Disclaimer: I have not struck it rich since the last disclaimer, and I still don't own the Teen Titans.
"I give you my word: I'm over 21. Come on, you know I can't give you identification." Red X tried to look innocent and failed miserably. The armored costume and the creepy mask didn't exactly help.
Jeremy plunked a glass of milk down in front of him. "Here, you can have this. My treat."
Red X gave him a funny look. Jeremy hoped it was another "You can trust me!" look and not a "You actually expected me to pay?" look. The eyeless mask made it extremely difficult to tell.
Worst of all, there was no chance of a rescue if things got nasty. The Teen Titans were out of town fighting the Brotherhood of Evil, along with every other hero AND villain in the area. It figured that the one masked man who hadn't left town had ended up in Jeremy's bar. Typical."Cow's excretement? Give me a break, old man. I'm not a kindergartner."
"No, but you called me 'old man' despite the fact that I'm under thirty, therefore you are a teenager. And I don't serve beers to teenagers. Feel free to try our selection of soft drinks."
Not usually discouraged, Red X asked, "Can I have those for free too?"
"I heard you give the Teen Titans free drinks."
"They occasionally make themselves useful. Besides, it's an employee's perk."
"I'm not in the market for a job right now."
"Believe me, I wasn't offering one. Now do you want to order or not?"
Jeremy braced himself for an explosion, but to his surprise Red X simply said, "Diet coke, small."
"It looks like this evening won't end in massive property damage," he thought…
…too soon. A smash sounded in the far side of the room. While Jeremy had been distracted, a card game had gone sour. Someone had broken a chair and looked ready to break some bones.
With a sigh, Jeremy went to get the broom (which doubled as both a cleaner and a trouble-discourager). But to his surprise, when he turned around Red X was holding the troublemaker by the scruff of his neck.
"I don't like to have my drinking disturbed," he was saying. "And I'm sure no one else does either. Now do you want to take this outside?"
The men were running towards the door before he even finished his sentence.
Red X smugly returned to the counter. "Oh by the way, here's the money for the chair," he said, throwing some bills onto the table. "I relieved the culprit of his wallet." He smirked. "So, was I useful enough?"
"The coke's on me, and so is anything else you care to order. As long as it's non-alcoholic."
Red X accepted this partial victory with good grace, and Jeremy didn't ask about any other money that might have been in the man's wallet.
In fact, Jeremy was feeling cheerful enough to try to start a conversation. "So ,what brings you here, when every other villain and hero in the vicinity is off engaging in an epic showdown?"
"Oh, that. The brotherhood offered, but I declined. Battles between good and evil aren't really my thing. I'm just in it for the money."
"And there's no profit in taking over the world."
"That sounded like a statement, not a question."
Red X's voice revealed his bafflement. "Care to clarify that for me? I always assumed money would be easy to get if you ruled the world. It just didn't seem worth the trouble."
"Let's just say that I think taking over the world is easier than holding on to it."
"I suppose you're right. Even if they were captured, the Titans would probably manage to escape sooner or later."
"That's not what I'm talking."
"Plus, there are other heroes who would be sure to take notice if the Titans and their allies were defeated."
"That's not it either. Even if the brotherhood were the only ones with superpowers on the whole planet, they'd still eventually be defeated."
"You've lost me."
"Take a history class sometime. For example, look at Alexander the Great and Napoleon. Both managed to create empires which lasted only a few years. Even the Roman Empire eventually collapsed under its own weight, and in reality it covered maybe a quarter of the world."
"But none of those guys had superpowers."
"Superpowers are overrated. They had a better chance of holding on to their gains than the Brotherhood would. At least they had armies to spread across the world. How would the Brotherhood of Evil enforce their demands?"
"Knowing those guys, they'd threaten to kill anyone who defies them."
"So what? Maybe that works when you're threatening twenty people. It doesn't work so well with a billion people spread across an entire planet. Rebellions would spring up in less than a week, in multiple places across the world. People wouldn't attack openly; they'd use guerilla warfare and fade in among the populace. Even if the Brotherhood could put down one rebellion, what would they do if there were more revolts than they had members? Or people could just refuse to obey their orders. How would they even know, much less stop them?"
"Even if that's true, I don't see how ordinary people could take down supervillians. Madame Rouge, for instance, can morph her whole body. Even bullets wouldn't stop her."
"She still has to sleep. And quickly there would be no safe place to do so. You can't really rule the world and hide at the same time. You have to issue orders, and transmissions can be traced. Besides, everyone slips up sometimes. Dodging 100 attacks is useless if there's 101."
"You make me glad I stayed freelance."
Jeremy smiled chillingly. "I have a question for you. Suppose every super-powered person in the world, good and evil, fought a battle to the death with every ordinary person in the world. Who would win?"
"I'm not sure."
"The ordinary people. 100 guarantee. Think about it. Even if the superpowers kill their enemies at the rate of a hundred per second, they'd still collapse from exhaustion before they could kill six billion people. They wouldn't have a chance."
"Interesting point. Why do people need superheroes, then?"
"Because if they tried to fight that way the causalities would be staggering."
"So the superheroes are really just the world's first line of defense."
"Very true. You know, sometimes the stupidity of otherwise brilliant evil masterminds really amazes me. Such elaborate plans for taking over the world, no thoughts on what would happen afterwards."
"Generally I've found that most 'supervillians' are too arrogant to even consider that ordinary people could possibly threaten them."
"That kind of arrogance is usually fatal. In fact, the Titans are really doing the Brotherhood of Evil a favor. If the heroes defeat them, then the supervillians will either run away or be captured. But if the Brotherhood actually succeeded, I doubt one of them would survive. They'd take a lot of other people with them, but they'd end up dead never the less."
Red X raised his glass to Jeremy and then drained it. "I have to be going now, but this has been a truly fascinating conversation. We should do it again some time."
"I'm game. Err…perhaps I shouldn't be telling you this, but you do realize that this is a frequent hang-out of the Teen Titans?"
"I know. I'll only come by when they're out of town." He winked. "And I'll protect this place when they're gone."
"You're taking quite a risk. What if one of these days they come back early?"
"I love risks. Just leave the back door unlocked and nothing will happen that might damage your chairs."
"And about the beer…"
"You didn't even let me finish!"
Note: I perceive Red X as having a troubled childhood where he was poor and possibly abused. This isn't because I'm trying to romanticize him, but because he seems to have a need for attention that could be a result of neglect. By that reasoning alone he could be a rich kid with overly busy parents, but he also seems preoccupied with money, so I think he was poor as well. Of course, this is pure speculation, but I wrote him with that background in mind.
As for why Jeremy is so friendly, well, to a certain degree he just wants to avoid trouble. But I also think that something about Red X is bringing out his parental instincts (not completely unlike how he feels about the Teen Titans). So while he certainly wouldn't help Red X commit crimes he won't give him away to the Titans either.
Ending Note: This should be the end of the story; I don't have anything more planned. However, if I get another idea later I might not be able to resist adding another chapter.
I'm not making any promises, but if you have any ideas feel free to tell me.