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Chapter 9: Rooftop Games


There she was. 

Catwoman was perched on the observation deck of the Sony Building, facing the WishStar complex.  When he found her, she was on the Drake Building next door.  He’d watched, mesmerized, as she’d circled WishStar from each adjacent rooftop, first taking pictures with a digital camera, then measurements of some other kind with a gadget he didn’t recognize, and then—the best part—she’d lie on her stomach and make notes on a palm pilot.

The rational part of Batman’s mind knew it was a different world from the last time he’d seen her like this: Catwoman, on a rooftop, coolly assessing a target.  The rational part of his mind knew more than a year had passed.  His rational mind knew she was no longer a criminal; she was his lover.  The lips that chewed the end of the palm stylus were the very lips that had pronounced D’Annunzio’s shrimp arrabbiata “better than sex.”  The hair that blew so wildly in the high wind so far above the city would smell of a tea rose shampoo that sat on a little shelf in his own shower.  His rational mind knew that the wisp of dark purple only barely visible in the moonlight was the very arm that would yank the pillow from under his head if he got to bed too late. 

His rational mind, however, had no say when the rest of him was watching Catwoman.  

The rest of him was in a time warp:  Catwoman.  His enemy.  So beautiful.  So dangerous.  So forbidden…  He made a mental note to check the security cameras for each one of these buildings before he left.  This was valuable footage.  Look at her—casing a target—he could study her studying it from a dozen angles.  Watching her work, watching her plan…

Point of Order, the rational mind intervened.

Just look at her move.  Just look at her not move…

A-hem, the rational mind tried again. She’s no longer a criminal.  And if I want to know what it is she’s doing over there, I don’t need to study tapes, I can just ask her.

…those legs, that ass…

I get to pinch it anytime I want.  It’s Selina.  And this is not a productive use of my time.

…this one is catvid-perfect…

Before the rational mind could make a rebuttal, he saw the lithe purple form stretch, stand, then move in his direction.  How perfect was this, she’d seen enough and was finally ready to take on the target itself:  the WishStar roof, where he happened to be standing.  

Batman merged deeper into the shadows, pulling his cape taut so its movement couldn’t give him away. He held his breath as she went to work on a firehose feederduct not three feet away.

“Nice night for a stroll,” he graveled, thinking to continue ‘most people do it at streetlevel’ but was unable to because of the scream.  Her shocked jump-scream-spin set off instinct and muscle memory so that - before he could even think - he had her wrists in one hand, the other clamped over her mouth and his body was pushing into hers, trapping it against the coil of firehoses.

They stayed that way for a long moment, lost in the past. 

His rational mind realized this was a moment to make up for a dozen wrong calls, a hundred missed opportunities.  The hand on her mouth he should move behind her neck, pull her face into his and crush that delicious mouth with his own.

But his rational mind still had no say where Catwoman was involved, and the rest of him—still caught in the time warp - waited wordlessly while her look of wide-eyed shock softened into amused recognition. Then he released her mouth for the inevitable proposition…  

“I can’t play tonight; I’m working.”

The time warp shattered.  Did she say…?  This was insane.  Even for her, even for them, this was insane!  She was WORKING?!?  He’s Batman!  And she couldn’t/wouldn’t/refused to, er, play because she was WORKING trying to break into…  Even for her that was simply fucked in the head:  when Batman interrupts you in the middle of a break in, you don’t get to shoo him away because it’s not a good time!  

He held on to the wrists a little tighter.  She hated that, when he took her wrists. It was the ultimate expression of his chief advantage, his size and his strength compared to hers.  It always brought about some expression of her advantage, it always brought about the come-ons.  He held one wrist in each hand now, and pushed in closer pressing her against the coils with his body.

“You’re working?” he rasped in a hoarse voice that would have been dangerous with anyone else, but with her, like this, had other connotations.

Her lips parted, the tongue flicking moist and soft against the teeth as she began to speak.  And the words that came were right out of the time-warp…  “I don’t have time for your games right now, this is serious.”  … except, that wasn’t her line, it was his.    

Granted, she said it better.  Crisp and light and apologetic.  Not ponderous and self-important, not heavy with unspoken and unspeakable desire and regret.  Simple, casual, sophisticated:  No time now, Dear; run along and bother other criminals.  It was so totally unexpected, it had virtually the same effect as that first rooftop kiss, stunning him into such a state of awed confusion while she wriggled out from under him and disappeared into the night.

She had already made it into the CEO’s private office when he caught up with her.  Safe open, she had removed a stack of floppy disks and was sifting through them on the desktop.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he exclaimed—in marked contrast to the more traditional, Batmanesque opening on the roof.

She didn’t answer.  Eyes glued to the monitor, she waved him over with a finger.

A gloved hand blocked the monitor as she was trying to read.

“You can’t do this…” he began, then stopped when he saw that she seemed to be staring straight through his hand.  He looked down, following her gaze.  Then moved slowly behind her chair and started reading over her shoulder.

“How did you find this,” he murmured, barely audible.

“Dick’s idea.  He figured the coup de grace on the proposal to revamp their security was to mention how many other bids they’d received and from whom.”

But the document she was reading: “Security Bids—Eyes Only,” was not a listing of the bidders.  It was an internal memo.  It said the CH contact BE… (“That’s City Hall contact Brian Everwood,” Selina whispered) …specifically instructed WishStar to award Grayson Associates the contract, regardless of who put in the lowest bid.  In return, it gave a timeline in which BE would have a particular block rezoned, enabling WishStar to have specific properties classified abandoned and take them over for revitalization while the current owner would be unable to respond.

“You recognize the address?” Batman asked.  

She shook her head.  

“Flick Theatre,” he said tersely,  “Two-Face’s new hideout.  How does some guy at City Hall even know Harvey Dent bought that place, let alone that he would be unable to block this rezoning because…”

“…Because he’s flat on his back in the hospital with Ivy injuries,” Catwoman completed the thought. “And why is this guy so keen to help Dick?”

“And why are there five agents in Chinatown when there were always six before?”

“OH. COME. ON!” Catwoman sat back in the chair, arms folded in disbelief.

Batman shook his head. 

“This isn’t the first mix of big business and rogue business that’s come up lately, is it:  First the Scarecrow and those CEOs, then Dick’s informant just happening to supply the blueprints from Larraby Chemicals to foil the Joker’s plan, and now this.   Remember Tim’s theory that whoever knew the Scarecrow targets knew he’d fail against Bruce Wayne.  Why?  Maybe because…” he stopped, then signaled in their secret sign language:  ˜˜Let’s get out of here.˜˜  

“This room isn’t bugged,” Catwoman said out loud. “That’s one of the first things I checked.”

˜˜I want to be sure.  I’m going to double-check the security closet in this building.  You get the tapes for the surrounding ones.˜˜

She stared.

˜˜The rooftop cameras,˜˜  he clarified.  ˜˜That was quite a show you put on.˜˜

She stared again. 

˜˜Zero residual presence.  C’mon, snap to.˜˜  And with that he slapped her upper thigh.  ˜˜Meet me on top of the Wayne Building in an hour.˜˜

An hour later, Batman picked up almost exactly where he’d left off.

“Tim was right.  There is an underground information network, consolidating control of Gotham piece by piece.  Whoever knew the Scarecrow targets knew he’d fail against Bruce Wayne.  Why?  Because he knows Bruce Wayne is Batman.”

“That does narrow the field,” Catwoman conceded.

“It’s not Hugo Strange.  It’s not YOU.  That only leaves…”

“The Cadaver.”

Batman permitted himself a lip-twitch and nodded.

“So…what happens next?” she asked.

“Now that we know?” he answered, “We set a trap of our own.”

“I just know I’m going to hate where this is going.”

The lip-twitch tugged a little harder on each word that followed, ending in a genuine smile.

“A woman.  In Metropolis.   Not who you think… Her name is Moira.”

To be continued...

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