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The Prize

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The corpse is covered in loury bruises and bloody cuts. The killer must’ve had fun with it. Oswald could easily imagine how those injuries came to be; he can associate a grin to the blade and a vibrating laugh to the hits.
The rugged shirt exposed the corpse’s chest. Under the bloody cloth, a question mark is visible, sliced deep into the flesh. For a moment, Oswald stared at it with awe, then turned away with burning rage.
He grumbled to his men, incidentally:
“Take him away.”

***

In front of the familiar steel door, he realized how easy it would’ve been if he just sent the promised money as one does. He could’ve kept his distance.
After everything he made him to live through, Oswald wanted to see him.
He knocked.
Ed opened the door with a wide smile and hiding pride in his eyes. As he invited Oswald in, he suddenly lost courage. He scoutingny puckered his lips as Oswald slammed the pack of money on the table.
“There’s no call for that.”
“It’s your prize, as I promised. You deserve it,” Oswald spoke in a jovial manner. “Usually I pay less to a henchmen,” he added as a second thought, and he saw he hit a spot.
Ed swallowed, looking for the right words. Oswald took delight in his embarrassment.
“You announced this game and I won, but-”
“I should’ve thought you’d take it as a challenge. I’m sorry.”
There was something trembling in Oswald’s voice that made Ed to act. He stepped closer, close enough for Oswald to hug him. He didn’t.
Game. The Penguin liked this expression; it was way more apposite than saying he wanted someone’s head on a plate. His throat dried as Ed’s expression and words proved his suspicion to be true.
“I wanted you to know that it was me. I liked the idea that I killed him for you. Even if you weren’t involved, I would’ve done it. It was fun. Exciting.”
Oswald shut him up with a wave of his hand, rolling his eyes. His grin was unconvinced.
“Please.”
Ed snatched Oswald’s hand, pulling him closer. His voice was menacingly quiet as he whispered:
“Finding someone who tries to hide, way before anyone else finds him, before the ones who only wish for the money… Winning over everyone, enjoying my victory with having a little fun with him… Sounds like me, doesn’t it, Mr. Penguin?”
Oswald glared up at him.
“You know what else sounded like you? A corpse, addressed to me, in front of my club. That certainly sounded like it was you.”
Oswald’s voice quavered. He hated it. He wanted to slap Ed who was ferreting him distrustfully. He leaned down to kiss him and Oswald didn’t draw back. Ed’s kiss tasted like and apology, a prayer.
As Ed started kissing his neck, Oswald knew that he won’t let him get away with it easily.
He took his knife out, strikingly enough. Ed heard the blade hiss. He failed to react to it. He drew back only when he felt the blade’s pressure through his shirt.
Oswald was able to cut him deep without causing serious injuries. He sliced into him to hurt, to make Ed drop on his knees before him. The scene felt familiar, like his executions, and it filled him with satisfaction. After everything he’d lived through today, he even wanted Ed’s death to himself.
Ed must’ve had the same thought. He stared up at Oswald with a challenging grin, sticking his palm to his scars. The dribbling blood was drenching his shirt.
Oswald kissed him on the lips, and Ed painted Oswald’s cheeks scarlet with his fingertips.