Che Pity (A Catwoman One-Shot) [C]
**Disclaimer: I went back--having had trouble connecting the dots--to Catwoman: When In Rome #6, and discovered to my surprise, and embarrassment, that I'd accidentally skipped a page. And it turned out that that page was rather eye opening. Yes, Carmine Falcone truly is a monster. And yes, if there is any man I would have loved to see Selina with, who wasn't Bruce Wayne/Batman, it would have been The Blonde. Either way, I had something I just had to get down. This is the result. If you haven't read the series and don't want a rather obvious spoiler, you might want to back out now. If you have, or really don't care either way, then by all means, make yourself at home. Lastly, of course Bruce makes an appearance at the end, I could never forgive myself if he didn't**
I’m not what one would call a sentimental sap. Even now I’ve got a good picture of what I must look like stored in my head and once again I silently curse myself. But nonetheless I step forward, your rosary beads wrapped around my wrist. Inwardly I smile; heretofore they’d merely served as a fashion statement.
I watch my brother kneel and make the sign of the Cross, his hands clasped solemnly before him. How long had it been since I’d been on my knees? Some part of me wretches but then I remember you and it becomes much easier.
The news of your death wasn’t welcome Christopher. Upon arriving back in Gotham last week I’d merely assumed that more pressing business had arose. And after all, we did agree that if one didn’t show, the other left, no second glances over the shoulder.
I saw Mario in a diner we both love on Dietrich Avenue; he was agitated and seemed to look everywhere but at me. I remember that he ordered a hard boiled egg but didn’t break it, instead placing his hands on either side of his plate and stating those horrible words so plainly. I hadn’t noticed the simple black band fastened around his left bicep. He then ordered a scotch even though it was only nine in the morning. My brother doesn’t drink. You must have really shaken him.
I don’t remember feeling much; I suppose some part of me always expected the worst. After all, you can’t put anything past the Mafioso—if such a thing existed—these days. Mario refused to discuss with me the nature of your death, who did it or even where. He did say that you were at sea which I suppose is some solace, I know you loved the water; after all, men who can’t swim don’t choose to live on boats.
Then I remember those last few very private weeks we shared. After that business with Eddie was all sewn up. The way you lay there after, your arms stretched out as though you were on a cross. I’ve missed you beside me, I’ll admit it. It sounds dopey I know. But what can I do? I miss your quips and the way your hands cradled those guns, brandishing them as a musician might handle a violin. Such quiet, violent music.
Mario did admit one thing to me, that you had been ordered to kill me and that you’d kept me close for that very reason. So the bounty on Catwoman’s head extended all the way to Italy. Who knew three careless scratches could come back to haunt a girl so? Yes, that was a poor, humorless attempt at a joke. And you, Don Verinni and the whole gang were in on it. But somewhere along the line you stopped keeping an eye on me and began protecting me. And not in that patronizing sense that one gets with the Batman, but an honest want to keep me near. That’s something I hadn’t experienced…well, in quite a long time.
I suppose the worst part is that I never had the opportunity to digest everything. After all, it isn’t everyday that a girl learns that her own father once tried to kill her. I could drag the whole sordid mess out and have a good cry just imagining that a man might murder his own flesh and blood, his helpless baby, behind his wife’s back. Let alone that it simply boiled down to power, to virility and fears of inadequacy. That I simply had the misfortune of being born a member of the so-called “weaker” sex in a world such as his. I guess I can thank God that Louisa was human and took pity on her child. After all, though I have no hard evidence to prove it, I’m quite certain that that child eventually became me.
I could also get into all of the misfortunate details that defined the time between then and now. My adoptive mother and that piss poor excuse of a man she called her husband. My sister Maggie, the orphanage and the nuns. Holly, Stark, Ted Grant and all of it. But that’s, as they say, neither here nor there.
You never asked and I never supplied an answer. I wonder when you decided that you couldn’t follow through with it. Was it when you first guessed that Catwoman and Selina Kyle were one and the same? Or when you picked me out of the sea and confronted me once and for all, daring me to lie to you—and even worse—daring me to tell the truth.
Either way, I do thank you. There aren’t many people that I know who would give up their life for someone like me, particularly without so much as a promise that they’ll get a fair deal in the end. After all, let’s not kid ourselves; I’m not much cut out for marriage. But those few lonely weeks, we’ll simply say that was our marriage, that was our life and that is all. I will mourn you as I haven’t mourned anyone since I was a child. Then it’s done.
I watch Mario end his prayers and cross himself, following suit. It feels strange, awkward and clumsy. I haven’t made gestures such as these in so long. But once again, the thought of you makes it easier.
Turning I’m quite surprised to see the fellow in the dark suit at the end of the pew. Standing I make my way over and place my hand on top of his. He stops praying and looks up at me. There they are, those damned blue eyes.
“What are you doing here?”
Bruce looked past her shoulder at Mario, “I did wonder where you had gone, but just as you asked, I didn’t look for you. And I won’t ask why, I know what I’ve done to deserve it.”
Selina’s eyebrow rose, surprised to hear such humility from him.
He aimed his eyes toward the altar, “I didn’t imagine you’d missed me, but Mr. Falcone telephoned this morning saying that he guessed I might want to see you. That perhaps you could use a familiar face after so long. I didn’t expect him to extend the olive branch; I know I haven’t always behaved very fairly toward him. But I am grateful…”
Shocked into silence she merely nodded.
Bruce pocketed the rosary he’d been using, his mother’s, and stood, “I understand you lost someone recently. A friend?”
Selina replied in all honesty, “More than a friend.”
There was a flash of hurt in his eyes but he didn’t protest, nor did he react angrily at all. Instead he looked behind him to the last row where a small boy bounced up and down, his curly hair was parted at one side and he’d been dressed in a jacket and short pants but the tie had been pulled crooked. Flopping back and forth he was obviously bored but once he caught sight of Bruce he waved.
Bruce merely nodded and turned back to Selina, “There have been some changes in my life.”
She nodded in return, “For the better I hope.”
Bruce appeared unsure, “Sometimes yes, but sometimes…sometimes I wonder. He’s a handful.”
“Most boys are…tell me, he’s not yours?”
Bruce blushed—a first—and inwardly Selina was quite proud of her accomplishment, then he spoke, “No. No. Let’s just say he was alone, now I’ll be there to make sure that’s no longer the case.”
Selina adjusted his lapel slightly, they hadn’t touched in months and the gesture felt new, “That sounds like a very noble undertaking.”
Bruce very cautiously reached up and cupped his hand over hers, “Would you find the idea of our having coffee an unpleasant one?”
Selina appeared taken aback, “I wouldn’t imagine you had the time.”
Bruce shifted slightly, seemingly embarrassed, “I’ll make time now. That much is certain.”
Selina stood on tiptoe and planted a kiss next to his nose, “Thank you for coming. It means quite a lot….But I think we’d better make it some other time.”
Bruce clasped his hands together and looked down at his feet, “Perhaps next time then. If there is another one.”
Selina stopped and briefly touched her forehead to his chin, “Don’t worry Bruce. No need to torture yourself. There’ll be a next time. I’ll make certain of it.”
"What'll we do with ourselves this afternoon? And the day after that, and the next thirty years?"-- F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Maybe we need a war...it may be the last of the tonics."-- Norman Mailer, 1966
'Why of the sheep do you not learn peace?'
'Because I don't want you to shear my fleece.'-- An Answer To The Parson, William Blake