Usually when Gotham City Museum was robbed, it wasn't particularly urgent. Most often just someone stealing according to their theme. But, occasionally, someone after an artifact or a weapon. Best to treat them all as a headache in the making.
Batman didn't recognize this one. Slender, or at least on the small side; looked female, but the kit made it hard to establish her figure. Blonde hair visible from under her cowl, no doubt in his mind that it was a wig. All in black, showed less skin than he did. Couldn't fault her taste.
"Want me to head over there?" Robin asked through the communicator in his ear.
"It's under control. I'll keep you posted."
Not that he particularly liked leaving Robin to his own devices. He wasn't always good at sticking to the 'scouting only' rule, worse lately. Good enough so far at picking out which fights he could handle, but the kid was going to give him a goddamn heart attack. In a few years he wouldn't be able to keep an eye on him anymore. It wasn't a comforting thought.
Batman was waiting on the museum's roof, watching his target. Intervening within the building would be more trouble than it was worth. He'd let her worry about navigating security.
Smarter, not harder, et cetera.
New to Gotham, if not to the job, so he'd handle her alone. Sometimes if he caught them early enough he could reason with them. Not often, but sometimes. Easier without a smartass teenager in attendance.
Definitely not new to the job. Mystery woman: one-hundred sixty centimeters if he had to guess, boots looked heavy but light on her feet, cocky enough for a bright blonde wig, smart enough to disable the cameras and evade the motion sensors, nimble enough to avoid the laser fence, strong enough to climb a rope with just her arms.
Not a rope. A whip. Really? Robbing a museum with a whip? That seemed backward.
Whatever she'd taken was stashed in a pack on her back, on the large side. Either box-shaped or delicate enough to stash in a box. Going to need to be careful either way. Didn't do anyone much good to destroy artifacts.
She emerged onto the museum roof, and the silhouette of her cowl was catlike. She fastened her whip to her belt as she stood. Batman stepped closer, footfalls deliberately heavy. She froze. He stopped with just enough distance between them, dark enough that he'd cast a decent shadow, near enough that he could close the distance with ease if he needed to. Slowly, she turned her head. Her eyes were the only thing visible through her mask; they seemed to glint like mirrors in the moonlight.
"It'll be better for you if you don't try to run," he warned. Slowly, her boots crept further from one another on the concrete of the roof.
No one ever listened. Under his cape, he reached for the back of his belt.
Bolas were quicker than running after her, would tip her forward and keep relatively safe whatever was on her back. They caught on the ankles of her boots, but there was a certain grace to the way she toppled over. Made it look deliberate, landed on her hands and pivoted the whole of her body around to face him. The posture increased the resemblance to a cat. He'd been walking toward her all the while, didn't even need to run to catch up. Closer, he could see the buckles of a harness on her suit, climbing equipment. Her mask wasn't all one piece, the top half built similar to his but the bottom half pulled up like a scarf. Not meant to keep her face hidden all the time, then.
"Are you done?"
She reached down to her legs with one hand and tried to cut the bolas—not a knife, something in her gloves—but quickly found it was futile. She pulled her knees up close to her chest, unwrapped the wire with eyes on him all the while.
That seemed like a 'no'.
"You should sit," he warned, even though she wouldn't listen.
She unhooked her whip from her belt as she rose to her feet, took a wide stance to keep her center of gravity low as she tried to snap it across his face. He caught it instead on his left forearm, let it wrap around his glove and wrapped it a few times more as he used it to pull her closer. He could see her eyes widen behind her mask as her boots slid along the roof despite her resistance. Rather than let the whip go, she reached up with her other hand to pull her scarf down off her face.
He didn't know what he'd expected, but it hadn't been for her to bare fangs at him in a hiss, pounce forward. Trying to rip his throat out, maybe? Teeth a bit dainty for that, but he admired her determination. Lucky that his right hand caught her neck before she could reach his, because she'd have needed dental work otherwise. Reinforced armor over his throat. Occasional vampire incidents.
She dropped the whip and tried to dig the blades on her gloves into his arm, to no avail; then she picked her legs up to try and kick him in the stomach. He put pressure on the sides of her neck, careful of her trachea, stopped when she started to go slack.
"Now are you done?"
She huffed. Looked a little petulant, actually. Like she was considering trying to claw his face.
Her eyes were gold. Theoretically hazel, but gold. Distinctive. Gold eyes, a thing for cats. Where had he seen that recently? The costume made her look older. Had there been fangs? That was an embarrassing oversight.
"And your name is?" he prompted.
She looked him over, trying halfheartedly to get his hand off her neck. More the principle of the thing than a genuine effort on her part. "Catwoman," she said finally.
"Very creative. You going to show me what's in the bag, or are you going to keep making this difficult?"
Definitely pouting. "First you let me go."
"I'll be good."
"I doubt it." Without warning he kicked her feet out from under her, released her only once she'd fallen to her knees. "Sit."
She made a show of rubbing her neck, posture attempting to look small and helpless. He crossed his arms and he waited. Finally she undid the buckle that held her pack on, slid it off her arms to hold it in her lap. "It's probably not what you think." He said nothing. She pulled a metal box out of the bag, very carefully undid the latches on the side so she could open it.
Nestled safely and well-padded in the box was a severed human head.
"I bet he's not what you thought he'd be." She seemed very pleased with herself over this revelation.
"Why are you stealing a mokomokai?" Mummified, leathery skin decorated with black tattoos; most likely about a century old. Most of them were.
She looked surprised. "You know what they're called." It was almost a question, sounded impressed. She shut the box again, took her time closing each latch. "I'm taking him home," she said with a flutter of her eyelashes, giving the box an affectionate pat.
"That's the idea." She flashed a fanged grin. "It doesn't count as stealing if they stole it first."
"And the necklace?"
She paused, looked to where copper bells could just barely be seen sitting at the bottom of her bag. "... finder's fee." She set the box aside on top of it, as if that would somehow stop him from having already seen it.
Probably Aztec. Hardly the most expensive item in the museum's collection. Neither item would sell for much, if that was her goal. The question was whether she was telling the truth, when it could as easily be a convenient lie.
Selina Kyle: nineteen; black hair, gold eyes, brown skin; birth parents unknown; adopted parents dead, car accident when she was sixteen; left Gotham that year; tasted like oranges; literal cat burglar.
Too many gaps. Could have been doing anything, wherever she'd been. Never thought to keep track of her. Knew practically nothing of value.
Have you ever been to Teotihuacan?
Batman crouched down so he could look Catwoman in the eye. "I don't tolerate thieves in Gotham." Her petulance this time was imperious. Fitting, for a cat. "Which means you're going to have to sit here and wait for me to get back while I take care of something about five blocks over." She blinked. He picked up her discarded whip, ran it through his hands and considered it. Then he wrapped it loose around her wrists, twisted it into the world's saddest excuse for a knot. He pointed to the roof beneath her. "Stay."
Her face split into a wide smile, sharp white teeth. She pounced forward as best she could on her knees, and he didn't stop her. Her lips against his, aggressive and enthusiastic; this time he felt canines sharp against his skin. Didn't kiss her back, because he didn't want to encourage her. Even if it was tempting.
Shouldn't have been tempting.
Career criminal in the making, only a few years older than Dick.
He pulled away and stood. "Stay," he repeated.
"Yes, sir," she said with an amused crinkle of her nose.
He turned to leave, paused as he looked down at the street. "Don't come back to Gotham," he warned over his shoulder. "I won't be nice if there's a next time."
She waited until he'd already leapt off the roof to get in the last word.