Amusement And Survival

by Lara Wilson

Day three on planet hell and he awakens to the bitter aroma of burning flesh. One eye opens, sharp and taking in his position, the positions of his fellow inmates, the distance between them.

They still fear him.

There's a cookfire ten yards from him and someone is roasting one of the indigenous beasts. He's yet to taste any of the flesh, and wonders darkly if it tastes like chicken. Needing the protein, he'll claim some of the meat today and warm himself by the fire and see if the lesser inmates scatter.

Rising to his feet, Deathstroke surveys the ramshackle camp and narrows his vision to one of the few others he considers his intellectual equal.

Luthor.

Giving orders, as usual.

As none are directed at him, he purposefully ignores the former President and heads for the stream to wash and prepare for another day.

A woman is there, kneeling and drinking from cupped hands. The cowl she wears with the silly ears is hanging down her back, and her short hair is matted with sweat and grease. She splashes water on her head and scrubs the damp hair with one of the soap-like leaves, then dunks her head in the stream.

When she emerges, she stiffens, then spins into a crouch, a wary scowl on her face.

"So, you really do have cat-like reflexes," Slade says lightly, leaning one shoulder against a tree. He watches Catwoman rise to her feet and brush her wet locks from her cheeks.

She doesn't relax at all.

It's probably how she's survived.

"You're one of the good guys. Why are you here?"

She eyes him carefully, then casually shrugs. "I pissed off the wrong man."

"The Bat?" He knows he's off the mark, but he wants to see her reaction. The surprise in her pretty eyes that quickly fades to wariness gives him enough.

"No."

"Yeah, this place is not his style."

"I could ask why you're here, too. No prison seems to hold you if you don't want it."

He shrugs as well, his manner deceptively casual. "We can all have a bad day. I heard rumors someone was rounding up supervillains and making them disappear. Instead of going with my first instinct and getting the hell out of the country, I looked into it. I thought it was the League, but apparently they only screw with the mind." He sees a dark shadow cross her face and remembers.

She was one of the ones they screwed with, and afterwards..."Did you reform because of that?" he asks shrewdly.

"That's the million dollar question, isn't it." The levity in her voice is an obvious fake but he lets it slide.

"So, how do we get out of here?"

"Despite being an asshole, Luthor is our best bet. If there's a way to get us home, he'll find it." She narrows his eyes and cocks her head in question. "What about you, Deathstroke, will you work with him?"

"Well, I'm not going to join that psychopath, the Joker, and call me Wilson." At her nod, he steps away from the tree and goes to one knee by the stream to splash water on his face, trusting she won't try anything. He's not at all surprised that all she does is turn to watch him. He's heard many things about Catwoman, but that she's stupid isn't one of them. "Technically I'm part of Luthor's Society. Not quite the same one as run by that Luthor fraud, but the connections will be useful for now." He looks up at her as he runs his fingers through his tangled hair. "What about you?"

The shudder that goes through her is nearly imperceptible but he can see it. "I'm not joining the Joker. I'm not thrilled to be on Lex Luthor's side either, but at least he has a plan."

"Not going to make for this purported Salvation?"

"I'm not an idiot," she snorts. "We're safer here than traipsing through the very dangerous wilderness, chasing a myth, and the numbers we have now can be supported by the existing food supply. There's water and natural protection with the mountain at our back. It's a good spot."

"I agree," he replies, rising again to his feet and drying his hands on the mask tucked into his belt.

"Not that I plan on relaxing my guard one bit."

Smiling, he nods in agreement. "Smart woman."

"Cats aren't dumb." Her eyes narrow even more and her smile is guarded. "And I'm a normal human with a whip and a tendency for doing the right thing. If I ask you to watch my back, what will you want in return, Wilson?"

"So quickly to the negotiations."

"Dangerous hell planet and, again, I'm not stupid. Luthor, for all his brains and leadership skills, is only human as well, and while I have some talents he can use, I don't trust him not to throw me to the wolves. I don't trust you, either, let's get that straight, but I know you have a code of honor." She pauses for moment before adding, "Or you used to."

"It's tarnished but still there."

"Then I'll trust that and ask again, what will you want?"

He smiles, a true smile, and laughs softly. "Keep me company, kitty cat, and I'll get you home to your Bat, and he can owe me."

"I pay my own debts," she says with a scowl.

"Then you can watch my back as well, because fear will only go so far and someone out there will get desperate and stupid enough to make a move on me. I'm betting on Deadshot. He always was a wannabe idiot."

"You can take him with one hand behind your back."

"Sure, but I don't need to be distracted, not with all the dangers, native and non, and the need to find a way out of here with or without Luthor's grand plan."

"True." Nodding slowly she extends her hand and he takes it. "Deal."

Slade pulls her close with a hard tug and lowers his voice, "And if I decide that keeping me company includes sharing my bed?"

Selena smiles sweetly and replies with deadly earnest, "Then you'll find out what kind of claws this cat has, Wilson, because no matter how alike to him you are, you just aren't my Batman."

Laughing again, he lets her go. "Wouldn't want to be," he answers her truthfully, then gestures her for her to proceed him back to camp. "That stick up his ass has to be uncomfortable."

"Oh, you'd be surprised." She smiles over her shoulder and laughs softly. "I could tell you things..."

"I bet you could."

She moves back to walk beside him as he moves up to join her and they reenter the camp, going immediately to the cooking fire where no one protests when he takes two large portions of meat and hands her one. As they sit in the warmest spot, the villains gathered there sidle away, until they both laugh and begin to eat.

That Luthor is scowling at them makes them laugh even harder.

End

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