Monday, October 30, 2017

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Vignettes

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Vignettes

"Azarath Metrion Zinthos... Azarath Metrion Zinthos... Azarath Metrion Zinthos..."

Raven had been chanting for the last hour is seemed, but the passage of time didn't affect her. She kept her head covered with her cloak as she levitated in a lotus position. Her room was covered in a mist of shadows while a few candles glowed in her presence. The heater turned on and she looked up, her incantation interrupted. She had to admit it was cold, but even still, it bugged her. Standing up from her position, she covered the candles' rims with her gloved hands and blew them out. Opening the door from her room, she was surprised to see the Tower's hallways almost as dimly lit as her own room.

It was odd to say the least, but with the current circumstances, she couldn't blame anyone for not turning on the lights. Walking down the hall, the empath suddenly sensed another's presence. She glanced over to the nearby door which read 'STARFIRE'. She sighed. The alien of the team seemed to be the one the most affected by all of this. The Tower being shut off and... well, Robin's absence.

"Starfire?" She called, knocking on the door, "You in there?"

Of course she was, but that didn't mean that she would answer, "Come on, Starfire. Can you open up?"

Nothing. Raven folded her arms. She had to come out some time other than when she was to go on duty... "Starfire, I know you're in there."

Silence followed and Raven knocked again. She wished that she wasn't so bad at this sort of thing, "Look, I know you're upset, but... Can't you at least come out?"

In that instant, Starfire opened the door, but she wasn't looking at her friend. It took her a minute until she finally brought her eyes up to see her, "I'm sorry, friend Raven. I was... distracted."

"Oh..." Raven said, trailing off, "Well, that's, that's okay... Are you alright?"

Starfire looked down and then nodded, "I will be fine..."

An awkward air of silence followed. Raven shuffled her feet a bit as Starfire tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear.

"Well, I hope you can excuse me, friend," Starfire finally said, "I, um, I need to take a shower."

She walked past Raven to the bathroom. Raven watched her go, wondering if Starfire really had intended on taking a shower or if she was just trying to avoid her. She shook her head and walked in the opposite direction to the front room and found Cyborg, where he always was, at the central computer board of the Tower. Working. The poor guy, he was only getting about four hours of sleep a day at this rate. Generally, he stayed plugged into the charger all day, but his human body still needed the natural rest that came from sleeping. So four hours was what he got.

The rest of them got about eight. Each taking two four-hour shifts for guarding the exterior of the Tower, which was still down from the massive reboot that Cyborg was conducting. She sighed and made herself some herbal tea. As she poured the steaming tea into her mug, she blew on it and walked over to Cyborg, who was hunched over at the screen. She glanced over the screen, most of which didn't make much sense to her.

"How are you doing?" She asked.

Cyborg sighed and sat back, cracking his neck, "Well, it's mostly a lot of security codes that I have to get through and reset. And then to check if the system's reloaded, I plug in all of the passwords and if it stops... well, then I missed something."

"And that's what's stopping you now, isn't?" Raven said, smirking lightly.

Cyborg nodded, "Man, when I get my hands on this hacker... You know, it's one thing to hack in the Tower. I can deal with that, but hacking into my system files at the same time..."

Raven watched as Cyborg slouched over again, "They don't know who they're messing with."

She looked down at her tea and stirred it with her spoon. She was glad that after all of this, Cyborg wasn't too shaken by it. The fact that he was still mad about someone hacking into him, well, that was a positive sign. After everything, with Gotham and the thefts and now this, she was surprised that they were not more rattled. Then again, she had been trying to... calm people's worries down. Not that she told the others. In any case, she felt sorry for whatever poor sap had committed this crime.

"Any idea who did it?" Raven asked.

"Whoever it was, their server wasn't within Jump City limits. But with all the by-passes it had to go through, I'd say that it was still in a pretty densely populated area," Cyborg explained.

"That narrows it down," She remarked sarcastically.

Cyborg rolled his eyes, "I'm working on narrowing down the possibilities at the moment. Right now, I've got that they were in the United States."

"Again, that helps," Raven said, not seeing how useful that really was at this point.

Cyborg shrugged, "There's only so many cities... Hey look Raven, I need to work on getting this done. Do you think...?"

Raven smiled slightly, "Don't worry, I'm gone. Just get this Tower up and running, alright?"

Cyborg smiled, but he was too tired to really be enthusiastic, "Thanks, Rae."

She nodded and left the room. As the door closed behind her, she thought to herself, 'Now what?' She didn't really want to be a bother to anyone and she could always go back to meditating... She walked back towards her room when she felt a draft. So that's why her room's heating unit had turned on. She walked up towards the roof's door to shut it, but upon reaching it, she glanced through the crack to see Beast Boy sitting out in the cold. It never got too cold in Jump City, but it was still pretty chilly. She looked down and then up again. The door creaked open and she walked out. Beast Boy turned to look at her.

"Oh, hey Rae," He said, "What are you doing up here?"

She shrugged and let her cloak fall around her shoulders, "Nothing really... aren't you cold?"

Beast Boy raised his eyes at first and then laughed, "Only a little. If I ever get too cold, I just shape-shift."

He changed into a tiny kitten and then a large dog before finally changing back into a human being. Raven put up a small smile, though she wasn't entirely convinced. She walked over to Beast Boy and sat down next to him.

"I'm surprised you can still make jokes," She admitted, "After everything..."

"Hey, you know that's all I'm good for," Beast Boy told her.

She sighed, "You don't give yourself enough credit."

"Oh, yeah, I'm good for being a guard dog," Beast Boy, shifting into a greyhound and back, "Forgot that one."

Raven rolled her eyes and looked out at the city's landscape, "So how do you keep yourself busy up here?"

Beast Boy shrugged, "I don't know, mostly I bug Cyborg on a walkie. You?"

"Meditate," Raven said simply.

"Should have known," Beast Boy said, leaning back, "You doing alright?"

Raven suppressed a laugh, "I suppose. I'm more worried about Star and Cy though, considering Cy's lack of sleep and Star's... state. How are you doing?"

Beast Boy shrugged, "Alright, I guess. I just wish there was more that I could do other than be a guard dog."

Raven smiled, "You're not alone in that. I can tell that Starfire's been... dying to get out of here, I'd say. She's worried."

Beast Boy nodded and there was silence for a moment before he realized something, "Wait, have you been going into our minds lately?"

The empath looked up at him panicked, "What?"

"You heard me, you've been messing with our heads!" Beast Boy accused.

"No!" Raven yelled back, "I didn't..."

"Rae," Beast Boy said, casting the shadow of doubt on her word.

"Well, what would you have done?" Raven said standing up, her cloak blowing in the wind, "Star might leave and Cyborg's so... frustrated right now. And..."

"And what?" Beast Boy said.

Raven glared out of the corner of her eyes before answering, "Robin's gone. We're barely holding it together and if the Titans don't..."

Beast Boy eyed her, "What? What happens if we don't keep it together?"

Raven held her arms, "Something bad's coming, Beast Boy. I can feel it. It's like those feelings I had in Gotham, but they're worse. They get worse everyday..."

Beast Boy stood up and walked over to her. He wasn't quite sure what to say or do. His caution was evident and she noticed.

"I guess all I'm trying to say... is what would you do?" Raven asked, turning to him.

"I, I didn't know, I'm sorry," Beast Boy said.

She looked him in the eye, surprised by his answer. He shuffled his feet at the silence, "I, uh, I haven't been doing anything to worry you, have I?"

To her own surprise, Raven found the question a bit ironic. She debated as to whether or not she should answer, "Um, I don't know... You just haven't been very happy lately. That's all I know..."

Beast Boy laughed, "Well, no one has. No surprise there. Just wish I could do more, like I said earlier."

"You like feeling useful," Raven stated simply.

"To save a life or be the comic relief," Beast Boy shrugged, trying to be cute, "And I think it's working on you."

Raven shook her head. He was so predictable sometimes. They walked back to the edge of the roof and stared out at the city, which was now past dusk. It was quiet for a while, except for the few seagulls calling out overhead. Beast Boy sighed and stretched.

"You know what's fun?" He asked, glancing at her.

"No," Raven said, "What?"


Raven felt her stomach drop as she saw Beast Boy lean over and begin to fall off the side of Titans Tower. He waved as he fell farther and faster away from her. Raven leaned over the edge watching. She had regained her first feelings of panic as she remembered that he could fly, but that was quickly escaping her as he plummeted faster and faster towards the ground.

'Oh come on, change already,' She thought.

He was feet away from the ground when she lost it and held out her hand, which glowed of telepathic energy, "Beast Boy!"

And then he was gone.

She jumped off the roof panicked and flew downwards to the ground. She searched around frantically, finding no sign of him. Where had he... what had he...?

"Boo!" He yelled and she nearly screamed as he changed back from being a fly and held onto her neck to keep himself from falling to the ground.

"Oh!" From the corner of the eye, she glared at him, "You..."

She elbowed him in the gut and he fell to the ground, despite the injury, laughing, "You should have seen your face!"

She stood in the air, her arms crossed at him, "It wasn't funny."

"Oh come on," He said, "You knew I'd be alright."

Raven glanced at him. He was smiling and resisting the urge to laugh. For a while, she did nothing, not giving him one reaction even as he got up to look for some. Finally, she landed on the ground and gave him a final glare.

"Oh, you're useful alright," She said sarcastically, "Useful for giving people heart attacks."

Beast Boy laughed, "That and migraines!"

"That too," Raven said, but before their conversation could go any further, one of the walkies they were using in place of their communicators turned on.

"Titans! Get up here to the meeting room! The Tower's back online!" Cyborg called to them.

They looked at each other and instantly flew up to the top of the Tower. Once Raven reached the window, she flew threw it to reach the meeting room faster. As Beast Boy got to the top of the Tower, he changed back from the hawk and ran to the door.

"That's just cheating!" He called down.

Upon reaching the main hall to the meeting room, he ran into Starfire and they came in at the same time.

"Is it true?" Starfire asked, as they got to the front of the room, "Is the Tower back online?"

Cyborg nodded at her after looking over her appearance, namely her wet hair, "Uh, yeah, Tower's back up and our communicators should be working again."

"Sweet!" Beast Boy yelled, pulling his out, "Yes! My Tetris game is still on!"

Cyborg looked at him and shook his head, "Yeah, because that's so important. Listen, as we get back to a regular sleep schedule, now that I've got more resources, I can get closer to finding our little hacker."

"Hey,  my high scores are missing!" Beast Boy exclaimed, clearly not paying as much attention as he should to the current situation.

"Friend Cyborg, wait, does that mean that we will be able to reach friend Robin?" Starfire asked.

"I guess so," Cyborg said, shrugging, "Let's see... if we have any messages..."

Starfire held her hands together, waiting as Cyborg searched up the communicators' files, "Hm... looks like we had one call, but Robin didn't leave a message. Guess he got cut off or something..."

"Do you think we could reach him now?" Starfire asked urgently.

"Uh, I don't know, maybe..." Cyborg trailed off, typing into the computer.

Instantly, the communicator was open in Star's hand and she frantically typed in the code to reach Robin. She let it ring a couple times before she heard the answering machine. She closed it slowly. Raven looked over at her, sympathetically.

"He probably just can't answer right now, Starfire," She said.

"You are..." She started, but paused slightly, "You are probably right."

They waited in silence for a moment before Cyborg finally ended the short and brief meeting, "Alright, y'all. I'm gonna go knock out a couple hours of sleep. But afterwords, you leave it to me. That hacker is mine."

Beast Boy almost laughed, "Don't let me stop you, dude."

Besides, they were all tired and without even really thinking, they dispersed themselves through out the Tower.


"How confident are you feeling right now, Robin?"

Robin narrowed his eyes, "I'm sure if I answer that I am, you'll downplay that immediately."

Slade chuckled, "True, though you are not, are you?"

"Oh no, I'm totally going to play into your hands and say I am," Robin said as they walked down the hall.

Slade decided not to mention the irony in that last statement as they kept walking. After a moment of silence, Robin finally continued, "So what is it today, anyway?"

He had been stuck in his room for most of the past four days, except for meals and the occasional trip to the bathroom. Yeah, Slade had been extremely hospitable. He'd visit once a day, mostly in Robin's opinion to get a daily dose of talking down to him. But today, Robin had gotten the pleasure of getting to come out for a new reason. The new reason though, was still a mystery to him.

"Something I think you'll like," Slade said, opening the doors at the end of the hallway to reveal a large room.

It was mostly clear save for a few pieces of furniture, such as an old couch, a few matching chairs, and a fireplace that didn't look like it had been used in ages. But despite these few pieces of furniture, the room was mostly empty except for a cabinet at the side that Slade was currently opening. The floor was bare and made of well polished wood. All in all the whole place was perfect for...

"Catch," Slade said, tossing Robin a Bo-staff.

He caught it in his hand and looked at it for a moment before smirking, "We're sparring?"

"Still confident?" Slade asked, amused.

Robin shrugged as he tested out the staff, "I think I could enjoy this."

He yelled and ran forward with the Bo-staff, but Slade sidestepped it and grabbed Robin's wrists, halting him in his attack. Robin stared up into Slade's masked face, furious.

"You still planning on enjoying this?" Slade asked, twisting Robin around and throwing him and the staff to the ground.

However, Robin regained his footing and twisted around to face his opponent. Stubbornly, he failed to answer and ran forward, yelling. Slade readied himself as Robin approached. But when he moved to block a frontal attack, Robin moved to the side. He was going to make it, land a hit... So when he felt a kick to his back that he wasn't expecting, he tumbled across the floor until he hit the green couch. Slade moved over, pleased, but Robin wasn't about to stop there. Not after just one shot. He sprinted to his feet and grabbed the fallen Bo-staff in the process. Heading straight for Slade, he looked above Slade's head, though the corner of his eye kept Slade right in his line of sight.

Robin made a move that looked like he'd jump up to hit Slade from above, but before it could be fully executed, he stopped himself and aimed straight at Slade's chest, hoping to catch him off guard. To his surprise again, Slade had seen the move coming with ease and used Robin's own momentum against him, tossing him to the left towards the fireplace. The Boy Wonder yelled as he hit the stone feature of the room.

"Tired yet?" Slade asked.

Robin wiped his mouth and glared up at Slade, angry. He looked around the room, looking for anything that could give him an advantage. None presented itself... Only the Bo-staff... His feet made contact with the floor again and he stood to face Slade. Slade eyed him, watching him closely, when Robin began to run forward once again. He was ready for Robin's next actions. Another frontal assault, when Robin slid past him to the right, finding the Bo-staff in his left hand again. He slid till he found his footing again and then ran towards the couch. Jumping on top of it, he thrust himself at the window before throwing the Bo-staff with all of his strength towards his one escape.

At the moment of contact, there wasn't a single shard and Robin followed the Bo-staff in clattering to the ground in a heap. Slade chuckled and Robin looked up at him. Slade had known that it wouldn't have worked all along. That's why he hadn't bothered to try and stop him...

"It's not going to be that easy, Robin," He said simply, looking down at the boy.

Robin growled and ran at Slade, infuriated, but Slade got a hold of Robin's arms and restrained him, "Get off me!"

"I'm intrigued," Slade told him, "You fight though you know that you can't get out."

"Yes I can!" Robin yelled as he struggled against Slade's grasp, eventually freeing himself and stepping a good few feet back from his enemy.

Slade chuckled, "Really?"

And that's when Robin knew he was in trouble, turning around, it felt like he had only mere seconds before Slade landed a well planned kick to his legs and caught him in a choke hold. Robin squirmed and fought, but it was like being a fish caught on a hook. He kicked and desperately attempted to free himself, but Slade wasn't about to let Robin out of this that quickly.

"It seems to me, your possible escape routes are few in number..."

Outside in the hall, Adeline walked from her room to the front. Her intention was to go read. It was one of the few things that she could do that would get her mind off of her current predicament. Watching TV never felt productive and outside of that and reading there wasn't much to do other than help Wintergreen in the kitchen and around the estate, something Adeline wasn't about to do for the life in her, unless Wintergreen was being overworked, of course. And the one good thing about this place was that Slade's library had to be the most diverse private library she had ever seen. Today it was a book about Alaska. She wished she was in Alaska, a thousand miles away from hi...


She turned her head up ahead and ran ahead. That was Dick. She knew it was and at that instant, she suddenly felt panicked. At the point where the corridor parted, she took a right instead of a left and ran down to the last door, every moment being able to hear better.

"Don't be foolish, Robin," She heard.

"You're crazy!"

"Or merely using statistics..." She could hear the amusement in Slade's voice now.

She slammed the doors open and found Robin in a headlock, with Slade keeping hold of some of the teen's hair with the other hand. Her mouth dropped and without hesitation, Adeline's hands became fists.

"Slade! Release him! Now!" She yelled.

Slade looked at her as though tired, "Adeline, I'm a little busy right now..."

"What on earth are you doing?" Adeline asked, walking over to him and grabbing the arm that he had around Robin's throat, "Dick, are you okay?"

"Well..." Robin managed to choke out.

"Slade, let go!" She yelled.

"I repeat, I'm little busy," Slade said.

Adeline looked at him, shocked and infuriated, "You let him go or I will make you."

"You're cute when you're angry," He said, and she knew he was smiling under the mask.

"Are my fists cute, Slade?" She asked in response.

Slade considered his options. He knew he could stop both Adeline and Robin easily, but he really didn't want to fight Adeline and it would be simpler to just talk it out with her. He dropped Robin to the ground and Adeline tensed. Robin shook his head and attempted to smile up at her as though he was okay. As though. Slade knew that he was probably feeling a kink in his neck. Slade stepped forward to Adeline and looked behind his shoulder at Robin.

"Practice. Make yourself more of a challenge," Slade told him.

Robin frowned and Adeline glared at him, before he led her outside of the room and closed the door. He leaned against the wall, his arms folded as she walked out, a hand to her chin in thought. There were so many things wrong with this... She turned to see him and he watched her with interest.

"I don't really know where to begin," Adeline said.

Slade shrugged it off and offered an explanation, "Adeline, Robin and I have been fighting for years and that's nothing compared to what..."

"Nothing?" She asked, walking up to him, "Slade, you've got a sixteen year old boy in a choke hold!"

"I learned it from you," He said simply.

"Yeah, well I wish I had never taught you," Adeline answered, turning away, "I mean, what if that was one of... what if that was Gr...?"

"I've left them out of this, Adeline," Slade interrupted.

Her face took on a sour contortion, "No, you haven't. You won't tell me where Grant is and that's why I'm stuck here."

"But they're not in any way going to get harmed," Slade told her.

"But Dick is!" She yelled, "I didn't teach you this to let you..."

But then an idea hit her and she smiled, "I bet I could still deck you."

Slade raised a brow beneath the mask, the conversation having changed course, "Really?"

"Really," Adeline said, turning to face him and walking up to him.

"What are you getting at, Adeline?" Slade asked, they were mere inches away from each other.

"I fight you," She said, "We spar, once a day. If you win or if it's a draw by an hour's time, the original agreement stands. If I win, you tell me where Grant is and his situation and you let Dick leave."

Slade mulled it over in his head, making Adeline impatient, "Well?"

"You know, that blouse looks great on you," Slade's velvet voice teased.

"Answer the question," Adeline insisted.

"Technically, it wasn't a question," Slade told her.

"Slade," She warned.

Slade chuckled and finally answered, "Alright, you've got yourself a deal, starting tomorrow. But I'm afraid that you really must excuse me, Addie, I've got to get back to work."

Adeline swallowed hard, hating the thought of letting Slade keep doing this, but at the same time, she knew that once Slade set his mind to something, there wasn't anything that was going to stop him. And he had made a promise, gave his word. She knew how much he honored his word. Too much... in fact, in her mind. Slade opened the door and disappeared from view. Adeline stood there for a moment before it hit her.

"Don't call me Addie!" She yelled through the door.

She wasn't sure if he heard her and the silence angered her. She began walking down the hall, picking up the book that she had dropped on the way to the door, her heals clicking as she walked. Adeline then looked at the blouse she was wearing and made a mental note to change and burn the blouse later. Inside the sparring room however, Robin's worries were back and already becoming realities.

"You annoy everyone don't you?" Robin asked, twirling the Bo-staff.

Slade smiled under the mask, "I suppose that's another thing we have in common."

Robin leapt forward, aiming the Bo-staff at Slade's face, though Slade side-stepped it. Slade aimed a kick at Robin's legs, but Robin managed to knock it out of the way with the staff. However he was far from out of the fire. This time they didn't get interrupted and the fight lasted a good twenty minutes. Robin spun around, despite feeling a dizzy spell coming on. But Slade saw it and advanced quickly, causing Robin to trip over his own feet and fall to the ground. Before he could get up, Slade had done it for him, grabbing his wrist and arm.

"You can't escape from here, Robin," He said in the boy's here.

"Don't tell me what I can't do!" Robin yelled.

Slade glared at Robin and dragged the teen to the window. Robin looked outside and saw that it had begun to snow and it was falling rapidly. The overcast sky had darkened the woods to the point that it felt like it was night time outside. He heard the winds blowing against the windows as they hit the house. He saw the trees surrounding the house being rocked as their roots held them to the ground. The leaves flew past them as they were whipped from their hold on the branches. He involuntarily shivered.

"Do you see any lights?" Slade asked.

Robin didn't answer, but there were none to see and Slade continued, "You don't know where you are or where anything else around us is, so I'll tell you. We're in the middle of the woods. There is nothing around for miles. Gotham is over two hours away driving by car at the speed limit. And this house is designed as a fortress."

The Boy Wonder watched the scene revolving around outside, his chances of survival and escape dimmed with every moment, "No one is coming for you. No one even knows to come for you. You're on your own if you want to break out."

"So feel free to try and escape," Slade continued, "But know this: I know these woods, Robin, far better than you do. It would be a fruitless effort on your part. I suggest you reassess your options."

Slade let go of Robin, who stood rooted to the spot. He walked over to the Bo-staff and picked it up. Robin didn't move or bother to notice. Slade smiled. At least that had been drilled into the boy's head. Suddenly, Slade saw Robin's hands ball up, becoming tight and tense. He turned and yelled as he attacked. Slade smiled. Time for a lesson.

"Don't let anger drive you, Robin," He said, sidestepping the attack.

Robin spun around, not even acknowledging what Slade had said. He didn't care that he was angry. He just needed to release it and even if it meant that he'd be beaten by Slade. Slade had been controlling his life, whether he had realized it or not, for the past three months. Every bad thing that had happened to him was Slade's fault and now he was stuck dealing with him in this miserable estate. And what annoyed him most of all, for some reason, the only reason the man had done all of this was because Slade was intrigued by something about him.

He wondered if he annoyed himself in that way... Yes, the immense responsibility and sacrifices of being a hero could be somewhat agitating. But it was all worth it... Robin lashed out to punch Slade in the face when Slade grabbed his fist and snapped it back. Robin gasped and Slade looked at him.

"You just want a fight today," Slade told him, "That's obvious."

He tossed Robin to the ground, "But I assure you, you won't want what's coming. I'd suggest surrendering now."

Robin rubbed the side of his face where he had been elbowed, said nothing, and kept on the sour pout. Slade sighed. He was confusing him, that was for sure, but at least Robin realized his situation. That, Slade was happy about.

"Get up," Slade said, "You need to get changed for dinner."

Robin looked to the ground. Fine. Whatever. He didn't care. But he wasn't going to surrender. He couldn't. He stood up and walked over to the door, waiting for Slade to open it and lead him back to his room. Slade's masked face was expressionless as he unlocked the door and strode out, the boy following.


Inside of the apartment, Selina rubbed her arms as she watched the snow fall outside. She stretched and looked over as one of her cats purred. With graceful steps, she slid over and pet the feline's head.

"Yes, yes, I know puddin'," She said, "Just be glad you're not out there."

She walked into the kitchen, putting a few dishes away. She shut the cabinet just as the door of the apartment opened. She looked over to see her friend walking in with the groceries.

"Man! It's cold outside! Those weathermen never get it right," Holly muttered, "I mean, where in the report today was there any sign of snow?"

Selina laughed, "At least the heater is worker this year."

"Oh, don't remind me! Last year was like being up at Santa's workshop!" Holly answered.

Holly Robinson and Selina Kyle had been long time friends, who together had slowly worked their way out of poverty. It was a lasting friendship and Holly was perhaps the only one who knew that Selina Kyle was Catwoman. Well, despite Batman and Robin. Selina sighed and proceeded to wash a few dirty dishes before stacking them into the dishwasher.

"What's up with you?" Holly asked, bringing the food in to put it away, "You've been awfully quiet lately... By the way, I love your eyeliner today."

Selina looked over at Holly with a small smile, "Thanks... I'm just a little worried."

"Why?" Holly asked, opening up a few cans of cat food, "Arkham's getting pretty full last you heard, right?"

"Yeah, but it's been full for a while now," Selina said, trailing off.

"Is it because of Bruce?" Holly asked, her eye raising, "You've been awfully depressed since then, come to think of it."

Selina's lips firmed a straight line, "He was a good man, Holly. One of the few... I just hope Batman and Robin find his killer soon. I want him behind bars."

"Why don't you find him then?" Holly asked.

Selina sighed, "I wouldn't know where to start..."

"Help! Please! Someone!" Selina and Holly heard from outside. A woman.

Selina lept into action. She zipped up the rest of her suit over the thin tank top, as she already had the pants on ready to go, and pulled the goggled mask over her eyes. She pushed the window open and grabbed the whip, attaching it to her belt. As she fell out of the window, Holly ran over and looked around.

"Oh yeah! Thanks for leaving the window open!" She yelled, rolling her eyes as she shut it.

A cat meowed next to her and she stared at it before asking, "What are you looking at?"

The cat tilted its head to the side and Holly shook her head as she went to unload the rest of the food. Outside, Catwoman landed on the ground with ease and ran down the street in the direction of the cry. They couldn't be a block away... Then she saw them and she kept herself to the side. She wasn't about to run in headlong without knowing what she was up against.

"Please, please, don't!" The woman yelled, as the three men around her cornered her to a wall.

"We just want your money, pretty lady," One of them said, "I'm sure you have more."

One grabbed her wrist and she yelled, "Stop! Get off! Please!"

"Shut up lady," The second said.

"Unless you want to just hand over it over without a, OW!" He yelled.

The whip snapped back, breaking the sound barrier and the three men looked over to see the figure in the shadows approaching them.

"I don't like men like you," Catwoman purred.

They all looked at each other and began to back away from her as she continued, "I'd suggest you'd let go of her before things get ugly."

The first one swallowed hard, but he didn't want to look like a wus, so he did nothing and instead puffed up his chest and answered for his pals incorrectly, "We ain't afraid of you, Cat."

The others started to laugh with the first after a minute or so. Catwoman's eyes narrowed, "Alright tough guys, if that's the way you want it...Ha!"

The first one fell to the ground, knocked unconscious as she ran ahead at the other two. She tangled the third in her whip and tossed him to the side into a trash can, after which he immediately fled. As she took care of him, the second one had come up behind her, ready to fight. Selina smiled. She kicked him squarely in the jaw, sending him straight to the ground before landing her boot on his stomach, causing him to cough and choke loudly. Selina jumped off of him and wiped her hands as though to clean them. She walked over to where the first one had fallen and picked up the woman's purse.

"Here," She said, "You shouldn't be walking alone at this time of night."

"I, thank you. I know," She said, "I had to work late tonight."

"Just be more careful next time," Catwoman said, before she heard the second begin to groan again, "Excuse me one second. Ha!"

She gave him a good solid kick to the head, knocking him out. The woman jumped back, startled. Catwoman turned back to her, smiling.

"Nothing like a little girl power, huh?" She joked.

The woman nodded quickly and Selina walked over to her, "Listen, why don't you call yourself a cab and get home that way? Alright?"

The woman nodded again and quickly fumbled around her purse for her cell phone. She dialed the numbers and as soon as she got a hold of one of the receivers, Catwoman could tell that she was beginning to calm down. Catwoman waited with her until the cab came, despite the cold. They leaned against a building near a streetlight. The woman, in the light, Catwoman on the outside.

"I can't thank you enough," The woman said again.

"It's no problem," Catwoman answered, "I just don't like men like that."

"Well, still, thank you," She said.

Catwoman shrugged. The woman twiddled her thumbs for a minute before speaking, "You know, when I was running, I was praying that the Batman might show up. Funny how people hope something scary will save them something else."

Catwoman tilted her head down at the next question, "Did you see him?"

She turned her head away, "No. Not lately."

"Oh... Sorry..." The woman said.

Headlights came into view and Catwoman saw the taxi sign above them. She quickly darted into the alley and watched as the woman got into the safety of the taxi. She sighed as the snow fell around her. Well that was simple enough. But it left her once again in her brooding mood. She began walking back to the apartment, coiling up the whip again. She jumped to a fire escape when out of the corner of her eye, she saw something move. Selina eyed the shadowed alley way. She shrugged before going off again.

She stopped. Catwoman turned around again. Her eyes narrowed and she jumped down from the fire escape, intent on finding out what was following her. About fifteen minutes later, back at the apartment, Holly had finished putting the groceries away and feeding the cats and was now sitting on the couch curling up as she watched the O.C. Suddenly, the cats started to purr and meow loudly. Holly looked up and at the window that the cats were focusing on. It was beginning to jiggle and Holly immediately realized it was Selina. She ran over and opened the window.

"Selina, what was...?" She stared, but Catwoman darted past her to her room, "What are you doing?"

She instantly pulled out a small back pack and began grabbing items, ranging from her Catwoman gear to her cosmetics. She grabbed a few changes of clothes and a few personal items. Holly watched as Selina pulled back her hood to get a quick breather.

"Selina, what are you...?"

"Listen, you're right. I need a break. I can't stand just staying here and thinking about him," Selina said.

"I... I didn't say that," Holly stuttered.

"I need a break, Holly," Selina said, zipping up the backpack and slinging it over her shoulders and walking towards the window.

"Selina wait!" She called, "Are you leaving?"

"I'll be back soon, don't worry," Selina said, opening the window as a gust of wind came in.

Holly shivered. She looked at Selina as she pulled on the hood again. She was sort of surprised at Selina's change in attitude. But Selina still seemed like her determined self.

"Oh... Okay. Just take care of yourself, Selina," She said quietly.

Selina smiled at her, "I will. You do the same. Will you take care of the cats?"

Holly shrugged, "Well, I guess... I mean, what else am I going to do with my time?"

Selina laughed, "Thanks."

She jumped out once again and out of sight. Holly looked out, searching for the Cat, but finding nothing. She sighed and slammed the window shut. Rolling her eyes, she walked over and sat down on the couch again. Whatever that was about, she was sure that Selina would tell her later on. She clicked on the TV again and was pleasantly surprised to find that she hadn't missed much of her soap after all. She sat back, a blanket on her lap, and began eating popcorn as outside, the snow clung to the dark city of Gotham.

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