another one of those stories


Selina Kyle paused, looking around the room nervously. It had been
only a few months ago that she had retired from her Catwoman identity -- a
retirement forced by a mysterious band of criminals who claimed to be
preparing a takeover of Gotham City's underworld. They'd literally tickled
her senseless until she agreed to leave her criminal activities behind. In
the intervening months, other villains and villainesses, some of them
fixtures of the Gotham tabloids for years, had disappeared one by one, and
Selina suspected she knew what had happened to them. But despite her fears,
boredom had finally driven her to put on her purple costume once again and
venture forth. She'd heard that a certain obscenely rich man had given his
mistress a necklace of seven huge, matched sapphires. Finding the woman's
apartment had been child's play, and now Selina crouched in front of her
vanity, reaching out for the jewelry box.

Deftly, she flipped the box open -- and a jet of gas struck her
full in the face. Selina staggered back, wiping at her face. She began to
chuckle aloud, then giggle. "Oh noo -- " she began, but then the giggles
turned into racking howls of laughter that sent her toppling to the floor.
The light snapped on, and the room was suddenly full of men, surrounding
her and grabbing hold of her limbs. Selina, her eyes already blurred by
tears of laughter, could barely make out their faces, but she could feel it
when they pulled off her high black boots. "No!" she screamed between
whoops as her feet were bared. "No!" Cold metal bracelets were closed
around each wrist and ankle. But the anticipated tickle on her feet didn't
materialize. Instead, the men carried her, struggling weakly, out of the

Drunk with laughter, Selina was barely aware of being bundled into
the back of a truck. One of the men gave her a second squirt of gas from a
canister, taxing her already sore ribs with fresh mirth. After a ride that
seemed to last forever, Selina, limp and giggling, was carried out of the
truck and into another building, into a large, bare room, and there left
alone. A few minutes later, a man entered.

"Bad kitty." Selina had never seen his face, but his voice was all
too familiar -- this was one of the men who had tickle-tortured her several
months ago. "You should have left Gotham. We've been watching you. You know
what you've earned for your little stunt tonight, don't you?"

"Please ... " Selina gasped.

"No mercy this time, kitten. Unless ... " He let the word hang.
"There's a bit of information we need. If you could give it to us, we could
overlook your naughtiness."


"The Batman's secret identity."

Selina's spirits, which had risen slightly, crashed back down. "I
don't know that. Nobody knows that."

"Are you sure? You've been rather close to him in the past. Well,
the interrogation should clear that up. We'll start with your feet this
time, I think ... "

A larger man entered the room. "Sir? The other three are ready."
Selina recognized his faintly accented voice too: Karl, whose hands had
played so avidly on her ribs.

"Oh?" The first man eyed Selina speculatively. "I'm getting a
rather amusing idea, Karl." He smiled at Selina. "How would you like to
make up for your little slip and avoid the interrogation?"

"Who do I have to kill?"

"Not kill, tickle." He smiled. "You know how we work. We've
rounded up a few other associates of the Batman. I was planning to
question them myself, but it would be entertaining to see you do it. You've
got nice agile fingers, an intimate understanding of ticklishness ... and
the best reason in the world for getting the information out of them. If
you can get the Batman's real name from any of them, we'll let you go with
no hard feelings. If you can't, you'll have to be a tickle-kitten again."

"What if none of them know it?"

"Too bad for you, then." The man whispered something to Karl, who
left the room. "Will you do it?"

"What choice do I have?"

"None at all." He smiled broadly as Karl reentered, carrying
several objects. "Here." He handed her a small plastic earpiece. "We'll be
watching and listening, of course, and we'll talk to you through this."
Next was a small, sharp pair of scissors. "We leave the details of costume
removal up to you." Finally, a large spray can. "This contains a supply of
the gas you were incapacitated with. I recommend using it liberally. And
both Karl and I are immune to its effects," he said warningly as Selina
hefted the can in her hand. "Don't try to trick us, Ms. Kyle. You'll regret
it ... for quite a while."

"What about these?" Selina shook the bracelets on her wrists and ankles.

"Insurance. If you're quite prepared, go through that door there.
Don't waste time -- you're on a schedule." He and Karl turned and left by
another door before Selina could ask them how much time she had. Bastards.
Squaring her shoulders, she walked through the door the man had indicated.

Beyond was another white room much like the other, but with no
visible exits. Selina glanced back and saw no sign of the door from this


The three women in the center of the room were staring at her, and
the voice was uncomfortably familiar. They lay in a rough circle, their
feet forming the hub of a wheel. Their ankles were propped up on thick
steel rails, to which padded cuffs held them, and their wrists were
encircled by bracelets that attached to chains running to the ceiling. This
lifted them partly off the floor, an uncomfortable position somewhat
alleviated by a cushion under the small of each woman's back.

Selina looked down at the woman who had spoken. She recognized her:
Dinah Lance, the Black Canary, in her tight-fitting blue costume that left
her legs bare. Dinah didn't know Bats, did she? No, Selina realized, but
she was pretty close to Oracle, who in turn knew everything worth learning.
Dinah's scowled, and her short blond hair practically bristled.

Next to Dinah was another familiar figure: Helena Bertinelli, the
Huntress, in her violet and gray. Helena watched her impassively, eyes blue
behind her half-mask. No idea how friendly she was with the Batman, but
they wouldn't have rounded her up if she didn't maybe know something.

The third figure was unfamiliar to Selina: a blonde girl, just a
teenager, in a dark blue and gray costume, the hood of her cape thrown back
to expose a nervous face. "Stephanie Brown," the man's voice came to her
over the earpiece. "Daughter of the criminal Cluemaster. She calls herself
the Spoiler, and she's been closely associated with Robin in the past."

"What the hell's going on?" Dinah demanded. "I'd expected the Joker
or somebody to be behind this. This isn't your style."

"I don't think she's the mastermind here." Helena inclined her head
toward Selina's bare feet and braceleted limbs. "You're as much a prisoner
as we are, right?"

Selina felt herself warming to the role of interrogator. "Yes ...
except I'm not the one chained up. Somebody wants to know the Batman's real
name, and they sent me to ask you. They'll probably settle for Oracle" --
she eyed Dinah -- "or Robin" -- a glance at Stephanie. "So how about it?"

"Probably," the man whispered in her ear. "But maybe not."

Selina tried to ignore him. "Anyone want to talk, or do I have to
get nasty?"

Dinah made a rude noise. Stephanie just stared. Helena shook her
head. "Look, Catwoman, we're all in the same boat here. Perhaps if we
worked together ... "

"Sorry, girls. But this time, it's every woman for herself." She
studied the circle. The temptation to take Dinah down a peg, or try to
break the Huntress's cool confidence, was strong. But she had to end this
fast as possible, and the jittery Spoiler was obviously the weak link in
the chain. A quick step put her in the center of the circle. Squatting,
she sprayed a stream of gas into Helena and Dinah's faces and was gratified
to see them begin laughing immediately: Dinah's head rolled back as she
roared, while Helena's face crimsoned as she bit her lips, body shuddering
with the not-quite-suppressed peals that forced their way out of her

Setting the can down, Selina turned to Stephanie, who stared at her
with the expression of a rabbit regarding a wolf. Perfect. "So, dear, tell
me about that red-breasted boyfriend of yours." She pulled off Stephanie's
boots and tossed them aside, studying the small, delicate feet revealed.
"Preferably now." She stroked one vulnerable sole, and Stephanie jumped.

A blush and an involuntary grin spread across the girl's face at
equal rates. "You -- you're not going to tickle me, are you?"

"Smart girl. You've been hanging out with detectives, obviously."
Selina had meant to give Stephanie's feet another quick caress, but as
Stephanie squirmed and squealed, Selina found herself gleefully prolonging
the tickling, fingertips swirling up and down the fine skin of Stephanie's
feet. Almost she understood her captors: this was _fun_! Each fresh pass
only seemed to heighten the Spoiler's ticklish frenzy, provoking louder
paroxysms of laughter and more violent writhing. How far could she push it
before Stephanie was pleading for mercy?

"Stop that! She's just a girl!"

Helena had managed to force the words out between dying gas-induced
giggles. Selina turned on her with an unnerving smile.

"We're all girls here." She moved over to where Helena hung,
leaving Stephanie limp and still weakly tittering. "Especially you. You're
a ticklish little girl, aren't you?" Delicate forefingers probed Helena's
bare underarms, and the Huntress's eyes screwed up behind her mask as she
felt the terrible tickling. She was determined not to give Selina the
satisfaction of seeing her laugh, but it was a losing battle, and when
Selina began dancing two fingers through each smooth underarm, Helena's
composure left her entirely. Her body bounced at the end of her chain as
gasps of laughter were forced from her, and her shoulders twisted and
quivered as she struggled to escape Selina's touch.

"So ticklish," purred the Catwoman. "I think I'll just forget the
others and tickle yoooooouuuu all day. They can't be as weak as you are."
Her hands glided down Helena's sides to test her ribs with fingertips
wiggling through the thin fabric of her costume, to entirely satisfactory
results. "Kitchy-coo ... " Selina was reveling in her power. Nobody, but
nobody, had ever reduced the Huntress to a twitching, pleading wreck so

"I don't know anything!" Helena wailed. "I can't tell you anything
-- I just don't know!"

"Don't bother lying," Selina said, hoping that the woman was indeed
lying. "You're mine to play with until I get the truth." She punctuated
her words with gentle squeezes on Helena's bare thighs, and then,
remembering the small scissors she still carried, grabbed a fistful of
cloth and made a wide slit across Helena's belly. The woman gasped as
Selina's gloved hand touched the flesh around her navel, and then Selina
raised her hand and began slowly lowering it toward the Huntress's
struggling body, fingers circling but coming directly for that quivering
stomach. "Talk or tickle," Selina chanted, encouraging Helena with little
flicks of her other hand in the bound woman's armpit, setting off further
girlquakes in Helena's tummy. "Talk or tickle. Talk or tickle ... "

"Stop!" Helena yelled.

And Selina stopped. "Okay. Why didn't you say so before?" Turning,
she sprayed another cloud of gas at Dinah, who sagged back in her chains,
shaking with fresh mirth. Selina turned back to Stephanie, her emerald
eyes sparkling with glee. "Where were we before we were interrupted? Oh,
yes, I was tickling you crazy" -- her hands found Stephanie's wildly
fluttering feet, suiting action to words -- "and you were about to tell me
everything I wanted to know," she finished, raising her voice as the
Spoiler's frantic laughter chimed once more.

"Please, please -- " was all Stephanie could gasp out.

"This time I'm serious. Start talking and I'll stop tickling."
Abandoning Stephanie's feet, Selina knelt at her side instead. The
scissors easily cut through the Spoiler's loose costume, revealing the
white skin of her side from elbow to hip. Selina's fingers stole inside to
tease the soft skin over the blonde girl's ribs. Stretching out her other
hand, she could just reach Dinah's ribs, defenseless in her tight costume,
and for a few minutes Selina happily tickled both women into giggling
storms. Then a thought reminded her: You're here to torture information out
of these women, not have fun. Play later. Frowning, she abandoned Dinah and
slipped both hands into Stephanie's costume, tickling all over her
sweat-slicked torso. Selina yanked off her gloves, the better to use her
nails on the soft, damp flesh, and it worked -- Stephanie yelled in torment
the moment she felt Selina's nails under her arms.

But despite her ticklish agony, Stephanie also remained obdurately
silent regarding Robin, Batman, and any other subject besides tickling (on
which subject she was quite loud and emphatic, however). And at her back,
Selina could hear Time's winged -- and feathered -- chariot hurrying near.
Maybe the little bimbo really didn't know anything, after all. Biting her
lip in frustration, Selina gave Stephanie a shot of the gas and, for good
measure, sprayed Helena as well. Then, with the laughter of two women
rippling behind her, she turned on Dinah.

The Black Canary stared at her, utterly fearless -- or was that a
flicker of doubt in those blue eyes as Selina began to remove one of her
boots? As Selina laid the boot aside, Dinah spoke: "You're in a hurry,
aren't you?"

Selina went cold inside, but forced herself to look up and laugh as
if nothing was wrong. If they knew there was a time limit on her -- if they
knew they had to hold out only so long -- she was dead. "You wish, birdy."
Dinah's bare foot, strong and flexible from martial arts practice, curled
as Selina drew her fingertips down it with deliberate slowness. Dinah had
short, stubby toes, and she giggled and jerked helplessly as Selina
manipulated them one by one, drawing her fingernail down the sensitive skin
between them, thoroughly exploring each ticklish cleft before moving on to
the next. "Slow enough for you?" Selina taunted, holding Dinah's foot
firmly as she walked her fingers up and down the taut sole with tortuous
delicacy, pausing frequently to tickle a particularly sensitive spot -- the
peak of the arch, the cleft between the balls of the feet -- with a single
flickering fingernail, making Dinah's face fold up in agony as she pulled
at her bonds. "Let's try the other foot -- unless you'd like to tell me
about Oracle now."

"Drop dead," Dinah suggested as her second boot joined the first on
the floor.

"Tough talk for someone with such tender feet." Selina's nails
whirled down Dinah's soles, and she reveled in the sound of the Black
Canary's yelp of mirth. "You're so tough, I bet you can take lots and lots
of tickling all over your body, hours and hours ... " She squeezed Dinah's
knees just above and below the kneecap and dug her fingers into the
softness behind them, sending the blonde into convulsions. The scissors
flashed and Dinah's costume parted in half a dozen places, baring the firm
pink body beneath. "You must do a lot of ab crunches," Selina said
admiringly as she traced the lines of Dinah's muscled belly. "Or do you
just laugh a lot, like you're doing now?" The support under Dinah's back
had been knocked away in her struggles, and her tummy was hard with the
effort of supporting her upper body, so Selina's teasing fingers were a
double torture. Selina could all but feel the muscles weakening as whoops
of laughter racked Dinah's body; the moment the Black Canary surrendered
and sagged back, letting her arms take her weight, Selina moved. Giggling
with glee, she began tickling her victim's now wide open and helpless
underarms without mercy. Dinah yelled and sat upright again, only to be
beset with another belly-tickling storm. "Got you," Selina smiled. "Do you
have anything to say to me now?"

"I ... can't ... tell ... you ... anything," gritted Dinah, still
upright despite Selina's hands on her stomach.

"Sure you can. Think about it." Selina picked up the can and gave
Dinah another spraying, smiling as the Black Canary dissolved into
high-pitched hysterics again.

"Okay ... who's next?" Selina turned in the midst of her circle,
looking down at each woman in turn: Stephanie pale and nervous, Helena
composed again but with her hair wildly disarrayed and twin spots of color
still fading in her cheeks, Dinah gasping with laughter but somehow still
defiant in her ragged costume.

"I never did get to see how ticklish your tummy was, darling."
Selina traced a fingertip along the crease across Helena's belly, skating
the rim of the navel. Helena tried to hold still, but the telltale rattle
of her chain as she shifted uncomfortably gave her away. "Are you sensitive
here?" Selina's fingertip made a return journey, this time dipping into the
navel itself, lightly twisting. The Huntress's dark hair flailed the air as
she shook her head wildly, her bottom skidding across the smooth floor as
her torso twitched frantically. "Oh, how cute -- a pushbutton laugh
machine!" Selina probed deeper, pressing the area around the navel with the
fingers of her other hand, much to Helena's detriment. "Can I get
information by pushing this button too? How many times? One, two, three,
four ... " Helena howled with each flex of Selina's fingers, but nothing
about Batman passed her lips.

"One last chance, tickle-doll," Selina said, flourishing her
scissors and taking hold of the toe of one of Helena's boots, which worked
desperately but uselessly in her hand. Helena's thigh-high boots couldn't
be taken off with the clamps in the way, but it was easy for Selina to cut
a slit down the side of each boot and insert her forefingers. Helena's
feet in their boots were warm, soft, and slightly damp, perfectly
vulnerable to Selina's fingers brushing over the arches. Helena's feet
worked wildly as Selina forced her hands deeper in, raking her nails back
and forth over the soles. At last, Selina cut the boot soles away, exposing
Helena's feet completely. She now knelt in the middle of a ring of six
bare feet.

"Enough playing around," she said. "I'm not going to stop until
someone talks." Reaching out, she began tickling Helena's and Stephanie's
soles simultaneously, the younger girl exploding into shocked giggles while
the Huntress choked with laughter. Selina's busy hands skipped to Dinah's
feet, and the Black Canary's deeper laugh joined the chorus as she and
Stephanie were tortured. Then it was Helena and Dinah's turn to receive the
tickling, one on the arches and the other between the toes and both
reacting with identical hysterics. Feet flexed and twitched all around
Selina, trying to cringe away from the touch of her fingers, feeling her
nails scrabbling across them even after she had moved to another target.

"Stop! Stop! I don't -- " Stephanie was in the depths of a giggling

"Why won't you -- " Helena squealed like an overexcited schoolgirl
as Selina's nails dipped under her curled toes. " -- listen?" she managed
to get out.

Dinah had nothing to say, either because she thought it a waste of
effort or because she was laughing too hard to draw breath to speak.

Selina smiled at her three frantic victims. There was real
desperation in their voices now. They'd break soon, one or all. But she was
barely considering that now -- she was just enjoying the sights and sounds
and the feeling of power it gave her to have them all writhing and helpless
with nothing more than a light touch in the right place ...

"Nicely tried, Ms. Kyle," said the all-but-forgotten voice in her
ear. "But your time is up, I'm afraid."

"No -- !" Selina began, and then the bracelets around her ankles
were drawn together with a powerful clank; the bracelets on her wrists also
snapped together, pinioning her arms behind her. She lost her balance and
collapsed, and as she struggled, she heard something that chilled her: six
sets of cuffs clicking open. Then the pad of bare feet approaching her --
a stifled giggle that sounded like the Spoiler -- and she screwed her eyes

In another room elsewhere, the man and Karl watched the events on a
large television screen. "Too bad," the man said. "When they're done with
her, hose down the room with the gas, and then we'll conduct our own

"She was very thorough," Karl said. "I do not think they know anything."

"Probably not. But we'll find out, won't we?" They grinned at one