We stood there together in silence for a long time, and the longer he held me, the more I felt my recent reservations about him melting away.
Suddenly, he loosened his grip on me. "Come out to the car," he said, his tone abruptly changing. "I've got something for you. In the Cave."
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting to hear next, but then I've already said I didn't have a clue where we were heading.
"Meet me on the usual corner," he insisted, sounding a little too much like his old self: all business, always in charge. And I went along with it.
We made it to the Cave in record time, and he led me into the main room. There it was: a red-and-green Robin suit, modelled on my original makeshift version but infinitely more durable. A utility belt to rival Batman's own. Boots, gloves, and -- to my chagrin-- a cape, bright yellow on one side, jet black on the other.
"It's yours," he said. "Try it on."
"Bruce, I can't--"
He glared at me, and I wasn't clear whether it was because I'd called him by his other name (goddam fucking rules) or because he genuinely wanted to see me decked out in this thing. It didn't really matter, because, truth be told, I wanted to wear the suit. I'd been having second thoughts about my resignation for the last few days anyway, and ... well, this outfit was awesome.
I ducked into the changing room and shucked my street clothes in a flash. The new duds clung to my body like a second skin; wearing them, I felt like I was truly at home for the first time. Alfred must be a genius, because I don't know how he managed to fashion clothes so snug yet so comfortable, while still providing so much protection. (Jeez, I sound like I write for a cross between Vogue and the Gall's catalogue.) Suiting up, I knew there was no way I could pass up the second chance Bruce was clearly offering me. I walked back into the main part of the Cave and assumed the stance of all comic-book crimefighters: legs apart, arms akimbo, fists at my waist. I was beaming--and hard as a rock.
"When do I start?" I asked.