"Boss, you're going to want to come down to The Narrows," Zsasz says into the phone with his annoyingly slow cadence.
City Hall, where Oswald is in the midst of setting up his new lair, is one of the few places in Gotham that still has phone service. Zsasz had shown up in the final hours to offer Oswald his services once more. Despite his betrayal, Oswald was short of men, so he begrudgingly took him on.
"What are you talking about?" Oswald snaps. "The Narrows is nothing but a cesspool. Even more so now. Why would I want –"
He stops abruptly when Zsasz says just one syllable. Composed of two letters.
And that's all he needs to hear. Something grave has happened. Oswald can feel it in the pit of his stomach. He heads to The Narrows where Zsasz and his men are waiting.
Oswald mounts the dais carefully – or whatever the hell the vermin down here call a raised platform like this. The bodies are in sight, but he doesn't want to look just yet. Not until he's close enough to see his face – to see how he died.
Ed lies prone in green on the left. His latest romantic calamity lies in a heap of black and blue on the right. Oswald gives her a wide berth as he makes his way towards Ed.
One. Step. At. A. Time.
His heart lurches as he stands over him and he clutches it tight, clinging to the scars that had been forever seared onto his body from when Edward had shot so deftly through his heart and pushed him back so coldly into the bay as he was still reaching for him, still wanting him . . .
Edward Nygma had a hold on him that would never let go. Not even in death.
Oswald sits himself down next to the only person he has ever truly loved besides his mother and wipes away one of the many tears from his face, reaching out and touching Ed's gray cheek with it. "Ed, you fool. I warned you about her. But did you listen?"
Ed's skin is so cold, so slack, so unmoving.
It's odd not to see him breathing.
Oswald remembers that night in front of the fire and just how difficult it had been for Edward to breathe after Butch's attack, how he had nursed him back to health with a cup of tea as they sat on the sofa together, Ed wearing one of Oswald's finest robes.
Oswald had expressed his gratitude to Edward for putting his life on the line for him. And Edward, in turn, had declared that he would do anything for him. That was all it had taken for Oswald to fall off the precipice that he'd been dangling from and down into love. It had been a long time coming, yet it still hit him like a ton of bricks. It was nothing like anything he had ever felt before and despite outward appearances – those were only to placate Ed anyway – he never looked back.
And now he was gone. Fallen prey to a vixen of the other ilk.
Like he always had.
"Couldn't you have listened for once in your life, Ed?" Oswald grasps his face and pleads with his corpse. "I told you that she was using you . . . and now look what she's gone and done. For the 'smartest man in Gotham,' you're an imbecile!"
Oswald starts to cry in earnest and lays his head on Ed's chest. Standing nearby, Zsasz just rolls his eyes, embarrassed as he's always been at his boss' overblown displays of emotion.
"You wasted your life, Ed," Oswald cries. "I hope she was worth it."
And then he just clings to him, holding him in death as he had only hoped to hold him in life. The blood from Ed's wound seeps into his fine suit, but it is not very warm. And just as he had been in life, Ed himself is cold and unresponsive to his overtures.
"You are nothing if not predictable, Ed," Oswald says as he lifts his head from his friend's chest. Then he removes the glasses from Ed's face and gently closes his eyelids. "Now, I'm going to keep your glasses. Hopefully, they'll give me the same sense of gratitude that Kristen's glasses gave you after she died, and thus alleviate some of my sadness."
Oswald no longer notices Ed's blood seeping onto his suit, but he wouldn't have cared regardless.
"I don't want to mourn you, Ed. Please don't make me say goodbye." Oswald starts to shake as he leans down to kiss him.
"A-hem." The kiss is interrupted.
"What?!" Oswald whips his head around to snap at Zsasz. "Can't you see I'm having a moment here?"
"I found this," Zsasz says, dropping a folded-up spring knife into his palm.
"Is this Ed's?"
"But there's no blood on it," Oswald says, astounded. "So . . . how did he kill her?"
Zsasz walks over to the recently-deceased Lee Thompkins and unfolds her body to reveal a knife in her belly.
"Apparently with this."
Zsasz rolls his eyes again impatiently. Cobblepot could be so dense sometimes when he was overcome with emotion. And Nygma always seemed to get to him. "Boss, she obviously stabbed him first and then he turned around and stabbed her with her own knife."
"What botched Shakespearean tragedy is this?" Oswald looks down at Ed's knife in his palm and then back at Ed's stone-cold face. Apparently, he had come prepared.
But. . .
"Oh, Ed, she got the jump on you, didn't she?"
Oswald finds himself disappointed in Ed, who was always such a fool for love. But at least he had taken her down with him.
Then Oswald notices something. Ed's lips are slightly magenta even though his body has gone very, very gray. He touches them and a deep-pink and waxy substance attaches itself to his finger.
Oswald sighs, deflated. Ed and Lee had obviously shared a kiss before they died. Now, as he hunches over he realizes the truth. Even in death Ed still loves her.
Oswald understands that.
In death, Oswald refuses to let go of his Edward - just as Ed had refused to let go of his Lee.
Oswald hates her in that moment. Absolutely hates her for having been able to possess the one thing he will never have. Ed's heart. He dries his tears and stands up.
"Oh, one other thing, Boss," Zsasz interjects. "Professor Strange is still set up at the Falcone Mansion."
"Wha-?" Oswald says, even as he finally realizes. . .
Zsasz nods. "Real slow on the uptake there, Boss, real slow."
"We can save him!" Oswald exclaims, his eyes shining brightly once more. "We can bring him back!"
"Yes we can, Boss," Zsasz motions with his head for two of Oswald's men to retrieve Nygma's body. As they step forward, Oswald just stands there, his eyes darting back and forth between Ed and Lee. Back and forth. Back and forth.
"Aaagh, take them both!" he declares. "Tell Hugo Strange to fix them."
Zsasz' eyebrows would have come together if he had any. "Both of them, Boss? Why would you do that?"
"I don't know, Victor, I don't know." Oswald takes a moment to gaze forlornly at the spot where Ed's body had just been, where his blood still was.
Then he raises his chin and turns away, heading towards the stairs that lead down the dais.
He decides that Edward is still his, if only in his heart.
TBC (in the fic Personalities when it starts posting in a week or less!)