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It's… cold today, isn't it?

I never really liked the cold myself. I don't think you really did either.

Then again, maybe you did. It was a protection thing. If it was really cold the bruises became numb, right?

Well, mine always did. I don't know about yours. I don't even know if you *could* bruise. I mean you always came back, night after night, same frowny expression to haunt the baddies of Gotham.

You had one powerful frown. I think that there were only a handful of times when I saw you… well the Bat-you… without a frown. Most of those times were when you were kissing me. But when you weren't…

You used to get this odd quirk to your lips. For the longest time after you first did it I wondered if you didn't have an itch right above your lip. And then one night -- day, actually, I woke up out of this dream and realized that you had been *smiling*. It was possibly the weirdest sensation I've ever felt. I mean you had been smiling at me. Let me make that clearer. I mean, you were *smiling* at me. Serious flip in the universe here.

I guess we all had our little secrets though, right? The whole relationship, for one thing. You never said it, though, and neither did I. That's fine. We had to play that little game, I mean what would the criminal community think of me if they found out I was…


Was… I can say this. I can. You aren't going to be able to tell a soul. Hah, hah, bad pun. I'm beginning to sound like Trickster…

Was… in love with you. Am still in love with you.

There. It's all said. Now I'm supposed to be able to go out and live a fulfilling life, right?

If only it were that simple. The movie industry makes billions by telling lies about relationships and ending them. In the movies I would find some weird sense of acceptance and go out into the world a changed person.

Yeah, right. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. The same goes for cats, except we aren't taught. We *learn*. No one *teaches* me anything.

Even you couldn't, not that you didn't try.

I remember when I first realized that it wasn't a playful-flirt-annoy-the-Bat thing anymore. You were pulling a little girl out of a burning building, she was sobbing and you handed her off and even though you were hurt, badly, you went back in to save her brother. I was surprised, none of the guys I knew would even think about going in that building in the first place. But you were always special, weren't you?

I thought you might want to know that your cowl is in good hands. You taught the boy well. He knows his stuff. Gotham is in good hands.

I've been helping out a bit, too. Don't tell him or anything. All of the little Bat-spawn have these weird ideas about me. I blame you totally for that. I think it was Robin who once said to me, "We could use the extra help, when you decide to go full time good guy." Maybe he didn't say that exactly, but his meaning was clear.

I mean I never did anything major. Helped bring in the Joker once, but that wasn't huge. I mean the real bad guys keep getting out a lot. But then, even when you were around they always got out. Never helped your little clan get anyone else though. I just have a grudge against the Joker.

In his insanity he always saw things so clearly.

You shouldn't have tried to protect me.

I'm a cat, I have nine lives. You… You only had one.

I would have survived. I was almost out of the way. But you had to protect, all the way. Save the world yet again. Maybe not the world, but you had to save Gotham. Always Gotham. Your soul, your savior.

She mourned you. Even though no one knows that you died, she mourned. It rained for two weeks straight.

And there was a small ceremony. Totally private, no one that wasn't in the Super-biz even got wind of it. All of your fellow colleagues in trade showed up. Superman, Wonder Woman… I think most of the JLA showed up. But it was kept really small. I showed up, because Nightwing asked me to. I wasn't planning on actually making an appearance until I realized that in some way, it would be like closure.

By the time I got there it was well underway, everyone was upset. Your kids, the Bat Clan… you could tell who was one and who was a by-stander. There was this crushed look in their eyes, like some idol fell from heaven. Which I think it did. You weren't supposed to die. You just *weren't*. You were supposed to live forever and keep me on my toes until I retired.

You weren't supposed to *die.*

But you did.

I think I'm going to retire.

No, no I mean it. I've been thinking about it for a while and I realized that this whole dress up like a cat and then go out to plunder Gotham isn't working.

I blame you completely. It's your fault.

Things just got… dull without you around. Stealing just became a chore. It's your fault.

I was perfectly happy with my job until you turned it into a game of cat and bat. Avoid the Bat. Seek the Bat. Bait the Bat with words and motions.

Everything was fine.

Then you had to go ruin it.

Even from eight feet under you're still making me crazy!

I hate you. You won the final battle with me. You got me to *retire.*

Don't worry about money or anything. I may be many things but stupid isn't one of them. The only reason I stayed in the game as long as I did was because of you. I'd spent too long in the business. I was beginning to get bored, I was beginning to take chances that even in my prime I wouldn't have taken.

So money isn't an issue. Destination isn't either. I'm leaving a forwarding address with the Oracle. If you're little Clan needs me they have it, she's been instructed to never let anyone know she has it. I trust her a bit. I know you did, and I know she's smart enough to not use the address for anything stupid.

I wasn't going to tell anyone at all, but then I realized that I felt like a surrogate mom to the Bat-people and it wouldn't be right to leave my kittens without a way to reach me.

I guess this is it, then. I'm headed off to a small South American country where I can live in luxury. I've already bought the house, really nice place. There's a whole jungle outside my property. A huge jungle with lots of wildcats. I've always wanted a pet jaguar, I wonder how hard it is to raise one…


Goodbye. I hope I see you again, because we still have quite a few things to work out, mister. And spending eternity by yourself would get lonely.



She placed a neatly folded piece of cloth on the grave. The purple was muted by the gray sky. The tip of a cloth cat's ear fluttered in the harsh wind.

Smiling tightly she pressed one black gloved hand to her lips and then to the name engraved in granite.

"Bruce Wayne"

A single tear trekked down her face, only to be hastily wiped away.

She walked back to the waiting taxi. "Get me out of here."