The thought came to Christopher as he watched the men stalking through the alleys below. 'They never look up.' It struck him as very odd, but then, he'd always looked up. Not that he was short. Worse, he was poor. His mother had always worked very hard to provide for them both, but as a young woman from the reservation without a high school diploma, honest jobs were both scarce and unrewarding. A great deal of waiting tables at odd hours while working on her GED as she could.
Chris isn't blame her for their situation. In his head, he blamed his faceless father, whom he'd never met. A man who's seduced his mother away from her people, then left her when she began to carry his child. That worthless, waste of humanity had ruined his mother's life... at least, in his head. In his heart, he sort of blamed himself. His mother would go hungry just so he could eat. She'd lost jobs because he'd gotten into fights over his 2nd hand shoes or oversized jeans. She worked so hard to take care of him that she missed opportunities to help herself.
Being poor meant he was always on the lookout, because opportunities and tragedies were both lurking in the wings. A bad fall could mean that he's spend the rest of the school year in torn jeans, or in a cast they couldn't afford. Cans set out for recycling could be gathered in the early hours, saved, and turned in for their aluminum. A pair of shoes hanging from a wire could be better than the sneakers on his feet.
And he needed good sneakers. Chris was a runner, a freerunner to be precise. Freerunning, or parkour if you're fancy, is the sport or discipline of moving quickly through an urban environment with nothing more than the power and abilities of your own body. No skates, no boards, no problem. Perfect for an inner city kid who didn't want to waste precious money on things he didn't truly need.
And he was good at it. He knew what chances he could take and which to avoid. He knew the ins and outs of his neighborhood intimately. He was lean and athletic, but not too big and bulky. Running made him feel free, like he could take wings and fly away from the fears and concerns of the world. He'd see birds fly by and dream...
Of course, that's when he died for the first time. He'd been running by the river, climbing and swinging through new construction, discovering new routes and trying new tricks. No one expected for him to stumble into a black market exchange between some superhuman terrorists and the mad scientist who supplied their advanced weaponry. Weapons that were turned on a 16 year old bystander with lethal intent.
They did, of course, kill him. He was just a boy and not cut out for getting shot by blasters. The paramedics, which had been tipped off anonymously, were able to resuscitate, but he died twice more before they could get him to the ER. He was in ICU by the time they found his mother and told her that he wouldn't likely live to see morning. Oddly though, he did not only survive, but recover fully. To his mother, it was a miracle. To the doctors, a mystery.
Within 2 months, he was back in school. A month after that, he was running again. A month after that, he began to 'know' things. It wasn't voices in his head or anything, he just knew things. He knew who was concealing a weapon. He knew the best ways in and out of any place. He knew what nearby thing would make the best weapon for him to beat someone with. He knew who had a limp because of some old injury, and exactly how much force he'd need to cripple them again.
The knowledge and the concerns over where it came from began to keep him up at night and before he realized it, he stopped sleeping altogether. He never even got tired. His appetite, which had been hearty since his resurrection went into overdrive. He was constantly hungry, sometimes even craving things that weren't food, like a soda can or gravel. These things would have freaked him right out, except, he'd never felt so good in his life. He felt strong, confident, fast. He kept running and soon discovered he was impossibly fast and strong. He could leap from the street to the roof of a 4 story building. He could run as fast as a car. He could lift an empty dumpster. He could be hurt, but the injuries faded within moments, right before his eyes. He was a superhuman.
He didn't understand what had happened, but he knew it had to be for a reason. His costume was nothing fancy. A pale gray track suit, bright red fleece hoodie, and a bandana over his face. Rather than talking in costume, he growled like Batman in the new movies. After a week or two just watching the streets from rooftops, his eyes and ears oddly capable despite the dark and distance, he was ready.
The city had come to know him as FreeRunner, a costumed vigilante who stalked the night, leaving battered and broken criminals in his wake. Thus far, he hadn't killed anyone, but he'd caused a lot of hurt. His mother told him tales of all the men who were brought into the ER where she worked nights as a CNA. The police weren't sure what to make of him, because while he only targeted criminals, he robbed them when he was done and he hadn't tried to introduce himself to the authorities or try to work out a relationship.
And despite knowing he was out there, watching and waiting for them, the criminals never, ever looked up.
Underneath his mask, Freerunner's grin was predatory as he vaulted off the roof's edge and descended upon the villains below.