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Chapter 5: All Kinds of Denial

 

I never saw any point in denying a cat crime.  Catwoman’s exploits are nothing to be ashamed of, I’m the best thief in the country, some say in the world.  The pearls and Picassos, Rembrandts and Romanov emeralds I acquired were the finest prizes any cat burglar could aspire to, and the security I defeated to get them was the best in the existence.  So I never bothered with denials if Batman burst into a cat lair and said the Austrian Embassy wanted their crown jewels back. 

But if I had wanted to deny it, I would have known better than to say I’d never even seen the Rudolf II crown made of pure gold enameled with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and pearls.  I certainly wouldn’t have added that I didn’t touch the imperial orb either, or the scepter, crown, and lance of the Holy Roman Empire, and an unpedigreed but pretty ruby necklace the Austrian ambassador bought for his mistress and was keeping in the same safe over the weekend.  I can only assume that a detective of Batman’s insight would find that kind of specific and preemptive denial transparent—and somewhat rude.  It would be unworthy of a thief like Catwoman.  It would be unworthy of a crimefighter like Batman. 

Fast forward to Bruce in my suite rather than Batman in a cat lair.  “I wasn’t avoiding the opera, I wasn’t avoiding our special place, I wasn’t avoiding you.”

I didn’t know what to think, how to feel or what to say.  He’s been so sweet and attentive since the Ivy mess.  He’s been busy, sure, but that’s never been anything to be suspicious of.  Batman gets busy sometimes, so does Bruce Wayne.  When he is around, he’s been loving and thoughtful.  It’s been like those early weeks when we first started dating.  I let myself believe it was all exactly as it seemed.  I let myself believe Bruce was happy that I was the one who saved him from Ivy.  I let myself think that… oh, hell.

“I didn’t take the crown jewels from the Austrian embassy” and “I wasn’t avoiding the opera” aren’t the only kinds of denial. 

 

Butlers aren’t psychic, not exactly.  Not like the soothsayer in an Elizabethan tragedy warning the hero to beware the coming of midday for the visitor from the skies shall surely come again.  It’s simply that, immersed as any butler must be in the day-to-day detail of his employer’s life, he evolves a certain sense for these things.  Alfred was quite sure that at least one or two of the morning’s visitors would be returning, so he wasn’t surprised when the kitchen door swung open.  No one had been in the cave when Superman’s return triggered the sensors, and Master Dick didn’t feel the need to ring the doorbell.  And yet, when the pair came into the kitchen with a cheery “Knock-knock, we’re back,” Alfred merely nodded as if he’d been expecting them.  He offered them refreshment, showed them to the library and morning room respectively, and then went to fetch Miss Selina and Master Bruce.  He told Miss Selina that Superman had returned and was waiting in the morning room to resume their earlier dialogue.  He informed Master Bruce that Master Dick wanted a word in the library.  Strictly speaking, that is where his responsibility ended, the visitors sorted into the appropriate rooms and the Master and Mistress duly informed.  Yet Alfred still hovered in the hall midway between the two rooms, sensing with that butler’s acuity that he would still be needed.

He was immediately proven right as Bruce crossed the Great Hall and saw Selina coming down the stairs.  Alfred saw them exchange a few words of pleasant acknowledgement, during which Alfred held his breath… and then permitted himself an irate-but-restrained exhale too quiet to be called a sigh.  Master Bruce had clearly learned that Miss Selina was going to see Superman.  Even from Alfred’s position in the hall, the shift in his demeanor was obvious: his neck tensed, his jaw stiffened, his weight shifted towards the morning room, and then he followed Selina without so much as glancing at the library.  Alfred slipped quietly into the room and informed Master Dick that he did not think Bruce would be joining him promptly.  It might be best, Alfred suggested, if Master Dick joined the others in the morning room.

 

Claws. 

Claws…

If there are no anagrams for claws, did that make it better or worse?  What special hell was in store for him when Selina sliced him to ribbons and he hadn’t even the consolation of a single anagram?  These questions flitted absently in the back of Eddie’s mind while he gave his full attention to the true riddle of the day: How could he fix this? 

Harvey.  Very Ha. 

There had to be a way to fix the situation with Harvey.  Selina—or possibly Bruce—possibly Bruce and Selina—but most likely just Selina—would kill him if he didn’t.  At least death by claws and batarangs yielded hundreds of anagrams…

 

It was frustrating.  Dick knew well enough that when Bruce was “supervising,” that was it.  Whether it was your first solo on a new level of Zogger, surveillance on a Joker target, or infiltrating the perimeter of a DEMON compound, it was just the same: he was focused on this and nothing else would take priority.  Dick couldn’t see that there was anything to supervise in the morning room; Superman was just talking through details of this tiger thing with Selina.  When and how the animals would be arriving, specifics on landscaping he was volunteering at the Catitat, it was all pretty dull stuff.  So Dick tried to pull Bruce aside, casually and quietly.  With a look, with a smile, and finally with a casual prompt.

“Bruce, can I have a minute?”

It didn’t work.  Just like when he was Robin chattering about school or something to pass the time during a long surveillance.  There would be a word or two, as if Batman really was listening, a non-descript movement of the right hand, and the briefest flicker of the eyes.  But after that split-second considering whatever he’d said, Batman clearly found it not-urgent-compared-to-this because his attention riveted right back on the warehouse, office building, or loading dock… or in this case, Superman talking Kryptonian fist-diamonds with Selina.

“There is a collector in Hong Kong that always wants to buy up any specimens I create, so you could always go that route to convert the diamonds into cash,” Superman was saying.

“The Gotham diamond district handles gem trade for the whole country,” Selina answered lightly.  “I’m sure I’ll have no problem finding a buyer.  If Hong Kong wants them, they can try their luck with the dealers on 47th Street.  Least I can do for those fellas considering all I’ve taken over the years.”

Bruce’s mood darkened perceptibly at the mention of the diamond district and Selina’s familiarity with it.  Dick couldn’t know it was because the district was the first subject Batman and Catwoman discussed when they began their “Walapang” arrangement.  He only knew a darker Batman vibe was suddenly emanating from the easy chair, and that Selina and Superman were too engrossed in their conversation to notice. 

“Bruce,” Dick tried again, “the dietary requirements of Bengal tigers in captivity doesn’t really interest me.  Could we hop downstairs, have a word in private?”

Selina said Bengals in most zoos subsist on chicken, horsemeat and kangaroo five days a week and fast on bones for two.  Superman said the animals had been badly starved by the Dhumavati cult and the Star Labs guys thought it would take a while to ease them onto a healthy eating schedule.  Bruce repeated that not-now-Robin/surveillance-comes-first gesture. 

“Bruce,” Dick tried again.

Selina asked how the animals had been penned, because tigers are solitary in the wild, not living in prides or groups except when mating or raising their young.  Superman said they were living together in the Dhumanvati compound.  Bruce clarified that they were together when Batman and Superman encountered them in the death maze, but they had no knowledge of where or how they were kept before that… 

“Bruce,” Dick repeated.

…other than not having enough food, Selina mentioned.  Yes, besides that, Superman agreed.

Dick had enough.  Without even realizing it, he’d tapped Bruce brusquely on the shoulder and when that produced only another vague gesture, he grunted.  Bruce turned, and Dick heard his own voice adopting a dark bat gravel as he declared, “Cave.  Talk.  Now.”

 

Yep, ‘Death by claws and batarangs’ yielded hundreds of anagrams.  Extravagant anagrams with CANDALABRA, BAD ANGST and GRAND ATTACHABLE WANDS.  Not that there was any satisfaction in that.  The only satisfaction to be had was solving the underlying puzzle: How to fix the Harvey mess so the aforementioned death by claws and batarangs would never occur…

 

The first thing they teach you working at a place like Arkham is that you mustn’t blame yourself.  The patients were dangerously psychotic to begin with.  Whatever progress you made, there could always be setbacks, and with these particular psychoses, backsliding would often be grisly life-threatening affairs.  The psychotherapist must not blame himself.  He must remember always that whatever was said or not said in session, whatever he saw or didn’t see in a patient’s demeanor, it was ultimately the Joker, Mr.  Freeze, Scarecrow or whoever that gassed the stadium, blew up the theatre, or tossed the innocent bystander off a bridge. 

That was well and good, Dr.  Bartholomew reflected, except that in Roxy Rocket’s case the violent episode really was his fault.  It had nothing to do with her recovery from a Type-T thrill-addiction complicated by aggravated entitlement responses stemming from acute insecurity, a heightened adrenaline reliance and panic fetish overtones.  It resulted from his going to her for directions to the Iceberg Lounge.  She’d wound up in the infirmary, the victim of a Joker attack, because of him.  Technically because she was gossiping about him and Raven, which was just another way of saying because of him.  Even if her injuries weren’t severe, they were entirely his fault and he was making her recovery his first priority.  The schedule he set up was based loosely on the fast-track rehabilitation program, but in Roxy’s case he would make sure that there was no automation in the process.  There would be no blind checking of boxes, no passing her through for completion of a level without truly achieving its goals, no credit given for participation without true progress.  He would personally see to it.

 

Bruce was not happy. 

“Cave.  Talk.  Now.”  As soon as the words were spoken, Dick tried to pass it off as a joke, but Bruce could see something was up and clearly he had to deal with it before it produced anything worse.  He was not happy about it.  Clark’s earlier visit had confirmed his worse fears about the trainwreck potential in a Superman/Catitat scenario, even if Selina didn’t have a hair-trigger on the subject.  But rather than being in the morning room keeping an eye on the situation, he’d been dragged off for this tête-à-tête with Dick.  What’s worse, “Cave.  Talk.  Now” had acted on Dick like the Dhumavati vanquishing spell (backed up by cat’s eye kryptonite) acted on Superman.  Aware that he’d essentially “pulled a Bruce,” Dick was now overcompensating, adopting an easy sincerity and non-confrontational candor that was… beyond unnerving.

“Look, I agree that Tim and Cassie, and even Helena and Barbara, are overreacting to the new procedures.  But I also know there’s something more behind all of this.  So what is it?”

Beyond unnerving.

In pure shock, Bruce expanded the kneejerk “Nothing” for an entire four sentences, specifying that the team’s reaction was entirely consistent and expected, that it had happened before both in Gotham, as Dick well knew, and in the Justice League any time there was a crackdown, and concluding that “Just because I’m tightening up some procedures doesn’t mean anything is wrong—other than a well-meaning Kryptonian upstairs paving the morning room with good intentions.”

“C’mon, Bruce.  It’s me you’re talking to.  All the rest of it, okay, you’re tightening up procedures because we’ve all gotten lax lately, fine.  But excess Zogger?  Bruce, it’s me.  There is a history of excess Zogger drills.  It means something’s on your mind that you don’t want to talk about and that something goes meow.”

“Dick, I’ve been more than patient with this little ‘intervention’ but there is a limit,” Bruce said firmly.

“Fine, Bruce, you don’t want to talk about it, or maybe you just don’t want to talk to me.  But you need to do something about it because it’s starting to bleed over into the rest of the team.”

“If what I saw of Tim’s performance this morning is any indication, the team could use the practice,” came the graveling reply.

Dick sighed. 

“I’m not disputing that, Bruce.  I am 100-percent behind whatever you think is necessary to improve the team.  It’s not about the changes, it’s about what they mean.  If you don’t want to talk to me, fine.  I just want you to admit the situation exists and deal with it somehow before—”

“This conversation is over,” Bruce said abruptly.  It was different from the earlier replies.  A density shift had occurred and the voice wasn’t just Batman, it was a no-nonsense if you have something to say, say it later, right now take the rebreather, fire a line, and don’t ask questions Batman.  Dick reverted instinctively into alert obedience and followed Bruce’s eyes.  He saw an alert flashing at Workstation 2, and the feed from a closed circuit camera showing a taxi driving through the front gate. 

“Aw damn, extra visitor,” Dick said.  It was inconvenient, an interruption, but that’s all it was.  He didn’t see any cause for the foreboding gravel of the Psychobat. 

 

Upstairs, Alfred greeted the new guest with polite formality, but he was genuinely pleased under the stoic veneer.  He had feared the new knock at the door might be a returning Guest #3, Edward Nigma.  This visitor was a very different prospect.  Alfred showed him to the north wing, thinking to keep him isolated from the other guests, but as they walked down the hall, the gentleman noticed color and movement in one of the rooms.  He said nothing at the time, but once they reached the north drawing room, he voiced his curiosity. 

“Was that Superman?” he asked in whispered awe. 

Alfred could see no credible way to deny it.  It was plausible that Superman was in the house, having some business with Master Bruce or Miss Selina.  It was not plausible that Alfred could have opened the door for the Man of Steel and not known who he was.  So he murmured a suitably restrained “I believe so, sir” and then withdrew.

 

So I finally got Superman to understand about the trees.  Tigers are solitary; they prefer to live and hunt alone and communicate with each other by scent.  Tree trunks are popular for marking, and they’re effective scratching posts for sharpening claws.  Introducing six new tigers into the Catitat meant there would be six new tiger territories in the Catitat and a lot of marking going on.  Current loathing for Pammy notwithstanding, I’d be needing some trees.  Old trees.  Big trees.  I had to remind him what a fully-grown Bengal was capable of, because he was talking about some new growths from a magazine syndicate’s paper forest in Canada. 

“Remember the deathtrap, Spitcurl: teeth, claws, body armor shredded like tinfoil, Bruce’s thigh shredded like hamburger?  I need trees.  At the risk of sounding like Poison Ivy, I need tall, noble, strong, large, wide trees.  Not seedlings planted last year to become next year’s Neiman Marcus catalog.”

He had this little smile like he finally understood, but Alfred had stepped into the room.  Before Superman could say a word, we heard that soft cough that meant if it wasn’t too much trouble, Alfred would like to have the floor. 

“Excuse me for interrupting, sir, miss,” he said formally.  “A Mister Dent is here to see Miss Selina.”

Great.  I was just thinking earlier how I missed Harvey, but at this moment, another (quasi)-rogue guest was the last thing I needed.  I glanced warily at the be-caped spectacle standing by the fireplace, but it was suddenly Clark Kent standing there instead.  Ten thousand Bat-entrances and exits that make other people jump, and I’ve never batted an eye.  That Super-switch, I let out a gasp.  Alfred just gave that little cough again.

“My apologies, sir,” he said dryly, “but I believe Mr.  Dent did notice the distinct suggestion of a red and blue costume as we passed the door to this room, and expressed his curiosity as to what Superman might be doing here.”

“So much for that,” I started to say—but only a syllable in, Clark Kent had vanished and Superman stood in his place again.

“Stop that,” I hissed.

 

They began with Roxy’s lack of “star status” as a Rogue.  When Roxy Rocket committed a crime, it didn’t warrant Bat-attention.  The “juniors” usually swept up her messes.  Which she’d noticed.

“There’s only one upside to the junior bats, Doc,” she declared philosophically.  “If you’ve ever been beaten up by Batgirl, the possibility that you could die definitely crosses your mind…”

Archetypal Type-T response. 

“Nine or ten times…”

Thrill-addict.

“In the course of one punch…”

Adrenaline reliance.

“And the resulting flight backwards…”

Panic Fetish

“Into whatever very hard object is behind you.” 

And then:

“You can’t hold your head up with the likes of the Penguin and Scarecrow and Poison Ivy…”

Typical insecurity.

“…not daring to even mention a heavy hitter like the Joker, when the last six times you’ve been busted, it was either Batgirl, Robin and Batgirl, Black Canary and Batgirl, or Officer Dempsey and two actresses on a ride along.”

Er, right… insecurity of a fundamentally stunted individual dependent on outside validation.

“And one of them recognized me from this episode of Charmed I did a few years back.  Turns out she was playing the half-demon fortuneteller I was doubling that got incinerated by a fireball.”

Eh… yes… requiring validation from others because she herself lacks adult ego structure.

“And this ride along they’re on is because they’re going to be starring as lady cops in a new series, and they’re sure to need a good stuntwoman of that height and build.  If I’d be free by the time the shooting starts, maybe they could put in a good word.”

“And THEN they start asking Officer Dempsey how long he thinks I’ll be up the river, cause the second unit starts shooting for the pilot in July.  That is NOT a story you tell at the Iceberg over a couple a brews, Doc.”

“So when I got some grade-A prime dish like you and Raven, I’m gonna, by God, spread the joy!”

 

Alfred said Harvey caught a glimpse of Superman’s costume and was curious.  Alfred has a knack for understatement.  Harvey was so curious, it had pushed whatever he came to talk about right out of his head.  I walked in the room, and the first words out of his mouth were:

“Why’s Superman—Oh, I mean, hi Selina.  You look lovely today.  Why is Superman here?”

“Hi,” I said, accepting an air kiss.  I saw no reason to make up a story.  The truth worked fine, so I told him Superman was trying to place some tigers at the Catitat.  “‘Free to good home.’  Long story.”

We sat down.  The pleasantries were finished and it was clearly Harvey’s turn to talk; he’d come to see me, after all.  But instead of getting to the point, he said he’d seen Superman on the news earlier.  “He was in Florida.  Something with the space shuttle.”

I was starting to think this wasn’t enthusiasm for Superman as Superman so much as enthusiasm for Superman as a stalling tactic, when Harvey confirmed it.  He took a deep breath, reached out impulsively, and grabbed my hand.

“Selina, this is kind of awkward, the history being what it is.  Me and Bruce.  You and Bruce.  We were bachelor buddies once and then of course Darth came along and you and I were Rogue buddies… Eddie, the Iceberg, Batman’s adversaries, crime and criminals.  It’s all very complicated.”

That’s not the kind of intro you want to hear at any time, but especially not on a day that’s already seen “ease the tension,” “I slept with Muffy,” Bruce and Eddie doing the James Bond baccarat table, and let’s not forget “Oh no, Kitten, I wasn’t avoiding our special place at the opera.”

“You and Bruce are complicated,” Harvey went on.  “Did you know Eddie and I came over here one day when you two first got together, made sure he knew the rules.  We figured an ordinary guy like that, tossed into the deep end with Catwoman and all…”

I really wanted my hand back.  But pulling it away didn’t seem like a good idea.

“An ordinary guy like that,” Harvey repeated.  “The thing is Selina, I’m so fond of you both.  Bruce was my friend first.  You and I only met after Two-Face came into the picture, but still.  I think of you as a kid sister, you know that.  And I’d do just about anything to protect my kid sister.”

“Harvey,” I began, but then I couldn’t think of how to continue.  Part of me wanted to remind him that I don’t need protecting, part of me wanted to tell him to get to the point, and part of me wanted to get my damn hand back so I could demonstrate a proper face-clawing technique.

Harvey took a deep breath, gave my fingers an unnerving squeeze, and then released me, stood up, and paced.  After several agitated steps back and forth in front of the fireplace, he spun around and said, “Something’s up with Eddie that both of you should know about.”

Shit.  Something’s up with Eddie.  All I could think of was his visit earlier.  “Me.  Muffy.  Sex.”  But nobody’d said a word about Claudia Muffington, not one word.  All Harvey had been talking about was me and Bruce.  What could Claudia and Eddie’s embarrassing back-of-taxi adventure possibly have to do with…  Uh oh.

Something’s up with Eddie that both of you should know about.

I didn’t like where this was going.

“Why would Bruce possibly need to know about Eddie?” I asked lightly.

“Like I said, I’m fond of you both, Selina.  But Bruce was really just a cohort when I was riding high as an up and coming politico.  But you…  Selina, if it wasn’t for your friendship, I don’t know how I would’ve stayed sane through the Darth years.  I’d hate to see anything happen to Bruce on general principle, he’s a pal, but mostly I’d hate to see any harm come to him because of what it would do to you.”

No, I did not like where this was going.  The only thing that could possibly be worse happened next: a heavy, familiar footstep in the hallway, coming towards the door.  Clup Clup Clup… and there was Bruce. 

“Harvey, how are you?” he said warmly, “Alfred told me you stopped by, what a wonderful surprise.” 

 

“Hi!” Eddie said, with a bright chipper smile, while the imposing figure who answered the door regarded him with a grim frown.  “Your name was Pennyworth, right?  Nice name.  Catchy.  You may remember that mine is Nigma.  I was here earlier.”

“I recall your visit, sir.”

“Yes.  Thought you would.”

“I regret to inform you, sir, that Mr.  Wayne and Miss Selina are not at home.”

“Oh but they are, Pennyworth.  They’re in there right now, I know that.”

“Allow me to rephrase, sir.  They are not at home to visitors.”

“That’s just it, they’re in there right now with a visitor, with Harvey Dent, and that’s why I’ve got to warn them.  It’s all my fault, don’t you see?  I’ve got to warn them about Harvey, that’s why I came back!”

Alfred pursed his lips, and adjusted his weight for leverage against the door.

“I regret, Mr.  Nigma, that I am forced to speak plainly.  Neither Mr.  Wayne nor Miss Selina are at home to you.”

“What if I said I forgot my reading glasses?” Eddie tried desperately.

In reply, Alfred took a swift step backward while swinging the door to shut with a resounding slam in Eddie’s face.

 

Bruce offered his hand, a bright borderline-Fop smile on his face, a marked contrast to the icy politeness he’d used with Eddie.

“Bruce,” Harvey replied, a little forced but genial. 

Then there was a pause.  The loaded pause that even non-detectives recognize as ‘We were talking about you right before you walked in.’ 

“I hear you were at the opera last night,” Bruce said, blithely ending the stalemate as if he wasn’t aware of anything awkward.  “I’m so sorry to have missed it,” he added cheerfully.

It was so light and casual, so socially correct, but the simple remark unleashed a cyclone of layered tension that left me longing for the baccarat table.  First there was Muffy, Harvey was at the opera with Muffy—who Eddie slept with.  Then there was Bruce missing the opera—and I’d gone with Eddie, who slept with Muffy.  Then there was Bruce missing the opera so I went with Eddie as in “Something’s up with Eddie that both of you should know about.”  And finally, the one I probably shouldn’t have been worrying about at that point but the one that, for me, overshadowed all the rest: there was Bruce missing the opera as in “I’m not avoiding our special place and not avoiding you.”

“Oh, you didn’t miss much,” Harvey said, presumably to diffuse the lingering tension.  “Soprano was off.  Say, did you know the love story was tacked on as an afterthought?  Original story was just about the crime.  Hermann.  Obsession.”

I bit my lip.  Without looking, I could imagine Psychobat’s blood pressure surge at this delayed echo from his verbal duel with Eddie.

“I do recall hearing that at some point,” Bruce said airily.

“Some say the love story gets in the way, but I eh… Well, actually, I don’t have an opinion either way.  I was listening to the Knights game.”

It went on.  They chatted for maybe a minute about the Knights’ chances in the playoffs, and then something happened I can only attribute to a hallucination.  I thought I saw Eddie.  This particular drawing room has a view of the garden maze, and I was so OVER this nightmare of a day, stuck in yet another weird Bruce/Rogue tête-à-tête, that I must have flashed on the previous one.  In amongst the deep green of the tall maze hedges, I thought I saw a lighter green, Riddler green, just for a second, moving towards the house.  The men were still talking sports.  Bruce simply would not look my way to get the ˜˜putting out fires here, get out˜˜ signal.  So I did the next best thing to get rid of him:

“Guess what Dear, Superman is in the morning room.  Why don’t you go keep him company.”

Yes, I do know that Psychobat popped a blood vessel right then.  I figured I’d deal with that later.  For now, it got him out of the room.  Bruce gave a magnificent performance as a worldly sophisticate who is thrilled beyond words at the thought of Superman in his home but is trying to carry it off with jaded indifference.  Once he was out the door, I turned to Harvey.

“So, where were we?” I asked cautiously.

“I was about to talk to you in a way you won’t like,” he replied. 

“Like a big brother?” I guessed.

“No, like a district attorney,” he said seriously.  “You know I don’t include you when I say this, Selina, so don’t be insulted…”  He cleared his throat importantly—and I saw that movement outside the window again, Riddler green, and bigger than before.  “Criminals are dangerous,” he said severely.  “Especially when they want something they’re not going to get.  I like Eddie personally, I know you do too.  But Selina, he is a dangerous Rogue.”

I wanted to say “No shit, Sherlock,” but I couldn’t say a word.  Eddie, the dangerous Rogue, was outside the window.  It wasn’t my imagination playing tricks; it wasn’t just the green of his suit.  I could see all of him now, face, body, and bowler hat, pressed against the window, finger to his lips in an absurd shushing gesture.

“First,” I told Harvey, trying to stay focused.  “I’m a dangerous Rogue too, so if you really don’t want to insult me, don’t go excluding me from the sweeping indictment.  And not only am I a dangerous Rogue, Harvey my pet, so were you.  What does any of this have to do with… uh…”

I floundered because Eddie was waving his arms now, like New Year’s Eve charades.  The first word… sounded like… sharpening knives?

“Um,” I sputtered, trying to remember where I left off with Harvey.  He reached out and took my hand again. 

“You and Bruce have a problem with Eddie,” he said soberly.

Outside the window, Eddie gave up on charades and mouthed: “We have a problem with Harvey.”

“No, I’m sure we don’t,” I told Harvey, trying to sound just as sober as he had, but afraid I sounded like the sputtering floozy in a sex farce covering for her naked lover hiding in the linen closet.

“Yes, you really do,” Harvey said definitely.

“No, we really don’t,” I countered.

“You do.”  “We don’t.”  And he laughed.

“Selina, why didn’t we ever team up back in the day?  We dance divinely.”

“Yes, we do,” I agreed, offering a naughty grin that I hoped would keep his eyes on me and away from the window (where Eddie was apparently signaling a ten yard penalty for roughing the kicker).  “We dance divinely, Harvey, but I don’t think you would have liked my working that closely with ‘Darth Duplicity.’  Besides, if your half started enjoying yourself on a crime spree, it might have messed up the whole feng shui with the coin.  I can see the headline now: Two-Face switches to Dice, Catwoman to blame.”

He smiled. 

“It was Darth Duality,” he corrected, then the smile faded.  “You have a problem with Eddie,” he intoned.

My own smile faded too.  He’d said it like the prophet of doom in a Greek tragedy, a delivery he’s mastered from years of practice.  I decided I really had no choice but to let him continue. 

“Well?”  I asked.

“Selina…”

“Yes?”  I prompted impatiently.

“Eddie is in love with you.”

To be continued...

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