TITLE: Stolen
AUTHOR: Pink Rabbit Productions ( pinkrabbit@altfic.com )
PAIRING: Catwoman/Batgirl
UNIVERSE: The comics
DISCLAIMER: It's pretty much just a PWP. In short, there's sex ahead ... and it's not even gentle, romantic, wake up in the morning together sex.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: It probably won't make much, if any sense, if you haven't read the new BoP Catwoman/Batgirl comic. This is just a little I tacked onto the end ... couldn't resist. However, for the determined among you, a quick synopsis of the comic: Batgirl runs across the corpse of a murdered girl, while Catwoman runs into an attempted murder in progress while stealing a batch of "lost" artwork from rich, wheelchair bound philanthropist, Ryder Burnham---who turns out to be not so wheelchair bound. Going against the grain, Selina saves the girl, Valerie Lawton, also an schoolmate of Barbara's, who promptly wants to be her sidekick and is furious when rejected. Catwoman and Batgirl run into one another and agree to work together to bring the killer down ... it turns out an implant to allow him to walk has also made him mad. Dressed as Catwoman, Batgirl confronts Burnham, who has also taken Valerie Lawton hostage. He kills with an electrical discharge, which he uses on Barbara when he realizes she's not Catwoman. She's hurting and not likely to last much longer when Catwoman shows up with a device stolen from Burnham's lab, which shuts down the device in his back ... saving Barbara despite the fact that Valerie is trying to get her to just leave. Valerie is ultimately furious with Catwoman for choosing to work with Batgirl over her (jealousy much) and storms off (and goes home to an obviously wealthy family). Later, Batgirl finds out that Catwoman stole Burnham's art collection while she was keeping him busy, then Catwoman places an ad in the personals section of the paper, and leaves one of the paintings for Batgirl as a "commission."---The second comic will be set in the present. This story takes place immediately after the first.
SERIOUS WARNING: This includes non-consensual sex. It's not dark, hideous, or violent (hopefully), but it's also not agreed upon by all participants. If this is going to bother you, please, don't read it.

Stolen
by Pink Rabbit Productions

I shouldn't have done it ... responded to the ad she left in the paper.

SWFCAT SEEKING SWFBAT
To the fly-by-night girlfriend.
Who knew the library could be so
much fun? See you at the
clubhouse for more girl talk. Your
partner in crime, the kitty-cat.

I knew it was trouble. She's always trouble. It's her raison d'etre, and I should have remembered that, but I forgot for a little while. She helped me stop a killer, saved my life when she could have simply run away. I couldn't forget that, and I thought maybe....

What did I think?

That she was going to switch sides and fight for right?

Maybe for just a little while.

And thinking like that was just as dumb as Valerie thinking they were going to be a team somehow. In defense of myself, I wasn't that dumb. I know she doesn't play well with others.

No, that's wrong. She does play well with others---the way a cat plays well with a particularly juicy mouse. She toys with them, enjoys herself, has a little fun, and then....

Then....

Damn.

I can't believe....

She probably thought I was one very stupid, little girl. And maybe I was. Nineteen years old and I had all the insight of a five year-old.

After it was all over with, I saw the ad and I couldn't resist ... so I went. She used me. Ryder Burnham had inherited a fortune in 'lost' masterworks stolen by his father in the aftermath of WWII. While I kept Burnham busy in his library, she cleaned out his gallery. And I wanted some kind of explanation. Only I found that she'd left one of the paintings for me in the empty loft of the Runyon where we'd been meeting as my 'commission.'

So much for explanations.

The painting was beautiful. A lost work that I was sure the Gotham Art Museum would be grateful to deal with, but it wasn't what I wanted.

I wanted ... wanted to know why, I guess. Why she helped Val, why she helped me, why she gave a damn, and why she didn't let me die when she could have. And all I got was this lousy painting.

I repeat, Damn.

Because, before it was over I got a whole lot more than I bargained for.

There I was in an empty room, thinking I was alone ... until suddenly I wasn't. Instead that tall, curvaceous frame was slamming into my back and using momentum to propel me into a nearby wall. Startled, I just reacted, trying to catch myself on my hands. Mistake because it put them right where she wanted them---in front of me and at shoulder-height. I felt her press harder into my back, denying me maneuvering room even as her hands came around from the sides. A flash of silver and a press of incredibly hard muscle and suddenly one wrist was caught in a tight handcuff. She's so goddamned fast that I barely had time to draw a breath much less fight before she had both hands over my head, the chain threaded through an old wall sconce of some kind, and my other wrist securely imprisoned in the second steel circlet.

Not knowing what game she was playing, I went wild, desperately trying to throw her off, but denied any kind of leverage and pinned by her body, I was doomed to failure.

"Shhhhh ... easy does it." She's enough taller than I am that she had to duck pretty far to whisper near my ear, the position leaving her almost wrapped around me, pinning me even farther. "I'm not gonna hurt you." Strange as it seems a known cat burglar who's gone up against my mentor several times had me handcuffed and pinned to the wall, but her voice was warm and soothing, as though she was trying to calm a frightened animal. I've heard that she can handle the wildest of the big cats and quickly have them eating out of her hand. I believe it, because it wasn't very long before I was leaning heavily on my elbows, hands curling into the chain between the cuffs, my breath coming tight and quick, but no longer panicked. "That's it ... just calm down." She has the strangest voice. Like the rest of her, it's completely controlled, and she can make it crack like a whip or vibrate like the sultriest purr imaginable. She can also make it low and calming, the notes soft and even enough to encourage trust and seduce the most suspicious. It's seductive as hell, a mythical siren's song brought to life.

I had to fight the urge to melt, roll over, and show my belly like the cats she's famed for taming. Her voice just does that to you, makes you hers whether she touches you or not. I know my voice came out harsh and disbelieving because, well, there are times when you just don't know what to say. "What the hell are you doing?"

She slid her hands up my arms, almost stroking, until they reached my hands and covered them to stop me from pulling at the cuffs and bruising my wrists. "I just wanted to have a little conversation ... and I'm not interested in fighting you or going to jail." I remember she leaned into my back a little harder and I could feel the heat and shape of her body even through the barriers of cape and costume. It struck me even at that moment what an odd mix of inviting softness and incredibly hard muscle she is. I suddenly understood why Robin got a gleam in his eye when I asked about her. She is all sex and sensuality to the point that ... well ... I just don't know how to describe it, but nobody's immune, including me.

Despite the restraint of her hands, I tugged on the handcuffs, making the chain jangle against the metal sconce. "So, you decided to use handcuffs?"

"Better you than me." Her breath teased my cheek, scorchingly hot, just like her body. "I figured you couldn't resist the urge to play girl scout, and this seemed the easiest way to deal with that impulse."

"Give back the paintings and it wouldn't be a problem."

Her answering laugh was a low rumble, a cat's purr turned to chuckles. "Mmm, I don't think so." Her mouth brushed my cowl. A hand slid down, eerily graceful fingers stroking my cheek, then pulling the edge of my mask back, baring my ear to her hot breath. For just a moment, I thought she meant to unmask me, and even she was hard-pressed to keep me under control. Then I felt her teeth on my earlobe, biting with just enough force to sting, and she pushed me harder into the wall, her voice coming ragged and choppy when she released my ear and spoke. "Don't worry ... I'm not here to get a look under your cowl ... not that I'd mind ... but it's not my purpose." She tucked the edge of cowl behind my ear to keep it out of the way, then slid her hand down to my hip, pushing my cape aside and clinging firmly, bracing herself to cut off any moves designed to throw her off.

We were both breathing hard, the pressure between our bodies increasing then decreasing as we bellowed air in and out. "Then why?" I didn't know what she intended, but I knew I shouldn't trust her and out and was calculating the chances of getting the sconce to pull loose from the wall. It seemed to be firm, so they didn't seem high, and with her pressing on me and pinning my wrists the way she was ... well, I didn't have a lot of hope. I thought about trying to spin and kick, but the way she had me positioned it would cost me any balance if I'd tried. I could have wound up in even worse shape and we both knew it.

A long moment of total silence followed, leaving me with the sense she didn't really know either. "I was just going to leave the painting for you," she admitted at last, sounding vaguely perplexed by her own actions. And then she leaned close again, her voice sliding low, the confused note dropping away as she became the sensual, catlike seductress once again. If she had any doubts, they didn't last long. "I thought you'd earned it ... given that it wouldn't have been possible for me to take that little score without you."

That stung ... because she was right. I helped her steal a fortune in artwork, though totally unintentionally. "Not on purpose, I assure you," I reminded her. She set me up. I certainly had no idea what she intended.

She laughed very softly ... laughing at me ... which only pissed me off. I tried to spin and kick then, and she countered me easily. Too easily. Too emotional, I telegraphed the move and gave her a chance to counter. Which she did, blocking me, and forcing me back into the wall to keep from losing my feet entirely. As I regained my balance, she splayed a hand over my stomach, pressing into me, too strong for me to throw her off.

"Quiet, little bat ... quiet." Her voice was in my ear, soft and soothing, while her hand moved lightly against my stomach, stroking slowly the way you might pet a frightened animal. I didn't want her comfort ... the sense that she actually cared for me. It made me feel ... I don't know. Maybe it was just that it made me feel and I already knew that was much too risky. "You know I won't hurt you." It would have been easier in some respects if she'd been rough and furious. Then I could have hated her ... could have gone on fighting her the way I should have. "As for the more profitable aspects of our shared venture ... we stopped the bastard. Isn't that more important?"

Silky and insinuating, the question hung in the air between us until I deflated again, leaning heavily against the wall. "Of course it is ... but--"

"But good little girl scouts aren't supposed to work with anyone who's motives are less than pure?" she sighed, her breath teasing my ear, then her voice took on an almost petulant note. "Personally, I fail to see the great evil of taking something that was already stolen."

"Those paintings belong to the world ... not him ... or you." She laughed. I guess I probably did sound like a goddamned girl scout to her. Hell, I sounded like one to me, so why shouldn't I sound like one to her.

She trailed her fingers up from my stomach, walking up my sternum between my breasts, then curving them to the underside of my chin and drawing my head around until our eyes met. "Some things," she whispered, and I swear her eyes gleamed as though lit from behind, "belong to whoever's strong enough to take them."

"I'm sure Ryder Burnham would have agreed with you." Her eyes narrowed. She didn't like that comparison at all. "If he hadn't been so busy trying to kill me." I could still feel the burn of the electrical jolt he sent through me when he realized I wasn't her.

She froze. "I'm not like him," she growled, then the quality of her voice shifted again, becoming almost worried ... which is patently ridiculous all things considered. "Are you okay ... I mean ... did Burnham hurt you?" The arm wrapped around my torso shifted again, and she stroked my cheek very lightly, giving me the sense that she was reassuring herself that I was all right ... which is even more ridiculous than the notion that she was worried.

Which is what I kept telling myself even then ... trying to resist the temptation to believe in her. There was definitely a bitter note in my voice when I answered, "Hurt ... yes ... damage ... no."

I still don't know if I really felt that little sigh, and if I did, was it really the relief it seemed like. In any event, that how it felt, and I suppose it calmed my fears a little. "I'm glad." She was so close I could feel the heat of her breath and see my reflection in the depths of her pupils even though she didn't make contact. Then suddenly she sounded almost flustered, though it didn't last long. I guess it hit her how that statement could be read. "I mean, I'm glad that you weren't badly hurt ... sorry you were hurt at all."

Silly me actually kind of believed her ... at least for a moment or two. Like I said, she likes to play with her toys. That's me, cat-toy number 109. Damn and double damn.

She even sounded a little defensive when she continue, "I got back as fast as I could."

It was a stark reminder of just why she ran late.

"From stealing his art collection." I think I was reminding myself more than her. And I was still pissed off about that. I am still pissed off about that. I looked away again, glaring at the handcuffs latching me to the wall sconce. It gave me something to look at other than her.

"And stealing the spinal control," she reminded me and dropped her hand again, palm spreading over my upper chest. Positioned that way she had to feel my heart pounding because it was beating so hard I thought it might just crack my ribs in an effort to escape my chest. "Y'know the one that saved your life---kept your heart beating like it is right now---and made sure he won't kill any more little girls." I felt the shift in her mood. I don't think it was as sudden as it seemed, but I'd missed it before that ... or avoided it. It wasn't just me responding to her ... she was responding to me ... and after something. Then her teeth caught my earlobe again, only where before the pressure had been sharp enough to break through my panic, harsh bordering on painful, this time it was just a whispery rub that dragged slowly over my skin. I don't think I quite believed it was happening. Ain't denial fun? You can institute it as a protocol in the most amazing situations. "You still haven't said thank you," she drawled, mock complaining.

"Didn't have a chance, what with the being tackled and handcuffed and all."

Her low, answering laugh was enough to send a shiver down my spine whether I wanted it to or not, and suddenly I was struggling again, pulling furiously at the cuffs, trying to either knock the sconce loose or break it where the neck thinned, terrified of what was happening. She rode out the storm, whispering soothing nonsense in my ear and moving with me, my struggles setting up a rhythm that at some point turned into something else entirely. Then she moved independent of her hold on me, sharp teeth catching the fingers of one glove and pulling it off. I froze, the panic taking a new form as graceful fingers found the hidden catches on my costume and slipped inside, flesh touching flesh, her fingers warm as she stroked my lower back and waist.

That was what Valerie wanted. Wanted to be Catwoman's sidekick, partner, and very probably sex slave. Not me. I wanted ... I just wanted an explanation.

Not....

That....

I'm amazed I managed to say a word, and when I did it was only the one. "Why?" Open question if ever there was one. I suppose I wanted to qualify it, but didn't know how. For one thing, I still couldn't believe any of this was happening.

She was silent again, and then her lips brushed my cheek as her hand slid deeper under my costume. "I told you I just came to give you the painting, but...." Not a lot of room there but somehow she slipped her way between skin and neoprene as though she'd been born to the task. Maybe she was. A thief knows how to get in and out of tight spots. "Now that I think about it ... there's one treasure left for the stealing...."

I was stupid, but not that stupid. I knew what she meant, especially when she leaned harder into my body, moving just enough that her breasts massaged my back while her fingers teased bare skin. "No." Not much power in that weak croak.

It definitely didn't impress her because she ignored me as though I hadn't spoken. "... a pretty, little bat's precious virginity."

Somehow, I managed to forget everything else in the face of my total mortification. God, I wonder how she knew. I mean, it's not like I'm some kid or something. It's just that classes and gymnastics didn't leave a lot of dating time in high school, and having the police commissioner for a father doesn't exactly encourage prospective suitors ... and college, well, that's been more about surviving classes and fighting crime. And having a father who's the police commissioner still doesn't help.

Her hand was on my belly, stroking slowly, sliding up and teasing the underside of my breasts, the soft caresses drawing a hot fire into the region directly south. God, how could I.... It's like I was under a damn spell. "Don't."

"Mmmm," she breathed in my ear and nibbled again, while her fingers continued their game exploring my body under my costume, "but it feels so good." She licked my neck, then rubbed her teeth lightly against my skin, toying with me. She likes to play with her toys, and that's what I was to her. A damn toy.

In my defense, I did try to put a stop to it. "For you maybe, but whatever you think you're doing, I'm not interested."

She didn't react the way I hoped, just dropped her other arm from its position on my wrists, to wrap it around my body. Palming one breast through my costume, she stroked it with knowing skill, laughing softly at what she found. "You feel pretty interested, little bat." I wish I could say it was just the chill in the air, but she did something to me. It was like she reached inside and took control of my body, and I was just along for the ride.

I panicked again, as frightened of myself as I was of her ... maybe more frightened. Physically, I couldn't fight her, so I tried words. "Get your hands the fuck off of me, bitch."

"Shhh ... don't talk like that," she chided without even a hint of anger. In fact, it was almost like there was a kind of sympathy, as though she knew the insults were a last, desperate attempt to put a stop to what was happening between us. Her hands continued gently stroking inside and outside my costume, bending my body to her will, while sharp teeth teased my ear again, then eased down, toying with a cord in my neck, "when we both know that underneath it all, you want to ... you're just like me--"

"No." My voice wasn't much more than a sob at that point.

I was nearly broken, and I think she knew that because there was a note of triumph in her voice when she spoke again. "Yes ... power's a game for both of us ... the ultimate turn on ." She bit harder and sharp nails scraped my stomach, the sensation somewhere between pain and pleasure. "We both like to break the rules ... and each of us is the ultimate taboo for the other ... that's why we both want this...."

That growled accusation sent another unwanted bolt of heat through me. "This is what Valerie wanted ... not--"

"You," sharp, impatient, almost angry, she cut me off. "I know what she wanted ... and indiscriminate little girls aren't my style anymore than cheap, plaster knockoffs are." Her fingers spread, stroked the base of my stomach under my costume, her touch gentling even as her voice softened and became warm and inviting. "I only steal quality. She's got nothing to do with it. This is just about you and I ... and power--"

"No--"

"Power," she over-rode me, her voice a throaty purr that sent shivers down my spine, "power and taking what we both want ... I'm just doing you the favor of not making you choose." Her tone was utterly confident that she could seduce me anytime she wanted. I hate to admit it, but she probably could have.

I shouldn't have been excited, certainly shouldn't have been aroused. Except my body was trembling and I was one, giant, painful ache. I don't pretend to understand it. It was hot and primal, something that was totally beyond my control. I didn't want it, but there it was. I still had just enough language left at my beck and call to whisper, "Why me?"

She used her free hand to draw my head around, leaning past my shoulder until our eyes met. "You always remember your first ... and I find I want you to remember me." Then she kissed me, her mouth plundering mine, tongue pressing inside exploring, giving me no chance to resist even as her fingers ventured lower. Part of me wants to think that I had no choice, and another part wants to think that if I'd protested hard enough she would have stopped. Honestly, I don't know which idea scares me more ... or which turns me on more. Is not wanting to want something the same thing as not wanting it?

And then I didn't care about the conundrum of wanting or not wanting any more as her fingers slid lower. I wanted it, didn't want it, didn't know what I wanted. Still don't know what I wanted. I just know that suddenly her fingers were inside my body, sliding deep and stroking despite the tight confines of my costume.

"Tight," she hissed, referring to everything but neoprene and leather. She broke the kiss and bit my chin, her body thrusting against mine from behind, driving me into her fingers ... driving her fingers deeper into me, while her thumb rode higher, working rhythmically, sending hot arcs of electricity radiating outward from each caress. Her fingers hurt a little. I mean, god knows, I've handled my own frustrations a few times---or more than a few---but never like that ... never soooo....

Well, so deep and so hard I guess. And I really can't believe I'm ... but then again, it's too late to run scared now. It happened, and nothing's going to change that.

I was so lost I clung to the handcuff chain for balance, my whole focus on the electric sensations arcing away from her touch. I'd always thought it couldn't be that different ... that someone else couldn't possibly know how to touch my body any better than I did. How wrong I was. She knew exactly what she was doing and I was just buffeted about in a storm that got wilder with every passing moment. Her fingers are incredibly long, agile, slender, strong, and she used her body and my weight to force them deeper with each thrust, nearly lifting me off my feet with the strength in her arm. Her other hand came up, drew my chin back around, and her mouth claimed mine as those fingers made their way even deeper. I know I moaned, and she drank the sound in, then fed it back to me in the form of a low groan of her own.

The pain was fleeting, draining away into the pleasure, pushed back by her fingers as they toyed skillfully with my body. They're just like the rest of her, perfectly controlled, and she knows exactly how to use them. Not a first time for her ... which leaves me to believe that she probably won't be remembering me the way she wants me to remember her. And, goddammit, that shouldn't matter. I should be outraged, appalled, angry ... something, not simply vaguely confused and wondering who I am now.

Except she was right, it was about power, and somewhere along the way she got power over me. And she used it to pull me inside out. I never knew that kind of pleasure existed before, and she knew that too. "Not quite like going steady with your hand, is it?" the question was breathless and knowing as it washed over me.

I didn't even bother to respond. It would have been completely superfluous. I just clung even harder to the chains, surrendering and accepting my body was hers.

I don't think I've ever surrendered before in my entire life, and I'm not happy with myself for doing it this time. Except I didn't seem to have a choice. She was all around me, moving with me and inside me, taking me.

My only consolation is that I don't think she was nearly as divorced from it all as she probably wanted to be because, unless I'm mistaken, she was along for the entire ride ... and when my body collapsed and turned inside out, so did she. At that moment, she clung to me, hanging on as though she might just go down and shuddering violently as she buried her face in my neck and held on, her breath a ragged gasp in my ear. I probably shouldn't think of that as a triumph, but that's how it feels. One moment she was all spring steel tension, panting in my ear and growling softly, then she was limp and trembling and leaning against my back. At that point, I think the handcuffs and the wall sconce were probably the only thing holding us both upright.

"Oh ... god." Her voice was husky and surprised sounding. I don't know what I think about that. I just don't know. Then her hand slithered free of my costume. Mark of the talented thief, get in and get away clean.

Still holding me with her other arm---or more correctly, holding onto me with her other arm because I wasn't fighting any longer, and she was barely standing---she brought her other one around, lifting her hand until it was in our collective line of sight, then changed positions so that I was forced to look at it and her. There was the tiniest trace of blood and I don't think that was an accident judging by the wicked feral smile that curved her lips when she saw it. She wasn't kidding when she said she wanted to be the first. It's an ancient, patriarchal, symbolic thing, and she laid claim to it. Droit du Seigneur in the modern, superhero age. Thank god there were no sheets or she'd probably have drawn a crowd, then waved them to brag. Instead she drew her fingers to her lips and tasted, the gesture inherently sensual and possessive at the same time.

Then she brushed her fingers---still glossy with the moisture from my body and sporting a trace of crimson---to my lips. Not just power, but control was involved here. For a little while, she controlled me, and she liked it. Frighteningly enough, so did I. She painted my lips in slow strokes, her eyes gleaming, then quietly whispered, "Taste."

And I did. Wrapped my lips around her index finger, then ran my tongue along the length.

Speaking of things that leave me uncertain about how I feel. The mix of her skin, and my blood and arousal wasn't a particularly safe flavor. It scares the hell out of me to know I did that, scares me more that it excited me.

I don't know how I feel. I don't love her, but try as I might, I can't seem to hate her either.

After that, we just stayed like that for a long time, leaned against the wall, her body half coiled around mine.

Not sure how long we were there before I felt her fumble with my utility belt---around my waist rather than my hips to make room for her arm when it was inside my costume---until she found what she was looking for. "Time for me to fly," she whispered, and her lips brushed my cheek.

That scared me because if she'd left she chained like that it would have left me vulnerable, and we're not the only one who meet in places like this in Gotham. There are plenty of far less friendly souls who would have cheerfully stepped in where she left off and finished the job in a far more violent fashion. Whatever her flaws, she's not like them. They would take pleasure in hurting, and they don't like this costume. It could take awhile to get free, and until then I'd have been completely open to attack by any of them.

She must have recognized my fear because she slid back into that comforting voice and stroked my cheek lightly. "Don't worry." Her lips brushed mine. "I wouldn't just leave you like this." A hand rose, pressing something into my fingers. A lock pick from my belt. Another quick brush of her lips, then a whispered assurance. "I steal things because they're beautiful, not to destroy them."

She retrieved her dropped glove and then she was gone, moving fast and light as only she can.

With a pick at my disposal, I was free in moments and I barely paused to straighten my costume before rushing after her, a shiver sliding over my skin as I hit the chill, night air. She was gone, of course, leaving me alone and feeling vaguely foolish on the roof of the Runyon. A little girl who got ... what ... I don't even know how to define it ... and then got left alone in the night.

Except I'm not sure I was totally alone. It was a flash ... maybe I imagined it ... but I thought I saw movement on the roof of the building across the way. Her watching? Making sure I escaped the cuffs and was okay? Or am I just imagining something that wasn't there because I can't bear the notion that I was nothing more to her than an easy triumph and a quick fuck. Am I just trying to escape the fact that I liked it by assigning some level of emotional involvement because maybe that takes some of the sting out of the whole scenario?

God, I don't even know who I am anymore. Ten minutes of pleasure; a lifetime of self-doubt.

Am I gay now? Or maybe just a pervert? Or possibly a gay pervert?

Shit. Will Batman go on training a gay pervert to fight crime or will he toss me out on my pointy little head? And my dad ... Jesus, what if he found out? Would he suddenly regret taking me in? I don't think so, but I don't know ... don't know anything right now....

The soft thud of the journal being slammed shut echoed gently in the high air where a girl, red haired and black garbed, sat cross-legged, well above the sounds of the city far below. She almost flung the small book, her confusion and frustration making her a little crazy. Except there were far too many dangerous words wrapped in those pages to ever risk just randomly tossing it. Truth be told, she knew she was being foolish keeping the journal, but she needed the insight the self-examination often produced, just like there were times she needed to escape the confines of her father's home, and hie away to the high rooftops to think about the changes the costume had wrought in her life. The process had become an important facet of understanding the games she played and improving her abilities. Finally, she tossed it onto the tarpaper in front of her, then hid her face in her hands with an exhausted sigh.

"Not the best place for losing track of your surroundings." Low and smoky, the softly spoken words slid through the girl like a hot, Santa Anna wind, the kind that whipped and burned even when it was no more than a gentle breeze.

Barbara rolled, snapped to her feet and stood braced, the journal forgotten as she faced the figure crouched on the radio tower above her, a shapely shadow against the cloud-filtered, night sky. Not allowing her confusion to show, she faced Catwoman with a pugnacious glare, a little startled to realize that she had no idea how long the woman had been up there watching her. "What do you want?"

Silhouetted shoulders dipped in a hint of a shrug, giving few hints to the brunette's thoughts. She was an expert at shielding herself from prying eyes, and she used that skill with natural ease. "Maybe I was just wandering by."

Jade green eyes narrowed sharply. That seemed unlikely at best, but the redhead didn't respond, leaving the other woman hanging.

Eyes that were just as green, but a wholly different shade, sharpened and a hint of smile twisted full lips, though both gestures were lost in the thick, absorbing darkness that surrounded Selina Kyle. Bracing a hand on the crossbar on which she was so neatly balanced, she did a tiny vault, then dropped straight down, landing lightly. "Or perhaps I wanted to make sure you're okay," she murmured, purposely dropping her voice low and rattling it into a comforting purr, the sort of sound that drew kittens to snuggle close to their mothers in search of love and protection.

A tiny shiver of awareness made its way down Barbara's spine, but she refused to let herself be taken in by that inviting tone ... again. "Finegreatwonderful," she responded sharply, the words coming so fast they ran together as she instinctively danced back a step.

Catwoman stepped out of the shadows and into the faint light cast by a quarter moon, the illumination just enough to reveal the smile that twisted the sensual cupid's bow of her lips. "Liar," she drawled very softly, her tone almost sympathetic. She drew a little closer, lips pursing faintly when the smaller woman twitched away from the hand that floated out to stroke a soft cheek. "Did I hurt you?" she asked and didn't push, instead allowing her arm to fall to her side.

Barbara stepped back from the tempting warmth of that voice and body, arms wrapping around her torso under the comforting cover of her cape. "I'm a little sore, but I'll live," she whispered, trying to sound calm and uncaring, though she suspected she came across every bit as young as she felt.

Cat's eyes sparked in the faint illumination, seeming to create their own light that came from within. It was on the tip of Selina's tongue to point out that wasn't what she meant and they both knew it, but she restrained the impulse. Instead, she changed tack, and quietly admitted, "You may not believe me, but I didn't plan what happened." No, indeed, that had been about anything but planning. Initially, she'd just intended to watch the girl retrieve the painting, telling herself it was a valuable commodity and shouldn't just be left lying around, the cuffs in hand just in case, not with any thought to using them. Then she'd decided just to talk without the pressure of having to fight. She'd found she didn't like the idea of hurting the younger woman. So instead.... Instead.... She shook her head slowly, not finishing the thought. Her hormones had gotten her in trouble again.

Barbara snorted softly, telling herself she didn't care either way. Even she didn't buy that lie so she didn't even try to give it voice.

Selina turned away from eyes that were bright with accusation, suddenly needing to escape the confusion she'd clearly engendered. It had been years since she'd dealt with confusion, years since she'd been anything but utterly confident in her actions or cared for any feelings but her own. She leapt, caught a cross spar on the radio tower and pulled herself up and into a crouch. Much like her namesake, she was far more comfortable back in the shadows and looking down on the world. "Business is business, and I don't do guilt," she said carefully, almost lecturing the younger woman.

"Fine," the redhead snapped a little impatiently. She didn't know what this was, and the emotions it raised just made things harder for her.

Selina made a tiny noise in the back of her throat, somewhere between a growl and a hiss, her obvious frustration silencing the younger woman. "But I can do regret," she continued, forcing herself not to over-react and add one stupid act on top of the first. The younger woman played on her emotions in ways she wasn't the least bit comfortable with, and was well aware she couldn't afford. How ironic that both the mentor and the student affected her common sense and hormones in such a visceral and unpredictable manner. She sighed softly and accepted that the things she had to say weren't the sort that could be delivered from on high. And she had to say something. She'd thought perhaps not---or perhaps she'd not thought---but some things simply needed doing. She did another quick, lofting vault, and landed gracefully within arm's reach of her target.

The smaller woman refused to give ground this time, stiffening as she held her position and glared up at the tall, sleek woman looming over her. Nor did she pull back when a black-gloved hand floated out, stroking her cheek, the light caress scorching her skin wherever slim fingers made contact.

Selina leaned closer, staring at her reflection in wide, black pupils, near enough to feel the heat pouring off the smaller woman's body. "It should have happened in a bed ... with your hair spread over silk sheets," she drawled, her tone throbbing with the essence of sex itself, her lips so close they nearly made contact the curve of a mouth that was softer than her own. "But then it wouldn't been with me ... and we both know it." The younger woman might have lost control long enough to lose herself in what had happened, but she wouldn't have let go for that long. She moved faintly, head sweeping back and forth gently like a hunting feline, so close to kissing soft lips that it was a wonder they never touched. "And I'm greedy enough that I wanted it to be me."

"Why?" Barbara exhaled before she could think better of it. Green eyes slid over her face, slid down and traced the outline of her lips, their intensity leaving the younger woman half convinced Catwoman meant to kiss her. She didn't though, just continued to stare.

"You ask that question a lot," Selina said at last.

Barbara shrugged. "I guess it's just my nature." She'd always wanted to know more, learn the whys and wherefores, find out what made things tick, and understand everything. Even the things that scared her to death. Sometimes those most of all.

And then Selina did kiss her little prey, lips just barely brushing that soft, sweet mouth before she pulled back. "I'm a thief," she said very softly. "That's my nature." She turned, very nearly fleeing as she headed for the edge of the building with the intent of leaping off. The younger woman was going to be all right and a smart thief knows when to get out before getting caught. She glanced over her shoulders into intelligent, green eyes. Those eyes were a trap that could catch even the wariest thief. It was time to run for it.

A soft voice brought her head back around. "Why?"

Selina knew perfectly well the younger woman wasn't asking why she was a thief. She took a deep breath and shrugged. "I just had to steal a little piece of you ... something that would be mine alone."

Barbara felt something coil tight deep in the pit of her stomach, heat flooding her body. She didn't even begin to understand the impulse, but she had to know. "And did I steal anything from you?" She didn't even know what answer she hoped to hear.

Minutes later, she retrieved her journal, flicking it open to add a short postscript.

.... then she just turned and looked at me, her expression unreadable, a hint of smile on her lips and flung herself into the night. I'd like to think the answer was yes.

END

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