Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Batman/Catwoman, Cats, Alfred
Challenge/Prompt: whatif_au 16: Dystopia
Word Count: 1,536
Date Written: 28 July 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to DC Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.
She wept openly in her husband’s arms. Allowing feeble tears to streak her beautiful, proud face in the open was something she never did, not even with Bruce, but then she’d never thought she’d be doing what she was doing right now. She shook from head to toe and had to bury her face in his strong shoulder to keep from looking, from facing all of those she was losing now. He stroked her hair, her back, but he knew the whole time that this was something he could not possibly make right. The government had gone too far this time.
Once again, he racked his mind over how they had come to this. Somehow, the government of the supposed Land of the Free had gone from eliminating all the humans and metahumans they felt did not belong to now ridding their nation of innocent animals, animals who they claimed brought diseases with them wherever they went. Bruce knew Selina’s cats. He knew damn well they were not the flea-infested, disease-ridden, little monsters the bigoted, bloated head of the Presidency made them out to be. His fingers curled almost into fists, and they would have become fists indeed if he had not been holding to his beloved wife.
He knew what he had to do. He had mulled this moment over so many times, but it still hurt more than any pain he’d ever endured, and that included the times he’d died and been brought to life. He couldn’t allow Selina to suffer like this. He couldn’t let them do this to his wife. Yet just as they were being forced to give up their beloved pets, Americans were being forbidden to go overseas with or without them. They were trapped in this country, trapped in a place that millions had died to make free and yet no longer was. It was just another cage, and Selina was the most beautiful, caged tiger he’d ever seen.
Tears crept down Bruce’s silent, stoic face. Inside he was shaking like a leaf, but outwardly he remained strong for Selina’s sake. He knew there were eyes on him. He’d planned for this moment. He’d been planning all along despite fighting to keep this from having to happen. As Bruce Wayne, he had petitioned the government and almost lost his life again for doing so. As Batman, he’d actually fought a government he’d once supported, but even he had been unable to keep them from shipping the metahumans, among which he’d had both friends and foes, out and now from shipping out the animals.
This wasn’t right! It was a nightmare come to life! Everything in him wanted to wage war. He’d never wanted to kill somebody as much as he ached to kill the bastard who was causing all of this, not even his parents’ killer. It had been hard enough losing his parents as a child, but now, children were being ripped from their parents all over again. He’d lost a couple of his children in this never-ending world. He was losing his fur children, and he was going to lose his wife. If she stayed with him . . . She’d never be the same again. The loss of her babies would surely finish driving Selina insane.
He couldn’t allow that to happen. He hadn’t wanted to allow this to happen, but although he’d been able to delay this final shipment, and he’d fought to keep the innocent pets with everything he possessed, the government was still going to have their way. Their babies were boarded. They’d soon be moving out, and they would never see them again. Tears flooded down his cheeks. He wondered when exactly he’d come from thinking of Selina’s cats as animals to thinking of them as both their babies, but they were.
A plaintive mew from the tiniest kitten in their group caught their ears. Selina’s head jerked up, and she started to bawl. Her claws unsheathed. She would have gladly killed anyone in that moment if it had meant she could keep her babies, but they couldn’t even physically reach the loathsome bastard who was responsible for all of this. The President keep a new military force around him at all times, hundreds of guards whose sole purpose was to protect his hide.
She cried, her own, passionate voice sounding like a feline yowl. Her babies cried, roared, and meowed for her. A lion started to slash out, but his paws were burned by one of the guards. Bruce held Selina tightly, keeping her from running after them. His hands moved swiftly up to her face. He cupped her beautiful face, trying, in his mind, to memorize every inch of her lovely details, and brushed her tears with his trembling thumbs.
Then he laid his lips on hers. He kissed her long and deep, his tongue soaring smoothly into her mouth. Theirs was a kiss which, at any other time, would have led them to pulling off each other’s clothes, but Selina kept crying even as he kissed her. He deepened their kiss, adding to the passion, adding to what could very well be their last moment together.
He only let up when he heard the ship’s horn blow, and even then, he hesitated a moment. His hands slipped down from her cheeks to her agile neck, and he swiftly fastened a special, gold necklace around her throat. He snapped it shut. Her tear-filled, emerald eyes widened in question, but he had no time to explain as he prepared to step back. “Go,” was all he said instead.
Her sleek, black eyebrows drew downward together in perplexion. She started to question him, but her voice came out as a meow. Smooth, ebony fur quickly covered every inch of her skin. She started to fall. As she did so, he stepped back, but another figure raced in and grasped her. This person was dressed as the Batman, but of course, they both knew he was not.
“I’ll always love you!” Bruce called, tears still streaking down his face, as Batman snatched his wife up and carried her rapidly to the ship. He shot his grappling hook onto the ship’s cabin and swung out to join it. The guards had all left by now. The ship had a cabin only because it had been built originally with one. There was not a single human aboard other than the Batman as his feet touched the deck.
He let go of the black cat in his arms, and she jumped instantly to join her babies. She was still crying, her body still shaking, but she understood that there was no other choice, not if she was going to stay with her children. A part of her wanted to race to the railing to see Bruce one last time, but she wouldn’t be able to see him for the high walls surrounding the deck, walls that had been added to to keep the cats from jumping over them and swimming back to their human families and homes.
Alfred raised the Batman’s hand in a final salute to the boy he had raised as a son. He had rarely been prouder of him, and it tore at his heart to see the tears still streaking down his face. He understood why this had to happen as they’d been unable to stop the government from shipping the cats out. He just hated that they had failed, but their failure was not permanent. The government may have succeeded in shipping out the animals, each species on a different ship with a course set and manned for it by computers, but Bruce would never stop fighting to bring them back while there was breath left in his body.
Alfred waited until they were well away from the shore before he went to Selina. “I can not turn you back yet,” he advised her gently, “but when we get to shore again, I will. It’s as simple as taking off the necklace.”
She looked up at him, her emerald eyes seeming to be huge. She mewed questioningly. He smiled despite the tears in his old, blue eyes. “My dear, haven’t you figured it out yet? How do you think I’ve lived to be over a hundred years old? The answer is simple: They didn’t take all the metahumans -- they only thought they had -- and when they programmed this ship to explode if it was touched by a human, they did not include any such programming for a metahuman.”
Selina meowed again. She sniffled, and Alfred realized that it was possible for a cat to cry actual tears. He sighed, his own heartbreak sounding in his voice. He bent picked her up, held her against him, and stroked her, but though he petted her, he could offer her very little comfort. “He’ll never stop fighting to bring us back, you know,” he tried to cajole her. She meowed again, and he understood: They both knew Bruce would keep fighting for them until they died; yet, they both feared that this was one battle even the great Batman could not win. They stood in silence, both weeping silently for a world that never would be again.