Sometimes, Marowit longed for some true darkness. Even in the middle of a moonless night, Lost Haven was never truly dark. This city never slept, it never stopped for a single second to catch a breath, or stare in silence at the horrors committed by the man with the white glass mask. It was the world's most grotesque Christmas tree, all lights yet no green or brown branches, no scent of pine tree, and no warmth from a lit fireplace.
Yes, Lost Haven was a city that was always bright with life, yet cold on the skin. Its air was cold and heavy in his lungs, and it reeked of the combination of a million different urban fumes, each more revolting than the last. An overflowing sewer coating the streets with shit and rats, an old car being engulfed in the black smoke coming from its own tailpipe, a dead dog rotting in an alley alongside a deranged beggar and a family of stray cats, the dinner of a million families being dumped at the top of an ever growing mountain of garbage, and a small, lonely jasmine tree. It had yet to bloom, but Marowit knew that the day would come, later this year, when he would be able to bask in that wonderful fragrance while holding a very special person in his arms.
"Aren't you going to kiss me goodnight?" The devil himself irrupted into this reverie. Taking a single glance back, Marowit saw him, his beautiful Leander, standing in the threshold of the glass door that separated the living room from this small, yet cozy balcony, on which Marowit now stood, feet resting with skillful firmness on the thin and feeble railing. The man looked like an angel, with his slender frame, absurdly long blond hair, almost as pale as his milky skin. Nobody could have ever guessed that the man was, in fact, Chernobog, the Black Poisoner of New York, the masked man who had single-handedly defeated many fearsome supervillians, such as the Devil King and Euphoria.
"I don't have time..." Marowit sighed, hand already ghosting over his grappling hook gun, eyes scanning the buildings on the other side of the street, looking for the perfect edge to hook himself to and glide his body into the night. He put his mask on, the stench of the city below him erased from his sensitive nostrils instantly. A technical marvel, his mask was. Not only was it practically unbreakable, but it also kept him immune to any poisonous gases he used.
"You do realize I'm still going to get in my suit and follow you even if you leave now." The other man said, and Marowit could feel his sardonic smirk. It itched at him, but he did not look back, not again. One time was enough for him. All he did was slightly shrug his shoulders, his breathing calm, although carrying a small tinge of pain with every exhalation, while his red hair fluttered with the wind.
"Your father...took the news rather well." He commented, his hand slowly taking ahold of the grappling hook gun, letting it hang at his side for a short while. He needed to be relaxed, and the burning sensation in his lungs was not helping. It was not nearly as painful as the agony he had experienced that same morning. He had woken up with his heart pounding his ribcage wildly while a plethora of bright colors danced around before him, and the rest of his body had felt numb, with the excruciating exception of his head, which felt as if someone had stabbed his forehead with a burning knife. In that short, but powerfully distressing moment, he had quietly begged for death. Seconds later, the ordeal had come to an end, leaving him breathless, and torn between disappointment and relief.
Just thinking of it sent a shiver down his spine.
"Disregarding the fact that you are changing the subject..." Leander chuckled, sitting on an old iron chair by the flowerless jasmine tree, the jean shorts and white shirt looking surprisingly appropiate on him, in the mild darkness of the balcony. "Yes, he did. To be honest...I have my reasons to think my dad suspected it for years. Hell, I'm almost one hundred percent sure my mother must have told him, even when I strictly ordered her otherwise."
Leander's father had come for dinner tonight. It had all been part of Leander's year-long plan to come out to his parents as a not-so-proud bisexual man. Lucrèce had scoffed at his schemes, but he had still given his lover and archenemy a faithful hand. Had it been anybody else's father, Lucrèce would not have cared one bit, but Leander's father was someone Lucrèce cared deeply for.
To the surprise of both masked vigilantes, the retired superhero had taken the news quite softly. There had even been a small spark of enthusiasm, one that left Lucrèce with a lingering sense of worth. Seymour Everill approved of him as his only son's lover.
"You should invite your own mother someday." Leander proposed, and there was no malice in that voice. No mischievous intent that could spark the bitter side of Marowit's persona. "If my father reacted this well, imagine how your mother would."
"No...but thank you." The response was swift, concise and as cold as ice, and Marowit was already pointing his gadget at the perfect destination for the grappling hook, his finger lingering over the trigger. "See you in fifteen minutes, Chernobog."
"I give you ten minutes to hit and run, and I'm being generous. Take any longer than that, and I'm going to beat the crap out of you...Marowit." Leander sounded just as cold as him, but there was some authority in his voice, something that, even after so many years of struggles, Marowit still lacked. He could make an entire city fear him, but he could not command others to do his bidding. Some men were willing to lunge themselves at the police to stall their pursuit of him, but Marowit still had no henchmen, no allies. Many of the city's villains had accomplices, subordinates, but all the White Nightmare had were himself, and Chernobog's passive-aggressive demeanor.
"By the way...I love you, Lucrèce." The comment was half-whispered, but sincere nonetheless, Marowit could tell, and it was one of the most simultaneously beautiful and hurtful things he had grown used to hearing these past few years. For a second, he froze, and he almost looked back. He almost gave into the temptation of staring into those bright green eyes one last time, before they appeared again, behind a black raven mask. Yet he did not give in, and only when his finger had pressed on the trigger of the gun, grappling hook shooting out of the barrel and towards the buildings at the other side, did he allow himself to answer.
"I love you too." Was the last thing he said, before his white silhouette vanished from sight with the most imperceptible of sounds.
This was just another night, and it would end just like the hundreds before it: with the white and the black costumes hanging in their usual closets, and their owners sleeping comfortably in their respective homes, looking forward to discussing the bruises of the night during breakfast, sitting at their usual table in the usual coffee shop down the street.