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Chapter 7: Pandora’s Box


Jason could sense when his Orbis Vox Vocis located Selina and delivered its message.  He had brought a decanter of brandy out onto the terrace and placed it on a small wrought iron table nestled between two comfortable garden chairs.  He poured his own drink and cupped the snifter, letting his hand warm the contents to release the rich bouquet.  He closed his eyes, inhaling deeply.  Then his eyes popped open.

Someone was coming but… not Selina.  He couldn’t quite sense who… Batman’s temporal echo was interfering again… then there was a whoosh—not an echo at all—and Batman had landed precisely where he had before.

“Selina sends her regrets,” he graveled.  “She went to see Harvey.”


“She’s been out of town.”

“Ah.  I see.”

“This was her first chance to—” 

“I understand.  You’ve told her then.  Tell me, does she share your view that my magickal intervention on poor Dent’s behalf constitutes a foolish lapse of the highest magnitude?”

“She said it will kill him to have Two-Face gone and then come back,” Batman said frankly.  Jason turned his head swiftly to the side—not as if hurt or ashamed, but more like he was reacting to an expected and deserved physical slap.  Without knowing why, Batman added in a milder tone:  “Then she said ‘it costs nothing to hope.’”

“Help yourself to a brandy,” Jason offered, waving to the decanter. 

When Batman didn’t budge, Jason gave a wry smile, poured the second brandy and held it out.  Neither man spoke.  Neither moved.  After a long minute, accepting the only solution to the impasse, Batman took the glass from Jason’s hand and sat in the empty chair.  

“’Costs nothing to hope,’” Jason repeated.  “Dear Selina.  A superior woman.  A word of advice, Bruce: Don’t let your cynicism drain that out of her.”

Batman let it pass.  He had bristled when Jason used his name and would have bristled more at the presumption that followed—had he not seen Jason’s face and followed his eyes inside… Through the glass doors, a small photograph sat on the desk, a pale, pretty woman with the shingled hair fashionable in the 1930s, wearing a monocle…  Jason sipped his drink.  Batman merely looked at the untouched glass in his own hand.  The gloomy moment made a striking and depressing counterpoint to Bruce Wayne’s ‘Boy’s night out’ with Harvey Dent…  Harvey who was so ridiculously optimistic about his future.

As if he heard the thought, Jason turned to Batman grimly.

“This isn’t the old argument about magick, is it?  We’ve had that talk before.  I know you’re a scientist, and you won’t trust what you can’t reproduce under control conditions and quantify and diagram and make natty charts that show why four is the atomic number of Beryllium.  But you haven’t even stopped to acknowledge that, regardless of what might happen tomorrow, Gotham is one criminal light today—YOU are one enemy light today—because of what I did.  You haven’t given the most fleeting acknowledgement to the fact that today you have your friend back.  I know you detest magick, Bruce, but this is something else.”

“Maybe,” Batman admitted.



“I thought you would tell me it was none of my business and leave in a huff.”

Etrigan considered Batman a brother demon trapped in a cage of flesh and bone.  The glare Jason now received made it hard to discount that theory. 

“It is none of your business, Jason.  But you’re right, there is something… more… bothering me about this.  And if I don’t get into it with you, here and now, it might be with Selina later… and I’d rather not risk that.”

“Is it such a risk to talk to Selina?”

“About this, it might be.”

“Do tell, what’s it about?”

“Happy endings,” Batman growled with contempt.

Jason responded with a noise that sounded very like a bat-grunt.


Atlantis has got nothing on Gotham for the splendidly weird.  Neither does Sub Diego.

Every lair, regardless of what it had been before, needs a comfortable living space.  Maybe that’s a challenge in other cities; I don’t know how Flash villains go about it.  But in Gotham, there is an entire subculture of artists, actors, and students foregoing crappy apartments and installing themselves into raw industrial spaces they can get on the cheap.  The ingenuity with which they’ll equip old warehouses, factories, or meat lockers with the basic conveniences is equaled only by the speed at which they’ll do the same for you if you wave a little cash under their nose.

Shortly after he acquired the Flick Theatre for his hideout, Two-Face had these kids set up his kitchen in what had been the general manager’s office.  That’s where I was now: in the former general manager’s office of the Flick Theatre, sitting at Two-Face’s two-tone kitchen table, across from Harvey Dent sporting a fully healed face, eating cold fried chicken.

Atlantis has nothing on this.

The first wave of awed disbelief had hit before I’d even seen him.  I hadn’t called ahead; it was Harvey, I just drop in.  I went straight to his alarm, punched in the PIN: 22222 222 22, and waited.  No low hum.  The red indicator didn’t flash to yellow and then to green.  The system wasn’t deactivating. He’d changed his PIN. 

It was unbelievable.  It was… real, suddenly.  Harvey had changed his PIN.

It can take me forty minutes to crack a Phoenix 9000 and I really didn’t want to take the time, so I snipped a non-critical wire, setting up a short between the keypad and the main alarm cabinet.  The system was still operating, so it wouldn’t sound the alarm, it would just light the internal controls, letting Harvey know there was a glitch with the keypad.  I backed into the shadows and waited.

I didn’t wait long.  I heard a door open and Harvey running up the stairs, muttering.  When he got closer, the second wave of disbelief hit.  He wasn’t muttering; he was singing.

One thing I know… and I’ve always known…♫ 
♫  I am my own best friend. ♫

This was unbelievable.  

Baby’s alive… but baby’s alone… ♫ 
and baby’s his own best friend. ♫

Catman made a joke about that song once.  It was at the Iceberg. He just found out about one of Harley’s karaoke outings, one to which he had not been invited.  He asked if Two-Face had sung this song.  Harvey calmly flipped his coin, stood up, walked up to Blake… like a mailman delivering the mail, completely relaxed and casual… picked him up, walked behind the bar, and stuffed him into the little shelf where they keep the rocks glasses.  Oswald double charged him for the damage, which he seemed to think was a better joke than Blake’s.

By now, Harvey had reached the keypad only a few feet in front of me.  I could only see the back of his head, but I could hear the sing-a-long clearer than ever.

And trusting to luck… it’s only for fools… ♫ 
Playing a game…where I make the rules… ♫

I was just—stunned. 

And rule number ONE, from here till the end is ♫ 
I am my own best friend. ♫

It’s like: you wake up one day and your cats talk to you. 

When I first hid in this spot in the shadows behind the keypad, I had planned to pounce out at him—I didn’t now, I was just too fucking stunned.  He liked that last part so much, about trusting to luck, that he was singing it again—then he trailed off when he found the cut wire.  Most people can’t tell a claw-snip from any other kind of cut, not at a glance.  Harvey is one of the few that can.  Either that or he just guessed it was me.  However he knew, he was holding the snipped wire and murmuring about what the cat dragged in. 

I took that as my cue and was about to step out of the shadows and meow, when he turned around to look for me.  He was looking too high, towards the surrounding rooftops.  It gave me a startling view of his face—and wave of disbelief #3.

“Why Miss Perkins, you’re beautiful,” I purred—startling him so badly that he stumbled back against the keypad.

“Sweet mother of—You startled me, Kitty Cat!  Shouldn’t sneak up like that.”

I just shook my head while this ridiculous grin spread all over my face.

“Harvey!  Harvey, it’s just—look at you,” I bubbled.  It was disgracefully unfeline, but I threw my arms around him and gave him a hug.  He cleared his throat, we came inside, and now we were eating chicken.

He had poured me a diet soda. 3 ice cubes.  It was unreal.

“So this rotund little tailor chucks me out of his store like I was asking for a handout, and then the poor salesman comes chasing me down the street ‘cause I left my handkerchief in the fitting room.  Except I hadn’t, he just wanted to give me a referral.  Get a bit of the lost commission back, probably.  And here I am.”

I couldn’t get used to it.  “I,” “Me,” “My”—It was a little like those first weeks after Batman took off the mask.  I had to recalibrate my brain.  The man inside the Bat had a name…  This wasn’t that different in terms of a shock, it takes a while to process.  Harvey had one face, and he said “I”… He also kept looking at my legs, which was a little out of the ordinary. 

“So what will you do with yourself now?  When you’re done shopping, I mean,” I added with a wink.

“I haven’t decided.  I thought maybe develop this place.  It’s a fine old building—You do something new with your hair?”

“No, but I’m a bit windblown,” I told him. “I was on the coast for a few days, oceanfront.”

“Being close to the water suits you. Who knew?”

“You win the prize,” I laughed.  “First person not to say ‘Cats and Water.’” 

“What do I win?” he asked.

I got up and gave him a kiss on the cheek—the side that used to be scarred. It just seemed like the thing to do. 

He blushed.  Then he got this puzzled look, his brow crinkled up into the deepest furrows I have ever seen, and then… he flipped out.  He told me to leave—actually he told me to get out.  Then he told me to get the hell out.  Then he said he was sorry, he had to get up early, he had an early meeting in the morning—no, of course he didn’t have a meeting, he meant he was casing a target—no, that wasn’t it—he had a headache.  Yes that was it.  And then he asked if I’d heard the one where this guy goes into a bar with an octopus.


At last.  At last Harley Quinn had found the people who truly understood her.  

“When he acts like he’s ignoring her or blowing her off, it shows how hard he’s fighting the attraction now…”

“See she stands up to him, that’s why they are so perfect together.  Okay sure, he treats her bad, but the more horrible he is and that she loves him even so, that is real romance, true love…”

“Only she can bring out the good in him.  It shows what a woman she is…”

“They’re both clowns, don’t you see!  It’s all about the laughter!”

“I don’t see why we have to hear so much about that crime stuff.  That doesn’t matter, it’s just how they met.  I want to hear more about what they do together.  Enough about the dumb crime stuff.  More Joquinn! More Joquinn! More Joquinn!”

It took Harley a little while to figure out that “Joquinn” was her and Mistah J.  There was another group calling them “Harleker” and there was some kind of feud going on between the two groups.  Harleker sounded better, this group maintained, more like “Benifer” (which didn’t make much sense to Harley because Ben Afflick and Jennifer Lopez broke up, whereas she and Mistah J were forever).  The other group said it was wrong not to put Joker’s name first since he was the man. 

“Why isn’t there any more speculation about a Joker-Harley wedding, huh?  Not since that one lousy Post article, where it didn’t even go through.  Boo!  They should get married!  He loves her.  That’s what they’re supposed to do!  I don’t understand how there can be all this stuff about them where they don’t get married!”

Now these were her people!  A whole message board, and not one of them got all mean and nasty about Mistah J’s quirky little habits with the SmileX or the crowbars or the timebombs or the hatchets.  She had finally found a group that really understood her.  They understood Puddin’.  They understood EVERYTHING! 


“Things are changing, Jason.  She’s changing.  ‘Evolving,’ Alfred says.  She’s gotten so comfortable in our life together, it’s starting to look like… maybe one day she could expect…”

Jason chuckled. 

“Fewer women are obsessed with that fairy tale than we like to think, Bruce.  Selina’s not the type.”

“Everybody is the type, Jason.  Everybody down deep would like to believe they could… somehow… live happily ever after.”

“Everybody meaning you, yourself.”

Batman glared.  “It costs nothing to hope, she said.  We both know better, Jason.  It costs everything.  It’s… beyond foolish. It’s emotional suicide… Russian roulette, at the very least.”

Etrigan perked up at the analogy, but Jason ignored him.

“Bruce… A part of you wants to believe you and Selina can have the fairy tale.”


“And then, because of me, A ‘Happily Ever After’ walks through your front door and says ‘Oh, Selina’s out of town, I guess I’ll talk to you instead.’  Is that it?  And a part of you wants to believe—that it’s real, that Harvey will make it, the happy ending is possible.”


“No?  Despite the ten-thousand sound, logical, scientific reasons you and Catwoman could never get as far as you already have?  That little possibility of more doesn’t twinkle approximately four atoms high, deep and wide, like a molecule of Beryllium somewhere in the back of your brain?  Where this ‘Psychobat’ throws his cape over it and whistles.”

Batman reflexively made a fist, crushing his glass to bits.

Jason looked at the brandy-soaked glove full of glass splinters and arched an eyebrow.

“It was that or throw it against the railing,” Batman announced flatly.

“I’m sorry, Bruce.  I apologize for inserting Hope into your field of vision where you are unable to ignore it.”

“You above all people should understand, Jason.  You that keeps glancing at that picture inside, the woman with the monocle.  Tell me that was a happily ever after courtesy of your fairy tale hocus pocus.”

“You shouldn’t be so dismissive of Fairy Tales, Bruce.  Before that Disney fellow came along with his singing dwarves and dancing mice, you would have liked them.  The magicks in those stories are seldom a good thing.  They’re the curse that traps the prince as a frog, puts the kingdom to sleep for a hundred years, or lures the children into the witch’s clutches.  The hero earns his happy ending by bearing all the undeserved burdens with patience and courage, overcoming the obstacles however many they are and however unfair… Does any of this sound familiar?”

“Thank you for the brandy,” Batman said with harsh finality.  He stood to go. “Sorry about the glass.” 

“Besides which, Harvey Dent’s fate is hardly a ‘happily ever after.’  He can never fall back on that old crutch he was so dependent on, no matter how stressful his life becomes… almost like an alcoholic… day in, day out, for the rest of his… doesn’t sound like a happy ending, does it?  Not unless he works for it.”

Batman had removed the grapnel launcher from his belt and aimed it at the usual gargoyle.

“Give Selina my regards,” Jason said pointedly.  “You will be seeing her at home, won’t you?”

Batman grunted like it was a guilty admission.

“Tell her, I send my warmest hope… for her happiness.”


I unfurled the whip—it’s really the only way to get their attention when one of the Arkham crowd starts to flip out. 

“Harvey, I never thought I’d have to say this to your half, but if you don’t get a hold of yourself, I’ll set you on fire.”

It worked. Always does.  He focused.  He put both of his hands flat on the table.  Seemed to look at the left one for a minute.  Then at last, he looked up at me and spoke.

“I’m sorry, Selina.  I seem to have been momentarily possessed by an idiot. All better now.”

“Harvey, you started to throw me out, and then you started to tell the octopus joke.  That goes a little beyond Friday night at the Iceberg crazy.  That was at very least—”

“A panic attack.  You got any loose change, a quarter, dime, penny, anything?  I won’t flip it, I just want to look at it.”

“Harvey.  Calm the hell down or I’m going to hit you with that chicken leg.  Tell me what happened just now.”

“NO! No-no. Oh no.  No way.”




“…I thought he was coming back.”

“Okay, Harvey, if that happens again, asking to look at my loose change is probably not such a hot idea.” 

“Yeah.  Could you not use that word again?”

“What word, loose—”

“No.  Um…  ‘hot.’  Also ‘leg.’  In fact, probably not a good idea to talk about any of the chicken parts…  You might want to put the whip away too.  And ah, if you could maybe, oh I don’t know, put on a bulky sweater or something.  I got some extra large sweatshirts around here, if you don’t mind joining the Galen MacDoogles fan club.”

“Harvey?  Earth to Harvey.  Look at me, focus and start making sense.”

“Selina,” he wailed.  “You’re… hot.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Really, really hot stuff.  I mean—damn, woman, look at you.  And you gotta wrap it in tight leather, that’s just—low.” 

I am my own best friend was nothing compared to this. 

“Harvey, are you coming on to me?” I asked. 

“NO!” he yelped and pushed his chair backwards—adding an ungodly wood-on-linoleum screech to the verbal blithering—and at the same time he hopped up and back.  “No.  No no no.  No.  I do notHe—He does—did.  I do not have those thoughts about you, Selina.  No way.  Never.  Little sister.  Never even noticed—although how when you wrap it all in purple leather—You go out like that!  You… shouldn’t.  Men get ideas.  You have no idea what—I mean, Two-Face alone would—but I didn’t listen.  Whatever thoughts he might have had, I did not listen.  Because a guy doesn’t.  Y’see.”

I nodded.

I did see.

“Leonard Berlander all over again,” I whispered. 

Once upon a time, when Harvey was D.A., he had prosecuted a low-level thug named Leonard Berlander.  It turned out the guy was framed, but by the time Harvey found out, he had other things on his mind—namely his political future.  He let the guy rot.  And after a few years in and out of the clink, Leonard Berlander finally committed suicide.  By that time, Harvey was Two-Face.  He’d come to think of his Harvey persona as a pinnacle of all things noble and good.  The fallout, remembering that Harvey Dent had flaws like everyone else, nearly destroyed him.

“Selina, I do not have ideas like that about you.”

“S’okay, Big Brother,” I winked.  “Half the Iceberg does—”

“I know, and they know that I’ll flatten them if they so much as—”

“I know that.  And actually, Harvey, that ticks me off, because if my honor needs defending, I have claws of my own to take care of it.  But Harvey, listen to yourself.  Whatever you do or don’t notice about what I wrap in the purple leather, you come down on the side of flattening anybody at the Iceberg that gets out of line.”

“I… we… well…”

“You come down on the side of defending your little sister, yes?”

His fingers twitched.  It wasn’t an encouraging sign.  But then he said…

“Yeah. I did… Without flipping for it…  This time.”


It was late when Batman left Jason Blood’s, but not so late that he couldn’t make a few stops on the way home.  A crack den on East 119th yielded a satisfying haul of scum and the poison they peddled—and a lead on a downtown rave… The rave was winding down when Batman got there, only one dealer—smalltime—and “a lover not a fighter” according to his T-shirt (a claim borne out by his attempt to deter Batman’s attack by brandishing a cigarette lighter, screaming “Stay back or I’ll burn you good, freak!” and then running in such a blind panic that he slammed fullspeed into the doorframe).  It didn’t matter from a crimefighting perspective: it was filth removed from his city, filth that never should have been allowed to ooze into Gotham in the first place, now gone where it couldn’t poison more innocents.  From a crimefighting perspective, that was all that mattered.  But the guy was no fighter and Batman’s fists still ached to punch something.  He rousted the usual sleaze at Pete’s “Sports Bar”—Sports Bar denoting the addition of an extra television at a rancid waterfront dive where the worst criminal scum congregated… That led him to the warehouse where the last of the False Face Society were in hiding…  By the time the Batmobile pulled into the cave, the 3rd, 18th, and 29th precincts were still processing the paperwork because of Jason Blood’s lecture on fairy tales…

Of course, half of them would be back on the streets in a week or a month.  More poison would ooze into town to replace what Batman had confiscated; more scum would surface to sell it to innocents…  Today, it was better.  Tomorrow, there would be more work to do.

Damn Jason Blood.

This was supposed to take his mind off that whole ridiculous… There is no happily ever after.  It never ends.  None of it. “You haven’t even stopped to acknowledge that, regardless of what might happen tomorrow, Gotham is one criminal light today”

And tomorrow, if Harvey snapped back, he would be 10 times worse!

Batman had to think about tomorrow.  He had to be realistic about tomorrow.

“You are one enemy light today…today you have your friend back.”

Just like today there were a few guns, a few drugs, and a few scumbags off the street.  None of that negated the fact that tomorrow it could all be worse, that it probably would all be worse.  “It costs nothing to hope,” Selina had said.  Of all the temptations she’d thrown at him over the years, that was the most insidious.  Costs nothing to hope

Tim came limping out of the costume vault just as Batman approached it. 

“Oh hi,” the boy nodded glumly.

It was a curious contrast to when he ran into Stephanie a few nights before.  Tim had that same vaguely disturbed posture.  With Stephanie, Bruce identified it at once as guilt.  Tim’s was harder to assess.

“Rough night?” he hazarded.

“Was okay,” Tim hedged, “Caught a killer; it’s in the log.  Hope the case sticks.  If not, least the cops will keep a watch on him.” 

Batman grunted.  He glanced momentarily towards the workstation, intending to read Robin’s report first thing. 

“Steph and I split,” Tim added matter-of-factly.  “Wasn’t working.  Wasn’t going to.  Why waste the time when it’s just going to end in more crap.  So I’ll be patrolling alone again when you don’t need me to… Bruce?”   

Batman had removed the cowl and was scrutinizing Tim’s words and expression with an intensity the boy found unnerving.

“How do you know it ‘wasn’t going to work,’” he asked pointedly.

“I’d like to be the one to tell Oracle if you don’t mind—that I’ll be patrolling alone from now on, I mean.”

“Fine.  You tell Oracle that Robin will be patrolling alone, and somewhere in there you’ll presumably work in telling Barbara that Tim and Stephanie are no longer a couple.  But what I asked is: why you are so certain it wasn’t going to work.”

“’Cause I know, okay, Bruce.  I’m a realist, like you taught me.  The thing with Cecily showed me we can never have relationships with women that aren’t in our world, and that just leaves—”

“This isn’t just because of the episode with the Robin costume, I hope.”

“No.  It’s really not, Bruce.  Because if it wasn’t the costume, it’d be something else and whatever it is, Steph and I just don’t have the juice for it.  Y’know what I mean?”

“You’re just being realistic?” Bruce repeated with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah.  I don’t expect happily ever after—”

“What!” Bruce exclaimed, shocked by the use of those words for a second time this evening.

“—I know there’s gonna be speedbumps with anybody.  That’s reality. And me and Stephanie don’t have any real connection to get us over those.  That’s reality too.  We both wear costumes and fight crime—That just isn’t enough, Bruce. Not in the real world.  Not for me.  So I ended it.  Only fair thing to do.  Stupid to just let her go on in some fairy tale fantasy world thinking we’re going to say ‘I Do’ and ride off into the sunset together.”


Coming soon from Princess Press:  A Harley Quinn Romance.  
Theirs was a love forged in the fires of adversity, a troubled man with a mysterious past, a beautiful doctor who swore never to love again (Thanks to Professor Schnieder and his fricken C+, Thanks for nothing, Jerk). United by fate, they would stand alone against a Dark Terror from beneath the city.

Bruce sat at his workstation in the Batcave, staring openmouthed at the computer screen.  He was still reeling from Tim’s news—not to mention Tim’s bitterness—and then he found this.

Theirs was a love that would stand the test of time, it was… A Time to Laugh

He had installed the keylogger on to Harley Quinn’s computer when he first penetrated the Hacienda.  It transmitted her keystrokes to an OraCom relay whenever she opened a word processing program, allowing him to monitor her progress on her book.  He had just confirmed that she had abandoned the project and was about to log the success of Operation Wakeup Call, when this new document appeared.

No one else could see him as she did.  No one could see past his horrific unusual appearance or violent rages quirks.  Only she could appreciate…

It was pathetic, but at least it was unlikely to get her gassed, shot, hung, or dismembered.  That should mean Case Closed for Batman. Yet still Bruce sat there, perversely fascinated by the words on the screen.

“I love you, Harley, and you love me, HAHAHA.  With the evil Bat Dark Terror lurking beneath the city that could part us at any time, we should get married at once.  We’ll regret every moment we didn’t spend together if we don’t take this chance.”

Bruce felt snakes of nausea slithering in his gut.  She was so totally removed from reality—in such striking contrast to Tim, who seemed to be drowning in it.  Bruce was shocked to realize that both extremes seemed wrong to him.  Harley was obviously insane.  When your idea of “Love” means you overlook abuse and mass murder, that’s insane.  But there was something not quite right about Tim’s view either. 

He wondered if Selina was home. 

Rather than checking the security cameras, Bruce powered down the workstation and headed up to the manor himself.  As he left the study, he passed the telephone stand as he always did on his way into the Great Hall, he walked right past a small oil painting hung just above it.  He had taken only two steps when his mind processed the image and he turned slowly to study it.  It was a scene from Greek mythology by an unknown Russian master.  He examined it for a minute, then he continued upstairs. 

“It costs nothing to hope,” he graveled when he entered the bedroom.

Selina was stretched luxuriously across the bed.  She looked up at him with a miffed pout. 

“Hey Beautiful, glad you’re home,” she offered as an alternative greeting, “How is Harvey? How did it go with Aquaman? Nice grope on the rooftop. Is that a new negligee? Why thanks, Handsome.  I’m glad to be home.  The visit with Harvey was really strange.  Aquaman was a hoot.  The rooftop was fun, and yes, this is a new nightie, thanks for noticing.”

Bruce grunted.  “You said ‘it costs nothing to hope’ before.  Do you know how wrong that is? Today, Gotham is one criminal light.  Today, Two-Face is gone and I have my friend Harvey back.  There are a few guns, drugs and scumbags off the street.  And tomorrow it could all be worse.”

“But it might not be,” Selina said simply. 

“I know…” 

That was the crux of it, wasn’t it:  could be, might be, probably would be.  No certainties.  You couldn’t know for sure.  And that was supposed to be a good thing.  You could hope.  It MIGHT be worse tomorrow, but it might not. 

“You know that painting downstairs, right above the telephone?” he asked.

“Of course.  It’s Pandora’s Box.  The plaque is wrong by the way.  The artist is French, not Russian.  I think what you’ve got there is actually an unknown work of Jacques Louis David.”

“Yeah, not the point.  Pandora’s box.  All the evils released into the world—Murder, Crime, Hate, Disease, Poverty and Depravity, Pain and Death—and Hope.  The gods included Hope in that box, with all that evil… is it a mercy, to make it bearable—or is it the unkindest cut of all?  The darkness is always with us now and always will be and this little four atoms of twinkling hope is saying, somehow, it will all turn out okay?”

Selina raised an eyebrow, not suspiciously as Jason Blood had done, but with a gentle curiosity. 

“You know, there was a time I could read your moods pretty well,” she ventured carefully, rising from the bed and sauntering up to him with the old rooftop sway.  “They usually didn’t match up with what your mouth was saying, and that was fine.  Because we both knew what grunt-Stop right there, grunt-Not so fast, grunt-Those don’t belong to you really meant.”

She offered a naughty grin, which he glared at.

“Your point?”

She shrugged, and her posture changed entirely from seductive Cat to befuddled Selina.

“My point is that I don’t know how to translate grunt-These are the benefits of a classical education.” 

“There is no Happily Ever After, Selina.  The job will never be done.  All the crime—,” his voice caught, hating the admission to come “—can never be stopped.  But I go out there every night anyway.”  His voice had taken on a dead monotone that would have been frightening if not for the warmth glowing in his eyes.  “Two-Face is gone and Harvey is back, for now.  And you make me happy.”

“I like the sound of that last part—but I’m still confused.”

“So am I.  Let’s go to bed.  Tomorrow, I want you to give me a complete rundown on what happened with Sub Diego.”


Spoiler left Batgirl on the steepled roof of St. Maria Faustina’s.  None of them took her seriously.  Not Batman—that whole thing with the Robin costume, it was practically a joke.  Using her to send some kind of ‘message’ to Harley Quinn, what a crock.  What a waste of all she could offer if she really was made Robin.  And Oracle—Oracle didn’t have any faith in her at all.  It was ridiculous the way they thought they had to tell her exactly when to come out of the Batmobile and exactly who to go after.  Like she couldn’t handle just anybody that she decided to go for.  It was insulting.  And Tim—Tim that was so threatened by her pitiful 15-minutes in his role that he had to act like such a big man during their joint patrol, like he knew so much more than her and had such good instincts.  He had to call all the shots and then just because she opened her mouth, he dumps her.  Limp dick little prick.  She’d show him.  She’d show him just how wrong he was about that mugger and just how wrong he was about her.  She was as good as any of them, and not one of them appreciated her.  Even Cassie.  Cassie that knew nothing but busting chops when she came to them.  She had shown Cassie the ropes, and instead of being grateful and helping her in return, all she got was criticism.  “Body is saying ‘I wonder what’s happening on Gilmore girls tonight’ Is not scary! Try again.” What kind of help was that?  She asks Cassie to make her a better fighter and all her friend does is pick at everything she does wrong.  Well she’d show her, she’d show them all.  There was nothing wrong with her battle stance, and there was nothing wrong with her instincts. She was every bit as good a detective as Robin and as good a fighter as Batgirl and she could pick her own opponents without any help from Oracle or Batman.

She’d show them all. 

The cops weren’t going to be able to hold that mugger for long if they couldn’t match his knife to forensic evidence from some existing crime—and they couldn’t match it to anything if they didn’t have it.  Now that it had “disappeared” from the evidence locker (she was as good as Catwoman, too), they would have to release him.  She’d be ready to follow him right out of the precinct parking lot—and then she’d show Mr. Super-Crimefighter the way that scumball should have been busted in the first place. 

© 2004 

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