They watched him take off, holding their breath as the bomb barely cleared the guardrail. After the Bat flew out of sight, the two strangers looked at each other without speaking and waited. Waited for the end, waited for the beginning, waited for who knew what to happen. Selina had faith though, and from the look of the cop, he did, too. An explosion thundered in the distance and by then Selina had had enough of waiting. Without a word to the other man, she hopped back on the Batpod and tore off. While she had no doubt that Batman would succeed, that he would save the people of Gotham, she'd be damned if she would stick around for any celebrations.
She sped easily through the empty streets and as she rounded yet another deserted corner she heard a different noise in the far distance. The sound was eerily muted. The light of the morning flashed brighter and, for a few moments, the air felt heavier. Well, that's that, she thought, refusing to feel sad. After all, she had an island to get off of.
Selina figured she had time to swing by her apartment, change her clothes and grab her emergency get-out-of-town bag that had been packed for months before everyone realized what happened and flocked to the tunnel. The street in front of her apartment was still empty. Parking the pod in the shabby foyer, she hopped off, ran upstairs, peeling off parts of her costume as she ascended. After sliding on jeans and a Gotham U sweatshirt, she jammed her feet into her old motorcycle boots, shrugged on her old black leather jacket and grabbed the worn leather satchel that was not where she remembered setting it. She spared hardly a glance for her cozy apartment, she'd long since said a mental goodbye to her possessions months ago. In less than two minutes, she was back on the Batpod, speeding toward the tunnel. Word must have spread that the tunnel was open; the entrance was now clogged with vehicles crowded with desperate citizens anxious to escape but Selina easily weaved past the throng of cars and buses until she broke free of the horde.
Much as she liked it, the distinctive Batpod had to be ditched as Selina was not interested in drawing attention to herself. She kept a motorcycle in an old garage in a depressed and mostly abandoned part of outer Gotham. She parked the pod in the corner and covered it with a dirty tarp then dragged a few trash cans in front of it. Such a vehicle deserved a better home but she pushed sentimentality aside as she dug through one of the trash bins for one of her emergency stashes of cash. It wasn't much, just enough to get her sufficiently far away where she could comfortably access her nest egg. Sliding the battered helmet on her head, she climbed astride her Triumph. The starter was still tricky, but it was familiar and oddly comforting. After a minute, the cycle loudly roared to life and she left Gotham.
Selina had no destination in mind. Since the interstate going south was the less congested that was the direction she took. The constant hum of the engine was a welcome companion as she continued down the bustling highway. She kept her mind occupied with the drive, the cars she passed, the license plates, the amount of McDonald's she passed, anything but him and what he'd done and not done. Every few hours, she stopped for gas, guzzled a cup of gas station coffee while eating a Snickers. She repeated the same actions through four states. Twelve hours later when she realized she'd been up for 36 hours she decided to pull over at a cheap roadside motel. Extra cash to the late night clerk earned her a Jane Smith registration with no questions.
The room was dingy but clean, a perfect place to sleep then leave. Fatigue over took her and she was almost too tired to brush her teeth. Dumping out the contents of her satchel on the brown floral bedspread, she rifled through her things looking for her toothbrush and was shocked to find a velvet box. As she stared at the elegant box, her exhaustion abated. Selina didn't have to open the box to know what was inside. Bastard. Did he expect to die? Was that really his plan? Bastard. Anger flooded her and she felt like robbing someone to show him but he was dead and there were only regular Joes at this motel and she did have her standards.
Setting the still unopened box on the TV, she went outside to find the vending machine. Along the way, she bummed a cigarette from a harried grandmother and chatted with her about how crappy the weather was. With each drag, her anger ebbed until she could return back to her room. She stuffed the velvet box back in her satchel not ready to think about the meaning of such a…gift? After peeling off her clothes, she leaned against the pillows, her eyes darting to the satchel. Uncaring of getting crumbs on the sheets, she ate three bags of Fritos while mindlessly flipping through the channels bypassing the news in favor of middle of the night infomercials.
She missed checkout time, oversleeping by a good six hours but she had no place she needed to be and no one expecting her. And that was the way she wanted it, she reminded herself. Total freedom, no strings, no expectations, just her and her own decisions, answerable to nothing. Including her past. The mantra comforted her but the motel room depressed her but changing hotels was too much effort so she stayed and hung out on the second floor walkway, watching the cars speed by on the freeway. The man who lived in the room two doors down told her that the only thing to do in 'town' was the dollar movie theater a few miles up the side road. Seeing a string of cheap second run movies appealed fiercely. That and the popcorn.
After a long, extra hot shower, she dressed. The pearls looked great against her black turtleneck, her fingers caressing them throughout the three movies she sat through.
The next morning at dawn, she resumed her drive south.
The bright sun, the jaunty music of steel drums, and the laughing and splashing of sun worshippers all mocked him. He felt like an idiot and Bruce Wayne never felt like an idiot. Never. He had made a monumentally huge, embarrassing mistake. After a month of thinking and plotting and debating the wisdom of following a known thief and betrayer, here he was lurking at a poolside bar at a resort in Jamaica watching some guy slather sun-tan lotion on Ms. Selina Kyle's back and shoulders.
Sure, it'd been well over a month since he last saw her and, sure, she thought he was dead but he had expected a different sort of reunion. The last weeks spent recovering outside Gotham had given him ample time to ponder Selina and that last kiss. That kiss haunted him; it meant something he was sure of it. It was a promise meant to impel him to survive. And he had.
While he recuperated, he kept tabs on her, the GPS allowing him to observe her flitting around from Miami to the Bahamas to Cuba. Cuba concerned him but then, after a few days, she moved on to the Caymans. She stayed at cheap hotels, travelling by boat from island to island. Since no high end robberies had been reported at any of the locales she visited he didn't think she was working. For a guy who always had a meticulously plotted plan, the seemingly randomness of her travels baffled him. Was she really just meandering with no destination in mind? No easy answer presented itself and Bruce reminded himself that he knew nothing at all about this woman other than she was a thief but thanks to the Clean Slate that she had finally used in Miami, he couldn't do more digging.
He waited until she moved again before making plans to intercept her. On the flight down to Montego Bay, he indulged himself with various reunion scenarios but all his imaginings had not prepared him for seeing her flirt and laugh with some man whose very good looks could not be ignored.
"Your Pina Colada has melted, sir," the bartended said, smirking slightly as he rested his elbows on the wooden bar. The bartender had been on duty the entire time Bruce had been skulking at the bar. He was friendly and curious, trying to engage Bruce in conversation, offering to send a drink to whomever Bruce was interested in. "Would you like another drink so you can just eat the fruit?"
Bruce's steady gaze was unamused but the man smiled encouragingly as if he knew exactly what was going on.
"I'll get you a water," he said.
Bruce conceded that it was a curiosity, a patron sitting at a bar ordering drinks and not drinking them. For two hours. At first, the time was spent leisurely watching the pool area, waiting for some sign of her. He'd tried to understand her angle coming to a place like this. The resort was nothing fancy, not cheap, but not expensive. It looked like it catered to business types, not tycoons but middle managers taking their families along for a business convention. This crowd would have no jewels worth stealing. They were working people, people Selina implied she would never steal from.
Then she showed up looking better than he remembered wearing a skimpy black string bikini, dark sunglasses with her hair up in a careless bun. He smiled when he saw her until that guy brought over a couple of beers, making himself comfortable on the chaise next to hers. In disbelief, Bruce watched as they spent the early afternoon alternatively talking excitedly, laughing, and lazily flipping through magazines. She seemed to be having a good time, a genuinely good time, not fake fun like she was trying to con the tall, muscular, unscarred, laughing man at her side.
What he saw of her was more alluring than he'd imagined and then he started to get angry. Angry at her for leading him on then angry at himself for feeling led on when he may be at fault for misinterpreting her signals. And allowing her to think he was dead. He could have reached out to her sooner but the disappointment of finding her apartment abandoned so soon after the bomb went off rankled.
The bartender placed the glass of water in front of Bruce. He nodded in the direction where Selina was lounging on the chaise. Despite hating that the guy had obviously figured out where his interest lie, Bruce looked and everything changed. He smiled. The guy she was laughing and talking to just got greeted and kissed by another guy.
"Sometimes it's great when they turn out to be gay, huh?" The bartender observed and Bruce had the feeling that the man had known all along about Selina's companion.
The other man was in a suit, apparently an attendee of one of the conventions at the resort. He loosened his tie, sat and talked to them before pulling the other man away. Bruce turned to pay the bartender and saw the amused gleam his eyes. His gaze narrowed slightly not pleased to be the object of the man's amusement. He tossed cash in the tip jar. Not as much as the guy would've gotten if he had let Bruce know the gayness of Selina's friend from the start.
He slid on his sunglasses and made his way through the chaises cluttered with lounging tourists. As he approached, he saw Selina get up, pull her hair out of the bun, drop her sunglasses onto the chaise and dive into the pool. She swam leisurely, turning to float on her back, her eyes closed against the harsh sunlight. He appreciated the view, appreciated it even more when she climbed out of the pool, the sun glistening on the beads of water that trickled down her body.
Bruce was seated on the chaise lounge vacated by the handsome gay man by the time she returned to hers. At first, she didn't look at him, she had that practiced way of ignoring men when she didn't want to talk. She put her sunglasses back on and picked up a Vogue. Without looking up from her magazine she said, "Not interested."
"That's too bad," Bruce replied, carefully watching for her reaction. "It was long trip to get here."
She froze, her hand pausing midway between turning a page. He thought he saw the slightest of smiles before she looked over at him.
"Well, well, well, look who has nine lives."
They looked at each other without speaking, their respective dark sunglasses masking their eyes. He didn't know what to say to her, so he just offered the best smile he could muster and waited. Her head tilted to the side, indicating it was his turn to speak. She had no intention of making this easy for him.
"You said come away with me."
"Yeah, well, that was before you died." Her eyes may be hidden but he definitely detected an accusing glare behind the dark glasses.
"You left before I could tell you otherwise," he said.
She looked up sharply. Was that an actual contrite, almost guilty look from Selina?
"If you gave me the slightest inclination that you may have survived, I would have stuck around."
"I wasn't sure it would work so I didn't say anything," he said, the best he could offer in way of an explanation to his misleading her about the auto-pilot.
"A hint would have been nice."
"I don't do hints very well."
She looked back at her magazine, flipping the pages with more force than before.
"You're angry," he said.
"Now what kind of person would I be if I was angry that you're alive?" When she finally looked up from her magazine, her expression was neutral. He wished he could see her eyes but the dark glasses kept her true emotions from him.
"Maybe I'm just mad you're not dead," she said. "See the difference?"
She tossed the magazine aside, sitting up to face him, her feet jumping a little at the contact with the hot concrete.
"I thought you would have given up on women."
"Thought about it."
He had no answer for that. "You have my mother's necklace."
"You gave it to me."
"I loaned it to you."
"Tracking device," she stated, sounding vaguely irritated that she hadn't realized it before.
"You think of everything, don't you?"
She gazed at him for awhile before reclining back on the chaise, her fingers absently drumming on the armrest.
"What are you going to do now?" She asked, angling her head so that her naked eyes looked at him over her sunglasses.
He looked away, focusing his attention on watching a family indulging in splash play in the shallow end of the pool. "I don't know."
"So you haven't thought of everything, have you?"
She had no more questions for him. At least none that she wanted to ask in the bright Caribbean sun, so she relaxed and together they watched the tourists. Every so often, he glanced at her, trying to read her face but then his gaze got distracted by everything below that was beautifully revealed by the skimpy bikini. The strings that kept the bottom together taunted him.
"This isn't the kind of place I expected you to be," Bruce remarked.
"It's…" He searched for the right term, worried about offending her. "…more middle of the road than I thought you'd like."
"You think that because I like to steal from the rich that I like to hang out with them?"
"I'm on vacation. Hanging around rich people is work." She took a long drink of her bottled water. "If I want to have fun, I don't go to swanky places where people are more worried about impressing people they don't even know. People who come to these places are real. They save all year to come have a good time. That appeals to me."
"And your… friend? The guy here earlier?"
"Nicholas?" She turned, lying on her side, her bikini shifted, revealing more skin. He suspected she was very aware that the top was alarmingly close to revealing a nipple. "We met a few days ago and clicked. His partner is attending the convention here so we've been hanging out and bonding. Which reminds me…I promised to meet them at 6 for dinner."
She reached over, touching his wrist, bending it so she could read the time on his watch.
"They're leaving tomorrow and I'll probably never see them again," she explained sounding apologetic. "Why don't you come along?"
"Where?" He had visions of an evening spent in loud techno clubs, crowded between too many people.
"Well, we were going to hit a few flaming gay clubs after a supremely gay dinner but we'll make an exception for you."
"No, it's not that. It's…"
She nodded in understanding. "It's just that you have no idea how to have fun."
"Something like that."
She sat up, scooted to the edge of the chaise, leaned close to him. "Mr. Wayne, have you ever had a night on the town where you just had a good time? I mean a good time that didn't involve punching poor hapless criminals?"
"I can't remember."
She stared at him for a few moments, her expression inscrutable.
"That's kinda sad," she said, standing up. Gathering her things, she stuffed them into a colorful beach bag. "Meet us at six in the lobby. Don't dress up."
Without waiting for an answer, she walked away. Sauntered would be the better description, Bruce decided as his eyes followed her. She threw him a quick, inscrutable look over her shoulder before disappearing out of sight.