“James, why the hell are you dressed that way?” Hartley asked while facepalming. James had shown up at the Rogues’ hangout wearing a labcoat with his hair all wild, although most of the others were too disinterested to comment on it.
“I’ve reinvented myself!” James declared proudly, his face utterly beaming. “No longer am I The Trickster: Gag-Gadget Guy. Now I’m Dr. JJ: Mad Scientist! See?” He pulled a beaker out of his pocket, which was simmering with an alarming green liquid, and a plastic brain from another pocket. “A real monkey brain!”
(It was in fact not real, and this was quite obvious.)
Alvin Desmond looked up from his seat on the couch. He’d decided that he wanted to hang out with the Rogues for a while despite never receiving an invitation, and the others were tired of him and his pranks. He liked to turn beer to acid right as people drank it. He liked to turn the television to exotic substances whenever the Rogues watched channels he didn’t enjoy. And turning Lisa’s underwear to gold got stale after the third time.
“Hey, that’s my shtick!” Alvin protested when he saw Trickster’s new get-up. “You’re horning in on my thing!”
“What are you talking about?” James asked, confused. “You don’t dress like this at all. You have a stone and a silly kerchief hood.”
“Yes, but I’m a mad scientist!” retorted Alvin. “I do crazy science and stuff.”
“No you don’t, you just transmute substances. Pretty simple, really…pretty boring too,” James said, and Alvin’s face turned as red as his hair when the other Rogues started laughing.
“Albert was a mad scientist, at least when he did the Mr. Element bit. I think there’s room for JJ to do this too,” Mark shrugged, and there was a general nodding from the nearby Rogues. Nobody was quite sure why James wanted a change, but nobody really cared either; he did a lot of stuff the others didn’t truly understand.
“It’s my thing! You’re stealing my brand!” Alvin screeched angrily. The plastic brain was suddenly transmuted into water, soaking James’ leg.
“Yeah, and you stole Albert’s,” Len pointed out, which only made the second Alchemy even more furious.
“He’s my astral twin; it’s just as much mine as his!”
“I don’t believe in ‘astral twins’,” Sam said firmly, crossing his arms. Despite his own history of traveling to weird mirror dimensions and visiting other-dimensional counterparts, he was a confirmed skeptic of anything that couldn’t be observed and proved. And now Alvin was really upset. The only thing keeping him from physically attacking one of the Rogues was the knowledge that the others would immediately dogpile on him and probably kill him.
“Guys, guys, guys…” James announced loudly in the midst of all this tension. “You’re forgetting what’s really important: having cool science stuff! He has the Philosopher’s Potato, and I have this!”
He pulled a plastic skull from another pocket, and when a button was pressed on the cranium, the thing erupted into a disco show -- with flashing multi-coloured strobe lights and bad seventies music that was far too loud.
“But that’s not…that’s not science at all!” Alvin sputtered as the other Rogues laughed helplessly. “It’s just another one of his stupid trick gags!”
“Yeah, but it’s funny,” Digger chuckled. “You ain’t very funny, mate.” He was still pissed about the beer-into-acid stunt.
James pulled out the beaker again and dropped a tiny pellet into it; the mixture began to froth and bubble in a ridiculously exaggerated manner, spilling all over the floor. Digger and Hartley clapped delightedly.
“That’s not mad science, it’s kindergarten-level chemistry!” Alvin bellowed in frustration, noting that people seemed to be enjoying James’ routine more than his. “This is stupid, I’m a far better scientist than he’ll ever be!”
“The day you patent it is the day I’ll step aside,” James said teasingly with his tongue out, and Alvin had decidedly had enough. He got up and stormed out of the safehouse, the floor turning to gooey rubber as he left.
Everybody waited silently for something else to be transmuted, and when nothing happened there was a palpable sense of relief.
“Good going, Jesse, you got rid of him,” Len praised with a hearty clap on the back, and the other guys congratulated him as well. Nobody had liked those transmutation pranks.
“I did it all for science!” James grinned, and started pulling some of the other gag items out of his seemingly-endless pockets. “That was pretty fun, I think I’ll do it again sometime. I bet the Flash’d get a real kick out of Dr. JJ.”
“You actually do make a pretty good mad scientist; you’ve got the ‘mad’ part down pat,” Hartley smiled at him, and James laughed.
“I guess I have! Maybe I really should reinvent myself!”
Even though he reminded them it had been James’ idea, the other Rogues ultimately held Hartley responsible for the ensuing chaos. After all, Piper was supposed to be the responsible one.