Disclaimer: This is fanfic, based on the show Once A Thief. Characters are property of Alliance. This story was written for fun, not profit.


by: Shadowscast

Mac leapt through the door and let his cape billow behind him. "Surrender, evildoers!" he yelled. Then he looked around. There was no one in the briefing room but Vic. "Hey, where is everyone?"

Vic snickered, checking out Mac's costume. Mac was dressed all in black, trailing a long black cape. He wore a sculpted rubber torso, the gleaming black material suggesting exaggerated bulges of perfect muscle underneath. His eyes and nose were covered by a shiny black mask, which gave his nose a hawkish point. The mask also had pointy little ears built in at the top of Mac's head. "Hello, Batman," Vic smirked.

Mac grinned. "Just wait'll you see what Li Ann's wearing." He took a good look at his partner. "So, what the hell are you?" Vic was wearing a red jacket, black pants with yellow stripes down the side, a funny hat and high, well-polished brown leather boots. "Mmm, nice boots," Mac added, resisting the temptation to feel up Vic's calves to see if the leather was as rich as it looked.

Vic sighed. "And you've been in Canadian law enforcement for how many years? I'm a Mountie."

"Oh, right," Mac nodded. "I see. Like the dolls in the tourist shops." He grinned widely at the glare Vic gave him. "You have some serious issues about the whole police thing, you know? I think you should talk to somebody."

"So, uh, you leave the Batmobile parked out front?" Vic asked. "You think that's safe in this neighbourhood?"

Mac swept his cape to the side so he could perch on the conference table. He swung his feet, admiring his own shining black PVC boots. "So, yeah, where's everyone else?"

Vic shrugged, tugging at his lanyard. "Not here yet."

"Come on, they wouldn't all be late."

Vic glanced at his watch. "It's eight-fifteen. They're not late."

"Yes they are. The Director told me to be here by eight."

Vic snickered. "Well, she told everyone else eight-thirty."

"Gah." Mac punched the air with his black-leather-clad fist. "She always does this to me!"

Vic fiddled with his belt, still smirking. "What, tricks you into being on time for once?"

Mac sighed, and hopped off the table. He took a couple steps towards Vic. "Well, we're here all alone and you look really good in red. Ever wonder what it's like to do it with a cartoon superhero?" Under his inscrutable mask, his lips curved into a hungry smile.

Vic let himself be drawn into Mac's open arms. Swallowed by the billowing cape, Vic tilted his head to brush Mac's lips with his own. Mac's eyes gleamed through the mask, and through the layers of his outfit Vic felt Mac's hand cupping his suddenly-warm groin. "Holy smokes, Batman," Vic groaned. "Not now. You know she's up there, watching."

Mac followed Vic's gaze to the mysterious stairs. "You think? God, I would love to find out what's at the top of those stairs."

"I know what's at the top of the stairs," Vic growled, forcing himself to move away from Mac. "Ever see the watchman's office in a shopping mall? A whole wall full of TV screens, each one showing a different view of the mall? That's what it's like, only instead of a mall, you'll see every room in our apartments. And she's got banks and banks of old tapes, recording every moment you ever thought you were alone."

"Wait a second!" Mac grabbed Vic's shoulders. "You've been up there? Why didn't you say anything?"

"Well, I haven't really been up there," Vic admitted. "But I'm sure that's what it's like."

Mac shrugged dismissively, giving his cape a little whirl. "That's just because you spend twenty minutes every morning looking for her security cameras."

"And finding them," Vic reminded him.

"You're obsessed," Mac continued. "She watches us sometimes. So what? I never had privacy with the Tangs, either."

"Well, what do you think is up there?" Vic returned the challenge.

Mac peered up the stairs, and hmmmmed. "My bat-sense is tingling...." he whispered.

Vic smacked the back of Mac's head playfully. "You're thinking of Spiderman."

"I know what's up there," Mac declared, planting his feet and spreading his arms to make the delivery dramatic. "It's her playhouse. A well-equipped torture chamber for her most favoured victims. The walls are hung in dark red velvet to muffle the screams, and it's carpeted in black so blood-stains won't show. She's got cabinets of whips and paddles, probably even some sharp little knives. She's got benches and racks and hooks in the ceiling, so she can restrain her victim in any position you can imagine."

"And you lie awake at night, wondering when she'll bring you up there," said a new voice.

The guys both turned around to face Li Ann.

Li Ann was wearing a coat of armour constructed in a medieval Chinese style, and she had a sword hanging at her side.

"Hey!" Mac exclaimed. "You said you'd be Catwoman."

Li Ann shrugged. "I changed my mind."

"You lied to me, didn't you?" Mac threw himself into a chair, pouting. "You've been spending waaay too much time with the Director, lately."

"So who are you?" Vic asked.

"I'm the warrior Mulan."

Vic nodded. "Like in the Disney movie?"

Li Ann drew her sword and pointed it threateningly in Vic's direction. "Mulan is a historical figure. If anyone mentions the mouse company again, I'll cut off your head."

Vic raised his hands in surrender.

Li Ann re-sheathed her sword. "So what was that about the Director keeping a dungeon at the top of the stairs?"

"Well, what do you think she keeps up there?" Mac asked petulantly. He was still pissed off that she hadn't come as Catwoman to match his Batman. She'd said she would.

"It's her apartment, obviously," Li Ann said, shifting her armour awkwardly so that she could sit down. "That's why she's always here, whenever we look for her, no matter what time of day. That's how she gets here so early in the morning. She lives here. It's probably a luxury apartment, with thick carpets and expensive designer furniture, and a Jacuzzi bath big enough for five people. There's a king-sized four-poster bed-"

"The better to handcuff people to," Mac interjected.

"And probably a huge kitchen with an enslaved staff of four chefs," Vic added.

"H-hello, everyone," came a voice from the door.

Li Ann, Vic and Mac turned to face Nathan.

Nathan was wearing red, matching Vic's. Mac thought he saw Nathan's eyes light up when he noticed that coincidence. Nathan, however, was not a mountie. His red jacket was much simpler, decorated only by three round little silver pins at the collar.

"Star Trek," Vic identified the costume. "You're, what, Captain Picard?"

Nathan shook his head. "No, no, no, not Captain Picard. I have the same rank as him, though."

Mac and Li Ann met each others' eyes, and shared a shrug.

"You were wondering what she keeps up there?" Nathan asked, with a furtive glance up the stairs which darted quickly back to his own shoes. "I can tell you. It's her regeneration chamber."

Li Ann rolled her eyes. Vic studied the ceiling. Mac, on the other hand, gleefully baited Nathan. "Really?" Mac said. "Why does she need to regenerate?"

Nathan leaned in close, and lowered his voice to a hoarse whisper. "Because her home planet's rotation is only thirteen hours long," he explained. "Our twenty-four hour days are hard on her. And then there's the matter of the atmosphere. Oxygen is a slow poison to her. She needs to de-toxify."

"And how do you know this?" Mac asked, almost managing to sound sincere. "Have you been up there?"

Nathan shook his head so hard that droplets of sweat flew off. "No no no. But I have to go now. I have to take you. She told me to take you all up."

That got everyone's attention. Mac felt his mouth hanging open - he snapped it shut. Li Ann and Vic looked similarly amazed.

"Well, lead the way then," Vic said finally.

With Nathan in the lead, they crept up the forbidden stairs, each feeling almost dizzy with anticipation. The stairs ended in a small landing. In the wall, there was an ornate wooden door. It was made of some dark wood, or stained nearly black. The wood was carved in abstract knot-work, highlighted in gold.

Each of them wondered: would it be like they imagined?

Suddenly, the door opened. It opened towards them, obscuring any view they might have had.

And then the door slammed shut, revealing Dobrinsky, grinning, dressed in the colourful costume of an 18th century French noble. An ornately scripted name-tag identified him as the Marquis de Sade. "April fools!" he called out.

"Wrong holiday," Vic muttered.

"You ain't never finding out what's behind door number one," Dobrinsky gloated. "Down the stairs now. The costume party's at the Holiday Inn."


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