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Edward wakes in a bed he has not slept in for over a year, sun coming in through the windows. Despite the coziness of his bed and the warmth suffusing him, a chill goes through his body. He’s in the Van Dahl manor, the home of his greatest enemy.

“Welcome home,” Riddler says, hat cocked at a jaunty angle as he stands in the corner of the room.

“What’s going on?” Edward asks. “What have you done?”

“Who, me?” he innocently replies, putting a hand to his chest. “Nothing, not this time. I suppose you’re still a little slow, so allow me to catch you up. You had a run in with a man of many talents. He decided to give you the opportunity of a lifetime, not that you really had a choice in the matter. A chance to fix your greatest mistake. Well, and for Oswald to fix his as well.”

“Oswald? He’s here?” Edward pulls the covers tighter, staring fearfully around the room.

“You still think he might hurt you?” Riddler asks, cocking a brow. “Wow, we really did need this. I’ll leave you to it, then. This is going to be quite the learning experience.”

“Wait, I still don’t understand what’s going on!” Edward exclaims, watching as his alter blinks out of existence. He still hears his laughter long after he’s gone.

This is your chance to make things right.’ The words echo loudly between his ears, and he winces. How was any of this possible? He doesn’t remember a thing. Perhaps his alter had taken over and brokered a deal to make this happen. The memories of such a thing do not come, which is as good as an answer. He needs to find Oswald, see if he understands what’s happening. He leaves his bed and notices he’s wearing a pair of pajamas Oswald had given him. He hadn’t worn them since his days as Oswald’s chief of staff. Checking the closet for proper clothes, he finds it’s stocked from the same era. His vibrant green suits are nowhere to be found, and so he chooses a more muted color. He dresses quickly, the fit as perfect as always, and goes to Oswald’s door.

“Oswald?” he calls, knocking swiftly. “Oswald, open up!” The door is thrown open, behind it the sight of a man enraged. Oswald is dressed in loose pajamas and a robe, and he’s the most terrifying sight Edward has ever beheld. Snarling, Oswald seizes the front of his suit and slams him against the doorframe, fingers fisted in the lapels of his jacket.

“What kind of sick game is this?” Oswald spits, getting in his face. “We had a deal!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Edward protests. The last thing he remembers is retiring for bed, mouth sore from extended torture, leg bandaged up by Oswald and checked over briefly by Lee.

“Where’s Riddler?” Oswald asks, eyes scanning his face. “Did he do this?”

“Yes? Maybe. I don’t know!” Edward answers, hands coming up between them defensively. “He left. I don’t know what he’s done. Or what happened. I thought we were coexisting.” Oswald’s eyes narrow.

“He’s trying to torture me,” Oswald whispers, eyes staring downward. “He’s using you, trying to weaken me. Well I won’t give in!” Oswald yells into Edward’s face, not talking to him, but through him.

“He says we need to fix our mistakes. I don’t know what he means,” Edward says. He wishes Oswald would let go of him. Perhaps his currently dormant side would emerge any moment and shove him back into nonexistence. Oswald can call him up with a word, but his other has remained hidden despite Oswald’s summoning. Oswald’s eyes go wide, and he releases him at once. Almost too quickly for him to comprehend, the other man goes barreling down the stairs. Edward will never understand how he moves, launching himself bodily forwards and trusting that his momentum will carry him onwards. It’s a dangerous way to proceed.

Edward takes the stairs two at a time downwards, his long legs and the tiny stairs the perfect match. He finds Oswald at the door, morning paper in hand. He looks white as a sheet, shell shocked. Edward reads over his shoulder, notes the date. It’s almost a year past, it’s the day—

The day of Oswald’s celebration at the Sirens.

“No,” he says, backing away. “That’s impossible.”

“It’s that, or a clever ruse,” Oswald growls. “What have you done?”

“I told you,” Edward appeals, “Nothing!” Oswald glares at him, then storms into the house.

“Stay away from me!” he orders, slamming the heavy door behind him. The house shakes, and Edward is left on the stoop. Alone.

But not really.

If he has been displaced in time, everything is exactly as it should be. Which means—

Perhaps this is a second chance after all.

***

He shows up on Isabella’s doorstep, knocks with confidence. She answers, demeanor shy, the chain still on the door.

“Hi,” he says.

“Hello,” she answers. He clears his throat.

“You struggle to regain me. When I’m lost… you struggle to obtain me. What am I?” Edward asks.

“Time,” she answers. “Who are—?”

“Edward Nygma. You might not believe this, but… I know you.” She looks him up and down. Closes the door. Opens it. The chain is gone.

“Come inside,” she says, stepping aside to allow him entry.

What follows is an explanation of their meeting, her death, his transportation through time in order to be given a second chance with her. He tells her stories she’s only told him, stories of her terrible injury as a child that led to her love of books, stories of loneliness, of meaningless dates that were never the one.

“You lost me, and now you’ve travelled back through time to find me again?”

“I know it sounds ridiculous—”

“It’s not,” she interrupts. “It’s… it’s so romantic.”

“You think so?” Edward asks, leaning eagerly forward.

“Edward, your story reads exactly like a novel. I’m delighted to be a part of it,” she says, laying her hand on his thigh. He swallows.

“There’s more about me you don’t know,” Edward begins.

“I like a man with a mysterious past,” Isabella says, smiling flirtatiously. She really is a dream come true.

“I’ve killed people,” he says. “I’ve been to Arkham.” Her smile disappears, and she lays a hand over her chest.

“Did I know that… before?” Edward nods. “Well, I suppose I had a little longer to… adjust, last time. You’ve already done this.”

“I have,” Edward says, nodding again. “I know you’re afraid, but intrigued.” She tilts her head, smiles.  

“I didn’t really expect my soulmate to show up on my doorstep today,” Isabella says. “But I’m glad you did.”

They spend the rest of the day together, and it goes much like their first date. When the hour grows late, he cooks her favourite meal just the way she likes, mirth glittering in her eyes as she stares at him between mouthfuls. It’s dark now, and he expects to leave for the night. Edward stands; they had been relaxing on the couch together.

“I should go,” he says, adjusting his glasses on his face. She takes his hand.

“Stay the night,” she says, squeezing it. She stands, removes his glasses. Kisses him for the first time, but not the first time. Isabella leads him into the bedroom, touches him through his pants, opens them. Her hand on him. She lays on the bed, pulls her panties down her creamy thighs and pulls him between them. He knows what she likes, his hand hard on her throat, squeezing the sides. She shakes apart beneath him once, then again together. He falls asleep inside her still, his head on her breast.

This is the second chance he’d been waiting for.

***

He wakes up in a familiar bed, but it isn’t the right one. Edward is back in the Van Dahl estate, warm but alone. He curls onto his sides and cries and cries, until his alter manifests, perched on the corner of the bed.

“Well, that wasn’t what I had in mind,” he says, crossing one leg over the other. Edward wipes the tears from his face and glares.

“I loved her, losing her was the worst mistake I ever made,” Edward says.

“Try again, lover boy,” his alter says, rolling his eyes. “You’re not taking the right steps.” With that, he’s gone again. Edward has never been so frustrated to see him leave.

“The right steps,” he says to himself, contemplative. “That’s it.” He needs to live this day exactly as he had before, and that will surely break the loop! The only problem is, he’ll need Oswald’s cooperation. He gets up, dressing in the same green suit he had the first time this day played out. He goes straight to Oswald’s room, raising his hand to knock and missing the door entirely when Oswald pulls it open at that exact moment.

“Oswald,” he says, surprised. “I think I know how to end the loop, we just need to—”

“I’m not in the mood for one of your schemes,” Oswald hisses, pushing by him. “I’ve had enough. Yesterday was a nightmare for me. I had to watch Butch pretend he’d destroyed the Red Hood Gang for me, like the traitor was totally innocent. Then when I tried to cut his lying tongue out I was arrested. Me! I couldn’t prove anything without your stupid salt and your scheme; they said I’d gone insane from paranoia. I went to sleep last night in an in an asylum, again!

“Well unless you want to spend tonight in Arkham as well, you need to listen to me! I thought you trusted me,” Edward says, brushing past him in the hallway and blocking his path.

“Move, Nygma,” Oswald growls.

“Or what?” Edward says, spreading his arms.

“Or be moved.” Oswald lunges suddenly, shoving him against the wall. He crumples, hits the floor and holds his head as Oswald walks away. So much for that.

***

The next morning, he brings a peace offering. Breakfast. Edward knocks politely, waits outside his door.

“What do you want?” Oswald spits, looking at him and then the spread in his hands.

“I need you,” Edward says. “And you need me. We need to work together if we want to end the cycle.” Oswald’s face scrunches up in anger, and then he closes his eyes. Relaxes. Serenity now. When he opens his eyes, it’s as if all his anger has piled up there, directed at him alone. Edward trembles under his stare. Some things never changed.

“How?”

“We live out the day exactly as it first occurred,” Edward says. “We do everything the same way we did the first time, and time will move forward again.”

“You know that for sure?” Oswald asks, suspicion in every line of his face.

“No,” Edward says, “But have you got any better ideas?”

***

He lays under Oswald, woozy and clutching at his lapel, his wrist. Once again, he’s just as struck by his proximity as he was that first time. Oswald is close enough that he can feel the heat from his mouth, close enough to kiss. If Oswald had been in love with him, why didn’t he? Edward lets Oswald cradle him, put on the show they’re meant to. And if he pretends it’s genuine, that’s his business.

Oswald takes him home, keeps an arm around him in the limo as he had that night. Edward remembers exactly what they’d said, what they’d done. Apparently, so does Oswald. He plays his part perfectly, helping to strip Edward out of his clothes with shaking hands. They’d been shaking that first time too, but Edward had attributed it to the trauma. Was it perhaps because of him? Oswald holds the robe open for him and he slips into it, pulling it tightly around himself. He’d scrambled to do so that first time as well, afraid that Oswald would see the marks that crept up behind his shoulders. Oswald had scars, but not like his. He was a fighter, a scrapper. Edward had been helpless to the infliction of his own.

They go through the motions. Couch. Tea. Dialogue. Edward nearly cries when he tells Oswald he’d do anything for him, knowing that Oswald had only ended up taking advantage of it. He had meant every word, body and soul, and look what had happened to him because of it. Oswald hugs him, holds him just as tight or maybe tighter than he had that first time. Edward shivers, melts into the embrace. He hates that he loves this, that Oswald’s touch is still something he craves. Even after all the hurt he’d inflicted, Edward can’t deny how good he feels right now. Oswald should repulse him. Perhaps he hadn’t left any marks on Edward’s body, but he’d wounded him more deeply than anyone else ever had. He’d been gutted by Oswald’s betrayal. Decimated.

Had they held each other for this long that first time? He needs to retire on time or it might ruin everything. Edward pulls away, startled to see that Oswald is crying. That hadn’t happened before, why is he doing it now? Does it pain Oswald to pretend like this, to pretend that he cares for him still? Edward’s face feels hot. He’s ashamed. If anything, he should be the one’s who’s uncomfortable with this. Isabella is still alive in this timeline, and here he is enjoying the embrace of her killer—her would-be killer—oh, whatever.

“You should get some rest,” Oswald says, just as he had once before. Edward clears his throat, smiles at him, the stretch paining his face.

“Thank you for the tea,” Edward says, standing. Oswald rises as well.

“I’ll walk you to your room.” And so he does. Edward gets to the door, turning his back to it.

“You probably want this back,” he says, undoing the tie of the robe. His face heats at the motion. He hadn’t known how Oswald felt about him the first time they did this. In hindsight, he can see how sensual he’d been with Oswald, too comfortable with him to realize how he might be coming across. He slips the robe off his shoulders, keeping his back to the door.

“Sweet dreams, Edward,” Oswald says, accepting the robe.

“Sweet dreams,” Edward responds, turning the doorknob behind his back and stepping inside. He closes the door, rests his forehead against the wood. Was Oswald still on the other side? He sighs and walks to his bed, turning down the covers and slipping beneath them. In the morning, things will be right again.

***

“Well that was boring,” Riddler says, playing with his hat. He rolls it down his arm, flicks it up so it lands on his head.

“You said I wasn’t taking the right steps, I followed the day to a tee,” Edward says, glaring at him from under the covers.

“You think that what’s right and the path you take today are one and the same?” Riddler asks, raising his brows.

“I… what do you mean?” Edward asks, thoroughly exasperated.

“The right steps are whatever makes you happiest,” Riddler informs him. “So go crazy. Live a little. Have fun today!” He disappears in a swirl of jazz hands. Edward groans and flops back into bed. It wouldn’t make a difference if he slept all day, would it? He pulls up the covers and closes his eyes, preparing to wallow a little over his misfortune. Apparently, having sex with a beautiful woman wasn’t his alter’s idea of fun. Otherwise, his first day with Isabella would have qualified. Then… what would his alter consider to be a good time? He determines to sleep on it, breathing deeply.

“Edward!” Oswald shrieks, throwing open the bedroom door. Edward wants to cry. He’d only wanted a few hours to be miserable and alone, was that so much to ask?

“You said living the day out would fix things, but I’m still trapped here! You had best set your mind to solving this or I swear I will make your imprisonment with me absolute hell. Don’t think for a second that I—" Edward sits up, glaring at Oswald with everything he has, despite the fact that he’s mostly a blur without his glasses. He’s still feeling groggy, but if it’s torture he wants to play, Edward has plenty of ideas. Oswald cuts himself off instantly, eyes fixated somewhere below Edward’s chin. Briefly, Edward wonders why it had been so easy to cow him, glancing down at his bare chest as well.

His bare chest.

GET OUT!” Edward screeches, pulling the sheets up to cover himself. Oswald immediately turns and flees, slamming the door behind him. Edward has never been so embarrassed, so ashamed. Oswald had seen his scars, surely, and he will never forget. He never did. Anyone with a lick of common sense could figure out how a man with his sort of lifestyle could come to be so horribly marked. And Oswald possesses quite a bit more than a lick. The other man will certainly piece it together, and then he’ll have all the ammunition he needs against Edward.

Now quite a bit more miserable than before, Edward rises from bed, trudging to the closet. He has to live this day to its fullest, apparently. How hard could that be? Maybe Riddler wanted to rob a few banks, a museum, attend a gala. If that was the case though, was Oswald meant to do the same? He sighed. If they wanted to leave, it was likely. He’ll have to face Oswald and inform him of the true meaning of what his alter had said.

“Oswald?” Edward called, poking his head around various corners of the manor. He eventually spots him outside, sitting in the garden. Edward takes a seat next to him, glancing up at the rare blue sky.

“I apologize,” Oswald says. It nearly scares Edward out of his skin.

“You what?” he asks, wondering if he’s hearing things.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have barged in on you like that. It was incredibly rude. I can only imagine what my mother would have to say about my behavior,” Oswald says, staring at a nearby dove. Edward clears his throat.

“Well, she probably wouldn’t tell you you’re an ass,” Edward said, glancing at him.

“That’s fair,” Oswald says. “You must admit that you’re not exactly easy to get along with either.”

“Excuse me, but between the two of us, I was a far more reasonable roommate,” Edward says, eyes wide and disbelieving.

“No wonder you preferred living here, that apartment was far too small,” Oswald says. Edward hums.

“I’ve considered an alternate solution to our dilemma.” Oswald turns to him. “We live today to the fullest, do everything we want to do, and then we can move on.”

“You have evidence that this will work?” Oswald asks. Edward shakes his head.

“None, just what Riddler’s told me. But… what else can we do? Besides, if we’re trapped in a time loop—which essentially has no permanent consequences by its very nature—we might as well have fun with it,” Edward explains, shrugging.

They party all day long, ignoring each and every one of their responsibilities. Edward calls his dealer and does more cocaine than he’s ever dared to before, swinging from the chandelier in the ballroom and whisking Oswald into a waltz. Butch Gilzean intermittently attempts to crash their party of two, reminding them several times about the Red Hood Gang, the threat they posed to the city, the party they’re attending tonight. Oswald blows him off completely, bending Edward backwards drunkenly and laughing uproariously when Edward screeches at Oswald not to drop him. He doesn’t, but he does trip and fall on the way back to the living room, landing on the carpet in front of the fire.

“I think I’ll just stay here,” Oswald mumbles into the carpet, slurring slightly. Edward lands with a little more grace next to him, putting himself between Oswald and the fire. He lays on his stomach, propping himself up on his elbows. Once again, Butch makes an entrance.

“You two need to get sober, the celebration starts in an hour,” he says, as if he’s the boss of them.

“We’re not going,” Oswald says, hiccupping slightly.

“What about the Red Hood Gang?” Butch asks, in utter disbelief.

“To hell with the Red Hood Gang!” Oswald exclaims, rolling onto his back.

“No one cares,” Edward adds, laying down on his arms.

“What will I tell the press?” Butch asks, looking between them, completely shocked.

“Not my circus, not my monkeys,” Oswald says.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean!” Butch exclaims.

“It means you can deal with it, we’re not going anywhere,” Edward says, nuzzling into his arms.

“Alright, screw this,” Butch says, storming off.

“Oh my god,” Edward whispers, bolting upright. “I have to pee so badly.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Oswald asks. “Just go.”

“Right,” Edward replies, lurching to his feet. He stumbles to the bathroom, completely cross-faded from the combination of liquor and stimulants. He doesn’t realize Butch is standing before him until he literally walks into him. “Oh, hey.”

“Hey there,” Butch says, slamming Edward into the wall by his throat. He claps his hand over Edward’s mouth, his arm a bar across Edward’s windpipe. “I should have done this a long time ago.”

If Edward could speak, he’d be screaming for Oswald to help him. As it is, he can only kick out at his attacker, aiming for his shins, attempting to knee him in the groin, stomping on his feet. He can’t peel Butch’s arms away and tries to claw his eyes out instead, the man staying out of reach as Edward begins to lose his ability to fight.

“Oswald wants something from you that he doesn’t want from me,” Butch says. “That makes you special, means he’ll give you whatever you ask for. You’re his guy. Which means that if I wanna keep sitting pretty where I am and keep Tabby safe, you need to go. It’s nothing personal. I mean it kind of is, but— never mind.” Tears roll down his cheeks. He can’t breathe, can only squirm underneath this behemoth, his strikes to Butch’s torso becoming weaker and weaker.

“I wonder if you would have actually let him fuck you to get further ahead,” Butch muses. “You’ve already got a stick up your ass, not much room for much else. You know, you always kinda struck me as more of a cold fish type, actually.” Edward has never been more humiliated in his life, hearing this man talk about his body like that. It wasn’t enough to kill him, no. Butch wanted to rub it in, rub in the fact that he’d only won Oswald’s favor over him because Oswald was attracted to him, had desired him. In the brief time they’d known one another, Butch apparently hated Edward that much.

Black spots enter the edges of his vision. There’s not enough air, he’s breathing through his nose but not breathing. Butch leans into him harder, crushing his throat beneath the press of his arm. Only an emergency procedure can save him now, and he doubts that Butch is going to change his mind and bring him to the hospital.

“Ed?” Oswald. Butch takes his hands off of Edward, looking between the two of them and weighing his odds. He does the intelligent thing and runs, putting as much distance between himself and Oswald as he can before Edward expires. He slips down the wall, hands on his broken neck, and he knows he doesn’t have much time. He’s going to die.

I can’t breathe,” he wheezes.

“Shhhh, you’re okay, just breathe,” Oswald tells him, hands fluttering uselessly around Edward.

Can’t,” Edward whispers, trying to stand but collapsing back into a sprawl on the floor, the black spots swarming. He’s too lightheaded, can’t even get up.

“Ed? Ed!” He can’t focus on Oswald’s face, everything is getting hazy. He reaches out for him but he’s too weak to hold on, his hands slipping from Oswald’s jacket as he slips into the black.

***

He bolts upright, gasping for air and clutching at his throat. He’d died. He’d died in Oswald’s arms last night and he is terrified. Trembling, he clutches the comforter to his chest and sobs, hugging it tightly to himself.

“Edward?” Oswald bursts through the door for the second day in a row, completely out of breath. “Ed!”

Oswald,” Edward sobs, covering his mouth with one hand. Oswald launches himself into the bed, gathering Edward into his arms tightly, pressing him into his chest.

“I’m so glad you’re alright,” Oswald cries, kissing his hair. “You were gone; I didn’t know what to do, I thought you might be gone forever.” Edward latches onto him, burying his face into Oswald’s robe and taking in the comforting scent. It calms him somewhat, but he’s still incredibly distraught, the phantom pains of having his throat crushed somehow lingering.

“I’m so scared,” he admits, fingers digging into Oswald, clawing him closer.

“I’m so sorry, I should have prote—” Oswald shuts down, freezing in place. Edward knows he’s a bit slow when it comes to the feelings department, but the realization that follows is agonizing.

“You still want me,” he says, slowly peeling himself out of Oswald’s embrace. “I think you should go.”

“You’re wrong,” Oswald says. He sounds like he’s lining up for the gallows. “I still love you.”

“Don’t you dare say that to me,” Edward says, shoving him hard, hoping he’ll fall off the bed. He doesn’t.

“It’s true,” Oswald says, shrugging. “Why pretend otherwise?”

“You still don’t know what love is,” Edward hisses, pulling sheets up between them “You only wanted me because you thought I’d let you have me.”

“That’s not true,” Oswald says, “Let me explain—”

“Your actions speak for you” Edward spits. “Why else would you have killed Isabella?”

“That was a mistake,” Oswald states serenely.

“Because you thought that if she was out of the picture—” Edward pauses, processing. “What did you just say?”

“Killing Isabella was a mistake.” Edward’s eyes nearly bug out of his head. Oswald has never gotten her name correctly… no, he doesn’t mean it. This is a trick.

“Because you got caught?” Edward sneers.

“No, because it hurt you,” Oswald says, ducking his head. “You were right. Love isn’t selfish, and I was. I didn’t deserve your friendship, or your loyalty.”

“You betrayed me,” Edward whispers. They’ve never talked about what happened, really talked, only ever sniped at one another. Bickering and throwing things like children. This is what he wants from Oswald. The composure, the maturity he admires so much.

“You don’t have to forgive me,” Oswald says. “Just know that I regret it, and I’ve changed.” Oswald stands, walking morosely to the door.

“Oswald?” Edward calls, halting him in the doorway. “Now that… now that you’ve had time to reflect on your feelings for me…” He coughs, clearing his throat and silencing himself. He can’t ask, he knows that either way he’s going to struggle with the answer.

“Yes, Edward?” Oswald asks. He takes a breath. Hiding their feelings from one another was what started this whole mess. He needs to know where Oswald stands.

“Do you truly love me, or have you realized that isn’t the case?” Edward asks, clenching his fists so tightly in anticipation his nails cut into his palms, drawing blood. Oswald’s lips part, and he has the look of a trapped animal, caught in the doorway, ensnared in Edward’s gaze.

“I love you, Edward. Truly. And that won’t ever change,” Oswald says, knuckles white on the doorknob. “I should go.” He closes the door before Edward has a chance to halt him, still clad only in his boxer-briefs and entirely unwilling to run after him in this state of undress.

“Wow, that was sexy,” Riddler says, flicking his hat to land on the post of the bed and smoothing back his perfect hair.

“No, it wasn’t,” Edward says pulling up his sheets defensively to hide from himself.

“True love is kind of a turn-on,” Riddler winks, crawling onto the bed.

“He’s sweet,” Edward says, staring longingly at his closed door.

“I can’t believe he cried over losing us, after all he did. After all we did,” Riddler says, laying down next to him.

“He was beside himself,” Edward agrees. “I’ve only seen him like that once, after his mother.”

“I was definitely into it,” Riddler says. “We had his undivided attention.” Edward shivers, pulling his sheets up more.

“Do you think he meant it?” Edward asks, looking to his alter.

“Why would he lie?” Riddler muses. “He thinks we hate him. No reason to believe that pretty words will change our mind.”

“We do hate him,” Edward mutters. Riddler cocks a brow.

“Right, that’s why we went back to Arkham for him,” he says snapping his fingers. “Why we saved him even after he set us free, saved his little protégé—”

“Okay, enough,” Edward says, cutting himself off. “Perhaps he’s not as repulsive as he previously was to me.”

“We liked him,” Riddler argues. “Up until the Isabella thing, of course. Having those guards beat on us on us also sucked. Oh, and the freezing thing… that’s all water under the pier though, isn’t it?” Edward hums noncommittally.

“The point is, he’s sorry. I know we’re sorry it came to this. We had a good thing going with him, maybe more if he hadn’t betrayed us,” Riddler argues.

“Are you saying I should… be with him?” Edward asks, his tone not as offended as he’d like it to be.

“I’m saying that you’re not going to find anyone else who sees us,” Riddler informs him, oddly serious for once. “Someone who’s going to love us like he does. Truly love us. He changed for us, just like we did after he was gone, just like he said we would after the murder of someone we love. Who else will ever understand who we were, who we’ve become? Who else will ever know us like he does?”

“Do you love him?” Edward asks.

“We do,” Riddler confesses, turning onto his elbow to face him.

“Speak for yourself,” Edward argues.

“We’ve imagined it,” Riddler shrugs. “I know you’ve touched yourself before, thinking of him. I know you want to do it right now. Go ahead.”

Edward swallows, reaches under the covers and pulls his briefs down and off. He drops them over the side of the bed. He’s already going, licking his palm and wrapping a hand around himself. He sighs, head tipping back, imagines Oswald’s large hand around him, callouses rough against his cock.

“They’d feel even better inside you,” Riddler remarks, watching him. Edward pushes two into his mouth, sucks on them. Spreads his legs and pushes in, crooking them, fucking himself on his fingers. It’s not as good as it could be, he’s not wet enough, slick enough.

“Think everything is in the nightstand still?” Riddler interrupts. Edward pulls his fingers free, checks. Finds lube, and the small dildo he’d bought at Stocks and Bondage when his fantasies about Oswald were reaching the height of their intensity. He’d only used it once, the experience too overwhelming as his vivid imagination had run rampant. Edward had finished screaming Oswald’s name, worried sick that he’d been overheard. The dildo was far too dangerous, it could expose his secret to everyone in the manor. He slicks his fingers instead, moaning at how nice the drag of them feels now.

“You know, I have to wonder,” Riddler begins, eyes twinkling. “Would he fuck you slow and sweet, just like this, or does he fuck like he kills?” Edward jolts, imagining both scenarios. Him on his back, just like he is now. Only it’s Oswald’s fingers pressing into him, crooking the way he likes. Oswald covering his body with his own, his hard cock weeping and pressed at his entrance. Asking Edward if he’s ready, pushing in oh so slow and kissing him, filling him up so good and right. Or maybe Oswald didn’t have that kind of patience. Cock painfully hard and wanting, perhaps he’d flip Edward over onto his stomach, Edward’s own hardness rubbing into the sheets his only relief. He’d slick up his cock and press the head in, grabbing hold of Edward’s arm and twisting it up his back when he squirmed and told Oswald it hurt. Telling him he’d asked for it like this, and that he was going to deliver. He’d mount Edward like that, fuck him like an animal, erratic and selfish. Sink his teeth into him and take what was his, marking Edward deep inside with his release, with the impressions of his fingers on his skin.

“We love the way he kills. Brutal, ruthless, savage. He’s a cruel man, but can you imagine all that passion—that intensity—all for you?” Edward moans, jerks his hand painfully inside of himself and gasps. “I think he’d fuck us raw, hold us down and make us bleed. I know I’d like that. We need a firm hand sometimes.” Edward imagines it, imagines it but finds himself thinking about the look in Oswald’s eyes when he catches him staring. It doesn’t match with the man he’s seen taking lives, the one he can easily imagine holding him down and forcing him into submission.

“He wouldn’t,” Edward gasps, wrapping a hand around himself in addition to fingers. He’s close, he’s picturing Oswald. Oswald, supporting his hips and thrusting smooth and deep, asking Edward if it felt good, if he wanted to stop.

“Why do you think that,” Riddler asks, eyebrows raised. Oswald was kissing him in his head, kissing along his jaw. He was at Edward’s ear, whispering praises, his hands careful on Edward’s body like he cherished every inch, cherished him.

“He wouldn’t hurt me,” Edward insists. Oswald never hurt him, not like that. Never would. Never ever ever ever.

“He already has,” Riddler reminds him. Gosh, whose side is he on? Edward hears Oswald’s words plain as day in his head, incorporates them into his fantasy and crooks his fingers, imagining Oswald telling him such intimate things while he’s inside him.

“He… he wouldn’t. Not ever again,” Edward stutters out, his brain mostly overwhelmed with the pleasure he’s bringing to himself, struggling to be coherent.

“Why do you believe him?” Edward is stubbornly silent.

“Why, Eddie?” In his fantasy, Oswald was changing the course of his praise.

You’re so tight, you feel so good.

You look so good taking cock, taking my cock.

I need you.

You’re everything to me.

I love you, Edward.

Truly.

And that won’t ever change.

“Because he loves me,” Edward cries, spasming around his fingers and coming over his fist. He wails with it, pushing his fingers in harder, imagining that Oswald is coming with him, inside of him. The drip of lubrication down between his cheeks is Oswald’s release leaking out of him, between his thighs. He pants, chest heaving. His alter has vanished, apparently satisfied with his acceptance.

Now what is he going to do about it?

***

Edward emerges from his room for food, finds Oswald putting a loaded pistol in his coat.

“What’s that for?” he asks, casually slipping into the fridge.

“I want you to come to the Sirens tonight, and to trick Butch the way you did before,” Oswald explains.

“Why?” Edward asks.

“There’s something I want to do. You said we needed to live this day to the fullest, right?” Edward nods. “Well this will be very fulfilling to me.”

“I’m going to do things a little differently, if that’s okay?” Edward says, picking out some fruit. He wants Zsasz covering him when he confronts Butch, because the idea of that gorilla getting his paws on him again makes him shudder.

“As long as the end result is the same,” Oswald says, patting his coat and insuring that the pistol is hidden in the lines of the fabric. It’s unnoticeable.

“Will do.”

***

Edward rips the red hood from his head, “You really thought I would give you real bullets? You are an idiot.”

“I will kill you for this,” Oswald whispers, his voice like ice. Edward remembers his rage the first time, but this was serene. It was planned. This time, he sounds like he means it. A chill goes up Edward’s spine.

“After all that I’ve done for you,” Oswald says, voice low. He approaches like a predator. “I gave you a job. I gave you everything.”

“I used to be somebody in this town, then you and that sniveling little son of a…” Oswald winds up his slap much father, delivers it harder. Edward doesn’t laugh this time, paralyzed by the knowledge that something here has shifted.

“Shut up,” Oswald commands, a blade’s edge of cold steel in his tone. He takes the stage. “I am shocked… and grieved… that one of my dearest friends has betrayed me. But let it be known that Oswald Cobblepot will prosecute anyone who threatens Gotham.” He speaks into the microphone, voice level and controlled, rehearsed. He’s still waiting for part of the script.

“Hear, hear!” Cheers, and then chaos breaks loose. Shots fired, Tabitha with a knife and a body, then up on the stage. Butch, face contorting with rage. It happens so quickly that Edward is acting on instinct again.

“Oswald, mo—” Shots he hasn’t heard before, they sound like they’re almost next to his ear. He covers them, ducking down. Looks at his shirt front and sees blood. Edward panics, patting himself down. He doesn’t want to die, not again. Nothing hurts, where had the blood—

Butch is laying at his feet, the back of his head blown out. He must have been shot in the forehead from the front by a high caliber bullet, but there was no one behind him who could have—

He turns, and there Oswald stands, pistol in hand. His face is expressionless, grip on the pistol turning his knuckles white, chest heaving in anger.

“That wasn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped,” Oswald says, frowning. He puts on the safety, slips it back into his pocket.

“Why?” Edward asks, staring up at him as he stands on the stage.

“I am never letting him put his hands on you again,” Oswald says, resolute. “I wanted to feel like I could do something about it, like I would have if you’d told me your brilliant plan in the first place.” Heat flares in his stomach, the streak of protectiveness combined with his declaration the perfect storm to sate Edward’s desire for attention and caring. Edward stands at the edge of the stage, motions for Oswald to come closer. He reaches up, feeling a bit odd as he does with their height difference reversed so dramatically. Edward goes up on his tip-toes, arms sliding around Oswald shoulders as he pulls him down and kisses him. Lights are flashing all around them, more cheers erupting from the crowd. Edward could not care less about them, parting his lips beneath Oswald and pressing against him again, straining to kiss him at this angle. Oswald finally touches him, cupping his face, lips descending more firmly upon his and stealing his breath away. Then he parts them, hands pulling Edward’s from around his shoulders.

“Let’s get you home,” Oswald says, taking Edward’s hands in his and pressing a kiss to the knuckles of each. Edward pulls his eyes away from him, watching in in utter awe even as he helps Oswald down from the stage. Oswald ushers him away to the car, pulling out a handkerchief and wiping away some of the blood that’s on his face. Edward takes the cloth from him.

“You’ve got some too.” It’s his fault, the blood probably transferred there when Edward kissed him. Edward wipes it away, circling gently when he merely creates a smear. “What happened after I died?” Oswald tenses, eyes going wide with terror and then shutting down.

“I held you. And I cried. I wasn’t sure if time would keep moving or if we’d reset, so I sought out Strange. I thought he could bring you back. I didn’t find out before we woke up again, since it had passed midnight.”

“When you were gone, I went a little off the rails,” Edward admits. He hands Oswald the handkerchief, runs his fingers over his cheek instead.

“So I’ve heard,” Oswald smirks. “Quite the string of theft. I was impressed.”

“That wasn’t all,” Edward says. “I was—I was taking pills that enabled me to hallucinate you. I missed you, Oswald. I do care about you. Deeply.” Oswald closes himself off, takes hold of Edward’s wrist and pulls his hand from his person.

“Let’s just get you home. I imagine dealing with Butch again was not easy.” Edward doesn’t respond, feeling the weight of rejection heavy in his chest.

Oswald runs him a bath once they’re home, sits him on the toilet and sets out comfortable clothes for him, his favourite black and gold robe. The sight sets off pangs in Edward’s heart, and Oswald leaves him to it. He cleans himself methodically, wondering what the point is when he’s just going to reset in the morning. He washes the product from his hair, eyes always straying to the robe. Perhaps Oswald believed that a warm, lonely bath would comfort him in some way. It does not. He finishes, wondering why he feels as though there’s so much left unsaid between them. Then he speaks from inside the mirror.

“We’re in love with him,” Riddler announces, arms crossed, figure obscured by the fog on the mirror. ‘Speak for yourself’, Edward had told him earlier. He thinks he understands now. Riddler is speaking for himself. His selves. Him. Same difference. “Go get him.”

Edward dries off, considers the clothing Oswald had left out. He forgoes them. He tugs on the robe, ties it around his waist, covering himself. It shows a bit more leg on him that it does on Oswald, but that’s alright. He doesn’t plan on wearing it long. He tries to sort out his hair a bit, leaves it wet and forgoes product but arranges the strands a little more neatly. When he seeks him out, Oswald is waiting in front of the fire. The tea is steaming, hot and waiting for him. Edward smiles.

“Oswald?” he calls, stepping into the light. Oswald glances at him, does a double take.

“Are you wearing—?”

“Not important,” Edward says. “I need to talk to you about something.” He sits on the couch directly next to Oswald, legs tucked under himself.

“Edward, if it’s about my feelings for you, you can save it. I have no intentions of either pursuing you or ever harming you again, I swear to you—”

“That’s not what I want to talk about,” Edward interrupts. “Do you remember the riddle I told you, during your campaign?”

“Of course,” Oswald says. “You were trying to dissuade me from taking bribe money, have a clean election.”

“Do you remember how it goes?” Edward asks.

“‘I can’t be bought, but I can be stolen with a glance,” Oswald recites, glancing away. “I’m worthless to one, but priceless to two.’ I’ve learned my lesson, Ed. Your love could not be stolen—”

“Stop,” Edward says, pressing his fingers into his eyes. “I’m doing this all wrong.”

“Doing what?” Oswald asks, concern lacing his tone.

“Just… listen. I have another one for you. ‘I can start a war or end one. I can give you the strength of heroes or leave you powerless. I might be snared with a glance but no force can compel me to stay. What am I?’”

“Love,” Oswald says, unaffected. “Edward, what are you trying to say?” Edward laughs to himself. These things could never just be easy, could they?

“You know, the beginning of that riddle used to bring to mind Helen of Troy,” Edward begins.

“The face that launched a thousand ships,” Oswald says. “I’m familiar.”

“Precisely. But now…” He clears his throat. “Now, it makes me think of you and I.”

“Ed…” Oswald says, eyes flickering over his face frantically, trying to decipher his meaning.

“Ask me again,” Edward says, leaning in. Oswald takes a deep breath.

“I can’t be bought, but I can be stolen with a glance,” Oswald says, eyes never wavering from Edward. “I’m worthless to one, but priceless to two. What am I?”

“Love,” Edward whispers. “I love you.” Oswald freezes in place, and Edward graciously gives him a moment.

“Is that why you kissed me?” he asks, eyes narrowed. Edward shrugs.

“Probably? I wasn’t really thinking about love at the moment, I just really wanted to kiss you,” he explains.

“Would you like to kiss me again?” Oswald asks, leaning in.

“I think I’d enjoy that immensely, come to think of it,” Edward whispers, voice gone low and husky without permission. Oswald closes the gap between them, seizing Edward’s face in his hands and devouring him. It’s too hard too sharp but Edward slows it down, opens his mouth against Oswald’s, tongue swiping languidly over his bottom lip. Oswald hugs him around his waist, falls into the tempo Edward sets. His lips part and interlock in time with Edward, an edge of hunger there still, barely restrained. Edward wants to tip him over the edge eventually, feel the full strength of his desire, but for now he wants to kiss him in front of the fire like he wishes they had the first time.

Arousal curls hot in his belly, Oswald’s growing confidence exciting him as he allows him to begin dominating their kisses. Oswald claims his mouth, tongue darting teasingly inside, flicking against his own. He’s much too adept at this already, Edward whining unintentionally when he pulls away.

Oswald’s eyes are nearly black, pupils blown wide, only a thin ring of dark green left around the circumference of the iris. Edward feels a pull he can’t explain, like he’s caught more firmly in Oswald’s gravity than he was before. He can’t imagine what he looks like, his hair loose and disorganized such that he can feel his curls hanging over his forehead. They stare at one another forever and for no time at all, Oswald grabbing for him again, ferocious in his intensity. His hand soothes down Edward’s back, taking hold of his hip.

Edward shifts, wraps his arms around Oswald’s shoulders, wanting to be closer but nothing being close enough. He dislodges Oswald’s hand, and when Oswald reaches for him again it lands on his ass, gripping him tightly. Edward moans, surging against him, and his control snaps. He turns, lifting his leg over Oswald’s lap and straddling him. Oswald groans, hips bucking up between Edward’s thighs. Edward breaks the kiss, whimpering and burying his face the crook of Oswald’s shoulder. Oswald puts his hands on Edward’s thighs, gasping when he meets bare skin, the robe having parted to reveal them when Edward slung his leg over Oswald’s.

“You’re—” Oswald blushes, seemingly unable to finish the sentence.

“I’m not wearing anything else,” Edward confirms, settling more comfortably in Oswald’s lap. He feels Oswald’s hardness, even trapped as it is beneath his clothing. Of course, that doesn’t mean anything when it comes to Oswald’s desire to continue.

“I don’t—” Edward flushes, presses his finger to Oswald’s lips. He knows what he’s going to say.

“We don’t have to do anything,” he explains nervously. “I’m sorry. I just—I shouldn’t have assumed that you’d want me. We can stop if this is too much.”

“You shouldn’t assume that I don’t, either,” Oswald says, smiling fondly at him. “I do want you. Like that. I just… Idon’thaveanyexperience.” Edward blinks owlishly at him.

“You mean you’ve never—?”

“I’ve never even kissed anyone like that before,” Oswald confesses. Edward smiles warmly.

“Truth be told,” Edward says, kissing the bridge of Oswald’s nose. “Neither have I.” He presses their lips together again, Oswald parting his own to meet him perfectly, like he’s been doing it his whole life.

“Could have fooled me,” Oswald says, brows raised in suspicion.

“I’ve kissed people,” Edward admits. “But not like with you. This is… this is different.”

“Because I’m a man?” Oswald inquires.

“No.” Edward considers it for a moment. “I think it’s because I love you.” The way Oswald is looking at him makes him want to tell him more often, the utter adoration plain on his face making his heart pound. He kisses him, jolting when both of Oswald’s hands cup his backside, pulling him so their groins are flush. His thighs clench around Oswald’s hips involuntarily, nails digging into Oswald’s shoulders as he shivers. Oswald groans, pushing up, grinding his cock between Edward’s cheeks. Edward meets him, rocks in his lap, his hardness rubbing into the fine wool of Oswald’s suit. He tangles his hands in Oswald’s hair, hips pushing erratically against him, rhythm becoming more frantic, desperate.

Oswald boldly slips his hands beneath the robe, fingers sinking into the soft curve of Edward’s ass, pulling him into Oswald’s own hard thrusts. The feeling of Oswald’s rough hands, his strong grip, the unmistakable press of his length beneath the layers of his clothing, they all serve as reminders that he has absolutely no idea how to please a man in practice, only theory. Not only that, but he feels his impending release quickly approaching. He hasn’t even touched him, needs to slow down and cool off before this is over far too soon. He breaks away from Oswald’s lips, gasping for air.

“Oswald, if you don’t stop I’m—”

“Me too,” Oswald tells him, kissing the side of his neck and making him squirm. “Don’t stop.”

Oswald continues pressing kisses to his throat, along his jaw. Edward is careening towards the edge, Oswald nosing along the side of his neck. Suddenly Oswald’s arms are wrapped around him tightly, his hips pumping up up up, teeth sinking into the place he was nuzzling gently only moments ago. It’s enough to get him there, crying out helplessly into Oswald’s feathery hair.

Oh, oh dear.” He shakes apart in Oswald’s lap, his cock untouched and soiling the wool of Oswald’s trousers. Edward slumps and pants into the side of his neck, breathless and exhilarated, and a little ashamed. Oswald holds him, touches his hair, fingers carding gently through the strands. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“You didn’t—”

“I did.”

“When you—?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.” Edward relaxes. He’s a little disappointed they didn’t do more, but there’s still time for that yet. He hasn’t even gotten Oswald’s clothes off—

“That was incredible,” Oswald says, stroking his back.

“That isn’t even the start of what I want to do with you,” Edward mumbles into his shoulder, drowsy in the aftermath. Oswald wraps his arms around Edward’s waist and turns them, laying back on the couch and pulling Edward atop him.

“You can show me in the morning,” Oswald replies, yawning.

“I can do much better than that,” Edward insists. “Promise.”

“If it’s any consolation, you’re the best I’ve ever had,” Oswald teases, settling Edward so that his bad leg isn’t trapped between his calves. Edward slaps his chest half-heartedly.

“The only one,” he mutters. “We shouldn’t sleep here, this can’t be comfortable for you.”

“Just rest,” Oswald tells him, “I’ll wake you if I want to get into a real bed.”

“Good night,” Edward says, snuggling into his side.

“Good night,” Oswald says, holding him closer.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

***

Edward wakes up alone, disoriented. Vivid memories play through his head. Oswald, triumphant with a pistol in hand, himself spattered in the remains of his vanquished enemy. Oswald beneath him, kissing him, phantom sensations of strong hands guiding him into stronger thrusts. Had it all been a dream? He sits up, taking in his surroundings. He’s still in the manor, at least, and a quick check of the closet reveals a familiar wardrobe.

So he was still in the loop, but that didn’t mean that last night had been real. He needed to speak with Oswald.

For a moment, he entertains the idea of showing up as-is. He thinks it would kill Oswald on the spot to see him in his underwear. The look on his face would be priceless. He’d already seen the damage to Edward’s chest…

No. There was a possibility that last night hadn’t really occurred, which meant that he needed to play it safe. He puts on an old, worn graphic tee and a pair of flannel pajama bottoms. He checks his hair in the mirror, wanting to look just on this side of casually disheveled, less like his hair is secretly a nest for birds. Satisfied, he heads for Oswald room, entertaining the notion of how much better it will be to have Oswald take his clothes off himself. He knocks on the door. Oswald cautiously opens it, peering through the small crack. He pulls it open completely upon spotting Edward, eyes roving over him from head to toes critically. Edward rubs the back of his neck.

“So,” he begins. “About last night…”

“What happened last night?” Oswald asks, and Edward wants to scream. He’s really going to have to ask, isn’t he?

“You and I… came to an understanding?” he prompts, smiling at him.

“Is that what they’re calling it these days?” Oswald smirks, stepping toward him and wrapping an arm around his waist.

“So it really happened?” Edward asks, putting his arms around Oswald’s shoulders.

“I was worried it was all a dream,” Oswald admits, “But you’re here.”

“I wish I could’ve woken up next to you,” Edward blurts, pulling Oswald into a hug. Oswald holds him tight, fingers soothing over his back and up his shoulders.

“I want that too,” Oswald tells him, hands going up the back of his t-shirt, over the skin of his back. “And I want to see you.” Edward hesitates, then pushes his hands away. He wants to do this on his terms.

“Get on the bed,” he says, stepping back. Oswald raises his brows but complies, backing up and sitting on the edge of the mattress. Edward takes a deep breath and then reaches back, pulling his shirt over his head. He tosses it onto the floor, unconcerned with the treatment of a ratty old t-shirt. Oswald gasps, eyes locked in his chest, the marks littering his torso. His mother was a more frequent cause to his front, while his father had left the majority in his back. Her cigarettes had left their impression on him forever, as had his father’s belts. Oswald’s grip on the bedsheets is white-knuckled.

“I didn’t really see…” Oswald begins, trailing off.

“How bad it is?” Edward fills in, crossing his arms over his chest. Oswald makes to get off of the bed.

“Edward, no, you’re so—”

“Wait,” he interrupts. “Let me finish.” Oswald sinks back down onto the bed. Edward uncrosses his arms, fingers going to the waistband of his pajamas. Oswald licks his lips, consciously or unconsciously, and Edward feels his face heat as the pushes them down his thighs, letting them fall the rest of the way down. He steps out of them, clearing his throat awkwardly and pushing his glasses up his nose.

“Can I touch you now?” Oswald asks, a muscle jumping in his jaw, clearly indicating his tension. Edward feels like he’s about to trigger a tripwire and unleash a force whose limits he does not understand.

He does it anyways.

“Yes, you may.” Oswald pushes himself off the bed, attacking the marks over his collarbones with kisses, assaulting the lashes on his back with the gentle swipe of calloused fingers. Edward has never let his sexual partners touch him like this, only ever tolerating the examination of doctors on the rare occasion he’s needed to. Edward is practically swept off his feet, feeling as though his heels hardly touch the ground as Oswald backs him up to the bed. His knees hit the mattress and he tumbles down onto it, scrambling back into the center of the bed. Oswald follows, covering Edward’s body with his own and kissing him, hands on his hips and he settles between his legs.

“Now you,” Edward says, panting and breaking the kiss, hands pulling at Oswald’s shirt. Oswald sits back on his knees, pulling it over his head and tossing it aside. Edward barely has a moment to admire him before Oswald is back to the task of kissing him stupid, though the sensation of Oswald’s bare chest against his own is a very new one. He’s never been skin to skin like this, having kept his torso covered with both Kristen and Isabella. It feels very nice. Edward is unused to such gentle, pleasant touches here, arching into Oswald’s hands wherever they roam. He runs his hands up the bare skin of his back, drops a kiss on the familiar scar on his shoulder when they break for air.

“These next,” he demands, tugging on the hem of Oswald’s sleep pants. He rises onto his knees once more, pushing them down and—

His jaw drops, never having anticipated that Oswald had forgone underwear. He notes that Oswald is bigger than any toy he’s used before, but probably not unmanageable. He’s reaching for him before he even realizes, hastily drawing his hand back to his chest.

“Can I—?”

“Please do,” Oswald says, kicking his pants off the rest of the way and bending to kiss him once more. Edward reaches down blindly and takes him in hand, stroking him with some difficulty. It certainly isn’t the same as touching himself, angle all wrong to twist his hand the way he’s used to doing it. Oswald moans regardless, biting into Edward’s bottom lip, hips stuttering into his hand. His hand strays downward, cupping Edward’s own hardness through his briefs and rubbing. Edward presses their foreheads together and whines, legs spreading to give Oswald’s hand more room to maneuver. Oswald slips his fingers beneath the waistband of Edward’s underwear.

“Take them off,” Edward begs, taking his hand away from Oswald for the time being. He lifts his hips, letting Oswald pull them over down over the curve of his ass, and then all the way down his legs. Oswald kisses his knee, biting and sucking kisses down the inside of his thigh. Edward bites down on his hand to stifle the noises he’s making, the vision of Oswald sinking his teeth into the pale of his thigh the most erotic thing he’s ever seen. Oswald wraps a hand around him, stroking, and as much as Edward would like to come into the rough grip of his fist, there’s something else he wants more.

“Wait,” Edward says, grabbing his wrist. Oswald ceases his ministrations, looking slightly panicked.

“Did I do something wrong?” he asks, assessing Edward’s expression.

“No, it was really good,” Edward assured him, sitting up and pecking him on the lips. “I just want to do something else.”

“What do you want?” Oswald asks, eager to comply.

“Are you familiar with how men—how men have penetrative sex?” Edward asks, turning beet red.

“Very,” Oswald says, and Edward absolutely does not want to know how a man who has never French kissed anyone besides him understands the machinations of gay sex. That is a question for later, when he’s not aching between his legs.

“Would you be interested in doing that to me?” Edward queries, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. Oswald’s mouth hangs open.

“I—you would want me… Do you enjoy that?” Oswald asks, confusion coloring his features.

“I do,” Edward says, face burning. “I’ve—I’ve never had the opportunity to… well, with someone else, but…”

“I’m interested,” Oswald says. “But it’s conditional.”

“What’s are the conditions?” Edward asks, shifting nervously.

“Just one: you tell me the instant something feels bad,” Oswald explains. “You know I’ve never done anything like this, and I don’t want you to grit your teeth and bare it for my sake.” Edward kisses him, pulls Oswald down on top of him.

“Such a gentlemen,” Edward purrs, “As if I wouldn’t tell you what I like and don’t like. It’s not going to be perfect, you know.”

“I know,” Oswald grouses, “I just don’t want it to be terrible.” Edward snorts and pulls him down into another kiss, encouraging Oswald to rut between his legs, hand gripping his hips and cheeks to spur him on.

“We’ll need lubricant,” Edward says, breaking off and panting. “I have some, in my—”

“So do I,” Oswald says, shuffling across the bed to rifle through the drawer.

“Oh,” Edward says. He hadn’t considered that Oswald might have some handy.

“I might be a virgin, but do have a libido, you know,” Oswald teases. Edward rolls his eyes and hold his palm out.

“Alright, hand it over,” he says, accepting the lube from Oswald. “I want you to watch me at first, and then—and then maybe you’d like to help get me ready?”

“Definitely,” Oswald says, sitting at the foot of the bed. Edward coats his fingers, slipping two into himself straight away. He doesn’t normally use more than that to get himself off, so he scissors his fingers, trying to relax and stretch his rim so that he can handle more fairly painlessly. Oswald strokes himself, his pace unhurried, eyes locked on Edward. He decides to put on a bit of a show, arching his back and running a hand down his chest and stomach, moaning lewdly. Oswald swallows and runs his thumb over the tip of his cock, blushing pink. Edward tries for a third finger, succeeds, and begins the slow process all over again.

“Kiss me?” he requests. Oswald lays next to him and cups his face, kissing him slow and deep as he fingers himself open. He’s trying to be perfunctory about it, but Oswald’s skill at kissing is rapidly improving, and he manages to increase Edward’s desperation significantly with just the languid swipes of his tongue into Edward’s waiting mouth. “Okay, did you… did you want to—?”

Oswald picks up the lube and coats his fingers, settling on his knees between Edward’s legs. He circles a finger around Edward’s entrance and Edward tries not to wonder if he’s learned that through observation, experimentation, or if he’d just determined that this approach would be easiest. It feels so good already, the steady pressure on the nerves of his rim making him shudder and fight not to squirm. Oswald presses his index finger in smoothly, dragging it out just as nicely. Edward feels like he might pass out just from this, the thrill of having someone else’s finger inside of him a complete novelty and longtime fantasy.

“Do two,” he pleads, biting into the skin of his hand in anticipation. Oswald kisses his cheek and complies, watching his reaction carefully. Edward moans and lifts his legs, hooking them around Oswald’s waist and forcing himself up onto his fingers. It feels so good he can hardly believe it, his chest blushing with the pleasure he’s feeling just from this.

“Good?” Oswald asks, sounding just on the acceptable side of cocky.

“Very,” Edward confirms, at the risk of giving him a big head.

“Do this,” he instructs, demonstrating by crooking his own fingers.

“Like this?” Oswald says, curling and dragging them inside of Edward just right.

“Oswald!” he cries, throwing his head back and arching, “Yes!” Oswald does it again, and again, alternating between scissoring his fingers and stretching Edward, then stroking over his prostate. Edward’s cock is weeping against his belly, a dribble of precum smeared over his abdomen.

“Now three,” he pants, thighs tightening around Oswald’s waist. Oswald applies more lubricant to his fingers, and they slip in easily. In no time at all Edward is a complete mess, head thrown back against the pillows, brown curls a halo around his head. He’s sweating, stray hairs sticking to his forehead with it, holding onto Oswald’s shoulders for dear life as he endures the sweet torment of having his fingers inside of him.

“I’m ready,” he decides, fingers wrapping around Oswald’s wrist. Oswald gently withdraws his fingers as Edward grabs the lube. He pours it into his hand and slicks Oswald’s girth generously, kissing him. Was it his imagination, or did Oswald feel even thicker in his hand than before? He feels nervous butterflies in his stomach, breathing deeply and laying back against the pillows. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

“Go slow,” Edward says, rubbing his hands over Oswald’s biceps anxiously.

“I love you,” Oswald tells him, kissing him deeply. Edward breaks away when he feels the tip of his cock pressed to his entrance, swallowing around his sudden apprehension.

“I love you too,” he says, distracting himself by kissing Oswald again. He feels it when he begins to press inside, clutching at Oswald’s shoulder blades and moaning at the pleasure of having something so thick stretching him. Oswald sinks deeper very quickly, and Edward cries out, putting a hand on Oswald’s shoulder to halt him. It’s just a little too much too soon.

“Are you okay?” Oswald asks, concern lacing his features.

“Just give me a minute,” he says, trying to relax himself. He signals Oswald when he’s ready and immediately stops him again when he tries to push deeper.

“Maybe we should stop,” Oswald suggests. “I only want to make you feel good.” Edward is not going to give up on this. Perhaps their position is flawed; he could always turn onto his stomach. The only problem with that was that he wanted to see Oswald, to feel the full strength of this intimacy. Or maybe—

“Pull out,” he says, pushing gently on Oswald’s hips. “I’m going to ride you.” Oswald flushes up to his ears, watching as Edward props up the pillows for him and obeying as he gestures to where he wants Oswald to sit back.

“Will this be easier for you?” Oswald asks, settling into the pillows.

“I’m used to being able to control the pace,” Edward explains. “Surprise isn’t really a good thing for this part and I think it’s making me nervous, so I’m going to take you like this. Then maybe later we can do that instead.”

“That sounds much better,” Oswald eagerly agrees, “Whatever’s good for you.” Edward straddles him and pours more lube into his hand, slicking Oswald’s cock once more. He holds it steady and sinks down onto it, just like he would with a toy. His ass is flush with Oswald’s thighs inside of a minute, relaxing easily around Oswald now that he can control the pace of that first thrust.

“You’re alright?” Oswald asks, brushing hair off his forehead.

“Right as rain,” Edward automatically responds.

“You’re sure?” Oswald prods, soothing his hands over Edward’s sides. Edward clears his throat.

“I’m—I just… that’s you, isn’t it?” He shifts in his seat, getting a sense for the fullness of Oswald inside of him. “It’s you. In me. You feel so good.” Oswald’s hands tighten on his hips, the muscle in his jaw jumping again.

“You’re amazing,” Oswald tells him. “You look beautiful. You feel divine.” Edward clenches around him, isn’t prepared for the buck of Oswald’s hips, catching him completely off guard. He rocks back down onto Oswald and cries out, fingers scrabbling at his back for purchase.

“Do that again,” Edward says, lifting himself in Oswald’s lap and meeting his thrusts the way he had the night before, quickly finding a rhythm that has him lost in pleasure. His thighs soon begin shaking too badly to continue, the exertion of fucking himself on Oswald’s cock and enduring the endless shockwaves of pleasure coursing through his body proving to be too overwhelming. He drops heavy into Oswald’s lap, panting and kissing him sloppy and deep.

“On my back,” Edward tells him, gasping when Oswald flips them, putting Edward beneath him and slamming deep inside.

“Oh, fuck.” Whatever Oswald had done just now has him seeing stars, a flash of heat white hot in its intensity rolling though his entire body. Oswald repeats the motion, with the same result. “Oh, fuck!

“That’s good?” Oswald asks, kissing his cheek.

“Don’t you dare stop,” Edward tells him, locking his legs around Oswald’s waist as he begins to fuck him in earnest. Edward’s vocabulary is reduced to a near-girlish litany of, ‘oh Oswald yes please right there oh dear don’t stop I love you’.

“I’m not—not going to last,” Oswald grits out, pressing his forehead to Edward’s, his thrusts beginning to lose their rhythm. Edward wraps a hand around himself, stroking in time with the rocking of Oswald’s hips.

“I’m so close, please don’t stop,” Edward pleads, fists flying over himself. Oswald groans and buries his head in the crook of Edward’s neck, teeth sinking in. “Oswald!

Edward comes hard into his hand, tossing his head back against the pillows and baring his neck. Oswald picks another spot and sinks his teeth in there as well, hips stuttering into Edward as he spasms around his cock. He fucks Edward through his orgasm, trying to draw out the aftershocks for as long as he’s able before he collapses, chest heaving with exertion.

“Wow,” Edward says, staring up at the ceiling. His glasses are fogged and smudged with sweat.

“Wow indeed,” Oswald says, lapping at his neck. Edward shivers, turns his head so Oswald can more easily sooth his tongue over the marks he’d left. “How are you feeling?”

“I feel really good,” Edward says, completely blissed out. “You?”

“So good,” Oswald says, equally euphoric.

“Would you want to do this again?”

“…”

“Oswald?”

“I’d do this again in half an hour if you’d let me.”

***

When he wakes, his mouth is on fire. He throws off the covers and swings his legs over the side of the bed. Screams and falls down when a shock of pain radiates through his thigh.

“Ed? Ed!” Oswald is pulling him up, sitting him back on the bed. “Stay there, what do you need?”

“Percocet,” Edward says, working his swollen mouth around the syllables. Oswald walks over to the side table and searches though the pill bottles. He tips a pill into his hand and brings it to Edward, who swallows it dry. Oswald rolls his eyes and fills a glass of water in the sink, bringing that to him as well. Edward downs it quickly, wiping his mouth on the back of his sleeve.

“Oswald—I had the strangest dream—”

“It wasn’t a dream,” Oswald tells him. “A strange man named ‘Mxyzptlk’ trapped us in a time loop. He didn’t speak to you?”

“No,” Edward says, rubbing his aching jaw. “I just woke up.”

“Well, apparently he’s a big fan of us,” Oswald growls. “If things hadn’t worked out so nicely I would have rung his neck—”

“Oswald?” Edward asks, interrupting his tirade. “Are we going to still be—did you want continue—”

“Yes,” Oswald says, sitting beside him on the bed. “I would like that very much.”

Edward smiles and leans toward him, kissing his cheek.

“Speaking of things we’d like: when my mouth is back to being more than just an exposed nerve, there are some other things I’d still like to try with you…” Edward drawls, nibbling playfully on Oswald’s earlobe.

Do tell.”