waiting for this one perfect woman to help them come into their own. She could cast them on the wheel, paunchy, balding, guilty, vile, greedy, and coax them into new shapes, desirable and virile. Then she'd leave before the shapes collapsed, leave them already melting back into their baser elements, lighter for the jewels she'd liberated, heavier for the knowledge that, for all their wealth, they were no more to her than mud.
But Bruce Wayne…. She'd have approached him like anyone else. Let him undress her in a feverish rush under soft light, forced him to kneel before her, a proud, naked goddess, all the while whispering what she wanted from him until he was deified and burning. She wouldn't have taken the time yet to run her hands over his body like worship, to feed his vanity with long caresses and short scrapes of teeth and nails. So, if she wasn't looking down at him, wasn't planning her next move, if he managed to shock her by being exactly as good as he looked, she might not have noticed the scars and bruises congealing on his skin like half-tamed addictions. Not until it was too late.
It wasn't that Bruce Wayne would beat her at her own game, not by a long shot. But if he let her…not under his skin but beside it, if he trusted her even as far as the scars on his body, trusted her to wrap her mind around the inherent inconsistencies of the billionaire playboy and the battered ascetic they wouldn't be playing by her rules anymore. She'd been fucked by the cream of society, debased herself for the upper crust, perpetrated on herself every vulgar and vile act she could think of just so the slap would ring louder when she took the very things they'd bought on the beat down backs of people just like her. Just so they'd feel both stolen from and spat upon. Just so they'd understand that the people who are weakest and most vulnerable will only take so much abuse before they sprout claws.
But there'd be no hate-fucking with Bruce, no glorious, humiliating romp that left him sated and her once again cauterized against any sympathies for his kind that bled into her while he slept. He might give her the hard use she sought from people like him but in the end, there was no one quite like Bruce Wayne. He might match her tat for tat, might tease her and bate her and avoid every trick she knew of how to wring pleasure from his body while holding herself apart from it all. But if he let her in that close, there would be no hiding from him, had never been. He'd see right through her like he had from the first, see how much she hated everything she thought she knew about him, how she feared and craved all the things she was only beginning to suspect. There in the dark she'd see the shape of the shadow he cast, molded from everyday evils, chiseled by the same ungentle mercy of the city that shaped her.
She thought of these things in the dark of the tiny apartment that she shared with another tech. It could have gone so many way, she knew, so many ways before it came to this, She could have been done with him long ago she reminded herself after the night he'd agreed to stand up and his guts had opened up, skin sighing and sloughing open at the stapled seam.
Her gorge had risen with rank fear, with complete inability to control what happened next. Nurses had rushed with restrained panic, guiding their stubborn John Doe back to bed with firm hands. A spotty on-call resident had been paged, had looked more than a little frightened of the ragged edges of the surgical wound, of the pus streaming thickly from the diminutive flank wound, so long dormant, where the blade had gone in.
"What the fuck?" Selina asked Dana, even before the commotion had died down.
"You fixed him!" Dana decreed brightly but with that gallows glint in her eye that said it took a very mangled mindset to see the world like a trauma nurse.
"I thought he was getting better."
"He will now that we know where his fever's coming from," Dana said, pulling supplies to redress wounds and guard Bruce's open gut until he was whisked away for surgery. "Plus, he needed to get up and walk. I've been bullying him about it for days." She nodded matter-of-factly, thoroughly ignoring the fact that Bruce could hear every word. "You fixed him."
"But why…he's on all those antibiotics…."
Dana shrugged. "Wounds get infected. Plus, it's not like the person who stabbed him sterilized the blade first."
At that Selina and Bruce locked eyes. Bruce's brow furrowed briefly in thought and realization as a silent conversation passed between them about the twisted pathos of Miranda Tate. "Oh for fuck's sake," Selina said and promptly left the unit to call Lucius Fox about poisoned blades and antidotes.
Things could have gone so many ways but she wasn't done with Bruce Wayne yet.