ID: Okay, I've been hoping for an opportunity like this one.
B: I shudder to think.
ID: Both as background, and anticipating we might end up using it as a sidebar, I tried to contact the subject of this week's interview: Selina Kyle.
B: She turned you down.
ID: She's a slippery minx- though I've had much worse; people who agree to an interview then duck, dodge and weave around every attempt to actually set it up. At least Selina never gave me more than a maybe- and even then, it was a vague maybe. But enough about my inability to catch the Catwoman, tell me how you did.
B: We met at a fundraiser for an animal rights group... it wasn't PETA, but the specific charity is escaping me at the moment. Anyway, my assistant had caved, and agreed for me to meet Ms. Kyle. I knew her by reputation, and was more than happy to donate to her cause, but less thrilled about actually talking to her.
ID: So she had a reputation?
B: Yeah. Actually, the reputation wasn't bad; she was an activist, and very quick. I guess, in retrospect, she had kind of a Michael Moore ability to ambush businesspeople with questions about their companies, usually aspects they weren't aware of, to shame them into donating small fortunes. And Bruce Wayne was supposed to be the dull flack, not a lightning rod. So I spent most of the night at this fundraiser avoiding her.
And I did what I thought was an admirable job keeping her at a distance, until a presentation. A beautiful woman stood up and, it was about jungle cats and their shrinking habitat. And she spoke so eloquently, that it was difficult to remember that we were talking about animals and not human beings. She moved quite a few people in the audience to tears.
And when she finished speaking, she fixed me this look, and it was just like the look in those jungle cat's eyes in her presentation- stunning, emerald eyes. I asked my assistant, a little breathless, “Who is that?” Meanwhile, the woman starts to stalk towards me, and my heart starts to race, and I thought that must be how rabbits feel, or maybe how the criminals I hunt feel. My assistant was nose deep in her planner, and the mystery woman had closed half the distance before she looked up and said, “Oh, that’s Ms. Kyle.”
Of course, my first thought was, “Oh sh-”
B: My second was, “You know, I think I'd let her embarrass me in front of a room full of rich people.” So I let her catch me. And maybe my company was a little better than the average; maybe she took pity on my
ID: Because of the lantern jaw and the piercing blue eyes?
B: Or because she saw that the better way to my wallet was with a softer touch. But she did give me a hard time for running from her all night. Let me see, I said, “If I had any idea how stunning you were, I'd have found you.”
“So now I'm the prey?” she asked. And, Selina was fun. And wild. A little unpredictable. I had more champagne than I think I'd ever had up to that point in my life- I was actually a little tipsy. I offered to give her a ride home- with Alfred driving, of course- but she said she'd rather walk. We got about a mile from her home before she kicked off her heels, and said, “I'll race you to my apartment.” And I thought I had her, since I was still wearing semi-functional shoes. But she was fast, and kept just ahead of me. But once we got to her apartment, she bounded up the stairs, leaping majestically up several flights of stairs while barely touching down. She was graceful, athletic.
ID: You're getting awfully worked up; you sure you're not at least still bi?
B: Nobody's that gay. Selina is easily- easily- the most sexual woman alive. Just saying her name aloud makes my heart race a little. But you're derailing.
She beat me to her door by so much that by the time I got there she was already inside, looking out at me through a crack. I pushed on the door, thinking she was just holding it for me, but she held it mostly shut. And she said, “I hope you didn't think I was inviting you in. Silly man. I'm not that easy to catch.” Now, it was a little frustrating, but there was something in the way she said it, and the way she smiled at me, that little glint in her eye, I smiled, and went away happy.
I ran into her later that night. Only this time we were both dressed differently. She was in the condo of a wealthy industrialist, one with a lousy environmental record, particularly as it concerned wildlife. He had put in a silent alarm just before he went on vacation- it was new, which is probably the only reason she hadn't known about it. She was removing jewelry from a wall safe when I arrived. I snuck up on her, and grabbed her wrist.
I think we were both still worked up from earlier, because she whirled around and kissed me before she said anything. Then she blushed, and said, “Purrfect.”
ID: That is so weird hearing you trill like that.
B: And I was definitely still worked up, because then I kissed her, and let go of her wrist entirely. Which was great, until she shivved me with some claws in the side and got away. She was more careful after that. I played a lot of catch up, but it was some time before I saw her again in costume.
But what's strange is, even though Selina and I, in our normal lives, dated for a while, it wasn't until we had sex that I realized they were the same person. They kissed differently. But when she was deep in the throes of passion, then, suddenly, she kissed like the Catwoman. And my mind was fairly blown. It probably should have been obvious- just from the amount of time I spent staring at both women, but I suspect, like Lois with Clark, that I really didn't want to know. I wanted to have them, have both of them. Which doesn't even touch the idea that if- or when- I caught her, I was going to lose them both.
And I struggled with it, for a while. I really, really wanted to just leave her be. The fact that there was a cat burglar in the city, that didn't need to be my business. I mean, I cared about keeping families from being torn apart by violence, not industrial profiteers losing small fractions of their ill-gotten wealth. But I knew I was rationalizing, too. Having Catwoman emboldened others- and not all of them were going to keep to her basically nonviolent code. So I watched her for a couple of weeks. She was keeping her scores in several different hiding spots. I made sure I knew where all of them were. Then I emptied them. I left safe deposit keys or other identifying hallmarks in a small pile on her coffee table, with a note that read, “It stops or I stop it,” and a little bat symbol.
She sent a card to the Manor, and all it said was, “Thanks, Bruce.” It was the first inkling I had that she knew, too. She disappeared, and I didn't see her for a while. The next time I did, she was operating in more morally gray territory, sabotaging animal experiments, exposing exploitation. And when I saw her in costume, we flirted like we always had, but when I saw her socially, she was different. I think she was hurt, by the fact that I hadn't trusted her enough to come to her as Bruce, to tell her who I was since I knew who she was. I wonder... that might have been the breaking point, actually. I loved her. About as deeply as I ever have loved anyone. And I think, if I hadn't hidden behind Batman, I think she would have married me.
ID: So you asked?
B: Not then. No. Because after that she was distant.
It changed after the earthquake. She really stepped up. When people needed help, she put aside her pet cause, and saved lives. And I think from there, it was inevitable. We always had an affection for one another. I'd never formally told her I was Bruce, and one night, when we'd just kind of bumped into one another patrolling, I gave her a lift in the Batmobile. We passed her street, and she caught herself almost objecting. I drove her to the cave, and once we were there I took off my mask and kissed her. She told me she'd been waiting for years for that. I told her I was scared; I didn't want to put her in even more danger. She said she could handle herself, and that she wasn't willing to give me the choice this time.
ID: Okay. But it ended. So why?
B: Because I was scared. I think that's always been, and always will be, the problem with Selina. She doesn't have fear. She'll leap off a moving train to save a single tiger, or a building to get away from me. But I'm afraid. I was afraid to tell her who I really was- which I think will always be a point of contention. And I'll always be afraid that I've put her in greater danger, caused her more harm and pain.
ID: Okay, that's the background, but get specific. You two were a hot item, and then maybe cooled off, but what was the catalyst, the final straw.
B: Hush cut out her heart.
B: Yeah. He had some help, cryogenically, from Mr. Freeze. I wonder if I have Victor to thank for her surviving- since I imagine he'd have seen a kinship with someone else whose love was frozen.
ID: But he cut out her heart?
B: He was a surgeon. And it was entirely to get at me. If she'd bumped into him on a patrol, or whatever, it might be different. But he targetted her, to get at me. It was the realization of my fear. And I couldn't be afraid. Batman can't be afraid. He has to be able to trust the people he works with to keep themselves safe. And with her, I couldn't. Which isn't entirely fair to her, I know- and I don't know if she'll ever forgive me for it. But that's how it is.
ID: That's... sad. But... you're not Batman anymore. Why not track her down and give her some When Harry Met Sally speech?
B: I wouldn't say never. But I will say that, right now, I don't think Selina's interested. Once bitten, twice shy; but that's twice now she's been bitten. I couldn't blame her if she was just through with me.