The smoke curled from my cigarette up into the cold air. The frost was dark today and the smoke drifted up in little thin wisps, cutting through the cold. I had taken up smoking recently, it calmed my nerves. Tim had been egging me to quit. He was the only real member of the bat family that I still spoke too. Bruce called on occasion, but not for me, for business. Bruce had changed since we worked side by side. He was harder, angrier now. Somewhere, the darkness that he fought grew inside and latched into his heart.
I flicked the ash and peered out the window. The roof was covered in a slick ice. We never got pretty snow here; it was always buddy and brown. The little burning embers that I flicked off were the only amount of color before fading out.
I took a last drag. The heat of the fire on the filter warmed my fingers. I put it out in my small ashtray and huddled closer as I blew the smoke from my lungs. I had this trick where I would only lightly blow the smoke, so it wasn't really blown out. The smoke would actually our out of my mouth and curl upward and outward. It was peaceful.
I let the cold cut into me before I shut the window and let myself sit on the cool counter a little longer. During the winter, the kitchen window was the best to smoke from. There was a perch in front of it so I could sit up like a child. I would cross my legs and sit on the counter looking out my window to see the sky.
The sun threw shadows around my kitchen and lit up the window. Watching the sun rise was one of the few things that I liked doing. It was steady, constant. I knew that however bad everything got, the sun would still rise every morning. It was here before I was alive, and would be here long after I was gone.
I let myself take a deep breath before jumping down and landing on the cool tile floor. I huddled to the thermostat, jacking it up to eighty. The stupid thing was broken anyway, it wouldn't matter. I hoped that I could trick my mind to believing that it really was eighty.
The crime scene was sparse in the mornings. But I had nothing better to do since I wasn't sleeping anyway. Usually, I would sprint and do acrobats on the roofs to keep myself in shape. I didn't have a personal gym like Bruce did. However, the crisp morning air kept my mind sharp.
I did a flip off of the roof of my apartment building, landing squarely on my feet on the next building. If I had gone on a separate path, I might have gone professional. Maybe I could have been in the Olympics. An image of what my life could have been drifted lazily in my mind.
I made another flip onto the fifth story of the building next door, making a big show of sticking the landing. I bowed to my imaginary crowd, blowing kisses.
My breath became steady as I crossed over more buildings with flips and leaps. I traveled on steady gravel and hard, slanted tile. The Bludhaven roofing business was scarce. I could probably retile some of these for these people.
I traveled a little over a mile without stopping before crouching down over an alley. Maybe I was becoming too serious, like Bruce. After all, I was alone like him.
I'd had a few serious relationships, but one of them ever gave me that special feeling. You know that fluttery, heart wrenching, sick feeling inside? Love. I'd never really been in love. Nothing had ever made me feel, dependent. I was on my own; I didn't need anyone or anything to make me happy. But then again, I wasn't really happy anyway.
I launched myself back across the street and continued until I reached my window again. I flew inside and landed on the flood in a heap. That could have been cleaner.
I dusted myself off and immediately took a fighting stance. Something was not right. Something was wrong. It took me just a second to see that the front door was ajar. There was a smudge of blood on the wall leading to my bedroom. One of my pictures was askew and there was blood on the thermostat.
I moved closer to it. The person had moved the dial up to one hundred. It was obvious this person wasn't a threat if he made this much of a mess just breaking in. I crept along the hallway, hearing no noises. There was a trail of droplets of blood on the floor I just cleaned.
My door was wide open by the time I reached my bedroom. I saw more blood on the floor and I stepped inside. There was a man laying face down on my bed.
I became worried. I was wearing my suit, what if this person didn't know who I was. Turned out, I didn't need to worry.
The man turned over, his black hair tousled all over his head. The thing that stopped me made my mouth gape open. He had the white streak. Bruce and I joked that it was his signature mark. And those eyes, he stared at me with such blue eyes my heart dropped into my stomach. His chiseled chest was obvious through his thin black shirt and his jacket was thrown to the corner. Most obvious, was the red motorcycle helmet on top of the jacket, smeared with blood.
"Jason!" I ran to him. "Where are you hurt?"