Sometimes people just wouldn't be reasonable about things like plagiarism. An homage was an homage, but it wasn't an homage if nobody was supposed to know that it was one. This was very simple.
Unfortunately, some people needed to have it explained to them very very carefully and very diplomatically.
For a certain definitition of diplomacy.
There'd been more of them, and they hadn't taken kindly to Scrawl's territoriality over his work, but they hadn't been PEs so it hadn't actually been fair. They'd gotten in a couple of good shots, but nothing as good as what Scrawl had to throw around. He hadn't killed anybody. He'd just given as good as he got, and then a little beyond.
He'd made his point.
Now it was time to bask in the warm glowing warming glow of victory, which meant sitting on the curb with his legs sprawled onto the empty street in front of him with blood down the front of his Red Lantern shirt, sipping on a Capri Sun and staring up at the flesh-colored light-polluted sky and imagining what sort of stars might be shining there unseen.
Wei was on foot tonight. This was largely because he wasn't actually on duty. Not officially, anyway. But he had trouble sleeping and this was something to fill the time.
He wasn't in uniform either. He had a tight, light blue Wind Wielder t-shirt, a gift from his ex-girlfriend who really didn't understand the whole Hero thing but was trying her best to be supportive. He also had a pair of black jeans that wore more torn than he liked to think about. There was a point where it wasn't cool and just looked kind of...tacky and he had passed that a couple of barbed-wire fences ago.
There was a blonde man drinking from a Capri Sun on the curb. Wei was intrigued. As he got closer, he briefly checked to see that his gun was in place, though it was hidden underneath his satchel.
"You alright?" He asked, clearly giving away that he didn't actually belong in this neighborhood. People in this kind of neighborhood didn't give a shit if you were alright.
The motion and noise of another person drew Scrawl's attention. Some Asian guy who was apparently on Team Wind Wielder. Huh.
On the one hand, he'd asked kind of a stupid question. If Scrawl weren't all right, he would be doing something about it and not sipping the much-cooler iteration of the juicebox hanging out on the curb. On the other hand, there was blood involved and that tended to concern regular people.
Dude was trying to be nice.
So, resisting the kind of impulse that had inspired Scrawl to pick this particular shirt out of all of the available colors, Scrawl answered politely.
"Nope." There was a wet gooshing noise as Scrawl sucked more juice from his Capri Sun. "Dead."
A report? What was this guy, a fucking pig? Or did he just keep some kind of weird walking dead guy scrapbook?
Pig seemed more likely than walking dead guy scrapbooker. Wasn't that just fucking perfect. Scrawl had had a great evening and now he was going to get questioned by some fucking plainclothes cop for daring to be out in public after getting his own blood on himself, because clearly all good citizens were back in their fucking homes and under control where the fucking cops didn't have to worry about whether they might be living their own lives or something.
"Got in a fight. Got thirsty."
Scrawl considered asking the guy if he was a cop, because he knew that the guy'd have to tell him so, but maybe it was better for now to let the guy think Scrawl didn't know. Either that or he was a weirdo walking dead guy scrapbooker, in which case Scrawl didn't actually want confirmation and would happily continue believing he was with the police.
"And how are you?" he asked, hoping he sounded enough like he cared.
This guy couldn't be a cop. He was a freak. Did he have multiple apples in his satchel? That he was offering to a stranger? This was some serious bizarre supervillain shit. He probably walked around offering people apples full of hallucinogens that would make them relive the worst thing they'd ever done and then he'd murder them right there where they stood in some kind of mad guilt crusade.
Nonetheless, it was a step up from being a fucking pig.
Maybe this guy would give Scrawl something useful to pass on. Drugs weren't... precisely an injury, but Scrawl was willing to experiment.
"Sure," he answered. He took the top edge of his Capri Sun between his teeth so that he could cup both of his hands to catch an apple, should the crazy man choose to toss him one.
Scrawl acquired a reddish apple from the likely supervillain guy who probably wanted to live out some kind of apple-themed pre-murder ritual for his own fucking inexplicable Metro City purposes.
First they each ate an apple. Then something something something and then murder. Made a perfect Metro City sort of sense.
Scrawl wondered if he could take him.
He held the Capri Sun package in one hand and wiped the apple on his shirt with the other. He tried to avoid the bloody part but might have failed. It didn't matter; the point was to get off the waxy pesticides or stuff that was on apples. At least, that's what Scrawl had heard.
Well, Wei hadn't been expecting that. "Oh." He said. It took him a moment to come up with a reply.
"Well, as long as it was worth it." He shrugged. He wanted to ask more, but he was pretty sure he was getting to the point where this guy wasn't going to answer much more and there might be something more important to ask.
Scrawl nodded. Of course it had been worth it! He'd gotten to be in a fight--which everybody needed to do sometimes--and he'd gotten to blame his aggressive behavior on the transgressions of someone else. No worse an evening than any other superhero spent on patrol to battle the wrongs of their fair city.
"Got to stand for something, right?"
It was time to start this, to find out what was the deal with the apple thing. Scrawl could die. He could develop new mind-bending additions to his arsenal. It was also just remotely possible that the apple was just an apple. He wouldn't know until he took a bite.
Obviously Wei didn't understand that protecting creative expression was a big deal for truth and justice and the American way, but all that meant was that he was some unimaginative non-artist. At least he wasn't going to make a big fucking deal out of it. Scrawl didn't want to get in another fight.
He was sort of digging this apple.
Was that the drugs kicking in? Or was it just that apples were good?
"Not really an expert. Don't eat a lot of fruit. Vegetables sometimes, but fruit spoils too quickly to keep around. Vegetables at least come on sandwiches."
That was not an entirely ridiculous idea. Scrawl grunted his approval and took another bite. Sounded kind of weird, but it could work. He'd only have to buy one apple to test it out. He could get the day-old bread from work for like a dollar, so it was a fairly low-cost experiment.
And then he would know that whatever apples he bought weren't laced with supervillain psychic vengeance drugs.
Unless this guy controlled the entire produce market for the city. Seemed unlikely though.
Had living in Metro City made Scrawl paranoid? Was this paranoia? Was it paranoia if it were entirely within the scale of normal ambient weirdness for the city where he lived?
Once he'd swallowed, he answered, "I paint. Guy who ripped me off didn't like me saying something, so he figured that he would settle it by kicking my ass." Scrawl didn't feel like clarifying that he had won the fight. He was the bastard sitting smugly on a broken concrete curb, and he took one last long drink of his Capri Sun, finishing the drink to prove it.