|Alleys and Allies|
|What: Todd and Mend bond over a mugger. Philosophy and codenames are discussed.|
Generally, the Titans go after things and beings the cops can't handle. Generally, but not always. Mend, crouched on a low rooftop, checking out a rumor about an asshole on the NYU campus who's been beating up students...mostly freshmen...generally taking their stuff and usually doing something embarrassing to boot. Really? It's for something productive to do as things are mostly quiet on the superpowered crime front. For now.
Todd is on the trail of the same rumor. Literally. When he first manifested his powers, they were triggered by self-defense. And he's been telling himself that he's only going to use them on bad guys. But as days become weeks, his definition of 'bad guy' is getting broader and broader. For somebody who has been largely powerless and disenfranchised for his whole life, the rush, the thrill of being the one in power, meting out justice is like an addiction. One that the young man is feeding right now. His quarry is another student, one with a ski mask and an army jacket as his 'disguise'. The mugger is running as though the devil himself in on his heels. And so it might appear. Todd is sheathed in inky blackness, drifting down the empty, midnight alley after the crook like some kind of shade. His voice carries, sounding cold and distant. "You can't outrun the dark, little man. It ... I ... am always right behind you." His laugh is cruel and sardonic.
Which means that he turns and runs...and the girl on the rooftop jumps, bouncing off a dumpster to land in the running man's path. "Hello." He hesitates...but it's only a 'little girl' and after a moment, he jumps right at her, resulting in the beginning of a tussle between the mugger and the costumed heroine. They seem about evenly matched...
Todd Rice stops, a living pool of shadow with a pair of white glowing eyes. He watches a long moment and then lets of a decidedly mundane sounding, "Huh." After a moment, that pool of darkness coalesces into a tall and well-build human shape. Subconsciously, he's been using the Shadowrealm substance to add to his mass and size. He lifts one hand after a moment and shadows of both struggling people, highlighted under the streetlight in the alley, detach from their owners and wrap around the mugger, helping to bind and hold him.
"Thanks!" Mend calls as the mugger is caught and she detaches herself from him. "He's stronger than I was expecting." She IS a little girl...mid to late teens and not particularly huge, but she does move like she's had some training, at least.
The shadow nods, tilting his head curiously. "You're welcome." And then, clearing his throat, "You, ah, some kind of hero or something? You seem a little young for that kind of thing." It's easy to be judgmental when you're hiding your own identity. "You okay?"
"Nothing a bit of time in a hot tub won't fix." She steps more out of the shadows, peering at the shadow-wrapped Todd. Not like she's not wearing a mask, and she's not about to take it off, so she can't criticize anyone else for being careful of their identity.
There is a sudden grin, showing up white against the darkness. "That's not a bad plan, if you have one." Todd tries not to sound too apologetic as he asks, "So, ah, which one are you? I don't think I've seen you on the web or TV?" He seems to be studying the girl closely. "Or are you, ah, a sidekick?" That last word sounds a bit strange to him and he shakes his head, grinning a bit wider.
"I'm a Titan, but I don't tend to stand front and center. I leave that to Supergirl and Wonder Girl." She grins. The bulletproof ones. "My name's Mend," she adds after a moment.
The dark figure's eyes get wider, "Titan. Wow. Very nice. I think you're the first superhero I've met." He steps closer, coming into the pool of light but retaining the shadow covering around himself. "I'm, ah, um ... Wow. I need a name if I'm going to keep doing this, I guess. I'm new, I guess." The mugger is struggling now and says, "Hey, let me go you fre...." Todd looks down at him and the shadows wrap themselves around the man's mouth as well. "Quiet. We'll deal with you in a minute."
"Hrm. Shadow...nah, that's an old radio show." She flickers the dark guy a grin. "Not sure. It took me forever to come up with mine. And hold on." She unclips a pair of tape style handcuffs from her belt. "So you don't have to keep using powers to hold him."
Laughing again, the dark figure says, "That's a bit on the nose, too. It would be like Superman calling himself Strong Dude or Batman calling himself...ah... hm! Also, I'm imagine you'd like your shadow back." He gestures again and the shadows return where they belong as the mugger is hooked up quickly and professionally. He frowns down at the man, "What are you planning on doing with him?"
"Gift wrapping him and leaving him for the cops. There's at least four people who can positively identify him." She moves to cuff the man. "Oh, and thanks. I *was* kind of using that." Mend, taking an instant liking to this guy, just for the jokes. "Darkness..."
The shadow-covered man thinks that over for a long moment and then shakes his head, "Not good enough. I can make sure he doesn't do it again." He steps closer to the mugger and says, "Guy like this, he hurts people. He likes it. He won't stop unless he understands what it does to other people." Todd's eyes narrow and the crook's shadow wraps around the mugger again, cloaking him a light shadow. The man's eyes get wider and he starts to shiver almost immediately. "Let's see how he likes a few minutes of helplessness and fear."
"Trying to scare him straight?" It might work...and he's not going to kill the guy, which Mend would have to object to. "I'm still handing him over to the cops...and not campus rent-a-cops either." Because they're...well, good at what they do, but...
The mugger's eyes glaze over as the Shadowrealm starts pulling out his worst fears and playing them for him. He makes a high, keening noise, between a moan and a yell and then twitches violently. The shadowed figure watches dispassionately and then looks up at Mend. "Yea. There is something about, ah, what I do, that makes people see stuff. Stuff they really don't want to see." He ignores the writhing, moaning man at their feet, or at least pretends to do so. "Well, the cops need people like you. And maybe me. We can do things they can't."
Mend shudders. "I had a supervillain pull that one on me once. It was beyond annoying." She glances at the poor mugger, not without sympathy. "The make you hallucinate your fears trick." She moves to handcuff the guy to a lamp post. "I'm gonna call the cops now...we don't have to be here when they show up." No problem for her, she's a Titan, but this guy's playing vigilante.
Todd laughs quietly, "Yea, annoying might cover it." He notices the man starting to froth at the mouth a bit and pulls back the shadow. Especially since Mend is reaching for the man and he's not sure he has enough control to keep her from being caught in that loop of fear. The mugger promptly passes out, insensate when the young crime fighter handcuffs him in place. The shadowed young man's voice is just a bit cocky as he says, "The police aren't a problem for me. They couldn't catch me if they tried." That white grin in the darkness again. Todd steps back into the shadows and lets them wrap around him until only his eyes and mouth are visible. "Nice to meet you, Mend. I'll keep an eye out for you."
The cops don't take long to get there. Mend talks to them for a while, completely unconcerned that they might arrest *her*. Once that's done, she heads for a nearby fire escape, climbing back up to a rooftop. As good a place as any to consider her next move...patrol time's not over yet.
Watching the cops take the man into custody, Todd shakes his head and frowns, muttering to himself, "Getting off too easy." He's still in the shadows up there when Mend climbs up to the rooftop. Speaking from the shadows again, all but invisible, he waits until she's situated before speaks, "Well, I guess he gets a bed and hot meals. Doesn't seem fair."
"What would you suggest, then?" She's curious, moving across the rooftop to settle not far from where she's guessing Obsidian is. Hrm. She's still trying to think of a name for the guy. "Onyx?"
Todd considers that for a moment and steps a bit out of the shadows, going to sit on the ledge casually, like an incarnate bit of the night itself. "Onyx ... isn't bad! Sounds a bit girly, though. But yea, something like that would work a lot better than 'Mr. Shade' or something." He looks towards Mend a moment and then back over the city. "And I don't know. Something. Something where they don't get to hurt people again. This is too ...merciful."
"Except that people can change," Mend notes. "If they want to. I can't think of any way of being sure they'll never hurt anyone again that won't also deny them that opportunity."
The shadowed figure sighs and shakes his dark head, "No. No, they really can't. They can pretend, but not really change. We are who we are. That's why it's important to know exactly who that is." He looks back at Mend again. "Do you like fighting the same guys again and again?"
"I completely disagree. I know people who have changed." Now if only her father was one of them, but... "Or are you going to argue that nobody can learn from anything? Or some kind of predestination, where we're born good or evil and stuck that way?"
There is a long moment of silence and then, "I think we are who we are meant to be. I think that it's your genes and your upbringing and some personal spark. Decisions you make. But by the time you're old enough to go out and either commit or fight crimes, then you are who you are. You can deny it, you can run from it, you can try to hide it, even from yourself. But who you are, really are, can't stay hidden and buried forever." There is a kind of lament in his voice at that, as though he's talking from personal experience and perhaps not entirely about being a vigilante.
"That's true, I just think you can change who you are if you really want to do it and if you really work at it. Most people don't," Mend notes, thoughtfully. "And some things can't be changed. BUt good and evil? That's a choice...and it's a choice we have to *keep* making."
Todd laughs again, quietly, "Good and evil are semantics. They don't mean anything. There is just hurting other people and not. Doing what you want and not. Cruelty and kindness. People have done awful things, talking about 'good reasons'. And people have done wonderful things in the name of an 'evil' cause." He looks back out over the city again, "I think even a dyed in the wool hero would know that."
"It's not what you say you are, but what you actually are." She shrugs a bit at Todd. "Of course, there are people who do go around trying to change things that don't need to be changed. Changing whether you hurt people is one thing..."
The shadowed figure tilts his head. "Let me ask you a question: Which is the worst villain you've met? The absolute worst. The one that makes you want to hit him or her or run, just at the thought of them?"
Very quietly. "The one that did to me what you just did to that mugger. Because I can't defend myself from that crap."
Todd nods and says, "So if you got the chance to make sure they couldn't ever do that to anybody again, ever, wouldn't you take it? And would it make you evil for choosing to hurt that person?" He tilts his head, "People hurt people because they love them all the time, Mend. All the time. It isn't that easy to find a moral code."
"I know they do. Because love and hate are too damn close together." Yes, she does swear, looking towards the shadowed guy. "And I don't know. I'm not in that position. Besides...she's a demon. Might be a different thing. I'd have to ask Magik. She knows a lot about demons."
Todd laughs quietly, "Wow. That's my life now. I'm sitting on a roof talking to a superhero about morality and demons." He shakes his head, still smiling. "And ... oh my god, I have an early class!" He says, "This was fun. And thanks for the name idea. You've got me thinking. But I probably should go."
"Me too. I'm not going to find any bad guys sitting around here and I did want to be back fairly early." She stands up, stretching. "Take care." She's not sure what she thinks about this guy...a little worried he might cross a line and start killing people, but that's all the more reason to be civil. Just in case she ever needs to talk him out of something stupid.
The shadowed young man nods and says, "You too." And with that he just levers himself off the ledge, dropping into the darkness, letting the shadows carry him gently down and out of sight. His voice drifts up to her as he vanishes, "And good luck with the hero thing. You'll probably need it." His laughter fades almost as quickly as he does.