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Falling Inside The Black (Then Out)

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It was dark when Edward opened his eyes. And it was dark when Edward closed and reopened his eyes again.

What the hell happened?

Edward found himself lying on the floor. Or what he thought was a floor since he couldn’t exactly tell in that moment. He sat himself up and looked around until he finally realized he was in a pitch black room. He couldn’t see what was five inches in front, behind or around him. He hugged himself tightly and shivered. It felt like it was below zero degrees in here.

The smell of iron seemed to come out of nowhere and reached Edward’s nose as he inadvertently dusted over himself and his hand brushed over one large dried patchy part of his white dress shirt.

Oh right. I was stabbed, Edward thought. By Lee.

Anger bubbled in his chest. He couldn’t believe he let her get to him. He knew she was just using him, but there was a part of him that hoped she would become who he saw she could be. And who he wanted her to be. All this time, he had been a fool just like the other Ed.

But we’re the same person, a voice echoed in his head.

Edward sighed.

Now for the bigger enigma; where in the world is he?

The last thing he recalled was being in the Narrows when he was attacked. He slid to the ground shortly after and felt the life slip from him as Lee was beside him also facing the same fate.

Is this what happens after death? Being alone and seeing nothing but darkness? How was he still able to think? None of this made sense.

Edward stood up and ran his hands throughout his entire body again; slapping his cheeks and then slapping his legs. This is strange. He could feel every sensation as if he was awake. The only pain he didn’t feel was the pain from the injury that was caused on him. Was there any chance...?

“Ed! Hey, Ed! You there?”

Edward looked around for the source of the voice.

“Jim? Jim, is that you?” Edward asked, recognizing the person the voice belongs to. “What are you doing here? You’re not dead.”

Or was he? Ed thought with a subtle smirk before that changed back to a neutral expression. The last thing he knew was Jim went to save Gotham from Jeremiah Valeska’s bombs.

That you delayed him from.

Edward chose to ignore that comment.

The voice that Ed’s going to pretend is Jim started chuckling.

“Dead? What are you talking about? I’m here to talk to you about Lee and how you got her robbing banks.”

Ugh, not this again, Ed rolled his eyes.

“Look Jim, I know we never see eye to eye, well mostly because I’m much better and taller than you, but this really isn’t the best place to talk about Lee. In fact-”

“Not the best place? You were happy to talk about how much Lee has been with you in every way when I asked for help with encrypting Jeremiah’s map.”

“I’ll admit that was a lie to get some reaction out you but...” Edward said. “ I helped you in the end, didn’t I?”

“Help? Like how you helped your greedy and stupid ass self when you cheated that day in school?! Yeah I’ll never forget about that one.”

Huh?

This voice doesn’t sound like Jim’s anymore, it sounded like-

Oh crud.

A white light flashed in front of him. He looked away and covered his eyes from the sudden brightness. He slowly turned back around and let his eyes adjust from the pitch black to the new light in the world.

Edward nearly fell over at the sight of the person that stood in the spotlight.

“Hey, kiddo.”

It was his father.

I- I- I-how?“ Edward stuttered, feeling the beginning of a panic attack coming.

“You missed me?” His father said as he started walking towards him.

“W-what are you doing here? Stay back! I’m telling you stay back!”

“Or what? Are you going to stab me like you stabbed your little girlfriend?” He laughed. “You wouldn’t get a foot away from me with a knife, you wimp.”

With every step Edward’s father took closer to Edward, Edward took a step back.

“You can’t be here! There’s no way you could have found me! I got away from you!” Edward yelled.

“What did I tell you every time you ran from me to avoid a good beating? There’s no escaping me.” He said.

At that, Edward took off running. An action that he has always done whenever he saw his father getting mad. Edward didn’t know where he was going but he needed to put as much distance between his father as he can.

He ran and ran. He felt his chest protesting to stop but he pushed on. He never once looked back, afraid to see his father running after him.

He finally stopped when another light flashed in front of him. Instead of a person appearing this time, it seemed to be a projection.

Edward saw himself laughing over Jim being underneath his torture device.

The projection was a memory but it was a bit fuzzy. The image kept glitching and flickering even though the audio was coming through clearly.

“You see Jim, she has this anchor, dead weight, holding her onto her past. And that’s you.” His past self said.

Edward was confused as to why his mind was going back to this memory.

“Once you’re gone, she’ll finally be free to become the person she wants to be. The person I want her to be.”

Edward couldn’t help but cringe at his choice of wording. Now that he was listening to a playback of how that moment went down, the words were starting to make him feel uneasy.

Where have I heard them before? Edward thought.

Suddenly his voice coming from the images playing altered as it dissolved into another one.

“She’s mine and always will be mine.”

The Edward in the memory kept glitching back and forth until he was clearly transformed into a different person. Edward was now seeing his father and he was standing over...his mother.

“You aren’t going anywhere.” His father continued. “You’re mine and always will be mine.”

This was another memory. One from his childhood. This was from the day his father discovered his mother was cheating on him. Edward remembered this day clearly despite the time he spent trying to forget it.

Edward couldn’t help but just stare at the memory as he slightly shook. Seeing his parents together again after so many years was making him feel like he was falling into a blackhole.

“It’s Nick, isn’t it?” His father continued. “That bastard never knew how to quit when we were in high school together and he doesn’t know when to quit when you have a damn family. You’re supposed to be greeting ME home with kisses. You’re supposed to be cooking and cleaning for ME! You’re supposed to be taking care of our damn child while I make money for us. All ME!”

The person I want her to be. The voice from earlier returned.

“This is not a family!” His mother yelled. “When we found out I was pregnant, you didn’t want the baby and neither did I. We were young and foolish and it happened. We were forced to keep him. We couldn’t do what we wanted to do. You hate him and you hate me!”

“Maybe I do hate you. I hate how weak you’ve become.” His father replied. “I hate how easy it was for you fall into the arms of not one but TWO men!”

You see, she has this anchor, dead weight, holding onto her past.

That’s it! I’m leaving! Tonight! I’m tired of you. I’m tired of this life. I knew I should have trusted my gut all those years ago and chosen Nick from the start. Maybe I would have actually went to college instead of having to mother you and a boy!” His mother said.

And that’s you.

“You really think you’ll be allowed to step out of this house?”

There’s no escaping me.

“You’ll stay with me for as long as I want you to! You’ll do everything I tell you do! You’ll love me even if you have to fake it!” His father yelled.

And that’s you. The person I want YOU to be.

“STOP!” Ed covered his ears and squeezed his eyes shut as the voices and seeing his image becoming his father was too much. His yell seemed to echo and bounce off walls that weren’t there. “Stop it! I am nothing like you!”

“I never thought we would be so alike.”

Edward jumped at the voice of his father behind him. He turned and saw his father had silently gotten very close to him.

Before Edward could do or say anything, his father grabbed him by his shoulders tightly and Edward felt himself frozen in place.

“I’m so proud of you!” His father laughed. “You finally learned how to be a man.”

Edward looked at him in confusion and in fear. His father had never told him he was proud of him. The fact those words were even coming out of his mouth right now was surprising.

“Remember what I told you? That day when you were writing that crappy love letter in the sixth grade?”

Of course Edward remembered. He remembered everything. His father had slapped him for choosing to write down his emotions and wanting to give it to the smartest girl in his class. He proceeded to rip the letter up and threw all the tiny pieces onto the floor.

“You want to get a girl, you have to show her you have confidence. Once you have her, you show her who’s boss. You make sure she knows that once you’re together that that’s it. She can’t leave unless you allow her to. You make her believe you’re the only one to understand and see her to keep her, you hear me, son?!”

“T-t-t-that’s not the right way,” Edward found himself repeating the same words his sixth grade self responded.

“It’s the only way! She tries to leave, you make her regret it. Just like I did with your mother. She ruined this family by cheating on me with another man so I taught her a lesson.”

Edward recalled his father dragging his mother by the hair upstairs to their room after the confrontation. His mother kept punching him to try breaking his hold and screaming at him but it was no use. Edward heard a lot of glass shattering and yelling. After what seemed like a lifetime, his father had come out of the room and left the house to go to the bar in angry grunts. Edward didn’t know if his mother was alive or not but his concerns were answered when she came down the stairs with a suitcase. She had a bunch of cuts and bruises all over her face and one which was specifically going to scar badly. His mother left without looking at him or saying a word. Edward peeped through the window and saw a black car waiting for her with a man at the wheel.  She had left him alone with this monster.

“To give me to someone I don't belong to is cowardly, but to take me is noble. I can be a game, but there are no winners. What am I?” Edward heard himself blurt out to his father.

His father released his shoulders to backhand him. Edward fell to the floor holding his cheek.

“Again with the fucking riddles? What did I tell you about saying them? No one understands you that way!”

Edward found himself shrink in size. He was under this man’s wrath again.

“B-blame. The answer is blame. You blame everyone but yourself.”

His father chuckled.

“That’s real rich coming from you. You did the exact thing to that Narrows woman.”

“I did it because she betrayed me-“

“See! there’s the blame! No, you did it because if you couldn’t have her then no one else can.”

“That’s not tru-“

His father kicked him in the stomach. The pain he didn’t feel from his stab wound before, he did feel now.

“You dare defy me?!”

“No, daddy, no.” Edward whimpered out.

“Then do you understand me?”

“Yes.” Edward whimpered, almost inaudible.

“Yes what?!” His father demanded.

“Yes, father!” Edward said louder for his father to hear.

“You always do better if she’s a little scared of you.” His father said.

Kristen Kringle came to mind. Edward’s darker persona at the time had given him that advice. He now knows where that advice came from.

“You have to take what you deserve.”

Edward spent so much time trying to get Kristen to like him. His father always told him whenever you do something nice for a girl, you better make sure you get rewarded for it. He didn’t believe that until he had saved her from a bullet.

God, he was really turning into him and he didn’t even realize.

You were going to kill me. It’s just what you do.

Lee’s words began ringing in his mind until another familiar voice came through.

“Ed? Ed are you listening to me?”

Oswald?

Edward looked up from the ball he curled himself in and he saw the pitch black room was now as if he was underwater.

His father was gone and he saw there was another projection of a memory above him. From the day he shot Oswald at the docks.

You didn’t just kill the women you loved, you also killed the one man that loved you.

“His love was selfish. He killed Isabella.” Ed mumbled to himself as if there was actually someone else in the room with him.

Out of jealousy. Just like you were going to do with Jim.

“That’s not the-“

Love is about sacrifice. It’s about putting someone else’s needs and happiness before your own. Those were the exact words you used. Didn’t you shoot Oswald and throw him down the river because of that? And didn’t you almost crush Jim to death because you thought Lee still had feelings for him? And remember Officer Dougherty? Your workplace bully? You stabbed him to death ELEVEN times. You might have done that to protect  Kristen, but you didn’t waste any time trying to get into her pants after she discovered him gone.

“But I- I- it-” Edward didn’t want to admit it but he was indeed a walking hypocrite. He killed Oswald for acting out of jealousy but he went and did the same thing. He had also killed in the name of love.

Kristen Kringle loved you because she was lonely. You were just rebound. Lee loved you because she wanted you to do something for her. She has been manipulating from the start and you allowed it! And dear Oswald loved you because for some odd reason he found you charming. He saw you as someone he could count on. He put up with your idiot riddles and accepted both of your personas. Actually, he loved them too! Your facts! Your mind! You! He never ran away when you showed him your dark side. He didn’t stop you from becoming who you wanted to be.

Edward, truth to be told, was afraid. Afraid of Oswald loving him. Afraid that he might have loved him too. No, he did love him. He can say that now. He had been trying to ignore those feelings for so long. He tried to act upon them but then stopped himself. He chose to go after a normal life. His father had always told him how to “chase down” and “get the girl of his dreams”, but he never taught him how to actually love someone so fiercely. He didn’t know how to love in general, let alone how to love a guy like the Oswald Cobblepot.

Face it Ed, I know everything you know including the things you don’t want to know. Although a bit too late now, ain’t it? the voice chuckled.

Maybe - no wait - he must admit, he did deserve dying. He never deserved to fall in love. He never deserved to have been genuinely loved. He deserves to be stuck in this hell.

The voice kept echoing in his ears and he felt his father back and throwing more punches at him.

Suddenly, Edward gasped awake.

He tried sitting up but immediately reached for his abdomen and groaned in pain instead.

Bad idea, Ed. Bad idea. He thought.

 

Edward’s eyes cleared up enough for him to see he was laying in a familiar room. Although the last time he was here, he was also in pain inflicted by Sofia Falcone until Sofia thought she had enough “fun” with him and ordered her men to bring him to the docks and kill him there. It wasn’t until Oswald came and shot the two, that he’s still alive.

He noticed there was an IV attached to his hand when he reached for his face to see if he had his glasses on or not. He followed the path of the tube with his eyes and saw it was connected to a bag full of liquid. Fluids were being administered into him. Next to it was a heart monitor. He determined it was monitoring his heartbeat when he ran his hand down his chest and felt the patches.

Edward saw that he was changed into different clothes too. His stained green suit and pants were now a white t-shirt and sweatpants. If his memory was correct, these were the same clothes that were given to him as nightwear when-

Edward shook his head. That was a long time ago.

He lifted his shirt and placed his hand on the stab wound. It was bandaged.

Edward groaned in pain again. His right leg was starting to fall asleep with the way he was bending it since he awoke. He tried to stretch that leg out and it wasn’t until when his foot easily touched the metal end of the table that he realized he was lying on a metal gurney.

The one next to him, however, was empty and clean. He felt the fear slowly creep up again.

He was alone in a room; again.

 How was he alive? Who operated on him?

There was a sound of frantic footsteps nearing the room outside followed by the sound of the door squeaking open, but Edward didn’t have the strength to look up and see who it was.

“Ed?”

Edward jumped a bit in response to the other voice calling his name, but he knows this voice. He remembered always feeling safe around it.

“Oswald?” He responded and tilted his head towards that direction.

Oswald slowly came into his view, with wide eyes and tears threatening to fall down the contours of his distraught face.

“Hello sleepyhead.” Oswald smiled shyly. The tears he was trying to hold in for the longest time finally fell along with the walls he had frozen the moment he had Victor freeze Ed. No more.

“Hello,” Edward replied, his eyes catching Oswald’s, not sure why they were the ones his was meeting.

Oswald sniffed a bit as he leaned against the table and noticed Edward was squinting. He reached into his pocket for the item he had kept on him for days for safe keeping.

Ed’s glasses.

Oswald placed Edward’s glasses back on him and Edward gave a small smile over being able to see clearly again.

“I got an alert that your heartbeat had changed and I came as fast as I could. I guess right now you’re kind of confused by all this,” Oswald started again.

“Yeah, you c-could say that,” Edward said half focused as he finally broke eye contact with Oswald. Oswald at the same time looked away too and stared at the stone ground next to him. Edward layed there contently with his head propped on the table with dozy eyes, but he was honestly eagerly awaiting for the explanation to begin.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Oswald asked.

Edward scrunched his face and tried his hardest to think back to the last thing he could recall before the awful nightmare he had before. Edward couldn’t help feeling vulnerable having such normal conversations with his best friend, then foe, then best friend again?

“Uhh...well I was, I was standing...and Lee...Lee, she...”

Oswald, without realizing placed his hand on top of Edward’s hand and moved it away after. At the same time, Edward wish he didn’t.

“You know what? It’s fine, long story short, I found you in the Narrows and I took you to Hugo Strange and he brought you back-”

“Hugo Strange was the one that revived me?” Edward said, panic starting to rise.

His heart monitor started going haywire again.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Oswald said in a calm voice and instinctually started rubbing circles on Edward’s shoulder. “He didn’t do any experiments on you. I made sure of it.”

There was so much honesty in Oswald’s eyes that made Edward relax.

“So what you’re saying is, I actually was dead before?”

“I don’t know all the details, but to put it simply, yes.” Oswald said as he took back his hand when he was sure Edward has calmed down.

“How long?” Edward moved both of his hands and placed it on his forehead then to cover and rub his eyes for a second.

“What?” Oswald asked.

“How long was I dead?” Edward looked intently at Oswald who looked away.

“Too long…” Oswald whispered under his breath.

“Where’s Lee?” Edward asked to change the topic.

Oswald didn’t try to hide his grimace. 

“She’s fine too, but still in a coma. Just like you have been for the past two weeks. I had her put in another room.” 

“You saved her too?” 

“I did.” Oswald replied.

“Why?”

Oswald shrugged.

“If I had it my way I would have left her in the Narrows to rot. But I felt like it wasn’t my call.” Oswald said nonchalantly as he played with the cuff on his sleeve.

“Oswald...”

Edward reached out one of his hands on Oswald’s side and placed it over swald’s hand. Oswald jolted a bit with the sudden touch but moved a step closer when Ed tilted his head up to look into Oswald’s eyes again.

“Why did you save me?” Edward asked.

Oswald sighed at the question as his eyes wandered around the room before they landed back on Edward’s. His face was now much colder than it was before. Oswald removed his hand from under Edward’s. He was getting into a too familiar place with him.

“The only person that decides to kill you is me,” Oswald said finally. 

If only Edward knew how much of a lie that reason was.

“Yes. This will do nicely.” Oswald said as he looked around the new territory he had claimed. It was City Hall but not for long. It was abandoned when the evacuation of the people in Gotham was ordered. If an authority were to stumble upon the building in the next few days, they will just join the pile of bodies of the men that he killed merely moments ago.

If there’s any of them left in the city, Oswald thought with a chuckle.

Rather than building the club from scratch, he would use this place for the foundation. This will soon become the new and improved Iceberg Lounge. He already had plans for the layout and look in mind.

The new club will be two-story and an exclusively chilling casino will be included somewhere in the area. He wants a large pool to be built to shelter pet seals and penguins in the central dining area with a iceberg shaped glass sculpture right in the middle. He will have a nautical themed dance floor accompanied by  polar décor. A tuxedoed jazz band will be the live entertainment every other night. Oswald, will of course have his own private dining area upstairs near the bar where he can oversee everything on the main room. His office, torture chamber, and armory are the rooms that will stay hidden from the public eye.

The end result will be perfect. The only thing missing was someone to share it with. 

Oswald’s mind drifted to Ed again and he slightly frowned.

What is Edward going to do in this destruction? Will he even be able to do anything with that woman keeping a leash on him? Was he even still in Gotham?

Lee probably offered Ed to leave Gotham with her, Oswald scrunched his nose in disgust of the two of them holding hands and entering the Gotham Railroad together and getting all cuddly with each other as they doze off on each other’s shoulders on their way out of Gotham...

His thoughts were fortunately interrupted at the sound of his phone ringing.

He glanced at the caller ID and saw it was the henchman he paid off to be their undercover pair of eyes in the Narrows.

Just the person he was about to call.

“Boss!”

“What?!” Oswald snapped, irritated that the man didn’t wait until he gave him permission to speak.

“Boss, you need to come down here now!” The henchman sounded urgent.

“Why? What’s wrong? What happened? Where’s Ed - Riddler? You found him? Where is he?” Oswald said, feeling his heart dropping gradually at the tone of the voice and with every question. 

“Yeah, it’s Nygma and that lady you wanted me to keep an eye on and...” He replied and paused for a second before he got to the point of the phone call.

“Spit it out already! What happened?!”

“They’re dead… stabbed, both of them.” The henchman whispered out, clearly afraid for the Penguin’s next reaction

Oswald felt himself shaking, but he couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe. Everything around him suddenly became a blur. This had to be a lie. This guy clearly had to be lying to him. Maybe he just wanted the money and be done. Maybe he’s sick of staying at the Narrows. The Edward Nygma, his Edward Nygma couldn’t be dead. The only person beside his mother that he loved couldn’t be gone.

“Boss? You still there?” The henchman voice came through the phone after a moment of no response on the other end.

“I told you to keep an eye on them and this is how you go about your work?!” Oswald yelled as he snapped back to the conversation.

“I didn’t know it would end like this. I swear I-“

“Just shut up and stay there. Don’t let anyone else near him until I get there. I’m on my way.” Oswald snapped his phone shut and pointed at his other henchmen with guns.

“You two, stay here and guard this place. Don’t let anyone try and take it. It belongs to me now, understood?” 

“Yes, Boss.” The two said in unison.

Oswald began heading out as fast as his leg and cane could take him. He dialed for his driver who dropped him off just a few minutes ago. 

“Jay! I need you to come back here and take me to Cherry’s club, fast.” 

It took a little longer than Oswald hoped to get to the Narrows. It wasn’t the driver’s fault since he was doing the best he can in avoiding the destruction and chaos the bombs exploding brought. That didn’t stop Oswald from urging him to hurry up.

As soon as the car stopped in front of Cherry’s club, Oswald told Jay to wait as he hurried in.

He was greeted by a gun pointed at him.

“Oh it’s just you, Boss.” The henchman said as he put down his gun. “I thought it was a-“

“Where are they?” Oswald asked, cutting him off. 

“They’re over there,” the henchman said pointing towards the direction.

Oswald first saw Lee’s lifeless body leaning against the side of her desk. His eyes then drifted to the left of her where Edward layed on the floor just a foot away from her.

Oswald limped closer to Edward’s body until his feet was a touch away from it. He stared down and felt everything around him start collapsing in and suffocating him. He saw how pale Edward was and how his face is now forever stuck with a look of pain. 

“They both stabbed each other.” The henchman voice came up from behind. “Some fucked up Romeo and Juliet shit.” 

Oswald’s eyes traveled down and saw Edward’s hand on his abdomen where there was a significant amount of blood loss, proving the henchman’s comment from before.

“Go wait by the door.” Oswald managed to choke out. 

The henchman didn’t need to be told twice. 

Oswald slowly went down on his knees and placed his cane on the floor beside him. He gathered Edward’s lifeless body into his arms and finally felt the tears he has been holding back from his henchmen stream down his face. His hands tighten on the fabric of Edward’s suit.

“You idiot! I told you she was just using you yet you still stayed with her. You let this happen!” He screamed in Ed’s still face. “You’re a fool Ed. You just couldn’t let her go.” Oswald’s voice sounded more like sobbing with every word he blurted out.

”l hate you. You stupid stupid stupid man. We could be standing side by side and taking Gotham by storm but you had to ruin it!” Oswald sighed as another tear rolled down his face and he looked over at Ed’s unresponsive face one more.

He couldn’t believe Edward was gone. Just like that. Oswald always assumed he would be in his life whether a friend or an enemy. He never thought Edward would permanently leave unless it was himself pulling the trigger.

Which would have never happened, Oswald thought. He never wanted Edward dead. Anything he said otherwise was a lie.

Oswald found himself already missing Edward’s stupid riddles, his excitement when he would tell a fact or tell his plan. He missed his eyes looking at him whether they were full of hate or admiration. Oswald needed him back. He couldn’t let it end this way.

Suddenly, Hugo Strange came to mind. He could fix this.

“You there! Come back here.” Oswald yelled to the henchman that was still in the building. 

The henchman approached Oswald again.

“Uh. Boss, my name is-“ He began but then was interrupted.

“I could care less. I have another job for you. You’re going to take Ed - Riddler - to Professor Strange back at the Falcone manor and tell him to fix him. Got it?”

“Yes, got it. And what about her?” The henchman asked. 

Oswald looked at Lee and felt himself only seeing red again. 

Oswald stopped and inhaled and then exhaled to try and calm himself down.

Love is sacrifice.

Those words echoed in his mind. As much as he hated to accept it, Lee was the woman Ed claimed he fell in love with. Oswald didn’t let Edward choose the first time and that was the reason for their downfall. He screwed it up with Isabella and he wasn’t going to do this again. If anyone was to decide what to do with Lee Thompkins, it would be Ed. It would hurt to bring them back to life just to see them continue their relationship again but if it made Edward happy and if it meant he was alive...he’ll do it.

“Take her to Strange too. Tell him that Penguin said to save them both.” Oswald swallowed his pride and waved off for the henchmen to carry them both out.

“Be careful with him.” Oswald instructed.

Edward Nygma will soon return to him.

“I didn’t deserve to be saved.” Edward said. “Even if it was for revenge.”

Oswald snapped his attention back to Edward’s wide dark eyes.

“What?”

“I’ve messed up. A lot. If you’re gonna kill me, get on with it already. The faster the better.”

“Ed, I’m not going to kill you.” Oswald said softly.

Edward scrunched his eyebrows and looked at Oswald in confusion. Confused at Oswald’s sudden softness and confused over his statement.

“But you said-“

“It’s good to know death didn’t change how dense you are.” 

“Oswald, please. What are you saying?” Edward pleadingly asked.

Oswald exploded at the question.

“What do you want me to say?! That I saved you because for some screwed up reason, I still have feelings for you? Is that what you want to hear? That even if you hate me, I’ll always be there to save you? That no matter how many times you hurt or betray me, I’ll still love you? Is that what you’re looking for?!” Oswald yelled. 

“You still love me?” Edward asked, dumbfounded.

Oswald pinched the bridge of his nose. Of course that would be the only thing he catches.

“It appears so.”

“That’s...illogical.” Edward said.

“Well, try telling my heart that.” Oswald bitterly chuckled. 

“Even after I chose Lee over you?” 

Oswald sighed. 

“When I told Lee shame on her for using you, I meant it. From what I’ve seen of you, you easily fall into the arms of any woman that shows the slightest of interest towards you.”

Oswald raised a hand when he saw Edward open his mouth to protest.

“Let me finish, please.” 

Edward closed his mouth and obeyed. 

“Lee knew that weakness of yours and she used it. She used it so you could help her rob banks and help the people of the Narrows. I realized I tried to use your emotions for my own gain as well back when I killed Isabelle-la. Isabella. At the time, I didn’t realize it but thinking back on it...I was going to use your grief over her death to fall into my arms and hope we formed some kind of relationship. I know now that that’s an awful thing to do. Lee, however, knew what she was doing and had all this planned from the start. That’s why I don’t blame you, Ed. You were a victim and deserve better.” Oswald finished. 

Edward didn’t say anything for a few minutes. He was trying to find the right words to convey his thoughts. He felt his position was preventing him from doing so. Edward started getting up.

“Ed, what are you doing? You’re gonna open your stitches. Lay back down!” Oswald said as he was lightly pushing Edward down. 

“I want to sit.” Edward declared. 

Oswald rolled his eyes.

“You were never much of a listener.” Oswald said as he helped Edward into a sitting position. 

Edward felt all the bones in his body crack from not being moved in weeks. He hated how he couldn’t stretch but this will do for now. 

Edward took a quick breath when he felt ready to talk. 

“You’re right.” Edward began. “That is my weakness. I don’t...I just don’t know what love exactly is, Oswald. I told you all those things about it being a crippling weakness and about it being sacrifice, but honestly I don’t have the slightest of clue. I never really had anyone to go to for it.” 

Edward swallowed and thought back to the nightmare he had.

“There’s many things I haven’t told you about myself. My childhood is the biggest secret I’ve kept from you back when we were on the best of terms. You have always been willing to share your memories while I always hoped you never asked about mine. In time, I hope I will be able to tell you, but just know I am an idiot that doesn’t know the meaning of a simple emotion such as love and I’m sorry for everything I put you through because of it.”

Edward had fully broken down by this point. 

Oswald gathered him in his arms as gently as he could, mindful of the wires still connected to him. Edward wrapped his arms around Oswald too as he buried his face into his chest.

“I cared about you and I missed you Oswald,” Ed’s feeble voice could be heard muffled from the hug. It became a longer hug than both of them expected it to be, but neither minded or cared. It was like time stopped for both of them at that moment and they were both in one of Ed’s “empty rooms” he dreamt before together. Except this time, there was no other voices, no pain, no punches or threats from his father. Just him, and Oswald, there. Together. In an emptiness that allowed them both to focus on the other and hear and feel the other breathing.

“I’ve missed you too, Ed.”

Oswald had to admit, he was starting to wonder how long they will stay like this, even though he knows he’ll regret the moment Ed lets go. He wanted nothing more to kiss Edward’s forehead and tell him how much he loves him.

Eventually, they both released from the hug at the same time and Oswald caught Edward’s glare for a moment before Ed wiped the remaining tears from his eyes.

“You know, despite everything that happened between us, I forgive you. A long time ago, actually.” Oswald said.

Edward looked into Oswald’s eyes again in surprise.

“Really?” 

“I tried so hard to be angry at you. And trust me, I was at first. I focused on getting revenge to forget that I ever loved you. But as time went on, I just wanted to be friends again. But then, because I thought it’ll make me feel strong and feel better, I froze you instead. I said I wanted to keep you as a reminder to never make that mistake again but the truth was I couldn’t kill you and that was the best option.” 

“Sure, you did freeze and display me and I was very angry at you about that for a long time. You took away many things I cared for but-” 

“I’m so sorry about that still.” Oswald whispered and looked down and squeezed his eyes shut, until he felt Edward take his hand in his.

“I forgive you too, Oswald. Someone once told me we can choose to stay stuck in the past or move on and face the truth and the truth is, I don’t feel any resentment towards you anymore. You see, when I spent six hours creating those two measly riddles when I was unfrozen, I wasn't sure if you were the one I still needed to kill in order to become the Riddler again. But the truth is, I did know the answer somewhere deep down in my mind. I knew I had too much fun coming up with those two riddles for you and delaying your death in the past when I was working with Barbara, which lead me to be able to see you many times after that. I guess I just held on to the fact that I only get to see you every time I want revenge or want to kill you. Just like you, I wanted to be driven by revenge and ignore any other emotions that would come up. But you meant and did so much more for me than that.”

Edward kissed Oswald’s hand as soon as he finished, leaving Oswald with wide eyes.

“Ed?”

Edward took in a deep breath.

“I don’t know how I feel right now but I do know I feel something...even felt something in the past. I need time to gather everything.”

“Okay. That’s fine. That’s definitely fine.” Oswald reassured. “As you said, we got all the time in the world now.”

The moment was broken seconds later when Edward’s stomach rumbled and Edward blushed. 

“You need to eat.” Oswald declared as he withdrew his hand from Edward’s hold.

“Food would be nice right about now.” Edward agreed. 

“I’ll tell the cook that I have working here to make you something. She’s not Olga so you don’t have to worry about dealing with her.”

“Thank heavens. I was afraid she was going to poison me when we were living together.”

Oswald laughed. He genuinely laughed. Edward found that he always wants to hear that sound.

“I can assure you that your meal won’t kill you. It won’t be big either since you’ve been fed nothing but fluids when you were out so something small is the best way to start to not upset your stomach.” 

Edward hummed in agreement as he looked out the window for the first time since he woke up.

“Gotham is in shambles?” Edward asked. 

“Yes. Jeremiah Valeska succeeded in detonating his bombs. He managed to take down all the bridges that led into Gotham and out of Gotham. People can’t leave and people can’t come in to help. It’s literally a no man’s land.”

“You don’t seem disappointed.” Edward noted.

Oswald gave him a devious smile.

“I was at first but then I realized this gives people like me a fresh start in this city. We’re in control now.” 

Edward nodded in understanding and then spoke a riddle.

“A diamond plate, a glowing grate, a place you never leave. Where am I?” 

Oswald scoffed.

“Already telling riddles. Unbelievable.”

“Do you give up?” Edward asked.

“You wish.” Oswald said. The answer is home. What about it?”

“I think I want to be apart of this mess. This is where I belong. My home.” Edward announced.

“Are you sure?” Oswald asked with his eyebrows knitted.

Edward nodded.

“I spent a long time trying to figure out where I belong. I wish it didn’t take me this long but I’m glad I finally realized this is where I do. No more letting people hold me back. I’m the Riddler. I want to show this city that I can be a threat. I’ll test the remaining people’s  intellect and then destroy their minds. Maybe put a few in traps. You always saw that. I want to do all this while being on your side, Oswald.”

Oswald grinned.

“I’m not one that enjoys bringing chaos but we’re already there. I would like that, Ed. Very much.”

Edward returned the same grin.

“So what mayhem do you have in mind once you’re fully healed?” Oswald asked.

“I’m not sure yet but it’ll be big and grand. Gotham City will welcome back the Riddler as one of their fearsome and bold villain.” Edward replied.

“Whatever you do Ed, it’ll definitely leave a big impact within the history books. Gotham better watch out.” Oswald chuckled with a new look in his eyes.

“You may call this era a Zero Year.” Edward said with a smirk.