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In spite of all his bite and vicious stabbing, Scout was a small man. He was suited perfectly for his job, which required him to be fast, to blend in, and to maneuver through tight spaces. Being a spy was a great fit for him. The repercussions of it, though...

Scout was small, and though he thrashed and kicked and bit, he couldn’t overcome the three thugs who caught him spying in their warehouse. He couldn’t fight them off when they dragged him out back, couldn’t struggle free when one pinned his arms behind his back, and couldn’t run away when somebody drew a pistol. Fortunately, they didn’t shoot. They only decided to crack him in the face with it, and he reeled from the blow, witnessing nothing but stars while the others used his disorientation to get their punches and kicks in.

When the ability returned to him, he made the mistake of fixing the ringleader with a glare instead of pretending to be out of it. He sneered, and managed to begin a ‘fuck you’, when there came another blow to his head and the process repeated itself. This time, whoever was holding onto him let him fall. Ribs, fingers, an ankle, and his nose were crushed between boots and concrete. Blood smeared on the floor beneath him and he had no idea where it was even coming from.

There was talking throughout the ordeal. Things Scout had heard before. Things about how he shouldn’t stick his nose in other peoples’ business, shouldn’t try to one up hardened criminals like themselves, and bluh bluh bluh. Scout kept his mouth shut. He didn’t argue with them, because he knew their skulls were too thick to see his side of it, and he also didn’t scream when they beat him.

It was when he was hoisted up again, and forced to stand on a now broken ankle, that he finally let out a yell. It caused the thugs to laugh harshly, as if that singular noise had sealed their victory. Scout flinched when he heard a metallic click, and the one holding the gun stalked towards him, smiling wickedly.

The smirk was wiped off his face before he could aim. There was suddenly the violently purple aura of hatred surrounding Scout. Literally curled around him, a stream of pure energy that wrapped around his waist and continued on, conscious and careful of his position. It moved with him when he staggered forward, suddenly uninhibited, and fell. When he turned and looked up, though, he saw the reason he had been released. It had pierced straight through the heart of the man pinning him, and then took a hard left, sparing Scout himself completely.

The color dissipated, the stricken man fell, and all was silent. The surviving gang members didn’t dare bat an eye. Everyone was well aware of what had just happened, without seeing the culprit.

Scout suspected Scofflaw, but then, Scout had never seen Scofflaw do something quite so intricately delicate with his magic. The man was a smiling ball of mayhem and destruction. What he’d just witnessed was... damn near artistic.

It was Pernicious Innovator who emerged from the shadows. But he did not move like the awkward, stilted, unbalanced man Scout was used to seeing lurk around and spoil his dates with Scofflaw. He moved swift and fluid as the shadows he commanded. No sooner had he revealed himself did he have his hands around another man’s throat, and a gleeful smirk splintered across his face as he caused his new victim to burst into purple flames, a freezing agony to die in.

While his friend still rolled around on the ground, still slowly burning to death, the one who had wielded the pistol tried to flee. Palpable black shadows bubbled beneath his feet, and wisps shot up from the ground, tying around his ankles to trip him. He twisted himself around and had the gun trained on Innovator before the Scoundrel could catch up to him, but rather than pull the trigger he found himself shivering.

As he listened to one man burn and moved to kill another, Innovator had started to belt out a hideous, twisted hyena cackle, that echoed between the maze of skyscrapers and rang out news of his destruction to the city. It had been enough to make his last victim hesitate, and that was all it took for Innovator to curl tendrils of black and purple around his wrist to pry the gun free. He put the man down with his own weapon, and he, fortunately, died quickly. His burning friend was still screaming, weakly, after he was gone, but not long after.

All the while, Scout could only sit there, immobilized by the broken ankle and dazed from several blows to the head. He flinched when the mobster neared him, and a knife was instantly yanked out of his coat, waving wildly in Innovator’s direction to ward him away.

Innovator didn’t react at all, no fear nor anger. He did nothing except kneel down just outside of stabbing range and nod his head politely in greeting. “A-Are y-you alright?” he sputtered, and Scout marveled that the bastard could revert back to being so pathetic so quickly after triple homicide.

“Yeah, I guess,” Scout murmured. “What the fuck do you care?”

“I s-saved you, d-did I n-not?”

Scout couldn’t find the will to be grateful about that. He was far too busy being angry about the fact that he was talking to Pernicious Innovator of all people. Somehow, the mere thought of it struck up an ache in his eye socket. “But why?” he snapped. “Why the fuck would you? You fucking hate me, and I fucking hate you!”

“Yes.” Innovator’s expression didn’t shift, not the slightest muscle twitch to be had. “But y-you are i-important to S-Scofflaw... a-and to D-Detective... th-therefore, I h-have reason t-to look a-after you.”

With this notion of peace hanging in the air, Innovator reached forward, cautiously. Scout held still at first, while the mobster prodded gently around his neck, shoulders, and ribs--and then there was white hot burning agony. Before even Scout knew it, he’d buried the knife in Innovator’s arm.

Innovator drew back, hissing and whining pathetically in the same breath. Scout scrambled backwards, fearful of meeting a similar fate to the gangsters that this Scoundrel had torn through like tissue paper. No retribution came, however. Innovator balled up his baggy sleeve, clamping it over the wound, and just looked at Scout like a kicked puppy.

At that moment, Scout was willing to bet his last dollar that Innovator was bipolar.

“Y-y-yes,” Innovator sputtered, while Scout sat there quietly examining the blood on his knife. It was black as well as red. “Anyway. You have a-a broken r-rib, a-and much e-else, I’m sure. You n-need a-an ambulance.”

“Oh, sure, I’ll call 911 as soon as you agree to stick around and take the fucking rap for these murders!” Scout inched closer, grabbed the bottom of Innovator’s coat, and used it to wipe the goddamn ridiculous grimdark blood off his knife. “I’m not fucking getting framed again. The fuck did you have to fucking kill them for? How am I supposed to explain this shit?”

“If I h-had simply i-intervened, th-they would have f-figured out fairly quick... why I w-would h-have a s-stake in y-your safety. The c-criminal underbelly is a-already aware of S-Scofflaw’s... antics.” Still clutching his arm, Innovator rose to his feet, and after a moment’s contemplation sacrificed slowing the blood flow in order to offer Scout a hand.

“You w-will simply t-tell them y-you were i-involved in a bar room brawl,” he said, and smirked crookedly. “With your r-record, the green b-badges won’t think twice.”

“Oh, har har har, fuck you.” Scout would have denied the help, if his ankle wasn’t pointing out at an odd angle. Innovator was at least accommodating, staying hunched over to bridge the gap between their heights. Without that, Scout wouldn’t have been able to reach the mobster’s shoulders to put his arm around.

“So... What?” Scout said, a growl building up in his voice to balance out the vulnerability he felt in needing the aid of a mobster to walk. “We gonna just leave these dead assholes here?”

“Yes.”

“That’s fucking sloppy. How the fuck is it that we haven’t caught you yet?”

“I-It is... a r-rare occasion.”

“Oh, by all means, don’t fuck up on my account.”

Innovator’s eyes rolled. “It is n-not about y-you. I w-would gladly l-let you cr-crawl yourself to a hospital if I was c-concerned.”

“Then why aren’t you concerned?”

“P-Perhaps I should w-word this in y-your language,” Innovator said, smirking again. “I a-am too f-f-fucking l-lazy, and t-too f-fucking drunk.”

Several blocks away from the murder site, and still a few away from the nearest bar, Innovator located a cozy gutter to leave Scout in and dropped him there like a piece of luggage. It was, as the mobster so kindly pointed out, not too far from his every day life. Before Scout could tell him to go fuck himself with something rusty and sharp, Innovator disappeared in a cloud of black smoke, leaving him to call his own ambulance and formulate his own cover story.

---

The next morning, bright an early at 1 P.M., Scout burst into the Meddlesome Company’s office as well as he could burst into a room on crutches. He was all smiles, wide-eyed and twisted like a killer on the hunt, and anyone who asked if he was alright got the rubber bottom of a crutch shoved in their face.

“Detective, grab your fucking coat!” he said. “I have something fucking amazing to show you!”

Deadeye Detective failed to even look up from his newspaper. “Is it your medical bill, or a fine?”

“What- no, fuck you!” One of Scout’s crutches crashed into the bottom of Detective’s desk, and even that didn’t grab his attention. “I ran into your precious fucking Innovator last night, asshole.”

That caught Deadeye’s attention. The newspaper was swiftly folded and set aside. “Oh? What was he doing?”

“Murdering three fucking people. Now get up, I wanna get to the fucking bodies before the Fuzz.”

Detective had no argument for that. Fifteen minutes later, the Meddlesome Company was pulling up a block away from where Scout had nearly been killed himself, and by the time they arrived they’d received a few earfuls about that fact. In spite of being essentially one-legged, Scout was far ahead of the other three once they piled out of the car, rushing down the same alleyways he’d walked with Innovator a few hours before.

But, when he arrived at the area he remembered, there was nothing to see. In the daylight, it didn’t look the least bit foreboding, especially for the lack of bodies, blood, and evidence of any sort. Scout began to scream at the top of his lungs, and the other three looked on in mild amusement as he trashed through the would-be crime scene, looking for some sort of scraps Innovator might have left.

Even the bullet he’d fired couldn’t be found.

Eventually, Scout’s disappointed rage reduced him to simply screaming incoherent strings of curses at the sky, and somehow no one was surprised that it didn’t draw any attention. Not in this neighborhood.

It was, of course, Detective who made the first attempt at consoling him. However, he didn’t get far. “Scout-”

“No! Fuck you and fuck him! It happened here, I fucking saw it, I’m NOT lying and I wasn’t THAT fucking drunk!”

“I believe you,” Detective said, steady and calm in the face of a furious Scout. “We’ll call Captain Crowbar, get a forensic team down here. Just go sit in the car, before you further injure yourself.”

Scout did not, in fact, go sit in the car. He shattered one of his crutches against the nearest brick wall, and shortly afterwards was forced to re-visit the hospital due to respiratory distress.