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Nature and Nurture

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When Edward slid open the door to his apartment the last person he expected to see was Oswald Cobblepot- certainly not Oswald roughly resembling a newborn chick, covered head to toe in sticky white feathers. Even curiouser than his attire was his seemingly unbothered smile, one that revealed each of his yellowed teeth; the small man had revealed during their previous time together that he disliked his smile, usually keeping his lips pursed tightly when he did. As he ushered his friend inside, he took notice of several more unsettling changes.

What had they done to him during his time in Arkham?

More unsettling still was his utter complacency- It was revealed that his appearance was due to Butch and Tabitha, Edward had been horrified to find Oswald had sought them out after his release. “You’re lucky they didn’t kill you,” he murmured, worry seeping into his voice as the other man continued to smile.

Ed found himself in a bit of a predicament. It was not conducive to his current plans to keep Oswald around in his current state, but it was becoming increasingly clear that the former gangster needed protection from his own naivette. Oswald sat mindlessly on the end of the bed, kicking his feet back and forth absently as his eyes roved the familiar space, addled mind filled with pleasant memories of Edward’s care. “Do you think maybe I could stay with you again for a bit?” he asked pleasantly, looking up at his concerned friend with excitement.

Chewing his lower lip, Ed turned away, wincing slightly as he quickly ran through the pros and cons. Oswald couldn’t be trusted to keep secrets in his current state regardless of his allegiance, but he couldn’t turn him away in good conscience- someone would surely kill him.

“Tell you what…” he began, facing his friend with a faint smile as he met those sparkling blue eyes. “Why don’t you get cleaned up here and go visit your mother’s grave?” He suggest, hoping his friend hadn’t forgotten the tragedy entirely. “I have some matters to attend to now, but… You can come back for dinner if you’d like.”

Oswald nodded, smile wavering slightly as he was reminded of his mother’s untimely death. “Yes, you’re right, I’ve been away so long… Have you been visiting with lilies?” he asked timidly, hoping that Edward had not forgotten his promise.

“Every Sunday,” Edward replied warmly, reaching forward to carefully extract the feathered beanie from his head, careful to keep from pulling his hair out as he plucked stay feathers from the greasy black mess. “I’ll run you a bath,” he murmured, straightening up to discard the ruined accessory in the bin.

Oswald remained where he sat, happily admiring his surroundings as Edward ducked into the bathroom and ran the warm water, resolving to keep the man safe until he found himself again.