By the time you get home, you can feel the exhaustion (both physical and mental) really kicking in.

Just a little longer, you tell yourself as you stumble into the bathroom. Just a little longer...

You fumble with the clasp on the cowl as you pull it off and splash your face with cold water to try and wake yourself up.

Somewhere not so far away, he's doing this too.

The thought flits, unbidden, across your mind. You picture him in some dark and damp room, staring into a cracked and grimy mirror, pawing at his face with make-up remover and cotton pads not quite managing to erase all traces of his so called 'war paint'.

You step out of the suit and watch as the armoured plates clatter to the floor, too tired to really care.

Somewhere else in Gotham (one of the dodgier parts of the Narrows, you'd always imagined), he steps out of that lurid, purple suit and watches the fabric crumple to the floor in a similar manner.

You step into the shower and let the warm water beat against your body. Wearily, you scrub with soap, removing the smell of smoke, gasoline and sweat from yourself. The only traces left of the night's fight are the fresh bruises beginning to form and your aching muscles.

In another part of town, he stands as you do now – head bowed, arm against the wall to support his weight – letting the water run over his body, trying to feel invigorated.

You towel yourself off and, after wiping away the condensation, stare at your reflection in the mirror. A face, young and handsome stares back, but it is not your face: it's the face of a stranger; the face of who you're not. Because, although the cowl hides your identity, Bruce Wayne is the real mask you wear. You're not the man beneath Batman's suit: you are the suit. You're the cowl and the cape and the driving force behind the Batmobile; the Lamborghini and the designer clothes and all the girls are just an elaborate façade.

Somewhere else in Gotham, you know he feels the same way: about you and about himself. The masks you both wear are completely different and far more complex than everybody else assumes – the poorly made-up clown is who he is, in the same way that you are the bat. Grudgingly, you have to admit he's right when he says the two of you are alike, at least in that one respect.

But this, you think as you finish drying yourself off, is no time for pondering – you're about ready to collapse and, as you've learnt so well, the masks we create often start to run amok and develop little lives of their own.