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Just Hold On

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Oswald had thought about all the ways he could die. Not in a morbid way, but in this line of business, death was a more imminent risk than someone who worked as say….an accountant. Although with Gotham the way it is, accountants probably don’t have that large of a life expectancy either. If he had the energy to laugh in that moment he would have, but instead he watched the thick red pool of blood grow larger and wondered how much more he had left.

“The average adult body has between four and half to five and a half liters of blood in their body”
Even when he was dying alone in the middle of a shoot-out, he still couldn’t escape Ed’s annoying little fun facts.
If he weren’t so tired he might have told brain-Ed to shut up.
“Him and that dumb green suit…Remind me again why I fell in love with you?”
“…Wait”

“OSWALD!”
Patches of black mixed with a blur of green growing closer, spinning around his head as his eyelids grew heavy. As much as he wanted to believe that Ed had come for him, his knight in neon green armor, he knew all too well where his hopes had gotten him before. Then again, considering all the blood he had already lost, it seemed stupid to not grant himself this one pleasure- after all, what harm would it do to give into this fantasy and just allow himself to be happy in these final moments? He deserved that.

An expectant look on Ed’s face told him he missed hearing a question or one of his usual rants. He wondered if Ed had always had this worried look to him…Downturned eyes, furrowed brows, slightly parted lips- he had always been the most attractive when deep in thought. Yes, his constant yapping and riddles could be annoying at times, but he could never find it in himself to feel anything but love for Ed. Even when he was angry with him, betrayed by the one person he trusted, it all still came from a place of love. That was Oswald’s one weakness- once he allowed himself to fully feel an emotion, it was no longer in his control. The one thing he never let himself feel though was regret. Sure, many things hadn’t gone according to plan in his life; and in hindsight killing the woman Ed was supposedly in love with wasn’t his best move, but there was no sense in lingering in the past. Even his confession of love to Ed, which nearly broke up the only true friendship he ever had, was not something he saw in a regretful light. The only thing he wished was to once, just once, hear him say it back.

“Before I die…tell me you love me….Please, I-I don’t care if its a lie. Just grant me this one thing Ed”

“No”

Oswald recoiled back as if he had been slapped. Did Ed really hate him that much? Did he really hate himself so much that he would make the imaginary Ed that he conjured up in his head reject him on his deathbed? He wasn’t quite sure if he said something or made some facial expression to respond, but Ed was suddenly closer, his mouth moving faster than Oswald could read his lips. There was an urgency in the air, overpowering any thoughts or lingering looks he may have had. He tried to focus, tried to stay awake, tried to figure out what it was Ed was saying to him, tried to focus on the darkness of his eyes, but he found himself rapidly descending into unconsciousness with no anchor in sight. Perhaps the infamous Penguin had finally found a situation from which he could not escape.

-

“No”

He hadn’t meant for the word to come so bluntly out of his mouth, but for the moment he didn’t quite care. Before today, Ed would’ve had to think long and hard about the most afraid he had been in his life. Not to say he hadn’t experienced his fair share of fear, it was just that one experience never stood out among the rest. But the moment he saw Oswald soaked in blood, splayed out motionlessly on the concrete floor he knew. No moment, so string of words, no cry of pain would ever make his blood run cold like seeing Oswald like that, not knowing whether he was alive or dead.

“OSWALD!’
He scrambled to Oswald’s side, not minding or caring about the spray of bullets that followed.

“Oh god, okay just breathe. Where are you hit? How bad? Let me see it.” He didn’t wait for a response, lifting up Oswald’s shirt to reveal mangled flesh mixing in with what appeared to be internal organs. With so much blood combined with the chaos of an ongoing shoot-out, Oswald’s chances of survival were thin, and growing smaller by the second.

And then the question came that nearly knocked the breath out of his lungs.

“Before I die…tell me you love me….Please, I-I don’t care if its a lie. Just grant me this one thing Ed”

He wanted nothing more that to let everything go right then and there- tell Oswald he loved him, kiss him and beg for forgiveness, but more than anything he needed him to survive.

“No”

No, you’re not going to die. No, I would never lie to you again. No…I do

It was only after several seconds of no response that Ed took notice of the wild look in Oswald’s eyes- the way his gaze groggily shifted back and forth as his lower lip quivered-and for the first time since meeting him, he thought he saw genuine fear in his friend’s eyes as they began to shut.

A loud explosion across the warehouse momentarily caught Ed’s attention before returning to Oswald with a newfound stubbornness. He absentmindedly brought his hand to lightly stroke Oswald’s cheek.

“I know I’ve betrayed your trust in the past, and you have no reason to forgive me- or trust me for that matter, but we have to go now, so just…hold on”

Gunshots echoed louder throughout the building as Ed looped his arms under Oswald’s knees and head, swiftly lifting him off the ground with a strength he wasn’t sure he would have otherwise. Adrenaline and the fear of losing the only person who has ever loved you will make you do a lot of crazy things he reasoned later.

He would’ve done anything for Oswald. In typical Ed fashion, he found this fact out well after the rest of the world did. He could have kicked himself for not realizing earlier, the way he felt around Oswald made him dizzy in a way he craved like a natural high. For him, the sun wasn’t a star burning in the sky, 92 million miles away….No, for him, the sun which his life revolved around was the short raven-haired man whom he had met all those years ago at the GCPD…Whose eyes glistened with a mysterious cunningness that Ed longed for. He had tried so hard not to love him, believing it made him weak. The way he felt about Oswald was something he had never felt for another human being- something he never felt for a woman. The thought alone was once enough to fill him stiff with fear, but now all he could think about was the soft rhythm of Oz’s heart, weakly beating against his chest as the sounds of war faded into the distance. He grimaced, taking notice of the paleness of his skin as he laid limp in Ed’s arms. He pushed back whatever bullshit the logical side of his brain was trying to tell him about hypovolemic shock. Oswald was going to survive this- he had to.

-

His tread and heart both grew heavier as he grew nearer to safety. Out of all the places Oswald could almost…it had to be on the opposite side of the city. His condition was rapidly declining and aside from walking faster, there was nothing Ed could do to remedy that at the moment, so he did the only thing he knew he could do- talk.

“I refuse to tell you that I love you because you can’t die until I do and I don’t want you to die I-…” Ed’s breath hitched in his throat as he seemed to think for a minute.
“Did you know that penguins are some of the oldest species on Earth? Scientists have found fossils of the earliest penguin relatives that date back to 60 million years ago. So you see, they’re a very resilient species- just like you”

He wasn’t quite sure if that last statement was meant for him or Oz, but it gave him the strength to breathe for a moment.

“What do you give to others but still try and keep?” He paused for a moment, as if Oswald would pop awake and respond, or chide him for his poor timing. “The answer is a promise”

“We’re almost there Oz, you’re doing great. Just a little longer”

-

Every inch of his body felt like it was on fire. Truthfully Oswald was surprised to wake up period- he thought he was a goner for sure this time. Struggling to keep his eyelids apart for a moment, he did his best to survey his surroundings. If he was in this much pain just lying here, he couldn’t imagine himself trying to escape anytime soon if he were in danger. Where the hell was he anyhow?

Even through his blurry vision, he could see the tacky wallpaper lining bits of the room. He shifted slightly to get a better view, causing the bed to loudly groan and a figure beside him to leap forward.

“Oswald! You’re awake!”

“Wh- Ed?!”

“Of course, who else would it be?” The nervous smile slipped off his face for a moment as he squinted his eyes and leaned closer, getting no reaction. “Wait can you not see me?”

Oswald scoffed, tilting his head upward at the fidgeting figure he assumed was Ed.

“Of course I can see you, what kind of question is that?” He heard a light shuffling before the mattress dipped beside him. Thankfully his vision had cleared enough to discern Ed’s features. He looked….worried?

“You know you gave me a real scare out there” His face softened at Oswald’s stubbornness. That was his Oswald alright.

“Why would you care?” He knew it wasn’t fair. Ed had just saved him from certain death, and probably had put his own life on the line to do so, and here he was acting like Ed was still the enemy. But still, how could he trust Ed? Never knowing where his allegiances lie, always having to wonder whether or not his feelings had pushed Ed away for good, having to-

“I love you”

“WHAT?!”

Ed startled back at the sheer volume of Oswald’s question, somehow managing to catch himself before hitting the ground below the bed.

“I…said I love you.” He said hesitantly, fearing an outburst from Oswald. It certainly wouldn’t be out of character for him, or wholly underserved.

“…Say it again”

A confident smirk made its way onto Ed’s face as he leaned in closer, his breath warm against Oswald’s face.

“I. Love. You…Oswald Cobblepot.”

Warm hands found themselves on either side of Ed’s face as Oswald leaned in close enough for their noses to brush against each other.

“What took you so long?”

Ed chuckled at that, surging forward to meet Oswald’s lips in a…less than chaste kiss that left them breathless, yet even while breaking for air, their lips still hovered over each other as if they were afraid they’d lose each other again if they lost contact.

“I’m here now darling, and I promise you thats not going to change. Whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me now.”

Oz chuckled into his mouth, fingers raking through his hair.

“My dear, you are all I’ve ever wanted.”