Selina's in London when it happens. Of course, she's not Selina Kyle any more. She's Charlotte Dalby, an executive secretary on holiday staying at the Dorchester.
She tried. She truly did.
But the ruby choker is right there and the loud American woman wearing it around her fat neck didn't tip her timid waitress. That’s enough of a reason right there, to Selina’s way of thinking. It's a matter of seconds to figure out which room the woman is staying in and takes less than an hour to pick the lock on the window after the woman's asleep. The ruby choker is right there on the dresser, like she's asking to be robbed.
Selina's never been one to refuse an invitation. She slips her choker into her pocket and goes back out the window.
She stays at the hotel for two more days. She even commiserates with the woman in the elevator, the choker in her bag against her thigh. When she finally checks out of the hotel, she goes for a walk in Hyde Park trying to decide what to do next. It could have been a one-off, that's it, clean hands, new leaf, all that shit.
But this is what she's good at it, and her mother always told her to play to her strengths.
Besides, there are people who could use the money. She heard that Wayne Manor is a kid’s home now. Selina fences the jewels, keeps a small fee for herself and sends the rest as an anonymous donation.
It's the least she can do.
* * *
She rents a small flat and finds a job. Three days a week she's a personal secretary to a modest business firm. The other days she's working.
She steals jewelry and fat wallets and dips into savings funds that are a little too full. Wayne Manor gets 60%. 30% goes to a random charity organization of her choosing and Selina keeps the remaining ten for living and traveling expenses.
One night she follows a man home from a bar. He was flashing money around and had grinned at her, but he hadn't made a move. But his car is very nice. So's his house.
So’s his family.
Selina watches from the shadows. Through the window she sees him kiss his wife affectionately, as he takes the sleeping girl from her arms. A small boy tugs at his sleeve excitedly.
Selina turns away. Maybe the guy's a douchebag. Maybe Selina will cross paths with him again and not be so soft. But tonight he went home to his family, and appearances though possibly deceiving, are sometimes pleasant all the same.
* * *
She kisses a man in a bar that has eyes like Bruce. He kisses all wrong though and she lets him go without a backward glance.
* * *
When she goes on holiday, she plays the casinos, listening casually to the conversations around her and taking note of the big spenders. Afterwards she slinks into the gamer’s rooms, lifting their winnings.
She blackmails a Russian diplomat who’s having an affair while on a business trip.
She steals because it’s what she’s good at it, and her fingers itch when they’re not lifting something from somebody’s pocket. Besides, there’s nobody left who cares that she’s doing it.
* * *
It’s late one night when she gets back to her flat. Selina kicks off her heels and shakes her hair loose from her clip. All she wants is a cool shower and the leftover takeaway she has in the fridge.
She’s two steps across the front room when she realizes.
Somebody’s been in her room. Selina turns, heading for the door when a hand grips her wrist. Selina reacts automatically, twisting sharply and throwing the attacker across the bed. Only the man rolls with it and takes her with him, rolling her under him.
Bruce pins her to the bed. "Miss me?"
"Oh, you have no idea." Selina grins, and punches him in the gut. He loosens his grip just enough for her to reverse their position. “A lot of people think you’re dead, Mr. Wayne.” Yet here he is. She can’t quite believe it.
“Maybe I just wanted a vacation.” Bruce murmurs. He’s not struggling, just lying underneath her. Selina likes it a little too much so she sits back, barely touching him, except with her thighs.
“And you decided to show up here. Of all the hotel rooms in the entire world, you break into mine.”
“I’ve been watching you.” His hand slides up her thigh and she lets it, only to sigh as he dips into her pocket and pulls out the diamond bracelet she lifted earlier. "This is staying clean?"
She shrugs. "You were dead." The fun’s over. Selina rolls off him and stands, smoothing out her skirt. Whatever he’s come for, it’s not to congratulate her for a job well done.
"And now I'm not." Bruce comes up behind her.
Selina can still feel his lips on that snowy street. It feels like years ago. She turns to face him, crossing her arms. "It's been three months. You couldn’t pick up a phone?”
"I wanted to see what you would do." There’s a smirk lurking at the corner of his mouth.
She wants to make it disappear, but she can’t decide between punching or kissing him. Either one would be satisfying. Maybe she should do both.
“So, how disappointed were you?” How had he felt when he realized she’d simply returned to her previous way of life?
“I wasn’t.” Bruce moves in even closer. Her back’s almost against the wall now.
“No expectations at all then?” She manages to keep from sinking her nails into his thigh. Scratch him up a little. Maybe he’d think twice then about coming after her. Teach him a lesson, something sharp to keep him at bay. Or is it herself that she wants to control? Selina’s not too sure any more. She shouldn’t let the cat out, she knows that much. Someone will get hurt.
“No,” Bruce shakes his head. “It’s not that.” He leans in; his lips close to her ear. “I said I’d been watching you. I know about the donations.”
“Oh, that,” Selina shrugs it off, even as she catches her breath, his thumb caressing the curve of her collarbone. “Even ex-thieves have tax-write-offs.”
“Sure.” Bruce agrees easily, his fingers on her hip now. “That’s why you did it.”
“What makes you think,”
He kisses her, pressing her back against the wall, his body leaning into hers. Selina’s arms slip around him. This has been a long time coming. After this Bruce Wayne will probably walk out of her life for good. Might as well enjoy the moment.
She has her hand on his zipper before he realizes. “You trying to take advantage of me, Ms. Kyle?”
“Don’t pretend you don’t like it, Mr. Wayne.”
She slides his pants down as Bruce kisses the side of her neck. “I think I’ll like being taken advantage of by you.”
“I bet you say that to all the girls.”
“Maybe one or two,” Bruce admits.
Selina takes hold of him, but Bruce simply picks her up and carries her over to the bed. “That doesn’t matter right now.”
“Doesn’t it?” Selina strokes him loosely, letting him buck into her palm. She doesn’t even remember what she was saying.
“Selina.” Bruce kisses her.
It gets messy right about then. She has her hands in Bruce’s hair, his dick can take care of itself. His mouth travels over her skin, kissing her throat, down to between her breasts. Selina pulls at the t-shirt he’s wearing, getting bare skin under her fingertips at last.
When he thrusts into her finally, she bites his shoulder, gasping with the hunger aching inside her. This raw, desperate feeling that shouldn’t have been woken and yet now it’s all she wants. She wants him so much it stings, sending fresh pain through her.
“Selina.” Bruce breathes. He sounds as lost as she feels. Selina clasps a hand around his neck.
“Shut up.” She doesn’t want to hear it right now. All she wants is this, his skin slick against hers, his need bare and open as her own. Desperate doesn’t look good on Bruce Wayne, but she likes it anyway, likes the way she makes him feel. Even if it’s only for now. Now is good enough.
When it’s over, Bruce is lying on his back staring at the ceiling. One hand on his chest, like he’s trying to remember how to breathe. The other is on her hip. She likes the feel of his fingers on her. Likes him. It’s too dangerous.
She sits up, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. "So now what?"
"You came back. You were there." He brushes her hair back tenderly. You kissed me. She can see the unspoken words in his eyes.
“So what?” Selina asks. What does that really mean in the long run? Sure, she came back. Everybody gets to be dumb once. It’s a human right.
“So,” Bruce sits up, threading his fingers through her hair. “Can I stay?”
“Here?” She snorts with disbelief, but he pulls her head back, kissing her deeply. His mouth tastes different than that first kiss. He tastes human now. Or maybe he was always that way and she made him into something more. Either way, she likes it. Likes having the shadows peeled back and revealing the man.
Fuck everything if she doesn’t have a thing for Bruce Wayne.
Bruce pulls back. “Here. With you.”
“Why not?” Selina kisses him this time, pushing him back down on the bed.
* * *
Selina takes Bruce out to a nearby cafe for breakfast. They order coffee and she watches him add cream and sugar, smiling slightly to herself.
“What is it?” Bruce lifts the cup to his mouth.
“It’s just I would have thought you’d take it black.”
Bruce stares at her, and then he just laughs.
It’s a nice sound. Selina gives herself a point before setting her coffee aside. “I have to get to work.”
“Right. Abbott and Cole.”
“Right, you’ve been watching me.”
“I’m sure I can find something to occupy my time while you’re working.”
There’s a second of hesitation between them, then Bruce brushes his lips across hers. “See you later.”
* * *
The day passes quickly. Selina focuses on work, but at the same time, she’s curious as to what happens next.
She's not sure what to make of this. She’s had boyfriends before. Never ones that she’s betrayed and left for dead though. Never anyone where there wasn't always the possibility of her just throwing everything in her bag and go.
She could do that. She could go back to the apartment and pack up. She could be gone before Bruce knows. A fraction of her wants to do this.
What scares her is the rest of her doesn’t. She wants to see what happens at the end of the day. Will he be waiting? How does this work?
Bruce texts her around four o’clock. Reservations at The Belvedere for six. Meet me?
So. It’s a date. She can do date.
Back at her flat she selects a midnight blue dress, off the shoulders. Sleek heels that show off her legs. She doesn’t have any jewelry to do herself justice, except that diamond necklace. For a second she thinks of Bruce’s face if she turns up wearing that, then laughs. It doesn’t really matter.
A quarter after six, she strolls into The Belvedere.
Bruce checks his watch. “You’re late, you know.”
“My mother always told me to keep a gentleman waiting.” She takes her seat across the table from him, laying her handbag to one side.
“I remember your mother’s sage advice.” Bruce gestures to the waiter. “What else did she tell you?”
“Never trust a guy who says he’ll pull out.”
Bruce chokes back a laugh. “She sounds delightful.”
“Oh, she was.” Selina chalks up another point. She likes making him laugh. Call it a weakness. She can live with that kind of weakness.
Dinner is nice.
The trouble is, Selina doesn’t trust nice. Oh it happens, now and again. There's nothing wrong with it exactly. She understands that. But it doesn’t last.
* * *
It’s almost dawn when Selina wakes. She walks naked to the window. The sun’s about to come up over London. She likes this fresh new look to the city, likes the lingering shadows, the patches of gray and black that recede slowly over the rooftops.
"I have something for you."
She looks over her shoulder to see Bruce sitting there on her bed, holding out the pearls.
Selina arches an eyebrow. "After everything I did, you’re just gonna give them to me? Just like that.” Not that she wouldn’t like them.
"After everything you did." Bruce comes across the room, still holding them out.
"Is that it," She traces the loop of pearls with her forefinger. "I save your life and you think giving them to me will settle that.”
"No, but that's why you'll accept them." Bruce places them around her neck, fastening them.
"Don't condescend, Mr. Wayne." The pearls feel so right against her skin. She should take them off. He can’t just buy her. Selina looks back at the window. In the glass she can see her naked reflection, pearls luminous against her skin.
"I would never, Ms..." Bruce comes up behind her, slipping an arm around her waist and kissing her shoulder “What’re you going by these days anyway? Catherine? Olivia? Ella?”
"Selina," She tells him. It's always Selina. He kisses the curve of her throat and she closes her eyes.
"When I close my eyes I see you wearing them." His hand grasps the back of her neck, turning her head. "I thought about leaving you alone."
"Didn't quite work out." His lips meet hers questioningly. It's been months since that first time she kissed him. Selina slinks an arm around him, drawing him deeper.
* * *
“Do you want to stay in London?” Bruce asks.
“Do you want to go somewhere else?”
“That’s not an answer, Selina.” His thumb strokes over her nipple.
Selina likes being touched when it’s done right. When there’s something in the touch that forces her out of herself, yet makes her see herself more clearly than ever before. Bruce Wayne has this in spades. She might like his hands even more than she likes his dick.
She hasn’t burned all her bridges in London. The few crimes she’s committed here aren’t noticeable enough to get her on anyone’s radar. It’s a large city. She almost feels at home.
But what does Bruce want?
He’s still waiting for her answer.
“Yes,” She leans forward into his touch, straddling him. “I’d like to stay in London.” She knows it’s true as soon as she says it.
Bruce smiles. “Good.”
* * *
Sometimes Selina wakes in the night, not knowing where she is. The man sleeping behind her is always a surprise. In time, a pleasant one, but a surprise nonetheless.
Her fingers stroke along the knife scar on his ribs, wondering whose betrayal hurt him worse. Hers or Talia's. He’s here with her, but Talia’s dead. In the end, Selina decides it doesn’t matter. After all, he’s here with her, and Talia’s, well, dead.
* * *
Bruce wants to go to Florence. Selina doesn’t ask why. She can feel the old butler watching them from across the square. If that’s what Bruce needs to make a fresh start, she doesn’t mind.
There’s plenty of time.