I’m human. As a man of science I can say that as a statement of fact, free of passion, prejudice, or subtext. The Batman is human. I admit it every time I put on a Kevlar chest plate.
That bit from Shakespeare:
Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?
That’s how we got here, isn’t it Selina? Batman has the same organs, the same senses, and the same passions as any man. You understood that when no one else did. You understood before I knew it myself.
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
Batman is human. I admit it every time I put on the Kevlar. I hate that you know those people. I hate that you’re on friendly terms with Riddler and Penguin and Two-Face. I hate that you called him “Eddie.” I hate that you have in-jokes and pet names for Dick and Helena and Jean Paul. I hate that those people are a part of your life and I hate the part of your life they’re a part of. Most of all, I hate myself for feeling this way. I’ve tried, Batman has tried, to make this a moral issue: they are criminals and it’s wrong to have anything to do with them. Period.
But deceiving myself is not a luxury I can afford. I’ve only done it once, in denying my feelings for you all those years, and even that was idiotic and dangerous. I was lucky. You felt the same way. You found it ‘cute.’ Another type of woman would’ve taken advantage and… So you see I can’t afford to delude myself the way others can.
It’s not a moral judgment; it’s not that they’re criminals. I just don’t like them. And I don’t want them to have this part of you, this secret part of you, that’s intimate and carefree with people that try to kill me on a regular basis. This can’t be. It has to stop. It stops tonight.
“I thought we’d order in tonight instead of facing the Saturday night hoard at d’Annunzio’s”
She raised an eyebrow as though it were a scandalous suggestion … I suppose it was a transparent excuse: Bruce Wayne never waits for a table at d’Annunzio’s or anywhere else… but I wanted us to be alone to talk seriously and she jumped to another conclusion entirely.
“And after I got all dressed up,” she sighed prettily. “Okay, menus are on the desk over there. Have a look while I get comfortable.”
She disappeared into the bedroom while I started rehearsing in my own mind:
I’m human. As a man of science I can say that as a statement of fact. I admit it every time I put on the Kevlar…
“Unless of course you want to undress me yourself,” came a playful chant from the next room. The tone set off a familiar quiver… I wanted to talk seriously and she wanted to play. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
She returned a few minutes later, tank top, simple cotton skirt, looking cool and casual and sweet. One of those moments when I almost forget she’s Catwoman.
“The sesame noodles from Little Saigon are good, or if you still want Italian, Antonio’s delivers.” She stopped with a self-conscious half-laugh. “What? You’re staring.”
I can’t keep doing this, Selina. I’m human. I can’t stand it that you’re friends with those people.
“I… was wondering if you’d come with me to the Watchtower later. I’ve got monitor duty. If it’s a slow night, it can be pretty boring. I could use the company.”
Not exactly a lie. Monitor duty makes me crazy. Being away from my city, missing patrol to babysit equipment… I could easily rig something up to relay anomalies to the cave or Batmobile terminals—but for Clark and his 400 objections.
“What if it’s not a slow night?” she asked.
“If something happens while I’m there and the others show up. Will
we tell people we’re ‘just enemies ?
She knew there was something else going on. How many times had we played that scene, she and I, voices saying one thing, eyes saying another?
“C’mon, you’ve helped the League before, more than once, nobody’d bat an eye.”
“Sure, I can tag along on your JLA jaunt, if that’s what you want.”
It was a cue to change the subject. Which was fine with me since the Watchtower wasn’t what I meant to be talking about in the first place.
“Sesame noodles, you said?” She nodded and I reached back to the desk to get the menu. In doing so, I bumped her computer mouse and the screen flickered to life. My peripheral vision picked up her instant messenger flashing in the lower corner. I handed her the menu and while she called in the order, I asked if I could check my e-mail. She nodded absently. It was so natural. It was so casual… It was one of the shittiest things Batman has ever done. She once broke into my desktop because it was necessary for the job I asked her to do. I was invading her privacy because I was… I don’t even know. Suspicious? Jealous? Possessive?
I didn’t read her mail or hunt through her address book. I’m sure I would have stopped myself anyway, even if it wasn’t for that infernal sound.
As soon as the computer logged on, the messenger launched itself. And there they were—my enemies, in a neat color-coded scrolling list: Clayface, Croc, Freeze, Harley, Hatter, Ivy…it was amazing. One name, labeled “J,” was flashing—the backlogged messages, obviously—and the speaker made a sickening cackle: “HAHAHAHAHA”
Selina hung up the phone, walked over to the desk, and (politely under the circumstances) slapped my hand away from her mouse and keyboard. Knowing the only decent thing to do was turn away, I stood my ground and read over her shoulder as she opened the message:
Catty, babe, Harley walked out again.
Remind me how to set the VCR.
Catty, you there? Emergency! No Harley. And I need to tape Who’s Line is it Anyway?
Selina rolled her eyes and typed :
Serves you right. Go away, I’m busy.
Good, you’re there. Remind me how to set the VCR ?
Sigh. TV to 3, VCR to 3, Cable to 66. Enter twice—set the time. Power down.
:) Thank you
You know, Harley’s left me again. You could come be my sidekick.
I’ve told you before, Jack, it’s not going to happen. Catwoman is nobody’s sidekick. And I don’t like your habit of smacking the girlfriend around either.
Jack? JACK? I read the next line through a blur of escalating rage.
But just think how ol’ Batsy would freak out. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA
She started to answer:
Give it up J
When I pushed her aside and typed:
MENTION IT AGAIN AND THEY WON’T FIND ENOUGH OF YOU TO ID THE BODY
then swiftly yanked the modem cord from the wall and turned to Selina with icy calm:
“Can we have dinner now that the psychopath can tape his favorite show?”
Most often, she’d have answered that tone with white hot temper or else brazen sexiness, but tonight was a controlled calm that matched my own.
“That was really stupid, y’know that. That is a dangerous man whose nose you just tweaked using my name, which would be bad enough if I had asked you to stick your oar in or if it served any purpose at all except some macho—”
“I’m human, Selina. I’m flesh and blood, and I hate that those people are a part of your life.”
She considered this, as if it never occurred to her I might object to her palling around with my worst enemies. When she spoke, however, it was clear that she only paused to work out how to explain this to my limited male intellect.
“And I hate that they’re a part of your life, Bruce. They don’t generally try to end mine.”
“I’d almost rather they did,” I muttered.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded, I just …
…really hate that you’re friends with them.”
“The Joker is not my friend. He’s a homicidal maniac. Scarecrow is a homicidal maniac. Ivy is a homicidal maniac that dyes her hair. I avoid them. When I can’t do that, I humor them… and I handle them. But they’re not my friends.”
“Riddler is your friend. Two-Face is your friend.”
“Harvey is my friend… and yours if I’m not mistaken.”
“I suppose. Once.”
“Between you and me, I find the other half pretty annoying, what with all the two-references. But it goes with the territory.”
“The ‘other half’ is a lot more than annoying. He’s a dangerous killer.”
“He’s sick. You don’t write off a friend because he’s sick—at least I don’t.”
I had no answer for that. This wasn’t where I expected the conversation to lead. The doorbell rang—it was the dinner we’d ordered. We ate and talked of other things, then abruptly found ourselves back on the original topic:
“You called him ‘Jack,’” I began.
She answered with the naughty grin I hadn’t seen in months.
“Darlin’ I’m a 38 double-D with 3-inch heels and a leather whip, I get to call anybody anything I want.”
It’s a valid point.
“Well,” I tried to make the best of it, “at least after all this time I finally learned his real name.”
“That’s not his name. Nobody knows his name.”
“‘cause it pisses him off. You should see him froth at the mouth whenever I do it. It’s beautiful.”
Sometimes I truly love that girl.
To be continued...