Dear Mister Penguin,
Thank you so much for saving me! I'm sorry I let Sofia use me. I was so stupid. Mister
Zaz Zsasz says he's sorry too. He asked me if you told me anything about Sofia's dad. He said he thought you killed him. I said you were angry and sad when he died.
He took me to your big house but Sofia was there. She told me I was just like her and that we should be friends. She wanted me to lie to you again. I said no. She wasn't happy and she hurt my arm. Mister Zsasz was angry too but I don't think he was mad at me.
He took me to the safehouse and said that I had to behave or I could get hurt. He said he couldn't be there to save me. He gave me a comic book to read! One of Sofia's badguys said he would beat me up if I was bad by Mister Zsasz pointed a gun at him. I wasn't even scared! I like him even though he betrayed us.
Is that what you meant by friends being a bad thing? Because they sometimes do bad things but you like them anyway? Is that why you were friends with Sofia?
Are you and Mister Riddler friends? Are we still friends?
I have all of these haphazardly written in a notebook so I will be steadily typing them all up and posting them.
Dear Mister Penguin,
My teacher says that my last name is Van Dahl now and not to tell anyone who my father is. But I don't have a father anymore. I don't like talking about him. Why would I tell people who my father is?
There is a library here called the Van Dahl library. Isn't that funny? I stay in there a lot. Mister Riddler said he likes to read. He said he also likes to play the piano so I'm learning how to play! I'm also studying really really really hard so I can be as smart as you. I don't want to disappoint you like I did last time.
I hope I make you proud.
Did you know that Christopher Convery (the actor who plays Martin) is hella good at piano??? Seriously, check out his Instagram.
Oh, btw... these letters are gonna get SUPER angsty. Fair warning.
Chapter 3: I Hate My English Teacher
Dear Mister Penguin,
I hate my English teacher. He keeps asking me to read out loud in class. It makes all of the other kids laugh at me.
Mister Benson took me into his office and said he knows who I really am. He said I'm not a Van Dahl. He told me my real name is Cobblepot and that my father is a criminal.
Is he talking about you?
He says that he'll tell everyone and I'll get kicked out of school. I started putting razors in his chair. I want to set his desk on fire.
Please don't set your English teacher's desk on fire. You will definitely get kicked out if you do. We certainly don't want that. Remember what I told you? It's very important that you focus on school and lay low.
I'm sorry I wasn't honest with you before and that you are confused. Yes, Oswald is your legal guardian now. He asked me to take you somewhere safe. Right now, the best place for you is at school. Be as quiet as a mouse and it'll stay that way. When Oswald is ready, we'll bring you back home. I promise.
Tell me more about Mr. Benson. Does he have any secrets? Can you get close enough to discover them?
P.S. Have you read any good books lately? One of my favorites is Demian by Hermann Hesse. But that one might need to wait until you are a little older.
P.S.S. DON'T GET CAUGHT!
I was re-reading Demian the other day and it is SUCH an Eddie Nygma book.
Dear Mister Riddler,
He has a crush on the librarian. But he's old and she's a student.
Spoilers: Martin didn't get caught.
Dear Mister Penguin,
You won't believe this! The police came to my school and arrested Mister Benson! Someone said that Judy from the library sent him a letter telling him that she loved him. She never sent that letter and he got in a lot of trouble.
My new teacher is named Mister Lark. He says that he knows you! I like him. He's teaching me sign language! I'll teach you when I come home.
I know you're very busy. When can I come home?
P.S. Tell Mister Riddler I said thank you.
I had a teacher named Mr. Benson in middle school and I am STILL bitter that he never got his comeuppance.
Chapter 7: My Birthday is Tomorrow
Dear Mister Penguin,
My birthday is tomorrow! I'm going to be 9 years old. I've never had a birthday party before. I don't think my teachers will let me have one. They said it would get in the way of my homework.
There is a music concert this weekend. I'm going to be playing the piano! Everyone is inviting their moms and dads. I know you and Mister Riddler aren't really my parents but you can still come. I miss you.
Chapter 8: I Wasn't Very Good Anyway
Dear Mister Penguin,
It's ok that you and Mister Riddler couldn't come to my concert. I know you are very busy. I wasn't very good anyway.
Is Sofia gone? What about Mister Zsasz? I hope they aren't giving you any trouble.
Chapter 9: Birthday Present
Dear Mister Penguin,
Mister Lark gave me a present today! It was a stuffed penguin with a green top hat. He also gave me some chocolate cookie ice cream! When I asked him how he knew it was my favorite, he said that a little birdie told him.
Thank you for the birthday present.
I really need to stop underestimating your intelligence!
You're welcome. I'm glad you enjoyed your birthday present.
P.S. I'm sorry about the concert. I'll tell Oswald that we owe you one.
Edward is a good dad :'D
Chapter 11: I Don't Want to Leave Gotham
Dear Mister Penguin,
Are you safe? Is Mister Riddler safe?
The police came and said we had to leave. They didn't let us pack. We all had to go into the hall and they said we have to leave Gotham tonight and go to a different school for a while.
I'm going to be brave though.
I wish you were here.
I don't want to leave Gotham. I want to be where you are.
Dear Mister Penguin,
I saw the bridges explode.
Are you still alive?
Please send me a letter.
Dear Mister Penguin,
I got into trouble yesterday. I ran away from school. I took the bus down to the bridges but there were lots of policemen.
I saw a boat on the river. It was a family. It looked like a mom, a dad, and a boy. I watched the boat explode. I don't think anyone is allowed into Gotham anymore.
A policeman took me back to school.
I can't sleep at night.
Seriously, watching Gotham burn to the ground from the outside must have been traumatic. I mean... it was AWFUL from the inside but I can't even imagine having a loved one trapped in a war zone and not knowing what was going on or if they were alive or dead.
Chapter 14: Another Birthday
Dear Mister Penguin,
It's my birthday today.
I'm sorry I haven't written in a long time. I've gotten a lot better at the piano and my grades are good. I'm better at sign language now.
I've built a network just like you. I have conspirators all over the school. One of the older students called me the Prince of Cardy. It reminded me of you. I miss you. You and Mister Riddler are probably dead now. I don't even know why I'm writing you a letter.
Chapter 15: You Look Like a Pirate
Dear Mister Penguin,
I saw your picture in the newspaper! You look like a pirate.
They said we are going to get to go back to our own school soon! We're going to ride on a boat across the river and get to see our families again.
Will I get to stay with you now? Mister Riddler said that I had to stay at school and be safe. I'm tired of school. I want to be with you.
I want to teach you sign language and show Mister Riddler how I can play the piano. I want to read Demian and eat ice cream. I want to be where you and Mister Riddler are. I promise I won't be in the way.
I can stay the same or change over time. I'm different for most but everyone has at least one of me. What am I?
The answer is "Home"
Chapter 17: My Dearest Edward
Oswald's first letter to Edward while at Blackgate.
Corresponds with Chapter 3 of "The Diary of Millie Jane Van Dahl"
My Dearest Edward,
I hope this letter reaches you. Against my better judgment, I am placing my faith in Lucius Fox. You seem to trust him so I will do the same... for now.
I hope your stay in Arkham is better than last time. Or, at the very least, you are not locked in the basement being experimented on. Come to think of it, what are they using that basement for nowadays?
I'm required to have therapy at Blackgate. If you can even call it that. My sessions are, at best, ten minutes long and unbearably clinical. I think the doctor has spent more time talking than I have. Apparently, I'm a narcissist! Who knew?
The treatment here is laughable. Though, It certainly beats being strapped to a chair and feeling like I'm being boiled alive. So I can't really complain...
Please write me back and ease my worries. I need to know that you are safe.
Oh my god, we get to write letters! I have so many questions! Are they making accommodations for your leg? How are you eating? Is the food there worse than the slop at Arkham? Are you getting exercise? Do you have a roommate or are you in solitary? Do you have any allies? Any enemies? Have you spoken to Martin? How are you?
The floor nurse is only allowing me one damn sheet of paper! Hopefully, I can write small enough...
The basement is abandoned as far as I can tell. I snuck out of the common area one morning in order to escape the noise. I had forgotten how loud it was here. Don't worry though. I wasn't caught... Do you think they'll read our letters?
I know the feeling when it comes to laughable treatment. I have to do group therapy now. It's not even entertaining. Well... mostly. Yesterday, they brought in Jeremiah Valeska. After everything you told me about him and his brother Jerome, I had gotten my hopes up... He's a vegetable now. Practically brain dead. I honestly don't know what he's doing here. He should be in an actual hospital. But, apparently, a brain scan shows normal activity. He's just in a constant catatonic state. I keep trying to trigger some kind of reaction, but I get nothing. I even slapped him the other day. All he did was drool on himself.
They haven't allowed me to see Martin. They usually don't allow children to visit Arkham. They say that it's too unsafe and can be traumatic. Which... I don't disagree, but still. Maybe they'll let me send a letter to him.
Did you get to read his letters? There were a lot of them... I'm sorry I never told you. I was doing what I thought was best for all parties involved. I shouldn't have deceived you. I shouldn't have had those papers signed without you knowing. I don't know what I was thinking...
Do you forgive me?
Even in letters, Ed talks 100 mph.
Chapter 19: Forgiveness
Ed and Os got to visit one another in Chapter 4 of "The Diary of Millie Jane Van Dahl" in-between this letter and the previous one.
My Dearest Edward,
I don't think I ever actually answered your question. The one about forgiveness...
I admit I was bewildered. Frustrated even. But never angry with you.
My heart ached for Martin that entire year we were isolated in that awful prison. I was grateful that you had gotten him to safety before the bridges blew. But, that selfish part of me wished that he had been with me. At least then we could have comforted one another through the loneliness. You had been right, though. Taking him to Cardy and keeping me in the dark was the safest option. Had I known of his whereabouts, I have no doubt I would have brought him home and kept him at my side. I would have endangered him all over again! I truly am a sad excuse of a parent. I would be lying if I said I wasn't terrified of the idea. Luckily for us all, your cleverness spared him much of the awfulness. He never had to experience your near-death, the barricade, Bane, any of that. Words cannot express my gratitude.
Thank you for sending him letters. I'm sure they brightened his world. Even briefly. I know you know how lonely and isolating the world can be. We both do. I wish I had known where he was so that I could have sent my own letters and gifts. I grind my teeth every day knowing that I missed his first concert and that I was never able to give him a proper birthday party. But my heart melts knowing that you took the time to think of him and send him a present- even after betraying me at the bank. You bonded so easily with him! He looks up to you. I am honestly not surprised that he views you as a father.
I am still astonished that you accepted that title so willingly. You never struck me as the type to want children. Though, I suppose Martin is a special case.
I am suddenly reminded of that time we visited that elementary school. I encouraged that boy to try and talk with the other children. I believe his name was Luke? He just needed a spoonful of confidence. Someone to believe in him for a moment. He quickly jumped to his feet and ran over to the other children without a care in the world! You expressed your admiration. You said you were in awe of me. I honestly thought you were in love with me then. How foolish of me! Part of me is glad that you spared me the embarrassment and inevitable rejection.
Those are probably not pleasant memories. Forgive me for conjuring them up.
You have given me two of the greatest gifts I could have ever asked for. You've allowed me a second chance to be a father... as well as a second chance at proving my love for you. Both of which I pray I deserve.
So, yes. I forgive you. For everything.
Don't ever say you are a sad excuse of a parent. Martin adores you. He's alive because of you. He has a family because of you.
When you look at him, you don't see someone who is broken. You are one of the most impatient people I have ever met, but you aren't with him. Even if he writes slow or can't quite communicate in a way that you understand immediately, you are always gentle and accommodating. It comes so naturally to you.
Based on what you have told me about Elijah and Gertrud, I can only assume that you get it from them. They would be proud of you.
I'm honestly a little jealous of the fact that you have such great examples of parenthood. Meanwhile, I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm terrified. I know I'm going to screw it up and disappoint the both of you. It only takes one bad day and I know that I am going to do something wrong. I can only hope that, when he grows up, he doesn't resent me. It's probably a good thing I'm locked up here with the rest of the criminally insane. At least now I can't hurt him.
You're right. Those aren't all pleasant memories. At least not the ones about Isabella.
You know, she told me that she loved opera but never actually listened to it. I once put on a record and she complained. She also couldn't name a single composer aside from Wagner or Mozart. Everyone knows Wagner and Mozart! I thought she would at least recognize Gounod's Roméo et Juliette considering it was one of her favorite stories.
Sometimes I wonder if it wasn't all just an act. Like maybe she saw your records in the library and crafted some lie about liking opera just to impress me. Or, perhaps, to make herself more like you...
I can't think of a single bad memory of my time with you at the manor. You never shamed me for speaking to monsters you couldn't see. You took care of me. I really was in awe of you... and I really was in love with you then. You weren't the fool. I was.
You may have forgiven me, but I don't think I will ever forgive my actions. I believed in my revenge so wholly that I was blind. I honestly didn't start to come to my senses until you were willing to die to protect me from Barbara. I had convinced myself that you were incapable of loving another person and then you proved me wrong. But, I was so unwilling to accept how wrong I was all the way to the pier and...
Sorry. I guess it's my turn to conjure up painful memories.
Speaking of memories: I dreamed about you last night. I almost forgot I was in Arkham when I woke up. We were in my apartment on Grundy Street. It was that first night we had decided to share the bed. I had complained about how stiff my neck was at work and you insisted I no longer sleep on the couch. Did you know you cuddle in your sleep? I had woken up that morning with you wrapped around me and your hair in my mouth. You smelled like spicy mustard and tiger balm.
I miss you.
I'm finishing up the next chapter of "The Diary of Millie Jane Van Dahl" which should be posted soon.
Chapter 21: Would You Have Rejected Me?
Stop sabotaging yourself. The more you focus on your anxieties, the more likely you will make them come true. You praised me for my fatherly nature and yet refuse to acknowledge those same instincts in yourself! Look at what you have accomplished so far.
Our son loves you. You know his favorite flavor of ice cream. You sent him his first birthday present of which he still sleeps with at night. You inspired him to learn the piano and read every book on every shelf in my father's library! Hell, he even likes riddles. Tell me again how that makes you ill-suited for fatherhood?
You are not destined to become like your father. I believe Fate has other plans.
I miss my records. I was always partial to Léo Delibes' Lakmé. The Flower Duet was always my favorite- as you know. My mother would always hum along to it and dance around our tiny apartment.
I think she would have liked you. Did you know she was a dancer? She attended a Hungarian ballet school when she was younger. This was before our family immigrated to Gotham. She wasn't able to get into any of the schools here. She wasn't exactly graceful. But, she loved dancing and I always admired her for it. Most of my records came from her collection. They are one of the few things I still have to remember her by.
Do you think Martin listens to them? ...What kind of a father doesn't know what his son's favorite music is?
Let's not dwell on the past too much. I don't want you to get trapped in your own thoughts without me there to comfort you through them. Perhaps think of the fonder memories at that pier? Like the first kiss we shared.
I remember the days at your apartment fondly. I didn't much enjoy it at the time. I felt awkward and displaced. Frankly, I didn't even want to be alive. Death would have been easier. Yet, I asked for your help anyway. And you saved me without much hesitation. Both physically and mentally.
If I had told you that I loved you then, would things have been different? Would you have rejected me?
It's fine if you would have. I'm just curious.
Chapter 22: Your Proud Father
How are you doing?
Mister Lark tells me that you are doing well in your lessons. I can't tell you enough how proud I am of you. Have I ever told you that?
I read the letters you sent Edward and me while you were at boarding school but I never got the chance to properly respond to any of them. Better late than never, right?
I'm going to kill Sofia Falcone slowly the next time I see her. If she isn't already dead by the time I get my hands on her. She'll pay for daring to hurt you! I am... uncertain how I feel about Victor Zsasz. His involvement in your rescue and him protecting you from Sofia's men are the only reasons I haven't hunted him down. I nearly had him killed during No Man's Land simply because I was so eager and still embittered by his betrayal. But, knowing what I know now, I honestly feel a little guilty.
I considered him a friend. I only wish he thought as highly of me as I did of him and believed me when I told him I had nothing to do with the death of Carmine Falcone. I don't blame him, of course. If I had killed him, It wouldn't have been the first time I lied about killing the loved one of a friend...
I never knew the library at Cardy was named after my father. Maybe, after I am out of this godforsaken place, I can continue the tradition of sponsoring the school. I'll probably have to sign the check with a different name, though.
I'm sorry to hear how terrible your first English teacher had been. I'm honestly impressed with how swiftly Edward took care of that problem for us. Pardon my concern for how eager you were to set his desk on fire. I'm grateful Edward instructed you not to. Didn't we already have this conversation? If you do not approach your revenge with care, your enemies will know it was you. And no more fires!
I'm sorry I never got the chance to throw you a proper birthday party. My mother would always bake me a cake and decorate our house with the ugliest birthday decorations. I loved them though. She would sing songs to me and pamper me all day long. I wish I had gotten to do the same for you.
You never spoke about your biological parents during our time together. All I knew was that you hated them. The social worker I spoke to at the orphanage the day I brought you to the lounge had given me your file. I read about the fire. I never mentioned it because I felt it wasn't my place to ask. I wanted to respect your privacy. But, I often wonder if it had been you who caused it. Are my suspicions unfounded?
I apologize for being invasive. I'm not going to judge you. I just want to know. We shouldn't have any secrets between us.
Your proud father,
Chapter 23: It's Strange Admitting That Now
I only just realized that I hadn't added any tags. Sooooo... I added them. Sorry if things got rocky for any of y'all.
You always know the right thing to say. You once said that you would be lost without me but, I assure you, the feeling is mutual. Hell, I would be dead without you. I would have taken my own life in Arkham the first time I was here or I would have stayed a corpse on that dirty floor in the Narrows if it wasn't for you.
I never knew that about your mother. I always learn something new about her each and every time you talk about her. I'm grateful that her records were not lost during No Man's Land. Speaking of which, when did we start calling it that?
I honestly don't know what Martin's favorite music is. Or even if he has a favorite. He honestly seems like he prefers the calm quiet. For as calm as that mansion could be while we were there. Between my tinkering, Olga's complaining, and those damned reporters on our lawn I'm surprised any of us were able to get any sleep!
Though, I suppose Martin got less sleep than we did. Do you know if he still has nightmares? I'm still not allowed visitations from him. I was still so uncertain about being a dad that I haven't sent him a letter yet. There were too many exposed wires in my head. But you've calmed me down, I think. I'll send him a letter soon. I hope he doesn't think that I've forgotten about him.
Gosh... if you had told me you loved me as far back as then...
I'm not sure how I would have reacted. I was a different person then. Literally.
We share a co-consciousness now but, even still, we have a hard time sifting through our thoughts. Especially with how heavily medicated the doctors keep us.
I think I loved you then.
You frustrated me with your endless calls while I was at work, but I always looked forward to seeing you when I came home. I justified my enthusiasm by telling myself it was only because I finally had a teacher and some form of control over my chaotic situation. In hindsight, I know that wasn't it. The things on my mind weren't the questions I had for you or the wisdom you could impart. I was more concerned with cooking dinner and making sure we were stocked up on your favorite brand of mustard or repairing the fan in the apartment so that you could sleep more soundly. I had never cared for anyone the way I cared about you. And it wasn't even for any selfish reasons. I genuinely wanted you to be happy and comfortable living with me. It's strange admitting that now.
But... I'm afraid I might have rejected you. Most likely. Not because I would have hated you or been upset with you. It's just... well. My father wasn't a kind man. And he beat a lot of things into me at a young age.
I think it would have scared me just like when you did finally tell me. On both occasions.
Sorry I ran.
Dear Mister Penguin,
Thank you for sending me a letter! I've missed you a whole lot. Olga said I could come visit again soon. I hate that Jim Gordon is too worried about Sofia and I can't just see you every day. He doesn't realize that I'm not scared of her and have conspirators around to protect me.
Mister Lark is the best! He even lets me read all of the hard books and doesn't treat me like I'm stupid. And don't worry about throwing me a birthday party. Dad sends me ice cream every month so it's like I have a birthday every day!
It means a lot to me that you're proud of me. I know I've disappointed you before. I'm still sorry for what I did.
You had been so proud of me before. You said I proved myself and that I could stay with you. But then I told you about Sofia and you sent me away. Then I caused more trouble and got kidnapped. Twice!
All I ever do is get in the way. Now I get to live in your dad's house while you're stuck in jail. That's not fair.
I don't want you to hate me or think that I'm bad. My parents were mean to me. They said I was stupid and that they didn't want me around so they would lock me up in a closet or would forget about me when I went to play in the park.
I promise I'll do better. I wouldn't ever do something to hurt you or dad or Olga or any of our friends! We are mean to each other sometimes but you've never hurt me like those people did.
You told me that when I was older, I would understand. I am older now. I still don't understand.
Chapter 25: I Feel Utterly Useless
I'm gonna be making a lot of updates to this fic and try and catch up to the same timeline I'm at in my other fic. That way they still run parallel. After I'm all caught up, I'll post the next chapter of "The Diary of Millie Jane Van Dahl"
Also, I named all of the chapters. I had been too lazy before XD
I don't know how to help Martin. I've enclosed the letter he sent me. What do you make of it?
The things that he describes... how
his parents those people treated him... I just can't relate. He needs someone who understands him in a way I feel that only you can.
I'm sorry if anything he's written upsets you. I am just at a loss. I can tell he's upset. I'm upset. I broke the pen I was using out of frustration because there is no way I can comfort him while trapped in this damn cell! I'm convinced he thinks I hate him. How do I assure him that couldn't be farther from the truth?
I'm sorry to burden you with this. I've just finally found myself completely unsuited to the task at hand. I feel utterly useless. I didn't realize how deeply wounded he was by my words before and I'm afraid I will say something worse and not realize it. Should I call a doctor? Who knew fatherhood was so difficult?
It warms my heart knowing that you like hearing stories about my mother. Truthfully, I think you are the only one. Gotham's citizens liked hearing me talk about her but they didn't love her as I feel you do. They loved the idea of her. They were enamored with the concept of a homely immigrant woman raising the man who became The Penguin.
If only I had known of Strange's research and ability to resurrect the dead at the time. Perhaps, I could have saved her. She would be disappointed in me, no doubt. She died before we could really talk about the kind of man that I was but, I can only assume she died thinking the worst of me. I suppose I can at least take some solace in knowing that I was honest with her for the first time in my life. At least I could give her that.
Any time I read about that year in the papers, they either refer to it as No Man's Land or The Cataclysm. Only in Gotham, right? We might as well embrace the headlines.
Olga has told me that Martin's nightmares have gotten less and less extreme. Or, at the very least, he calls out less frequently in the night. I can still hear it some nights. I always assumed he was incapable of screaming because he's mute. Clearly, I was wrong. Were they just as prominent after I left? I'm sorry you had to deal with that on your own for those few weeks before you went to Arkham.
I had a feeling you would have rejected me. Though, it is nice to know that you loved me then. I think I loved you too. I had never been in love before and didn't recognize it for what it was until that night after The Sirens.
I was preoccupied with my revenge then but I was happy. You succeeded in that. You gave me friendship- that I didn't deserve- and I didn't even have to buy it.
Don't apologize for running. You needed to come to terms with how you felt. As did I.
I'm just grateful we found one another in the end.
With you always,
P.S. Do you really send him ice cream every month? How did you manage to do that? If his teeth fall out, it will be your fault.
Chapter 26: Follow Your Heart
Apologies if anything is wonky in this chapter. I wrote it all on my phone.
I wasn't lying when I said that you always know the right things to say. Just follow your heart and the words will come to you. I'll send him a letter but he has to hear it from you. You aren't unsuited to the task, Os. I promise.
Hahaha! I was wondering when you would find out about the ice cream. I set up a few years worth of deliveries to be made. All paid in advance so I didn't have to worry about my funds being cut off while imprisoned. I just... thought it would be nice. It was a small gesture but one that I felt was important. He's so convinced he needs to act like an adult to impress us. I just want to make sure I remind him to stay a kid a little while longer.
The more that I think about it the more I believe getting Martin to some kind of therapist is a good idea. You're right about his screaming. It proves a theory I had that his muteness is psychosomatic. I heard him humming one day when he thought I wasn't around the corner. I remember you telling me that he had suffered a brain injury when he was much younger- no doubt a result of those awful people and their neglect- and that it was assumed to have been the cause. But trauma to the Broca's region of the brain usually affects language comprehension as well. But he reads, writes, and communicates better than most adults I know! It would be worth looking into.
You know how I feel about doctors, but that doesn't mean we should deny Martin the opportunity to talk to someone. Especially since we aren't exactly the most available parents... Maybe Dr. Quinzel is available? She's got the personality for handling kids. Martin met her a few times when she came to the manor while I was on trial. So it would at least be a familiar face.
Martin still had nightmares after you left. They got more intense, actually. I'm glad to know they've lessened. He slept in our room most nights. He kept trying to tell me about a woman with red eyes who would light his bed on fire. He also tried to show me a book he found in his bedroom. I think it was an old diary? I'm embarrassed to say that I barely remember. I hadn't slept in several days between the hallucinations and Martin's night terrors. I kept drifting in and out of consciousness.
I do remember him telling me that he thought the mansion was haunted. I probably shouldn't have let him read all of those ghost stories. I never saw the point in censoring that kind of stuff, but I guess I do now. He has an overactive imagination and I'm sure that the stress of the trial and living in such an old house made things difficult for him. I should have been more attentive. Sorry about that.
I don't have words to describe how badly I shuddered at the thought of Hugo Strange coming anywhere near your mother. That man gets some sick sadistic pleasure from corrupting everything he touches. He doesn't see people as anything other than a lab rat or a coffer he can dip his greedy hands into. I'm still worried that I am going to wake up one day and discover that he did something else other than plant that chip. Or, God forbid, he did something to me back in Arkham that I can't remember. It's bad enough that I can still feel him poking around in my skull every now and then.
We've discussed your mother and everything that happened. In those conversations, I never once got the impression that she was anything but peaceful when she died. Even if it was shock, you said she was smiling. Maroni may have disillusioned her, that's true. But, deep down I feel like she understood. You told me that she often only ever saw the good in people. If she could have faith in complete strangers, she had faith in you. Just as I do.
I think I'm in the same boat as you. I don't think I ever loved anyone til you and that's partly why I didn't recognize it for what it was until it was almost too late. I thought I loved Kristen. I thought I loved Lee... I thought I loved Isabella. I cared for them. I would have done anything for them but I don't think I would have ever shared the level of connection with them that I do with you. Kristen would have eventually left me for some brute, Lee never loved me, and Isabella was convinced I was some dark figure from a romance novel. One that she was destined to take care of and change for the better. Like some kind of twisted Beauty and the Beast story.
It doesn't bother you that I mention her does it? We haven't really spoken about any of that since before the bridges were repaired. I feel like I've come to terms with everything and found some sort of closure with it... but I have no idea if you have.
The last thing I want is to upset you.
Just know that I love you more deeply than I have ever loved anyone. I won't ever betray you again. I'm not going anywhere.
Chapter 27: You Know We Miss You, Right?
I'm sorry I haven't written to you before now. You must think I'm lame, huh?
How have you been? Olga doesn't really send me updates. Not that it matters. They keep me pretty isolated. They don't even like me reading the newspaper because they say it makes me obsessive. All because I started asking questions about Mayor Chang! These morons are driving me even crazier than I already am.
Before they took away my newspaper privileges, I read that the Silverlock's were going to host the Founder's Dinner this fall. I guess keeping up with Gotham's traditions helps everyone forget about the last two years. Did you know that the Van Dahl's used to attend? I read about it while helping your father research.
Oswald tells me that you enjoy studying with Lark. I'm glad. Your father and I both agreed he was the best choice. Though, I did make a joke and said we should ask Alfred Pennyworth now that Bruce Wayne skedaddled out of town. It's a shame you two aren't closer in age. I think you have a lot in common.
Just promise us that you won't hop on a plane the day you turn 18. If you're going to go travel the world we wouldn't mind going with you.
You know we miss you, right? If we had any say in our situation, we would be with you at the manor. Don't think for one second that we would ever send you away. We only did before to keep you safe. Oswald and I both care about you very much.
Don't feel like you have to respond right away. I understand if you are upset with me. I have no excuse for not reaching out before now.
Dear Mister Riddler,
I'm not mad at you! And you aren't lame. I figured you were just focused on getting better. You never looked sick to me though. Those doctors are just stupid.
Mayor Chang is weird. Sometimes she looks like a puppet. Like a real puppet. Her eyes get all weird and it looks like someone is controlling what she says. I hope she chokes. It's all her's and Jim Gordon's fault that you are locked away. I don't trust Jim. I thought he was supposed to be our friend but he always betrays us. But I guess that's just what friends do.
I wouldn't mind going on a trip with you and Mister Penguin. Won't you still be in jail when I'm 18?
I miss you too. It's ok if you send me away. You don't have to lie to me. I know I've done bad things. I keep having weird dreams and I don't know what they mean. But I think they are telling me that I'll do something bad again.
Sorry if you think that's dumb.
I hope I get another letter from you soon.
P.S. Thank you for all of the ice cream. Olga likes hers too!
P.S.S. Can dogs eat ice cream?
I am sloooowly revealing some of the plot for my other story. Muahahaha!
Also, the angst train isn't gonna stop anytime soon.
Chapter 29: This is All Still New
One: You are NOT a disappointment. We don't hate you. You are brilliant and empathetic. Oswald and I couldn't have asked for a better son. I don't know what's happened that's convinced you otherwise.
And Two: Betrayal is more complicated than your father made it out to be.
I'm angry, but not at you. I can't express how sorry I am for not contacting you sooner. I thought I was protecting you by keeping my distance. I should have known better. Hell, I did almost the exact same thing with Oswald and nearly ruined us. Clearly, I didn't learn my lesson.
This is all still new to me.
Please open up to us? If not to me, then to Oswald.
I want to know more about these nightmares you're having. If you tell me about yours, I'll tell you about mine. How does that sound?
The world's worst dad
P.S. I'm glad you like the ice cream. Probably best not to feed it to the dog. The chocolate will make him sick.
P.S.S. ...Tell me more about Mayor Chang.
Chapter 30: The Day I Stopped Talking
Dear Mister Riddler,
Father told me that friends are dangerous to have and that it's better to have conspirators. He told me not to get attached to people because friends betray one another. He said they are a weakness and I was better off without them. He got mad when I told him I was his friend. But I don't know how to not want friends. I'm trying to pretend that being sent away isn't scary. I want to be prepared when it happens. Just in case. You told me to be prepared for anything.
I couldn't save you or father from going to jail. That was the whole reason you brought me home, right? So that I could try and convince the people in court that you aren't bad people? I couldn't even do that right.
I want to get revenge on Mayor Chang and Jim Gordon for you but I haven't figured out how. I don't have enough allies yet. Everyone still treats me like a kid and they don't take me seriously! I don't know how to fix it. I want to make everything better and show you that I didn't betray you on purpose.
I'm sorry you have nightmares too. I know you had them when you were living here after father went to jail. You said father's name in your sleep a lot.
I don't really understand mine. The woman with red eyes is always there. Sometimes I'm running away from her in the mansion and sometimes I'm out in the woods. The scariest one was when she followed me to my old house. I could hear those people screaming inside the burning house and I wanted to scream too but I couldn't. That was the day I stopped talking. No matter how much I wanted to, my throat hurt too much or I couldn't breathe.
In all of my dreams I'm holding the matches and I wake up guilty and scared that I'm going to do it again.
What were your parents like? Father talks about his all the time but I don't know about yours. You told me your dad hurt you and called you names.
That means you can't be the world's worst dad. He was. And so was that man who died in the fire.
P.S. I cut out pieces of the newspaper that talk about Mayor Chang. I hope you get to read them before the doctors take them away.
Chapter 31: At Least You Were Safe
Oswald and I being away is not your fault! I didn't realize I put so much pressure on you with that. I would have brought you home regardless. I wanted to bring you home sooner but Oswald was still struggling. He owed Butch a debt and Tabitha Galavan was still running around. I didn't trust her to not kidnap you again and hurt you.
And then Jeremiah Valeska blew up the bridges.
I need you to understand our reasons. Oswald. Myself. Hell, even Victor Zsasz. We just wanted you to be safe. And you were. It was scary but at least you were safe. You wouldn't have wanted to be in Gotham during No Man's Land. God, Oswald probably would have sent you to Haven so you didn't starve! And then you would have been there when...
Just... trust us. Please?
If you were to ask your father about friendship now, he would tell you something different. It's because of that friendship we shared that he was able to save me from my own head and trust in me to save you from Sofia. And, honestly, it's because of the friendship I know Zsasz once had for Oswald that I knew I could trust him when he told me where you were.
There was a time that I believed friendship was a weakness and not worth having. Oswald had been my best friend and then he took something very important away from me. After that, I didn't see the point in having friends. But, in my own weird little way, I craved it. I... might have gone a little overboard trying to find a new friend. I'm not sure how much of that you know. I'm not exactly proud of it.
There are things about Oswald and me during that time in our lives that might be too confusing. Not to say that I think you're too young to understand. They are just... well, confusing. Even I don't entirely understand. There are times that I think about it and wonder how the hell Oswald and I ended up where we are now. The together part, not the in prison part.
Talking about my parents is difficult. My dad was cruel. He came back from his service in the army and expected everything to be handed to him. He felt like the world owed him everything. He refused to get work and so my mom had to work two jobs to support his drinking habit. He wanted me to be involved in sports. I told him chemistry club was like a sport. He didn't agree...
I'm sorry you had to hear me calling out in my sleep. I had a lot of nightmares about Oswald getting hurt. Sometimes I didn't realize they were nightmares and I would wake up confused. I hope I didn't upset you.
You said before that you didn't think I looked sick. I need you to understand that the way I act sometimes isn't exactly normal. People don't always look sick.
What does the woman with red eyes look like? Does she resemble someone you know?
Don't get ahead of yourself in your plans for revenge. Oswald and I aren't there to watch your back and keep you safe. Getting on the bad side of either of those two would be bad for everyone. Just be patient. We'll get our revenge. I promise you that.
Not the world's worst dad but still pretty terrible,
P.S. Thanks for the newspaper clippings!
You haven't written to me in a while. It's been over a week. Are you alright?
I really do love you, Oswald. I won't mention Isabella again if it upsets you.
I've been sending letters to Martin. Which has been... interesting. I'm trying to follow the advice I gave you. Martin doesn't think I'm the world's worst dad, at least. So, that's something.
I could really use some reassurance from you. I miss you and I need to know you're safe.
Our boy misses his bird
Chapter 33: When I Come Home
My Dearest Edward,
I am so sorry I worried you. That was never my intention.
They transferred Eduardo Dorrance to Peña Dura recently and, during that transition, there was a bit of a void in the power dynamic here. Of which I took advantage. Got my nose and a few ribs broken in the process.
I gained a new ally. An older gentleman. Former military. He's been here for years and knows the layout of the prison better than anyone. During No Man's Land, he and several other inmates opted to stay at the prison. It was easier to barricade the cement walls and keep out all of Jeremiah's cultist clowns. He and his men hid contraband they'd scavenged. Most of it was found after reunification, but not all of it. His supplies have been a valuable bargaining chip here.
I don't trust him. Something about the way he laughs makes my skin crawl. I can't explain it. But he hasn't given me a reason to kill him just yet. We'll see.
I'd rather not talk about Isabella. But I won't deny you that. It's funny how she was in our lives for such a brief amount of time and yet she cut the deepest wounds. She knew that I loved you. One would almost suspect foul play. But, I digress. If we must discuss her, we can.
I admit I was uncomfortable even being at the damned library. I hadn't gone back until that day I found you after our brief conversation in my territory. I wasn't sure if you had decided to use it as your base simply because it was abandoned or if you were drawn there in remembrance for Isabella. I had pushed those thoughts out of my mind after you took us back to the manor. It wasn't until we started opening up to one another and I realized the depth of my betrayal that I allowed thoughts of her and my guilt to consume me.
I really did deserve everything you did to me. I often think about how things would have been different if I had just stayed at the bottom of the river. I even dream about it sometimes. Your green reflection distorted by the water as I sink further down. All the while I hear you singing my mother's lullaby to me and playing the piano. It's oddly peaceful.
I should teach Martin that song when I come home. If I come home, that is.
I wish I could write more but I'm suddenly very tired. I hope to hear from you soon.
It's not like you to be so melancholic. What's wrong?
Why are you suddenly talking about not coming home? Dent said you might be able to get out on parole. That's still the plan, isn't it? Promise me you won't give up. You're scaring me.
I don't know what I would do without you. I can't take care of Martin on my own and the thought of sending him away makes me sick to my stomach. I can't do that to him again. But, he wouldn't be safe if I didn't have you there to keep me upright. I've seen what I'm like without you in my life. I didn't like it.
What do you mean Isabella knew? Did you tell her? I'm not mad if you did. I just want to know when. How early in my relationship with her did she know you were in love with me? Why didn't she tell me? Why did she allow me to hurt you? I don't understand.
I'm sorry for freaking out. I'm just a bit overwhelmed now.
I'm glad you're making allies. I'm trying to do the same but I'm having better luck with the hardly-functioning crazies than I am any one useful person. Johnathon Crane and Jervis Tetch are back in here. All they do is sit next to each other and glare. Jeremiah Valeska is still a drooling baby. They keep bringing him into our group therapy sessions and it's just... depressing. From everything I've seen and heard, he must have been brilliant. Isn't that my luck? The one smart guy in here gets dipped in acid and dissolves his brain.
We have to do these stupid exercises where we pair off with someone from group to discuss a topic. I jokingly picked Valeska. I ended up talking about you a lot. I've even talked about Martin. I figured it was safe considering he can't do anything or tell anyone our secrets. Talking to him has been more therapeutic than anything else.
Are you still in therapy at Blackgate?
Make sure you get some rest so your wounds heal properly.
I almost feel sorry for Miah for having to listen to Ed gush over Oswald for 10 years.
Chapter 35: I Do Trust You
Dear Mister Riddler,
I do trust you. I'll try and remember that.
I think I might have made father mad at me. He hasn't responded to my letter in two weeks.
Has he talked to you? I usually get one from him every couple of days between visits. I was told I couldn't visit him last week. They said no one was getting visitors until the fighting stopped. Do you know what the fighting was about? Is father alright?
I found a secret tunnel that leads to the bridge by the prison. I read somewhere that people used it to smuggle alcohol back when it was illegal. I think I can use it to send father some supplies. I'm not sure how I will though. I need a conspirator that can deliver it to him.
Sometimes you and father are really silly. I can tell you love each other. It's kind of gross. He talked about you a lot when he brought me home the first time. He never said your name but I know he was talking about you. He said you were friends and that you betrayed him. I asked him why he still cried about you and he told me it was because he still loved you. Don't tell him I told you that. He might get mad. I think it was supposed to be a secret.
The woman with red eyes looks a little bit like a girl I knew at school. Her name was Verity. She was albino and had white hair and red eyes. We were conspirators sometimes but she wasn't my friend. I think the woman with red eyes has something to do with Millie Jane. She's the ghost I told you about. I know you don't believe me but I think she's real. How else would I have found those tunnels if she hadn't shown me first?
My dad and mom were mean too. They drank a lot and had friends over who drank with them. They saw what my parents were doing but they never did anything to help me. I got really mad one day and tried yelling at my mom because she forgot to take me to school. But I couldn't make my voice work. My dad always yelled at me whenever I made any noise so I thought maybe that was why. Maybe I was just too scared to talk because they were both sleeping.
They forgot to make food one time and I was really hungry. I crawled up on the counter and tried heating up some soup but I dropped a bunch of stuff on the floor. I tried running up the stairs to my room but my dad grabbed me and I fell. I hit my head really hard. I could still talk but I didn't talk to them anymore.
Is that weird? I never really thought about it before. It does sound kind of stupid.
Chapter 36: Don't Forget That
I'm not even a little bit sorry that you think we're gross. You deserve to see what two people in love actually looks like. Just ignore the parts where we've tried to murder each other.
Oswald isn't mad at you. Far from it. There was a power struggle within the prison and he, of course, was in the middle of it. I'll let him explain it to you. I don't really have the details. You should be able to visit him soon. I think the fighting has stopped because he sent me a letter recently.
Sounds like you found some Prohibition tunnels. Interesting! Those will definitely prove useful. Ask Lark. He might be able to help. Also, you found those tunnels on your own because you're clever. Don't let some ghost take credit for your hard work.
I am curious how you know the name Millie Jane. Did you read about her in one of the books at the mansion? If so, will you send me a copy?
It's not weird that you didn't- or, rather- couldn't talk to your parents. I was diagnosed with selective mutism as a kid- if you can believe that. My dad drank a lot too and would always fall asleep in his chair in the living room. He would call out to my mom and me if we so much as made the floors creak. Eventually, we just stopped talking whenever he was around. I would also stop talking anytime my dad was mentioned.
There was this one time I was at school and we were talking about Father's Day. We were supposed to make cards and talk about our fathers. I got up in front of the class and found that I couldn't speak. I got sent to the office because my teacher thought I was just sick. When they asked me what was wrong, I got nervous and all I could do was answer with a riddle. They didn't get it. So, they just called my dad and said I was being disruptive.
Would you be opposed to having a therapist? That doesn't mean I think you're crazy! Oswald and I just want to help. We can't really be there to talk to you and it might be nice to have someone to talk to that isn't a family member.
I won't tell Oswald you spilled the beans. It will be our little secret. What else did you two talk about? Did he talk about me often? I'm curious about what he had to say about me.
I'm sure Oswald will send you a letter soon. He's just tired and has a lot going on. His feelings are complicated sometimes. He loves you and misses you. Don't forget that.
My Dearest Edward,
I apologize again for my delayed response. I've felt rather down and, any time I sit down to write, I become overwhelmingly tired. I haven't felt this way in a long while. I can't even will myself to write a letter to Martin. Everything I write comes out wrong and I keep second-guessing myself. I'm grateful at least one of us is being a good parent.
I still have therapy. It's required for the duration of my stay here. Though, I'm convinced they just want to sedate me to keep me docile.
I don't really make a habit of talking about you or Martin while I'm here. I don't want to give these vampires anything that can be used against me- in court or within these walls.
I haven't given up hope just yet. However, it is likely that I will not get parole until I've served at least ten years. That is still ten years apart from you and ten years apart from Martin. By then he will definitely feel like I have abandoned him. And you may move on and love another by then. I wouldn't blame you if you did.
I contemplated escape. Richard encouraged it, actually. He said he knew of some tunnels that led out towards the river. But... what then? I free you from the confines of Arkham and then we just run away together? I couldn't do that to Martin. He probably wouldn't care so long as he was with us but I would hate every minute of it! He deserves better. He deserves some kind of stability. At least with the arrangement we have now, he has most everything he needs. He will never have to worry about money as I did growing up and I have no doubts Lark will give him a proper education- both academically and in the business, as it were.
And what happens when I am inevitably captured again? There would be no hope for parole at that point. If saving this city meant nothing to Jim Gordon and that mouthpiece of a mayor, nothing else I do will change my situation. I have to accept the inevitability of it all and that is very hard to do in my current state.
You must find me pathetic. I've only been here for five months and I am already like this. What will I be in another nineteen years and seven months? I'll be 54 years old by then. Eight more years and I will be the same age my mother was when she died. Add four more years and I will be the same age as my father when he drank that poison instead of me.
I don't think I'll make it to then. Even if I wanted to.
Fate certainly is cruel, isn't she?
Y'all aboard the Angst Train? 'Cause I am.
Chapter 38: Worthless to One
How could you possibly think of suggesting I would fall in love with someone else? Oswald, I have no idea how to convince you! Please, tell me how. Just say the word, and I'll do anything. Snap your fingers and I will break into your cell in a heartbeat. Damn the consequences if it means you'll understand how much I love you.
The only thing keeping me going is the knowledge that one day I am going to wake up beside you again. That I'll get to listen to that little snore of yours and run my fingers through your hair. I look forward to cooking you and Martin breakfast every morning. I look forward to the day that we can have our revenge on those that have wronged us.
If you really did tell Isabella that you loved me, I can't help but feel angry with her. It meant she knew how my being with her was going to affect you and our friendship. She knew how important you were to me. She asked me so many questions about you. I'm such an idiot. I wish I had just shown up for dinner.
Aszú-Esszencia. The “Wine of Kings.” Vintage. Aged 52 years. It was going to cost me a pretty penny, but it would have been worth it.
I had no idea what we were having for dinner but I thought getting a nice bottle of Hungarian wine would have been a nice change. We may not have had it with dinner, but I could have paired it with something later.
Maybe I'll pick us up a bottle when we get home.
Because we will go home.
Worthless to one,
P.S. What is Richard's last name?
Chapter 39: Priceless to Two
There's no point in endangering yourself just to knock some sense into me. I know how much you love me. Sometimes I wonder how on Earth I managed to get so lucky. Especially after everything we've been through. I suppose I feel guilty? I finally have your love and affection all to myself and I'm not even around to receive it properly. That guilt has been weighing on me.
There isn't a single moment that you or Martin aren't in my thoughts. I often think about being home and waking up beside you, enjoying your cooking, and slicing Jim Gordon open with the dullest knife I can find.
Spite and love have always been my biggest motivators in life.
I never told Isabella. She figured it out. It was that day you sent me there to break up with her. You begged me to be gentle and I am not ashamed to admit that I wasn't. I told her that you deserved to be appreciated by someone on your own level. She, of course... saw right through me. I'll give her that. She was at least observant about the obvious details.
She loved you to the point of obsession and I can't say I blame her. I did the exact same thing. While we're still on the subject of her: What exactly did she say that convinced you to stay? One minute you were dreading having to speak to her and the next you were walking on clouds and humming Vivaldi.
I don't know Richard's last name. I never cared to learn it. Why? Do you know him? For some strange reason, I always find myself opening up to him. I never mean to but somehow through the course of the conversation, I find myself talking about you. He told me that you were probably going to forget about me and I almost believed him.
I think I figured out why he creeps me out. He laughed the other day and I could have sworn it was you. But it was a perversion of your laugh. It was like all of the maniacal glee was stripped away and replaced with snakes.
I've tried distancing myself from him several times now but circumstances have shown me that I don't have the luxury to. He's proven himself to be valuable to my operation here.
Whenever I feel down I'll try and remember how much you love me. That little bit of reassurance will keep me going. I'll try not to lose hope. For your sake.
Priceless to two,
P.S. You owe me dinner.
Damn. I was really hoping you'd give me the order to escape. I miss you and want to see you. I'm sure Martin could point me to the nearest underground tunnel that could get me there. He's found a lot of those lately. You would be proud. I certainly know I am.
Honestly, I feel like being separated from you has only worsened my condition. It's enough to make me wonder if maybe that's the whole point. I feel like part of my heart has been carved out and locked away. I've been hallucinating more and more. That could also be a side effect of the medicine. I'm honestly not sure. I don't exactly have the freedom to research it on my own. Though, I suppose I could break into the doctor's office.
Thank you for holding onto hope. It means a lot to me. And I'm sure it means a lot to Martin as well. Speaking of which, you still need to send him a letter.
Never mind about Richard. It was just a fleeting thought. Probably nothing. Best to ignore it. Just... be cautious. If he makes you uncomfortable, there is probably a reason for that. You have good instincts when it comes to people.
Which... leads me to my next question: When I first introduced you to Isabella, what was your first thought? I mean, aside from the fact that she looked identical to Kristen. The more I have had time to stare at my ceiling and think about it, the more I think that maybe I was played. Her timing was too convenient. And she was too perfect. Or, at least she was good at creating the illusion.
I don't know how prepared either of us is for that conversation. Isabella's methods for getting me to stay- to trick me into staying- were... unconventional? I don't want to keep talking about her if it is going to make you upset. You've had a lot on your mind lately and you're still recovering from broken bones.
How are you holding up, by the way? Not just your injuries but your mood. You seemed a little more light-hearted in your last letter. I hope that continues.
If for whatever reason it doesn't... Riddle me this: Imagine you are in a dark room. How do you escape?
P.S. I owe you a lifetime's worth of dinners.
Sorry for the delay. I'm a teacher and the new school year has started so things have been a liiiitle crazy.
Chapter 41: I've Never Been Much of a Poet
Orders? Really? We are long since passed me giving you orders. Hell, when have I ever actually given you an order? I never had to. You had a knack for reading my mind back when I was mayor and everything I ever asked of you was always just a request. We did things for one another because that was just what friends did.
Martin has certainly been a busy child. Part of me wants to limit his adventurous streak. I don't want him to get hurt. But, at the same time, part of me wants him to fail. That sounds awful. But I learned my most valuable lessons when I made mistakes. Lark is there with him and has been keeping me informed. He's at least safe for the time being. Provided he doesn't wander off into those tunnels alone.
I hated Isabelle the moment I laid eyes on her. You told me where she worked and I paid her a visit. I was angry and jealous and was trying to sabotage everything before it got out of hand. Which failed spectacularly. Just my luck.
She was... childish. She had this stupid little paper doll cutout of the two of you holding hands. It was like something a little girl would have done. Not a grown woman attempting to date the most brilliant man in Gotham. It's almost embarrassing how badly I failed to keep her away from you. Like I got bested by a five-year-old.
What do you mean by “unconventional”? I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want to know. You should know that.
Your riddle is amusing. I suppose, if I were to suddenly no longer think about the dark room, it would vanish and I could escape. Or I could imagine a light instead...
The morning after our first night together- when we finally gave ourselves over to the other- I woke up before you did. Which was rare. I must have exhausted you (I'm not sorry). I couldn't help but watch you like you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. You reminded me of the fog on the river. Or the lilting dust in a beam of morning light. I've never been much of a poet, but you make me feel like I always was one at heart. You bring that out in me.
Ever the romantic,
P.S. A lifetime's worth? Eddie, that almost sounds like a proposal.
I seem to recall a moment in your office at the Lounge where you seemed particularly keen to give me orders. Of which I complied quite enthusiastically. I wouldn't mind repeating that.
I wasn't aware you visited Isabella... she neglected to mention that. I noticed the doll too. I guess, in hindsight, it was a little strange. At the time, I found it endearing. But, I've always been a bit eccentric.
I know you wouldn't have asked if you didn't want to know. I just don't know how to talk about it. I'll do my best to explain it, though.
You and I had already spoken about her reading glasses earlier that day. So, you already know about how I freaked out. Isabella already looked alarmingly like Miss Kringle but, with the glasses, they were indistinguishable. I was even concerned that they were the same glasses! I thought someone had broken into the GCPD evidence locker and stolen them. I couldn't help but feel like it was all too well-timed. Almost like it was staged.
After I asked you to break up with her for me, she left a note for me with the secretary at City Hall. I went to her apartment to try and resolve everything. I should have just ignored it but I wanted to give us both some closure about the break-up. But... she had dyed her hair red and was wearing a dress just like one Kristen used to wear.
You know me, I don't believe in ghosts. But, for a moment, I thought she was one. I tried to run but she stopped me. Thinking on it, I'm not sure if I was more concerned about her safety or mine.
She did it to show me that I wouldn't hurt her even if she looked identical to Kristen. I'll spare you the rest of the details. You get the idea.
...In writing all of that out, I see how manipulative that was now. She even hit me. I told myself I deserved it even though I didn't do anything wrong. She said she was only trying to get my attention and knock some sense into me. She made it about how crazy I was acting and not the fact that she made herself look just like my dead girlfriend that I murdered and buried in the fucking woods!
Why am I such an idiot? What possessed me to allow her to do that? Why didn't I see it before? God! I'm no different than my own mother.
I had to take a break from writing. Sorry. The nurses didn't appreciate my pacing and muttering to myself.
Guess I'm stuck imagining a dark room, too. Thinking of brighter things will certainly help my mood.
You'll be glad to know that I think I've pinpointed the moment I fell in love with you. Even if I didn't realize it.
It was that day we killed Leonard. We had our conversation that night before and you were more relaxed around me. Making jokes. Even smiling. And not that smile you gave me that told me you were going to tear the flesh off my bones when I turned away. We pulled Leonard out of that closet and the way you carved him open put me in a state of envy. I have a BS in Anatomy and I couldn't have possibly killed him as artfully as you did. You handed me the knife to do the honors and I just... couldn't. Any action I would have taken would have looked clumsy and foolish. You saw me second-guessing myself and guided my hand to his carotid. No words. You just took my hand.
I wanted nothing more than to just commit murder with you every night. For the rest of my life.
You really are a poet in actions and in your words. Always have been.
Also a romantic- thanks to you,
P.S. I am round but not a wheel. I am inside every tree and in the sound of a bell. What am I?
That moment when you remember that Eddie is totes a serial killer.
Also, does anyone know that answer to that riddle? :D
Forgive me for saying that I regret not killing Isabelle myself. If I had known then what I know now, I would have skinned her alive and thrown her in a salt bath. Perhaps a garnish of lemon just for laughs.
After everything with Butch, I told myself I would do everything in my power to keep you safe. I didn't realize how terribly I had failed at that task. I did notice the bruise on your cheek the next day but I had assumed it was just one that surfaced late after the incident at The Sirens. I was so caught up in my heartache that I allowed such a slight to stand uncorrected. I should have been more attentive. I really was selfish.
You aren't an idiot, Edward. Don't call yourself that. I'd hate for those hacks at Arkham to deny you our letters if you have another outburst. I wouldn't put it passed them.
I enjoy your reminiscing. I certainly felt very connected to you when we killed Leonard. It was an intimacy I had only shared with Fish prior to you. But, with you, it was different. I suppose it was because our roles were reversed. When I killed in front of Fish, I always aimed to impress. My killing of one of her employees was what got me a job with her in the first place. My ruthlessness delighted her in the beginning and I always had this lingering fear that I would do something that would make her change her mind.
The biggest difference between us and my relationship with her was that she loved me as a mother would. I love you as an equal.
I remember how incensed you were when I took Jim with me to dispatch Theo Galavan. You made your jealousy very obvious when I explained my plan to you. I assume you recall how childish you were acting? You were pretty cute with your ruffled hair and crooked glasses. Oh, and let's not forget your detailed breakdown of all the reasons why I should have taken you on that mission and not Jim. Always the schemer.
I quite enjoy imagining how our lives would change if we had made different choices. How do you think things would have played out if you had helped me kill Galavan instead?
All of my love,
P.S. Hmm... I don't know, Eddie. That riddle was a tad too difficult. You'll have to ask again in person so that I can give you a proper answer.
btw, I went ahead and posted the latest chapter of TDOMJVD. I'm still not caught up on letters just yet but I wanted to post it anyway. Which means you'll all know where the plot is heading when it crops up in the letters. It'll be fun to watch it all unfold!
The next few letters are gonna feature the Goodest Boy. Also, we'll get a reveal for who Richard is pretty soon. So prepare for some more angst.
That is the first time you actually called us equals. I didn't realize how badly I wanted that until I read it. And the implication that even back then you thought that highly of me makes my heart flutter a bit. I blame you for making me so sentimental.
I don't have much to distract me from the boredom here. I keep getting lost in daydreams and hallucinations. Earlier I conjured up what it would be like to carve up Jim Gordon the same way we did with Leonard. I know that the chances of getting to do that are slim to none. You've always been oddly protective of the boy-scout. I'm not surprised that you continue to tease me about him.
Have it your way: I admit I was jealous. I am jealous. The fact that he got to kill Galavan alongside you instead of me makes my blood boil. He was the one who helped you get revenge for your mother even though he couldn't care less. I honestly don't know what you see in him.
...Okay, maybe that's a lie. I admired him at one point too. He was the first cop at the GCPD who didn't bully me. And he even answered a few of my riddles. Everyone else was either too stupid or too annoyed to. Not Jimbo.
Did you know that he cornered me the day you were arrested for Galavan's murder? He and Harvey were working on the Fries case and he had the nerve to try and imply that my relationship with you was inappropriate. Even though he was just as guilty! I was grateful for the commotion out in the bull pen because I seriously almost shoved his head into a vat of liquid nitrogen. Of course, I wasn't expecting all of the hubbub to be about you.
Watching you get thrown behind those bars and Jim's cowardly mug put me on edge. I hated seeing you mistreated. Galavan was a monster and you saved this thankless city from him.
Why did you take the fall for Jim anyway? I never quite understood though I assume it's for the same reasons that he's still breathing.
If I had been there to help you kill Galavan, you would never have been caught in the first place. We would have disposed of him in such a way that there would have seemingly been no crime- aside from the stories we'd spread among the underground so that there would be no doubt among criminals who was in charge. You could have continued as King of Gotham with me as a spy within the GCPD. You wouldn't have been tortured in Arkham and I might have remained a free man.
Fate had other plans, of course.
I kind of like how this version of our story played out.
P.S. Noted. I'll ask again in person. And probably with that bottle of wine I still owe you.
I finally got around to updating my timeline and outlining the plot for these letters and baaaaasically this story will be well over 100+ chapters. You're welcome in advance.
Chapter 45: Jim Was My Friend
My Dearest Edward,
Of course we're equals. It's what I meant when I said I needed you just as you needed me. I've never felt more complete than when I am with you. I am a terrible partner for not making that fact more clear. For that, I apologize. I, however, do not apologize for bringing out your more sentimental side.
Not like I had to try that hard. You've always been an excellent caretaker. When I spoke about my mother you went out of your way to show me that you loved me just as she had. That didn't go unnoticed. I lamented my appearance one night at your apartment, you bought me a suit and showered me in compliments. I was lonely and spoke about wanting to share my successes, you told me you would do anything for me and stood at my side.
You once said that the most brilliant minds are often blind to the most obvious truths. I always just thought it was because you were stubborn. Knowing how much you love me and yet you were completely unaware of what those gestures might have meant for us, I have to admit that your statement is quite apt.
I took the fall because Jim was my friend. I honestly hadn't expected him to shoot Galavan. I had every intention of cracking Galavan's skull open and letting him bleed out on the rocks, but Jim stopped me. Galavan had cried out. Pitifully begging for his death to be quicker. Jim obliged.
I needed Jim to fall from grace. I saw his potential and I wanted him to embrace it just as you had. It is still a shame that never worked out. He would have made a skilled lieutenant when we were in office. I'll never forgive him for murdering Fish, but I am rather disappointed the Tetch Virus didn't leave more of a mark on him.
Perhaps things would have turned out differently and we wouldn't have to suffer on opposite ends of Gotham while our son is off gallivanting through Crime Alley.
How is he doing? I'm hesitant to send the letter I've written. I'm worried he doesn't want to hear from me.
I'm glad things with Jim didn't work out. If they had, you would still be giving him all of that undeserved attention. I am definitely not disappointed that Jim didn't succumb to the Tetch Virus. How would I compete? He can't compare to me when it comes to intelligence but he's brave and attractive. A regular ol' knight in shining armor. Don't pretend you didn't like him for it. I'm the smartest man in Gotham. Lying will do you no good.
If he had become the man you wanted him to be, the two of you would have run off together! Probably leaving me in a dumpster somewhere with a broken heart I didn't understand because I was too dense to realize I was in love with you. It took me getting high and hallucinating you singing to me for me to accept that I had been in love with you that entire time. Then it took me shooting another man that had climbed on top of you for me to realize those feelings never went away.
Maybe I should write a book. Titled Missed Opportunities: All of the Times The Riddler Was a Blind Moron by Edward Eugene Nygma. All the proceeds can go into buying Martin more ice cream.
We would have ended up imprisoned whether Jim was involved or not based on what I've learned about Mayor Chang. In fact, having Jim as Commissioner seems to have been a boon. I have my suspicions that our fates would have been much worse had he not intervened on our behalf. Though why he has, I haven't quite figured out. Foxy isn't giving me much in the way of details.
Martin is fine last I checked. I haven't heard from him in a few weeks now that you mention it. Have Olga or Lark been giving you updates?
I would buy that book. It would probably include elaborate diagrams.
Chapter 47: Yours and Only Yours
There is a lot to unpack from your last letter but, before we get into all of that, I feel that I need to reassure you that I adore you. I promise I'm only teasing. James Gordon could never compete with you in any capacity. The fact that I have to clarify that for you is baffling. You are the only one I've ever loved. The only one I ever will love. The only one I will happily spend the rest of my life and beyond with.
I knew you were jealous of Jim but I didn't realize to what extent. I always just thought you had it out for him because of the whole Galavan situation. Lucius Fox told me that you mentioned me in your confession the first time you were arrested. He said that you had framed Jim Gordon because I had taken the fall for him. I always thought that your motivations had everything to do with the fact that he was piecing together what happened to Kristen Kringle and you needed to protect yourself. So, which is it?
On one hand, your jealousy concerns me. On the other... I find it quite endearing.
Are you honestly implying that Jim could have ever fallen in love with me? That is absolutely ridiculous! I don't even like him! And I would never abandon you like that.
...What do you mean I sang to you? You neglected to mention that detail. How did my incoherent squawking help you to realize you were in love with me exactly?
I thought you shot Arthur because he was delusional and dangerous. Did you kill him because you were jealous? I can assure you I didn't have feelings for him either. I mean... he did remind me of you but he was only ever my friend.
Olga and Lark tell me he is doing well. Olga calls almost every day to tell me stories. She says he's just like you. Piling books on every surface and zoning out for hours. I wonder what he's researching.
Yours and only yours,
Chapter 48: Legacy
It has taken me far longer than I would have liked to think of how to respond to your letter. I never realized how much I hurt you. When you were captured the first time, I tried to correct my mistake and assure you that I cared about you. I see now that I didn't do enough. I had been so scared that I had put you in so much danger. In my attempts to keep you safe, I've made you feel unwanted.
I was cruel before. I should have never threatened to send you back to the orphanage. I had given you hope and then snatched it away from you because I was angry with Jim and Sofia. I was betrayed. You were tricked. They made fools of us both.
The sting of Edward's betrayal still hurt and I was trying to pick up the pieces of my empire. When I first saw you, I saw myself. I had always wished that I had someone to guide me so I decided I would be that for you. Edward had asked the same of me when we first met and, in a bizarre turn of events, I was trying to replace him with you. I wanted to feel important again. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life. I wanted a legacy.
You have no doubt read up on the history of the Van Dahl Family. My father told me that we were tailors and had amassed our wealth by being entrepreneurs and opportunistic businessmen. He failed to mention that we also had advantageous ties to powerful politicians and crime families. I would not be surprised to discover that my great-great-grandfather Manfred's tailor business was used to launder money from the mob or some other equally shady endeavor.
I sometimes wonder if my father knew. If he did, I assume he never told me for fear that I would fall back into that life. Back into danger. Though, he was oddly proud of me and my accomplishments when he discovered them.
I should have been more like my parents. Instead of treating you as merely a conspirator, I should have comforted you. I should have openly acknowledged your strengths. I should have let you know that you were loved and that everything was going to be alright.
I know that you are older now and you are so, so incredibly smart. I couldn't have asked for a better son. But, there is still a lot that you may not be able to understand at this point in your life. You have thankfully not had to endure the same hardships I suffered and so you wouldn't understand the fears I have.
Olga tells me you and your dad are very similar so I can only assume that you share his impatience. Give it time. As you grow older, you will understand. I promise you. And, when you do, the throne of Gotham will be waiting for you.
I don't know how I can possibly make it up to you. Please be patient with me as I try to be a better friend and a father to you. I lost you once and would very much like to not waste this opportunity we have been given to start over.
I look forward to seeing the man you grow up to be.
Chapter 49: The Moon Turns Green
I'm glad you find my jealousy endearing. It would be unfortunate for you to find that quality unattractive because I don't think I could suddenly stop.
Jim obviously would have fallen for you. You're clearly his type. At one point in time, I thought you were secretly together. I wasn't the only one either. It was a rumor that floated around the GCPD for a few weeks after that day you waltzed in like you owned the place.
...I might've treated that rumor like a puzzle to solve. And I might have gotten obsessed with you around that time which was why I followed you around the day I met you. It's been years and I still get embarrassed thinking about it. I'm surprised you didn't gut me right there for daring to speak to you.
Oh boy... I forgot that I never told you about that particular hallucination. Explaining all of that might conjure up some bad memories for the both of us. It might honestly be harder for me to talk about than Isabella. That was the lowest I had ever been.
I don't know what you mean by squawking but your singing voice has always been something I've enjoyed. You would always shy away the moment I walked into the room so I got into the habit of hiding in the hallway. Did you know that there is a secret passage that leads to your office? I noticed a small gap around the floor in the hallway and found that if you press on a panel next to the door frame that it opens up a section of the wall. I would hide in there from time to time.
You have the voice for blues and jazz. My favorite was always “If the Moon Turns Green” by Billie Holiday. Though, you always sounded sad when you sang it... I should really get on with writing that book.
When did Foxy have the time to talk about my confession to you? I assume this was around the same time that he informed you of where I had been hiding that week I ran off. He found me there once before they had managed to trace all of those murders back to me. I had wandered into that building one morning after I drove out to the pier. I had made it this sort of ritual. I would stare out at the pier and consider all of my options with how I could possibly continue with my life once you were no longer in it. Those thoughts usually ended with me at the bottom of the river alongside you. I'd get frustrated and then end up chasing a high so I could think about other things.
During my interrogation, Harvey Bullock and Captain Barnes asked why I didn't just murder Jim and dispose of him like I had Officer Dougherty. Even if they had suspected me, there would have been no body and therefore no crime. They were right, of course. I had multiple opportunities to kill him and get him off of my trail. I broke down in the middle of my confession and told them that I wanted him to suffer because of what he did to you. Because I watched him as he manipulated you, made you believe he was your friend, and then allowed you to take the fall and be taken to Arkham.
His selfishness got you taken away but I always held out hope that I could get you out of Arkham. Nothing could have prepared me for that day you arrived at my apartment covered in feathers. Jim didn't just have you taken away, he had managed to destroy the person that you were. The person I had unknowingly fallen in love with. I couldn't take it. I was reckless and got caught because, subconsciously, I had given up completely. You were gone, so what was the point?
But then you showed up one day to visit me wearing the suit that I bought you. I could tell by the way you spoke that you had come back to me but I was so ashamed with how I had abandoned you that I didn't believe I deserved it.
There is something I've been meaning to ask you. When Jim followed me out into the woods to Kristen's body, I assumed you had told him where I was going. Your brain was full of mush and you were so opposed to violence and crime that I assumed you would have told the GCPD everything. Why didn't you?
It's true that I killed Penn because the man was unhinged. It was obvious that living in No Man's Land had broken him. I also knew that, if I didn't kill him right then and there, he was going to take you away from me. Either he was going to kill you or he was going to occupy time that was reserved for me.
The similarities between us didn't go unnoticed. At first, I thought it was rather pathetic that you were so desperate to replace me. You named a dog after me and then you found a nervous and socially awkward man who worshiped the ground you walked on. You confessed that you had been a terrible friend and I couldn't help but be completely taken aback by it. It was the first time you openly admitted that you had done something wrong. There were no excuses. Just an acknowledgment of your mistake.
I saw it for what it was. I understood the gravity of it all and I accepted the person that you were. Penn could never see you as I do. I needed you to understand that and I had to reassure you that you weren't alone anymore. I never wanted to leave your side.
I'm glad to hear Martin is still doing well. My guess is he's researching everything about the hidden tunnels under Gotham. He's found an old Prohibition tunnel that leads to Blackgate Bridge. It might prove useful.
Does Olga really think he's like me? I always thought he was just like you. I guess I'm not surprised. He's on his way towards becoming one of the smartest men in Gotham.
This letter ended up being longer than a lot of my others. If you really want to know more about the hallucinations I had of you, I can tell you. Just be aware of what you are asking of me. I'd hate for either of us to spiral back into a depression.
With love- wholly and completely,
Me? Jim Gordon's type? Yes, because I am clearly a tall, thin, and beautiful woman in possession of radiantly dark features! No. I'm small and crippled and have a receding hairline. I seriously hurt myself laughing. Please, tell me you are joking and don't really think that.
Why would you allow yourself to get pulled into such ludicrous rumors? You truly must have been bored! Those idiots at the GCPD didn't know what they were talking about. Jim and I were only friends! Even if he did like me, a relationship between the two of us would never work out. He's.. well, he's Jim. I shudder at the thought.
I tend to ignore that first meeting we had. The second time in the woods doesn't count either.
No, I didn't meet you until the moment you said you had started killing people. There was a moment there that I saw it. That dark glimmer in your eye that told me everything that I needed to know about you. Though, I did think that you had just taken me into your home for the thrill of getting to carve me open like a bird.
Telling Jim about you never even crossed my mind. All I wanted was companionship and I knew that I would be in the way if I had tried harder to get you to abandon your aspirations for crime and devilry. The person that I was at that time assumed that you were either going to come and kill me to get rid of a loose end (an outcome that I welcomed, in all honesty) or you would get caught. At that point, I could just come visit you and tell you I told you so and hope that we could still be friends. Luckily for both of us, my step-mother was a real bitch. Killing her and her awful children was just the thing I needed to break the spell Strange had me under.
Don't feel bad for kicking me out of your apartment. Keeping me around when I was like that would have been disastrous. You would have grown to hate me. Hell, I hate me.
You don't have to talk about that time or your hallucinations if you don't want to. I am curious what sorts of things you imagined but I won't pry. It is entirely up to you. I do think it is wiser to talk about it than avoid it. My therapist may not be helpful but talking to Richard has certainly been useful. It's not unlike your little sessions with Valeska. Though, Richard has the added benefit of being able to hold a conversation. He's helped me realize a few things about myself. Namely that I am a terrible person and probably don't deserve you or Martin. But acknowledging that has been good, I suppose.
We have to accept those bad parts for the good parts to mean anything. And nothing you could possibly tell me about your drug use or the person you became when you thought I was gone is going to make me love you any less.
I'm flattered you like my singing voice. You could have just asked and I would have sung for you. Shyness or no. My voice can't compare to yours though. Speaking of which, I've decided that you owe me a song with dinner.
Eddie's self-deprecation is one thing but Ozzie's is another problem altogether. *train noises continue*
Chapter 51: Like Learning the Piano
Dear Mister Penguin,
Thank you for sending me another letter! I haven't gotten to see you because of all of the fights and was worried that you were mad at me or something happened. How are you? I hope you're safe.
The Silverlock Family is hosting the Founder's Dinner next weekend. Part of me was really hoping I'd get invited as a Van Dahl. But it looks like they don't want a kid around unless his last name is Wayne.
Dad said he thought I had a lot in common with Mister Wayne. I don't really get it aside from the fact that we both live in big empty houses.
I never answered your question from before. I was afraid to. If you want me to be patient with you I hope you can be patient with me too. It's kind of like learning the piano. We're going to mess the song up a few times before we get it right. We'll just have to keep practicing. And I have to not break the keys like I usually do...
Those people had fallen asleep in the living room. They were drinking and a bottle had spilled on the carpet. I found a box of matches and was so angry that I lit that spot on fire. I didn't know it would spread so fast. I got scared and started to wake them up... but I ran outside instead. The fire was already all over the house when they woke up. They didn't scream for very long.
I told dad that I thought you and him being away was my fault. I thought I disappointed you again when I couldn't keep you out of jail. He said that wasn't true and that I should trust you. I know it wasn't my fault but I still wish I could have done better.
I'm glad we're going to get the chance to start over. And I hope I get to see you soon. When can I come to visit?
Chapter 52: The Most Beautiful Man I Know
Warning: major references to drug and alcohol abuse in this one.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Let me just point out that you haven't once denied the fact that you find Jim Gordon attractive or that you wanted a relationship with him in the first place.
Jim Gordon is attracted to danger. Just look at Barbara and Lee. Even Sofia. How else do you explain his inability to hold you accountable for your crimes? He turns a blind eye to you just as often as he does Lee and her business with the Narrows.
So, yes. You are his type. Hilariously so. And it delights me to no end knowing that you're mine and he can't have you.
Perhaps I've been too rough with my teasing? I had to reread your letter a few times before it all sank in. There are a lot of things that you've said that I just don't understand. Won't understand.
Oswald, you're gorgeous. Like... really. Haven't I expressed that to you before? I always assumed that you knew based purely on how often you stood in front of a mirror. You're small but you fill any room with your presence. Your scars are symbols of pride that let everyone know how strong and capable you are. You're smart, cunning, creative, bold... I have a hard time breathing whenever I look at you. You never cease to amaze me with how beautiful you are and how confidently you hold yourself.
Don't you dare listen to what anyone else says. They don't see you. They don't matter. Richard definitely doesn't matter. I don't trust him. Could you do me a favor and stay away from him? Anytime you mention him, you start beating yourself down. He's clearly manipulating you and lowering your self-esteem.
How are you going to continue to rule Blackgate if you have someone so pernicious whispering in your ear?
The way you talk about your evil step-mother makes you sound like you belong in a fairy tale. The only difference is that you didn't need some prince to come save you. You took care of it on your own. Then you turned around and saved me instead. I guess that makes me the damsel in distress in your story?
You are right that it's better to talk about these things. I just don't even know where to start...
I guess I could just start with the drugs. I never had any sort of desire until after I shot you. I did a few experiments with Viper back at the GCPD so I was at least familiar with the concept. I would never think to touch the stuff but it was truly fascinating. I also came across some interesting compounds at the BDSM shop. It was in an old crate that was leftover from the Foxglove. I did some digging and found out that it was something called Red Queen. It was a highly concentrated sedative and hallucinogen compound. Way too toxic in its normal form. Cinnabar was the primary ingredient- hence the red color. I had to dilute it and make it tolerable.
After I shot you, I drove myself home and drank until I passed out. I continued on that path for a few days because sleeping was preferable to dealing with the press in the wake of your interview with Margaret Hearst and your disappearance. For a minute there, I thought I finally understood why my old man drank as often as he did.
All I wanted was to see you again. I thought that maybe I could mix something up that would trigger a hallucination and that would help calm me down. That maybe indulging the one time would get my head on straight.
Before I realized it, I was taking the pills multiple times a day just so I could see you. It didn't always work though. Sometimes the drugs would just make me paranoid and I would sit in the library and scream for an hour. Other times Isabella or Kristen were there to tell me how much of a failure I was. I discovered that, if I wanted to see you, I had to trigger it somehow. I started wearing your cologne or I would make ginger tea with honey. I stopped sleeping in my own bed and would curl up in your robe.
Did you ever read that news article? The one that made me out like some grieving widow? There was a sizable portion of the Gotham Gazette that believed we were secretly lovers. They kept trying to schedule interviews with us in hopes of revealing a scandal, but I always turned them down. I was too high to realize that one of their journalists had broken into the manor one morning and caught me wearing your robe and crying. It was an entertaining read. Complete rubbish, but a flattering interpretation of my situation. They didn't realize I had been the villain in that story.
I eventually grew tired of moping around and knew that I had to move on. But no one could ever replace you. So, I instead looked for an enemy. Someone I could call a rival and occupy my time with. I had a conversation with you... well... the version of you that I dreamed up and you let me know that what I was doing was crazy. That I was destroying everything we had built together. I kept pushing and telling myself that was what I wanted until it all spilled over and I lost control of the hallucination.
Instead of looking like a drowned corpse, you looked just as I remembered you. Beautiful and regal. You were singing to me and I couldn't stop myself from just...watching you. I knew I had been in love with you the moment I shot you. I had just been spending that entire time trying to rip that part of my heart away. But having that version of you standing in front of me was an all-too-painful reminder of the fact that I was lost without you.
I told my hallucination that I would be born anew by leaving you behind. Oh, how wrong I was. It really was quite poetic when you reassured me that life would begin anew with us at each other's side. It honestly made me question whether or not you had actually been standing in front of me. I thought that maybe I had actually died that time I overdosed and those two years had all just been the nightmare of a dying, pathetic man.
Sometimes I wake up here at Arkham and have to remind myself that it wasn't just a dream. I have all of your letters stashed under my pillow. They're like a rock. Grounding me. Especially the last few... Did you smuggle your cologne into prison? Or am I just crazy?
Concerning your worries about our son: Just let the kid have some fun. I would have loved to have secrets like that when I was his age. I always wanted a treehouse or some kind of secret place that only I knew about. I'd hate to take that away from him if he's found them. He's clever so he probably has.
I'm serious about Richard. If you don't get rid of him, I'll find a way to. I just want you to stay safe. I don't want you thinking you are anything less than perfect.
Possessed and conquered by the most beautiful man I know,
P.S. You look good in a top hat. Just thought you should know.
I've decided that this photoshoot actually happened and Ed totally has a portrait of Oswald framed somewhere.
Chapter 53: I Received a Gift Today
I received a gift today. It was the quilt your dad had gifted to me years ago and, last I checked, it was on our bed at the manor. I assume you are the one who sent it?
An ally of mine said that it was smuggled through one of the tunnels near the bridge and then managed to change hands until it ended up safely in my cell.
I nearly cried. It still smells like Ed and his bergamot cologne and lemon-scented hand soap. I almost don't want to sleep with it for fear that it'll wash away. If it was you who sent it, I am truly grateful.
Thank you for opening up to me. The file I read said that you were only five-years-old when the fire happened. I can't even imagine what living in an orphanage for three years was like. Especially after such a trauma.
You were young, son. You didn't know the fire would spread like that. Those awful people put themselves in that position. They shouldn't have gotten drunk and left you unattended with a box of matches. On one hand, I don't want you to blame yourself. And on the other, I almost want to congratulate you for getting yourself out of that awful situation.
I hope you find Edward and me to be worthy replacements. We are both proud of you and don't blame you even a tiny bit for our situations.
I don't know when I will be up for visitors. I ended up with a few injuries during the riot and don't look my best. I have also been exceedingly tired as of late.
I've sent a request to Commissioner Gordon and the director at Arkham to allow you to visit Ed. Their policies don't allow for visitors under the age of 18 but I am insisting that they allow you to see each other. If Jim can manage to secure visitation with Ed and me, surely he can pull a few strings to get you in there.
P.S. Don't worry about the Founder's Dinner. It was an awfully boring affair when I went (before Jervis Tetch hijacked the evening, that is). Besides, I hear this year's list of invitees is offensively small.
Chapter 54: He Warned Me To Never Fall In Love
I'm sorry I didn't send you a letter right away. Olga's stupid nephew threw your letter in a pile of junk mail and I didn't see it.
He insists on living in the mansion with us. I think he just likes the idea of living in a big expensive house. It makes him feel more important than he is. But Olga says that he's here to keep us safe from Sofia now that she's awake.
Father sent me a letter! I was worried something happened to him. He told me a lot of the same things you did. He said I should trust him and be patient. You and father are the best parents I could ever have and I'm happy to know you want to keep me.
Do you remember that diary I found in my room? It belongs to Millie Jane. She wrote all kinds of stuff about the house and Mayor Theodore Van Dahl... Father asked me not to tell you about any of the stuff I found. He told me to burn the diary but I didn't. Please don't tell him. I don't want him to get mad.
You're not mad I lied to him, are you?
So long as you promise to never tell father I told you anything, we can be conspirators. He said a lot of things about you that were mean but I don't think he meant any of them. He said that you were his best friend and that you would do anything for him except love him. He started crying. I gave him a hug which made him feel better. Then he warned me to never fall in love. Not like I would. Love looks gross.
I never went to the mansion during that time. He never let anyone go there. He only ever did business at Sofia's house or at his office. He told me I could finally live at the mansion if I proved myself to be worthy of it. Father let me stay in one of the rooms at his club instead. Mister Zsasz lived there too and we would listen to disco late at night. Am I allowed to miss him? I always thought he was nice.
Do you think father would be mad if I found Victor Zsasz? I would rather have him as a bodyguard than stupid Yuri Dimitrov.
How did you learn to talk again? I don't know if I ever could but it would be nice to not have to worry about being annoying or having someone not understand me. Should I ask a doctor? They've never really helped me before but I liked Dr. Quinzel when she was here. She was always really nice.
Father said he is trying to make it so that I can visit you too! I hope I can soon.
What more do you want from me? You've already solved the puzzle of Jim Gordon and me. Why do I have to say it out loud? I'd rather forget that I ever thought those things about him.
All that matters is you. It's always been you. You're the only one I've ever loved.
I won't say that I understand or even believe all of the things you say about me. I've been bullied all my life for the way I look so you understand why it is hard for me to grasp why someone as handsome as you would think I'm gorgeous. You've called me beautiful before but I thought you were just being poetic.
Your hallucinations sound dreadful. I don't even know how to begin processing them. Betrayal or not, I am anguished to know that you went through such an ordeal.
I've heard of Red Queen. Fish sent me along with some of her dealers to talk with some manufacturers in the East End. The men I was with decided to try the product on our way back to Mooney's. They died in the back seat of the car. Thrashing about and screaming. I would be lying if I said I didn't have a nightmare last night where you had been the one screaming and tearing out your own throat in the back of that car.
Thank you for not going back down that road. My heart can barely take it knowing that it was an obstacle for you in the first place. I won't suffer the thought of it ever happening again.
Martin sent me a gift the other day. It's the quilt you gifted me from your old apartment. Richard and the rest of our smugglers were working on getting an operation set up around there. Looks like our son beat us to the punch! He and Lark certainly make a good team.
One of the first things I smuggled in here was a bottle of Scotch and my cologne. The Scotch was for me, of course. The cologne was so that I could see how long it took you to notice my letters smelled like me. I promise you haven't gone crazy.
Possessed and conquered by the smartest man in Gotham,
Sooo... Ozzie. You just gonna ignore the fact that Ed told you to get rid of Richard? Yeah? Okie dokie then.
Also, random note just because: I based Ed and Oswald's colognes off of my own. I like them so much and I thought it fit them so perfectly. Oswald's, especially. The tagline for that scent is literally "An Ode to Gotham City."
I'm glad you liked your gift. I thought you would like having it while you were away. I remember how happy I was to have my stuffed penguin while I was away from Gotham. It was the only thing I was able to take with me when we had to evacuate.
I discovered those tunnels by the bridge and wanted to show you that I could be useful. I asked dad for advice and he told me to ask Mister Lark for help. I didn't mean to make you cry though. Sorry.
I didn't know you were injured. Are you feeling better now? Are you the King of Blackgate yet? Does that mean you can manipulate the guards and get to leave soon?
I'm excited to get to visit dad! Commissioner Gordon came by to tell me that I get to visit him next week. I haven't gotten to see him since the doctors came to take him away.
I don't like thinking about those people as my parents. You and dad are my parents now and you're the only ones who matter.
I know that you're tired and don't want visitors but I would like to see you. I miss you.
I hope no one minds me posting multiple chapters a day. I'm trying to cover 7 months worth of timeline before I post another chapter of TDOMJVD. I don't want to spoil any of it x____x
Chapter 57: Love and Mischief
I thought I made it very clear that I don't want you talking to Richard. At all. Get rid of him or I will. I'm serious.
The hallucinations weren't always bad. Sometimes they were downright strange. One time you were a literal penguin that would just follow me around the manor while I sulked.
I'm sorry about your nightmare. Rest assured, you have nothing to worry about. I won't break my promise. I don't ever want to turn into my father and substance abuse is a one-way ticket to that particular ring of Hell. I won't do that to you or to Martin.
Did you really tell Martin that he had to earn the right to go to the manor? That just seems... needlessly cruel. I'm beginning to understand why he was so convinced we didn't want him.
I get to see him tomorrow! Foxy let me know during our meeting...
I'm honestly surprised that they are still having me consult on this case. We've made zero progress. If they really want my help, they should give me access to the forensics lab. It's so frustrating. It's literally been three months since I was put on this task and I feel like I'm trapped in molasses.
Jim and Lucius are dragging their feet. Meanwhile, half the city is burning down! Not like I care about those people but I care about you. You love this city and I don't want it to fall to ruins while you are away. And I certainly don't want Martin to get hurt.
The oldest section of Gotham Cathedral burned down last week. We still haven't figured out how the fires are starting. There is no chemical residue or evidence of typical explosives. The charring is also inconsistent. It's almost as if our friendly neighborhood arsonist is using some kind of portable backdraft. Somehow they are super-heating the space, depriving it of oxygen, and then re-introducing that oxygen to cause a massive explosion. It's fascinating. I just wish I knew how they were able to accomplish it.
I don't want to get Martin involved but he might be able to help. I think he knows a few things about Millie Jane from all of those books he's been reading at the manor. I'm hoping I can at least get a lead on what kind of motivation they have for wanting to follow in the footsteps of her destruction from two hundred years ago.
...Do you think maybe it has something to do with the Founding Families of Gotham? The Founder's Dinner is in a few days and the timing just seems a tad suspicious. Oh! Maybe the Silverlock's are involved? That'd be interesting...
Aren't they all descendants of the Arkham family? I wonder if there is any information on them here. Strange shredded most of the documents but parts of the older wings are still unused and their offices are untouched. Have been for years. Maybe I can find a way in there.
Wish me luck!
Love and mischief,
Chapter 58: Treat It With Respect
No worries about the delay! I'm just glad I got to hear from you.
Yuri Dimitrov is at the manor now? I met him a few times back when I was Chief of Staff. He's useful and has excellent connections but he's an opportunistic nitwit. Keep an eye on him and hold your secrets close to you.
I'm not mad that you lied. I am curious as to why. I can't help but feel like you are telling me all of these things for a reason. You wouldn't lie to Oswald if there wasn't one. What are you scheming?
I can't promise that I won't ever tell your father. If I ever think that you are in danger or in over your head, I won't hesitate to tell him. Your safety takes priority. No exceptions, kiddo. I hope you understand.
I thought the same thing about love when I was your age. Of course, I didn't know what it looked like. All I knew was how my father manipulated my mother and made her feel worthless and weak. He made her believe she couldn't be loved by anyone else. My mother wasn't stupid but he was so subtle in his manipulation of us that we believed everything he said. We could have left at any time but he kept us there. Shackled to him.
I read a lot of fairy tales and those love stories were not any better. Stories of damsels hidden away in towers and knights rescuing them from dragons. I knew I didn't want to be like my father so I instead tried to be like those saviors I read about. I saved Kristen from her abuser. Isabella saved me from myself. And, in both instances, it was just as abusive and manipulative as the kind of love I was trying to avoid in the first place.
If you ever do find love, make sure you take care of it. Treat it with respect. It's worth holding onto. Trust me.
I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
And what are you going to do exactly? Because, in case you forgot, you're in Arkham! Please, enlighten me on how you will successfully get rid of my closest ally while locked away in a padded room. I'm dying to know.
You are in no position to make demands. It's true that Rich isn't a kind man and an intolerable drunk, but I need him. He's the only one in this godforsaken place who makes me feel valued. I have no other friends here. I have no one I can trust. He helped me realize that I couldn't trust them. He showed me that they were only after my attention so that they could kill me later or take advantage of my position. Why would you want to take that away from me? Do you want to read my obituary in the paper?
I don't want to discuss this anymore.
Have you been keeping up with the news while you're in Arkham? There was a fire at the Founder's Dinner last night.
Oh, look at that. Plot. *pours a shot and listens to train whistles*
Chapter 60: But Then You Betray Me
RICH? So he's Rich now? I tell you to get rid of him and suddenly you're the best of friends? Have you even stopped to think about how that would make me feel? You keep telling me that I matter but then you betray me like that.
I'm not taking anything away from you. You said it yourself when you first told me about him that you didn't trust him. You don't need him. You have other allies. What happened to all of Falcone and Maroni's men? Or Fish's men?
How is he your closest ally? I'm your closest ally! Martin is your ally. Hell, Lee and Jim are better allies! I could keep going.
You don't need him, Oswald. I'm begging you. Please just stay away from him.
I'm not allowed to have the paper anymore. I kept using it to bypass the locks and sneak down into the basement for some quiet. I was only ever allowed to read it if I was supervised. But I might have stabbed a nurse with a spork because I couldn't stand having her read over my shoulder. I've been on edge lately because someone has a new guy to occupy their time with and is too inconsiderate to follow a simple request.
So, no. I didn't know about the fire. I have a meeting with Lucius later today. I'm sure I'll hear about it then.
Our son is doing swell, by the way, and would really like to see you. Or should I write to him and let him know that you're too busy giving RICH your undivided attention?
Chapter 61: Dad Said You Aren't Feeling Well
I finally got to see dad! He already looks really different. His hair is starting to get long. I never knew it was curly like mine!
He seemed kind of upset though. I hope the doctors aren't treating him too badly. I hear they aren't very nice.
We talked about my school work and books and the tunnels I found! We also talked a lot about the Van Dahl family history. I like learning about our family. It makes me feel like I've always been a part of it. It's nice to have someone I can talk to that likes talking about the stuff I'm interested in. He asked about Millie Jane. He said that he needs to learn more about her so that he can help solve the case he's working on.
I told him that she didn't start those fires a long time ago. She talked about them in her diary and I think she was trying to find out who it was but she was sent to Arkham. Maybe the person starting the fires now is connected to the person who did it before? I wonder if the tunnels she drew maps of were the ones she used to try and track that person down.
Did you hear about the fire at the Founder's Dinner? And now Mayor Chang is missing. People were already talking about how she should be replaced. She wasn't a very good mayor. She seemed nice when I read about her when I first came home. I think something happened after the bridges got rebuilt. I'm glad she's gone now. Maybe the new mayor will let you and dad out of jail.
I'm sorry if I'm being annoying but I really want to see you. Dad said you haven't been feeling well. I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe you'll get better if we get to see each other? I know it will make me feel a lot better.
I hope to see you soon.
Chapter 62: How Does Tomorrow Sound?
Please tell me you burned that diary. I'll find out if you've lied so it will be easier on both of us if you just confess.
Don't tell Ed anything else that you've read. You promised. This is a matter of safety, Martin. For you and your dad. You have no idea how dangerous some of the things you found in that diary are. I cannot keep you safe if you choose to chase it.
If you haven't burned it and refuse to, please just give it to Lucius Fox or Jim Gordon. Let them unlock all of those secrets and use it for their case. Perhaps then they won't need Edward and they will finally leave him alone long enough to get well again.
Part of me almost wishes Ed had made you a Nygma instead of a Van Dahl. He's been a much better father to you then I have. Maybe then you wouldn't have all of my family's baggage on your shoulders. Though, I am glad that you enjoy being a part of this family. My father would have adored you and would have accepted you as a Van Dahl the moment he laid eyes on you.
Your dad is right about me feeling a little under the weather. I haven't felt like myself for a few months. Perhaps you are right and getting to see you might lift my spirits. How does tomorrow sound? I'll send word to Olga.
Chapter 63: Father is Onto Us
I think father is onto us.
I told him about you asking about Millie Jane during our visit and I think he knows that I didn't burn her diary. He said it would be easier to confess that I've lied. I don't know what to do. I don't want him to hate me for showing you her diary and all of my notes. I promised him that I wouldn't but I was only trying to help! And I wanted someone as smart as you to help me with some of the ciphers she left behind. I don't think I can solve all of the mysteries about her on my own which was why I wanted to get help from you.
I'm going to get to visit him today. I'm excited to get to see him but I'm also worried that he's going to yell at me for being bad.
I don't want to be a disappointment again.
P.S. I heard on the news that Mayor Chang was spotted near an old abandoned medical lab that used to be a part of Gotham University. I'll send you some newspaper clipping as soon as I can.
Chapter 64: Gotten Out Of Hand
Your jealousy has gotten out of hand. Are you seriously implying that I would be unfaithful or that I am replacing you? I'm shocked. How could you think that?
Do not drag Martin into this. I won't have him thinking worse of me just because you can't keep your obsessive behavior in check.
I can only assume you were the one who put him up to guilt-tripping me. I couldn't bear telling him no and have him not understand why. He trusts you and you manipulated him to get to me.
I enjoyed our visit but I wasn't ready. You know I'm not feeling well. My ribs are still recovering. I could tell the state I was in worried him. Now he's going to go home and feel even worse and it is entirely your fault.
You'll forgive me if I don't feel like writing to you for a while.
Chapter 65: It Eventually Killed Her
Active trigger warning for this chapter: Brief depictions of domestic abuse and child abuse
I know you wouldn't ever cheat on me. I never meant to imply that. I know you love me.
I didn't put Martin up to anything. If you felt guilty about him asking to see you that is entirely on you. He really did miss you. You haven't seen each other in two months so he was restless and, unless there are injuries that you haven't told me about, your ribs should be healed by now. Did you get hurt again? You would tell me, wouldn't you? You don't have to hide away from me. I'll only worry about you more if you keep things from me.
Maybe I am just being obsessive. I can't think clearly with all of the noise. I used to be able to sneak to the basement and clear my thoughts but I get no such luxury anymore. Now I'm trapped with this mystery I can't seem to solve, the screams of the insane, and my worries about you.
I haven't been honest with you. I'm sorry. My father's name was Richard. I doubt he survived No Man's Land long. He probably drank himself to death within the first week if ten years without a bottle didn't kill him before then.
“Rich” was what my mother used to call him. The way you keep beating yourself down and won't accept that you are beautiful and wonderful makes me think of her. My grandmother once told me that my mother was a confident pianist and used to perform all the time. I would see it in her sometimes. That glimmer of the person she used to be before my father strangled it out of her. He broke her piano and threw out all of her music one day while she was at the store. She tried saving money to buy a replacement so he broke my nose and guilted her into using that money to take me to the doctor.
She always chose me over herself. She told me I was more important than her own happiness and it eventually killed her. I always felt responsible for her murder.
I can't help but feel like what Richard is doing to you is the exact same thing my father did to my mother. You may not be able to see it, but I can. Please, Oswald. You have to trust me on this. I don't know how else to ask.
I love you,
Chapter 66: This House Eats People
You aren't a disappointment. Let's not start that again. Oswald is going through a rough patch in his stay at Blackgate and he is just worried about us.
He can't be there to put a bullet in someone if anything were to happen. I'm sure the fact that Sofia is still out there somewhere is not doing his blood pressure any favors. And now the Dimitrov's are involved which I'm sure is stressful for him. Don't get me wrong, I think Olga made the right call. Your father and I don't have a lot of resources right now. We're still rebuilding and you need all of the help you can get in the meantime.
I know Oswald has been working on cracking Blackgate and ruling it from the inside. Bane getting transferred a few months back added a few complications. I'm still not sure if that riot was beneficial or not to his plans. He made it seem like he came out on top but the way he's been talking lately makes me question that.
I'm not having better luck here at Arkham. I had hoped my stay here years ago would have given me an upper hand but all it's managed to do is put me under its thumb and trap me. There's something about this place that slowly drives the inmates more insane and oddly complacent in their
torture treatment. One of the orderlies used to go around saying, “This house eats people.” Still gives me the heebie-jeebies every now and then.
How was your visit? I know it's been a while since you've seen Oswald. I hope he wasn't too irritable. He can really be selfish sometimes.
The disappearance of Mayor Chang has me on edge. The area where she was last seen is near one of Hugo Strange's old labs. All of the stories I've read about how she would abruptly end conversations and then robotically leave City Hall without notice... it's all a little too familiar for my liking.
Let me know if anything else comes up.
Love ya, kiddo,
Chapter 67: What Should We Do?
I saw father again yesterday. He hasn't written to me but he talks to me at our visits. I'm really worried.
He's acting a lot like how he was with Sofia when she made him think she was his friend. He would start to say something to me but then shake his head and tell me nevermind. I don't like it. Father isn't usually like that but his heart is really big. He told me that his heart is his biggest weakness.
Someone is hurting him in that awful place. And more than just his heart too. His bruises aren't healing and there are always new ones.
What should we do?
Chapter 68: Starting To Fade
You really weren't bluffing when you said you weren't going to write to me. Two weeks without anything feels a little harsh considering I apologized for acting out the way that I was.
Martin wanted me to keep this a secret but I also told him that I wouldn't hesitate to tell you if I thought he might be in danger or if I thought you needed to be involved.
How long have you known that the Van Dahl family had the connections that they did? I know you know what I mean by that. Can you believe that I'm honestly paranoid that someone could still be reading our letters? They really are quite incriminating...
Originally, I thought that these fires weren't connected to us but I'm beginning to see the bigger picture of it all. All of the puzzle pieces are starting to fall into place. The fires and their pattern following one of your ancestors, the Van Dahl history with a certain shadowy organization, and now it looks like Mayor Chang has a damn chip in her brain. Us getting imprisoned seems to have been part of their plan all along.
...and I am kind of excited to hear that. It means they're afraid of us, Ozzie. I can't help but feel empowered by that. But we need to get back into the swing of things and work towards strengthening our empire from our less-than-ideal locations. We can't do that if we're still arguing.
Martin told me he's been visiting you. That's good. He's really worried about you though. Is everything alright?
Please write to me soon.
The cologne on your letters is starting to fade.
Chapter 69: In a Heartbeat
I received a rather interesting bit of news from Jim this morning. Apparently, you've lost your god damned mind!
Our relationship was never really a secret but announcing it to all of Arkham? Really? Jim said that you were in group therapy and became wildly unhinged and started blabbing on about how you were in love with the King of Gotham and would slit the throat of anyone who dared threaten me. It was apparently so massive of a break down that Jim felt it necessary to come down to Blackgate and inform me. Which was oddly considerate of him. It makes me wonder what motive he has for wanting to protect us. He has concerns that now our enemies will find ways to hurt us by using the other as bait.
As if that wasn't already something I had nightmares about! What were you thinking? I suppose I should be flattered by the fact that you got thrown into solitary by exclaiming your love for me. I haven't heard from you in a few weeks and I've been worried that you were still mad. I know I said I might not be feeling up to writing back but that doesn't mean you don't have to write to me. I would respond in a heartbeat.
Come to think of it, you probably won't even get to read this until after they let you out of that cell.
I do hope some quiet time does you some good. I know how over-stimulated you can be. I still love you even though you are insufferable sometimes.
Chapter 70: Losing It
I'm sorry you had to hear about my outburst from Jim. At least Martin wasn't the one who had to tell you. He was pretty upset when they turned him away. He had arrived for his visitation hour and I saw him in the hallway when they were dragging me to solitary. He's quite the pistol. He bit two of the guards. He reminded me of you and it broke my heart a little.
The quiet did do me some good but the first 48 hours was basically torture. I haven't had the shakes that bad since I went through Red Queen withdrawals. They've kept me pretty sedated and it was impeding my ability to work on the case. Though, honestly, I think Foxy has just been coming to see me every week because he pities me. He's not even bringing his notes anymore.
I started hiding my medication under my tongue. The whiplash that followed might have broken my brain a little. Night terrors and frequent sleep paralysis kept me awake most nights. I hadn't slept in 3 days and I just... lost it. We split up during our group, like usual, and I overheard one of the nurses say your name. I demanded to know what they were talking about. I was afraid something had happened to you. They told me that it wasn't any of my concern... so I made a bit of a scene. Jervis Tetch and Jonathon Crane were quite entertained. They even applauded.
I'm sorry. I've probably made our lives a lot harder now.
Had it really been a few weeks since my last letter to you? I must really be losing it because I thought it had only been a few days. I didn't think I had lost track of time like that...
You still haven't answered any of my questions.
Are you doing alright? Have you gotten to see a doctor about your injuries? They really shouldn't be taking this long to heal so something must be wrong. Martin says that you keep getting new bruises. Is there still a lot of fighting going on? Is there any way we can help? What about all of the concerns I've mentioned about Martin? If you answer anything, at least answer that.
Chapter 71: Your Silence is Deafening
Jim says that you are no longer in solitary.
I'm sorry for not taking your feelings into account when it came to Rich. Upon reflection, I can see how it would have upset you. I promise I would never dream of replacing you. In any capacity. You know that, don't you? You are my best friend. My ally. My lover. My soulmate. I can't imagine how my life would be without you as my rock.
Please write to me. Even if you are angry. I would rather have you yell at me and berate me for my selfishness than not speak to me at all. Your silence is deafening.
Christmas is around the corner. I know you don't usually celebrate but I thought I would send you a present anyway. I'm not sure if you will receive it before this letter reaches you but I hope it keeps you warm.
Chapter 72: Family
You are all of those things to me too. And more.
What's going on? Have you not been getting my letters?
I got the sweater. Martin was quite proud when he delivered it. He was even wearing the one you got him in his size. The little embroidered penguin on the inside cuff was a sweet detail. I wore it last night during the snowstorm and I didn't feel cold once.
P.S. For some I am a weakness. For some I am their strength. For some, you cannot choose. For others, it may find you. What am I?
Chapter 73: Frozen
I hope you are staying warm. Did you get your sweater? I entrusted it to Martin so I assume it made it to you safely.
I was wrapped up in my quilt one night and wanted to give you something other than just the scent of my cologne on some cheap stationery. I had Olga place the order and even had a penguin embroidered on the cuff. That way the two of you always have a reminder of me...
I feel so trapped. More than usual.
Was this what it like to be frozen in ice for so long?
I hope the snow lets up soon. The nights are growing much colder. And lonelier.
I miss you.
I'm worried about father.
I visited him this morning. He looked awful. I don't think he's eating.
Someone stole the quilt I brought him and he's not sleeping well either. He kept bouncing back and forth between acting like he usually does and then curling up into a ball and telling me how sorry he was. Something is happening and I don't know what to do.
Can you help him?
The Angst Train is slowly coming to a halt. Promise.
Chapter 75: Foxy
I know you have no reason to ever want to help me but, if you genuinely value me as a friend, I need you to do me a favor.
I need you to confirm for me whether or not Richard Lynn Nashton is still an inmate at Blackgate.
I have reasons to believe that he's threatening Oswald. If you want proof, just check my background file at the GCPD. It might be filed under Edward Eugene Nashton instead of Edward Nygma. The filing system there has always been dreadful but I know they did background checks on all of their employees so that information should be there somewhere. If you can't find a physical copy of the file, contact Martin's private tutor. Goes by the name Samuel Lark. He can help you hack into the computer files. Remotely, if necessary. Just don't ask any questions. You'd be wasting your time asking anyway.
Please, just... don't let anyone else see that file? Especially not Jim. Or, god forbid, Bullock. I don't want anything that might be in there to be used against me later. Or even mentioned. I changed my name for a reason.
I'm trusting you, Lucius. Even Oswald doesn't know about the things you will find in there. I'll tell him on my own time but... not like this.
P.S. If you guys raid that bastard's cell and find a green and purple quilt, it belongs to Oswald. Make sure it gets to him. I'll know if it doesn't.
Chapter 76: Newspaper
What is black and white and read all over?
SEARCH WIDENS FOR BLACKGATE ESCAPEE
Commissioner James Gordon announced early this morning that they are widening the search for Blackgate escapee Richard Nashton (52). Following the year separated from mainland USA, Nashton was to continue his life sentence at Blackgate State Penitentiary. However, riots that erupted back in September caused some disturbance among inmates.
Former mayor and kingpin, Oswald Cobblepot (34) was seen aiding the police in the search for Nashton. Sparking a city-wide protest for his immediate release.
Commissioner Gordon was unavailable for comment regarding the September riots, the whereabouts of Mr. Nashton, or the cooperation from Mr. Cobblepot.
Citizens with any information regarding the whereabouts of Richard Nashton are encouraged to contact the Gotham City Police Department.
Chapter 77: Arkham Asylum Has A New Warden
How are you holding up? Martin let me know that you are in protective custody. I know you aren't allowed to send letters out right now but I figured you would want some company.
They are limiting my communications right now too. I've been in and out of solitary for weeks. Not because I've done anything wrong but because they're worried my father will break into Arkham and strangle me in my sleep. Someone thought they spotted him in the affordable housing zone here in the Arkham District.
Arkham Asylum has a new warden. Doctor Quincy Sharp- with a little help from our friend Bruce Wayne and his deep pockets- has been renovating some of the older wings at the asylum. The guy is a bit of a history buff. A tad obsessed if you asked me. Doctor Sharp is a walking textbook on Amadeus Arkham.
You'll be happy to know that I've made a few friends! Did you know that Jervis and Jonathan were dating? I doubt those two are actually capable of loving one another but at least those lonely bastards are keeping each other company. It at least means that they're staying out of trouble. Jervis has been hypnotizing the orderlies and helping me gather valuable information. It's the first time in months that I feel like I'm actually being useful to the stupid arsonist case.
Jervis managed to get me in on a little secret concerning the basement downstairs. There are plans to convert it into a new solitary wing. It's meant to house the more... colorful inmates. Since it's not exactly ethical to euthanize Hugo Strange's experiments from Indian Hill they're just going to lock them up downstairs. Each cell will be specifically designed to contain inmates with genetic augmentations and specialized needs.
Have you heard from Harvey Dent? After that little stunt you pulled helping chase Richard Nashton down alongside Jim and the GCPD, the citizens have been protesting in the streets. They had to block off Blackgate Bridge because of it. I'm hoping this means that a judge can be persuaded into releasing you early on parole. Martin has already started doing interviews. All on his own, of course. I didn't ask him to do it. He's trying to play the part of the public face of grief in the wake of your incarceration and all of the chaos that's been steadily increasing throughout Gotham.
His birthday is coming up soon. Part of me wants to risk escape just so I can celebrate with him. We should do something special for him. Gifts are one thing but this will be the first time you and I will both give him something for his birthday. It should be something special. Any ideas?
Also, did they ever find those missing letters?
Forever your soulmate,
Chapter 78: No Longer Trapped
My Dearest Edward,
Jim has ordered that I remain in protective custody, but I am at least no longer trapped within the confines of solitary. It was absolute torture not being able to respond to your letter right away. Although, I did enjoy the company your words gave me. It has also given me some time to think about what to get Martin for his birthday. I agree that it should be something special.
Your old friend Lucius Fox delivered your letters along with my gift from Martin. That complete waste of space Rich had them stowed away under his mattress. Luckily, it seems that no harm came to them aside from some crinkled edges. The quilt still smells like you.
Your instincts about someone reading our correspondences had been correct. Since he was the one I put in charge of the smuggling operation, that meant he controlled the mailroom and could easily intercept them. I'm not certain how many of them he read but, after your attempt to tell me of your father's name, he decided to hide them. No doubt he knew that I would eventually discover who he was if I had read it.
I immediately regretted sending you the letter where I accused you of manipulating Martin and calling me unfaithful. I made myself sick worrying about it. And then, as far as I was aware, two weeks had gone by with no response from you. Then I heard about your tantrum during group therapy. I blamed myself for your poor mental state which only made the situation worse.
I cannot apologize enough for the agony I put you through. You were forced to watch your mother endure his manipulations... then me. And I allowed it to happen in spite of your warnings. I thought Richard had saved my life during the riots but, as I later discovered, he had planned the attack. He used the absence of Eduardo Dorrance as an excuse to arouse dissent among the other inmates. He knew the best ways to get inside of everyone's heads- like a mechanic with his favorite machine. All he had to do was plant the right seeds and feed into the antagonistic nature of the more volatile inmates. He knew I would come out on top so he made sure to align himself with me.
I realized, all too late, who he was. It was early one morning. I had been awake for more than a day. I don't entirely recall what sparked the conversation but he made an insinuation that you would leave me. I told him to be quiet if he valued his life and he responded by screaming and raving about how you were the type of man to let your loved ones rot in prison. That you were a compulsive liar and a cheat. That thought lingered with me. Then Jim Gordon arrived and asked me questions about my injuries.
Richard never directly hurt me but he was always there to pull me from a fight or tend to my wounds as you probably would have. I later found out that he was the one who started the fights in the first place. Other inmates would do the dirty work and he would always be there to pick up the broken pieces. I always suspected something was wrong but I was so desperate for an ally while trapped in here that I refused to acknowledge it. It wasn't until Lucius Fox gave me one singular clue- that Richard Nashton was your father- that I realized how I had been deceived.
I never got the chance to answer your riddle: For some I am a weakness. For some I am their strength. For some, you cannot choose. For others, it may find you. What am I?
The answer is “Family”
I have it written on the cuff of my jumpsuit and I look at it often. It helps remind me that you and Martin are my strength. And I am so glad that we all found each other.
The fact that I'm not allowed to send more than a letter a week is killing me. I'm not sure how exactly they think that is protecting me. I doubt Richard has the resources to intercept the mail coming in and out of the asylum. They monitor it like clockwork. Anything that gets smuggled into Arkham is usually done during visitations. A little sleight-of-hand and you're good as gold. (Speaking of which: Martin delivered the shortbread. Your mother's recipe is excellent.)
They still haven't found Richard. I told them to check the gutters by every bar in Gotham. I doubt he's made it far without having someone he can siphon the life out of.
Any news on Sofia Falcone? It doesn't seem like her to want to skedaddle out of Gotham. Maybe her brain is Swiss-cheese like mine was after the ice. We should count ourselves lucky if that's the case.
Martin let me know that Dimitrov and his men have been patrolling the estate grounds and are also maintaining the lounge for us. For what that's worth. I don't trust Yuri as far as I can throw him... Which isn't far. I've never had much upper body strength. At least he has plenty of bullets and disposable bodyguards to keep Martin safe should Sofia come around.
I apparently have to take back what I said about Jervis and Jonathon... about them being incapable of loving each other. They're adorable. God, do we look like that to other people?
Seeing them makes me miss you even more. It would be so much easier to wake up in the morning if I could at least spend my sentence with you here with me. I wouldn't wish Arkham on you, though. Blackgate is a much easier egg to crack. Less dirty. Less full of mold. Just as dangerous but far less noisy.
How is your operation coming together? I assume being kept in protective custody has made that difficult.
P.S. Ignore the Valentine. Jervis would not SHUT UP about it. So I cut out a heart and put it in the envelope. Happy Valentine's Day, I guess.
You know Ozzie had Olga make those shortbread cookies. And she totes used a Penguin shaped cookie cutter.
Chapter 80: More Than A Year Now
My Dearest Edward,
I've heard from reputable sources that Sofia Falcone has been wandering around in the Narrows. She's been tracking down criminals who were previously loyal to her and her father. She's slowly been amassing quite the army. I wouldn't worry about her, though.
I received a visit from Leslie Gordon a while back. I have to admit... I see why you liked her. However, without the help of a trusted advisor, she makes a lot of amateur mistakes. She is often blind to people taking advantage of her and her hospitality. She makes frequent assumptions that people won't betray her, steal from her, or threaten the lives of the people she holds dear. The Tetch Vitus unlocked that potential in her and I can tell that she still craves that power. She wouldn't still be the Queen of the Narrows if she didn't. But she's sloppy. So I've offered my help.
In exchange for letting me use her spies, I help her run the Narrows and offer advice whenever I can. Seemed like a fair trade.
I do hope Mrs. Gordon figures out where her priorities lie. Living a double life is not exactly easy. She can't possibly think that she is capable of living with her perfect little family while also ruling her own territory in a place like Gotham. She will have to choose one eventually. Or choose a successor. My bet is on Barbara Kean.
Last I heard, Barbara was a busy bee buying up all of the unclaimed property post-reunification. I had hoped that offering her a sizable portion of the treasure that we trawled from the river was enough to beg her forgiveness for killing Tabitha Galavan. Seems she has been putting it to some good use.
I'm glad you've made some friends inside Arkham. I was a little hesitant when you told me who but I think I've warmed up to the idea. They are certainly a pair you would rather have on your side than not. Though, the idea of them being together is a tad... unsettling. To each his own, I suppose!
You'll have to thank Tetch for me. I quite liked the little heart you sent me. It's funny how such a simple gesture could mean so much.
You and I have been together more than a year now. We've spent half of that time locked away but I feel like I fall in love with you all over again every time I see your handwriting.
P.S. I have the perfect gift for Martin in mind but I'll need your help. Feel like helping me plan a scavenger hunt?
Chapter 81: A Little Bit of Research
Never thought I'd see the day that you would ally with Lee. You're right about her, though. She has good instincts and her intellect is impressive, but she's naive. She's not native to the Narrows and often forgets how ingrained the dog-eat-dog mentality is to the people who live there. Even Dumb Ed could see that she was just walking into a trap half the time.
I doubt she would ever give up her territory. She doesn't trust anyone else to be in charge and actively work towards the betterment of the people there. Can't say she's wrong about that.
I take it your alliance with her is also to help keep tabs on Sofia? You have no real interest in the Narrows and you wouldn't have agreed to help her otherwise. Unless you're motivated by the prospect of getting on her husband's good side? I won't be jealous if that's true. Well... not too jealous, that is.
While I was in solitary, they moved me to one of the older areas that they're still renovating. Being down in that part of the hospital gave me access to some of the old offices. I was able to do a little bit of research on your ancestor.
I can see why Martin is so interested in her. Genius level intellect and a knack for creating puzzles. The pattern from the fires all point to the same thing. City Hall, Gotham Cathedral, Gotham Square, Solomon Courthouse, and the Arkham Estate are all linked to an ancestor of the Arkham family. Her name has been marked out of every file for reasons I can't figure out, but Millie Jane was obsessed with her. She even claimed to see her ghost according to the file I read.
During all of the commotion with Richard, you never answered my question about the Van Dahl's connection to a certain group around Gotham. Jim told me they had returned so I can only assume that these fires have something to do with them. Millie Jane tried to reveal their identities but was sent to Arkham as a result. Martin thinks she was framed. I'm inclined to believe him. She would have been the perfect scapegoat.
Foxy and I have concluded that there is more than one arsonist. There are clusters of other fires that don't fit the M.O. Foxy and I both agree that they're either a criminal who is using the other fires as cover or they are being set to purposefully mislead the investigation. We haven't figured out which.
If my hunch is correct, I think our missing mayor has something to do with it. We find Mayor Chang, we find our answer.
Jervis and Jonathan both say hello. They also asked if you forgave them for betraying you... what exactly is your history with them again? I feel like there is a story I'm missing...
Wow... we really have been together a year already, haven't we? Which day are we counting, by the way? That day I kissed you on the docks or that awkward dinner conversation? Or was it the day you got me the piano?
P.S. A scavenger hunt! What are you plotting, my beautifully feathered friend?
Chapter 82: I Love You Both
Thank you for the birthday present!
Lark and Olga told me that they worked together with you and father to set it all up. Olga woke me up on my birthday and gave me the envelope with breakfast. I spent all day solving the puzzles you gave me!
I wasn't expecting it to lead to the bank. I was really confused but the lady there told me about the safety deposit box that father had and said that I could have anything I wanted from it.
I took the penguin pin. The gold one with all of the emeralds. It reminded me of the two of you.
Olga let me have ice cream for dinner and Lark gave me a copy of Demian because I mentioned that I wanted to read it. I even got a birthday card from Commissioner Gordon and his family!
I've never had a birthday party before but Olga sang to me and baked me a cake. It was the first time I ever had a cake for my birthday. She even put candles on it!
I already told father I loved my gift when I visited him yesterday. It's going to be another week before I can come see you again so I wanted to send you a letter to let you know that I loved it. And I love you both.
You're the best parents.
Chapter 83: My Heart Has Belonged to You For Years
My Dearest Edward,
How long do you think it takes for children to outgrow imaginary friends? I only ask because Martin keeps talking about ghosts that live in the mansion. Specifically Millie Jane. I know he has quite the imagination and his obsession with her has had me concerned for some time.
Speaking of which... what exactly do the two of you discuss during your visits? I have my suspicions but I want to know for certain. Has he put you to the task of asking about my family's ties to Gotham's underworld and other more unsavory organizations? If he has, then you know how dangerous this all is! I made him promise not to tell you because I knew how you would react. He is clearly too young to understand the value of keeping his word. I can forgive him, but I need you to understand how serious I am. I know you can't ever leave a puzzle unsolved but I fear that you will just be putting yourselves in harm's way.
Please, for your safety and our son's, cease your meddling. I don't want to ask again. I don't think my heart can take another fight with you.
Jonathon Crane was a bit of a recluse at Arkham. He rarely left his cell so I never saw much of him during my stay there. I got quite the introduction at brunch.
I first met Jervis Tetch when he pointed a gun at my face and threatened to poison me at the Founder's Dinner. But you knew that already. You were quite upset when you read the paper that following day. I met him again when I got roped into aiding Jerome Valeska in his plans to wreak havoc on Gotham. It was honestly the moment I saw Tetch's face that I grasped the extent of Jerome's plans. If what he was planning to release on Gotham was anything like the Tetch Virus, I knew that they had to be stopped. So, I swore to play along and gather as much information as I could before going to Jim.
When Jerome's plan finally came to light. I pleaded with the two of them to see how crazy it all was. So they knocked me out and tied me up in the blimp full of Crane's laughing gas. I guess I should count myself lucky that Mr. Crane didn't just melt my face off.
So long as they mean you no harm, I see no reason not to forgive them. For all I know, they were just brainwashed goons swept up in the chaos Jerome promised to bring. Both of them had their reasons for wanting to see the city crumble so I suppose I can't blame them for following along.
My alliance with Leslie Gordon has more to do with wanting to use her spies to find Sofia. But, I suppose also being in her good graces and improving my relationship with Jim is an added perk. I'd call it a successful business arrangement.
Be jealous. I like how it looks on you. Most of the time, that is.
What day makes the most sense to you for our anniversary? My heart has belonged to you for years so any date since the moment we met would be accurate for me.
I have a meeting with Harvey Dent tomorrow regarding my parole hearing. It may still be a few months away, but there is hope. I'm still holding onto it for your sake. Once I am out of here, I can work my way towards convincing Warden Sharp to have you released. Just stay out of trouble, in the meantime. Or don't get caught.
Chapter 84: Your Father is Onto Us
Your father is onto us.
Be sure to make copies of all of your notes. I wouldn't put it past Oswald to have Olga hide Millie's diary from us.
Did you learn anything about The Book of Old Gotham? You said it was written entirely in Norwegian and I've been curious if you ever got it translated. It might help us figure out who Millie Jane was so interested in.
Warden Sharp mentioned something about Ezekiel Arkham. He was apparently one of the settlers back in 1635 and had some kind of falling out with the rest of the founders. Any idea on if he's mentioned in any of your notes or that old book?
Stay safe, kiddo.
Chapter 85: In Spite of Jealousy and Occasional Idiocy
I'm sorry if I've upset you. I don't want to fight with you either.
Don't be mad at Martin. He was just curious and had the best intentions when he showed me the diary. He really just wanted to help solve the mysteries she left behind and wanted my help.
Wouldn't you rather be prepared if they came after us? It's obvious, to me at least, that the Court is the reason we're imprisoned in the first place. Hugo Strange worked for them before and I know he has something to do with Mayor Chang.
We can't just ignore this. I know you just want us to stay safe. I want that for us too. But how safe can we be if we allow them to toy with us like they have for years? We can't take back control of this city if they're still out there lurking in the shadows.
You would tell me if you knew about them back when you were mayor, wouldn't you? You didn't keep their existence hidden from me that whole time, right? You entrusted me with everything. I can't imagine that you would have kept that a secret. But, given how many other secrets you kept from me during that time, I guess I can't put it past you.
That's not meant as any kind of sleight. I'm sorry I even brought it up, but you can understand where I'm coming from, can't you?
I definitely remember how angry I was the morning after that Founder's Dinner. Isabella had been quite insistent that we not watch the news that evening. Funny that... Anyway, I went about my routine as I always did. I helped Olga with breakfast. I set out the table for the two of us that morning. I got the paper out for you... and there it was. Frontpage news. And I had been oblivious.
You had been so dismissive about the whole ordeal when I confronted you about it. You kept insisting that it was no big deal but then you refused to drink your wine with dinner that evening. I could tell that it had left an impression but you refused to talk to me about it. It was the first time since those early days in my apartment that you had completely shut me out. I should have known something was wrong then... but I didn't. I think back on how I neglected you during that week and all I want to do is curl up in a corner and disappear.
When Jervis first approached me, I threatened to gouge his eyes out with a spork. He even had the audacity to ask why I was so hostile towards him. I had to remind him that he had put a gun to your face once and threatened your well being on more than one occasion. It took me a minute to warm up to him.
Jonathon and I bonded over chemistry. Though, I was still leary of him. It wasn't until I caught him with his mask off and talking to Jervis that I got any kind of confirmation that I could trust them. They seemed so... normal. At least when they were around each other. Jonathon wasn't a jittery mess and Jervis didn't feel compelled to speak in rhyme all the time.
I don't know how else to explain it. Maybe this is how Jim and Foxy feel when they look at us. Maybe that's why they're always compelled to trust us even when they should have no reason to.
Humans really are pack animals, when you get down to it. We bond for survival.
Part of me wishes we could go as far back as me telling you that I would look you in the eye as I stabbed you in the heart. Or maybe when you told me that we were meant for each other after I splattered Arthur Penn's brains all over the floor. Or that hug we shared in the library.
There are too many moments to count. Too many... almosts.
If we have to pick an exact date, I think that kiss we shared on the pier is best. It was when I finally accepted that being with you was what I wanted. That you were my source of strength and not a weakness. That conversation at dinner was really just us clearing up any lingering confusion between the two of us. That night we shared after the piano and all of the other times after that were inevitable.
I'm glad you haven't given up hope. The protests haven't stopped. I can see graffiti from the window in my cell that all read Free Penguin. We just have to be patient and hope for the best. I'll do my best to stay out of trouble.
Forever your soulmate- in spite of jealousy and occasional idiocy,
Chapter 86: I Chose the Wine
My Dearest Edward,
I'm not mad at you. Or Martin. I'm just anxious and I will try and not be offended by your accusation that I kept their existence a secret from you. I met a woman named Kathryn at the Founder's Dinner who told me that she was part of a group that oversees everything in Gotham. She told me that they had been keeping tabs on me for some time and that they would be getting in contact with me but.. that never happened.
I never got the chance to talk to you about it because, when I came home that evening, you were in the arms of that awful woman. I'm sorry I never discussed my suspicious encounter. I was a bit distracted drinking the heartache away.
It did take me a moment to get over the initial shock of everything after Tetch. I had gone to dinner that evening thinking I had managed to scare Isabelle away. I tricked myself into believing that I would have the chance to confess my love for you without her getting in the way. I was, without a doubt, an insufferable guest. I spent the entire evening talking about you to anyone who would sit still long enough to listen. Kathryn, unfortunately, being no exception.
Tetch gave me the ultimatum of either drinking the wine or taking a bullet to the head. Can you believe that I chose the wine because I didn't want you to have to identify a body riddled with bullets? I figured poison would leave a prettier corpse. It seemed poetic, really. Karmic balance restored after my father drank that poison instead of me and I would finally get that bottle of wine I was owed.
As I put the glass to my lips, all I could think about was you. I had been grateful that I had willed the mansion to you in the event of my death. It was a comfort knowing you would at least have a home when I was gone.
So, you can imagine the relief I felt when the GCPD came barging in and I was able to escape with my life and my sanity. I didn't even stay to make a statement. I just got in the limo and came home. I had every intention of walking through that door and confessing my feelings towards you because I couldn't bear the thought of having one more encounter with death without having done so.
You already know the rest of that story.
I'm not revealing all of this to you to make you feel worse. I would rather you not curl into a ball and disappear. I quite like having you around. But... I need you to understand the depth of my fears. After all we've been through and after all of the times I have had you literally ripped away from me, I cannot let that happen again. I won't stand for it.
I know we should be prepared.
Let me work with you on your case. We've always been stronger together.
Your soulmate- in spite of jealousy and poorly timed love confessions,
Chapter 87: Twin Flame
Sorry I haven't written in a while... I got put back in solitary for a few days. I was upset after your letter. Not with you. Just with me... Jervis came to bug me in my cell because I hadn't come out all day. He was only trying to help and make sure I ate something. I punched him. I didn't even mean to. Being trapped in this place is making my brain foggy. I keep acting on impulse and lashing out at everyone. All I could think about was how he hurt you. How he almost took you from me.
When I got out of solitary, he handed your letter back to me. I'm pretty sure he read it. He's always trying to sneak into my cell or look over my shoulder at our letters. He hugged me pretty tightly after he gave it back. He's forgiven me, I guess. But, Jonathon hasn't spoken to me since I got out.
Being locked up gave me some time to think.
My mother used to talk about this idea of Twin Flames. She read a book back in college about it and would tell me stories about how souls can split into two parts and end up in separate bodies. She often told me that fate would bring me closer to finding them. I always thought the concept sounded ridiculous. I assumed she was just desperately holding onto the idea like it would save her from my father's abuse.
When I met Kristen, I thought it had been love at first sight. It was the first time that I gave in to the idea that maybe my mother hadn't been wrong. I got so swept up in the idea that she was my Twin Flame that I became obsessed with her. Obsessed with proving it to her. I felt hollow when she died. But, I never felt like a part of me died with her.
When I first opened your criminal file at the GCPD I got this weird sense of... deja vu? I thought I had known you from somewhere. At that time, all that was in your file was petty crimes. Theft. Alley brawls. Fish Mooney did an excellent job of maintaining your reputation as nothing more than an umbrella boy. But, I could tell by your photo that there was something more to you. I felt a connection to you that I didn't understand at the time.
When I saw you at the precinct, I had those feelings confirmed. It was like my whole body was vibrating and I knew I had to talk to you. I wasn't sure how to go about actually speaking to you but I had hoped that you would feel the same way I did.
Then I found you in the woods. I didn't hesitate to take you home with me. I knew that I was all that you had and that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I just left you there to die.
That night we killed Galavan's lackey, I knew. I knew you were my second half. That it wasn't just a coincidence that fate had brought us together. I didn't know that I loved you but I knew you were my soulmate. My Twin Flame.
It's why I drowned myself in alcohol and drugs when I thought you were dead. It's why I tried to kill myself so many times. I thought I had to reclaim some lost part of myself in order to move on with my life. I knew I would never be whole again. I robbed banks, museums, elite estates and tried to fill that void with pointless junk. I literally filled an abandoned museum with stuff I had stolen but it was never enough. No matter what I did, I couldn't chase away this feeling like I was broken.
I swear to you, Oswald, that I will never allow either of us to be broken like that again.
The best way to go about getting information to you will be through Martin. I'll send you everything that I know about the case the next time he visits.
Your soulmate- always,
Chapter 88: In My Sky At Twilight
My Dearest Edward,
It is good to know that you are no longer in solitary. You're in there an awful lot lately.
I apologize that my openness has put you in such a state of mind. That was never my intent. Things would be so much easier if I could just have a conversation with you face-to-face, but Jim Gordon seems to be dragging his feet. My only hope of seeing you at this point lies solely in the hands of Harvey Dent. Let us hope that Gotham's enthusiasm concerning my release persists through the coming months.
Since you will allow me to work with you, I will tell you what I know about my family's history. But, you must promise me to keep conversations on this subject with Martin to a minimum. I don't want to unnecessary feed into nor encourage his obsessions.
I am afraid my knowledge is limited. Most of what I know I have already told you. You and I already read up on Mayor Theodore Van Dahl during my campaign. There was quite a bit of information on him at the public library and the manor. My father didn't seem too inclined to discuss him in our conversations. I assume because of all the controversy surrounding his daughter and her suicide.
There was one ancestor, in particular, that I was interested in but my father refused to talk about him. His name was Edmunde Van Dahl. He was an absolute madman and a self-proclaimed witch hunter. He apparently pulled innocent women from their homes and burned them at the stake long before Gotham was even an established city. I don't blame my father for wanting to distance himself from that aspect of our history.
Lee's spies have reported back to me with some interesting information concerning the fire at the old Solomon Courthouse. It was one of the oldest buildings in the Narrows. As far as I know, it had been abandoned for years. My sources say that is the location our dear friend Kathryn and the former GCPD Captain, Nathaniel Barnes, took Jim Gordon after they realized he had betrayed them. Perhaps a member of the Court is burning their old hideouts in an attempt to cover up their influence over the city? It may be an effort to start with a clean slate before they seize power again.
It's funny that you should mention Twin Flames. My mother spoke of them often. Growing up, she told me that she had met her's but had allowed him to slip away from her. She was a flirt, but she never committed herself to anyone after her and my father separated. She even told me that he had died before I was born. I suppose it was easier to create a version of that story where he had died instead of having him just outside of her reach. She told me that life only gave you one true love and that you should run to it if given the chance.
In hindsight, I did feel something when I first saw you at the GCPD. Since I couldn't pinpoint the sensation, it made me uneasy. I assumed it was simply my gut warning me not to trust you. But, I felt it again that night in the woods. It was why I was compelled to ask for help.
You are mine, mine, I go shouting it to the afternoon's
wind, and the wind hauls on my widowed voice.
Huntress of the depths of my eyes, your plunder
stills your nocturnal regard as though it were water.
-In My Sky At Twilight, Pablo Neruda
P.S. Jervis if you happen to be reading this over Ed's shoulder, my condolences for your face. However, I cannot say that you didn't deserve it. At least a little bit. You understand.
Why am I not surprised that you have love poems memorized?
I read a lot of Neruda back when I worked at the GCPD. Not enough to know any of them by heart. My memory is good enough that I could probably remember at least a few of them but the drugs they have me on keeps my brain foggy. I almost wish I had a copy of one of his books. We're allowed a limited number of paperbacks. I might have to see if I can get my hands on one.
I am in solitary a lot but, I assure you, that's on purpose. There isn't much security in the older Arkham wing. The locks are outdated so it is easy to bypass them and wander around at night. The worst thing that could happen is I get caught and pretend to be dazed and therefore suffer no real consequences. The orderlies are apathetic and don't pay attention to us most of the time.
I think Jonathon and I have come to an understanding. I managed to find a pharmacist lab with some equipment while I was exploring the older parts of Arkham. No viable chemicals but a lot of beakers and a nice distillation set. I think he's forgiven me. For now. It's hard to read him when he's wearing a mask. Jervis tells me I shouldn't worry. Experience tells me not to believe him but I'd like to think that we're friends and I can trust them.
I didn't know about Edmunde Van Dahl. Martin said he examined his portrait at the manor and saw that the words "Honourary Founder" were written on the back. I wonder what kind of relationship he had with the other founders. I would suspect that having a witch hunter in the settlement during a time when superstitions were high and they believed there were monsters in the woods made them feel secure. Even if that meant slaughtering their own in droves. Funny how not much has changed in nearly 400 years...
It would make a lot of sense if the fires are an attempt to cover up what the Court is doing. Remember when I said that Foxy and I had determined that there were two arsonists? Make that three. And I think the third is most likely Firefly. All of the forensic evidence points to a flamethrower being used. She's been targeting housing zones and locally owned businesses. All of the properties have come up in contract disputes in the last several months. It seems that people are still trying to buy up as much property as they cane and consolidate their claim over territories even after reunification.
Any way you can use Lee and her spies to try and see if my hunch is correct? Or possibly send word to Barbara? I'm sure she'd be interested in knowing if someone was burning properties so that they can claim the deeds out from under people.
(ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ I recently published Chapter 7 of TDOMJVD
My Dearest Edward,
I sent our request to Leslie Gordon and her spies but, apparently, they are dealing with problems of their own. It seems that the Queen of the Narrows has her hands full dealing with a string of drug addicts and a treacherous heroin market that has swept through her territory. She had the gall to blame me for it. She stormed up here for visitation and proceeded to yell at me for a crime I didn't even commit. Typical. She's rather protective of the people in her care. I can certainly respect that.
I reassured her that the very idea of me peddling drugs through the Narrows and damaging our partnership was profoundly absurd. She is probably my most valued ally on the outside right now- Not including family, of course. Her connections to Jim and her willingness to allow me the use of her spies are imperative to our plans. She also tells me that you had a hand in establishing the groundwork for her spy network. Why am I not surprised? You never cease to amaze me with how brilliant you are.
I warned her about Firefly and had her pass along a warning to both Jim and Barbara Kean. It is in our best interest to keep them informed and maintain an alliance with them. I would also much rather Barbara own half of Gotham and not those damn owls.
I hope Martin was able to deliver your gift without much issue. I'm glad they are allowing you a few paperbacks. It's the least they could do given the awful state of that so-called hospital. I remembered that I had a copy of this book somewhere at the manor and I got to thinking about it the other day. It seemed rather serendipitous considering tomorrow is your birthday!
One of my favorite poems came to me one morning as I awoke in my cell. I thought I had forgotten it long ago. I've can't remember most of it, but it reminded me of you.
I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy
I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would've died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I'm happy;
Happy that it's not true
Filled with your soul,
P.S. I have another birthday present for you in the works. But I didn't want to get your hopes up before I had more details. So, I wrote you a riddle in the meantime.
For what reason does the caged bird sing?
Happy birthday, Eddie.
Oswald's gift was a well-loved copy of Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda. The excerpt from Ozzie's favorite poem in that book is titled I Like For You To Be Still
Does anyone have a guess what Oswald's second gift is?
You are the only person aside from my mother to ever give me a birthday present. The most I ever got over the years were those generic cards that would get passed around the GCPD for all of the other employees to sign. Though, one time someone did fill my locker with shoe polish. They thought they were being funny...
I love your gift. Thank you. I think Jervis loves it even more. Yesterday he stole it and started reading from it and treated the table as a stage. He's quite the showman. Especially when he has an audience like Jonathon.
Lee visited me too. I told her that drug trafficking was your last favorite endeavor and that you tend to avoid it at all costs. We spoke in length about what's been going on since we've been locked up. It looks like someone- my guess is Sofia Falcone- is consolidating power and attempting to claim Gotham's underworld while you're in Blackgate. Honestly, I'm surprised it's taken this long for someone to make the attempt.
I'm not going to lie... it's strange having Lee consult with me on how to run the Narrows. It's certainly nostalgic but also more than a little awkward. We made a good team during our time together and I'm glad we've at least forgiven one another well enough to get back to some kind of working relationship... but it's still strange.
I also spoke with Foxy. We've pieced together a timeline of events regarding the three arsonists. The fires caused by Firefly are more recent and there is quite a bit of evidence that points to Interim Mayor Sebastian Hady being responsible. It seems the GCPD is in luck because I still have notes from our correspondences back when I was Chief of Staff and he was our City's Planning Director. I'm not sure how much you recall of his ambitions to level the entirety of Park Row and a few other low-income districts. A lot of these locations on our map are the same ones from back then.
I would be so much more useful on the outside. Why can't anyone see that? They want me to consult on their cases and be their advisor but only when it suits their agenda. I'm just a tool for them to use and discard at this point. And what's even more pathetic is that I am desperate enough to keep my mind stimulated that I allow it!
Your book really is helping me to stay focused. And I quite like the poem you picked in your last letter...
I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid
Filled with your soul,
P.S. The caged bird longs for his freedom. Does your gift have to do with Harvey Dent and your parole hearing?
I plan on posting Chapter 8 of TDOMJVD reeeeeally soon. It's a bit long and slightly different than the other chapters but I really like how it's turned out.
I also plan on posting a few more of these letters over the next few days to inch us closer to the showdown from TDOMJVD. I won't spoil it if any of you haven't read that part of the story yet and/or have only read the letters so far, but it's gonna be fun to watch it all unfold behind the scenes.
Chapter 92: Hope Has Always Been a Dangerous Thing
My Dearest Edward,
I was sentenced to twenty years but Dent managed to secure me a sentence with no minimum term. Which means my parole eligibilities are more flexible. Under normal circumstances, the Parole Board requires that I serve a minimum of one-third of my sentence before I am allowed a hearing. Which would mean the earliest I could get released is in five more years. However, given the circumstances of my imprisonment, it is looking like I am only required to serve the minimum of nine months before I'm born again onto the streets of Gotham. We are already passed that date now. So I could have a hearing scheduled any day now.
I must admit, I was worried when I first hired Dent. He's as much a boy scout as Jim. But I once saw his facade crack. He is actually very much like you in that way. One moment he is all smiles and professionalism and the next he is shaking and damn-near feral in his rage. It was fleeting but it was there. As clear as day to those who were observant. So I knew that a part of him would be willing to set aside our differences to help us in both our cases. Especially once Martin was involved. It appealed to both sides of his conscience.
It's hard not to lose myself to wishful thinking. Hope has always been a dangerous thing for me. But I am sleeping soundly at night and I am more confident in my day-to-day with the knowledge that I might be out of here soon. And, when that day comes, our reunion will be close behind. I promise you that.
Should I be concerned about Mrs. Gordon? I'm not meaning to pry or sound pathetic... I just want to know if it is something I need to worry about. You are certainly allowed to keep any friends that you choose to but I know you two have history. And I remember how you looked at one another that day in the hospital.
Have you and Martin continued your mischief? He's stopped asking me about Millie Jane. In fact, he avoids the subject outright. But I know he hasn't just set aside his obsession. He's hiding something. I just want some reassurance that the two of you are still safe.
I love you dearly,
I need to remember to get Harvey Dent a bottle of wine for everything he's done for us this last year. I was leery of him as well. He values the letter of the law and it was no secret that he looked down on us and our criminal history. But he resented Jim for getting away with murdering Galavan and having you shoulder the blame a hell of a sight more. He certainly is quite the puzzle.
Don't be jealous of Lee. Yes, we have history. What you saw at the hospital was mutual dissatisfaction. I was surprised to see her alive considering I ruptured her stomach lining and left splenic flexure. Up until then, I hadn't realized you had saved her as well. So seeing her was a shock.
I am glad you saved her, but the feelings I once had don't mean anything to me anymore. That was old me. I don't even think I actually loved her. I was lonely and she was kind. She actually liked me for the person that I was before. Nerdy, shy, awkward, big dumb puppy Ed. No one had accepted that version of me before. Even you rejected me at first.
God, the number of times I planned on killing myself in the apartment during that time. I made a project out of it. Once, I built a Rube Goldberg machine specifically designed to slice my throat. I always got out of the way at the last minute. Every night for several weeks I would set it all up and watch all of the levers and pulleys go through their sequence until it came close to the end... It was as impressive as it was depressing. I ended up using it to slice bread before I dismantled it.
I hated that version of myself. I still do. But Lee saw it and liked me anyway. So I let myself fall for her act. Though, honestly, I think I developed feelings for her because she reminded me of you. Beautiful, cunning, funny, and too many other similarities to really count. It really would have never worked out between us. We were both using each other to cope with our own loses.
Now, Foxy on the other hand. He's pretty cute. Shame he'd never look in my direction. What do you think? Is he my type?
Ed is a brat, fo sho.
Chapter 94: You Conquered Those Demons
You haven't answered my question about Martin. What are the two of you up to? I will find out one way or another. You're smart but finding out secrets and reading deceptions is my specialty.
I'm not jealous. I'm merely informing you that I won't hesitate to kill her- ally or not- if she makes you uncomfortable. She took advantage of you and your feelings before. I won't allow her to do it again. It broke my heart to watch her do it the first time.
Why are we having this conversation? Now I can't get the image of you batting your lashes at Lucius Fox out of my damn head. I hope you're satisfied with yourself, Eddie. So much for sleeping soundly.
It pains me to know that you were in such a dark place for so long. I confess that I was not much better but I did have people I could talk to. Fish was observant enough to notice my insecurities. She often took advantage of them but she would also pull me aside and compliment me if she felt like I needed it. And, of course, I had my mother. She was the one person who truly saved me from ever stepping off that precipice.
It just proves how strong you are. If I didn't have those people in my life, I don't think I would be alive. But you conquered those demons entirely on your own. Or, at least, with only your other half to keep you company.
I'm curious: Were they present during that time or did it manifest later? Had he always been there and just needed the right push or was it new when we met?
Lee's spies have come back with an interesting tidbit of information. Apparently, there is someone calling themselves The Russian who has been making their move towards the throne of Gotham. I have my suspicions that Sofia is somehow involved. She is either using them, is allied with them, or both. I have sent word to Lark to contact our men and to improve security around the mansion. I've also asked that Olga contact the rest of the Dimitrov's and their mob connections to help uncover the identity of this new player.
I just hope Martin doesn't get caught in any crossfire.
Any chance Tetch and Scarecrow could make themselves useful?
Chapter 95: I'm Only Teasing
I'm only teasing. I promise you I don't have any feelings for Lee or Foxy.
That image you see of me shamelessly flirting with Foxy? That is how I look at you. And only you. You don't have to worry about him. I won't lie to you. I did go out of my way to flirt with him when I was high as a kite and my brain was split in half. But, he and I are only friends. At least, I think we're friends. He's told me he cares about me but he's never referred to me as a friend. Not officially.
The “first” time Lee manipulated me was the one and only time. There won't ever be a second time because you are the one I think about at night. Your pointed nose and freckles and how great you look in a tuxedo. God, I can't wait to get out of this hellhole.
I have a hard time seeing me as anything other than weak and cowardly during that time. I had my moments. Like when I got that buffoon M.E. fired by filling his locker full of body parts. I didn't have much fear of getting caught because no one ever paid attention to me. But, something as simple as returning a pencil I borrowed... I couldn't even manage to do that without my anxiety taking over.
The other personality manifested when I was a teenager. Though, I think the trauma of finding my mother's body was what did it. So, it's quite possible he was there much longer than I realized. I used to forget entire conversations and would zone out during homework assignments only to find out I had already finished them.
I thought that maybe it was from getting hit in the head by my old man so often. After I changed my name, I got a brain scan to check for any damage. No one ever found anything. Every doctor I spoke to said I was perfectly healthy and that there was nothing wrong with me. One nurse suggested I take ginkgo supplements to help with the memory loss. I was so desperate, I actually tried it for a while.
He appeared to me one day like this sort of... voice. It's hard to describe. At first, it started as incoherent whispers while I slept and eventually evolved into more elaborate hallucinations. When I was younger, my therapist encouraged that I talk to this other version of me. We would even spend entire sessions just sorting through problems while I spoke to an empty chair. But, after a while, he became harder and harder to control. My doctor kept reminding me that he was nothing more than a projection of impulse and that it couldn't hurt me.
He talked to me off and on throughout the years. It came to a point where he would only talk to me when I was stressed. It all came to a head after I killed Dougherty. I couldn't keep him out of my head. He wouldn't let me sleep and he kept telling me to do things. It only got worse after Kristen died. He took over and hid her body at the GCPD morgue while I was sleeping. Everything from my childhood suddenly made more sense. I wasn't suffering memory loss or brain damage like I feared... there was just another version of me hiding in there. I guess it sounds kind of scary to anyone who never experienced it but accepting that other personality was oddly... liberating.
Hopefully my explaining it doesn't scare you off.
If Martin is up to something, he's hiding it from me as well. We still talk about the diary and the tunnels. He also knows that you are helping now... I think this is something else. I know Olga contacted the rest of the Dimitrov's for protection but you and I both know they aren't the most trustworthy family. Martin mentioned that he didn't like her nephew... Perhaps he's our Russian? He fits the profile and he has motive. We just have to connect him to the bigger picture.
Jervis and Jonathon have plans of their own to infiltrate one of the renovated wings. I'll see what I can do.
My Dearest Edward,
Apologies for not writing sooner. I know you've been worried. Especially since I know Martin has not been able to attend his scheduled visitations. I know how much you hate being out of the loop so I will do my best to inform you as best I can.
Your suspicions about Olga's nephew were correct. Lee informed me that Yuri and Sofia have made an alliance. More than that, they are apparently lovers. Olga and Lark have both assured me that Martin is safe but we must act quickly.
I am still scrambling to rally the troops. I've made contact with some allies and have already put them to the task. It is all likely to come to a head at the lounge and I fear Martin might get thrown into the middle of it. There is no avoiding it and we may have to put our collective faith in our son that he will use that brain he's been blessed with to keep himself safe.
Since you had so much fun planning Martin's scavenger hunt the first time, how do you feel about round two? Lark will be your contact. You can give him the details and he will follow them.
O H B O Y
Martin is clever. He'll be able to handle this. I promise. I know how worried you can get. Remember to take care of yourself and not fret about things you cannot possibly control. Lark and Olga are loyal and reliable. They won't allow anything to happen to him. And, even if something were to happen, our son will adapt and get through it.
I've given the plan to Lark as well as granted him access to resources I've acquired. Namely the Marsha Diamond I had stowed away. Shame I couldn't give it to you. It was supposed to be a gift. But, Fries is particular about payment. I didn't want to take any chances and needed to gain his loyalty back somehow.
Jervis and Scarecrow are on board. Jervis has been hypnotizing the staff and I've destroyed some of our files. So now they think Jonathon is one of the doctors in B Wing. He's built himself a lab in the basement that he can freely access. He's also performing his own experiments on some of the other inmates. Mostly the ones who have given us trouble since being in here. His methods are certainly... something. I'll have to remember to stay on his good side. Hopefully, Jervis never gives me another reason to have to punch him again.
The toxin won't be ready in time for the raid but it might be a useful backup plan. They've also contacted some of their allies on the outside. By the time you get this letter, they've probably already joined up with your troops. Sofia and that idiot Dimitrov are going to be met with quite the formidable force.
I know you aren't going to be able to sleep properly until this is all over. So keep my letter close and try to rest. I love you.
l'amour et de méfait,
I totally named the diamond after the Queen of Diamonds from the old Adam West Batman series.
Also, I love Eddie just casually speaking in French. He does it a few times in the series and I now have this little headcanon that Ed will whisper sweet nothings in French and Os does the same in Hungarian. *chef kiss*
Chapter 98: The Troops Are In Place
Martin has already been through so much. I just wish I could provide something normal for him for once. I want to give him what my father wasn't able to and what my mother struggled with every day of her life. I'm starting to understand Carmine Falcone more and more as the days drag on.
Lark has informed me of the current plan. The troops are in place. Martin claims to have a cold but I know he's just isolating himself from his loved ones right now. I don't think he is fully aware of Lark's allegiances or what he is capable of. I would have liked to have kept that a secret for a little while longer but life isn't always convenient. I've told Lark to give him the time that he needs but not to dawdle. We don't want our troops to jump the gun nor do we want Sofia to take control while everyone waits for Martin to blow the whistle.
I've been shaking a lot today and I've had difficulty hiding it. I'm fatigued and the food here leaves much to be desired. I haven't been eating much as a result. The combined stress of my parole and Martin's well-being is making me unwell. I will do my best to take care of myself but there is only so much I can do. I'm far too worried that someone will kill him just to get to me. Sofia's already threatened him twice. And now I'm entrusting Martin with an alliance with Victor Freeze! The man hates my guts and would sooner stuff ice cubes down my throat than work with me.
Are you sure about this? The last time we asked for his help worked out well enough but that plan didn't include giving our son access to a freeze gun! And you were tortured and almost killed. The only reason you survived was because I abandoned the plan. What if Martin doesn't have the luxury of doing the same? What if he's not able to think fast enough? He's brilliant but he's only eleven!
If I wasn't worried about Sofia hurting him and using her power to keep us locked away, I would just let her take over. Ruling Gotham isn't worth it if the cost is losing Martin.
Lark is going to be commanding the troops but Olga isn't a fighter. She's resourceful but I don't know if she will be able to protect Martin when the time comes. They need another ally but I doubt Freeze is going to suddenly melt the ice around his heart to help protect him. And Zsasz is still nowhere to be found.
Why didn't we just leave Gotham when we had the chance? The moment we had Martin back, we should have left. Changed our names. Moved south. Hell, we could have left the country! But no. I was too stubborn. And now our son has to suffer the consequences of my hubris.
If everything works out as it should, I want you and Scarecrow to handle Dimitrov. I don't think I will be able to maintain my temper long enough.
You should have seen the look on Yuri's face. The guy was always nervous around me but now he is absolutely terrified. I think I played the part of crazy quite well! The black and white jumpsuit certainly helps complete the look. Jonathon gave me a sample of the fear toxin he made in his lab. It wasn't as potent as other doses but it did the job well enough. Yuri shouldn't be giving Martin any more trouble. And, if he does, Jonathon says he has an ally with a supply of fear toxin on the outside. One phonecall and Yuri will likely end up in Arkham with me. If he survives 200 mg of fear toxin being pumped directly into his bloodstream. His heart might explode! Won't that be fun?
How are things on your end? How are you holding up? I assume the reason I haven't heard from you in a few days is because you have finally allowed yourself to sleep. You can't keep doing that. You need your strength so you can tackle this hearing head-on. I believe in you. Everything is going to be alright now.
Harvey Dent visited me yesterday. I see what you mean about his two halves. He's hiding something... I don't think it has to do with us, though.
He asked me a lot of questions about my father. I'd hoped that detail about my relation to him would have been swept under the rug. Jim must have told him. Luckily, I don't think anyone other than Foxy knows all of the details. I'm guessing Dent is trying to use your cooperation in helping Jim track him down as evidence to support your release. Did you know that there are citizens demanding you run for mayor again? We live in interesting times, Os.
Hmmm... what is Dent hiding, I wonder. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
One of the things I had locked away in my deposit box at the bank was the Dimitrov family ring. I'm surprised it survived No Man's Land. I guess no one thought it was important and so it was never looted. The ring was gifted to Don Falcone as a sign of fealty. Anyone in possession of the ring controls the family. So I have given it to Olga, where it rightfully belongs. The Dimitrov's have a history of possessing shaky loyalty but they are obedient to their own. Even if the young Dimitrov does not accept that he has been demoted to babysitter, all Olga has to do is snap her fingers and his neck will follow suit. I have faith Olga will do what is best in the interest of Martin's safety.
Lark tells me that Martin played his part well. A few bumps along the way but, he seems to be doing fine. Better than fine, in fact! He's taken to the role he's been given and is finally coming out of his shell. He's already taken down other Falcone loyalists on his own. Though, it does concern me that Sofia Falcone's influence reached as far as it did in such a short amount of time. I feel like I'm navigating a tightrope.
Dent has given me no new information regarding my possible parole. I can't tell if his lack of sleep is due to him working for me or if there is something else I should concern myself about. I have been trapped in this cage for a year now and will not stand by while he focuses on anything other than the guarantee of my release! Perhaps my spies should do a wellness check...
I doubt I would ever run for mayor again. The people of Gotham are too fickle. And, besides, No Man's Land spoiled me. I would much rather rule with an iron fist without having to pretend that I like people. Some casual manipulation is one thing, but visiting schools? Listening to every insignificant complaint from concerned citizens who expect me to give them my undivided attention? I swear, if I have to kiss one more baby that isn't my own I might actually explode.
I hope the unfortunate prying from our lawyer didn't cause you any undue stress. If I had known he was going to do that, I would have requested he respect your privacy on the matter. I promise, I won't dare bring it up again if you don't want me to, but I want you to know that you can talk to me about it. I know you have confided in Martin as a way of showing him how much you understand his trauma, but I want you to know that you don't have to suffer alone.
If it is any consolation, my love... I do have every intention of fulfilling my promise to find him and slit his throat with you by my side. That revenge will taste all the sweeter now.
I still have your riddle written on my sleeve. The knowledge that I have a loving family waiting for me outside of these walls is what gets me through these long days.
I have gotten plenty of sleep. You needn't worry about me. I'm glad your alliances at Arkham have proven to be so fruitful. Keep them close. We wouldn't want them as enemies now that we've come this far. Especially now that Scarecrow has a man on the outside with access to our son.
Take care of yourself. I have already put Lark to the task of uncovering dirt on Warden Sharp. A little bit of blackmail and some elbow grease and you will be out of Arkham in no time! If everything goes according to plan, we should be reunited soon.
I'm back on my shit again! (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
Also, "Szeretlek" means "I love you" in Hungarian.
Clever as ever, Mister Penguin. Olga being the head of the Dimitrov Family is not something I thought of! Well done. What connections do the Dimitrov's have? You mentioned that they kissed the ring of Falcone. Were there any other allies or enemies? Might be a good idea to educate ourselves and catalog that information for our use later.
I didn't think you would be up for running for Office again. You could easily attain that same level of power, if not more, by continuing as you are now. Honestly, our plans for the Lounge will likely get us there. Especially with the combination of Lark and Martin at the helm currently.
Dent didn't cross too many boundaries during our talk. Though, he told me that he did a background check on my name and found some of the court files at the District Attorney's Office. So he likely knows more than I'd like him to.
The only other person who might know is Foxy. Once I realized that you weren't getting my letters, I contacted him. I told him that I thought you were in danger and provided him Richard's and my name. I'm not sure how much information he uncovered or how much of it he's given to anyone.
There's honestly not that much to talk about. There are chunks of my memory that I never realized were missing. The more I think back on it, the more some areas get blurry. The only solid memory I have is of finding my mother...
I'm sorry I haven't opened up to you about it. I assure you that you have my trust. None of it is easy to acknowledge and I just simply don't know how to address it. I wouldn't even know where to begin.
I've confided in our son insomuch as I have told him that I was abused by my father. I also told him about that year I was mute because I knew we could understand each other from that perspective. I haven't given him any information beyond that. I don't want him to be the person I unnecessarily unload my baggage on. I don't want you to be that either. I don't want you to think about me differently.
I do look forward to the day that we'll get to him. I allowed him to live once. I won't make that mistake again. Especially if he's going to embarrass me by being an idiot and targeting you.
I couldn't agree more that our connection is what gets me through the nights here. When I'm not at B Wing with Jervis and Jonathon, I'm trapped listening to the other patients scream all night. I'm able to tune them out if I focus on a memory of you or Martin.
I don't doubt that you'll get me out of Arkham. I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later though. Warden Sharp's methods are uncomfortably familiar. Did Hugo Strange use the truth serum on you too? How he thought such a traumatic form of therapy was helpful, I'll never know. Apparently Warden Sharp is a fan and has been using it for his individualized therapy sessions. I'm not looking forward to that.
I am, however, looking forward to seeing you.
A lelki társad,
P.S. Don't lie, Oswald. I saw you kiss little Barbara Lee's forehead. You aren't fooling anyone.
"A lelki társad" translates to "Your Soulmate."
Hopefully... if my Hungarian is off, please let me know so I can fix it!
I didn't realize you risked exposing your past in order to save me. I honestly don't know what to say. I mean, aside from an apology. If I had just listened to you from the beginning and wasn't a weak old fool, none of that would have happened.
You'll be happy to know that Lucius Fox has not divulged more information than was necessary. All he relayed to me was that Richard Nashton was your father. Aside from that and the brief conversation we had that night at the manor, I am still in the dark. And I can remain there for as long as you need me to.
Eddie, my love, how could you possibly think that I would think of you differently? We have been through so much already. Nothing from your past is going to make me love you any less or make you a different person in my eyes. You're Edward Nygma. The Riddler. That's all that matters to me. Who you were before is irrelevant unless you don't want it to be. As far as I'm concerned, once we've rid ourselves of that pest, we can be done with it.
I didn't know that Hugo Strange used the truth serum on you as well... I only endured it for one unbearable session.
I don't think I could sleep well at night knowing that he tortured you as he did me. He didn't attempt using aversion therapy on you, did he? If he did, I might have to prioritize hunting him down once I'm released. I can't bear the thought. Please, tell me I'm wrong.
I've spoken with Dent. He claims to have filed the necessary paperwork for my parole hearing. However, obstacles in the bureaucracy of this forsaken City have prolonged the process. Dent believes that you and I were both wrongfully incarcerated- or, at the very least, our trials were handled improperly. Someone is going above and beyond to keep us locked away. I only wish I had the resources to uncover who... and I am honestly worried that I might know the answer.
Any news on Mayor Chang?
A lelki társad,
P.S. That was different! She was so small and fussy and Barbara just handed her to me. What was I supposed to do? Just let her cry? Also, since when do you speak Hungarian?
"Lelkitársam" is Hungarian for "My Soulmate"
Chapter 103: A Necessary Sacrifice
You are not weak. Or old. Or a fool. It was a necessary sacrifice. My comfort doesn't matter if it means you're in danger. You've carried so many scars thanks to me. Both physically and emotionally. The least I could do was use the knowledge I have to keep you safe. I'm just grateful that we got to you in time.
I don't want you to see that side of me. I'm... afraid you'll think I'm weak and not want me anymore. Ridiculous, I know. You're probably foaming at the mouth just from reading that. But, I can't make that anxiety go away. It's frustrating. Logically, I know that we have endured worse but I can't help feeling... vulnerable? I suppose... I need to act strong so that you don't notice how broken I am. Which is incredibly difficult for me to admit.
What you said about Dent is interesting. Just this morning I had a meeting with Warden Sharp. I assumed we were going to have one of those delightful little therapy sessions but, instead, he declared me a “lost cause” and told me that he was going to make certain that I never be released from Arkham unless it's in a body bag. And, even then, we have a furnace. The man would sooner lobotomize me than offer me anything resembling treatment. Now I just have to make sure he doesn't follow through with the threat (Which, before you get concerned, is already handled. Jervis, Jonathan, and I have plans for avoiding him).
You've not given me the details about your treatment when you were here. I know you were tortured and I know some kind of device and a modified version of Professor Crane's fear toxin was used. We've talked about that much. Nothing less than torture would have turned you into that docile man I turned away at my door...
No. Hugo Strange never did anything like that to me. He specifically told me that he didn't want to cause any brain damage. At first, I thought he valued my intelligence but I later found out that he had every intention of just putting my brain in a jar to poke at later. I'd hate to think of the kinds of experiments he would have used it for at Indian Hill. When I was down there I found a freezer full of brains and other organs. He was storing them next to these pods. They weren't any bigger than your standard coffin. I have no idea what he was using them for. I didn't have time to read any of the research notes.
Mayor Chang has been quite the elusive sleeper agent. She's only made a few appearances around town and is usually accompanied by a tall man in a black mask who is apparently quite adept at acrobatics and martial arts. Remind you of anyone? Jim has already confirmed their return to Gotham. Now we just need to find out what they're planning and what it has to do with us.
In the meantime, I'm going to rest and think about how pretty your eyes are.
P.S. Since I procured a Hungarian dictionary. I'm having to teach myself so I doubt I could hold a proper conversation without substantial practice.
Chapter 104: Erasure
I admire your strength, Ed. Truly. I never had my psyche split in two and you handle it with far more grace than I ever could. You are remarkable and I am grateful for your sacrifice, but your comfort and safety matter to me as well. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Martin and I need you to take care of yourself as much as we need you to take care of us.
I knew you still felt guilty for turning me away at your apartment all those years ago. Which, I have already told you, I do not resent you for. That was my reasoning for why I never divulged the details of my time at Arkham before now. I didn't want you to beat yourself up over it.
I lost track of how long I endured my “treatment.” It all blurs together. I was strapped to a chair with fear toxin running through my veins and a device on my head that made me feel like I was being burned alive. And then I would hallucinate killing my mother. More accurately, a disembodied version of myself committed the act while I watched. I suppose I was able to project all of my negative emotions onto this horrible vision of me. I'm guessing that was the point. It's hard for me to say. I cannot even begin to fathom how that was supposed to be therapeutic.
Hugo Strange felt it necessary to sever my connection with her memory. He wanted me to be repulsed by my thoughts of her and disgusted with my life and actions. After our one and only truth serum session, he came to the determination that I had very few redeemable qualities. Hence why I was so infantile when I was released. He traumatized me to the point of erasure.
Luckily, that side of me didn't last long. It was strange though... now that I am allowing myself the opportunity to reminisce. You recall me telling you about how unsteady I felt after finding the decanter of poison? It was as if that more docile side of myself evaporated and all I was left with was pent-up rage. In hindsight, my behavior was quite frightening. Even for me. I assumed it was just a symptom of reacclimating to Gotham after Arkham.
I shutter to think what he would have done with us had he not been found out. We might have been turned into one of those monsters or had our insides scrambled in a more literal sense. Fate can certainly be merciful when it wants to be.
I know I shouldn't worry needlessly, but I'm concerned for Martin. If The Court of Owls is responsible for our imprisonment that means they have access to him. Has he mentioned anything or spoken to you about Millie Jane and the things from her diary since last we spoke of it?
Oh, please. My eyes aren't half as pretty as yours. Especially now. I swear, I think the right side of my body is cursed.
P.S. If you teach me French, I'll teach you how to properly speak Hungarian once we're both on the outside.
Chapter 105: Disparate Pathways
That's... wow. Fascinating. You claim that you wouldn't handle it with grace, but you did! Oswald, the things that you've described about your treatment at Arkham are frightfully similar to my own. Not at Arkham, but at home. When I was young.
When I was a kid and my brain was splitting, it really was like a part of me had been erased. At least, until I created the Other as a way of coping and the parts that I thought were gone revealed themselves in that personality.
My father had beaten and traumatized me to the point of breaking my brain like a piece of ceramic. All of my emotions got sorted into two boxes. The side of me that I projected most often was quiet, awkward, and naive to the point of getting his nose broken for not understanding social boundaries. It was the safer personality. The other one was always angry and incapable of keeping his mouth shut. I assume you can guess which one was which.
It's interesting to read how our experience differs. Like disparate pathways. My mind went down one (or rather two) and yours went down the other.
If I'm correct in my assessment all of your negative memories and emotions were locked away while the more docile and sentimental of you was the dominate personality. When you learned what happened to your father, your angrier personality came forward. Thankfully, that seems to have been temporary. You're right about Fate being merciful.
It actually explains a lot, if I'm honest. When you were Mayor, you'd have these moments where you seemed to slip into the... well, I suppose the best word would be softer personality. It usually came out when you were tired. At the risk of exposing memories that you may not even have, it was that side of you that would curl up beside me in my room. I had a hunch that it was that part of you that was still recovering. Not that I minded.
That addlepated dolt, Hugo Strange, couldn't have been more wrong. How could he justify targeting your mother's memory? Me I could understand. My memories of my mother weren't always the best and they arguably directly link to my feelings about Kristen which was why I was in Arkham in the first place. But why you?
I feel the need to list all of my favorite qualities about you. Your right side is just as flattering as your left. Scars, imagined curses, and all. You're cunning and a hell of a sight braver than I am. Brilliant, tenacious, well-read, powerful... You're also an arrogant ass who somehow always manages to turn any situation into a beneficial one. Even Blackgate can't contain you.
Martin and I are lucky to have you.
Speaking of which, I still get visits from him and we talk about the things he's read. Lark is apparently teaching him archery which Martin says is new and exciting. I asked if he was still having nightmares. He told me they were less like nightmares and more like out-of-body experiences. Millie Jane walks with him through the manor and talks to him about mundane things. I'm guessing it's just a simple case of having an imaginary friend. I doubt it's anything we should worry about. Have we put Olga and Lark in contact with Harleen Quinzell?
The Court of Owls does have me worried. Jervis stole a newspaper for me the other day. Mayor Hady has elected to ignore all of the evidence that supports more than one arsonist. He's instead put a bounty out on Elizabeth Chang and plans to wipe his hands clean of the problem once she's captured. Come to think of it, if the Court is involving themselves in Gotham's affairs, do you think they've already made contact with Hady? I mean... it would sure be a shame if he ended up in a room full of fear toxin and was forced to talk. What do you think he'd be more scared of: The Court of Owls or having his bank accounts drained of their assets?
Things to ponder.
P.S. Sounds like we have a deal, mon amour.
Chapter 106: She Was a Bleeding Heart
I never thought about any of it like that. I'm... not entirely certain how that makes me feel. On the one hand, I at least have some kind of rational explanation for the more dreadful aspects of myself during that time. It makes an alarming amount of sense. While on the other I feel the need to simultaneously torture Professor Strange and hold you.
To think that you had to endure abuse like you did to cause that level of disassociation... I'm glad my re-telling didn't upset you as badly as I feared. I also don't remember crawling into bed with you. When was that? I assume I had been drinking. If I said anything embarrassing, I'd rather not know of it.
My mother was my motivation for everything. She barely spoke English when she first came here and had issues finding work. Growing up, she worked several jobs just so we didn't go hungry. And we still did most nights. She was always so tired.
To make matters worse, she was a bleeding heart. Anytime she saw someone on the streets hungry and alone, she would offer them food or give them the money in her purse. Often times only keeping enough to take care of me while she went days surviving on nothing but scraps. I swear, I think the homeless man that lived in the hallway of our apartment complex ate better than she did.
One day, someone took advantage of her hospitality. They hurt her. She came home with bruises and a broken wrist and I couldn't stand for it. I was only seventeen and had no prior work experience but I wandered all around Gotham looking for work. That was when I met Fish. I hadn't even been working there a week and Fish gave me enough of an advance to take my mother to the doctor and pay all of our bills. My mother didn't have to work another day in her life after that. She finally had time to listen to her records, rest, and read all of those romance novels that had been collecting dust on our shelves. I had never seen her so relaxed... but she still cried at night.
To this day, I don't know why. I don't know if it was just because she missed my father or if there was something else. She once told me that she was proud but that she hated that she couldn't do the same for me. She loathed seeing me come home tired or upset or reeking of gunpowder. Our roles had reversed and I fear I might have made her feel like a failure.
Hearing her cry at night motivated me to never settle for anything less. I needed the security that being the King of Gotham would grant me. As odd as that sounds.
I unwillingly divulged a lot of this to Strange and so he thought it necessary to remove her from my mind as best he could so that I would feel less compelled to travel down that road again. But I'm a selfish blight on Gotham and so that didn't last.
Miss Quinzell is now on my payroll. I had Lark and Dent both reach out to her. She seems quite excited to get to know Martin. I'm hopeful it will be a good fit for the both of them.
We need to gather our resources and get to Chang before the bounty hunters or Mayor Hady do. Maybe we can ask Jim? Seems counterproductive, I know. But he has experience and he also knows about the Court. He's also more likely to believe us when we tell him we suspect Hugo Strange put a chip in her brain. Didn't you say that there was information on that chip they pulled from you? Voice recordings, even? It might be the evidence we need. Hell, there might even be something that could link to her involvement in our incarceration.
Definitely things to ponder, my dearest.
Make no mistake, I am absolutely livid. I approached my response from an analytical angle so that I could cope. I'm not doing well, honestly. I want to find Hugo Strange and flay him alive but I'm stuck here. Granted, Arkham probably couldn't really contain me at this point. Not with the alliances I have both in here and outside. I'm only staying so I don't cause any problems on your end. Especially now.
You were stronger than I was and managed to keep yourself from splitting too severely. I can't help but admire you for that. Even if you coped in a way that was abnormally violent- even by your standards. I personally didn't think much of it. Those people were terrible to you and they ripped your family away. You had repressed anger to work through and you did it in a way that is typical for men like us. Though, I acknowledge that the way you acted upset you at the time.
I remember how you reacted when I asked about the bust in the library. I was delighted to find out that it was the severed head of your step-mother. Thank you again for allowing me to practice cranial articulation. I've always wanted to build an exploded skull!
You crawled into bed with me a few times. Did you know you sleepwalk? At least you did during that time. I know you said you found your father sleepwalking some nights. I just wasn't sure if you knew that you did as well.
You never said anything embarrassing, don't worry. But you were mumbling about needing to find some old book and wanting to lift a curse. They must have been pretty intense dreams. You would go on and on about needing to free the souls trapped in that house. I tried guiding you to your room but you would eventually wander back down the hall towards my room and curl up with me. I didn't mind it. I honestly enjoyed the closeness. Especially after Arkham.
At some point in the night, you would drift back into your room or I would find you on the couch in the library.
I have faith in Miss Quinzel. I just hope that it helps Martin and doesn't just give him a complex... Sorry. Maybe I'm just projecting my own problems on him.
I may have a plan for finding our fugitive former Mayor. And it in no way shape or form involves that cretin Jim Gordon. He's part of the reason we're in jail in the first place! And he's made zero effort to get us another visitation. It's been a year since I've seen you. How could you even think to ask him?
Jonathon has enough experience with anatomy and biology that he could probably retrieve the chip without damaging it. Jervis also wants to know if she is still susceptible to suggestion while not being in control of their own mind. If so, then we may have a weapon against the Court.
Do you think it's possible that they're hiding in the tunnels under the city? It would explain why no one has found her.
For anyone interested in what "Beauchene Skull" or "Exploded Skull" specimens look like, here ya go.
Also, pretty soon we're gonna get into the weirder parts of the plot! Which is honestly super exciting. I've been dying to get to this point since....like... chapter 2 of TDOMJVD.
You were a child. Strength had nothing to do with it. The torture I endured lasted months while your entire childhood was stolen from you. The fact that you are as well-adjusted and brilliant as you are is a testament to your own strength. I understand that our situations bare a resemblance, but you shouldn't equate the two.
I know Arkham is the last place you want to be and I appreciate your willingness to stay where you are. Getting me out of Blackgate through the proper legal channels will be better for us in the long run. I've thought about escaping. It wouldn't be difficult. The guards practically leave me to my own devices at this point and I could probably just walk out the back door. But I can't. If I escaped, where would that leave us? Our son would have a fugitive for a father and you know as well as I do that Jim is a nuisance. We would have to leave Gotham. I don't want that. I want Martin to have the stability neither of us had growing up. He deserves that.
I wasn't aware that I sleepwalk. I also have no recollection of the dreams I had. Though, my father did ask me if I had any weird experiences at the house. He seemed particularly interested in the ghost stories he'd heard growing up. Something about cursed soil and misdeeds in our family history. He avoided the specifics. Maybe some of that lingered in my mind after his passing. I hope my behavior didn't cause you any undue stress or frustration.
Mrs. Gordon tells me that there are rumors about a community of people living in the old sewers in the Narrows. Her spies say they are being led by someone calling themselves Blackfire. Some kind of religious nut. He doesn't seem to have any connection to the Court nearest we can tell. But those tunnels span the entirety of Gotham. We can't afford to make assumptions.
Your Soulmate- In spite of distance,
Deacon Blackfire joins the story (eep.)
You are insufferable sometimes, you know that?
Would leaving Gotham really be so bad? We have more than enough money. We could go anywhere! We could visit Hungary. Martin tells me he's interested in seeing Rome. I just want to be away from the smog. Why not leave? We're suffocating in Gotham. Don't you want Martin to be raised in a better city? Someplace where our enemies aren't waiting for us to slip up? Honestly, do you want him to get kidnapped again? It's inevitable if we stay here.
You say you want him to have stability but you're just being selfish. You are the one afraid of change. You're the one unwilling to leave. We're only staying because we love you but you are making it very difficult.
Living through all of that made me into the man I am now. It made me stronger. All of the other kids my age could barely cope with a skinned knee while I went to P.E. class with broken ribs and endured.
I'm proud of the person I am. Damn proud of the things we've accomplished. Absolutely bursting at the seams with pride for Martin! He's discovered and mapped out tunnels that have been buried for hundreds of years. He did that. Did you know that he's taught himself ciphers and translated entire books? He's doing all of this so he can run aspects of the criminal underworld with a level of stealth we've not accomplished yet. And he's only eleven! Imagine how he'll be years from now.
Maybe Martin can get us information on Blackfire? I'm not saying he has to go down there himself. He can provide a map for us to send our men down there to see if the underground community in the Narrows has anything to do with the Court. He could even lead that mission. It would be good experience for him. Lark can accompany him in case they run into trouble.
Your Soulmate- in spite of irritation,
Y'all hear a train whistle?... No? Just me?
Chapter 110: I Want Him to Be Safe
Don't say such nonsense ever again. You were a child. You weren't supposed to be strong. You were supposed to be safe! I want Martin to learn how to take care of himself and navigate the underworld as much as you do, but I want him to be safe more than I want that.
If Chang and the Court are hiding in those tunnels, I don't want Martin there. I know you want him to have his freedom and he enjoys exploring them, but it needs to stop. We're putting too much pressure on him and I don't want it to affect him. Weren't you the one who said you wanted him to enjoy being a kid a little longer? He should be out playing with children his own age. Not cooped up in my office at the Lounge dealing with arms smuggling and God knows what else.
Our son isn't some pet project, Edward. Stop treating him like he is.
Chapter 111: I Won't Let You Stifle That
Let me cope with it in my own way. Accepting this part of myself and justifying it in this way is how I've always gotten by. If I don't then my relationship with that other side of me is antagonistic at best.
Don't be a hypocrite, Os. You know as well as I do that Gotham poisons people. Keeping Martin locked away in that house and begging him to twiddle his thumbs and wait is no better than poisoning him yourself. If you want us to stay here, you need to accept that as his fate too. Let him embrace that darkness just as we did and allow him to be stronger because of it. I won't let you stifle that.
He's doing all of this for you. He thinks that understanding Gotham will help him understand you better. Do you really want to take that away from him?
Chapter 112: What Has Gotten Into You?
There is absolutely no justification for it! None of it. If Martin got hurt, would you see the justification in it?
Your little guilt trip won't work! I am not making Martin sit around and do nothing. He has full access to our resources through Olga and Lark and he's even allowed to run the Iceberg Lounge! I'm not keeping him from embracing the family business I just want him to approach it in a way that isn't going to traumatize him more than he already is. The fact that Gotham is a miasma of terribleness is precisely why we have put the safeguards in place to keep him safe. Or maybe you've forgotten that?
I'm not taking anything away from him. I'm doing what I can to keep him from being taken away from us. By the law or by tragedy.
Really, Ed. What has gotten into you?
Chapter 113: My Mind is Splitting
You're holding him too close. You're coddling him and restricting him just like your mother did with you. All you're doing is giving him the illusion of control to satisfy your own selfishness.
I'm going absolutely stir-crazy in this godforsaken place! My mind is splitting and I'm hallucinating. Because I'm not sleeping and I keep talking to myself they have me on a hundred different medications and all they do is prevent me from thinking clearly. I keep forgetting things! Mid-sentence! That doesn't happen to me!
All I want to do is bash my head into the wall just to make the noise stop. The ONLY reason I haven't caved in my skull is because of you and Martin.
I can't stay here much longer.
Don't you dare talk about my mother that way! She was a saint and only wanted to protect me. That's all I want for him. That's all I want for you! I want the two of you to be safe. This is the best thing for us when so much of our lives are out of our control.
Put your faith in something other than Fate for once. Learn to rely on me and less on that big dumb brain of yours. You once said that you believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. Well, this is the first time in a long time that I feel like I am doing the right thing! Don't ruin this for us with your pettiness.
Just take a breath. Okay? I love you too much to argue with you.
Promise the letters will go back to being longer once they're done with their argument XD
That's the real reason I'm still trapped in Arkham, isn't it? So that you know where I am? So that you can control me? Have you learned nothing from our betrayals? You're acting just like you did when you were Mayor. Keeping me just one peg below you at all times so you can manipulate me. I thought we were equals, Oswald.
I may be high or I may be low. A Magician's conclusion or a rank bestowed. What am I?
Any guesses on the riddle?
If I have done something to upset you, I apologize. I promise you that I am not asking you to stay where you are because I want to control you. How could you even say that? I think I have more than proven myself to you that I am not the man I once was. It has taken me an embarrassingly long time to get to this point and I admit that I am far from perfect, but in no way am I trying to manipulate you or hurt you. I don't know how to convince you when all we have is words on paper.
I need you to take some time for yourself and think about this logically. I can't believe I even have to remind you to do that! This is what we planned. We had this conversation long before we were ever imprisoned and you and I both came to the conclusion that this was best for us and for Martin. If that has changed, then we need to assess the pros and cons before just throwing all of this away!
When you've finally pulled your head out of your ass, we need to work together on finding Elizabeth Chang. Especially now that Martin is expected to attend the Founder's Dinner. He has told you, hasn't he? With your behavior being as atrocious as it is currently, I wouldn't be surprised if you've been denied visitations.
I may be high or I may be low. A Magician's conclusion or a rank bestowed. What am I?
The answer is “Prestige.” It has a double meaning here and can either be Ed referencing his own renown and reputation as a villain or the reveal of a trick (i.e. a disappearing act...)
Chapter 117: Locked in These Cages
I didn't know he was invited to the Founder's Dinner. How very interesting. Are you going to deny him that too?
Being locked in these cages does neither of us any good. Arguing also does us no good. You're right. We should think about this logically. And logically I think it makes more sense if one of us is on the outside.
I'm at less of a risk of exposing us in my position. Jervis and I have already been talking about how to take advantage of our situations. Outmaneuvering Warden Sharp has been a delight!
Did you know they've opened a new French resteraunt across the street from the Lounge? Their wine selection is impressive but the brioche was stale. It's almost comical how they think they can compete with our own menu.
How's the gruel at Blackgate treating you?
Chapter 118: Don't Wander Too Far
I'm not denying him anything, you ass. He has more freedom than a boy his age ought to have. I made my concerns known to him and described my own experiences at the Founder's Dinner but he's persistent. I just hope he's going for the right reasons. I still feel like there is a part of him that he thinks needs to impress us. I'd hate for him to follow down your line of thinking and get himself caught up in something he can't get out of.
Make sure you don't wander too far. Jim has been visiting more frequently to ask about Sofia Falcone. I laughed and asked him how I would know anything but he didn't seem all that amused. I would hate for him to pay you a visit only to uncover everything.
P.S. I found the origami penguin in my cell this morning...
Chapter 119: Under Control
Don't worry your pretty, feathered head. We've memorized the faces of the officers who do the weekly inspections and have the guards all under our thumbs. They run this operation like clockwork and it wasn't hard to figure out how best to take advantage. They think they have everything under control. It's almost pitiful. And, admittedly, kinda boring.
Funny enough, Jim seems rather resilient when it comes to Hatter's tricks. He's quick to shake off any tampering and can see through the illusion. His willpower is impressive. However, he's still blissfully unaware of just how far our influence has spread across Arkham. We've been extra careful whenever ol' Jimbo is around.
It's almost endearing how incapable he is of just being commissioner. He's still out there doing all of the grunt work and making our lives harder. He at least keeps Gotham entertaining.
P.S. I could bring you more than just some folded paper, you know? I could even wrap myself up if you wanted! You only need to ask.
Chapter 120: Silent Treatment
I haven't heard from you in a few weeks. You aren't giving me the silent treatment, are you?
...Is this because I broke into Blackgate? I just really wanted to see you. Can you blame me? I miss you and I'm going insane in here. I needed air. I needed you.
How's Martin? I got so caught up in playing my own game that I lost track of what day it was and missed visiting him altogether. I thought about risking going outside to see him but I don't want him to be confused if I'm suddenly no longer in Arkham but then have to go back and leave him again.
You don't have to remind me that I'm a disappointment in that regard. I've already done a thorough job of that myself.
Last time I did see him, I was helping him with a smuggling mission down by the docks. With his knowledge of the tunnels and guidance from us, Lark, and Yuri, he's got a lot to work with. He even has some of your employees from the Lounge working for him. And the GCPD is so ill-equipped to deal with him! He has your keen sense of intuition and can think several steps ahead which ensures he always has the upper hand. I'm so proud of him. I just wish I hadn't screwed up and could actually tell him.
Please, talk to me.
Chapter 121: I'll Say Something That I'll Regret
What am I supposed to say to you? I'm not impressed by your foolish antics. Nor am I impressed by the fact that you forgot about your visitation with Martin. Do you have any idea how upset and confused he was? He's worried sick about you. I'm glad you've beaten yourself up about it because I'm too angry to do it myself. I'm afraid I'll say something that I'll regret.
I have the Kabuki Sisters acting as additional security at the Lounge. They're not the best scouts but they are efficient assassins when I need them. Olga has been using them as backup along with her nephew. Lark, of course, is acting as sentinel.
I'm still worried that it may not be enough. I know you don't want me smothering him but the Gotham that we knew has changed. Surely you've seen that? No Man's Land scarred the face of our City and I barely recognize her. The villains and criminals all have deranged motivations, not unlike the Valeska's. Sofia Falcone seems to have been one of the last remaining ghosts of the old Gotham. It's difficult maintaining some semblance of order through the chaos right now with everything like it is.
How about to make yourself useful and finally solve that case you and Mister Fox have been working on? That is if you are quite done wasting your meetings with your bothersome flirting. Maybe then we can work on actually cleaning up this mess since Jim seems to be so incapable of doing so on his own.
Chapter 122: I Promise I'll Make Up For It
Of COURSE you're supposed to be impressed! I'm able to slink in and out of Arkham unnoticed. And I did not forget about Martin. I just lost track of time. It was an honest mistake... I promise I'll make up for it in due time. To both of you.
I agree that Gotham is changed. Hanging out with Scarecrow and Hatter has shown me that much. The fact that they are arguably the more sane of Gotham's villains is enough to highlight that fact. All the more reason to have me on the outside. I have no issues blending in with the more flamboyant of Gotham's underground.
Do you have any idea how frustrating this arsonist case has been? If I had access to all of the files and I could do my own crime scene analysis, I would have already solved it. Foxy may be the second smartest man in Gotham, but even he's at a loss on this case. I can tell you that ever since I've been going out on my own that we've made some progress. You're welcome, by the way. It's because of me that the Narrows aren't completely burned down. I know how much your alliance with Lee means to you. Or is that just you trying to impress Jim?
You may wear me as a crown or display me on your shield. In valleys, ponds, and sun my blossoms do yield. What am I?
Chapter 123: The Least You Could Do Is Say Hello
What happens when you get caught? You're an arrogant ass. We have more important things to focus on. Like the fact that our son is going straight into the lion's den tomorrow. Or did you forget about that too?
While you've been swept away by your own hubris, I've been ensuring Martin has everything he could possibly need for this dinner! Can you believe that they expect him to attend on his own? He's a literal child and isn't allowed to bring a chaperone. The nerve of these people. The Silverlocks are going to hear from me once I'm on the outside. Or they won't see me coming. I haven't decided which.
Yes, you and your glittery suit certainly blend in. You could probably be seen from space in that getup. Honestly. You can have all of the fun you want with the rabble of Gotham. I will enjoy my empire from the safety of my office at the Lounge, thank you very much.
I'm not even going to dignify your goading with an actual response. I want you to sulk.
The Goddamn Penguin
P.S. Thank you for the lilies... If you're going to keep sneaking into my cell to bring me gifts, the least you could do is say hello to me.