Selina appeared to have frozen: her pupils fixed, her breathing shallow, and a certain un-feline stiffness in her posture around the neck and shoulders.
"Look, Selina, for the next five weeks, the city is short one Batman."
"You can't be serious," she murmured dully.
"Oh good, you can talk. I was saying: the city is short one Batman."
"You can't be serious," she repeated after an incredulous swallow.
"I'm not asking you to answer the signal or wear the cape. I'm just saying help the team."
"You can't be…"
"It was like three presidents ago!" she exploded. "Gas was a dollar twenty-nine. Trump carried his own golf clubs. Eddie had a full head of hair!"
"Exactly. Long before the Gotham Post's nonsense became an issue, when you had nothing to prove about a lying tabloid saying you were something that you're not, you… fought crime. Rather well. And offered to do it again."
"That was a personal offer, directed to Batman and Batman alone, and under very unusual circumstances."
"I'm Batman," he said, punctuating the statement with Bruce Wayne's charmingly coy playboy wink. Then his face hardened as he added, "And these are also very unusual circumstances.
"Look, Selina, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about Gotham, but I'm not only thinking of Gotham. I'm thinking of us, too. Back then, you said you'd made a mistake and you were trying to make up for it. I made a mistake too that night. You did catch Joker, you had my back when that thug pulled a gun, and you caught Penguin. When you offered more, the answer should have been yes without a moment's hesitation. But that kiss scared the hell out of me. You scared the hell out of me. I wanted you so badly, I could feel the possibility of… compromise. And we'd only fought together for a minute. It was fifty-eight seconds from your crashing through the skylight to tripping Cobblepot into that display. Fifty-eight seconds and I could barely summon the will to pull away. If I gave it two weeks, how could I possibly… That's why I had to refuse."
"You're saying… if I do this… it makes up for both our mistakes?"
"Nothing can change the past but we have both learned a lot since that night."
"I don't believe I'm even considering this," Selina muttered.
"I don't either," Bruce murmured, then added with a twinkle. "But you are."
© 2008, Chris Dee
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