"I feel like having a little chat with Batsy."
"'Bout what?" asked Bob.
"About- oh, I don't know. Anything. Just shoot the breeze."
"And just how do you intend to do that, Kid?"
"Would you quit calling me that?"
"You are so lucky I don't-"
"Believe in senseless violence? Yeah, I guess I am."
"Anyway, I'll invite him. Of course, it can't be your standard sort of invitation. It'll have to be something special, to get his attention. Perhaps... Well, actually, maybe I'll try a normal invite first. Just to see if it works."
"Where would you send it? I mean, even if you keep saying you know who he is, you don't want him to know you know. I mean, not for certain. So you can't send it... you know, to his home address, or whatever."
"True, true. Besides, he'd hardly confirm what he'd hope were suspicions by actually responding to such an invitation. But there are other ways to call him."
"...Ah, yes. There is always..."
"Ah, Batsy, so good of you to show up."
"Kidder. I thought you might be... someone else."
"Jimmy boy? Ah, no, but his way was the best way I could think of to call you. And I wanted to have a chat. If you please, why don't we step into my little cave here. I assure you, it's very comfortable."
"I don't think so. In fact, I think I'll be leaving..."
"Oh, please? I could try to compel you to stay, but I won't. No, all I want tonight is a friendly chat."
"How many times must I tell you? You and I are not friends."
"Yes, but I so wish I could change that. Still, I understand that I can't. Still, I'd like it if we could just talk from time to time. Even if you don't like me."
"Now why doesn't that idea appeal to me?"
"Because I am sometimes a criminal. But, surely, I must be the nicest of the criminals you fight? I'm not so insane as most of them. Though of course, I'm not all that sane, either. I remember the first time you caught me. They sent me to Blackgate. What an insult!"
"Congratulations on seeing to it they never again made the mistake of thinking you sane."
"Thank you. Arkham really is such a wonderful place. Always plenty of friends there. And Doctor Bart, he's always fun. Well, often fun."
"He doesn't feel quite the same about you."
*Sigh* "No, I suppose he wouldn't. I guess I'm just not that good at making friends with some people. That's the tragedy of being stuck halfway between sanity and madness. Neither side wants that much to do with me. I clearly see every side of any issue, any person. And I like so many people, good and bad. But the good guys only see the bad in me, and the bad guys only see... well, that I'm not always willing to go quite as far in my crimes as they'd like me to. And my respect for your kind leaves a bad taste in their mouths, as well. Still, at least they're more accepting of me than are you."
"Cry me a river."
"Whatever. I just wish someone could fully understand me. I've never been a cold-blooded murderer, you know. And I never steal from anyone who can't afford it. I try to keep ill-effects to a minimum. Surely you understand that?"
"I'll admit, you're not as sadistic as some... like the Joker."
"Yes, I know he's really not such a virtuous guy, sometimes. But he's my friend, my mentor... and a lot of fun at parties. Anyway, I have other redeeming traits. I do charitable work. And I run legitimate businesses. GJK really is a great company, don't you think? ...No, I suppose you wouldn't, for numerous reasons. But at least I keep it clean. And LexCorp. You don't even know how much trouble I've kept them from getting into. And S.T.A.R. Labs. I do good work for them. Not just in one branch, but throughout the world. And so many heroes rely so often on S.T.A.R. Labs. Superman, Flash, yourself perhaps, and others."
"If we had our way-"
"I wouldn't be on the board. I know. But I've never used my connections there for crime. I only have the best intentions on that front, and some other fronts. I help many people. Even superheroes."
"Perhaps, but nevertheless-"
"Nevertheless, I remain a criminal. But aren't criminals afraid of you? Isn't that the whole point of the bat thing? How often have you repeated the line, 'Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot'? Well, I've never been afraid of you."
Batman advanced toward the still seated Kidder. "No?" he asked, very menacing.
"And why is that? Surely you don't believe I can't touch you?"
"Of course not. I know you can. You spoil my plans, as you spoil the plans of people, and even ...morethanpeople... far greater than I. No, I don't fear you because I understand you too well. You're not a monster, you're a man in a costume. And a very good man, at that. I could kill people, destroy lives and property and more. I could try to kill you (though you must know I never would). And then if my life were in danger, you would do everything in your power to save my life, even at great peril to your own. You might hurt me, in your attempts to stop me. You might send me back to Arkham. But that's the worst you'd ever do. And I like the asylum, anyway. You might as well throw me into the briar patch, Br'er Bat. Fear you? No, I feel safer in your hands than in any other hands in the world. In fact, I've always quite respected you."
"You've said that before. The feeling is not mutual."
"You've said that before. Any rate, I care about humanity, and about human beings. I hold human life to a certain degree to be sacred. And you pretect humans, you and others like you. I respect and admire you all, and what you do. And I like you best of all, I think. You all do such good work. I do that sort of thing, sometimes. But sometimes I do evil, so that is how I am defined. Catsy's kinda like me, in that respect. Not that she sees it, of course. Then again, you do nothing but good, and still there are good guys who dislike and distrust you. People like Bullet-"
"You mean Bullock."
"Yes, he does so hate it when I call him that, doesn't he? But he's not here."
"How do you know I'm not him? His distrust of Batman could be a clever ploy to throw people off track."
"For one thing, if this were the case, would you bring that up?"
"Maybe. Maybe I'm trying to-"
"Confuse the issue with weird psychology. Everyone knows questions like that can go on forever in both directions. It's not important. ...Perhaps you and he have been seen at the same place at the same time on occasion. But perhaps the real reason I know you're not Bullet is because, as I've said before, I know who you are."
"But you never say who I am."
"Not to others, good or bad, because I don't want to blow your cover. And not to you, because I want you to think it's possible I know, but not to actually believe that I know." The Kidder grinned. "And perhaps you can lie awake in bed some nights wondering. But anyway, I do know. I know who most heroes and villains really are. And I'm good at keeping secrets. But this is all digression. I was talking about how I respect you. Because I like the good you do, and the good you represent. I feel safer with people like you out there. Safer not as a criminal, but as a human being and as a citizen of Gotham. ...And then, there's that your stopping criminals helps to eliminate the competition. So the criminal in me likes you, too."
"And when I fight you?"
"We all have our purposes in life. I have to do what I do, you have to do what you do. I undestand that. I respect that, even if it means sometimes I lose. It's to be expected. And once in a while, even when it's me losing, it's nice to know good is triumphing over evil."
"It's hard to tell whether you're the sanest villain around, or the most twisted. Still, I guess even if you're twisted, it isn't necessarily for the worse."
"Thank you. You can't know how much I enjoy hearing you say that. Ah, but what else had I to discuss? There is of course that as often as you legitimately beat me, I sometimes let you win. As part of a plan, or because I start thinking maybe I'm going too far, or just for the hell of it, 'cause I bore with my operations."
"I believe you. I believe you give up more easily than you have to, sometimes. Not as often as you'd have me believe-"
"More often than you'd think. But that's not important. Anyway, I like you, and your sort. I know you can never like me. But I do wish you'd believe I like you, and I'm not such a bad guy. And know, I'd never kill you."
"Not that you could."
Again, Kidder smiled. "You'd be surprised how many times I've already spared your life. Anyway, here, have a beeper," he said, producing an object and holding it out before the Batman. "You will of course inspect it, make sure it isn't bugged, or rigged with explosives, or anything. I'll beep you whenever I feel like talking. Far simpler than flashing this thing."
"As I've said, I'm not interested."
"Ah, but in the future, if I call, and you don't respond, it will mean... something bad will happen. You'll have to respond to avert disaster. Even if you only call me to say you can't talk because you're busy or ill or for some reason unable to meet me just then. I'll know the truth. And I'll understand. But if you can meet me, I'll expect you to. At least check in. Of course, if I've got nothing too important to say, and you really don't feel like it, I may allow you to refuse. I don't want you to feel entirely obligated. But you must at least call me and tell me you can't talk or meet. I'll expect you to do this most of the time. But you'll have to talk to me occasionally, if you're free. And always check in."
"I can. And by the way, I've enjoyed chatting with you tonight. I hope you did, too. Good bye."
"Didn't you notice? We have been talking for awhile."
"I- no, I sort of forgot. And it wasn't such a bad way to spend a little time. But I should take you in-"
"Are there any outstanding warrants on me at the moment?"
"No, but you did just make certain threats-"
"Are there any outstanding warrants on me at the moment?"
"...No," he said resignedly. "You're free for now."
"Good. See you later."
Batman departed. Bob came out of the cave. "Have fun, Kid?"
"So did I. You are good, you know."
"Thanks. I know." And he went back to reading his magazine...