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a bat, a cat, and a bird

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The Manor’s fine outer walls scratched on her claws, Selina’s feet climbing like the flexible cat she was. Brucie had been strangely absent from their usual rendezvouses, almost eager to end their usual fight-flirting and to return home.

What he did forget was Selina’s stubborness and sheer desire to annoy Bruce. Curiosity killed the cat of course, but satisfaction brought it back. 

She saw a lit room with a ledge, a small figure leaning over it. Her first thought was Bruce brought someone home, but the figure was too thin. It was a boy.

A little boy. A little boy with slim olive fingers and soft damp hair curling on his full, rosy cheeks. She wanted to leave in case the boy was still ignorant of Bruce’s, ahem, nightly escapades, but his eyes were following her far longer than she noticed him. 

She perched herself on the ledge, tilting her head and raising up one eyebrow. At a closer look, she could properly analyze the child. She didn’t think he was biologically Bruce’s, the only physical feature they shared was black hair. However, the boy’s hair was thicker, and held a wave to it. His skin was a darker tone as well, making it difficult to discern his ethnicity. Blue eyes peeked from long, wet eyelashes.

“Catwoman?” the boy asked, a foreign lilt to his voice, the way the C and T was slightly over-pronounced, and his W’s sounded a bit too much like V’s.

“In the flesh, kid,” she answered coyly. He really was a cute child, no more than six or seven years old.

“Then you must be one of Bruce’s friends,” he stated as a-matter-of-factly. “It’s okay, I figured out he was Batman a long time ago.”

“Smart kitten,” she praised, itching to brush a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “You outsmarted the Bat?”

“Mhmm,” the boy nodded. “They hug the same. All big and warm. Batman came to visit me after my parents…” he trailed off, resting his head on his arms.

Oh.

Selina swung her legs into the room, met with soft blue walls. She saw a worn, stuffed elephant resting on the bed, a few patches stitched on. But something that was well worn was well loved.

“Didja find the cave yet?” she whispered conspiratorially, whisking her head side to side dramatically. She received a light giggle, and a nod again.

“Yep. Every hero has a lair, it’s like, the law. I just had to figure out what the code was, which was easy, even though I had to do a little bit of snooping. It...it had to be an important code.” 10:47. The time Bruce’s parents died.

The boy would make an excellent thief, she’d give him that. He looked a bit too sweet for that kind of job, but he spoke as if he’d beheld the entire world. School-boy innocence that hid a survivor’s mind.

The kid quieted, shivering in the cool night air. Selina slid up next to the boy, unsure to comfort. She knew how to comfort men and women, of course, a bat of the eyelashes and a trailing finger. But this was a child, one who seemed a bit too mature than she liked. But that’s what Gotham did to all of her children; a hardened child meant a smart child, and a smart child meant a surviving child.

She put her arm over the thin shoulders, and to her surprise, he immediately molded into her body shape, placing his head over her heart. His skin was chilled, icy to the touch. 

“When I first found the cave-”

“Bat-cave.”

“Yes, the Bat-cave, thank you. When I first found the Bat-cave, Batman didn’t notice for almost a day,” she began. The boy’s eyes were too big for her liking. No child should look so trusting at her.

“Really?” the boy asked, and Selina realized she hadn’t even learned his name yet. Kitten would do for now. She looked down and notice bruises on his arms-not large enough to be finger prints because if they were Selina would steal that child right then and there and never let Bruce near him- and reddened marks on his palms. They were the hands of a gymnast, or an acrobat of some sort. Wasn’t there a circus accident a few months ago in the area?

Selina nodded. “Yup. I became known as the first person who outsmarted Batman. The Cat who outsmarted the Bat.”

“Is that why you’re carrying a pouch of stolen diamonds?”

Selina started. The boy was holding her prize with his index finger and thumb, a smirk on his lips. Oh, a very, very smart kitten.

“Ahmed the knife-thrower taught me how to pick-pocket. I’ve never really needed to do it, but it comes in handy sometimes,” he said, before throwing the pouch back into her hands. A silent “I won’t tell if you won’t tell.”

He looked very pleased with himself, and a hysterical laugh arose from under her throat. Bat chases Cat, Cat beats Bat, but Bird bests Bat and Cat. 

“Dick!” a voice yelled, and Selina frowned. Sure, it was Gotham, but the child before her looked so angelic that even thinking of something vaguely unholy seemed almost sacrilegious.

He turned. “If you wanna leave, you need to leave now,” he advised calmly. He then waited a beat. “In here!”

Oh. Oh, that-that was his name. His name was Dick. Dick was his name. Dick was, Dick was his. Name. Ah.

Selina opted to stay, for nothing excited her womanhood more than annoying Bruce. Bruce entered the room, face softening at the child. He stiffened when he saw her.

“Hiya, Brucie,” Dick greeted innocently, amusement underlying his words. Bruce sighed, and walked over. Dick slipped out of her arms which made her a little sad, and easily curled into Bruce’s lap, arms loosely wrapped around his neck.

“You two need a grown up talk,” he said seriously as Bruce walked them outside the room. “I promise I’ll eavesdrop only a little bit. I’ll only eavesdot, because dots are smaller than drops. It’s the law.”

“You say you’ll only eavesdot, but you always end up eaves pouring ,” Bruce somehow warily teased. “Go brush your teeth, I’ll tuck you in later.” Dick snickered, before cartwheeling away.

Bruce sighed for the umpteenth time, looking like an aged sage instead of the twentysomething he was. His shined shoes half-heartedly kicked one of Dick’s toys, a squeaky pigeon he absolutely loathed, under the bed. The resulting sqqqqqqqqeeeeee erupted in the silent room, haunting his dreams for the rest of his days.

“I see you’ve met my ward,” Bruce said, looking comically large as he sat down on the small bed. Everything in the room was bite-sized, including Dick himself. Itty bitty nose and everything.

“Yeah, I have,” she purred fondly. “He reminds me of you, except smaller, and smarter, and way, way cuter.”

“I know,” he said truthfully. He looked around the child’s room, eyes focusing on the Flying Graysons poster Dick had begged tearfully for Bruce to take with him. He hadn’t needed to cry, if Dick asked him for a slice of the moon, Bruce would have gone up there himself or bitched Superman to get it.

“He lost his parents a few months ago,” he confessed, eyes still boring into the poster. “He hasn’t smiled in a while. Thank you for getting him to do that.” 

“Don’t worry about it. He’s a cute kid. He’ll grow up to be quite the looker one day, I’ll tell you that.” 

Selina sobered. She lightly jiggled her leg up and down the carpeted floor. It made sense if he was that acrobat kid, the floors needing cushioning for any flips or tricks. 

“That’s why you took him in, then,” she said, voice quiet and intimate. “You understand.”

“I do,” Bruce said, more emotionally than she had ever seen him. “I’m not trying to replace his parents, god no. John and Mary Grayson were much better people than I am.” Dick was proud of his family, and John and Mary raised him well. Nothing would ever erase that. 

“But he needs someone to look out for him,” Selina finished. So that he wouldn’t end up like Bruce, obsessed as he was. Bruce agreed.

Her ears picked up the soft pitter-patter of little socked feet. Dick entered the room, uncaring of the privacy of the two seated. He was carrying a book in his arms, wishing it to be read to him. (He hated reading books himself, sitting down and focusing on one thing amounted to torture in his eyes. But Bruce read in silly voices, and Dick liked seeing Bruce embarrass himself.)

He crawled in Bruce’s lap again before looking at Selina. “Do you wanna stay?” 

“Oh kitten, I would love to stay,” Selina cooed. “I can’t though. Maybe next time.” 

Dick looked a bit disappointed at Selina not witnessing Bruce embarrass himself. “Okay, but you have to promise to come visit, okay?”

“I would love to see you again,” Selina promised, and meant it.