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Untying the Gordian Knot

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Edward Nygma was more than satisfied to find out that Oswald Cobblepot had been assigned to a different, renovated sector of the asylum, one that Ed wasn’t familiar with. The memories that Ed had made in his very own sector had almost prevented him from showing the Penguin a visit. Almost.

The interior of this particular room, the one for scheduled visits, made Ed feel unexplainably nervous, though. Maybe it was the bright and artificial lightning, maybe it was the fact that the inmates and visitors were separated by a long glass wall. It made the room appear more like a modern jail, not like the interior of an old asylum for the insane, and that left Ed with mixed feelings.

For one, it was good to see that Oswald wouldn’t manage to physically attack him. On the other hand, not being able to touch the ones you love had to be particularly taunting for some of the inmates. Not that this would be a problem for Oswald, as Ed was certain that there wasn’t any love left that the Penguin had once shown for the Riddler.

Just as Ed was staring at the barrier and reflecting on their past events, the door in front of him opened and an easily recognizable individual limped in his direction, taking a seat. As if they had collectively agreed to do so, they stayed silent and stared at the other for a few seconds, all while the guard that had escorted Oswald was walking up to a corner and keeping an eye on them.

Oswald’s expression especially fascinated Edward. It roughly screamed, “Why the hell are you here?” – to which Ed himself didn’t know the answer to. Why was he here, indeed? He had told Lee that it was out of curiosity, and because seeing his foe looked up might put a smile on his face. And he had told that to himself as well.

But now that Oswald was sitting right in front of him, displaying those bruises on his face and slightly shivering for unknown reasons, Ed wasn’t so sure anymore. He expected Oswald to make a sarcastic comment that would break the ice any minute, about how Ed’s frozen brain probably kept the Riddler from starting an intellectual conversation with him. A similar comment eventually came, but it was accompanied by a haunting grin and showed more personal weakness than Ed had originally expected.

“What? Are you satisfied now, seeing that I’ve suffered from enough injuries in here?”

Ed stayed silent and gulped.

“Oh, I get it. You’re disappointed because you wanted to be the one to do those things to me. Who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky and something of me is going to be left by the time this is going to be over. I personally doubt it.”

“Oswald.”

The other chuckled. “Is your mushy brain struggling to produce something meaningful for you to say? That’s funny, 'cause I heard that you were quite poetic while you were mocking me in that fight club.”

There it was.

Before Edward could feel slightly happy about the fact that there was still some predictability left inside that black and white uniform, Oswald started laughing at his own joke, one that wasn't particularly funny, to begin with. It was quite out of place.

Ed took a short breath. “Schadenfreude, the joy on someone else’s sorrow. I suppose that’s why I originally decided to come here.”

Originally.

As Edward was waiting for some sort of response, Oswald kept laughing, longer than he would have under average circumstances. Then again, being locked up in an asylum wasn’t your day-to-day situation to begin with. Nevertheless, Ed started to feel more uneasy. He had seen Oswald at his rawest moments of insanity but each time, Edward had detected some sense of intention behind Oswald’s actions. This time, however, his friend had become a box of fireworks that had accidentally been set on fire, exploding chaotically and leaving meaningless destruction. It was surprisingly frightening.

“What did they do to you, Oswald?”

He didn't receive a proper reply, just more of that taunting laughing. Stressed, Ed bent forward and slapped his hand against the glass, wishing that he could steal the Penguin like an expensive painting in a museum and leave not a single trace behind.

The guard close to Oswald was walking up to the wall. “Sir, do not touch the glass.”

Ed, however, ignored him and left his hand on the barrier. “Oswald, I’ll be back soon. And I promise that I'm going to help you - I'm...going to bring Alexander The Great’s sword with me and untie that Gordian Knot of yours, I-“

“Sir.”

“Oswald, please.”

As a second guard entered Ed’s side of the area, Oswald’s laugh was finally starting to vanish and Ed could see a glimpse of the Oswald that had given Ed clothes, cookies and puzzles in order to survive this terrible, terrible place. The Oswald that had shown Ed unconditional appreciation and love. And that's when Ed knew that he had to return this old favour that he was lucky enough to receive himself.

For a brief moment, Oswald’s hand reached out to him and touched the glass as well. And both of them suddenly felt the wall between their hands disappearing, as if there wasn’t anything truly separating them. Nothing that could really stop them. Glass can be broken and knots can be cut into pieces, Ed though as the guard was forcefully escorting him outside. You just have to find the right tools for the job.