A/N: Just a warning that if you're looking for Batman and Catwoman you won't find them in this story. I understand the comics have different approaches to Selina's backstory but it doesn't seem like there's a definitive history so I feel I can play away! All ideas are inspired by the Nolan movies. Thank you for reading!
"You know, Bruce," Selina said, taking his hand as she stepped out of the black Mercedes. "I believe this is the first time I've come to one of these things through the front door."
"We could scale the wall and enter through one of the attic rooms if that'll make you more comfortable." Bruce's arm tightened around her waist as if to ward off the icy bite of the December night air.
"And deprive that poor freezing man the opportunity do his job?" She nodded toward the extravagantly uniformed man that had just opened the heavy front door to the Wackford-Squeers mansion. "He's probably grateful for the brief movement!"
They walked quickly toward the inviting warmth the open door promised. Bruce indicated his thanks with a slight nod to the doorman whose face was bright red from the cold wind. He sensed Selina's irritation at paying a guy to stand in the cold just to open doors but she squeezed his arm to let him know she wasn't that irritated.
Once inside the brightly lit entrance hall, they were greeted by a large, balding man impeccably decked out in an understated tuxedo. The man looked as imposing as ever, better suited for dock work than butler work but Bruce remembered his kindness and sympathy when he had visited the family as a teenager.
"Mr. Sikes, right?"
"Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Wayne." Sikes smiled, pleased at being remembered. "It's very good to see you again." His eyes passed quickly to Selina acknowledging her presence yet not expecting an introduction. "Lydia will take your coats, if you please." He gestured toward a maid who had quietly approached. "The guests are gathered on the second floor ballroom. I trust you remember the way, sir?"
"I do, thank you." Bruce turned to help Selina out of her black overcoat and sighed at what he saw underneath.
Her dress was a floor length gown that clung to her body elegantly accentuating her curves. The deep, dark purple fabric was deceptively sheer except for artfully arranged floral designs that hid the more intimate parts of her body. He speculated that a simple tug of the thin straps that held it up would result in the entire thing gracefully slipping down her naked form to pool in small bundle about her high heeled shoes.
His gaze met hers, her eyes filled with amusement and anticipation. She smiled back at him as she walked toward the broad staircase, her heels clicking authoritatively against the black and white checkered floor.
He glanced back to gauge the reaction of the straight laced butler. The cold look he saw in the man's eyes startled him but, in an instant, the disturbing gleam vanished replaced by the blank gaze that was expected of good servants. Bruce inwardly sighed; it was going to be a long night.
"That's quite a dress," he commented, following her up the stairs.
She ascended a few steps ahead of him so he could get a good look at the deep cut of the back and the way the dress moved across her bottom.
"Do you like it?" She glanced at him over her shoulder, smiling with flirty promise, her hands smoothing over her hips, drawing his eyes back to her body. "I wanted to make a good impression for your friends."
At the top of the staircase, she paused to wait for him. When he reached her, he leaned over to whisper in her ear: "They'll especially love the peanut butter."
The playful, sultry attitude vanished instantly as she twisted around to see her backside.
"Dammit! I thought I got it all." She licked her fingers, dabbing at the spot uncaring to the maid and butler watching from below. "Why couldn't it have been the grape jelly? At least it would have matched."
They shared an amused glance as she finished cleaning the spot. "Better?"
He nodded and took her hand, kissing it lightly before tucking it into the crook of his arm.
It was a few days after Christmas; strings of white lights mixed with evergreen branches lined the walls of the expansive hallway. They walked unhurriedly toward the ballroom, stopping at the entrance for a brief moment as Bruce surveyed the room seeing many faces that were vaguely familiar. It was his first time to attend a social event as just Bruce Wayne and not spoiled playboy Bruce Wayne. He glanced down at Selina by his side looking lovely and elegant, very pleased he didn't have to cater to any charades.
"I'm glad you came, Selina," he said quietly as they walked inside.
"I suppose it's the least I could do seeing that this is a big deal for someone you actually like and admire. And, I would hate for these people to think you can't get a date."
"Ah, Bruce, here you are!" Their hostess, Miriam Wackford, excitedly beckoned Bruce to her. On the other side of seventy, she looked at least ten years younger. As with most of her set, she paid much to stave off the appearance of age. She kissed both of Bruce's cheeks before settling back to give him a fond look. "We are all so glad you're not dead! Again! You are like Lazarus!"
"Or a zombie." Selina added, her voice affecting an innocent tone.
Miriam looked surprised to be addressed by the stranger on Bruce's arm.
"Miriam," Bruce said, "this is Selina."
"Hello." Miriam's tone became frostier, unaccustomed to being introduced to one of Bruce Wayne's women. "What a lovely dress, my dear."
"Thank you. And may I say that your necklace is beautiful."
"You may. It's been in the family for generations," she said dismissively before turning her attention back to Bruce. "It really is so good to see you, Bruce. Daniel said you were coming but I didn't believe him."
"I couldn't refuse his personal invitation."
"Oh, so that's what it takes to get you out of Wayne Enterprises these days. He'll have to issue more 'personal' invitations."
She chattered on eager to relay bits of gossip she felt he would find interesting. Bruce listened politely as she informed him of the latest happenings in the family. Selina's interest in the conversation was nonexistent but Miriam spared nary a glance in her direction and wouldn't know or care what kept the younger woman's attention. When Miriam informed Bruce that her dear daughter, "you remember Catherine, of course", had recently divorced, Selina squeezed his arm before drifting away in the direction of the buffet.
Miriam seemed oblivious to her absence. "You must look up Catherine. Find the senator and you'll find her. Have you met Senator Brass, yet? He is presenting the award to Daniel. The President was supposed to, you know, but some tragedy somewhere kept him from attending." She sounded peeved that national affairs took precedence over her party. Bruce pushed his judgment aside reminding himself that this woman had been a good friend of his mother's.
"It is quite an honor he's receiving, Miriam." Bruce said as he looked around the ballroom trying to find their host. "My father would have been pleased for Daniel."
"He would, wouldn't he? I'm impressed, Bruce. Here you are honoring one of Thomas' friends. It's a good thing to see." Her look to Bruce was assessing but there was a spark of pride in her gaze until her attention was diverted by the arrival of another guest. "Please, excuse me. I must play hostess!" She put a hand on Bruce's shoulder. "We really are happy to see you, Bruce."
He found Selina across the room, looking bored, sipping champagne, and pointedly ignoring the younger man who hovered nervously at her side. As he wound his way through the crowd to her, he was repeatedly greeted by casual acquaintances but was able to swiftly yet courteously extricate himself from unwanted conversations. He saw Selina watch him work his way to her, amused at the laborious process.
"You do that very well," she commented when he finally reached her. "Do they teach the art of blowing off people but not seeming to at those fancy schools?"
"First lesson ever." He took a champagne glass from the waiter passing by, more for something to hold than to drink. Selina downed the last of hers before taking another glass.
"I'm a little disappointed in the so-called open bar," she said with a little sigh. "It's only wine or champagne. I had high expectations for expensive whiskey or some fancy concoction that only the very rich know about. Don't people ever get stupidly drunk at these things?"
"It's bad form to get drunk at 'these things'. There's a senator here." He pointed to the man holding court on the other side of the room.
Selina did not look impressed. "Well, it's very different from the parties I'm used to. Lots of drinking, loud music, yelling, fights, setting furniture on fire... The police are almost always called."
"I doubt if the police have ever been on this street." Beauchamp Avenue was the most illustrious and exclusive street in central Gotham. The families with residences here were true American blue bloods tracing their heritage back to the Revolutionary war. The street was so exclusive that the newest resident, a respectable man whose family earned their fortune after the Civil War, was still regarded with wariness and he had purchased his Beauchamp home thirty years ago.
"Oh, I'm sure someone around here has called the cops. I seem to remember reading about a theft at the house across the street."
"These people don't call the cops, Selina. They have private security to handle that kind of thing. That theft you 'read' about was definitely not in the newspapers. You are confusing that theft with another in a different neighborhood. You might want to keep all that straight."
"They never call the cops? That would have been helpful information a few years ago." She looked around the room speculatively like she had just been given free rein in a toy store. Remembering who she was with, Selina composed herself giving him an apologetic look. "I'm not going to steal anything, if that's what you're worried about."
"I wasn't. There's no place to hide anything in that dress."
"Oh, sweetie," she cooed turning her body so her breasts brushed against his arm. "I thought you were more imaginative than that."
He smiled, enjoying her. "Every man and some women can't stop looking at you."
"Tactics, Bruce. I'd rather some of these people not look at my face too closely."
"Besides, they're looking at you. Me, they are dismissing as one of your many, many floozies. I understand you had quite a reputation concerning your dates."
"Who have you been taking to these parties?"
"Models, actresses, dancers…" He looked down at her unable to remember the face of a single one of them.
"Poor baby," she crooned softly. "What a tough, tough, tough cover. It must have been so hard."
He smiled. "It was. I can think of something else that-" he started before a waft of perfume invaded his senses and two gloved hands slipped over his eyes.
Bruce felt a pair of not-real breasts press into his back.
"Catherine." He was pleased he managed to sound happy it was her but he, most definitely, was not. As a teenager, he had spent a few holidays with the Wackford family. Catherine, being of his general age, initiated some rather interesting teenage exploration escapades. Years later, after he returned to Gotham, and when she was married, she made no secret that she thought an illicit affair would be an interesting diversion for both of them. He didn't agree but to preserve his cavalier façade he offered the excuse about not wanting to upset her husband which was a little galling as she was married to a serial philanderer who was a coward in every manner possible.
And now she was single. She removed her hands and faced him. She looked much the same, a little harder around the edges, a lot bustier but still a very attractive woman. She also looked on the prowl.
"Bruce, darling," she crooned, kissing him lightly on the lips. "I understand you've been back for weeks and I've yet to receive a call. How unbearably rude of you."
"I've been busy at Wayne Enterprises."
"Don't you have people to do those kinds of things for you?"
"Bruce, really, rising from the dead has made you so serious! I understand Gotham's favorite rogue is nothing but business these days. The gossips are dying for something juicy to say about you and you're giving them nary a morsel." Catherine turned her assessing gaze onto Selina, missing nothing about the younger woman's appearance. "He wasn't always this way, you know.
"What way?" Selina asked.
"So involved with…business things." She twined her arm in Bruce's. "Color us all shocked when you returned and, of all things, went to work."
He risked a glance at Selina who looked more than a little amused at his discomfort. He disentangled his arm from Catherine's in the politest way possible and stepped closer to Selina. "Catherine, this is Selina."
"Hello," Selina greeted with an obviously fake friendly tone.
"And where did he find you?" Catherine's gaze to Selina was filled with condescension.
"Around," Selina said, not at all bothered by Catherine's blatant snobbery.
"I'll bet." Catherine smiled insincerely before returning her predatory gaze to Bruce. "Daddy is delighted you came."
"I'm pleased to see your father receive such an honor." He felt like he had said the same thing to a hundred different people tonight. He sipped his champagne, remembering exactly why he hated these things. Selina proved no help, content to stand back and watch him squirm.
"So…" Catherine continued, she was either unaware or ignored his disinterest. "We're going to Aspen after the new year. Daddy bought a new cabin and we'd love to have you there. It'll be like old times. Remember how much fun we had? You should come."
He forced a light laugh. "I have plans. Where is your father?" He asked looking around wishing vehemently that she'd leave. "I've been wanting to say hello."
"Some important powwow before the award presentation. He'll be out for the senator's speech." She beckoned to another guest. "Bruce, have you met Congressman and Mrs. Gilly? Janice and I are great friends. We're both heavily involved with the Pets for the Poor project."
Mrs. Congressman took the opportunity to explain their charity but Bruce wasn't paying attention. Catherine and the Congressman's wife appeared oblivious to the tension in their little group. The Congressman stared at Selina in shock. Selina, for her part, gazed placidly at the Congressman.
"Don't I know you from somewhere?" she asked, her face a picture of innocent curiosity.
"Uh…" he started, his face turning red.
"My husband is the Congressman from this district." Janice Gilly looked at Selina with amazement as if she couldn't comprehend someone not knowing her husband. "Surely you are aware of that?"
"Oh, no, I don't follow politics. I just thought I knew him from somewhere else."
Bruce had had enough. "Would you excuse us?"
He didn't wait for an answer not caring if their exit was too abrupt. He led Selina to the dance floor. Taking her champagne glass, he deposited both their glasses on a side table before taking her hand.
"What was that all about?" Bruce asked as he slipped his other hand against her naked back.
She shrugged, trying to show him the situation was not important. "He's under the impression that I kidnapped him."
"What?" He almost lost his step.
"A misunderstanding." She coolly scanned the crowd, before sheepishly meeting his eyes. "You didn't know about that?"
"No, I didn't." He saw the Congressman worriedly looking at her. Bruce hated the unease that crept over him. Before their return to Gotham, he had questioned her extensively asking if there was anyone - enemies, old boyfriends, angry marks – anyone that would object to her showing up again and pose a threat to them. She had assured him no and contrary to what he might think, she wasn't in the habit of making enemies. He wasn't buying it so she gave him a few names of people who might bear her ill will. After a few inquiries, Bruce decided the people were no threat and she had probably given him the names to pacify him. She definitely did not mention any elected officials. "Do we have a problem?"
"No." She said, looking contrite.
He waited for her to expound on the situation but, as expected, no additional explanation was forthcoming.
"Selina…" Bruce replied. "You have to tell me if this is going to be trouble."
"It's not. Really. He's just surprised and probably a little embarrassed." Her eyes met his. "Believe me, he doesn't want anyone to remember his little…vacation."
Bruce stared at her, mentally calculating how much he would have to donate to the Congressman's reelection campaign as well as Gilly's wife's ridiculous charitable cause.
"So," she said in a tone signaling a drastic change of subject. "If this area is so great, why don't you have a house here?"
"My family preferred country living."
"Country living? Is that what that's called? Maybe your ancestors realized they didn't want to live near a bunch of assholes." She looked around hoping no one overheard.
"Your disdain is showing, my dear."
"I know these Wacky people were kind to you when you were young but the rest of them make it so easy to hate them. They're so smug and humorless and full of themselves and…"
"We'll see Daniel, say our congratulations then leave."
"I'm sorry," she apologized looking contrite. "It's just these people were more interesting when I was trying to steal from them."
After dancing in silence for a few moments, Selina asked: "Do you like being here?" The careless way she said it was too careless.
"No. But I do like that dress." He pulled her closer, trying to distill the conflict that cropped up between them. His hand slid from her back to cup her bottom, pulling her closer against him.
"What are you doing?" She said in a mock shocked tone. "In front of all these fine Gotham socialites?"
"Checking for peanut butter."
"I bet this house has all kinds of interesting nooks and crannies." She whispered into his ear before lightly licking the spot on the back of his ear that was one of his weak points. She'd found them all but that was the one that was the most socially acceptable.
"It does but we'll miss the Senator's speech." He nodded in the direction of a raised platform where people were gathering.
"Oh, a speech! This really is the best kind of party isn't it?"
The music stopped and the clinking of a champagne flute signaled the commencement of the speeches. As he climbed to the dais, Daniel spotted Bruce and waved causing a number of people in the room to look his direction. Used to be the center of attention, Bruce nodded in acknowledgement and waited for the senator to begin the presentation.
As he listened to Senator Brass extol the virtues of Daniel Wackford, he pushed aside the sadness that usually accompanied him when he visited his parents' friends. After their death, Daniel had reached out to him, periodically inviting him for holidays and family vacations. The family had meant well, but Bruce had always returned to Wayne Manor feeling more hollow than when he left.
But he was happy for his father's friend. As the senator droned on, Bruce couldn't resist indulging in a little 'what if' imagining his father accepting such an honor.
The clapping that erupted through the ballroom brought him back to reality. Daniel took center stage giving a short speech. As usual, his affability shone through. His speech was self-deprecating, charming, and funny in all the right places. As he concluded he looked directly at Bruce.
"Many of you know that Thomas Wayne and I practically grew up together. He, of course, decided to head west to Stanford then on to the Peace Corps where he met his lovely Martha. They were great friends of ours and always missed. But, happily, their son, Bruce, is here. We're all thrilled to have him back from the dead. Again."
A laugh went through the crowd. Bruce smiled good naturedly as Daniel approached him, shaking his hand vigorously.
"Even though I told Miriam you'd be here, I didn't believe it myself until I saw you. You look…different. Good."
"Say, I want to talk to you about a deal I think you may be interested in. I'll have my man call yours to set something up. I think you'll be interested in what I have to propose."
"I look forward to hearing it. Daniel, I want you to meet someone." Bruce reached for Selina whom he thought was just behind him and was surprised to find her gone. He scanned the crowd searching for her. "She must have stepped out," he said, trying to quell his irritation.
"Too bad. I'm always interested to meet your young ladies," Daniel replied with a wink.
The senator approached them requesting an introduction to Bruce. Bruce politely greeted the politician while inwardly he fought his aggravation at Selina for disappearing. After an acceptable amount of time passed, Bruce excused himself to search for Selina who was nowhere in sight.
He found her just outside the ballroom.
"I'm ready to leave," she said as soon as she saw him. She looked distracted and agitated.
"Did something happen with the Congressman?" He looked back toward the ballroom worried that the politician would be a much bigger problem than he thought.
"I just remembered why I hate these people," she said, bitterly.
"That's a little harsh, Selina."
She raised a hand to her forehead. "I just got a really awful headache is all."
"What just happened?" Bruce's anger transformed to concern. There was a look in her eyes that he'd never seen before.
"Nothing!" She said, angrily. "Can we just go? Please?" Without waiting for him, she headed down the hall toward the staircase.
Bruce watched her walk away realizing that even though he had spent the last four years of his life with her, maybe he didn't know Selina Kyle at all.