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Happy Birthday, Captain Gordon

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Jim arrives home to a quiet apartment, which wouldn’t be surprising considering the hour, except that Oz is supposed to be staying over the next few days. There’s an incoming winter storm, and Jim suggested Oz pack a bag rather than risk the dangerous commute all week. Oz’s coat is by the door, so he has to be around here somewhere, Jim reasons. He tugs off his own coat, hangs it with his scarf and gloves, before kicking off his shoes and padding into the kitchen.

The table is neatly set, with wine glasses and candles, snuffed out but clearly burnt low. Jim checks the refrigerator to find Tupperware packed with noodles, breaded chicken and sauce—chicken parmesan, he reasons, licking his teeth. He is absolutely starving, but it doesn’t look like any of it has been touched. Which makes Jim feel both warm and guilty at the same time.

It’s his birthday today, and they had plans to celebrate it quietly at home together after Jim’s shift. He should have arrived hours ago, but there was a bomb threat called in to Wayne Industries, and he had to oversee the search to make sure the building was clear. Luckily, it was a false alarm this time which almost makes him angrier considering the wasted time and resources. The call had been traced to some idiot kids’ dorm room at Gotham University.

He could have been home, enjoying the meal Oz clearly prepared himself, if not for that damned prank. Sighing, Jim shuts the refrigerator with a bit too much force, wincing at the way it jostles slightly on its unleveled legs. He’s going to have put a shim down there one of these days. He strides back out into the living room, before heading down the hall.

“Oz?” Jim quietly calls, catching sight of soft light filtering out from under the bedroom door. He taps his knuckles lightly against its old mahogany surface before gently pushing it open.

Oswald is there sitting up in bed, an open book held loosely in his slackened grip, back slumped to the side where he’s propped against the headboard. He’s sound asleep, brow relaxed, and lips slightly parted around soft, even breaths. Jim huffs a quiet chuckle, strips out of his suit and tie before plucking a pair of sweats and a Henley from the dresser. He hasn’t eaten since noon, but Oz looks so damned inviting, wrapped up in his red silk pajamas, and it’s been a long fucking day.  

Carefully, so as not to wake him, Jim creeps over to Oswald’s side of the bed to gently remove the book from his hand. He dog-ears the page before sitting it aside on the night stand. There’s nothing for it, however; Oz is blinking at him when Jim turns back to smooth the covers.

“Happy birthday,” he greets, voice thick with sleep.

Jim seats himself on the edge of the mattress, bracing a hand on Oswald’s bad knee so he can massage it. He spent all that time in the kitchen, trying to put something nice together for Jim’s birthday. It’s probably the reason he decided to wait up in bed rather than in the living room.

“Thank you,” Jim replies quietly, leaning forward to steal a quick, chaste kiss. “I saw you cooked. I’m sorry I didn’t—”

Oswald silences him with a finger against his lips. “Don’t apologize. Did you eat?”

“Not yet.” Jim shrugs. “I was thinking about joining you, actually.”

“As nice as that sounds,” Oz replies, “I didn’t eat either, so you may as well join me at the table. Besides, I got you a gift.”

“I thought we were done with the bribery,” Jim teases.

“It’s a set of hinge cuffs and a water proof writing set, but if you don’t want it—”

“Are you serious?” Jim asks, voice a little too excited maybe. He hasn’t been this thrilled over a birthday present since he was a kid. Hinge cuffs—they aren’t standard issue in Gotham, but they’re permissible. Jim’s always wanted a set, especially after making detective and suffering more than a couple escaped suspects. Try picking hinge cuffs without moving your wrists, Nygma, Jim thinks giddily.

“Do I even want to know what you’re thinking about?” Oswald asks. He’s laughing at him, Jim realizes when he comes back from daydreaming about arresting Gotham’s most slippery criminals.

Jim flushes, embarrassed by his overenthusiastic reaction. He’s a grown-ass man acting like an eight-year old on Christmas Eve. “Sorry.”

Oz’s smile morphs into a contemplative line, his brow furrowing as he leans forward into his space. He lifts Jim’s gaze back to his own with gentle fingers beneath his chin. “You’re allowed to be excited, James,” Oz says. “That’s rather the whole spirit of holidays, and birthdays especially. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

Jim finds himself grinning as he takes Oswald’s hand and kisses his knuckles.

Oz is an amalgamation of contradiction. Ruthless and compassionate. Manipulative and genuine. Murderous and loving. He could easily pass for a psychopath—has done, even—but for his deep understanding and experience of a full range of emotions, often disguised, but here with Jim Oswald doesn’t censor himself. He asks for nothing in return except that Jim let himself be just as uninhibited, which is another contradiction to the person Gotham sees as the Penguin.

“You’re something else.”

Oz shrugs. “So you’ve said.”

Jim stands then, tugging on Oswald’s hand. “Come on. I can’t stop thinking about that chicken parm.”

“Flatterer,” Oswald demurs.

“You could be a world-class chef, Oswald,” Jim states, completely serious. The things Oswald can do with food—Jim’s fairly certain he’s never made the kinds of noises he makes while eating some of Oz’s specialties, chicken parmesan included. “You ever think about getting certified?”

“Stop.” Oswald clicks his tongue, rolling his eyes as they progress down the hall. “Why on Earth would I certify as a chef?”

“I don’t know…” Jim shrugs, feeling wrong-footed again.

“If you must know,” Oswald says, lips upturned at the corner, “I did. It’s expired now of course, but I could recertify. If I wanted to. Which I don’t. I mean, food service isn’t exactly my industry.”

“When did you—”

“Before I got hired by Fish,” Oswald quickly informs as they enter the kitchen. He makes Jim sit at the table while he prepares to heat up their dinner. “My mother…it made her proud. She ran a kitchen for several years with a friend of hers, Paula, and they instructed me from the time I was old enough to stir pancake batter without splashing flour on the wall.”

There’s a fondness to Oswald’s expression as he adds, “Paula enrolled me in culinary school when I was eighteen. She paid for my classes.”

“Wow,” Jim says, impressed. “You didn’t like it?”

“I love to cook,” Oswald insists. “But I quickly realized it could never support us, especially when Mother…Well, she was senile. No one would hire her after Paula died and the restaurant closed. We needed more money, and where to find it wasn’t a secret.”

  Jim’s mystified. There’s a lot they still don’t know about each other’s early life, and he’s a little shocked to discover Oswald’s pre-criminal ambitions. Then again, before Jim joined the Marines, he wanted to be a lawyer. His reasons for choosing a different path weren’t all that different from Oz’s. It all came down to money, and there wasn’t enough to put him through law school. By the time he’d finished with the Marines, Jim had changed and so had his desires. Being a lawyer didn’t sound half as exciting or effective as joining law enforcement.

He chuckles at the thought. He and Oz both prefer to get their hands a little dirty when it comes down to it. Still, he can picture Oswald commanding his own kitchen better than he can picture himself delivering eloquent final arguments to a jury.

“What’s so funny?” Oswald asks, sitting their plates on the table before pulling a bottle of wine from the cupboard.

“Not funny, just…” Jim shrugs, getting up to retrieve the cork screw from the silverware drawer. When he turns back to the table, Oz is relighting the candles in the centerpiece. “I can picture it.”

Oz snorts. “Chef Oswald?”

Jim hums, leaning in to steal a quick kiss before he takes up the bottle and pops the cork. He pours them both a glass before finally sitting down to enjoy his birthday dinner. It’s devoured too soon, and despite how full he is after, there isn’t much he wouldn’t give for one more bite.

Jim groans, slouching back in his chair, much to his boyfriend’s amusement. “I’m gonna need bigger pants.”

Oswald snorts, eyes raking over Jim’s form with shameless admiration. There’s a devious little glint his eyes that makes Jim feel hot and shivery at the same time. “I can think of a few ways to burn off those calories, Captain Gordon.”

“Yeah?” He spreads his legs a little wider, arches a challenging brow. “Come show me then.”

“I could,” Oz says, standing. He takes a step forward, head tilting as if he’s considering, before turning on his heel and heading into the living room. “But you haven’t opened your present yet!”

“Son of a—” Jim mutters under his breath, before adjusting himself and following after. He pinches Oz’s ass in retaliation while he’s bent over digging behind the sofa.

Oz turns his head to glare at him, as Jim plops down onto the couch. “Rude.”

“You love it,” Jim insists, smugly, as Oswald places a large wrapped parcel onto the coffee table and sits beside him.

He regards Jim with narrowed eyes. “Prove it.”



Jim climbs into Oswald’s lap and kisses him filthily. He’s getting a second wind, well-fed and feeling far too happy, and all he wants right now is this. Oz is panting by the time Jim finally moves on from his lips, sucking and biting his way along Oswald’s jaw up to his earlobe. He hasn’t forgotten his purpose as he nibbles it gently.

“I’m gonna fuck your mouth and come all over your tits,” he promises, darkly, pulling away in time to see Oswald turn scarlet. His boyfriend sucks in a breath, blue-eyes widening as he clenches his jaw.

Jim is about to swing himself off his lap, feeling vindicated, when Oz seizes his hips by the belt loops and yanks him back down. In a rare show of that hidden strength, Oz flips Jim sideways, following him down so that Jim’s flat on his back along the seat of the couch with Oswald stretched over top him.

He groans when Oswald slips a hand up his shirt, thumb and forefinger pinching gently around Jim’s nipple. Oz’s mouth moves to his neck then, nibbling a path to his collarbone where he likes to leave his mark. He’d been incredibly bashful and apologetic the first time he’d gotten carried away and given Jim a bruise. However, once Oz had seen how much Jim liked to play with it after—pressing his fore and middle fingers against it over breakfast, while he brushed his teeth, talked on the phone—all caution was thrown to the wind.

 They’d even tried keeping one in the same place for a few weeks, but eventually the area became far too uncomfortable; less a pleasant reminder and more of a literal pain in the neck. So, now, Oswald goes for a spot on the opposite side of his collar from last time and starts teasing Jim’s skin with teeth and suction as he wedges a thigh right up under Jim’s sack, so he has something to grind into.

It’s almost been a year, but Oz has only just gotten comfortable with taking the lead during sex. Not that Jim is complaining, or ever would have, but he likes being taken apart and Oswald is a quick study. Which is a blessing, because Jim has a hard time asking for certain things. Oz is so hyper observant, he can spot hidden threads and then convince Jim to tell him how to unravel each one.

Jim slides his hands up Oz’s back, just far enough that he can slide them right under the elastic waste of his ridiculous silk pajamas. The pads of his fingers are met with lace, and he feels his cock pulse in true Pavlovian form. That jolt of arousal soon turns to frustration, however, as he continues to search for an entry point. He opens his eyes and leans over to get a look, accidentally knocking Oswald from his task of giving Jim a new hickey.

“What the hell?” Jim grabs a fistful of Oz’s shirt and pulls it up to find yet more lace, with no sign of a waistband. He grasps Oswald’s shoulders to guide him back so that he’s leaning over Jim with his hands braced on the seat of the couch. He doesn’t miss the mischievous curl of Oz’s lips as Jim’s fingers fly to unfasten his buttons. He finally wrenches the shirt open, popping it up so it’s bunched around Oz’s upper back and shoulders.

It’s a goddamned lace leotard.

What the ever-loving, sweet-Jesus fuck?

Oswald giggles deviously. “Surprise!”

Jim’s answering whimper sounds as punched out as he feels. Ever since the skirt incident, Oswald has been getting more and more outgoing in his lingerie choices—much to Jim’s utter delight and complete distraction. He hasn’t stopped waxing either and so when Jim leans forward to suck one of his dusky little nipples through the fabric, all he tastes is smooth skin and lace.

Oswald loses his balance, not expecting Jim’s reaction—ha! Serves him right!—and his elbows buckle. Jim uses the opportunity to turn them so that Oswald is pressed up against the back of the couch. It doesn’t work quite the way he wanted it to, Oswald smooshed on his side, propped up awkwardly against the arm. So, Jim reluctantly pulls off to maneuver them again so that Oswald can lay comfortably. He even reclaims a throw pillow from the floor, so his boyfriend’s neck isn’t strained by the armrest the way Jim’s was.

He maybe likes to pamper Oswald. Just a little. It’s not something weird…not like some of the other stuff Jim likes. There’s just this look Oz gets whenever Jim does something thoughtful—and it’s all small stuff, too, like taking his plate to the sink for him when they finish dinner or handing him his cane before they go their separate ways in the morning—that’s just genuinely touched anyone would go through the trouble.

It’s that look which Oz fixes on him now, and Jim just has to kiss him. Once, then twice, before pulling away so he can uncover the rest of Oswald’s underwear. It’s like a lacy, one-piece bathing suit, more obscene than complete nudity because Jim can see everything, but it’s delicately obscured by peach-colored lace; tantalizing and revealing at the same time. It’s a fucking dare, wrapped around all that smooth, pale skin. Jim bites his lip as he pushes Oz’s leg over the edge of the couch to get a clear view of his bare, lace-ensconced testicles.

“Fuck,” Jim whispers, lightly running his thumb over the curve of Oswald’s erection. It’s pressed up against the fabric, like it’s fighting to get free of its lacy prison. Jim takes mercy on it, pulls aside the elastic leg, and guides it through the opening so Jim can give it a loose tug.

Oswald bucks into his hand, eyes half-lidded as he stutters out, “I take it…you like it, then.”

“Baby,” Jim says, voice husky with just how much he likes it, “this is by far the best birthday gift I’ve ever received.”

“But you haven’t even opened your other presents,” Oz teases.

Jim runs his hands up and down Oswald’s hips and sides, loving the play of fabric between their skin. “We can open them now, if you want—”

Oz leans up, grabs a handful of Jim’s hair and gives it a firm tug. “Or, you could bring me your dick, so I can suck it, birthday boy.”

Jim feels his own eyes widen, face tingling with excitement as he maybe…sort of giggles a bit manically. He takes Oz’s face in his hands, kissing him over and over, pushing him slowly back down into the cushions. He’s quick to arousal, writing against Oswald, and as much as he doesn’t want to move, Jim pushes up and gets to his feet. He makes quick work of his clothes, tossing them next to Oswald’s pajamas in a pile on the floor as considers how best to follow Oz’s previous directive. Ultimately, he’s not that creative.

“Bedroom?” Jim asks. Oz nods, lets Jim pull him up, before retrieving the forgotten wrapped package from the coffee table.

“We’d make quite a sight to your neighbors,” Oswald says with a snigger.

Jim cackles, looking down at his own bobbing erection as they progress down the hall. “Give half the building a stroke.”

“What about the other half?”

Jim takes Oswald’s gift and places it on the dresser, before guiding them both to the bed. He follows Oz down onto the mattress, covering him from head to toe. “Let ‘em watch.”

“Interesting,” Oz replies with a hum, but doesn’t explain further. He snakes a hand between them, wraps it around Jim’s cock and gives a firm pull. “Come here.”

Jim complies by climbing to his hands and knees and turning himself around so that he’s facing the foot of the bed. Oswald lifts his arms so that Jim can safely place a knee on either side of his ribs, then rests them over Jim’s calves when they’re settled.

“I like the way you think,” Oz remarks, before he spreads Jim’s cheeks and licks a stripe from his balls up along his perineum.

Jim shouts at the unexpected sensation, barely catching himself on his elbows as he doubles over. He’s quick to compose himself, brings his own mouth down over Oswald’s confined tip a moment later and sucks it through the fabric. He revels in the frustrated groan it earns him as Oz thrusts up gently, seeking more. Jim is happy to pull him free, sink his mouth down to the root.

Conversely, while Oswald doesn’t tease, he doesn’t immediately fulfill his promise from earlier, either. Instead of sucking Jim’s cock in turn, Oz mouths at his sack, swirling his tongue over each before sucking them gently against his soft lips. It’s difficult for Jim to keep a reliable rhythm, eyes rolling up behind his eyelids as Oz slowly drives him crazy.

Jim is certain he lacks finesse, bobbing up and down mindlessly, caught between his own task and fucking back against Oz’s mouth. His dick is achingly hard when Oswald finally does wrap a hand around it. Jim groans in relief and Oz makes a breathless sound, so Jim does it again just to get even.

Oswald isn’t deterred, pulls Jim’s cock down and back so that the tip grazes his lips. “Be a good birthday boy and fuck my mouth, Jim,” Oswald says, making Jim splutter and choke.

He pulls off Oswald’s cock with a ragged cough, turns his head over his shoulder and gazes down the line of his back to find Oz smirking up at him cheekily. He gives Jim a saucy little wink before disappearing beneath Jim’s body. He knows what’s coming, but it still rips a cry from his lungs when Oz’s mouth wraps around him. Jim lowers himself back down to his elbows, shaking with the effort of holding himself up. He feels the way his boyfriend goes lax around him and slowly rolls his hips down toward Oz’s face.

“Oh, shit,” Jim whispers, awed by the heat, the depth. He’s pretty sure he’s nudging the back of Oz’s throat but he’s not even choking. “Fuck…yeah.”

He loses himself to it for a few minutes, eyes screwed shut in bliss. His careful thrusts growing more confident as Oswald groans wantonly every time Jim pushes forward into his heat. Like it’s the best the thing that’s ever happened to him, like he could come just from sucking Jim’s cock. Maybe he could, because when Jim opens his eyes, Oswald’s cock is hard enough to cut glass, his boyfriend practically writhing beneath him in search of friction.

Jim wraps his lips around the flushed head, where its peeking out from Oz’s foreskin. His arms are sliding forward, so he winds them beneath Oz’s thighs, pulls his legs open and uses them for leverage. Jim slowly sinks lower, reveling in the vibrations of his boyfriend’s approval as Oswald moans his appreciation. His fingers can just reach far enough to grip Oswald’s cheeks and pull them apart, exposing him to the open air. Jim wishes he could reach a little further, sink his fingers inside, fill every empty space and take possession.

He’d spare a moment to assess what that particular sentiment reveals about him, but Oz presses a firm thumb against his perineum and begins to rub. He’s so turned on—by Oz’s mouth, his hands, the weight of his cock against Jim’s tongue—that Jim is caught off guard by the force of his orgasm. The growing pressure in his sack seems to squeeze and suddenly he’s there, cock pulsing his release down Oswald’s throat.

Jim can feel him swallowing.

He’s still coming down, but there’s enough presence of mind to pull free of Oz’s mouth and let him breathe. Jim’s trying to reposition himself, so he can better reciprocate, when he sees Oswald reach down and tuck himself back inside the lace bodysuit.

“I’m not done with that,” Jim complains, chuckling.

Oswald’s mouth cracks into a relaxed smile. “Come here,” he says, tapping his bottom lip.

Jim huffs, but complies, tasting himself on Oswald’s tongue as it moves against his own. Oz opens his legs, pulls Jim down onto him, and begins to grind up against his stomach. Jim moves his own body in response, arousal stirring despite being spent.

“What are you doing?” He asks quietly, running soothing hands up and down Oswald’s restless body.

Oswald grabs one of Jim’s wandering hands, brings it to his mouth so he can suck Jim’s middle finger. Jim takes the hint, let’s Oz get it nice and wet before he takes his hand back and wedges it between them. He finds the curve of Oswald’s ass, slips his hand beneath the elastic leg and guides his finger where it’s apparently needed. He gently circles the opening, pressing down to test the resistance before slowly pushing in. Oswald is loose enough from the night before that spit-slick is plenty enough to comfortably accommodate the intrusion.

“Jim!” Oswald pants, bearing down against Jim’s hand before grinding up against his stomach.

“Like that?” Jim asks, letting his lips drag against the sensitive skin at Oswald’s collar. He already knows the answer, knows how Oz sometimes likes to feel surrounded, protected.

“Yeah,” Oz replies breathlessly, eyes desperate when they open wide enough to find Jim’s gaze. “I wan’…wanna come. Make me come, Jim. Please.”

“I got you.” Jim shushes him gently, pulls him close with his free arm and curls his finger. He rubs it against Oswald’s prostate, pressing firmly with every inward push until Oz’s groans take on a new edge. “That’s it, baby. Come for me.”

Oz’s cry is silent when his mouth drops open, body tense and shaking as he finally falls apart. Jim wants to see it, keeps his finger working steadily as he leans up in time to witness Oswald come all over that pretty lace. There’s so much of it, and the fabric is so porous that it seeps through, wet and sticky as Oswald’s hips grind down onto Jim’s hand with every pulse.

It’s downright filthy.

Jim loves it.

He’s already mostly recovered from his own orgasm by the time Oswald sinks back, boneless, into the mattress. Jim is careful to withdraw slowly, so Oz doesn’t so much as flinch when he pulls free and ambles off the bed. Cleaning up isn’t half as sexy as making the mess, but it is sexier than the thought of peeling jizz-crusted lace off Oz’s foreskin in the morning.

When it’s all said and done, and they’re both clad in warm pajamas to beat the chill of Jim’s drafty apartment, Jim retrieves his other gift from the dresser. He climbs into their bed, scooting up beside where Oswald is propped against the headboard, and finally unwraps it.

“Is that what I think it is?” He’s expecting the cuffs and waterproof notebook—and that’s more than enough to make him happier than every other guy on the force—but Jim almost sheds a tear when he also retrieves an electric thermos with a car adapter plug.

“Do you like it?” Oz asks excitedly, though Jim can see he’s genuinely nervous. Jim puts his gifts back into their unwrapped box and leans over to balance it on the nightstand. He then turns to Oswald and cups his face between his hands.

“Oswald,” Jim says, “this is the best birthday I’ve ever had. You did that.”

“Really?” Oz’s eyes are vibrantly blue, shining with how intensely he hopes it’s true.

Jim kisses him sweetly. “Really.”

Oswald follows suit when Jim makes to lay down, curls into Jim’s side and sighs. “Jim?”


“Could I…” Oswald shakes his head, clearly frustrated with himself. “Never mind. It can wait until tomorrow.”

“Oz,” Jim says, reaching up to squeeze the hand resting on his hip. “You may as well spit it out, or neither of us is gonna be able to sleep.”

Oz huffs, then clears his throat. Still, his tone is hesitant as he quietly asks, “Would it be alright if I…kept the key you gave me for the week? In case…” he shrugs, “just in case.”

Jim furrows his brow, angling his head so he can get a look at his boyfriend. Oz is rubbing the hem of Jim’s Henley beneath the fingernail of his thumb; a nervous tick Jim doesn’t think Oz is even aware he has. He actually thinks there’s some chance Jim would give him a key, only to take it away once the weather clears and it’s no longer strictly necessary for him to have one.

After Oz already gave Jim one to the manor, for fuck’s sake. It’s been ten months, and Oz still worries Jim’s never going to be on the same level. He forces himself to stay calm. It’s not like Oz doesn’t have reason to fear the worst, if not for his experiences with other people then with Jim himself not all that long ago.

Jim pushes his initial offense aside, presses a kiss to Oswald’s hair instead. “I never intended for you to return it, sweetheart,” he says gently.

Oz’s fidgeting halts abruptly, before his hand curls into a fist around the material. His response is a barely discernible, “Oh.”

“I just figured…” Jim quickly fights to think of any reason other than reciprocity, which is the exact opposite of his intentions yet, funnily enough, the only thing that comes to mind immediately.

He can feel Oswald tensing just perceptibly, and Jim silently curses himself.

Fuck it.

“Mi casa es su casa,” he finally blurts. Like an idiot.

Surprisingly enough, however, it seems to work. Oswald snorts, then chuckles…then breaks out into peals of unfettered giggles.

“Yeah, yeah,” Jim mutters, chagrined, “yuk it up.”

“You didn’t sprain anything, just then, did you?” Oswald teases.


“You could have just said,” he continues, “in English.”

“Fine!” Jim growls, rolls over to pin Oswald against the pillows. He puts on his most bland, bored expression and intones, “Oswald, will you please accept my goddamned key and shut the hell up about it already?”

Oswald’s hands fly up to cover his mouth, eyes watering as his shoulders shake with suppressed laughter. Jim stares at him unflinchingly, knows full well he’s only making it harder for his boyfriend to compose himself. He should at least let him catch his breath.


“Oswald,” Jim insists. “Do you accept? Oswald? Oz? Say something. Do you accept the key to this illustrious castle, or not? Do you?”

Oz begins nodding emphatically, but before Jim can feel superior for making him crack, the fucker goes for his ribs. Jim flinches away, releasing a very unmanly squawk as he rolls out of range. Oswald’s wiggling fingers follow him in retreat, until Jim squirms himself precariously to the edge of the bed.

He teeters for a moment, and then he’s over the side with a whump and a cry of, “Awe shit!”

He hears Oswald finally lose it completely, and he can’t help himself from doing the same. Its’ been a long day, and tomorrow he’s got to be up early for what will almost certainly amount to the same. And right now, Jim’s on his back on the floor, with one foot held aloft against the mattress where its tangled in the sheets. Robbed of his dignity while his lover is literally cackling like a maniac at Jim’s expense.

He’s never going to forget this moment, knows he’ll look back someday—whether it all comes crashing down around him or not—and recognize it as one of the happiest in his life.

“Jim? Are you alright?” Oswald asks, coming into view over the edge of the bed. He snorts when he catches sight of Jim’s tangled foot before reaching over to free it.

“Yeah,” Jim answers. “Never been better.”