Different types of art will be posted here, from WIP to Cosplay!
Different types of art will be posted here, from WIP to Cosplay!
Behind them, the cinema’s signs flared in the night. “Coming Soon” lit the way for young children and their families, wanting a taste of fantasy before they returned to the masses of Gotham. Perhaps the only source of quiet, they could not resist the snare it laid. There is no recollection of what was playing; why would there be? No performance could compare to the act they’d put on that night. Scarlet, velvet, pearls, gloss. Suits, black: slicked hair, slicked ties. Only one name knew these luxuries. Only one name wore treasure.
In unison, they danced from the stage. Their smiles shined in the alley, sparking light for them to walk by. But there was a shadow consuming their fire, using it for his own. He stopped their path, and demanded their gold. As they bargained with the troll, he became angry. He did not know their name; he didn’t care. He didn’t know what he had started; he would soon regret it.
In a matter of seconds, cold skin shaved her throat, ripping the jewels from their string. The lady screamed. The lord attacked. The prince, flailed.
The small child fell into its mother’s arms. Streaming tears melted with the boy’s fluids; his eyes rolled, catching hers for only a moment, before they lost all gloss.
With them, died the future of Gotham.
Quickly, a funeral was held. The two stood, holding hands, next to his coffin. Alfred lingered a few steps behind. Then, in slightly crooked lines, the entourage of wealth followed. Next, multiple men and women in uniform came to celebrate the occasion, but none were especially significant; too many melded with the mob. Lastly, quite a few yards behind, stumbled the circus of Gotham. Fathers and Mothers alike dragged their rugged children through the mud. Each recently shined garment became filthier than its owner. Yet, somehow, not one maggot fell out of line. Though destitute, every citizen held its position, its speed: straight and narrow.
The ceremony lasted for thirty minutes. Neither adult said anything. Thus, the duty fell to Alfred. Though an intelligent and loving man, he could not muster the words that only a parent could feel. Instead, he read a quote. “All of us are what we are because we lost something we thought we couldn't live without, and were proven wrong.” Of course, he meant to explain the significance of ‘not giving up’ after ‘a tragic incident’ for ‘there is always a purpose in life’, but his vocabulary failed him. Instead, Alfred’s mess confused the public’s small brains beyond recognition. Nonetheless, he finished his speech and returned to his step in the pecking order. As they passed by, each family spoke his condolences and tossed a trinket or two into the boy’s hole. He’d have no need for novelties where he was headed, but, clearly, this concept hadn’t occurred to the proletariat, and wouldn’t occur to the bourgeoisie. Once the ritual was over, the crowd subsided. Only Martha stayed knelt beside her child’s ground; the other two walked quietly amongst the fellow dead.
Though cold, alone, and filled to the brim with everyone’s sorrow, Martha shed no tears.
They must’ve all left with Bruce. They’re probably soaking into the ground around his fingers: sprouting lilies in his hands. Bright, white, beautiful lilies. They were his favorite after all. There are memories of him, dancing in the fields. The wind used to carry his hair: mix it with the scent of freshly cut roses. Those were his favorite.
Her fingers traced the smooth gray stone over and over, with every stroke affirming this reality. The granite, was blank.
Utterly and completely, blank.
There was no message, no date. Not even the child’s name graced the cool surface.
Though prompted several times before, Martha had refused to participate in the planning of the boy’s funeral. No one could get a single word out of her.
Thus, not a single word was given for the boy. Surprisingly, it raised no red flags, or even white.
No, instead, Thomas obeyed his pitiless mind and patronized his wife.
It was quite the killing joke.
Of course, there are no laws against animal abuse in Gotham.
So, Martha sat. For three long hours, only her mind moved. It raced from his birth to death, then recycled. Eventually, the only one repeating was his bloody head in her hands.
Thick. Greasy. He never did wash his hair. He hated baths. And soap, he really hated soap. It always got into his eyes- made him scream like a child. He was a child, though. Not that kind of child, though. He never made a fuss during naps. Back and forth, back and forth. His head was heavy, soft. Full of grease, though. It was warm, thick.
It could be washed out, though. After all, he loved baths. Then he’d be sparkly, and his hair would shine. It wouldn’t drip with grease, then. He’d be clean.
Thomas’ firm hand shook her out of her melancholy. It moved her body upwards and dragged it away from her reflection. She didn’t protest; she couldn’t, if she wanted to.
Alfred teetered behind like a hospice nurse, watching for the exact moment she’d collapse onto the pavement. Although if she did fall, it would be into her son’s grave.
And it certainly wouldn’t be an accident.
Thomas’ pace was so abrupt that his feet scraped pebbles off the ground. He had made the entire trip without looking her in the face, and he would continue with his plan while departing as well.
The squealing of his beaten puppy dog was quietly ignored.
Of course, the child’s death wasn’t easy for him to deal with either. After Bruce died, he had to make statements to the press. Not just on behalf of himself, but on his company’s.
So many reporters needed to know the Wayne’s detailed instructions for the funeral. So many reporters needed to inform the public when to grieve.
So many reporters needed to tell the bugs why they were mourning for a corrupt tycoon’s lifeless doll, whom they had never even known mattered.
Thomas had the disgusting task of dealing with insolent, ignorant persons who didn’t give a damn who killed his son: they only cared if the gory warfare was on tape.
Clearly, he had no time to mourn on his own. He couldn’t sit in a dimly lit corner and sew his mouth shut. For the first days, Alfred could handle some of the duties, but, eventually, his own ignorance gave way. Only Thomas could be a captain for their ship. No one else even knew how to steer.
Thus, he spent his time with the public and not with the wounded. Neither had tears to shed for their dead son. Neither had the time to give. Not even the public could muster true compassion for a corpse.
After all, children die in Gotham every day, and from much worse causes. What difference did it make who his family was? He was no different than a common orphan living in a cave.
There is no potential in a fallen knight.
Several weeks after the funeral, when the grieving period had passed, the Waynes continued with their daily lives.
Alfred cleaned the mansion, though the lack of small feet muddying the marble floors did sadden him. He tried his best to keep his appearance neat: the house neater. Every nook and cranny shone like the White House steps, but it wasn’t quite the same. Pictures of the child made him smile while he polished. Bruce’s toys were left in his room, and Alfred enjoyed sitting with them for a while. The masters hardly entered the place while the child was alive, so it wasn’t likely he’d be discovered. Thus, Alfred Pennyworth continued his routine with a smile. Bright, encouraging, hopeful.
It made Thomas want to take a knife to his throat.
He didn’t understand the man’s happiness. Couldn’t, really. To him, life was dull without his son by his side. Who would follow in his footsteps? Who would proudly wear the badge of Gotham? He had no one to talk to: no one to inspire.
His business, although profitable, fell from its high horse. Once a name of wealth, power, and integrity, Wayne is now a name tangled with the multiple corporations of Gotham. Prospering casinos run the city, taking the fool’s gold wherever they can find it. Housing the criminals and funding the corruption, they make a large profit. The Wayne’s newly founded business practices provide shelter for one broken family, at least.
With this new syndicate, Thomas Wayne was able to continue his luxurious lifestyle. Although, he did nothing of the sort. In fact, after the press had lost interest in his affairs, Thomas began to mimic his long forgotten wife. His movements became slow, and he seldom smiled. While both could be attributed to old age, the recent circumstances suggested otherwise.
Unlike his wife, however, Thomas did not keep silent. He held lofty conversations with the old Butler, pertaining everything from Bruce’s death to Alfred’s non-existent social life. Though he wouldn’t admit it, his talks with the man soothed his sorrows. The two had always been friends, but, as one knows, a tragedy brings family closer. Unfortunately, Thomas refused to speak of the troubles he actually needed resolved. Bruce and Martha were never allowed into their chat, even though Alfred tried to mention both as a topic. Thomas always stopped the butler before he could utter a word. There was nothing wrong with his wife, and he had no guilt for his son’s death. Stubborn as he was, there was no changing his mind.
Indeed, he wasn’t entirely wrong. He certainly felt no guilt for Bruce; no pity, either. No one could bring Bruce back- what was the point of sobbing for a carcass? No, his feelings towards that night were much more selfish. The only emotion Thomas had left was hatred.
It soon became that his only desire was vengeance.
To see villains choke beneath his hands, and thieves bleed from the inside-out. That was his wish. The streets of Gotham were filled with vermin that needed to be exterminated. If any more children were to die from one of their hands, it would be over his dead body.
With these thoughts, however, comes conflict. What could he do to stop the animals from eating their prey? Nothing. Despite all his passionate ravings, Thomas Wayne could do absolutely nothing. He couldn’t save the weary, lost, desolate children. He couldn’t snuff the murder’s flame. No matter how he felt, the name of Wayne couldn’t support his delusion. It was too recognizable. Even a glimpse of his face would thrust his life into turmoil. No, there was no way around it; he’d have to wallow in his thirst.
But, then, why did Thomas Wayne have to be Gotham’s rogue? Why couldn’t a man, invisible, undetectable, unnamed, be the outlaw? Surely with his assets, it wouldn’t be difficult to create a cover. If some of the Wayne’s funds happen to disappear to help cope with the terrible loss, no one would think twice of the grieving father. And, of course, a man wrought with this kind of tragedy would put all his effort into making the city a safer place, with artillery, for the police force.
After an hour or so, he was content with the idea.
The only issue left was the occupants in his building. Hiding it from his wife wouldn’t be difficult; Martha hardly left her room. Alfred would be the difficult one. As advisor to the Wayne Corporation, he would surely notice if its income suddenly declined. Not to mention, being Butler, he knows the estate like the back of his hand. There'd be no way to hide something in the mansion, and he couldn't just waltz away every night to some hidden shack.
He could fire the man, but it would sound too many alarms. Perhaps he could offer him a vacation, just long enough for Thomas to section off an area in the building to use as a base. Then, he could block it off with a bookshelf or a statue.
It was the only idea he could come up with that wouldn't cause suspicion. Thus, he set about his plan.
In the morning, he offered Alfred an entire week of vacation, expenses paid, for his dedicated service throughout the years. As expected, he graciously declined. After all, it wasn't out of obligation that he had been here so long, but out of respect. Thomas didn't push the issue.
And so the cycle continued. Every morning, Thomas Wayne insisted that his beloved butler had fulfilled his duty and should rest for a while. The humble servant would smile, thank his host, and decline.
In a battle of wills, however, Waynes never lose, and Alfred was on a plane for England within the week.
During the time of Alfred’s absence, Thomas spent every night constructing his den. It was stationed underneath the mansion with a staircase leading up to the wine cellar. Perfectly hidden under several cases of bottles was a metal plate with a chain lock for extra measure. After traveling down the stairs, there was a small door leading into a large warehouse space. Of course, It had been under ground so long that it quite resembled a remote cavern by now. Wet, humid, and dense, the air left a stagnant feel to the place. Though anyone else would’ve shriveled in the fumes, Thomas Wayne blossomed. Every new appliance brought into the cave made his spirit sing. Though he wasn’t exactly in his prime, Thomas always had a knack for technology; massive computers, cameras, scanners, and weapons were lugged into the cave. The installation of all his fancy new equipment took most of his time, but, once prepared, the man did not stop to rest. Thomas stayed awake for days on end tinkering with each gadget. Every feature was tested. Devices were shut off and on again. The only thing he couldn’t manage to do, was hack into Gotham’s systems. Thus, as he grumbled to himself, Thomas focused on a task he knew he could handle: mechanics. For the rest of Alfred’s absence, he transformed one of his expensive vehicles into the ultimate war tank.
However, while Thomas was busy building up his defences, Martha’s were being beaten down.
Unlike him, she never even knew Alfred had left. She had barely left her room since they came home from the funeral. At first she could manage her affairs. Though heavily depressed, she dressed, ate, cleaned. Those were the nights that she would sit and read for hours, hoping one of them was actually reality, and she would hop through the mirror back home. Eventually, though, she stopped reading. Not because the stories didn’t interest her, but, frankly, because she couldn’t remember how. From then on, she sat in the corner of her room, with no light.
She would take a marker and right his name on the wall.
Then Alfred. Then Thomas. Then Hers.
For some reason she could write, but couldn’t read. Pieces of her psyche seemed to disappear overnight, and Martha hadn’t a damn reason why.
Had anyone bothered to acknowledge her existence, he would have assumed her insane. Thrown her in Arkham.
Perhaps that’s why she never opened the door; never left those walls. There was no lock. It was not a cage.
If she was mad, she was not mad.
Martha could feel every strip torn from her memory, her mind. She could feel her brain telling, screaming, pleading, with her:
It’s not real. It never has been. Everything has been a lie. Don’t listen, Martha. He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead. He’s dead.
Bruce is dead. Alfred is alive. Thomas is alive.
Every word was true. She knew that.
Why then, did she find it funny? Why then, was every word a punch line for the best joke she had ever heard? Why then, could she see him laughing, smiling? They were all smiling! It was a prank, a joke! It had always been one.
Look at their faces! Alfred had streamers; Thomas had cake! It was a game; a game for her birthday! Doesn’t she love games? They love games!
Her slim figure shook under the weight of the nightmare. Slowly, her nails dug into her arm, and blood dripped from the wound. Martha couldn’t fight any longer. The last sanity of her mind had finally died; it must be with her son, now. The demon in her head reveled in his new vessel; his cackle roared in the chamber. Feverishly, he wrote over her last lines.
We’re all dead now - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Even though Alfred had returned, he kept busy with the house. Thomas was constantly held up in his dungeon. Thus, it’s not a surprise that no one noticed Martha slip outside. Dressed in a beautiful gown, heels, and slightly queer make-up, Martha made her way down the street to the theater. All heads were turned her way, of course, as the public had long thought her dead, but, once she entered the alley, she was alone. Gracefully, her feet moved past the puddles and trash on the streets. It appeared as if she knew exactly what her destination was, but somehow the theater didn’t seem to be it. Nonetheless, she stopped a few feet before the passage hit light. Her eyes caught a small boy, huddled in a corner. Cold and desperate, he looked up to ask for food, but nearly went into shock at the sight of her. She was smiling.
The being was smiling at him.
With a motion of her hand she offered him a piece of bread. The boy was frozen, however. There eyes had not unlocked; the green and blue melded perfectly. As she knelt down to him, her words floated to his ears. If he liked, she had more food, and a room for him to stay in. Martha held out her hand, and the child grasped it. It didn’t matter what she had told him. She could’ve promised to burn him alive or chop him in half. He would’ve followed those eyes anywhere.
On the way back, both were silent. Once in the building, still not observed, they began to converse. While she made him dinner, the child sat in one of the dining chairs and spat his entire life history all over the kitchen. His name was Red, and he had been living on the streets for three years.
Originally, no. His mother’s addiction had made him homeless and poor, and, eventually, an orphan. With no other known siblings or relatives, he begged for crumbs outside the theater and slept under the stairwells in the alley.
Red’s not much of a name.
No, but it was all he knew. Of course, with all the generosity she’d shown him tonight, she could call him whatever she wants.
Good. Bruce, then.
There was no response from the child. His joke was taken literally; the shock was apparent on his face. The woman was even smiling, but, somehow, she didn’t find it quite as funny. Well, Bruce it is. Technically, he did offer, and something told him that she wouldn’t let him take it back. Red had no special attachment to his original name, although he could’ve sworn he’d heard the name Bruce before.
The rest of the evening passed well, until Thomas came upon them. Slowly, he absorbed the event transpiring before him. Like usual, his eyes avoided hers; they landed squarely upon the child. When asked what his name was, Red froze. Of course, the poor boy had not expected someone else to be home, and he his fear had taken control of him. So. For the first time in several months, Martha spoke to her keeper.
“Don’t be silly, honey. It’s Bruce.”
The words hung in the air; they stung Thomas. For a second, he wanted to fall into her illusion, and believe. But only for a second.
Then, he grabbed Red, threw him over his shoulder, and marched out the door.
Martha screeched in horror at the beast trying to steal her child. Alfred came running, and tried to restrain the woman, but to no avail. He called the police, and, eventually, they settled the situation. By the time they arrived, however, Martha was already rocking back and forth on the floor, laughing. Thomas had given the boy over to the officers, and given their recommendation for a psychiatrist to Alfred. Both left Martha where she was. Even if they had cared to move her, she wouldn’t have gone anywhere without her son. Thus, Thomas went to his lair; Alfred to his room.
In the morning, there was a knock at the door. Only one heard it, but she was in no condition to answer. Regardless, she gathered herself off the floor and opened the door. Both women stared at each other for a minute; they looked like opposites. One: beautiful, blonde, polished clothes, ideal hair, clean face. The other: worn, filthy dress, smeared makeup, crumpled hair, smiling.
“Mrs. Wayne? I didn’t expect you to be-”
A mess? Yes, Well, when Rumpelstiltskin appears in the middle of the night, it tends to ruffle a few feathers.
“Awake. Well, Mrs. Wayne, I’m Dr. Quinn. I’ve been called here to talk with you about your son. Bruce, I believe?”
Martha’s and Quinn’s eyes had been locked from the second she opened the door, and, even with the mention of her son’s name, they did not waver. Instead, she smiled, stepped out of the way, and motioned her guest inside. Quinn returned the greeting with a smile and nod of her own. As the door shut, the two women maintained their contact. Though opposites, their faces matched, and neither would back down. Before a fight broke, Thomas lumbered down the stairs.
“Quinn. I’m Thomas Wayne. Where do you need to set up?”
As the king spoke, he gained the queen’s eyes, and extinguished the jester’s grin.
“Preferably a secluded room. No windows and padded, just in case.”
“Very well. This way.”
The two followed him to one of the many chambers in the mansion. Surprisingly, Martha did not protest. Calmly, she went into the room with Dr. Quinn, and for two long hours, they talked. Alfred waited patiently with a phone in hand; Thomas stood outside the door with arms crossed and a stern look.
When the session had finally ended, both women looked exactly the same as before. Martha was still frayed, but smiling. Quinn was still perfect, but no longer smiling. As Martha walked past the men and down the hall, Alfred followed. He would follow her all the way back to her room, but not see a change. On the other hand, Thomas kept his long standing tradition of not looking his wife in the eyes, and stayed hunched.
“Well. That was….. Interesting.”
“What’s your diagnosis?”
A little taken aback with his abruptness, she responded, “I-I don’t have one.”
“Mr. Wayne, she acted completely normal.”
A slight laugh came from deep within the man.
“I asked every question in my book, but nothing touched her. I said his name; I even talked about his death. What she felt in those exact moments- everything. But, none, not one of her answers, was strange. She reacted perfectly.”
“Then you need to go back to school, Quinn. A normal person doesn’t kidnap a child off the street and pretend it’s her own flesh and blood.”
“With all due respect, Mr. Wayne, I know what I’m doing. And I do believe there’s something wrong, I just can’t pinpoint it.”
“So, your job’s done then? You’ll just leave me to watch her rot.”
“She needs more help, Mister Wayne. I would like to continue having sessions until I can make a diagnosis. If that’s alright.”
“Very well. But you’re not to speak with anyone about this. Not the press, not your family, your boss, no one. I’ll throw you in jail, if you utter a word.”
“I understand. I’m under contract not to discuss any of my patients’ information. Martha- or yours.”
That got quite the reaction out of the man.
Quinn stepped back for a moment, then regained composure.
“Yes-I. Mr. Wayne, you both have been through a tragedy. And you both should be in sessions.”
“I don’t need help from you.”
“Yes, that’s what everyone says. But, from what I’ve been told, you used to have quite the talks with Alfred.”
Thomas became visibly upset. He straightened and glared at the woman.
“I suggest you watch your mouth, Quinn.”
“And I suggest you make an appointment, Thomas.”
The two stood in silence with eyes locked. Once again, Quinn found herself staring down a Wayne. This time, however, there was no fear. Though he towered over her, his shadow encompassing her entire frame, she didn’t cower. Living all this time as the superior, Thomas was used to surrender. When her eyes refused, he wavered, if only a little.
The two parted ways, both with a small smile.
Martha’s and Thomas’ sessions went on for several weeks, but nothing seemed to change. Thomas remained in his cave for most of the day, only emerging for their meetings. After some time, Martha was allowed to walk by herself, which she did daily. Her demeanor never changed; she was constantly smiling and well dressed, although her makeup was never quite right. The daily talks with Quinn became part of the routine. Stubborn as always, Thomas remained silent for quite a while, but they eventually had normal conversations. They would talk as Alfred and him once did, but about more than just commodities. They discussed Martha for a while, but there truly was nothing for him to say. He loved her, once. He couldn’t say he didn’t care for her, but it didn’t feel the same anymore. Bruce, on the other hand, was a different story. There wasn’t a day that he didn’t think about his son. He loved Bruce, and still does. But that didn’t erase the hate he felt. Thomas still needed to cleanse the world: or, at least, Gotham.
Quinn understood. That’s why he could open up to her in the first place. She wouldn’t go into the details, but he could feel the empathy radiating from her. She truly did feel for him, and, soon, she fell for him as well. Unfortunately, Thomas had no grasp on his emotions, and she was left to hope by herself. Regardless, they grew close, while Martha drifted farther apart.
Even after all that time, Quinn had no answer for Martha. She was a mystery. Every emotion that a grieving mother should feel, she presented. Of course, Martha was very good at her job, but Quinn had no way of knowing it. To Martha, it was a game. Every day she would play a fun game with Doctor. Doctor would ask her all sorts of questions about the joke they played on her birthday, and she would pretend to relive every moment. She loved playing make-believe! She even started exaggerating details, just to watch Doctor squirm! She’d describe how his insides mushed in her hands and dug under her nails; Doctor tried to hide her reactions, but she could see them. As days went on, Doctor seemed less interested, and the playdates got shorter. Oh well, at least she got to spend more time with her son.
Once their game was over, she’d slip outside to the alley and spend the whole day with Bruce. She took him everywhere: restaurants, arcades, the mall. At night she’d have to leave him, but she’d always come back.
And, strangely enough, Red had no objections. Unlikely most children, who’d avoid an older woman calling them a strange name and taking them to random places, Red loved the attention. Every time he saw her turn the corner, his eyes lit up. Instantly, his day got better. She was the mother he never had, and he would not be letting her go this time. In fact, he had been working out a plan for them to escape together. Outside of Gotham there was an abandoned building where they could hideout for a little while. Just until everyone stopped looking for her. Then, they’d buy a real home, and live peacefully away from all the filth of Gotham.
One day, Alfred burst into the two’s session. She was gone. She had slipped out early in the morning, taken her jewels and whatever cash was on hand. Racing from the room, Thomas yelled at the butler to call the police. Quinn shouted protests, but followed him nonetheless. They both ran to the theater, but she was nowhere to be found. Then, as the thought hit him, he turned towards the alley. He traced every single step he had taken before, a perfect match. Though his legs moved forward, his mind pulled back. This was where she went, and he would follow. But, she was not there. No matter how many times he searched that alley, he could not find any trace of her. Not even Quinn’s eyes could pick up any clues, and she suggested they leave.
Thomas was stuck, however.
Finally, his brain realized where he was standing. His knees buckled, and he fell to the ground. As Quinn rushed to his side, Thomas looked at his hands; they were red. At least, they looked that way to him. Suddenly, he could see the bloody mass lying in his arms. He felt the warmth of a body, his son’s body: and he felt it fade.
So. For the first time in several months, Thomas Wayne cried. Tears gushed down his face, soaked his hands. They weren’t for himself, but for a child’s lost future. For a neglected and shattered woman. For a tired, loving butler. For the dreams and hopes of a broken home, a dead family. For every person that suffers at fate’s hand. For all those in Gotham who would never know his name. For all those who didn’t care. For Bruce.
He cried, for Bruce.
Thus, two individual stories played out simultaneously.
One, old, stoic knight found a much needed friend in a much unexpected woman.
One, broken, sad clown found a long lost son in a long lost alley.
As one revealed his secrets to a new life, the other put her trust in a young boy’s dream.
And both wished for a different ending.