a/n: she-with-the-pen gave me the prompt: 'cat and bat in an established relationship.' which translated, in my eyes, to this. so. um. by my limited research there was an actual pink panther jewel thief gang. in my head!canon Selina totally wears the pants and together she and Bruce are still fighting crime on the DL in europe. they bicker a lot.
(also i'm working on my other story. it hasn't died yet!)
if you read, please review :)
"Well, this is awkward."
He stares blankly at the woman suspended in front of him by the thinnest of trick wires, barely visible in the half-light. She places one pointed finger on the glass case beneath her, the lightest of touches, and he almost flinches, half-expecting the alarm to go off—
But of course it doesn't.
This is Selina, after all.
"What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?" She grins wickedly beneath the night vision specs of her mask and he fights the urge to roll his eyes.
"When they said cat burglar—" He begins, making sure to pitch his voice down a couple of octaves even thought it's just her, even though he doesn't have a mask, so who the hell really cares what he sounds like at this point—
"Drop the act, Bruce, you aren't in garb." She pushes gently against the glass of the case, flipping nimbly to the floor of the museum without so much as a sound. She hits a button on her waist and the wire holding her to the ceiling coils and collapses with a slight hiss.
"That's Wayne Tech," he feels the need to point out, unnecessarily.
"It was a gift." When she walks it's all legs and he licks his lips as she slides past him, roving around the case nonchalantly.
"Not from you, darling," she hunkers down, drawing a sharp looking tool from her belt and sending a quick grin over her shoulder. "Lucius approves of me, too."
"I don't think he'd approve of you doing this." He feels naked without the seven layers of Kevlar, without the heavy cowl, without the cape. Instead he's standing in the middle of the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology at midnight in a shirt and slacks, watching his girlfriend break into the Mongolian exhibit to steal a bronze horse.
"What Lucius doesn't know," is all she replies with, under her breath, focused on edging the sharp point of the tool in a perfect circle on the glass surface. He places his hands in his pockets, looking upwards.
"Through the skylight? Isn't that a bit cliché?"
"I had a whole orchestra scheduled to play spy music for my entrance, but they never showed."
"What, the Pink Panther?"
"Wrong feline and definitely wrong color." She straightens, pulling easily from its spot on the plush, red velvet of the display a tiny horse, about the size of her palm, bluish and discolored with age. "Besides, can't get the gang we're after confused with the song. What do you think?"
"It clashes with your eyes."
She shrugs, holding it gingerly between her hands. "How'd you get in, anyway? The air vent?"
He points behind him, to the darkened shadows of the back rooms where they housed security and the employee offices and the door that led out onto the staff parking lot. "Someone left the back open." By which he means he picked the lock.
"Silly me." She primly takes the circle of glass and settles it back in place, so—aside from the empty display—it looks like it hasn't been touched. "I thought we agreed I'd be doing this. Alone."
"I came to check on you."
"Yes, really. I became slightly suspicious when you cut the live video feed."
"Accident, I swear."
"I was Batman," he scoffs, scuffing the floor with the edge of his loafers. "You think you can pull one over on me?"
"I have before. And now you're retired," she replies blithely, as if that should explain just absolutely everything, and then she takes a step away from the display, stretching languorously, and—
"Look, I can't help myself, alright?" She sighs, running her fingers over the small item in her hand, stopping to dig an imaginary something out of the eye-groove. "I see an old item and I just have to take it. It screams money. Besides," she sends him a pointed look through her night specs, "I've been waiting up top for three hours, Bruce—they aren't going to show tonight."
"Oldest diamond in the world? I think they'll show."
She looks at him balefully, still holding the horse gingerly in her hand. On a sudden impulse she walks towards him, coming to a stop on her too-high heels and bending forward until their breaths mingle between them and she whispers, "Don't you ever miss it?"
Always, he almost says, but then he thinks of lazy mornings in bed and waking up to her playful gaze and other things, so he settles for, "Sometimes."
"You know, I'm honestly surprised." She leans back, crossing her arms.
"At my answer?"
"No, at the fact that you haven't freaked out on me yet. Are you alright?" She steps closer, again, but there is nothing intimate about the way she checks his eyes and tries to peer into his mouth. "What's wrong with you?"
"Well," he tries to think about his words and what he's trying to say as he slaps away her hands and ends up only with the disjointed, "you must have a—" he's about to say good and stops himself—"reason."
"It's a reason." She nods her head thoughtfully. "Probably not a very good one, but still." Then: "Bruce, why'd you follow me?"
"To make sure you didn't do something stupid," he says automatically—which is true, because this would surely stain her new, everyone-forget-me record, because when the video feed went to static he didn't think about technical issues, only about her trying to steal something equivalent in value to the Rosetta Stone and maybe getting caught, even if it is her—but he also says it to keep the 'I would follow you to the ends of the earth' from escaping his mouth. Because that was something he did not say.
"What a good boyfriend you are," she grins like the Cheshire Cat and then holds the horse up to the moonlight. It's rather crude looking, leaving strange shadows across her face. "Really."
He wonders how he is going to get her to leave. Stopping Selina was like stopping a freight train. Read: impossible.
Instead he asks, "Was Monaco not good enough for you?"
She smirks. "Not good enough? Darling, it's been perfection."
"So put back the horse."
She sighs, heavily and rather nostalgically, "I guess I should."
"No, you need to—" he's surprised, taken so off guard he practically staggers, because they only agree when the world is ending, or worse. "What?"
"I said, 'I guess I should.'" She sets the thing back on top of its case thoughtfully. "Contrary to popular belief, I have a moral compass. It's just small, and tends to ignore the poles."
He stares at her, the way she's silhouetted in the moonlight in her slim, black suit. As he watches she pushes her night specs up onto her head, and oh, that's where the Catwoman comes from. She looks him straight in the eye. "It's like a drug, isn't it?"
He thinks about how many times he's crossed a dark alley and thought about taking on the deals happening there, how many times he's wondered about Gotham, how many times he's wished for the cover of night, and he nods. "Yeah. It really is."
"Look how much I like you, Bruce," she pouts, cocking her head to one side. "I'm giving up a priceless catch for this."
"So I'm your rehabilitation program?"
"No—more like my sober companion. Thanks."
"Don't mention it," he answers dryly.
She places her hands on her hips and eyes him sideways through the slits of her mask. "You know, I don't think your dying in Gotham was supposed to give you a green card to go fight crime in the rest of the world."
"Jewel thieves in Monaco? I couldn't resist."
She sighs. "Yeah, neither could I. But are leads are zip, Wayne, and I know that—" she points to the next room, where the jewel in question was sitting beneath several layers of bullet proof glass and looking completely unimpressive in the moonlight, "—should have drawn the Pink Panther Gang here, but it hasn't. I say we cut our losses and—"
"Get down!" He hisses, years of practice making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He slams into her roughly, falling into the shadows by the Tigris/Euphrates exhibits and covering her mouth with his hand to stop her outraged protests. Then the skylight above shatters, a rain of glass cascading down with the sound of a million wind chimes. He feels the shards hitting his back and exposed arms but remains still as the telltale coil of heavy zip lines hit the floor.
"I guess I shouldn't have given in to the horse," she whispers, so low he barely catches it.
"It's more fun this way," he replies seriously, voice a breathy murmur by her ear.
"Now, Mr. Wayne, you're starting to speak my language."
"Security was already disabled, boss," a voice comes out of the darkness. He quickly pushes himself off Selina and presses his back into the nearest exhibit, peering around the sharp edge and into the center of the room. She fades into the shadows behind him.
"What?" The voice is muffled by some sort of head-gear—a mask, or a poor excuse for one. Bruce flexes his fist, wishing that he had come more prepared, inventorying his pockets—
Miscellaneous change, his wallet, a paperclip, and a pen.
"The security was already disabled," the grunt repeats.
"Check the diamond."
"Then secure the perimeters. Some amateur probably tried before us."
Selina snorts. He feels the familiar thrill of adrenaline beginning to pump through his veins and it all comes back to him, like he never even left, never took an indefinite vacation into Europe with a thief, never, never, never—not that he ever did let himself go. Not fully. Because while he was lounging in the sun he was following up on leads for various gangs and now they could have this one nice and arrested by morning—
The tip of her boot touches his knee, and he looks up at her. She motions to the room.
Stealth? She mouths, and he thinks about it for a moment.
Her grin could cut through steel. She stalks forward, which he thinks might be a little too bold, but it certainly takes the group of men in the room by surprise. There is a good amount of yelling, enough that he ventures standing, hunkered only slightly behind the display of an old vase, but with a good enough view of the room that he can see what is happening.
There are seven guys, all wearing various animal masks. One is pointing a gun in Selina's direction and is screaming, "Who are you? Get down! Get down and I won't shoot!"
"My God," Selina sighs, jerking her head backwards towards where he is hiding, "a jewel-thief in a panther mask. And I thought he was the most clichéd thing on the planet. Guess I was mistaken."
Bruce snorts; the men in the room jerk wildly around towards him, so he straightens fully.
(He was going to have to have a talk with her, about how not stealth didn't mean let's all get killed really, really quickly.)
"Are you the one who disabled security?" The man with the gun asks, the barrel wavering slightly. "Are you here for the diamond? Sorry, toots, but the Pink Panther Gang—"
"Please," she mutters under her breath, stalking forward, "if I had wanted that thing I could have had it on the transport truck yesterday." And then her foot is tangled in the other man's hand and slamming it—gun and all—to the ground. It misfires into the floor, bullet ricocheting off the Cuneiform Display. The weapon clatters out of reach and he looks startled and then he screams, "Don't just stand there!" to the men on either side of him but too late—
Bruce is there. The first punch he dodges easily, swinging his fist into the man's unguarded chin and then sending the point of his elbow into a gut. He feels Selina's weight as she springboards over him, wrapping herself around a third assailant and bringing him down with a fluid motion his eyes can't even track. The man on the ground, the leader, is scrabbling for his gun, and Bruce kicks his hand hard enough to hear the bone snap and break.
"You know, I've been thinking," she starts conversationally, as she narrowly misses hitting a giant, free-standing sculpture.
"Really?" He catches another punch and swings the man around in a circle, sending the flat of his foot into the back of his knee. He takes a moment to give Selina a look that says if she was thinking about trying to steal anything more then forget it.
"I was thinking," she repeats, a little more forcefully, kneeing a man in the stomach, "that you kinda help keep me on the straight and narrow."
"No kidding?" His voice is as dry as the desert. He bends backwards, winds up, and sends a punch into a man's nose. Pain blossoms along his knuckles, but a good sort of pain, something that he missed.
"And that when I'm around you I usually don't think about stealing anymore—or stealing a lot, anyway," she amends, and he wonders where she is going with this. "How long've we been together?"
"Long enough," he grunts, slamming a foot into someone's toes and throwing another man's head into the glass display in front of him.
"Right. Ok." She turns to look at him and says, quite suddenly—
"We should get married."
"What?" He turns towards her, ducking another fist. "Are you out of your mind?"
"Well, don't sound so excited by the prospect." She cartwheels back, heel into the jugular of the man behind her, sending him gasping to the ground.
"Now's hardly the best time, is all." He grabs a forward punch and swings his shoulder into the man's chest. A slap to the side of the head and he's down.
"Now's as good a time as any. It's not like you were ever going to get off your ass and ask me, anyway. Besides, you've been using my name for long enough, we might as well make it official."
"I would have, eventually." He sends a leg out and kicks a kneecap. "And I use your name out of necessity."
"Liar, on both counts. You like it." And she ducks under his outstretched arm to deliver the final blow to the last man standing. He falls like a rock, atop the others, and they are left, barely out of breath, in the middle of it all. The museum settles to the slow, soft quiet of before. He's pleased to note that they've managed to take down the gang with minimal damage to the surrounding artifacts—
And by minimal, he means several shattered displays and two injured vases.
She turns to him with a frown. "Well?"
"Well, what?" Adrenaline is pumping through his veins and he remembers when he would have done this nightly, escaping death, only now there's a girl in front of him and—
"Ok, fine." She hunkers down, sending her knee mercilessly into one guy's back and looking up at him through her night vision goggles, which had slipped back over her eyes during the fight. "Bruce Wayne, will you marry me?"
And then she pulls the bronze horse from a pouch at her side.
"How in the hell did you—"
"I don't have a ring, so this is the best I can do." She coughs properly, raising one eyebrow.
He can't fight the smile, and it doesn't seem right on his face, but he lets it grow a bit. "Where are we going to get married?"
"Is that a yes?"
He doesn't even have to think anymore. When did he not have to think anymore? "Yes."
"Vegas, obviously. Only the classiest for the world's classiest dead billionaire." She stands, shoving the horse into his hand. "Then I can get you a proper ring."
"I like this better."
"You're just going to make me put that back."
The sound of sirens ripping through the night air, a distant but persistent wail, makes her shoot him a look that could freeze a small army. "You didn't," is all she says.
"I took the liberty of calling the police on the way over here."
"What? They have a whole gang to deal with now."
The front doors burst open and she wheels forward, smashing her face into his in an awkward, hurried kiss that works better in the movies than in real life—
And then there are more sirens and he curses, under his breath, drawing her forward hungrily for another kiss or two or three—
"Run," she whispers in his ear.
And he doesn't look back.