Title: She Likes Taking In Strays
Verse: Young Justice (Earth-16)
Fandom: Batman/Young Justice animated series
Summary: A thought came to mind today while watching the latest episode of Young Justice. What if, in this verse, the reason Jason Todd isn’t/wasn’t Robin is because, when he tried to swipe the wheels off the Batmobile, he got intercepted by Catwoman before Batman? What if she helped him swipe the rest of the tires before Batman came back then decided to take him under her wing?
“Well aren’t we a brazen little kitten?” a sultry woman’s voice said from the fire escape right above Jason Todd’s head.
The twelve year old boy jerked with a start, dropping the tire iron he’d been using to the pavement with a clatter. When he saw the woman clad in black leather and sporting cat ears, he relaxed considerably. He’d heard about the Cat, and the only thing that mattered to him at that point was that she wasn’t a cop or a Bat. “What is it to you?” he shot back with childish impudence. His totally disrespectful tone didn’t phase Selina at all. In fact, it only made her lips quirk into an even more obvious smirk.
“Curiosity, of course,” she purred matter-of-factly as she leaned against the rusty railing. “Of course, you do realize that this particular car is probably loaded down with all sorts of nasty anti-theft devices, right?”
Though the look on his face clearly spoke otherwise, Jason tried to keep up his act. “Oh—Of course I did! What do I look like, an idiot?!” Bravely he picked up his tire iron, though he was eying the sleek black Batmobile with a great deal more wariness than he had been when he first started trying to work off one of its massive tires.
In one smooth movement, Catwoman leapt from her perch on the fire escape down to the pavement in the alleyway below. “Of course you don’t, kitten,” she said as she straightened up to walk over to Jason’s side. “But it still makes me wonder… What would such a smart boy like yourself be doing trying to mess with this—” She leaned casually against the Batmobile and patted it fondly. “—particular muscle car?”
The boy’s face shifted. The false bravado fell back to reveal an expression of uncertainty. “You ever hear of the Royal Flush Gang?”
Her smirk faded into a shadow of a frown. “Here and there,” she said flippantly, though it was clear she held little to no fondness for the small-time organized crime ring.
“Well, I’ve been trying to get in good with them. I’m tired of just barely scraping by on the streets on my own, and there’s no way I’m going back into the foster care system” Jason shook his head, and when he looked at Catwoman, he’d put his mask of confidence back into place. “They said they’d let me be a part of their gang, but only if I could prove that I can pull my own weight.”
“By stealing the wheels off the Batmobile?”
“By stealing the wheels off the Batmobile.”
As Jason glared at the massive tire in front of him, Selina narrowed her own eyes behind her goggles. She knew a set up when she smelled one, and it was clear to her that this boy knew it too. However, it was also clear that the desperation to be a part of a gang, to not be struggling and alone on the streets of Gotham anymore, was worth high obvious risk of antagonizing the big bad Bat and being thrown into the foster care system or juvie.
The whole situation with all its obvious potential outcomes irked Selina. So she decided to do something about it.
“Would you like a little help with that, kitten?”
Selina’s lips twitched back into a comfortable smirk once more. “Would you like some help getting the tires off that thing?”
Jason’s eyes went wide. “You’d do that for—?” He choked back the hopeful tone in his voice and became immediately guarded and suspicious. “What’s in it for you?”
“Petty revenge,” the masked woman said nonchalantly. “The Batman spoiled a pretty sweet score for me last week, and I’ve decided I’m still rather miffed about it.” She grinned mischievously. “And everyone knows that the best way to get back at a man who’s wronged you is to mess with their car.”
The boy eyed her dubiously. “And that’s it?”
Catwoman scoffed. “Of course not. If you want my help, it’s going to cost you.”
“I knew it, ” Jason muttered sullenly. “What’s your price?”
“Don’t join the Royal Flush Gang.”
Jason gave Selina a confused look. “What? But— But that’s the whole reason why I’m doing this!”
“I know, but I’m giving you another option.”
At the boy’s stunned silence, Selina decided it was in her best interest to elaborate. “I’m pretty sure I can get one wheel off without tripping the alarms on this machine, and I want you to watch me do it. If you can get off the rest of the tires after that, then why would I want your quick mind and nimble fingers working for the competition?”
“You’d want me to work with you?”
“But I always heard that the Cat works alone.”
“I have a bad habit of picking up strays.”
“Aren’t you worried about me cutting into your share of the loot on jobs?”
“Two people picking up twice the loot and dividing it evenly between them doesn’t sound that bad to me. Definitely better than the scraps you’d be getting as a low-ranking pip in the Royal Flush Gang.”
Try as he might, Jason simply could not argue that logic.
Fifteen minutes later, a black batlike figure skulked over to the secluded alley, followed closely behind by a small batlike figure with a svelt feminine figure and flaming red hair. Both came to a sudden stop several yards from the Batmobile. Though the expression on the taller male figure’s face was completely unreadable, the disbelief was written all over the face of his teenage female companion.
“Um… Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t this thing used to have wheels?”