Oswald bit his lip to stop the giggle from escaping. It would have been his third episode of random laughter since sitting down to breakfast and Gabe was probably starting to worry. Still, even as he managed to keep his giddiness from becoming audible, he was aware that he must be grinning down at his eggs like the lunatic some people believed him to be. He could not help it.
The mafia king of Gotham managed a few more bites of his meal before his eyes caught once more on the golden band encircling his finger. His smile grew wide again and he found himself petting the ring like he was that disgusting grey creature from the Tolkien novels. This cheap piece of gold-painted costume jewelry was his wedding ring. Last night he had gotten married.
Last night James Gordon had married him.
It happened in a tacky 24 hour chapel with worn out pink carpets and ripped wallpaper. The lighting had been harsh and clinical at best, although it flickered and dimmed at random intervals. It had not been anything like where Oswald had imagined he would get married, years ago when he had still entertained the possibility that somebody might love him some day. However, when the universe gave you an opportunity to wed the object of your hopeless affections you did not turn it down because the room smelled odd.
“Boss?” One of Oswald’s men had arrived with a small stack of papers. Oswald waved him over and nodded for him to put them down on the table.
The first thing Oswald had done that morning, after he managed to tear his eyes away from Jim’s peacefully sleeping face on the pillow next to him, was send for annulment papers. Because of course this wasn’t going to last. Jim was engaged to Dr. Thompkins, and would never really want Oswald even if he weren’t. He was not sure what had gotten into Jim last night, besides a great deal of alcohol, but he knew he would be eager to erase the evidence of his lapse in judgment.
That thought made Oswald frown bitterly for a moment, but he pushed the negative feelings down as best he could. Nothing had really changed since the day before, and yesterday he had long since made peace with Jim’s misplaced resentment of him. It only made sense that this would stir up some of the melancholy he had felt when he first realized Jim could never even like him as a friend, but he would just have to focus on the positives:
He was Jim Gordon’s legally wedded husband and, so long as he wanted their marriage annulled before anybody found out about it, Oswald owned him.
He would give Jim the annulment, of course, he wasn’t going to force the other man to stay married to him. He wouldn’t even ask Jim to do anything that offended his sense of morality in exchange (although that may be fun to play at). They were going to have a conversation, though, and Oswald did not intend it to be an easy one. For Jim.
Oswald's rather inconvenient feelings regarding Detective Gordon had left him at a disadvantage in their previous dealings. That ended today. Knowledge was power and by the time he was done chatting with Jim Oswald was going to have more than enough information to even things out.
The key to marriage was open communication, after all.
Gabe gave his boss a slightly concerned glance as he burst out giggling again, then went back to reading his paper.
Hazy images swam before Jim’s eyes, none of them complete pictures.
There was Lee’s smile, accompanied by the word ‘yes’ and a growing feeling of dread where there should have been joy.
Then there was Harvey’s hand clapping him on the shoulder…
“So much for living vicariously through you after I’m hitched! It’s off to suburbia for both of us, eh Jimbo?”
There were Christmas lights, fireworks, and a happy light in Lee’s eyes that all seemed to blur into an overwhelming brightness that threatened to erase every shadow in Jim’s world. The holidays had been hard. They should have been this perfect beginning to Jim’s life with Leslie and on the surface they had been, but Jim had still fled.
He could see himself from the outside as he ran from that brightness, ran to a place where people’s faces were bathed in shadow. It had been loud there, too loud to hear himself think. He had liked that.
There had been a glass in front of him filled to the brim with amber liquid, and then it was empty, and then full again. It should have drowned that irrationally growing dread, that feeling of being cornered, but instead of fading away all the thoughts and feelings he was trying to push aside just became louder and louder until the noise of the dive bar wasn’t enough to block them out anymore.
Then, suddenly, somebody was with him. Oswald was the only figure in the swirling dreamscape that was completely in focus. He was the only thing that was real. He had touched Jim’s arm, a worried frown tugging at his mouth, and his touch had banished everything else. Lee, the baby, his life ceasing to be his own – it was all far off and blurry. Oswald was right there, where he always was and always would be. No amount of brightness would erase this blotch of darkness from his life. This would always be his.
Jim saw the look of bafflement spread across Oswald’s face as Jim leaned against him, draped an arm over his shoulders, and ordered drinks for both of them. He saw the scrunch of his nose as he forced down the cheap swill, and then the snobbish upturn of his chin as he explained the merits of the next – more expensive – round that he ordered for them himself.
Jim’s arm had never strayed far from Oswald’s shoulders, and at some point Oswald’s hand found the small of his back. Initially Jim had only leaned more heavily against Oswald and started gently stroking the back of his neck with his thumb. Any trace of hesitance in Oswald’s expression had vanished and he’d started looking at Jim with that adoring expression that had disappeared months ago. Jim hadn’t even known he’d missed it….
They talked and laughed about nothing for a while longer. Jim had no idea for how long. Then, Oswald’s hand had traveled lower and Jim had wanted –
A glimmer of rationality had broken through into Jim and Oswald’s private bubble. Jim could not want anything with Penguin. He had to leave.
He had gotten all of two steps before he stumbled, the alcohol making him unstable. He found himself on his hands and knees on the sticky barroom floor. Soon there were pale hands gripping his shoulders, attempting to help him to his feet. Jim resisted, feeling that if he tried to stand he would just fall again. He did, however, look up into Oswald’s face. His pale green eyes were filled with worry, and hurt.
Everything was suddenly so obvious. Oswald had taken care of him again, like he had always tried to do. He had shown up and saved Jim from his own troubled thoughts. And, just like Jim always did after Oswald helped him, he had pushed him aside so he wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking they were close. But they were. Or, they should be. Because Oswald’s eyes before Jim had tried to leave had been so beautiful and now they looked pained, and Jim had done that, but Oswald was still right there trying to help him up.
Jim started trying to stand but only managed to get into a kneeling position before his head started swimming and he had to pause, down on one knee in front of Oswald. He had not done this when he proposed to Lee. He had with Barbara.
The man he had been had honestly loved the woman she had been and had wanted to spend the rest of his life making her happy. Not because it was the right thing to do, not because of a baby, but because feeling like he had made her happy was better than making himself happy. There had been a time when the best thing he could do for his own soul was to attempt to listen while that vibrant blonde force of nature tried to teach him about art. It had not been obligation, it had been what he wanted. It had been everything he wanted, until it wasn’t. Jim wondered how he had lost that feeling, and how he was willing to settle for something less now.
He cared about Lee - he wasn’t only with her because of the baby - but it wasn’t like with Barbara. Being true to her did not feel like being true to himself, no matter how much literal honesty there was between them. Telling her about things he had done would never make her understand them in any sense besides the clinical. Oswald did. Jim wasn’t sure how he even knew this since it wasn’t like they had talked about it, but Oswald knew Jim. He knew him, and he accepted him, and Jim had never appreciated that before.
Why was he settling for less than what he’d had with Barbara when there was something even more intense already in his life? What would it be like to stop holding Oswald at a safe distance?
In that moment, knelt on the ground and staring up into Oswald’s eyes, Jim allowed himself to think for the first time that Oswald had been good to him and that he would like to reciprocate that. Maybe being true to Oswald would feel like being true to himself. After all, had he not been thinking earlier that Oswald was going to be that permanent shadow in his life? They were going to spend their lives together.
“Jim?” Oswald was reaching for him again, trying to help him stand. Jim caught his hand.
“Will you marry me?”
Jim’s eyes snapped open and he was immediately wide awake. He barely had enough time to think that that had been a strange dream before the pounding of his hangover took over and he was burying his head under his pillow. No, not his pillow. His pillow was lumpy and had no case. This wasn’t his bed…
Well, of course it wasn’t. He had already sold his apartment and moved in with Lee while they shopped around for a place to live after they were married. That explained the puffiness of the pillow. Not the fact that both the pillowcase and the sheets were black and silken, though...Oh. Oh no.
Jim scrambled into a sitting position and winced as he inspected his hand. That was definitely a wedding ring. In his drunken stupor he had actually thought it was a good idea to get married to a criminal – to the king of Gotham’s criminals. What had possessed him to do that? He could feel the answer there, waiting off in a corner of his mind, but as it started to come to him Jim shook his head and forced himself to stand up. The important thing right now was to find a way to handle the situation.
He was in his boxers and undershirt, which was a relief. He was fairly sure he would remember it if this mistake had been consummated, but it was good to be sure. Jim suppressed his hangover by focusing on finding his remaining clothes and putting them on. Somebody had folded them and placed them, along with his gun and cellphone, neatly on a bench at the end of the bed.
At the end of Oswald Cobblepot’s bed where they had spent their wedding night.
That thought, combined with his hangover, sent Jim running for Cobblepot’s ensuite.
Oswald was just finishing up his breakfast and considering starting on the paper when a very clearly hungover Jim Gordon stormed into his dining room. He was attempting to glare – of course he blamed Oswald for all this – but the effect was rather ruined by his mussed hair and inside-out shirt. He also had a rather…green… look to him. Oswald had a pounding headache himself, but he was mostly managing to ignore it being that there were so many more delightful things to think about this morning.
“Jim! Good morning, my dear friend. I didn’t expect you up this early so I already ate, but I’m sure Andre will be happy to –“
“No, I…No.” Jim shook his head. He still looked like he wanted to start yelling at Oswald, but he was clearly having trouble finding the right words. He must remember that this had all been his idea.
To what extent did he remember that, though? Jim had been the one to propose, and the one to insist they go to the chapel (although he had said 'yes', Oswald had initially planned to just have Gabe drop Jim off at his apartment), and the one who had pushed for them to consummate their union. There had even been the breathy use of the word ‘please’. Oswald had resisted, somehow, because he had started to sober up by then and Jim was still so far gone.
In any case, he was fairly sure Jim wouldn’t be looking him in the eye if he remembered that last part.
Jim opened his mouth as if he had found those outraged words he had been looking for, but when he took a step forward to deliver them he stumbled slightly and had to brace himself on the back of a dining chair. Then, he seemed to need a moment to fight off his nausea.
“Perhaps some coffee would help?” Oswald gestured for a cup to be brought out without waiting for Jim’s response. He genuinely did not like seeing Jim in this much discomfort, but he had learnt by now that fully expressing those kinds of feelings to the other man could only make him recoil (with the previous night as a shining exception). So, although he spoke the words he wanted to, Oswald was careful not to sound like he cared as much as he did. “You really should sit, Jim. We have much to discuss, but it can wait until you are feeling more yourself.”
Jim sat down heavily in the chair he had been leaning on, at the far end of the table from Oswald. It was probably more out of necessity than because Oswald had invited him to. He wondered how badly it stung Jim that he could not hide the state he was in. It would have made Oswald furious, were their places reversed, and he knew Jim liked to pretend he was super human.
When Oswald’s man brought Jim his coffee he accepted it and took a sip. Oswald had half expected him to ignore it completely.
While Jim focused on his coffee, Oswald waved Gabe and the other man away. Gabe already knew what had happened the night before – he had been their witness – but it would probably be impossible to get Jim talking if there were anybody present besides the two of them.
Jim was starting to regain much of the colour in his face simply from sitting and drinking coffee. Oswald stood and made his way towards a chair at Jim’s end of the table, not wanting to have the discussion he was about to insist upon from so far away.
“Jim, I would appreciate it if you told me what you remember of last night.” Oswald kept his voice calm and even as he took a seat near Jim.
Jim glared at him over the top of his coffee, looking much better than when he had first arrived despite still being quite ruffled. “We got married.” He had the nerve to say it with an accusatory edge.
“That’s the headline, yes. What else?” Oswald had only planned to bring up the wedding and then transition to talking about the annulment and what he wanted to know in exchange (there were a couple classified operations in Jim’s military record that sounded particularly interesting), but the note of accusation in Jim’s tone struck a nerve.
Jim put his coffee down and rested his head on one of his hands, as if it was an effort to remember more. It probably was. “We drank too much and I –“ Jim closed his eyes, probably fighting off a wave of nausea. Oswald couldn’t help the pang in his heart; admitting that he’d proposed to Oswald literally made Jim sick. It could just be a coincidence, of course, but Oswald couldn’t help how it felt. He also couldn’t help being concerned and reaching out for Jim, despite the completely predictable wince it elicited.
“Don’t touch me.” It wasn’t snapped at Oswald so much as grumbled at his table.
“That’s not what you said last night.” Oswald couldn’t resist saying.
Jim was out of his chair and almost out of the room before Oswald had a chance to process it. He stood in the doorway of Oswald’s dining room for a moment as if he were also baffled about how he had gotten there. The panicked look in his eyes told Oswald that he must have remembered how they had ended the night.
Oswald smiled wickedly, winked, and then burst out laughing as Jim practically ran out of his house. It seemed like they would have to talk about the annulment when he came back – as he would have no choice but to do.
And yes, Jim running from him hurt. It was a dull, old, expected kind of hurt, though, and not that hard to ignore when everything was also so amusing.
Jim rushed gracelessly down the stoop of Penguin’s ritzy townhouse, as if escaping the building would also help him escape from the memories that were flooding back. He had not had sex with Cobblepot last night, but he had kissed him. A lot. Very thoroughly. Cobblepot had seemed inexperienced, and so Jim had said something about that. Then the mafia king had felt the need to…assert himself.
Jim remembered the feeling of Cobblepot’s silk sheets against his back as he was pushed down, and the predatory look in his eyes, and how he had found it all very exciting. He had not had sex with Cobblepot, but he had certainly wanted to. He had never actually had sex with a man before, despite coming close a few times when he was younger, but he had felt ready and eager to try. Except, Cobblepot seemed to snap back to partial sobriety right about then. He had rolled off of Jim almost immediately. Jim had been disappointed and so he'd...
He had been kissed soundly and told to go to sleep.
He had begged a criminal – a male criminal who had once had an obvious crush on him – for sex and been denied. Obviously it was a good thing that he was denied, but –
Jim caught sight of the cheap ring that was still on his finger. He ripped it off and tossed it into the street, where it promptly rolled into a storm drain and was lost to the sewer. Throwing the ring away didn’t make him any less married to Oswald Cobblepot, but it did make him feel better for about a second. Shaking his still-pounding head, Jim decided he needed to find something to focus on. A case, or something. It was his day off, but maybe there’d been a murder overnight.
He pulled out his phone to find he had received 28 text messages since last night and his voice mail was maxed out. A lot of the messages would be Lee wondering where he had been the night before and why he hadn’t come home – why hadn’t he just gone home when Penguin had shown up? – but maybe there was also a new case he was being called in for.
The first text message that popped up when he unlocked his phone was from Nygma. That was odd – they had not spoken more than they absolutely had to since Jim found out he was friends with Cobblepot (Harvey was loving that).
What connects two people, but touches only one? Congratulations =)
The answer came quickly to Jim only because he had just tossed it into the gutter; a wedding ring.
He frowned deeply. He had been assuming that Cobblepot would keep their marriage secret so he could use it as leverage. Instead, he had apparently decided to tell his buddy who worked closely with Jim’s fiancé. That didn’t sound like Cobblepot, but what other explanation was there?
The rest of the texts were from Lee, Harvey, and the Captain. As he read the worried, panicked, words yet another memory about the night before came to Jim. A contact of his with the Gotham Gazette had called about a fake classifieds ad they were going to use to bait a suspect. He knew it was late, but he had lost the ad they sent him before he could read it and needed Jim to tell him the wording if he wanted it in print the next morning…
Jim had been very drunk.
Half in denial about what he was remembering, Jim put his phone away and hailed a cab to the precinct. Once there, he got a paper from the nearby newsstand and took a deep breath before flipping to the classifieds section. It was about half way down the page - an announcement for the Gordon-Cobblepot wedding.
Not only had Jim married the King of Gotham’s underworld, he had told the entire city.