Haha.. Sorry for the late update, but I was sidetracked with drawing requests and my summer homework… I hope you guys will enjoy this one! As promised, it is pivotal! ;) I have put my own twist on Linda's fate, so thanks so much for your great feedback and ideas! I love you all for putting up with me and this story!
Note: I have no clue what "Forensic Conventions" are like at all, so that part's just me and my wild imagination :D
"Alright Kiddo, the nerd convention is at 4, so if you want to freshen up, or conjure up some interesting questions, make it quick. Your little "delay" was quite inopportune," Uncle Barry rambled habitually as he drove his SUV out of Central City traffic on a more reclusive route.
Iris looked up from her smartphone and sent her husband a look of askance. "Oh Barry, give the poor guy a break! He's still recovering from air-sickness!" she scolded, teasingly swatting her husband's blond head with her palm.
Wallace looked up from gazing at the Central City skyline at the mention of his name and smiled at the couples' playful banter over his health. When Iris and Barry had seen him on the airport, they had almost taken him to the Central City Hospital's Emergency room. Only after examining his face in the car's mirror did Wallace know why; his hair was in red disarray, and his cheeks were pale and radiating a greenish hue. Purplish swollen circles outlined his under eyes, while his eyes themselves were blood-shot. In colloquial terms: he looked like shit.
Maybe he should have taken that pink motion-sickness pill his mother had graciously slipped in his fanny pack (of course he had a fanny pack! They were a convenient method of stashing a couple of snacks, as well as the legal necessities that came with air travel!).
"Don't worry Uncle Barry. I had plenty of time to think about questions on the plane; that is, when I wasn't busy eating or barfing," Wallace joked.
Barry threw his red-haired nephew a quizzical gaze through the car's rear-view mirror and brought his index and thumb to his face for a more thoughtful pose.
Wallace groaned. Uncle Barry had entered the "Doctor Mode".
"What do you think, Dr. Iris? Does our patient look fit enough?"
If Barry Allen hadn't been one of the best forensic detectives in the Midwest, he would have had a great stage career playing the suave doctor on the afternoon soap operas Wallace's mother liked to follow.
Despite Barry's dry sense of humor and hopeless puns, Wallace had always admired him. Even when Barry and Iris first hooked up, the blonde man was sure to make acquaintances with Wallace—not because it was customary, but because both of them shared many things in common.
They were both chemistry nerds, Flash-fanatics, and avid followers of Supernatural although Wallace denied the latter, bluntly stating that the show was as fake as Jensen Ackles' eyes (how could anyone possibly have eyes that prominent and green with eyelashes that long? Well Wallace did, but Jensen's lashes were definitely suspicious).
It was Barry who had supplied Wallace with the mint-condition Flash merchandise which was almost impossible to acquire. It was Barry who had comforted Wallace when Pluto had been discredited as a planet. Sometimes Wallace wondered if the bond between himself and Barry outshone the one Wallace had with his father.
Then again, his father had never understood the difference between a cis and trans isomer.
Iris looked back at her nephew with a concerned expression. "He'll live," she smiled fondly.
"Alrighty, then," Barry cheered as he slowly pulled up in the driveway.
The Allen abode was snug in appearance: medium sized with a green vinyl outside, white trims, and perfectly pruned hedges. It almost reminded Wallace of his old home in Keystone.
After they had gotten married, the Allen couple had pooled their incomes to purchase a house within close vicinity of Central City to assist Iris with commuting to and fro from work. The neighborhood was homely; with kindly neighbors who always shared generous slices of freshly baked cake; and children who always flocked the streets selling lemonade in the summer time.
Barry helped Wallace carry his vintage valise up the stairs into a guestroom with light yellow walls. The house itself was sparsely decorated due to Iris' and Barry's hectic lifestyles and disregard for home décor, but the bedroom's simple twin bed with white sheets and empty closet made the rest of the house seem as fancy as the Palace of Versailles.
Not that Wallace minded, though he would have at least appreciated a splash of color to add a "homely" touch to the rather simple walls. The plainness reminded him too much of Gotham General, and Artemis' hospital room.
For a second, Wallace wondered how the blonde biker was doing.
"Barry, do you think I could borrow a phone?" Wallace asked suddenly.
The blonde man stood up after setting the baggage on the bed and arched his back, producing a satisfying crack.
"Mhmm, we already called your Mom and Pops, if that's what you were wondering," Barry answered nonchalantly before proceeding to contort his neck in a rather disturbing fashion to produce another crack.
"No, you got it all wrong—I was wondering if I could call and let Linda know—"
Barry ginned widely, understanding where this conversation was going. To save his nephew the trouble of explaining "girl issues", the blonde man simply handed his phone with the customary teasing wink before heading downstairs.
Wallace smiled at Barry's considerate actions before rapidly dialing the number he knew by heart.
Truth be told, Wallace was unsure if Linda still liked him, or liked him at all for the matter. After his great transcontinental move to the east coast of Gotham, staying in touch had proven to be a great challenge. The last time he had messaged Linda was a week before school started—via Facebook—to help her with her physics homework (the Wall-man was a man of many sleights, not only chemistry). There had been small talk, remaining only platonic since Wallace thought it was quite rude to flirt digitally. Plus he was afraid of how a modest girl like Linda would react to such straightforwardness.
But it wasn't like he hadn't tried.
Wallace had typed up everything from smooth pick-up likes to haikus revolving around the unproclaimed attraction he had towards Linda before rapidly hitting the backspace until he was sure that his keyboard was broken. Sometimes, the hopeless ginger romantic wished that he possessed the eloquence of Cyrano de Bergerac, and the confidence of Christian de Neuvillette to woo his Roxanne.
The bell rung three times before a familiar voice interrupted.
"Hello? Linda here!"
God, he really did miss her sweet high-pitched voice— a great change from the huskiness that notorious blonde possessed.
"Hey, Linda! It's me, Wallace—Wally!" Wallace grimaced as his voice cracked, making him sound like the awkward thirteen-year-old he had been a mere three years ago.
"Oh my god, Wally! Is it really you? So what's up? How's school? I'm so sorry we haven't been keeping in touch as often! Junior year is pretty frustrating at Keystone High. All the AP teachers have just been dumping us with homework," Linda replied affably. She sure knew how to get a casual conversation going—just another reason to like her in Wallace's book.
"Haha, it's great, Lin, I mean how much more annoying and polluted can Gotham get? Gotham Academy's great, especially all the classes. Keep me busy, especially the Chem course. But I still miss y—err—Keystone" Wallace replied, biting his tongue at his slip-up. Hopefully, Linda wouldn't notice.
"Aww! We miss you Wally! You should come and visit! The whole Science Department is mourning the loss of their star pupil" she added dramatically.
"Well, they have you now, Lin. I'm sure you're the star now!"
"Pshhhh, like I'd be able to be as good as the master."
Wallace blushed fondly at the playful exchange. He hadn't realized how much he had really missed the dark-haired girl and her small-talk.
"Listen, up Lin. Guess where I am now?" Wallace replied, biting his lower lip in excitement.
"Hmmm…I dunno, France?"
"Wally, you know I suck at these guessing games! At least give me a clue!" Linda pouted.
"Fine fine, I'll just tell you. I'm in Central City right now!"
"No. Way. WALLY! You should've told me! I mean come on, Wally! You know me; I would've made a whole schedule—and would've seen you at the airport! I can't believe you didn't tell me sooner!" Linda replied, her tone slightly crestfallen. "So what's the occasion?"
"Eh, just some Forensic Seminar. 'Ya know. But I was wondering… I'm free tomorrow; do you want to like, I dunno, catch up? I was thinkin' about the outdoor Bistro by Central City Park." Wallace added. Central City Park Bistro was a quite the fancy place—complete with a dress code, as well as considerably priced dishes—just another way to impress Linda. Plus, he had his handy-dandy credit card at hand.
"Alright, Wallace. I'll be there, and you better give me all the deets about Gotham Academy. I heard some pretty famous people go there—like that Richard Blueson character. Super rich."
"You mean Grayson, and he's quite the character, I can guarantee that. So um, tomorrow at 6?"
"Wear something pretty, but not too pretty. I don't want you outshining my attractiveness"
"Psh, are you doubting my wardrobe, ginger? Plus like your attractiveness has a chance over my glamour."
"Bye Wally," Linda added sarcastically.
Wallace let out a great sigh as the line clicked. While calling after such a long time seemed awkward, Linda was sure to keep the mood light-hearted with her usual jokes and light banter. It was definitely refreshing after the gloom of Gotham. What was even more exciting was that Wallace now had a "date" to look forward to.
Who knew? This casual outing could escalate in something more.
"Yo Wally, are ya ready to get cho nerd on?" Barry's pseudo-gangsta voice echoed sounded from downstairs.
"Yeah! I've always had it on!" Wallace shouted back, stifling a chuckle at Barry's poorly imitated "ghetto-talk". Wallace had driven around the "ghetto" parts of Gotham and he was pretty sure that the people who resided there sounded nothing like that.
Wallace popped open his vintage leather suitcase and dug deep for his choice of clothing for the convention. He wanted to seem intellectual while sporting something comfortable; conventions, especially science ones were notoriously long and dragged out and Wallace needed to feel mentally and physically comfortable while touring maze of stalls and shooting questions at the attractive females in lab coats.
Casual flirting with an older woman would never hurt anyone; he and Linda were nowhere near official. Heck, they hadn't even gone on their "casual dinner outing" yet.
After tossing aside at least a dozen designer sweater vests (he needed to pack extras just in case of emergencies), the red-haired boy came across his prized possession—the pièce de résistance of his wardrobe: the ultimate Flash sweater vest… (hand-made by Grandma Joan). Without second thought, Wallace pulled the article over his head, and combed his hair in a side part before hurrying down the stairs.
He couldn't miss this prefect opportunity to pick up on key interesting facts he could use to impress Linda. Wallace finally decided that he had his unique way of being a contemporary Cyrano: with science factoids instead of heartfelt love notes. Who fell for those cheesy confessions nowadays? Science facts were the entire buzz anyways.
Barry let a wolf-whistle at the sight of Wallace.
"Love your shirt, kid. You sure are gonna be a lady-killer at the nerd convention," Barry guffawed as he noticed the large yellow insignia across Wallace's chest. "With an authentic piece like that, people are gonna start to think that your Flash's secret ID!"
"Thanks!" Wallace replied, out of breath. He still wasn't good at rushing his outfit and running down so quickly.
Him as the Flash? Wallace knew Barry was joshing; he also knew people were stupid at times (and Jersey Shore pretty much illustrated that) but one would simply have to be straight out blind to even think for a second if Wallace West was the Flash.
The Flash didn't even seem like the nerdy-type. Probably just a fortunate individual gifted with a metagene or alien race gifted with the speed of Mercury. The Flash was never bullied, and probably had taken on the civilian identity of a Police-man or Fire-fighter. How else would you explain the Scarlet Speedster's omniscience and punctual presence at every catastrophe to befall on Central City? (Well, he could be a psychic or God, but that's highly unlikely. Plus, Wallace had a gut-feeling). Heck, the superhero was probably off saving lives than attending a nerd convention.
It would be pretty sweet if I were the Flash though. I would get any woman I want. Wallace thought.
"So how 'bout that Linda chick? You guys hookin' up soon?" Barry questioned as he cranked up the classical music station.
So much for subtleness and privacy.
Among all the subjects Barry could have brought up, Linda just had to be one of them, to Wallace's dismay.
"Um, yeah! Well— I sorta kinda invited her on a "date"" Wallace replied, curling his index and middle fingers to gesticulate quotation marks. It wasn't a real date after all, just a little something to play catch-up (and hopefully something to win Linda's heart along the way, Wallace hoped).
Barry tuned towards him nephew with sly look. The light was red so this was a perfect opportunity to make his nephew uncomfortable (Barry always found a strange satisfaction in that).
"That's wonderful, Wall-man! Soooo…'ya know the birds and bees, right?"
An awkward discussion about dinner plans had transformed into an awkward discussion about the wonders of life. Wallace had no intention of hitting home with Linda, let alone pass first base. Linda wasn't that kind of girl. Linda was different (though Wallace's wet dreams indicated otherwise).
The ginger haired boy attempted to conjure something—anything into his mind to say, just enough to distract Barry (did he forget to mention that Barry was one of the unfortunate individuals who had a short attention span that rivaled even Wallace's?) from facts about protection and whatnot.
"Did you know that if you froze helium just a couple of degrees before its boiling point, you could create a helium super fluid, which exhibits strange qualities such as having the ability to scale walls?" Wallace blurted rapidly. He could practically feel his face flush and his heart throb in his throat as he awaited Barry's response.
The ginger boy mentally chided himself for going so off topic in the heat of the conversation. Seriously, what was he thinking? He was just as subtle as a train wreck for Newton's sake!
"Uh, that's cool," Barry replied sheepishly. He had already made Wallace uncomfortable enough.
"Uncle B, the light's green now.
The convention wasn't as large as Wallace had imagined it would be.
It was small rented space with a large department-store sized parking lot filled with large vans which belonged to the people hosting concession stands and panels. The occasional forensics-majoring college student in casual attire flitted around the lot, deciding whether it was a better option to go inside the air-conditioned building and learn about science or drive away in their old hand-me-down hardtops. Police officers leaned against the hoods of their cruisers chomping on donuts and reciting tall tales about handling eccentric offenders. Science conventions weren't exactly known for their high attendance.
Then there was Uncle Barry.
The blonde man bore a large gaping smile on his face that forced Wallace to crack a pathetic grin in return. Insulting this joke of a convention would be like kicking a puppy. Yes, Wallace had expected something bigger, more exclusive—not bored teens and fat police officers.
Barry matched his gait with Wallace's and slapped the ginger boy hard on the back. "So, what do ya think, Wally? It's great isn't it?"
Wallace watched as a bored old man in a lab-coat pulled a gray trolley filled with chemicals before turning to his overly excited uncle.
"Uh yeah! I'm super excited!" Wally replied with feigned gusto, raising his fist halfheartedly.
Barry gave him a warm look as they proceeded towards the entrance.
Barry stopped when he felt the vibration of his phone through his pant pocket. "Wait hold on, gotta a call," Barry interjected.
Wallace nodded in compliance and proceeded to look around the large room.
They had been inside for a good half hour browsing through the pretty empty stalls. It was like any other science convention, a couple of enthusiasts: those who wanted to kill time and others who simply were there because they were forced to. Small tables were set displaying various techniques of extracting DNA, finding quality finger prints on the vaguest of surfaces, and of course free forensic themed snacks. Wallace was sure that they were serving homemade gummy magnifying glasses and cupcakes topped with Benedict Cumberbatch heads as homage to the renowned detective: Sherlock Holmes.
"Ok, yeah, I'll be there."
Barry shut his phone and looked pensively at Wallace. Something was quite wrong.
Almost instinctively, Wallace's mind drifted to the worst-case scenarios that could occur. Had something tragic befallen on his parents when he wasn't around? Did something happen to Aunt Iris? Or worse—Linda? Already perspiration had begun to form on Wallace's forehead as his mind shaped images of mangled bodies and fires he had seen on the news. He had only seen one accident personally: Artemis', and luckily she was still alive. But he knew that not everyone shared that fate.
"Look Kid, I have horrible news," Barry started, attempting to phrase his words as euphemistically as possible.
"AreMomandDadokay?" Wallace blurted frantically.
Barry was silent for a heartbeat before letting out a deep bellow. He slapped Wallace's back teasingly.
"You 'lil worry wart!" Barry chuckled. "I was just saying that some urgent work came up and I have to leave. You'll have to explore the world of forensics without your spirit guide!"
Wallace blinked twice before relaxing. His heat still beat fast from the scare, but this time he was slightly annoyed at Barry's exaggerated sarcasm. And here he had his briefs in a bunch thinking that something bad really had happened! Besides that, he was certain that he was going to bruise on his back. Who knew a lab-rat like Barry could be so strong (then again, Barry had probably hit the gym to impress Aunt Iris)?
To be honest, Wallace could care less about the forensics convention. Its banal reality had been a stark contrast of what he imagined it would be like. All the facts and activities weren't new, just repeated tidbits he had caught on upon while watching the Investigation Discovery Channel. He would rather go home and pick out his attire for the "date". Or rummage around Barry's basement lab for some chemicals whose possession required a license. No big deal.
"Nah, it's alright Uncle B, you can just drop me off. It won't be the same without you."
Barry looked upset and Wallace felt guilt. Knowing his Barry, he was probably going to blame Wallace's disinterest on himself.
"Ugh. This is all my fault," Barry groaned, pulling his hand across his face in frustration. "You came all the way from Gotham for this fantastic convention, and now you can't enjoy it because of me."
Barry paused from his apology and perked up suddenly, as if a fantastic notion had hit him. "Tell you what, I'll make this up to you—what would you like?"
Hmm… This could go quite well… Wallace thought.
"It's okay Barry, I know it isn't your fault. But you know what would make me feel better?" Wallace cajoled.
Oh yes, Wallace West was going to have a blast using that diamino dinitrobenzofuroxan.
"Well, the lab's all yours, Wall-man!" Barry gestured majestically to his decent-sized basement laboratory.
The lab was messier compared to Wallace's lab in his Gotham home, with a small work bench corroded and splatted with remains of previous experiments. There were various vales filled with various chemicals (five of which Wallace recognized as being illegal in 10 US states) and state-of-the-art government supplied instruments, from a bomb-calorimeter to a cathode tube. The room was well-lit with incandescent recessed lights to allow for efficiency in experiment-conducting.
"Well, as long as you don't mess with my work stuff, or blow up my home, you are free to use whatever you like! Well, based your Chemistry grades, I think you can combine some "special" chemicals together. Just make sure you write out the reaction and any precipitates that ma—"
"Uncle Barry, I know what I'm doing, so don't worry!" Wallace raised his voice, and put his hands on Barry's shoulders to cease the blonde's incessant rambles. Once Barry started, he talked so fast that it became nearly impossible to capture his attention. There was only one person who could effectively break the trace: Aunt Iris, and that was with a kiss. Now, Wallace wasn't about to kiss his Uncle. Luckily, the red haired teen had been successful this time around or else Barry would have drifted into talking about quantum mechanics and scientific hell would've broken loose.
Normally Wallace wouldn't have minded an intellectual exchange with his Uncle, but right now messing with some "less-than-legal" chemicals were all on the ginger's mind. While "normal" teenagers experimented with Crack and Heroin, Wallace Rudolph West was in his Uncle's Basement Laboratory playing with chemicals, and he was proud of it.
"Ah! Oh sorry, Wall," Barry chuckled nervously. "Alrighty! I guess I'll head to—work, now!" Barry cheered as he thumped his way up the stairs.
When he heard the front door slam shut, Wallace almost speeded to the lab coat hook, and proceeded to cover himself with latex gloves, a fresh white lab coat, and of course, the goggles (he always liked to say, "Safety first, kids!").
"Okay then, I will combine—"Wallace hummed to himself pleasantly as he grabbed the electronic scale and graduated cylinder. Usually, in school labs, it was Artemis who was responsible for the menial tasks such as gathering all the supplies and measuring out the chemicals needed. Wallace was not a patient persona and it frustrated him further when the scale fluctuated between two values. He always loved to measure out the precise amount of anything so that their lab would have the least percent error. Luckily, Artemis had been gifted with the fantastic ability of measuring out the exact amount, as well as getting the scale to function properly. Besides her lack of interest in the subject, Wallace had been satisfied with her performance as a lab "assistant", more or less (she wasn't exactly a "partner", per say).
Reminiscing on his past encounters with lab partners/assistants, Wallace almost forgot about Linda. Linda had been his lab partner for a good part of the AP Chem year. Sure, she was his partner, but as much as he hated to admit it, she wasn't exactly "perfect".
Wallace chuckled at the memory when Linda had mixed up the two hydrates required for the lab. The error had a comical result, complete with smoke and fire extinguishers. Obviously, the two were required to redo it, which wasn't so bad considering they had been alone afterschool while their teacher was next door flirting away.
Comparing past mistakes to the present, Wallace had to begrudgingly admit that at least Artemis knew what she was doing, and thus, sadly was a better partner—err, assistant than Linda was.
"Okay, here's the 'lil sucker I was looking for," Wallace beamed. He had finally spotted the vile of diamino dinitrobenzofuroxan he had wanted to use ever since he had set foot again in the Midwest. The tiny bottle rest next to a queer gray safe, one which Wallace suspected contained rarer substances.
A very suspicious safe.
Now, Wallace was a good boy, taught not to pry in other peoples' business.
But this was very different. This opportunity had practically had presented itself to him. By not discovering what lay inside the safe would be a horrible, horrible crime. And Wallace knew crimes weren't good either.
To open or not to open, that was the question.
Then again, when was the last time he had cracked a safe?
Oh yeah, that would be never.
Still, Wallace was persistent. It wasn't like he was going to use the chemical or whatever rare element was inside. He would simply gaze at it, or touch it (if it wasn't radioactive). Knowing Uncle Barry, it was probably nothing special. The worse-case scenario—heaven forbid—would be that it was something forensics related. After the fantastic convention Wallace had attended, the red haired scientist was satisfied, thank you very much. Forensics was only interesting when CSI or Cumberbatch were involved.
Now for the combination itself.
What could be the combination? Barry was a simple-minded man when it came to these domestic things. Heck, Wallace had easily cracked the wi-fi code his first time visiting the Allen abode (it was sci-fi). However while Barry could throw a pitiful pun for internet-access, he couldn't pull that one with numbers. The combination had to be something easy to remember, like a birthday, or anniversary. According to Aunt Iris Barry was a hopeless romantic, bringing flowers she was allergic on their dinner dates. Part of the reason as to why the woman dated the blonde man was pity; the other half being his good intentions and adorable nerdiness (Wallace might've read his aunt's text messages when she let him borrow her phone way-back-when). Barry's try-hard attitude regarding romance could be another reason as to why the combination was an important date; the man could now remember and keep track of an anniversary every time he wanted to get whatever was locked!
"Okay, so I think they first met up in November, after my birthday…" Wallace muttered to himself as he meticulously turned the blue dial.
Wallace mentally lauded himself as well as Barry's carelessness at the poorly executed combination. Brushing away his self-satisfaction, Wallace carefully peered inside the case.
"Wow. All that hard work for a bunch of lame files," Wallace groaned. He had not seen that one coming. Well, "Hello Wally!", didn't Barry work as a forensics detective? Of course the contents of the safe would be some boring criminal records and such. Wallace almost felt like smacking his head on the wall at his stupidity
With a groan and a roll of his eyes, Wallace reluctantly grabbed the bottom-most file of the pile.
It looked like any old manila file, brimming with papers. However, to the young scientist's surprise, this was not a forensic file.
Nope, not at all.
"Experimental research? Accelerated molecules? Create the solution, stabilize it with a shock of 10 volts…" Wallace read slowly. By the sound of it, it was a complex experiment, unless this was a forensic procedure. Then again, which forensic procedure involved using chemicals even Wallace was unfamiliar with?
The diamino dinitrobenzofuroxan would have to wait, since there was a newer task at hand.
Wallace dipped one end of the electrode into the solution, which had now transformed into a bright viridian color. He had spent nearly two hours putting together this experiment without a break. According to the calculations he had made prior to conducting the experiment, he was pretty sure that nothing that drastic would occur as the result. In fact, Wallace was quite unsure of what would happen, if anything happened at all. This experiment was just a mere challenge to brush up on his lab skills. If this was some super top secret procedure, why would Barry leave the files locked up a case in his house with such an easy combination?
"Okay, five volts," Wallace breathed as he adjusted the knob. Deep inside, he was worried about the consequences. What if this was a dangerous experiment?
"Nah, I've done the math. After stabilization, I'm pretty sure the color will change," Wallace shrugged.
With the turn of the dial, there was a bright white light. The table was blown towards Wallace, sending him to the ground. A dull ache and tingling sensation coursed through his body and his vision was swallowed by darkness.
Well I guess Wally wasn't as right as he thought he was! Man, I'm super worried about the episode that comes on after the hiatus… Knowing Grandon, it will be quite… memorable. My shipper heart can't take the stress! *grabs life alert*