“All right, we got what we need?”
“I think so. Mr. Cobblepot should be happy with this.”
“Cool. C’mon, up to the roof.”
The two thugs climbed up the fire escape, feeling the autumn chill on the backs of their necks. Of course, that wasn’t the reason their hairs stood on end; the constant threat of the Batman was more than enough to do that. Still, they knew better than to chicken out of a job. Batman was tough, but he was nothing compared to what their boss would do if they failed.
“Ok, almost at the top.”
“Are we clear?”
“I think so ... oh shit! It’s the fucking BAT!”
On the other side of the roof stood the unmistakable outline of the most feared vigilante in Gotham City. But just as the thugs expected him to leap over and pummel them, he instead turned and ran for the stairwell door. Even more confusing, he seemed to be struggling and cursing at finding the door locked.
“Hey, I don’t think he’s the Bat,” one of the thugs whispered.
“No, think about it! He didn’t attack us or try to use his fancy belt. Hell, he’s strugglin’ with a damn door!”
“Oh, this is gonna be fun,” he grinned, drawing a switchblade.
The pair approached the costumed figure, who turned sharply to face them.
“So, you ain’t the Bat after all?”
With his hands up, the figure spoke, clearly sounding like a scared young guy. “Listen, I was just up here getting some air. You don’t know me, and I didn’t see you. Let’s just go our separate ways, yeah?”
“Oh, you’re gonna go separate ways all right. I’m thinkin’ your arms can go over there, and your legs over there ... maybe even your head up there.”
Seeing the thugs approach, “Batman” realized that fighting was now his only chance at survival. He was no expert, but he had been taking Krav Maga lessons since the spring, and his body was strong enough that a few well-timed strikes would likely take the thugs by surprise. When faced with two opponents, one armed with a knife and one not, most people would attack the knife-wielding enemy first, thinking them the greater threat, but “Batman” knew better. That was a surefire way to end up with a knife in the chest; the unarmed opponent would be able to hold the victim in place for an easy kill. Instead, a prudent fighter should first stun the armed opponent before focusing on the unarmed attacker and using this opponent as a buffer against the armed attacker.
Before the thugs knew what happened, he swung a right hook into the temple of the thug with the knife before turning to the stocky, unarmed thug. Stunned by his sudden aggression, Stocky had no idea what was happening until it was too late. He unleashed a flurry of jabs into the goon’s abdomen, forcing him back. As he staggered, “Batman” grabbed Stocky’s arm with his left hand and forced his right across the man’s neck, gripping a pressure point near his shoulder. Applying some pressure with his forearm on the thug’s neck, he turned the man just as Knifey was recovering. The thug thrust the knife forward, but “Batman” had already placed Stocky between them as a human shield.
Stocky cried out in pain as his partner’s weapon penetrated his back. The first thug pulled the knife out in a hurry and moved to attack once more. Unable to hold the man and defend himself, “Batman” pushed Stocky to the side. Turning to face Knifey, he assumed a classic fighter’s crouch, keeping his hands open in anticipation of an incoming attack. The thug lunged once again, but he lacked any sort of finesse, and his target sidestepped with relative ease. Sensing an opportunity, he reached out for the man’s knife hand in an attempt to lock his elbow and relieve him of his blade. Just as he thought he had the upper hand, the thug pulled back, causing “Batman” to lose his balance as he grasped for the arm that was no longer there. Stumbling for a moment, he had no choice but to go to the ground on purpose and try to roll away from his assailant. To his dismay, Knifey kept up and pinned him under his boot before “Batman” could retaliate.
“Say goodnight, Bat-freak.”
Four hours earlier
Jake fidgeted with his Halloween costume as he entered the apartment building. He was in fairly good shape and stood about six-foot-three, allowing him to pull off the Batman look with relative ease. Once the cowl was on, he’d be even more convincing; his red hair didn’t exactly scream, “I am the night.” Though the costume itself was the standard party store variety, Jake had added his own version of the famed utility belt. In reality, it was just a black tool belt that he had filled with candy bars, but it went with the costume quite well. Arriving at his date’s apartment, Jake took a deep breath and knocked at the door.
“Yeah, whaddaya want?!”
The door swung open, revealing a large, surly man with greasy hair and a distinct scent of cigarettes and whiskey. Jake was tall, but this man had at least four inches and fifty pounds over him.
“Mr. Bullock?” Jake asked.
“Yeah ... huh, thought the Commish woulda told me you were makin’ a house call, Bats,” he replied.
“Oh, no I’m-”
“Relax! I know who you are. You’re that Thompkins kid takin’ my girl to the Halloween party tonight, right?”
“Um, y-yes sir.”
“Well, quit gawkin’ and come on in!” Ushering Jake into the living room, Harvey Bullock continued, “Have a seat. Hailey’ll be down in a few, so, ah ... why don’t we have a little chat while we wait? Man-to-man?”
“Of course, sir.”
“That’s Detective to you,” Bullock chuckled.
“Thompkins, eh? You any relation to that doctor lady? Leslie, is it?”
“Yes, she’s my Nana,” Jake replied.
“Sweet broad, that one is,” Bullock said with a grin.
“Yeah, she’s kind of the best. But, um, don’t tell her I said that.”
“HAH! My lips are sealed, kid. So, you a student at Gotham U like Hailey?”
“What’s your major?”
“Um ... undecided for the moment.”
“Undecided? The hell’s that supposed to mean?”
Jake explained, “I started with chemical engineering, same as my father, but ... I think I want to go a different way, get out from under his shadow. Now, I just have to figure out what that means.”
“Hmm ... sounds like you need to get your head on straight, kid. Listen, you seem like a good guy, but just bein’ a good guy ain’t good enough for my little girl, understand? You wanna have a shot with her past tonight, then you gotta grow a pair and figure out what kind of man you wanna be, capisce?”
“Yes, Detective. I understand,” Jake replied meekly.
“So, gonna take my Hailey to the party? Show her a good time?”
“That’s the plan.”
“Just not too good a time, eh?” Bullock chuckled, pointing his fingers like a gun at Jake.
“Of course,” Jake replied, managing a laugh.
“Good. ‘Cause make no mistake: you take any liberties with my little girl, and I’ll personally cut your balls off and feed ‘em to Killer Croc.”
Jake gulped at this. “Understood.”
“I’m readyyyyyyy!” came a sweet voice from the other room.
Jake and Bullock stood as Hailey entered the living room dressed in a toga. Her body was wrapped in a white bed sheet that was clipped at her shoulders, and her long black hair was pinned up in a playful ponytail. She then gave a little spin to show the ornate barrette in her hair. Jake was speechless, not to mention hard as a rock.
“Very nice, Baby Doll,” Bullock said, saving Jake from his speechlessness.
“Thank you, Daddy,” Hailey replied, kissing him on the cheek. “Hi, Jake.”
“Hey, Hailey ... wow. You, um ... you look great.”
“Thanks, I worked hard at my costume,” she replied. “Ready to go?”
“No drinking, got it?!” Bullock said forcefully.
“Absolutely,” Jake replied.
“All right, you kids get outta here. Go on, vamoose!”
As Jake turned to close the door behind them, Bullock caught his eye once more, snipping his fingers like a pair of scissors around his groin area. Jake gulped once more, nodding in confirmation. Once the door had closed, Hailey made for the wicker loveseat in the hallway next to her dad’s apartment and flipped the seat cushion up.
“Finally!” she sighed.
“What’s up?” Jake asked.
“You’ll see,” she said shortly.
Hailey swiftly undid the clips of her toga, letting the bed sheet fall to the floor and revealing her real costume underneath. She was now clad in an outfit that could only be described as “Slutty Wonder Woman.” It was the right colors and bore Wonder Woman’s emblem, sure, but its functionality was highly debatable. The entire outfit was little more than lingerie, being a tight red and gold corset with American flag panties. She wore a pair of red stiletto heels on her feet, and reached into her purse, trading her ponytail for Wonder Woman’s trademark headband.
“Whatcha think?” Hailey asked.
“Um ... holy shit,” Jake stammered.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she replied, hiding the remnants of her toga underneath the loveseat’s cushion. “Come on, these two superheroes need to get super wasted!”
Remembering her dad’s warning, Jake was about to protest the part about alcohol, but the sensation of Hailey’s lips pressing against his silenced him at once. It wasn’t a kiss of passion or emotion, but he enjoyed it nonetheless.
“Ready?” she asked.
Still flushed, Jake could only sigh, “Yeah...”
Hours later, the party raged on at the Gotham University student union building. The third-floor common room was abuzz with college students in a variety of costumes, though superheroes were the most popular choice. Jake was pleased to see that, of the Batman costumes present, his was indisputably the best. Not that it was helping his popularity much. His “date” had hardly paid attention to him since arriving, floating around from guy to guy and never once turning down an opportunity to get ogled. Even though the party was university-sponsored, and thus free of alcohol, plenty of students had managed to sneak in their own party favors to liven things up. Jake was convinced Hailey had managed to consume more than half the alcohol present through flirting and teasing alone.
“Dude! Great costume!”
Jake turned to find his roommate walking up in a pirate outfit, complete with a stuffed parrot on his shoulder.
“What can I say? I am the night!” Jake replied, imitating Batman’s gravelly voice.
“Nice! Doesn’t hurt that you’ve got the hottest girl here.”
“That’s debatable,” Jake snorted. “She hasn’t even noticed me since we arrived.”
“Well, look! She’s alone on the dance floor right now. Make your move!”
“Huh ... just like that?”
“Just like that!”
Figuring he had nothing to lose, Jake made his way through the mob of people towards Hailey. She was definitely one of his greatest fantasies, with her long black hair and nubile body. Her Wonder Woman outfit only served to tease him even further, hinting at the incredible treasures hidden within. She didn’t seem to notice as he approached, but as he started dancing next to her, Hailey’s face turned to an expression of annoyance.
“Oh god, it’s Bat-breath...”
“What?” Jake asked, unsure if he had heard her right.
“Listen, I only went out with you to get my dad off my case,” she continued, her words slurring. She was clearly beyond wasted. “He hates all the guys I wanna date, so I had to go with a ‘nice guy’ to make him happy. Sorry, but you’re a Bat-loser. So just go Bat-scram and find someone your own Bat-speed to go and Bat-fuck. Peace out, Bat-dickhead!”
With that, Hailey grabbed a drink from a nearby table and tossed it in Jake’s face, causing him to curse and recoil. As he looked up, Hailey had completely lost her balance and was now a drunken, giggling mess on the floor. By this time, Joseph Stromwell, the Dean of Student Affairs, had arrived, knowing alcohol had to be involved in the incident.
“Is this girl your date?” Stromwell asked Jake.
“Nope. Not any more,” Jake spat.
“All right, on your feet, young lady,” Stromwell continued, helping Hailey up.
“Lemmie go, you perv!” she tried to protest.
“Come on, you’ve had enough fun for tonight. Let’s get you sobered up.”
“Uh, Dean Stromwell. Just so you know, she’s-”
“Yes, Mr. Thompkins, I’m aware that this young lady is Detective Bullock’s daughter,” Stromwell replied. “Rest assured, I’ll make sure she gets home safe.”
With that craziness done, Jake slipped off into a hallway with a few napkins, drying his costume as much as he could. Thankfully, the cup had been mostly empty, not that Hailey had been sober enough to know that. Sighing in frustration at thinking she had actually been into him, Jake strolled off towards a nearby stairway.
“I need some air,” Jake muttered.
The unofficial rule around the university was that the roof of the student union building was available for students as a “cool off” area. Jake had come here himself a month ago after he thought he had failed an exam. He hadn’t, but the solitude had helped calm him down until he eventually learnt that he had in fact passed. As he arrived at the door to the flat rooftop, Jake found a small rock and placed it in the doorframe to make sure he didn’t accidentally lock himself out. Unknown to him, the door slipped closed almost as soon as he stepped away from it.
Looking out into the night, Jake felt his anger beginning to subside. The gorgeous skyline of Gotham was always a sight to see. Although the student union building was not particularly tall, being only four stories, it was situated at a perfect point in the city. From here, such sights as the Cyrus Pinkney Museum of Natural History and the iconic sign atop the Ace Chemical Plant could be seen with ease. He smiled as he looked up into the sky, noticing the full moon.
“Wonder if I can just blame tonight on you, my friend,” Jake laughed at the moon. “Full moon on Halloween? That can’t be good news, right? Guess it’s a good thing I’m not superstitious.”
Just then, Jake heard a disturbance of some sort from the other side of the rooftop. As he moved around the stairwell entrance, he saw a pair of men climbing onto the roof from what he assumed was the fire escape. Moving a bit closer to them, he could see they were dressed all in black with crowbars in hand; it was safe to assume they were up to no good. Jake’s pulse raced, and he thought for a fleeting moment he could just quietly exit the roof before they noticed him.
“Huh? Oh, shit! It’s the fuckin’ BAT!” one of the thugs shouted.
As Jake struggled with the thug’s wrist, the knife drew closer to his throat. Jake knew this was it; there was no way out. The best he could do was delay the inevitable. As he prepared to summon up the rest of his strength in a last-ditch effort to survive, the thug’s head suddenly flew back at the sound of a whip crack.
“AH! What the fuck?!”
Blinking twice, Jake now saw the thug struggling with a mysterious figure in the shadows. A bullwhip had been latched around his neck, yanking him every which way but loose and forcing him to drop the switchblade. Soon, he was dragged into the shadows, whereupon the mysterious figure began to unleash a furious assault on him. Try as he might, the thug was completely outmatched in skill, and after several missed haymakers, he took a series of jabs to the stomach, followed by a devastating strike to the face. As he fell unconscious into the light, Jake saw what appeared to be scratch marks all over his face. A moment later, Jake’s savior stepped forward.
“You’re a decent brawler, kid, but you’re no Dark Knight,” came a sultry voice.
Jake’s mouth dropped open at the sight before him. At first, he only saw a pair of black medium-heeled boots, connected to a long pair of legs covered by a skintight jumpsuit. His eyes traveled upwards, tracing the magnificent curves encased within the black jumpsuit until he had to pause at the pair of incredible breasts protruding from within. Above them, the jumpsuit ended in a turtleneck, and he at last saw the soft, feminine face of his savior. From within a helmet with cat-like ears on top, the wry smile and fierce look in her eyes indicated that this was not a woman to be trifled with. Jake’s mouth went dry as he at last realized who he was staring at.
“No way ... Selina Kyle? Catwoman?!”
“Impressive. You know my real name,” she smirked.
“Yeah. I ... followed every second of your trial a few years back.”
“Of course, back in my ne’er-do-well days.”
“So, uh ... how long were you watching me?”
Selina giggled. “Long enough. You were doing well until you tripped.”
“Yeah, I enjoy Krav Maga, but I don’t pretend to be an expert,” Jake admitted sheepishly.
“You probably wouldn’t have had to use it if you hadn’t been a royal dumbass, though,” Selina teased him, helping Jake to his feet. “I mean really? Letting those two goons think you’re not Batman? Lame.”
“Guess that was pretty stupid...”
“OI! WHAT THE FUCK’S TAKIN’ YOU MORONS SO LONG?!”
The pair turned at hearing the rough, Cockney voice. Jake’s heart sunk as he saw none other than the Penguin climbing onto the rooftop by way of the fire escape. A group of five goons followed closely behind him, spreading out over the roof to cover the area. While Jake was sweating in his costume, Selina seemed as confident as ever.
“Well, look who it is. Oswald Cobblepot, how the hell are you?” Selina purred.
“Hah, check this out, boys. We got ourselves a little pest problem: the Bat and the Cat.”
“I’m not-” Jake started before biting his tongue.
Selina grinned and nodded at his restraint. “So, what brings you to school, Ozzie?” she asked.
“Personal matter. Not your concern. Get the hell outta here, and I’ll let ya live,” Cobblepot spat.
“Tough talk for someone who didn’t even bother to bring guns,” Selina scoffed.
“Didn’t think we’d need ‘em,” Cobblepot growled. “Heard the Bat was supposed to be out of town.”
“The word on the street is becoming so unreliable nowadays,” Selina replied.
“Get gone, ya fuckers! Last chance!”
As much as Jake wanted to cut and run, he knew Penguin couldn’t be trusted to keep his word; he’d turn on them at the first opportunity. Collecting his courage, he answered before Selina even had a chance.
“Go to hell, Cobblepot,” he snarled.
With a flirty laugh, Selina said, “You heard the man, Ozzie!”
Cobblepot snorted. “Fine. Trash ‘em, boys! I’ll get the goods.”
As Selina drew her whip and assumed a fighting stance, she whispered, “Watch my back; I’ll take care of the rest.”
“Gotcha,” Jake replied, placing her directly behind him.
In a flash, Selina lashed out with her whip, striking at the three closest goons and leaving red gashes on their faces and hands. Meanwhile, the last two thugs advanced on Jake, but he had already planned out his attack. Engaging the nearest one, he placed his hands on the man’s shoulders and promptly kneed him in the groin. Grabbing the man’s collar, Jake tossed him into the other thug, landing them both on the rooftop. Once they were down, Selina quickly turned and threw a handful of caltrops onto the surrounding rooftop to slow them down. Focusing once more on the three in front of her, she cartwheeled forward and began to attack two goons at once with a dizzying series of martial arts strikes. The third attempted to jump in and help, but Jake managed to grab him in a chokehold from behind. A moment later, Selina had knocked out one of her thugs and thrown the other across the roof, which freed her up to help Jake body slam his thug to the rooftop unconscious.
“Nice job, kid,” she remarked.
“Behind you!” Jake shouted.
Selina turned to see the thug she had just thrown charging her position. Rather than worry, she calmly reached for her belt and pulled out a set of bolas, tossing them with precision around the man’s ankles. He went down hard, whacking his head on a pipe as he landed on the rooftop. By now, the last two thugs had recovered and made it around Selina’s caltrops. Rather than engage alongside Jake, Selina leaped over their heads, kicking them each in the back to stun them before running after Penguin.
Repeating his tactic from earlier, Jake knocked the first thug back with a strike to the jaw before grappling with the other. As neither had a knife, this fight was less dangerous than the first two goons he had encountered, but more drawn out. Putting constant pressure on the man’s shoulder, Jake beat on him as hard as he could, attempting to strike him in the kidneys, balls, or any other weak points he was able to reach. Whenever the other thug got close, Jake would lash out with a kick or punch to keep him at bay. By now, Jake could feel his body tiring, as he was relying on nothing but adrenaline to keep him going. Thinking fast, he swung the thug he had his mitts on to the rooftop, landing him directly on Selina’s caltrops.
“Ah, shit!!!” the goon cried out in pain, feeling the tiny spikes lodged in his body.
As the other goon charged, Jake swiftly grabbed the man’s collar and flung him on top of his partner, taking the first thug out of the fight from the additional pain of the caltrops. Before the second thug could recover, Jake was on top of him, kicking him as hard as he was able. Jake hit him from every angle he could, ignoring the man’s pleas for mercy, until he at last landed several kicks to the man’s head. A moment later, the goon stopped moving altogether, knocked completely unconscious from Jake’s offensive.
On the other side of the roof, Penguin had just finished rummaging through the bag of one of the two original thugs. As he turned to make off with a camera, Selina arrived and stunned him with a whip to his face. The impact disoriented Penguin for a moment, but he soon recovered and pulled a knife from the handle of his trademark umbrella. Growling in anger, he swung the blade in a wide arc, nearly catching Selina in the stomach.
“Piss off, kitty cat!”
Selina rolled out of harm’s way in the nick of time, but dropped her whip in the process. As she stood, Penguin moved between her and her weapon, cutting Selina off from her primary advantage over him. Flicking her wrists, she activated the razor-sharp claws of her cat suit and lunged for the disgusting midget. Penguin was by no means a trained fighter, but possessed surprising strength behind his form. It took all Selina had to pin his arm and keep him from running her through with the knife.
“Lemme go! This ain’t got nothin’ to do with you!” he squawked.
“What the hell are you doing here, Cobblepot?” Selina demanded. “What’s so important about Gotham University?”
“Told ya, it’s personal, bitch.”
“Really? Well, color me intrigued,” she replied, twisting his arm a bit more.
“AH! AHHHH! STOP!”
“It’s that son-of-a-bitch Stromwell!” Penguin wailed in pain.
“Joseph Stromwell?!” Jake shouted, arriving on the scene. “What’ve you got against him?”
“That bastard renamed the Cobblepot Family Scholarship. No one insults my family name and gets off clean! So, I sent my boys out to get some dirt on old Stromwell, see if we can’t convince him to change his mind.”
“Joseph Stromwell is a good man,” Jake growled. “Everyone knows he’s the son of Arthur Stromwell, one of the most notorious gangsters Gotham’s ever seen. But even with that family history, Joseph still chose to make his own way in the world. He wants nothing to do with any criminal, and that includes you!”
“Whatever. I’ve got what I need,” Penguin whispered.
Reaching behind his back with his free hand, Penguin slipped a small emergency knife from the clip of his suspenders. Selina was at such an angle that, by the time she saw it, the blade would already be lodged in her throat. But Jake caught a glimpse of it in the nick of time and charged forward without a second thought.
“Selina! Look out!”
Before Penguin knew what was happening, Jake tackled him to the ground, knocking his knife across the rooftop, and began whaling on him. As he beat the crime boss to a bloody pulp, Selina gasped at realizing that she would have met her end were it not for Jake. At last, she placed a gentle hand on Jake’s shoulder.
“You can stop. He’s had enough.”
“Gah ... please ... no more...” Penguin pleaded. Looking up at the form standing over him, he asked, “What the fuck are you?”
Jake smiled and recited the two words he’d wanted to say all night.
The trio stood in silence for several seconds before Selina bent over laughing.
“No, you’re not!” she giggled.
Jake sighed. “Fine, I’m a college student in a Halloween costume. Happy now?”
“Wha? But ... how?” Penguin heaved.
“Ozzie, do I have to spell it out for you?” Selina asked. “You just got your ass kicked by a college kid! You’re pathetic!”
“Imma kill you...”
“Not so fast,” Selina replied, kicking him in the face. “Can’t have you getting away before the GCPD gets here.”
Picking her bolas up off the ground, Selina dragged Penguin over to the stairwell entrance and tied his hands to a pipe on the wall. She smirked with pride at seeing the cocky bastard reduced to a sniveling coward.
With that, Selina slammed Penguin’s face into the wall, knocking him out cold.
“That’ll do until the police arrive,” Selina remarked.
“Do I need to call 911 or anything?” Jake asked.
“No need. I sent out a signal when I first saw you having it out with those goons. They’ll be here before too long. Now then, let’s see if we can figure out what the midget was up to before they get here...”
“Here’s the camera Penguin was trying to escape with,” Jake replied. Scanning through the most recent photos, he said, “Huh. Look at this.”
Peering over his shoulder, Selina could see a picture that was clearly taken from the window. Joseph Stromwell appeared to be walking down a hallway with a young woman in a Wonder Woman costume in tow. Though subjective, it was also rather obvious that the woman was intoxicated in some way.
“Hmm ... think they caught Stromwell taking advantage of a young college student impaired by alcohol?” Selina wondered.
“Not likely,” Jake snorted. “This girl in the picture is the reason I’m up here. She was my date tonight, but got completely wasted and started screaming at me in front of everyone. After she threw a drink on me, Dean Stromwell stepped in to remove her from the situation.”
“Fair enough, but that by itself doesn’t absolve him. He could still be taking advantage of her,” Selina countered.
“Maybe, except for the hallway they’re in. See that bulletin board on the wall behind them? That hallway leads to only one place: the break room. The student union’s break room has free coffee available to anyone, twenty-four seven. He was taking her there to get her sobered up.”
“Hmm ... are there windows in the break room?” Selina asked.
“Yep. In fact, it should be right below us.”
Grabbing her whip, she grinned and said, “Be right back.”
After securing her whip to a pipe, Selina rappelled down the edge enough to get a peek into the break room. She soon returned to the roof.
“Wonder Woman’s being force-fed coffee by Stromwell and another teacher, a tall black lady. Know her?”
“Yep, that’s Mrs. Jackson. She’s the Associate Dean,” Jake grinned.
“Gotta hand it to you, you were right. Cobblepot was going to alter a photo to try and blackmail Stromwell into changing the scholarship back,” Selina admitted. Hearing a helicopter approaching, she said, “That’ll be the GCPD. Delete those photos and leave the camera here; the cops will take care of Cobblepot.”
“Yep. If nothing else, they’ve got him on criminal trespassing with a deadly weapon,” Selina replied while pointing to the knives scattered about the roof. “With Cobblepot’s record, that’ll get ‘em a warrant for his home and business.”
“Wow, you’ve really thought this through.”
“When you work with the Dark Knight Detective on a regular basis, he tends to rub off on you,” said Selina. “Come on, this way.”
“You’re dressed as Batman and you just beat up a crime boss and his gang of thugs. Do you really want to stay up all night filling out a police report for that?”
“Oh ... good point.”
Selina giggled. “Of course it’s a good point, you goof. Now come on!”
Detective Bullock gripped the strap next to his seat tightly. He really hated these helicopter rides, but they were the best way to get to the scene when they received a call from Batman or one of his colleagues. Turning to his partner, he saw Detective Renee Montoya tracing the distress signal on her smartphone.
“You sure it’s from them?” Bullock asked over the sound of the chopper.
“Positive. It’s definitely from the Batman Family,” Montoya replied. “There! Down there, on that rooftop.”
“Huh? But that’s the Gotham University student union building!” Bullock realized.
As the helicopter landed on the roof, Bullock’s eyes went wide, seeing at least a half-dozen goons lying either dead or unconscious. Stepping out with Montoya, they began to inspect the area.
“Got one perp dead over here. Stab wound in his back,” Montoya said.
“Yeah, got several knives around here. One with blood, probably the cause of death for your body over there.”
“Hmm ... found a camera. Looks empty, though. I’ll send it to the lab for processing.”
“Damn, whiplash and scratches all over these guys,” Bullock observed as the uniform officers cuffed everyone. “Looks like Catwoman had her way with them. What I would give for her to have her way with me,” he chuckled.
“Bullock!” Montoya whined.
“C’mon, admit it. You’d take a swing at her too, Montoya!” Bullock laughed.
Montoya blushed, remembering that Bullock was one of the few who knew of her sexual orientation. “Shut up,” she huffed with a smirk.
“Well, lookie who we got here! It’s our old friend Cobblepot!”
“Penguin? What’s he doing slumming it up here?” Montoya wondered.
“Dunno, but it’s a bit too close for comfort with my daughter downstairs,” Bullock replied. Grabbing his radio, he said, “Officer Jenkins, this is Detective Bullock. We got the roof secure. How’s things inside the building?”
“All’s quiet inside. Nobody knew anything was going on out there.”
“Roger that. Keep me posted.”
“Will do. Oh, and Dean Stromwell wanted to make sure he caught you before you leave. Seems your daughter had a bit too much to drink and assaulted her date.”
“Great ... any sign of her date?”
“None. Witnesses say he took off alone after she tossed a drink on him.”
“I’m gonna kill that girl...”
A few buildings away, Selina and Jake slumped down against an air conditioning unit, panting and laughing as they came down from their emotional high.
“Shit ... what a night,” Jake sighed.
“Yeah, you were pretty good back there. What’s your name, kid?”
“Uh, Jake. Jake Thompkins.”
“A pleasure, Jake. Selina Kyle, officially,” she replied shaking his hand. “But then, you knew that, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I’m kind of obsessed with the Batman Family, or the Bat-Team as I call them,” Jake admitted. “What are the rest of them up to? That is, if you can tell me.”
“Well, Penguin wasn’t wrong when he heard the Dark Knight was out of town. The Brooding One and his sidekick got called away to Metropolis for a few days, and Batgirl was needed over in Blüdhaven.”
“Oh yeah, I heard there were threats of rioting out there. Guess Nightwing needed some backup,” Jake said.
“Which leaves little-old-me to protect Gotham,” Selina said with a dramatic pose.
“Doin’ a damn fine job, if I may say so.”
“Thanks, but I wouldn’t have made it without you, kid.”
“What do you mean?” Jake asked.
“Penguin had me, pulling that knife from behind his back. He’d have killed me if you hadn’t seen it.”
“Ah, you had him beat. You’d have been all right,” Jake replied, trying to downplay it.
“Regardless, you saved my ass tonight. I appreciate it. And it’s kind of nice not to be saved by the real Batman for a change,” Selina said.
“Really? I thought you and he had kind of a ... special relationship.”
“We did ... once upon a time. There’s always been a mutual attraction, but we’ve both come to realize it’s not meant to be for us. Trust me, Tall Dark and Brooding isn’t the most open individual out there. Balancing that with the dangers of the job and the constant adrenaline rush is a difficult task, even when you do genuinely care about each other.”
“I guess that makes sense. I’m still running on adrenaline myself,” Jake said. “Pretty hungry, too. Hang on a sec.”
Reaching into his utility belt, Jake pulled out a Milky Way bar to satisfy his growling stomach.
“Ooh, please tell me you have a Snickers in there,” Selina pleaded, licking her lips.
“Ask and you shall receive,” Jake laughed, handing her one. “I may not have the latest in utility belt weaponry, but I’m prepared for an attack of the munchies like you wouldn’t believe!”
“My hero,” Selina giggled, digging into the Snickers. “Thompkins, eh? You wouldn’t happen to be related to Dr. Leslie Thompkins, would you?”
“She’s my grandmother,” Jake nodded.
“Sweet lady. You probably don’t know this, but she’s saved the Batman Family more times than I can count.”
Jake blinked at this. “What do you mean? She’s totally against what you do. Says you’re all a bunch of dangerous vigilantes.”
“Yeah, she does maintain a consistent public position, doesn’t she? But in private, she’s been our go-to doctor for years, back even before the original Robin was on the scene.”
“My Nana ... helps a bunch of vigilante crime fighters?!”
“Yep. Just don’t confront her with it, yeah? I’m sure she’s only trying to protect her grandson with her public opposition to our activities,” Selina said.
“Huh ... and all this time, I thought she was just a boring, stuffy old doctor. Guess everyone’s got their secrets.”
“And speaking of secrets, I’d recommend you not tell any of your friends what you did tonight.”
“How come? I just kicked Penguin’s ass, and now I’m hanging out with the beautiful and badass Catwoman! I wanna scream that from the rooftops!” Jake laughed.
“For one, nobody would believe you,” Selina giggled. “But more importantly, Penguin doesn’t know it was you that kicked his ass. All he knows is it was some college kid dressed as Batman for Halloween. How many of those are there?”
“Too many to count.”
“Exactly! Believe me, the last thing you want is for a crime boss like Penguin to come after you looking for revenge.”
“I guess that’s good advice. Thanks.”
“No problem.” With a sly look, Selina asked, “So ... you think I’m beautiful, eh?”
Jake chuckled. “It’s more of a factual statement than an opinion, but yeah.”
“But you haven’t seen me without my helmet on, right? How do you know I’m not really a hideous monster with snakes for hair?” she grinned.
“First, because you’re called Catwoman, not Medusa. Second, you forget that your picture was all over the news during your trial. Still, I guess there’s one way to know for sure.”
“Show me yours, and I’ll show you mine?”
“Fair enough,” Jake nodded.
Lowering the cowl of his costume, Jake pulled his mask off and revealed his face to Selina. She said nothing at first, but soon smiled and ran her fingers through his short hair.
“A redhead, eh? Kitty like.”
“Thanks,” Jake blushed.
Selina unhooked the chinstrap of her helmet, slipping it off and revealing her golden locks, pinned up neatly in a bun. She grinned seeing Jake openmouthed and speechless.
“Um ... wow,” was all Jake could say.
“I take it you still think I’m beautiful?”
“Yeah ... definitely.”
Selina giggled. “Thanks. You’re a sweet guy, and it’s nice to be called ‘beautiful’ for once.”
“What do you mean? Anyone who can’t see that is just fucking blind!”
“Yeah, but most any guy that sees me just thinks of me as a hot piece of ass they wanna bang. The few that have tried ... well, let’s just say it didn’t end well for those poor souls.”
“I can imagine,” Jake shuddered.
“And it’s a totally different kind of relationship with the guys in the Batman Family; we have to keep things professional, since we rely on each other for survival. So when I hear a sweet guy like you talk about me like that, looking at me like I’m the girl-next-door, it’s a refreshing change of pace.”
“Just c-calling it like I see it,” he stammered.
After a pause, she asked, “So, you got any plans for the rest of the night?”
“Well, seeing as my date already dumped me and the police have shut down the Gotham University party for their investigation, I’ll probably head home and turn in,” Jake replied.
“Aw, I’m sorry. Hardly the Halloween blowout you had imagined, I bet.”