Edward Nygma was itching with boredom. He figured a midnight crime would help satisfy him. Robbing a bank vault was just a standard one, but he wasn’t planning on anything big. That would be for later, but for now he just wanted a simple challenge. And what better way was it to solve puzzles and commit crimes than to crack the code of a vault? Most banks in Gotham had poor security, which was rather odd considering the crime rate of the city. But that just made it easier for him. He found it laughably stupid that someone would leave the hints of that code out in the open on an office desk. And he managed to find it all of it on a single calendar page.
In a stealthy crime like this, Edward planned on wearing something comfortable and lenient like his leotard. But before he went out, his henchgirls, Query and Echo, told him that it was still in the laundry. Frustrated, Edward had to go for an alternative outfit: a light brown shirt and dark green leggings, each of which had matching green question marks on it. The girls thought it looked super cute that they suggested wearing it with a jacket and a scarf. At first, Edward scoffed at the idea because he didn’t want to go out like some fashionable hipster or something stupid like that. But he ended up wearing it anyway. His attire wasn’t his main priority at the moment.
“35th anniversary on the 13th of June,” Edward observed the calender page with a smirk “What a clever way to celebrate today’s Silver anniversary. I’m afraid it’s not very subtle.”
He headed to the vault and turned the lock several times to insert each number: 6, 13, 78. With a click, Edward could feel the large door of the vault slightly opening. He couldn’t help but smirk again. He just solved his answer and his reward was a “stable withdrawal” from the bank.
Before Edward could even fully pull open the door, he noticed something from a window hanging nearby. Lots of hazy grey smoke was rising from the other side of the building and it looked like it wasn’t too far away. Luckily he didn’t hear any sirens ringing, so he was safe for now. But as he stood there hesitant, he couldn’t help wonder what was going on.
Edward was aware that curiosity always killed the cat, but between the million dollar cash waiting inside the vault and this, the latter was more overwhelming. After being so restless for the entire day, he needed to satisfy his curiosity somehow.
“Alright fine,” he groaned to himself. “I’m only doing this because I’m bored…” He hoped that he won’t regret his decision. He pushed to close the vault door and went to find the nearest shaft. He figured that with a large amount of smoke, the fire wouldn’t be too far away. Traveling through the shaft would be much more convenient than walking outside to the scene. Not to mention, it was supplied with fresh air so he wouldn’t have to risk losing his breath if he happened to witness it. After he managed to get inside one, he started to head right, the direction the smoke was coming from. He was thankful that it was wide enough for him walk inside.
Edward wasn’t sure how he would find the fire, but as he could sense the rising heat. As he continued to wander in the cold and dark labyrinth, covered with concrete walls and scattered unused pipes, he could feel himself getting warmer, warmer, and perhaps even hotter. The scent of smoke was growing a bit stronger, but the spare fresh air allowed him to keep breathing. As he searched, he would observe any shaft openings to check if he was in the right place and every time it would just be an expected normal room with the lights out. Even so, he felt his curiosity urging him to keep searching until he found the right one. He just hoped he was getting closer to his unknown destination.
After a few minutes that seemed like over an hour and his patience gradually whining thin, Edward suddenly noticed a red glow from a shaft opening. He could feel the burning heat from afar and the hazy smell of smoke.
“Huh, looks like I found the jackpot after all,” Edward amusingly murmured to himself. “Shame it didn’t come with a riddle…that would have been much more amusing.”
He creeped a little closer to take a look from the opening. What he saw was a lot more drastic than what he expected: huge clouds of grey hazy smoke permeated all over the room, outweighing and covering up the burning inferno. Although all of the flames were relatively medium sized, they were flaming all over the large room, flickering in red and orange sparks. If they were all combined together, it would have been one huge forest fire. From the looks of the burning room surrounded in a sea of unbreathable smoke, no human being could survive in less than two minutes.
As Edward stood there fascinated, he noticed a figure passing by. At first, he couldn’t tell who it was from all the smoke. But as he blew some away with his hand, he squinted to see a black caped figure wandering around while slowly losing his breath. Batman! He saw that sharp-eared hooded vigilante anywhere! What on earth is he doing here out of all places?! Surely he had better things to do than to just endanger himself in a deadly inferno like this? And if he had a reason, why would he even die trying?
With so many questions lingering in his mind, Edward pondered a solution to answer all of them. “Now this is an unexpected result,” he thought. “I go searching in a labyrinth and I end up seeing Batman in peril! Surely I can’t just up and leave…” He shook his head after that thought. “Oh what am I thinking, of course I should! You know what the Bat does to you Nygma…” Going back to Arkham was the last thing he wanted, especially since the last time he met the Bat was when he escaped from him. He had been laying low for a month now and he couldn’t let his freedom go to waste.
But Edward quickly eyed the burning scene again and noticed Batman was gradually getting weaker as he kept heading forward. He was on his knees, coughing and still trying to save his breath. He found it very pitiful. As much as he hated the Bat, it would be a shame for him to die in an insufferable disaster like that. He didn’t know why, he just couldn’t leave without something. That would be unsatisfying.
With a frustrated sigh, Edward quickly opened the shaft and fresh air quickly breezed into the fire. It didn’t do anything to put the fire out, but he could see Batman lying down, slowly turning his head to see what just happened. Edward was a yard away from Batman, but with the energy he had and the breathable air, he was certain that he would make it just in time. He quickly rushed in to grab the nearly unconscious vigilante and drag him back into the shaft. Edward remembered how physically weak he was compared to Batman and realized how exhausting this task was going to be. He was practically the weight of a five hundred pound dumbbell, or even heavier than that.
As Edward struggled towards the only exit available, the air from the shaft slowly diminished as the smoke permeated its way to block their inhalation. Edward could feel himself getting more exhausted with each step. His body couldn’t handle too much heat and his lungs were filled with so much smoke. At this rate, he couldn’t take it anymore. With one final breath, his legs loosened and he lost his grip, almost dropping to the floor. At least he thought that would happen, but he could feel Batman suddenly grabbing him and taking over. As the two plunged back into the shaft before it could close again, Edward could feel the intense heat cool down with a soft breeze. Then everything went black.
It felt like waking up in a cold sweat. Edward knew what just happened earlier wasn’t a dream. It was too real to even be one. Once his eyes were open, he made a small groan and tried to get a hold of himself to note where he was. He found himself laying on a sofa, with his jacket and scarf off on his side, along with a few other sofas and tables placed nicely. He looked around to see that he was in an empty lounge in some office building. The attendant desks shined dimly in the darkness, but he could see a brighter moonlight from the window. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary except for Batman, standing there in the dark with his back turned on him.
“Finally awake, Riddler?” the Bat asked bluntly. He didn’t even turn around to ask him that question.
“You…” Edward still felt weak from entering the fire and he could still feel some smoke lingering in his lungs. He couldn’t sound as snide as he wanted to be, but at least he was able to mutter something out. “Where even are we?”
“A lounge. This office building is closed at this hour, so we should be safe here.”
“I see…” After Edward said those words, the two stayed in a silence for a while. He knew that Batman was never eager for conversation, and even if he did try to engage him, he always replied with a grunt. He didn’t like this awkward silence, but before he could even break it, Batman asked him a question, “What were you even doing back there?”
“Huh, that’s the question I’ve been meaning to ask!” Edward tried to raise his voice to sound exasperated, “What were you doing there?!”
“Long story, but to put it shortly…” Batman then explained that there have been various incidents of buildings catching on fire and the GCPD have reported that sightings of someone sneaking inside maintenance rooms, supposedly setting up some bomb for an explosion.. In case of the next fire, which was this one, Batman was requested to find the culprit inside or catch any evidence about them. Noticing a reoccurring pattern from the incidents, Batman guessed which office building might be the next sacrifice and stayed on guard just in time of the inevitable disaster. Although he did manage to catch someone running inside, the burning red and orange flames covered up the silhouette, so he was unable to catch up to them. Nothing was left behind either and his utility belt was lost in the mix. Perhaps even stolen but he was unable to reexamine the place. So Batman almost had no chance of making it out alive; that is until Riddler showed up.
“My god…” That was all Edward could say as he put on his jacket. He was aware that these fires were going on for a while, but he didn’t really care about them because he definitely didn’t do them. He didn’t hear from the other rogues about a grand scheme like this. And even if one of them were, he wouldn’t believe what motivated them to do so.
“There wasn’t anything I could do back there. He’s still out there for all I know.”
“How could you even tell it was a “he”? You must have seen his silhouette, obviously, but could you have tell who that really was from a distance?”
But Batman didn’t answer. Edward scoffed as he turned around and crossed his arms. The Bat never gave him a light answer. If only he could just lighten up for a bit, then Edward wouldn’t have to feel so frigid with him too.
“Were you out on a robbery?” Batman asked, offering him another question. It should have been the other way around.
“Funny you should ask, Dark Knight,” Edward said, finally regaining his usual sarcastic tone. “I couldn’t even finish it thanks to you!”
“So you gave up on a million dollars just to save a life…”
“To be fair, we don’t even know if it was exactly a million dollars or not,” Edward started rambling as he made a few hand gestures. It didn’t matter to him that he was still physically weak. “And don’t get the wrong idea from this. I didn’t do that just from the kindness of my heart, oh no no no no no. It was only because I was curious,” He proudly put his hand on his chest to brag, “They say curiosity kills the cat, but what they forget to include is that satisfaction brought it back. And that’s what I aim to gain from that.”
“And did you get it?”
“Of course I di-“ Edward stopped, for he wasn’t sure how to answer that question. “Well I…I’m not exactly sure. It was an unexpected twist, yes, but not a content one.”
Batman nodded at him. He sat down on an arm chair and pulled out some small gadget. He must be updating his status about the scene or just searching through some complex data. Edward sighed as he slouched in his seat, holding the scarf. He really wished he could just sleep here. He had enough for one night and it was already 2:00 AM. The time didn’t matter at this rate and he was too tired to leave. Then again, he might as well go back to Arkham now that he’s with the Dark Knight. He might as well enjoy this brief break while he can.
Batman put the gadget down and looked at Edward. In a surprisingly soft tone, he said, “Thank you for saving me. I wouldn’t have made it out there alive if it wasn’t for you.”
Edward could feel himself blush from that thanks. Trying not to get his emotions the better of him, he exclaimed flusteredly, “Well you should be! It’s no fun if there’s no one left who’s worthy of a challenge for me. I can’t be the one to just stand there and lose that opportunity.”
“You almost could have died there,” There was a hint of concern in Batman’s voice.
“Well it was an opportunity worth dying for,” Edward retorted, trying to ignore that hint while his face turned red from blushing. “And I’m surprised you didn’t bother to give me CPR when I fainted.”
“Hmph!” he turned around with a pouty look. As much as he liked sharing witty banter with Batman, he didn’t like how unappreciative the vigilante sounded even though he just thanked him. There was another silence between them but Edward preferred it this time. He refused to look at Batman’s expressionless face, even as he heard him get up from his seat to sit nearby.
“Unless if you want one right now.”
Suddenly without warning, Batman leads towards Edward and presses his lips against his. Edward flinched and made a small surprised noise, but quickly silenced himself as he felt the Bat’s breath in his mouth; he wasn’t kidding about “offering” him respiration. He made up his mind to kiss back and wrapped his arms around his back, still holding the scarf. As their lips moved fluidly, he wanted their kiss to last for a while, but Batman slowly pulled away. It didn’t even last for a minute.
Still feeling exhausted, Edward sat there with a now dazed look on his face. On the other hand, Batman still looked as calm and expressionless as ever as he said, “You should get going.”
“Batman…” Edward whispered. He didn’t want Batman to leave, but his arms were too weak to hold onto him and they slipped away as the vigilante stood up. “Please don’t tell me you’re going to-“
“No need,” Batman shook his head as he turned around to leave. “I’m letting you off tonight. Think of it as a token of appreciation.”
Edward sighed, still trying to catch his breath. “So this wasn’t sufficient enough?”
But Batman was already gone. The window that shone with moonlight was suddenly open and the Dark Knight already leaped out. Edward was too tired to even get up and check. He needed a few more minutes to actually regain the strength to get back safely. Perhaps he can call the girls to pick him up like some high school teen and his friends leaving a midnight party. It didn’t help that tonight felt like one; it was a rough night and he had been through too many risky events. As one hand continued to grab onto the scarf and the other touching his lips, he felt strangely glad that it happened. Tonight, he successfully found the satisfaction he was looking for.