Hollywood likes Buddy Pictures. Two men whose backgrounds and personalities are entirely incompatible are brought together through a roadtrip, a prison break, or an invasion of intergalactic cockroaches—and at the end of two hours they’re the best of friends. In real life, the Buddy Picture phenomenon seldom occurs. But it is true that there is something on the Y-chromosome that enables men who are at odds on any number of subjects to put their differences aside and achieve an eerie camaraderie when one of them is getting some and the other wants to hear about it.
Bruce and Dick’s relationship may have been strained at times, but no rift could have prevented Dick’s coming to hear, firsthand and in person, about the extraordinary aftermath of “The Jeeves Conspiracy” in which he’d played a small but significant role.
“So she’s living here now?” he asked, incredulous.
“No, she’s not exactly, well, she’s stayed over a few nights. But y’know she’s working late on this security thing, and it’s a drive back to her place in the city, and I do have these 25 spare bedrooms, so…”
“But you’re sleeping with her?”
“C’mon Bruce, you can’t hold out on me on this. I’ve been following this thing from the beginning, well, almost the beginning. You remember that time you had her pinned and sent me off to ‘find some evidence’ in an EMPTY PARKING LOT! You OWE ME, MAN! Tell me what’s happening.”
Bruce was shaking his head, laughing in an odd, embarrassed way his former partner had never seen. He was truly happy, and that was good to see. Dick smiled at the man he finally, when all was said and done, considered a father.
Then the smile dissolved, and he abandoned the locker-room tone.
“Bruce, seriously, I’m glad for you. Really. But… this is Catwoman we’re talking about. And you told her. You’re really that sure… about… everything?”
“Dick, this is Selina we’re talking about, okay. There’s a difference.”
“BASTARD!” On cue, she was in the cave in full Catwoman mode, so intent on venting her rage that she didn’t even register Dick’s presence. “ARROGANT, DUPLICITOUS, HYPOCRITICAL, PRICK-FOR-BRAINS, BASTARD!”
Dick’s eyes met Bruce’s and, for a split-second, the quasi-telepathy they’d once shared as partners returned. Bruce could hear Dick’s thought: “Lovely girl. I’m just gonna sneak away and ‘find some evidence’ now” as distinctly as if he’d said it out loud.
“SHE KNOWS!” Selina continued without pausing for breath. “You didn’t tell me that she knows. I have wasted FOUR DAYS going about this BULLSHIT JOB you hired me for without telling me that SHE FUCKING KNOWS! I’ve spent four days looking at this like it’s Wayne Enterprises vs LexCorp, but NO, this is some sicko tango between you and your little demonspawn chippie!”
“You knew from the beginning that Talia was CEO of LexCorp.”
“Yes, Beloved, what I didn’t know was that she knew the CEO of Wayne Enterprises was Batman! Or do you expect me to believe she tosses that nauseating expression at everybody in pants thinking every man will swallow whatever bullshit lies follow as gullibly as YOU DO!”
Dick backed quietly towards the showers. Bruce had assumed an icy tone that would freeze molten lava; and Selina, an irony that made it quite clear she wasn’t going to be intimidated by a little bit of frost in the vocal chords. In seconds, this exchange between Bruce and Selina had escalated beyond anything he’d ever seen between their costumed personalities.
“…as if you wouldn’t have mentioned it if it was anyone other than your Third World thing-on-the-side who was pulling the strings!”
“What possible difference does it make if it’s Talia or Luthor or… Michael Eisner heading LexCorp? Security is security!”
“ARGGHHH! Hey, Batboy, how many corporate headquarters have you broken into, hm? IT MATTERS, OKAY! Look… Look, where do nice, prep-school, trust fund, playboy executive types keep files they don’t want other people to know about? Encrypted disk in a safe in the private office, right? Or maybe, if they’re half-way computer literate, an E-Nig partition on a laptop….”
Bruce blinked. Somehow in the course of two sentences it was over. Between the two “looks,” she was Selina again, explaining her position with something resembling articulate calm. His own heart was still pounding in his chest. He’d snapped into Bat-mode at the first sound of that voice cursing him out. He needed time to compose himself before he could listen to… What was she saying?… What the hell was an E-Nig partition?
“Batman, on the other hand, keeps his private files in a Cray network in a hole in the ground linked to the JLA satellite and a space station on the fucking moon.”
“Okay. Okay I see your point.” If she could be reasonable, he could. Really he could.
No he couldn’t.
“I see your point, but I don’t believe for ONE SECOND that that’s what this is about! Are you REALLY pissed because I didn’t tell you, or are you pissed because she knew before you did?”
“… … …”
“… … …”
“I don’t know,” she said finally. “Both, I guess… This was a really shitty thing to do, Bruce. You shouldn’t have… dropped me in this chess game with her without telling me what was really going on.”
“I know. I wasn’t thinking of it as you against Talia, I was… I’m sorry. It… ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time.’”
She smiled, reluctantly, at the quote.
“Well,” Bruce did his best imitation of a mischievous schoolboy, “We just had our first Batcave fight.”
She said nothing. If he thought he was getting makeup sex after this nth degree screwup…
“Shall we try it again? Wayne & Kyle vs LexCorp, no secrets.”
“Okay. But let me make one thing painfully clear. Somebody that knows is going to go about ferreting out your secrets much differently than somebody who doesn’t. This just became a job nobody else on the planet is qualified to do like I can, and that, Mr. Wayne, means I am raising my fee.”
True to her word, Selina went about the problem of breaking Wayne Enterprises security much differently. For starters, she moved from Bruce’s study into the Batcave. There she often chatted with Alfred, learning a surprising amount about Bruce’s work habits in the manor and in the cave. One afternoon, she charmed Tim into helping her with the computer: Batman’s purchasing habits for the Batmobile and other equipment were a genuine concern to her. If he used the same vendors as Wayne Enterprises or diverted money from company accounts to pay for them, he exposed the firm in ways Talia would be uniquely able to recognize and exploit. Tim walked her through the procedures, and she noted a sequence to get into the core of the system.
Then she waited. On the 20th she placed a call:
“Harvey, how’re you doing, Pal.”
..:: Selina, long time no meow. What do you want? ::..
“I can’t call my old friend just to talk?”
..:: You could, but you never do. What do you want? ::..
“I need a favor.”
..:: A good favor or a bad favor? ::..
(That was a hell of a question)
“That’s a matter of perspective.”
..:: C’mon love, We need an answer. ::..
Selina shook her head sadly. He had to flip his coin.
“A good favor.”
..:: And the winner is… Unscarred. What do you need, pet? ::..
“I want you to make a few appearances tomorrow. Nothing newsworthy, you understand, just so people see you’re in town—the dogtrack, that plaza in front of the federal building, the train station.”
..:: That’s three, We’ll need one more. ::..
(It had to be divisible by two. Poor Harvey.)
“The fourth one is your choice. And Harvey, this is important. No crimes, you hear me. No violence. No jaywalking. Just be seen.”
The next night, the Bat-Signal shone over the city. Two-Face was in town, and it escaped no one’s attention that he’d been spotted on the 21st, undoubtedly casing his targets for a crime spree on the 22nd. Batman and his operatives were staked out at a number of potential targets in the vicinity of each appearance.
It was time.
Selina went down to the deserted Batcave and sat herself down in Batman’s chair. She opened the core system as Tim had done… and found exactly what she expected… there was an additional password sequence on Batman’s workstation that not even Alfred or Tim knew of. It took only minutes of trial and error to break the three-tiered password sequence:
Thomas – Martha – Justice.
Breaking into the most impossible holy of holies should make any thief giddy with triumph. Selina felt ill. It was so easy. But it had to be done. Bruce was easy to read once you understood him. If she was to protect him from that poisonous witch bent on inserting herself into his life, she couldn’t be squeamish about using that understanding as ruthlessly as her adversary would.
Just what was in these most private files wasn’t really important; it only mattered that she’d found a way in. There was no need to look around.
She told herself it wasn’t that cats are curious creatures. It was just that, well, he was Batman. It was just possible this was a dummy desktop set up to fool intruders. She’d glance through one or two files, just to make sure… She typed in c-a-t when the helpful operating system threw up a pulldown menu of recently accessed files that began with those letters –
The nauseous feeling that hung over her since breaking into the system evaporated into a warm glowing laughter as she saw these were the video surveillance records of her committing various robberies. Video records that had been saved and viewed many times. Of course, the ever-vigilant crimefighter could have been watching them over and over again to study her technique. But looking at the filenames after those first two…
…Selina somehow didn’t think that was the most likely explanation.
A month later Bruce Wayne threw a barbecue for a number of friends and colleagues, including many Wayne Enterprises employees. Lucius and two other senior executives stayed afterwards for a very unofficial meeting.
“I want to thank you all for coming tonight,” Bruce began. “I realize this is a little unorthodox, but I imagine you’ve heard the rumors that LexCorp has been spying on the Wayne building. The rumors are true, and I want to assure you that we are aware, and we’re taking steps to counter it. Over the next 30 minutes, Ms. Kyle is going to brief you on those steps.” He looked over at her with pride as he continued. “I suggest you listen up, because none of what’s said here will ever appear in a memo or a report or an e-mail. Ms. Kyle, the floor is yours.”
“Thanks, Bruce. Gentlemen, we’re looking at a two-part defense: the first part counters their ability to track comings and goings from the Wayne building.”
Lucius spoke up. “Foster and Forsythe suggested sneaking important contacts into the building through hidden entrances, perhaps underground.”
“Well that’s fine if you’re in a James Bond movie, but there’s a much simpler way. You’re going to have hundreds of businessmen and hundreds of other people coming in and out of the building every day—the ground level is going to become a shopping arcade—and the 34th floor will be home to the next hot upscale restaurant.”
Lucius’s eyes bulged. It was a brilliant notion. Observers wouldn’t be able to tell who was entering the building on Wayne Enterprises business and who was just going to lunch.
“But what about the departments that are housed in those areas now?” he asked suddenly.
Selina beamed. “Glad you asked; that’s part two. Three divisions will be moved from the midtown headquarters to a new ‘high security’ research and development campus across the river. It doesn’t matter which ones; it’s misdirection. With any luck, the observers will think it’s to get them away from the prying eyes at LexCorp, that those divisions are especially important. In reality, it’s just to free up space in the Wayne building. And to set a little trap.”
“A trap?” Bruce asked. She hadn’t mentioned this part before.
“The divisions across the river will still have to stay in contact with the main offices. Just like your branches in other cities, they’ll be connected by a company intranet, and when–” Selina bit her tongue in order to reframe her thought “the conniving bitch” into less accurate but more businesslike language: “the Lexcorp execs realize those divisions have been deliberately moved out of the observation zone, their first order of attack will be to hack into your intranet and intercept those communications.”
Bruce interjected, “Our intranet can’t be hacked. I set it up myself.” His eyes danced with a private joke that said ‘and you know how good I am with computer safeguards.’
She passed him a Post-It note with six words: Catvid-museum, Catvid2-pier, Catvid-newcostume, Catvid-legs, Catvid-wow, Catvid-favorite
Bruce blanched, and Selina finished addressing the meeting.
“They’re going to hack your intranet. And we’re going to let them. From that point on, we can feed them whatever misinformation we want them to have.”
To be continued...