She doesn’t ask.
She doesn’t ask anything those first few days. They discuss travel arrangements, and they eat, and they have sex. He feels starved for her touch; each brush of her hand on his arm feels loaded and heavy and explosive.
“Again, Mister Wayne?” she asks, when they’ve eaten brunch in bed and he’s hungry for something he can’t name. She puts a hand on his neck and he topples them both into bed, already hard when her short, blunt nails scrape across his chest.
They have sex and sleep, long hours. He goes by his given name, Bruce Wayne, because there are more than enough of them in the world, and after eight years in hiding, no one remembers him. She goes by Selina Kyle.
He doesn’t ask her anything, either. He doesn’t ask about the walk-up apartment, about her friend who still worked the streets, about her first two arrests being for solicitation (one was dropped because she was sixteen). He doesn’t ask about the faint white scars on her body, and she doesn’t ask about the time it takes him to wake each morning, the stretches he needs to do to be functional enough to walk.
They are in a restaurant in Paris and the waiter casually asks if his wife will have the same wine and Bruce says, “Yes.”
“Wife?” she asks.
He should have known that a thief as good as her would have had to learn some French.
“You said it first,” he points out.
She shrugs. “I want a huge ring.”
“You forget I’m poor now.” But he smiles, thinking about it.
He isn’t poor. Talia and Bane broke his company, took all the money from that, but Bruce Wayne still has millions in offshore accounts, four houses (Italian countryside, England, Brazil, Switzerland), four apartments (New York, Los Angeles, Florence, Paris), and several safe deposit boxes in different cities. None of those are in his official estate.
Selina jokes that she’s the sugar daddy in their relationship, because he’s poor and she’s not, but they’re staying in his apartment, buying food with the cash he had in his apartment safe.
She’d sighed. “The rich really can’t go poor like the rest of us.”
“Do you hate us so much?” he’d watched her where she was standing in a robe by the window.
“I can’t hate what I am,” she said.
“You said-“ But he doesn’t quite finish. It’s the most they’ve talked about Gotham in weeks.
“You never had to live, making that choice between the gas bill and food. You were rich because your grandfather built an empire.” She speaks slowly, methodically. “You didn’t even run your company, and when you finally did choose a direction for it, you nearly bankrupted it.”
She turns to him, the robe open to her waist, where she had tied the belt casually.
“I-“ He stops.
She walks over to him, casually untying her belt.
“You were rich because you were rich,” she says, swinging her leg over his hips. “I don’t hate you because you took that and you did something better with what you had, you took that anger and you made yourself something stronger.”
“I could have lived smaller,” he whispers into her neck. She coaxes him up to her lips. “I could have given more.”
She brings his hand to her ribs and points out a small curved scar. “You stopped him.”
He has no memory of what she’s talking about, but he can imagine. He remembers a series of nights that he went to the East End, and that it seemed the same over and over again. Pimps beating up hookers, johns beating up hookers, mobsters shaking them down. He can’t make himself remember what this scar was to her, and she kisses him like maybe it doesn’t matter.
“You don’t owe me anything,” he says, when she moves down, tongue on her favorite of his scars.
She laughs and rolls so that she’s next to him on the bed. When she looks at him, eyebrows arched, grinning, she seems relaxed. “Do you really think I’d run away with you because of a debt?” she asks. “You’re a lot sexier than you think you are.”
He brushes his knuckles over her cheek and leans down to kiss her.
He thinks she’s still stealing. He isn’t sure he cares. After the prison, after Talia and Bane, he feels like all the anger and fury in him has been scooped out. All that’s left is a candle of a desire to live, a desperation to have one thing that isn’t dark and isn’t angry. A desire to not live in the skin of a symbol. They still sleep for hours and hours and hours.
They get to Florence in the evening, and settle into the apartment with enough time to catch a symphony. When Selina comes back from the intermission in someone else’s diamonds, he sighs.
“Put them back,” he whispers into her ear, then bites lightly at her lobe where a large chandelier earring hangs.
“You’re no fun,” she sighs, but goes to the bathroom and comes back with her emerald earrings back in.
It becomes a game. If he can catch her, if he can spot what isn’t hers, she’ll return it to its owner. If not, well, she’s right that people in their circle don’t tend to miss expensive jewels for long.
When he sees Alfred, after so long, it feels hard to look back at Selina, and pretend Alfred isn’t there. Alfred’s face lights, and he is the master of subtlety, but he stares as they eat. Selina patiently waits.
Ten months later, she disappears. He wouldn’t go after her, except that in ten months she’s become his way out, his escape hatch. She never learned what Rachel knew going in, that Batman changed who Bruce was. Selina loves him because of Batman, not in spite of him.
He goes after her. She’s been careful, but not careful enough. It takes three months. He catches her in Dubai, at a high rise apartment, wearing baggy clothes and angrily crying at everything.
Pregnancy is not easy on Selina, even when they move to England and hire a maid specifically to deal with her frustrations when she’s put on bed rest.
The house constantly smells like different foods, curries and then steaks and then omelets. He struggles to keep up, and almost calls Alfred to come and cook because the fifth time he burns toast, Selina throws the plate at his head.
“I hate not feeling like myself,” she says, while he spoon-feeds her ice cream from a local dairy. “I really... want this child.”
For all the changes, for the long, extended break they’ve taken, he isn’t sure that he does. Talia and Bane gouged out his apathy, ripped him from the comfort of a slow, anonymous death. He isn’t sure that they would have been wrong to drag Bruce Wayne out of his house and put him on trial for being nothing more than wealth.
He isn’t sure he will ever be ready to have a single person dependent on him. It’s why he needed Selina. She wanted him, but she would never need him. She would never depend on him.
Selina is watching him and reaches out to grab his wrist hard.
“We don’t have to keep it,” she says. “You don’t have to keep it.”
He remembers the story of the child that grew up in hell. He remembers his mother’s pearls on the pavement. He remembers an empty house.
“I want it,” he lies.
He does call Alfred. Because the maid left after she and Selina got in a fight and the baby screams all the time. Both he and Selina are terrified of leaving it alone, but they can only sleep when Helena’s quiet. And even then, they both wake up to watch Helena breathe.
Handing the baby over to Alfred and dragging Selina into a narcotic-induced sleep is a relief.
Alfred hires them another maid, someone quieter, a cook and a gardener. Professional baby-proofers arrive in a day and soon the whole house is fit for the infant of a rich expatriate and the international crime thief he’s in love with.
“Love?” Selina asks, clearly surprised. Helena is nursing at her breast.
He shrugs, unsure how to say it. With Rachel it was easy, but this is surprising and sudden and he really only intended to have a vacation.
“Your daddy loves us,” Selina coos at Helena. “Yes, he does.”