If asked many days later, after the wounds and egos had received their time to heal, neither man could pinpoint the exact origin of their argument.
It could have been a misspoken word, an inappropriate action, or even just a desire to spark a fight, but the resulting argument was one which both had not experienced for many seasons and the ferocity of it had them whipped into a frenzy before any calm could be considered.
Standing with a respectful distance between them- respectful in that it prevented them from immediately lashing out- both Jonathan and Edward wore identical expressions of twisted rage as they hurled insults between them with an unmatched ferocity.
“You forget,” Edward snarled, “just how simple it would be for me to leave this relationship! To go out and find another who could fill your place would be too easy and I would deal with considerably less hassle. My desire to be with you comes from an unfortunate affection which can be snuffed out with an much effort as it takes for me to pull a trigger.”
Teeth baring at the threat of being left alone again, Jonathan would not allow such thoughts to stand. His patience with the redhead had snapped many insults ago and the only thing which had saved Edward from an evening with his beloved toxin was the fact that he did not possess any of it on his person at the moment.
“There is not a being on this earth,” pointing at Edward, Jonathans' voice was low, “who possesses the restraint which I afford you every single day in order to be with you. Such a torrid mess of mental compulsions and incorrigible ego makes you an effort which very few people would be willing to make.”
Laughing with a nasty edge, Edward stamped his foot repeatedly on the ground and gripped his stomach to show his humour.
“My ego is a hindrance? This from the man whose only source of sexual satisfaction is derived from creating a sense of fear in others? Good luck with that, you emaciated luddite.”
Jonathans' eyes narrowed as Edward devolved to personal insults in his immaturity.
Two could play at that game.
And Jonathan had a masters in psychology.
“Edward Nygma.” Jonathan fired his name at him with purpose. “A man so deeply ingrained in his own failures that he has yet to actually accomplish anything with his life. My toxin is the labour of my life and after I am long gone it will remain. When you die and turn to ash, so does your legacy.”
Pausing to let the words sink in as Edwards' body vibrated with unspent anger, Jonathan went in for the kill.
“You have made no impact on this world, Edward, and you know this. In your very core, you know this. When you die, everything dies with you. No legacy. No mark on this world.”
“Lies.” Edward spat. “I have ties in this world and contingencies which will see my name live on past my mortal body.” Slamming a hand down on the nearby couch, he continued. “I have made friends in this world who will mourn me. No one will mourn you. No friends. No past lovers.” He scoffed. “Certainly no family.”
Jonathan ignored the sting which accompanied Edwards' words, a sting which may have been truth, as he balled up his hands and snarled back.
“And who would want to mourn you? Not even your parents wanted you.” He hissed, incensed. “How terrible a child must be, for even its parents to want to abandon it. The desire to protect ones child is the strongest instinct a parent can feel and yet your father seemed able to overcome that with very little effort. You are pathetic.”
Eyes flashing, a shadow crossed Edwards' face at the reference to his abusive father.
“My father was a fool,” Edward growled, face contorting into something unfathomable, “unable to accept me for the genius I am. Do not make the same mistake or you will meet a similar fate.” He paused. “But since we are so interested in bringing up the past.”
Breaking off, Edward cradled his hands together in front of his body, screwing up his face up in mock-terror as he hunched forward.
“No, granny!” He squealed in a faux-childs voice. “No. Let me out! Not the birds! Please, Granny. PLEASE!” Releasing his hands, he straightened up again. “Remind you of anyone?” His smirk was unpleasant.
Jonathans' face darkened in rage as he was confronted by his own nightmares, nightmares which disturbed his rest almost nightly, and he could feel his tightly-held control of the situation slipping. To mock him as his most vulnerable, his most intimate, was a dangerous move.
They both knew that.
For his part, Edwards' anger was determined to override his sense of self-preservation.
“Some 'Master of Fear',” Edward continued, spitting out the words like a cobra, “still haunted by the ghost of an old, feeble woman who could barely support herself. You DARE to call me pathetic?”
Without thinking, Edward crossed the unspoken breathing space so that he could snarl directly into Jonathans' face.
Staring him down with red blotches of anger high on his cheeks, Jonathan repeated his earlier words without a hint of regret or apprehension.
“You are pathetic, child.”
He did not see Edwards' hand move and it was only the harsh crack of colliding skin mixed with the sudden blossom of pain across his jaw that alerted him to the fact that Edward had struck him.
To his credit, the flash of surprise which crossed Edwards' face at his own actions was unexpected as he registered the fact that he had been the first to draw his hand out and smack Jonathan. Violence was not unknown to them but over the years it had grown to be an exceptionally rare occurrence, limited to verbal spars which went too far or as part of a criminal plot.
However, when that particular barrier had been broken it was impossible to come back from until a result had been reached.
So the resulting punch which snapped Edwards' head to the side and caused him to drop to one knee did not catch him by surprise too much.
His head ringing from the sudden blow, Edward shook it gently to reorientate his senses before releasing a growl and launching himself at Jonathans' legs.
The quickness of the action left Jonathan unable to avoid the attack and as Edward tackled his legs, Jonathan found himself being slammed backwards against the hard wood flooring, his head cracking off the wood painfully and causing white spots to dance before his eyes. Bringing up his hands in defense, he was able to quickly push Edward off his lower abdomen before the genius to land another blow.
Knocked to the side, Edward again rolled away to avoid a stiff kick from Jonathan as he brought the heel of shoe down harshly on the area of floor which had just been occupied by Edwards' arm. Pushing himself up to a crouching position as he balanced on the balls of his feet, he then launched himself again at the prone Jonathan and was able to straddle him with his hands pinning Jonathans' shoulders to the floor.
Jonathan hissed in rage at Edward, their faces only a few inches apart, before slamming his head up and he felt the hard bone of his skull connect with the soft tissue of Edwards' nose as the genius yelled in pain. As Edward reared back, a droplet of blood fell atop Jonathans' shirt and he felt a spark of satisfaction that he had drawn first blood in their little bout.
As Edwards' hand cradled his bleeding nose, he swung back his other hand before bringing it forward to crack loudly against Jonathans' jaw in the exact same area which he had earlier struck. The second blow to his jaw was enough to cause Jonathan to grunt in pain and the feeling of growing wetness in the corner of his mouth alerted him to the fact that Edward has split his lip.
Baring his teeth, Jonathan summoned his energy enough to push hard on Edwards' chest, forcing the genius off his chest and sending him sprawling across the floor right into the coffee table which lay in the centre of the room.
Edward collided with the table and the wood squeaked in protest as he slammed through it. His head smashed off the reinforced corner and the last thing he felt before the world went dark around him was the explosion of pain which welcomed the darkness.
Seeing Edwards' unmoving body, Jonathans' feeling of victory was interlaced with a fleeting concern that he may have actually damaged his partner. Grunting in pain as he pulled himself to his feet, his jaw was throbbing horribly and his entire body protested his rough encounter with the hard flooring.
He crossed the floor to where Edward lay face down atop the broken table, his nose still dripping blood, and he bent down. Rough fingers pressed against his pulse point revealed a strong beat and Jonathan exhaled as his excess adrenaline buzzed through his veins.
He hated it coming to this. It was painful. For them both.
Slipping his hands under Edwards' arms, he dragged the body across the table and towards the couch. The temptation to just leave Edward as he was nipped at him but he knew that would cause more trouble that it was worth when the genius awoke. The couch would suffice for now, he mused as he elevated Edward enough to deposit him.
Placing a hand on Edwards' jaw, he turned it enough to ensure that Edwards' held was tilted off the edge of the couch, a precaution against him choking on his own blood if Jonathan fell asleep before he awoke.
Giving a long-weary sigh, Jonathan made himself comfortable on the long-backed chair which was his preferred seat in their shared living space as he waited for Edward to wake up.
Their fight was over and the fallout had to be minded.
Fallout which in this case would be the ordering of a new coffee table, something to replace the now blood-stained rug and the subtle observation of Edward over the coming hours to ensure that he did not possess a concussion from his fall.
Apologies would not be exchanged as words made in anger could never be rescinded. Expressions of regret would be disingenuous as the words were intended to cause as much harm as possible when issued.
However, the understanding which existed between them, the understanding which prevented them from murdering the other when any other individual would see a fate worse than death for speaking such truths, would ensure that the words would be forgiven as the wounds were left to heal.
Jonathan was lucky, to an extent, that Edward has fallen awkwardly. The genius was physically stronger than himself but lacked the same level of stamina. In their previous bouts, Edward had developed a tendency to land the odd fortunate blow which was enough to stun him before taking advantage and knocking him out with his blasted cane if it were on hand.
Things would settle after Edward awoke because they always had. Always did. Always would.
Was it an ideal situation?
But it was theirs.