Acknowledgement: Takes place after Batman #610; "She's Always a Woman to Me," music and lyrics by Billy Joel.

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: All the characters are owned by DC Comics and Time/Warner; this is an original story that does not intend to infringe on their copyright. Feedback is welcome!

Copyright: February 2003

Always a Woman to Me
By Syl Francis

She can kill with a smile
She can wound with her eyes
She can ruin your faith with her casual lies
And she only reveals what she wants you to see
She hides like a child
But she's always a woman to me

Images of her graceful, feline movements flitted through his mind. Her mocking laughter rang in his ears, coupled with the deadly echoes of her cat-o'-nine-tails snapping in the air. The whip's unexpected stinging bite around his neck reminded him of her duplicitous nature. And yet--

I kissed her.

Bruce shook his head and returned to the financial reports on his desks. He'd promised Lucius that he'd have them signed by the end of the day. Concentrating, he read through the quarterly statements and stopped.

He'd just gone over the same column of figures three times and for the life of him, he couldn't remember what he'd just read. He rubbed his eyes and again tried to concentrate on the reports.

I kissed her. I can't believe I kissed her.

Sighing, Bruce ran a hand through his dark hair and sat back. He tossed the papers carelessly aside and loosened his tie. Leaning his head back, he closed his eyes and gave into the inevitable. Almost instantly, as if it had been lying in wait, the memory of that clear, moonlit night a few weeks ago returned.

Selina stood perfectly balanced on the very tip of the gargoyle's paw--nothing between her and the streets of Gotham, forty stories straight down. He recalled her lips being openly inviting, while she softly whispered, "Aren't you at all curious?"

His answering, reckless kiss spoke volumes: Yes, he'd often wondered. Yes, he wanted her. How often had he thought of her since the first time they'd met on yet another clear, moonlit night? How often had she haunted his dreams?

Bruce snapped his eyes open, and in a sudden fit of impatience, stood and walked over to the window. He glanced at his watch and then at the sun. 2:00 p.m. The night was hours away.

"We've danced this dance too many times," Selina taunted in her sultry whisper. "Aren't you at all curious?"

"Okay, so we kissed!" Bruce said annoyed. "It's over. Selina goes her way. I go mine. Now forget it and get back to work!"

Putting Selina firmly in the back of his mind, Bruce returned to his desk and instilling all the self-discipline he'd developed through the years, he went determinedly back to work.

Thirty minutes later, he gave up. Not bothering to make sense of the endless rows of meaningless numbers, Bruce signed his name to the bottom, indicating he'd read, understood, and agreed with the report.

I just hope I haven't signed away Dick's inheritance, he thought wryly. Reaching over, he buzzed his executive assistant. "Maggie, could you please come in?"

When Maggie walked in, she found him snapping his briefcase shut and straightening his tie. At her questioning look, Bruce have her a smile full of empty charm.

"Decided to call it an early day, Maggie," he said handing her the financial report. "All signed, sealed, and delivered! Tell Lucius I went over it and think it looks good." Grabbing his briefcase, he started for the door. "Oh, and Maggie--I meant to tell you earlier, your hair looks great today! And is that a new dress?" At her nod, he gave her an appreciative wink. Seeing her flush furiously, he smiled and waved. "Have a nice day!" With that, he escaped before she could recover sufficiently enough to launch a protest.

Bruce passed the rest of the afternoon in the Batcave. He ran and re-ran updates on his ongoing cases, succeeding in driving Oracle up the wall.

"I have other clients, you know!" she snapped.

"I know, but this is important--"

"Dinah's in Qurac, looking into the terrorist link to a drug ring operating here in the States--!"

"I understand you're busy, Barbara, but--"

"Dick's investigating a rash of underworld execution-style murders--"

"What? He hasn't said anything to me about--?"

"Duh--!? No kidding!" Barbara retorted. "And Tim needs help with his History paper--!"

"Well, far be it for me to interrupt such an important--"

"The fact is, Bruce, that I'm up to my elbows in alligators! And I don't have time for games!"

"Games? What are you talking about--?"

"Bruce, stop pretending you want updates on your cases. Why don't you just ask what you really want to know?"

"Barbara, I don't know what you're talking about," Bruce protested, honestly confused.

"Selina is still operating out of the Lower East Side," Barbara said by way of reply. She paused long enough to let Bruce digest the information she'd just given him.

"What makes you think that I--?"

"--And I hear that there'll be a moon out tonight. So, don't call us... we'll call you. Oracle out!"

Staring at the blank monitors, Bruce sat back stunned. Was he that obvious? Momentarily, the humor of the situation struck him, and he allowed himself a small smile.

Batman watched from the shadows, admiring her lithe silhouette. She stood perfectly balanced on the gargoyle's paw, washed in soft moonlight. She appeared to be waiting for someone. Who, he wondered? Was she here to conduct some kind of shady business?

Had he thought of her all day, looked eagerly forward to this moment only to be forced to arrest her?

Disappointed, he was about to fade deeper into the darkness, when her demeanor caught his attention. It had changed from hopefully attentive to one of resignation. Had she been stood up?

Sadly, she turned, exposing her face fully in the moonlight. Astounded, he saw a lone, silvery tear track its way slowly down her cheek. He watched as she unwound her whip, readying it for use. As she turned her back to him, he approached her silently from behind.

With practiced ease, she reached back and was about to snap the cat-o'-nine-tails, when he caught her firmly by the wrist. Before she could fight him off with a counter move, he turned her fully around until she was facing him. Her expression warred with several emotions simultaneously: shock, fear, anger, and finally curiosity.

"I don't understand?" Selina had stopped struggling; instead, the ball clearly in his court, she waited for his explanation.

"Selina... I'm sorry I kept you waiting," he said softly. Before she could reply, he took her hand in his and brought it up to his lips. Her earlier words echoing in his head, he asked, "May I have this dance?"

And in the soft night, their two shadows merged into one, if only momentarily.

The End

She is frequently kind
And she's suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases
She's nobody's fool
But she can't be convicted
She's earned her degree
And the most she will do
Is throw shadows at you
But she's always a woman to me

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