"This is so totally unshway, Max!" Terry proclaimed, squaring off against his partner.
"Terry, there's precedent," Max argued, doing her level best to remain calm. "And he's–"
"A kid!" Terry interrupted, dark eyes wild with suppressed panic. "Matt is just a kid. My kid brother."
"Dick and Tim were both kids," Max replied calmly, laying a hand on her partner's arm.
"They were Wayne's sons," Terry objected tiredly.
Max gave him a piercing look. "And so are you," she pointed out, voice echoing in the hollows of the cave. "And Matt."
But she wasn't suggesting that Matt succeed him as Batman; that was the only saving grace to this heated argument they were having. "He's barely even old enough to shave," Terry pleaded, removing his arm from her grip and replacing it with his own shaking hand.
Max squeezed his hand, hard. "He's older than the first Robin was," she pointed out, voice soft, yet firm.
"But not as old as the second Robin. And look where they both are now." Terry moved out of her half-embrace and jabbed his finger towards the cases containing the original suits: Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin. A monument to fallen soldiers no longer fighting the battle.
Aside from Commissioner Gordon, none of them had even talked to Bruce in years. And even with Barbara it had been more liked restrained shouting than talking. Terry wondered what would happen when the old man's heart finally gave out and he died. Would they even come to the funeral?
He didn't want that for him and Matt. He didn't want that for him and Max, either, but Max was her own woman, and as he'd just said, Matt was just a kid. And he'd promised his Mom he'd look out for the twip now that he had more free time with his college schedule.
"I've been doing this for almost four years – with you for two – and things aren't any worse than they were in the beginning," Terry said, gasping at straws. "Why do you even think we need a Robin?"
"Because things aren't any better, either," Max said quietly.
Breath catching in his throat, Terry could only hang his head in resignation. Max was right. Bane was gone for good, and Mr. Freeze, and the Royal Flush Gang seemed to be permanently disbanded, but Inque was on the loose once again, Curarè was still presumably out there somewhere, and there seemed to be a never-ending supply of Jokerz terrorizing the streets.
Finally the irony of the situation hit him – there'd been quite a bit more shouting on his part when he'd demanded to become Batman, but just as much pleading – and Terry snorted, raising laughing eyes to look at Max. "Next thing you'll be saying you want to be Batgirl."
Max simply stared at him for a moment, before drawing nearer. "There's precedent…" she murmured, one hand stroking down Terry's chest, coming to rest on the red Bat.
Terry looked at her, startled. "You… You really want that? I didn't think you– I mean…" He shook his head wonderingly; yes, Max was a red-haired techno-whiz, and she was dating him, Batman, but he'd never thought… "I thought you liked being my tech girl, working with all the gadgets in the Cave. I thought you wanted to be my woman behind the curtain. Stay off the streets."
Where's it's safe, he didn't say, but they'd both long ago discovered that safety was a relative thing. Except, apparently, when it came to his relatives.
Smiling slightly at her lover's denseness, Max said, "I can still be your tech girl. I just…want to come out from behind the curtain." Suddenly pensive, she grimaced and looked down as she admitted, "I want – I need – to be able to watch your back without having to use a viewscreen."
Terry was quiet for a moment. "I…I'd like it if you were there." She'd be safer off the streets, and so would Matt, for that matter, but… He wasn't nearly stupid enough to think he could handle everything by himself.
Plus, he knew that she looked good in skintight black clothing. Too good, maybe; he was going to have such a hard time concentrating on patrol.
"And Matt?" Max asked, refusing to be put off.
"I don't know about that, Max…" Terry said dubiously. Max could be a big help, but Matt… "I'm not sure he could handle this." And he couldn't believe he was actually considering this. A moment ago he'd been so certain of his position, but a few words from his girlfriend – his fiancée, now – and his will turned to mush.
Sighing and shaking her head, Max said, "We'll never know unless we let him try."
"We don't have to know," Terry pointed out, a despairing whine in his voice.
"He's going to do it anyway," Max stated with a calm bluntness that hit Terry like a metahuman punch to the gut. "Only he'll be wearing some half-assed costume made out of cotton and spandex instead of being protected by nanotech-infused Kevlar. And he'll go out and try and kick Jokerz ass, only without training he'll get hurt…or worse."
Terry scrubbed a hand back through his hair, making a mental note to get a haircut before his cowl stopped fitting over his shaggy head. "And your solution is to put him in the Robin suit?" he demanded. The old Robin suit was obsolete compared to his Batsuit; it didn't offer much more protection than the half-assed costume Max had just suggested.
"My solution is to give him the skills, the accessories, and the back-up to keep him safe," Max replied evenly.
"Make a new Robin suit and train him to be Robin," Terry said, making sure he had all the facts.
"Remember when your mother gave you condoms when you started dating Dana?" Max said, seemingly out of nowhere. "Just in case?" she added with emphasis, a sharp look in her eyes.
Terry had never used those; and since latex only lasted so long, he'd been using completely different ones with Max. "This is a bit different, Max," Terry argued – futilely, he knew.
"It's the same principle, Terry," Max contended.
"This could turn out so bad," Terry said, knowing even as he said it that his resolve was weakening.
"It could turn out so good," Max replied, taking his left hand in hers. "Just like us," she added with a pointed look at her engagement ring.
Terry still wasn't entirely sure. "Yeah, well, what if something happens to him? To us?"
Slipping her arms around his waist, Max said, "I promise not to blame you for this if things get slagged between us, Ter."
That actually went a long way towards convincing him. "Oh?" Terry asked curiously.
Max smirked. "No. I'll blame the old man. Your old man."
Terry snorted. He thought for a moment, then let out his held breath in a rush of resigned relief. "Okay," he said finally. He still wasn't sure, but there was enough trust between them all that they could try and make it work.
Max looked up at him half-skeptically, half-eagerly. "Okay?"
Quirking a grin, Terry exchanged smiles with his fiancée. "He's my brother; there isn't precedent for this. But…"
Max took his hand in hers, squeezing it gently. "We'll make it," she promised, and kissed him.