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Chapter 4: Crimes and Misdemeanors


When Selina shared her bizarre philosophy with respect to the Rogues: that there was a statute of limitations on a particular level of offence, after which she forgave such misdemeanors as Mad Hatter using her as a pawn in a robbery or Hugo Strange trying to drive Edward Nigma mad by implanting 76 Trombones into his head, Bruce thought this philosophy was, at the very least, odd.

But he was forced to reconsider this view, strolling into his office in the Wayne Tower a mere five days after the arbitrage meeting.  They had gone on for six hours about arbitrage opportunities in the new millennium.  It was ridiculously optimistic to come back so soon.  And yet, here he was, prepared to forgive and forget.  One couldn’t hold a grudge about that kind of thing forever, or the economy would shut down.   

There was a new girl outside Lucius’s office.  Discreet inquiries revealed that her name was Bonnie and she was a temp helping Lucius’s senior assistant, Gale.

Bruce docked his laptop into the network and downloaded his schedule.  He recalled that there was an unexplained pattern of events involving donors to Hudson University, a favorite Scarecrow target, that he himself was such a donor, and that any deviation from business as usual was suspect… He reminded himself that paranoia about the business of daily living was a far more dangerous habit than any artificial fear the Scarecrow could chemically trigger. 

He reminded himself that healthy skepticism was not the same thing as paranoia. He reminded himself that, given his station in life and the nature of his nighttime activities, 99 percent of the time, his paranoia was well justified.  He reminded himself of the ‘fridge magnet:  Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

An hour later, Bonnie entered his office with a floppy disk from Mr. Fox: the second quarter projections, she said.  Bruce appeared flustered, juggling his laptop, day runner, and a file folder, so he held the latter open for her to place the disk inside it.  Then he hurried out the door, making an offhand comment about being late for an early lunch that would run long. 

An hour after that, he was in the Batcave, dismantling the disk with gloved hands.  He found the drug in a coating that would cause it to be absorbed directly into the skin.  It wasn’t the standard fear toxin but one meant to trigger a specific phobia.  He couldn’t be certain which particular fear it was to produce, but agoraphobia was a reasonable guess.  The previous victims had all cancelled their appointments and refused to leave their homes.

That would be his assumption when Scarecrow made contact for the shakedown.  If he was wrong, he’d bluff.  Biochemistry wasn’t an exact science, after all, and the human mind was a highly individual thing.  There was no telling for certain how any given individual might react to a given stimulus…

At that moment, the Batcomputer’s monitoring system pinged an alert, and Batman was forced to reconsider that hypothesis.

Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two-Face, was on route from the limited infirmary facilities at Arkham Asylum to the Gotham General Emergency Room.  

“My God, she killed him,” was Batman’s thought as he skimmed the information he already knew:  Dent was not currently incarcerated at Arkham but was apparently there as a visitor… Batman’s eye raced down the page to the advisory to the receiving ER:  Would require a complete transfusion … stabilize before surgery (surgery!)… removal of… fragments… baked clay… like a flower pot… from his … Ouch.


Bruce knew if he was to successfully bait the Scarecrow into showing his hand, he had to appear terrified of the world.  It would not do to be seen in public.  But he was not willing to postpone this talk with Selina.  So he called and asked her to come to the house.  He asked her to bring sesame noodles from Little Saigon.  It was code for staying in to talk, and he knew she knew that—but he rather hoped she would take it literally and bring the noodles.  Alfred had not brought him lunch, had not made the usual offer of a sandwich before his workout, and even after Bruce announced he was in for the night, i.e. would not be patrolling as Batman (always music to Alfred’s ears), there were no discernable signs that a dinner of any kind was being prepared.

Bruce knew whatever passive-aggressive statement the butler was making, he would still bring anything Bruce specifically asked for.  But asking would be admitting defeat, and that was not something Bruce was prepared to do.  Not tonight.  Not on both fronts at once.

She looked beautiful as she entered the study.  It was a new dress.  She didn’t think he noticed things like that, and it amused him to let her think that.  She thought being a detective meant observing one kind of detail specifically, “useful” details about footprints and cigarette ash.  It didn’t.  It meant noticing everything, and drawing what conclusions you could.  In this case: it was the third new outfit in six weeks, each had a short skirt.  She had finally noticed, he liked legs.

But he wouldn’t compliment the dress, wouldn’t smile, not even a twitch.  Instead he spoke of his second observation.

“No noodles?”

“I did bring noodles,” Selina answered, confused, “Alfred took them when he let me in.”

“Hell,” Bruce grumbled.

Selina smiled like she didn’t get the joke but around here that was nothing new.  Bruce decided to forego explanations and go straight to the heart of the matter:

“Selina, I asked you over tonight because I want to say something and then ask something.  And it’s going to come out confused, because I haven’t thought this through. It seems like when I plan ahead—protocols, etc.—it’s not working out so well, and when I’ve just blurted it out without meaning to is when I get it right.  So, do you mind if I just talk and it maybe doesn’t make a lot of sense?”

“Okay, if only for the novelty.  Go ahead.”

“It seems like every time we move forward, it’s because of me.  I know that’s not fair; as soon as I heard the words come out of my mouth just now, I knew it wasn’t fair.  You’ve changed your whole life for me and put up with weddings and 67 shades of white and Hell Month and… me.”

“Well, I love you, so that counterbalances a lot.”

He looked at her, stunned.  She’d said it so casually - and so frankly - it was… unexpected.

“I know,” she went on, realizing what had caused his silence. “You said it first.  I’m not good at that part.  I’m learning, but I’m just not.” 

“It’s nice, actually,” Bruce mentioned, “I like that.  It means something when you say it, it’s not like…” he trailed off before finishing, but she knew what he meant:  not like “Beloved.”

“You’re on a roll, don’t spoil it by making that comparison, okay.”

“Okay,” he said, but the ‘roll’ was broken and he had no idea how to continue.  Fortunately she was ready to start talking now.

“The thing is, I’m not completely comfortable with you these days,” she was saying.

“Because of ‘Mrs. Wayne?’”

“No, it’s not that.  It’s… How long were we at it, before?”

“Eight years, four months, nine days,” Bruce said instantly.

She stared.

“That’s scary.”

“I made the numbers up.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“No, I didn’t,” he admitted. 

She bit her lip; this next part would be tricky…

“I came on to you—a lot.”

“Yes, I remember that.”

“Don’t help me.”

“Yes, dear.”

She glared, then continued.

“The thing is, it got a little routine, didn’t it?  I’d make an offer, you’d say no.  And after enough repetitions of that, it sort of became an open invitation.  I mean, over time, the offers became broader… And then all of a sudden, everything’s changed.  Sometimes I just feel like there’s this huge backlog of ‘come hithers’ and I feel like: ‘You know, I said that, and I meant it, but I never really meant it to imply all these other things that might be seen to go with it and—’” 

“You can stop right there,” Bruce cut in, “I understand.  Believe me, I understand.”  This was going so much better than he could have hoped, he risked one of the prepared questions:  “Selina, can I ask you something?”


“Where do you see us going?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t like thinking about those things.”

“God, I love you,” he laughed, “I knew, I absolutely knew that’s what you were going to say.  I didn’t trust it though.  I didn’t trust what I knew, and I should have.  I know you so well. Sometimes it’s like you’re a part of me, it’s—”

“STOP.  Okay, who are you and what did you do with Bruce?”

He stared, not understanding.

“Way too many words,” she explained.

“Ah.  Well, I guess… this has been building up for a while.”

“Since the wedding?”

“How’d you know?”

“Just a hunch.”

He pulled his hands through his hair.

“It’s like: Okay there was a wedding.  ‘And now for my next trick…’  Like there’s this expectation in the air, everybody thinks the next logical step is—”

“Wasn’t it you who told me they/normal people will never understand us and we can never make sense of it using their standards?”

“That wasn’t me; it was Batman.”

“You really need to embrace the concept of first-person singular. You know that, right?” 

“I’m trying, I’m not good at it.”

“Besides, if you want to split those hairs, it wasn’t Batman, it was you.  You hadn’t been Batman with me for some time before that night.”  He was staring again, not understanding, so again she explained, “You stopped being Batman with me long before you took the mask off.  You did know that, didn’t you?”

“I didn’t. I never thought about it.  I’ve actually been thinking, well, how you didn’t start dating Bruce Wayne. You got involved with Batman and I’ve been riding on his coattails…”

It was her turn to stare.

“You’re got it worse than Harvey,” she noted.

“That realization has also been on my mind lately, and it’s not a comforting thought.”

“Harvey has a problem.  He needs a 12-step program or something to separate him from his coin.  That or Nutmeg.  But you’re not like that, baby; you’re just you.  You really should unclench a little and just BE YOU.”

“I tried that.  Didn’t turn out so good.  Now Alfred’s mad at me.”

“Alfred will forgive you.  He loves you.”  She paused and let the full meaning sink in before going on, “And you haven’t been doing that badly; you made a hit with Nirvana.”

“She growled at me.”

“She growls at everybody.  She has no purr, so she growls.  Jeez, I would have thought if there was anybody I wouldn’t have to explain that to…”

“She growls instead of purring,” Bruce smiled.


“That’s a strange little creature.”

“Certainly judged by the standards of normal people with their normal little purring pussycats, it would never make sense.”

They’ll never understand?”

“They’ll never understand.”

“But she liked me?”

“She liked you.”

“Uh, how can you tell?”

“I know her very well,” Selina pronounced significantly, “We go back a long way.  We understand each other.”

Another man may not have followed, but Bruce understood subtext.

“Ah,”  he nodded.  “My mind wasn’t where it should have been when we were up there, but she seemed like a very special cat.  I feel fortunate to have gotten to know her.”

In the distance, the phone rang.  Sensing they were about to be interrupted, Bruce changed the subject.

“Oh, news.  Harvey killed Ivy’s flytrap.”

“Sweet Bast, she’ll kill him!” Selina sputtered.

“She tried, actually.”

“Already?  But she’s still in Arkham.  How did she find out? How did she get to him?”

“I think he went up there and told her.”

“In person?  Where’d he get a boneheaded idea like that?”


“Excuse me, sir,” Alfred interrupted, “the call you were expecting, the caller stressed that no matter how reluctant you were to come to the phone, I should urge you to take the call.”

“Thank you, Alfred.  Now go back and tell them I’m too terrified to come to the phone, and he’ll insist you bring the phone to me.”

“Indeed, sir.”  

Alfred left.

“Scarecrow,” Bruce explained.

“That would have been my guess,” Selina answered with a smile. 

“Want to come along?”

She considered a minute, then nodded.

“Okay.  I still owe him one for the Slam Bradley crack.”

Catwoman and Batman were hidden at the rendezvous point two hours before Scarecrow had instructed Bruce Wayne to arrive.  He said this was to avoid suspicion, but Catwoman didn’t see the logic:

“It’s still Batman showing up at a rendezvous only Bruce Wayne knew about.  I don’t get it.  How is that not suspicious?”

Batman chafed at this.  No one questioned his methods.  It was not suspicious because he said so.  He knew how to do this without being second-guessed by women in leather.

“Just explain how you’re supposed to have found out about this?” she was asking.

“I’m Batman,” he answered.  The declaration would have silenced Nightwing, Robin, Canary—any of them.  Catwoman, on the other hand, was, predictably, unimpressed.  He reluctantly offered a rationale:  “You could have told me.” 

She raised an eyebrow. 

“You were actually there in the room when the call came,” he reminded her.

“Okay,” she said (in her humoring-the-Joker voice, which he did not appreciate). “That’s how I know.  Why would I tell you?”

He crossed his arms in the “I’m Batman” pose.

She wondered how he managed to cram all that ego into that tiny cowl night after night.

“Look,” she said firmly, “if Scarecrow messes with my boyfriend, I’m going to introduce him to the five-finger threshing machine, not farm it out to dial-a-bat.”

“You’d come out here by yourself.”

“Hell, yes!”

“This is how you go about things: flighty, impulsive, no plan, just take matters into your own hands and not give it a moment’s thought.”

“This isn’t a bullion vault, it’s Crane!  How much of a plan do I need:  Insert claw and pull!”

“Scarecrow is DANGEROUS, Selina!”

“Crossing 59th Street at rush hour is dangerous, Handsome; Scarecrow is a 98-pound weakling covered in straw!”

“Go home.  Now.  I can’t have this.   You’re impossible.  You’re a loose cannon.  And you’re going to get yourself killed.”

“If I go home, Stud, I will call Scarecrow and tell him he’s walking into a trap!”

“You wouldn’t dare!”

“Like hell I wouldn’t.  And then he’ll invite himself over to thank me in person—and I’ll let him!  You know why?  Because I’m the one that should have first crack at kicking his ass anyway! It’s my boyfriend he’s fucking with!”

Batman’s lip twitched uncontrollably.

“And I’m the one who’s worse than Harvey, huh?”  She fought the smile for about ten seconds before it won. Then Batman spoke again: “You should embrace the concept of second-person singular.”

“Shut up.”

“I hear there’s a 12-step program.”

“Shut.  Up.”

“Yes, Dear.”

The next day Bruce was already awake when Alfred brought in the breakfast tray.

“Morning, Alfred,” he said, unfolding the neatly pressed Gotham Times.  The headline offered few details about the Scarecrow’s capture—which was understandable.  It wasn’t much of a story:  drugging and extorting money from three businessmen was obviously not the ultimate goal.  It was working capital.  All those chemicals were expensive.  Whatever Scarecrow’s final scheme was would never be known—until he tried again.  It never ended.  Night after night and things never got any better.

“Cream, no sugar, Miss?” Alfred asked.

“Thanks, Alfred,” a silky voice purred.

Well, maybe a few things got better—occasionally.

The paper made no mention of the cat-scratches.  But Bruce knew it would raise eyebrows at Arkham.  The prisoner was delivered in Bat-cuffs with numerous whip lacerations and claw marks.  They wouldn’t have seen anything like it since Hugo Strange—revenge for Eddie.  76 Trombones.

It’s one of the rules.  Never mention that book.  No pussy jokes.  And don’t mess with Selina Kyle’s friends. 

A telephone rang.  Instinctively, Bruce answered it:

“Morning, Lucius”


Five minutes later, it happened again.  This time, Selina reached across him and took her phone from the bedside table.

“Hey, Harvey,” she chirped into the phone, “Hm?… No, we use the same ring… Yeah, I heard.  Gotham General?  Room 203… Well, you can’t have everything.”

Bruce listened, fascinated, as Selina covered the receiver and whispered “Doesn’t like his room number.”

“Mhm.  Mhm.  Lifetime.  Well, that would suck.”

She covered the receiver again, this time to spare him the giggle.  “Candy stripers hear him talking to himself and won’t come into his room.  TV is stuck on the Lifetime Channel.  Eddie refuses to stop by the hideout and bring him anything.  Once burned…” “No, I’m listening.  I am.  Mhm.  Mhm.  Yes, he’s here—Hello?  Hello?  Harvey?” 

A few minutes, later the phone rang yet again.  After answering, Selina listened for a moment, gave Bruce a parting glance and left the room.  He heard a few indistinct murmurs then “HE WHAT?”

Bruce knew what that was about even before Selina stormed back into the bedroom.

“You are a sick and twisted excuse for a human being, you know that? YOU SENT HIM FLOWERS!”

“A get-well bouquet.  I thought it was cute.”  

To be continued...

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