A/N: Just a repost of chapter one. Amethyst, you can ignore this.
Chapter 1: Kinetic Art
Kinetic Art: noun
a form of art that depends on movement for its effect. The term was coined by artists Naum Gabo (1890–1977) and his brother Antoine Pevsner (1886–1962) in 1920 and is associated with the mobiles of artist Alexander Calder.
Darkness swathed the cavernous area save for a hidden corner where a lone sentient stood next to a work table. Most of the facial features was obscured by large safety goggles; the slim frame partially hidden as well by a leather garment that was liberally marked with arcane designs of mysterious origin. The humanoid carefully took another handful of the once sacred objects from the pile that had been set aside. (The handful was manipulated until their molecules were just touching the point of chaotic instability. This rendered them temporarily malleable for the project, but the method required some fast action before the vibrations dissipated or the result would fall apart once more and the plan avail him nothing. Not a problem if you were the Maestro of Mayhem. The Sultan of Scheming. The King of The Kinetic.)
Additional metal bits were quickly slapped into place, adding onto those already a part of his expanding masterpiece. The first step accomplished, the figure then tentatively chose a relatively unscathed ring from the pile---and after a bit of spit and polish---judged it of acceptable quality.
Yesssss..... Perfect for the final act of sealing together...the dead.
His work was almost done. Once completed it would capture the soul of it's target and render the victim...amiable to his whims.
Concentrating on the mystical power that imbued him, the goggled man held it before his eyes as lightning leaped from his fingertips, sending the energy dancing over the vital element. Barely tamed kinetic power moved over his whole frame. The mysterious artisan grinned like a shark under his hooded eyes; now starting the ancient chant that after much deliberation he'd deemed the most germane for this auspicious moment. It left his lips...first low and solemn, then with increasing fervor:
"One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all...and in...the Dark Batz---bind them!"
With a melodramatic flourish, the rubber gasket ring was torn to shreds. Heat friction melted the pieces into the largest gaps between the various metals in order to adhere them together. Lightning darted around the entire finished product...then subsided to reveal--
The figure stepped back from the workshop table and raised two fists in triumph, his fiery hair still crackling with the remnants of Speed Force static as he let his head fall back to proclaim:
"It's alive! It's alive! IT'S ALIVE! MWAHAHAHAHAAA!"
"Is somebody down there?"
Drat! A quick grab and the results of all his labor went underneath a rather cool concealing tarp Wally had found stored on a rack in a glass case. The goggles ended up somewhere in the recesses of the cave. Evidence of foul play hidden away, he then waited with bated breath as a caped silhouette stepped into the light.
"Oh, it's just you then," spoke the shadowed new arrival. "Hey, Wally, Bruce and Alfred didn't tell me you were still allowed in here to work." A bored Timothy Drake--the latest in Batman's successive collection of Boy Wonders--slipped over to the table and made himself comfortable on the vacant workshop stool. He was in civilian wear--as the older hero was as well, yet of much better quality--but had a blanket draped around his shoulders and a snack in his hand. Tim gestured at his sometimes partner in crime's molten rubber and oil stained leather work apron with his partially eaten roll of fruit wrap. "I thought that after the Green Hornet caper you'd be spending the holidays in...I don't know...Atlantis or someplace else harder for Bruce to infiltrate."
"Yo, Tiny Tim," a patently relieved Wally attacked Robin's scalp with a noogie, grinning playfully at the shorter-than-average youth's scowl when the boy realized the speedster now had possession of his treat. "Never wave food at a speedster unless you're offering."
Tim huffed both at his friend's annoying nickname for him and at his penchant for stealing any food not already being digested. "I'll bear that in mind next time." His half-hearted grab for the fruit roll was--as expected--easily evaded.
"About time my ageless wisdom started bearing fruit from the Bat Clan," Wally chuckled as he downed the whole roll. "Darn good fruit too. What's on your mind, Short Stuff? Besides that Santa is likely to skip your house with that new video game he got you on account it's also harboring The Gotham Grinch and not even a plate of chocolate chip macaroons and a glass of iced mocha will entice the Jolly Elf down the chimney...any of the chimneys. Of course, I'd do the job for him as his deputized helper...assuming there was to be said such goodies left for Santa on the Chippendale breakfast table?" He waggled an eyebrow suggestively.
Tim rolled his eyes at Wally's idea of wit. "Nothing much. Bruce has grounded me until I start acting like a responsible adult---or he says you do---whichever comes first. As I'm now nearly twelve and a half, that translates to my being grounded for nearly another four years." He sighed. Four years was a sight better than waiting for Wally to grow up, but it was still...it was four years. The older hero frowned at the surrounding darkness as Tim peered at the items sitting on the table and the Bat-cape covered lump next to it. "What are you still doing with those parts and should I be worried?"
"Nothing heinous. What's with the fluffy security cape?" Tim pursed his lips a bit. He was used to Wally's teasing, but sometimes it got a bit tiresome.
"Unlike you, I'm not a walking space heater," he pointed out. "When I heard strange noises and decided to investigate, I also determined I didn't want to freeze to death so I grabbed this blanket." Tim pointed at the cape on the table. "Speaking of capes, isn't that one of Batman's spare ones that he keeps in a hermetical sealed storage container?
"It is," Tim grinned wickedly. "You're up to something. Tell me what it is or..." he left the threat hanging. The thing about shared culpability in criminal activity of a prank nature was that each had considerable dirt on the other. Tim waited expectantly, knowing that The Flash would eventually spill. The man just couldn't keep a non-classified secret--especially if he thought it was a particularly good one to share around.
Wally glanced to and fro like an elder sibling about to reveal the ultimate truth to his younger brother about why Superman wore his underwear on the outside and The Martian thought suspenders looked cool. "Well, seeing as I owe you one..."
"Five at last count." the Boy Wonder corrected.
"In your dreams, Timmy Tyke," Wally's mock snit was ruined by his wide grin. He yanked off the cape and proudly gestured at his very first attempt at the Beaux-arts. "Behold---feast your naive eyes on THE Christmas present for the Batz Who Has Everything!"
Tim stared at the mass of metal for a moment; slowly walking around it and considering the relatively smooth surface on one side versus the textured one of bolts and screws that adorned the other flank. He studied it from as many different angles as possible. The whole thing appeared to be keeping it's shape via some soft rubbery material. Finally he looked up with an expression of extreme confusion. Wally was smiling, waiting for the praise.
"You're giving Bruce a bust of Two Face made from the old Batmobile?"
Wally was a bit taken aback by Robin's inability to clearly see the resemblance of his sculpture to...to...
The fastest Founder blinked at his handiwork with a bit more of a jaundiced eye than he had at it's creation. Two Face menacingly grimaced back.
"Uh, not---really finished yet." He quickly vibrated more handfuls of metal screws and slapped them on in quick succession; melted another piece of rubber. If anything Tim's facial contortions betrayed even more bafflement as the bust seemed to instantly change to...
"A Picasso rendition of The Joker?" he asked, sounding doubtful.
The speedster bit his lip at the boy's rather valid guess. Unfortunately...
"Um...No. Hold on a sec." Okay, so great works of art take time even for The Flash. Bet David took old Michelangelo a whole day to perfect!
Tim watched as more blurred activity sent the smaller pile of metal further decreased in size while the head sculpture grew. Again, Wally stepped away from the table.
"Alfred never really got into teaching me about the industrial arts, but I suppose the door handle sort of looks like The Penguin's beak...I guess." Batman's sidekick shrugged noncommittally.
"Eh..nooo." Wally took a deep, calming breath and plunged in again. More friction welding at high speeds by The Fastest Sculptor Alive. "There!"
The artist took a half second to ponder if that would be...close enough? No. Nonono--definitely not! Blurred motions of arms on the fly as he went back to work with somewhat less bravado then he'd held before.. "A-a-and now?"
"Killer Croc?" Tim conjectured. "Wearing the Bat hood ornament as a nose ring?"
"Crap!" Metal was yet again rearranged and displayed for review. He was going to get it right this time or--!
"Wally, I think Bats is more likely to be a Harley Motorcycle enthusiast than a Quinn fan. Her hat sure looks lifelike though," Tim offered in way of consolation when he noticed the rapid eye tick The Flash had developed.
"ARGH!" Wally's scream of sheer frustration made Tim wonder if he should call Alfred down with the tranquilizer gun. Sudden induced sleep always seemed to work for the few times when Bruce finally blew a fuse after one of Wally's foibles drove him over the edge.
In a maniacal fury, the would-be Michelangelo used up the last of the remaining car parts then stepped away, panting heavily from his exertion.
Both Wally and Tim stared in mutual horror at the resulting bust the speedster's hands had wrought by sheer, diabolical, mischance:
"Um...Wally, is this supposed to be some sort of demonic gag gift?" a hesitant Tim waveringly asked as he indicated this latest object of Flash Art de Monstruosité. "Because you know how Bruce feels about those kinds of presents that could potentially summon Ra Ghul."
With a dull look of defeat in his eye, the red head stretched out his vibrating arm and grasped the grinning grotesque he'd created. It collapsed back into it's heap of individual Busted Batmobile bits. His evil creation finally destroyed, Dr. Wallystein did his own bit of collapsing against the table's edge and considered that maybe an aptitude for the auto mechanical arts did not necessarily translate into a proficiency in the fine art of Christmas gift crafting.
"I thought I could at least do a nice bust for him."
Tim kept a wary eye on the heap of battered parts and melted rubber as if the lot might spring to malicious life again at any second and necessitate an emergency call to either Raven or Doctor Fate for an exorcism. He patted Wally on the back. "Well, on the bright side, that certainly was one hell of a bust. Anyway, at least it wasn't as bad as last year's gift. As I remember it, the 'dribble' from that glass you gave him shorted out his utility belt---locking him in it. You should have seen the size of the camouflaging cummerbund CEO Bruce Wayne had to wear with his tux to a board meeting that morning. Some drunk on the street even asked if he was pregnant."
After a moment, Wally could no longer hold back his amusement at that tale and laughed. He offered Tim a haughty imitation of the Wayne butler. " "I'll have you know that particular dribble glass was a one-of-the-kind commissioned piece."
His friend looked skeptical--always a safe stance to take where The Flash was concerned. "Who in the world would commission a single dribble glass made of cheap acrylic with a stem shaped like the internet's dancing banana?"
Wally shrugged. "Plastic Man for B'wanna Beast's birthday. Pity he's lousy at winning bets on video games with The Fastest Mario Kart Driver Alive." He looked speculative. "You know, I think I still have a set of those beauties somewhere...or did I already give them to Luthor's Presidential campaign secretary?"
"Um..." Tim scratched his head at the conundrum of this. "If it was a one-of-a-kind, how can you have a set of them?"
"Pint-Sized, don't go asking me about my sordid past dealings when it's my future that's looking dismal and depressingly shorter than you are."
If Tim didn't know that slurs like that were the speedster's way of showing honorary-familial affection, he'd have bopped him one. Instead he just asked, "Huh?"
With a whimpering moan, Wally perched himself onto the table and buried his face in his hands, "I'm a bit busy here having a pre-Christmas-no-gift-for-Batz-angst-filled panic attack."
Drake waited while Wally vibrated hard enough to nearly knock all the metal junk off the table. After a few moments of listening to rhythmic thuds, the speedster looked over to see that his friend was still staring at him with an air of tolerance even as the boy's feet abused the workshop chair. "Tim don't you have something better to do than goggle at the miserable Savior Of The Slow?"
"Not particularly," Tim continued to absently kick his feet against the legs of the stool. "If you can recall our conversation of...oh...ten minutes ago? What with the Black Beauty gag, I've been banned from the manor's entertainment center until even the state government acknowledges I'm old enough to drive my Robin Cycle without training wheels. Bruce said something to me about 'the less you know about pop culture, the less Wally can poison your mind with daft ideas.' So..." he crossed his arms "why don't you just buy him something?"
Wally glowered at him. "Because some of us have superior metabolisms."
"You mean The Speedster's Curse." Tim smirked knowingly. "Since you're reduced to nabbing my fruit roll and vying to gain Santa's bribes, I'd guess you're broke again."
"Right down to the wooden nickels and one Justice League Monopoly playing piece," a truly morose Wally agreed.
"Hey, maybe you can sell that?"
"I tried. It's of The Creeper and he already has a closet full of them."
The two sat in silence, trying to think of ideas.
"What about doing a painting? Something abstract should work even if you have no talent. Alfred says even a chimpanzee can pull off a decent abstract."
"I already tried that," Wally muttered. "The oil-based paints reacted to the extreme friction of my brush technique....and...well, it all got kind of colorful to say the least." And that didn't count the apartment manager's swear words.
Tim whistled. "Wow. Abstract wall art?"
"Oh yeah. Landlord kicked me out until I repaint everything. Which I can't..."
"Because you're broke," Tim finished.
"And the Batman detective legacy lives on."
"Well, if you don't have any dough and you suck at home-made crafts...guess Bruce just lucks out this year."
The depressed Flash suddenly straightened and snapped his fingers. "Tiny Tim...you are a genius."
Tim went still. "I think that is one of your phrases which Bruce told me to beware of."
The Flash ignored him. "I can't buy him anything and I can't sculpt worth a darn," Wally breathed out, "but I can still bake him a present!"
"But..." Tim felt duty bound to point out .."didn't Alfred ban you from the kitchen because of that time he asked you to bring him some baker's chocolate squares from Germany and you brought back--?"
Wally bridled at the reminder. Why did the Bat Clan have to be graced with such long memories anyway? That had been a whole year ago! "T'wasn't my fault. I ran into Mirror Master before I even made it to the Atlantic seaboard. By the time I escaped from his whacked-out dimension trap made of Christmas tinsel, I only had enough time to zip into a nearby German import store in New York. The sign above the product sounded like some fancy German brand name and--how was I to know what Abführmittel meant? It was a pure accident."
"They certainly were that---only I wouldn't classify them as pure." Tim wrinkled his nose at the memory."That's why I stick to fruit wraps from now on--it's safer. Believe me, Bruce wouldn't touch something you baked with anything less than safety tongs and anti-venom on hand before he dropped it in the incinerator. Forget it. Anyway, you'd probably have to borrow from Bruce's own larder in order to try to poison him."
Wally really hated logical thinking.
"So...no baking, creating, or credit debt making..." The Flash slumped back on the table. "Any brilliant ideas, Boy Wonder?"
"I'm still trying to figure out why you want to give Bruce a Christmas present in the first place," Tim admitted. "It's not like he's going to be expecting a box under the tree adorned with a little 'From: The Flash' tag. If he did find one, he'd probably take safety measures and deploy the Bat Bomb De-activator before touching so much as the bow."
"Some Boy Wonder you've turned out to be. I only need one workable idea."
"Hey, not my fault he hates you." Tim saw Wally's green eyes grow larger and more wet looking as he started fiddling with his fingers. "Wally?" The off-duty Flash ducked his head. Tim could swear he heard blippy noises which told him Wally was trying to hold back sobs. "Oh my god--that's it, isn't it? You want him to like you? Or at least not despise you so much?"
Wally grumbled over his thickening voice. "Does he really hate me?"
Tim could have kicked himself rather than the chair leg. "Well, hate is kind of a strong word..." he hedged.
"Yeah, and Batz is kind of a strong guy..." the despondent older man sniffled.
Wally had Tim there. "Um...well, then I seriously doubt that a simple doohickey of any price tag is going to win him over. I mean...not like he can't buy it for himself anyway. Now you can save up for latex interior wall paint instead?"
The speedster slumped even further, deeply burying his fingers between strands of ginger hair. "There must be something I can do to get him to notice me."
"Oh, trust me that he notices you right away." Tim had the grace not to add 'you can tell by the way his scowl intensifies whenever you show up'. "Hard not to what with all that red. As The Flash you are your own alert signal flashing 'Here I am! You're all pop culture, laughing, and looking for the spotlight'; and you gotta admit that Bruce is kind of more into high class, dignity, and blending into the background. Now if you could somehow learn to be like that, he might swallow your sticking around long enough to say hello. But you'd need some sort of serious mentoring..."
Both males slowly looked at each other.
A/N: This started as a simple one-chapter holiday fic...but wants to continue. I may regret giving in to it, but for now...we'll see where the muse ends up, shall we?
Oh...I don't own DC or any obvious movie or book parodies you read here. Not for profit time wasting only. Disrespect intended, but of the tongue-in-cheek variety.