This was going to be tricky. Selina hadn’t been herself since I asked her about protocols. I played it badly. I may have awakened the cat.
I didn’t think it through beforehand. It was impulsive: if she knows them so well and isn’t friends with them, let’s make the best of it. Idiot. Now I really need her insight, and I may have poisoned the well.
The cats inside alerted her to my presence the moment I landed on the terrace. Too late, I thought that Batman might be the wrong face to put on this. Bruce Wayne should have brought a bottle of wine…
“Yes?” Not exactly hostile, but I couldn’t help but notice she had joined me on the balcony rather than inviting me in.
“I need your help with something.”
“Monitor Duty again?”
Her tone was cold and mocking. If she was in costume, I would have been bracing myself for the claws.
“I’m serious. There’s a situation brewing—a bad one—and I need your help before people get hurt.”
“This must be the ‘tude Nightwing complains about. You just take it for granted that everybody will be at your beck ’n call 24/7 and do anything you ask—”
“Damnit, Catwoman, this is important!”
Cold steel slammed down behind her eyes. Calling her Catwoman was definitely a mistake. And asking for her help so soon after the protocols debacle … Damnit what was wrong with me. I used to be able to handle this woman and her tempers and her impossible unfathomable ideas of ethics….
I used to handle her.
And Green Lantern wears yellow skivvies.
Selina returned to her apartment without a word. She didn’t try to throw me off the balcony or anything, but I sensed that she might if I tried to follow her in. It was completely unacceptable. Why did she have to make everything so difficult? I couldn’t get bogged down in this right now.
I flipped open my phone and dialed her private line. Miraculously she answered. Before she could start with the objections I blurted out “It’s Harvey. Two-Face. That’s why I need your help, okay? It’s Harvey.”
Without warning, the bedroom window shot open and there she was –changed into her Catwoman costumed except, I noted with amusement, for the gloves, whip, and one boot which she carried in her hand as she poured onto the balcony.
“You manipulative son of a—” –zipped up the boot–
“…How dare you think that just because I might give you a tumble now and again—” –left glove–
“…He is my best friend.” –pulling at the other boot–
“…He’s more than a friend; he’s a brother.” –claw caught on the boot, glove came back off–
“…He’s a nice guy who’s very isolated.” –reboot–
“…has nothing in common with the likes of Joker or Penguin or those lowlife thugs—” –zip–
“…just cause we have sex now doesn’t mean everything’s changed.” –left glove redux–
“…cold-hearted bastard to think you can just use me to get to…”
“Selina, stop. Please. Harvey, your friend Harvey, is in real trouble. He’s having, I don’t know, some kind of breakdown. I don’t understand what’s going on with him, and that’s why I want your help. Understand? I am asking for your help. I’m not trying to use you, not trying to take advantage of our relationship. I am simply asking you to calm down and listen to me for five blessed minutes.”
I didn’t add that while having sex may not change everything, watching her clumsily pull on the costume while chewing me out was unquestionable the most adorable sixty seconds I would ever spend with any criminal and definitely a point of no return.
She did stop. She looked up at me with those gorgeous green eyes and listened. She said she’d talk to Harvey, as a friend, and find out what was wrong. She agreed to help me.
That’s what should’ve happened.
Except I didn’t say Please Stop your friend Harvey is in trouble. I asked why she was protecting those people. I asked if she had no concept of right and wrong. I said all evil needs to thrive is for good people to do nothing.
She said I insulted her intelligence. That I was using her to get at those I couldn’t beat in a fair fight. She said I was sneaky and manipulative, trying to play her…
She called Me sneaky and manipulative… SHE called ME…. Well it takes one to know one, Lover!
Then I said… I said … I said unforgivable, hateful things. I brought up the past. I reminded her of all the times that… I implied, I knew it wasn’t true, but I implied that she just played up to me—sexually—to keep me off balance, that the whole affair was “just business.”
It wasn’t heated after that. We both got so eerily calm it scares me. A high school debate has more passion. We could never and would never agree on the deep moral issues. White is white and black is black. We were kidding ourselves. It was over.
Bruce did a backflip off the hanging rings, somersaulted in mid air and landed hands-first on the sidehorse, then flipped again to land on his feet while swatting the practice dummy—which blocked his punch– causing him to overbalance on the landing.
The figure that stood in the practice dummy’s spot gave a mischievous grin.
“You would’ve grounded me for life if I’d fallen for that.”
“Put the dummy back on its mark before you go.”
“Aw shucks, boss man, I was just havin’ some fun.”
“You here for some purpose other than sabotaging my workout, Dick?”
“Yeah, matter of fact, I am.”
“You and Selina have a fight?”
Bruce turned with a scowl that could reduce entire planets to ash.
“What possible business is that of yours?”
Rather than answer, Dick sat, put his feet up at one of the several computer workstations, and leaned the chair backwards until it balanced precariously on the rear wheels. Then he reached over his head to take a bottle of water from the mini-fridge behind him. Bruce found the performance annoying. Dick was making a point of his easy familiarity with the cave.
“I got an interesting e-mail the other day: seems you’ve been running Tim ragged with extra training—including big bad Zogger”
“Strategic self-mutating defensive regimen 4,” Bruce corrected automatically. Why Dick had to make up silly nicknames for the various training programs was beyond him.
“And Barbara tells me Cassie’s practicing twice as long too. So I ask myself: Self, what was the one occurrence that always brought on double-time training sessions with big bad Zogger? Yes, it was a run-in with Catwoman!”
Bruce gave an exasperated sigh. This was none of Dick’s business—but it was simpler and faster to just tell him and make him go away.
“We broke up, okay.”
“Pah. You’ll be back together by the end of the week.”
“We broke up, Dick. There are… differences… we can never get around.”
“The differences are what make it fun, Bruce! That gobbledygook about
couples that are two halves of the same person is all bullshit.
I know women that are just like me—I can’t stand ‘em.
You and Selina click off your differences, you always have.”
“It’s over, Dick.”
“Do you still love her?”
“That was a mighty fast answer.”
Bruce said nothing.
“You still love her. You had a fight. You’ll make it up.”
“We never fought like this before.”
“You never fought before.”
“Dick, this is Selina we’re talking about. We’ve been fighting since—”
“That wasn’t fighting. Whatever the hell that was that you used to do with Catwoman was a turn-on for both of you. That was foreplay. This was a fight. Now you know what one is. You fought, you make up. It’s not the end of the world.”
Bruce considered this for a long moment. Dick was his junior by ten years. He had no business doling out advice in this condescending manner. But, he had slightly more experience with “normal” relationships than Bruce—slightly. It was just possible he might be right.
To be continued...