“Yeah? Well maybe I’d be better off without you!”
Those were the last words Oswald had spoken to Ed. It wasn’t anything completely out of the ordinary- they had been in their fair share of fights, and that probably wasn’t even the worst thing he had said to him in the past week. But still when Ed didn’t return home that night, Oswald began to worry. It wasn’t like Ed to disappear or to not speak his peace. In fact, he tended to have the opposite problem after they argued- following Oswald around, listing off 101 reasons why he was right and Oz was wrong- but not this time.
It had been six months now, and Ed was officially presumed to be dead or worse. With all the chaos in Gotham, there was very little anyone could keep track of. If someone went missing, you just had to pray to whatever power you believed in that you would receive a ransom note and your loved one would be returned home safely. Oswald wasn’t so lucky.
Oswald had every one of his people ruthlessly searching the city as well as himself. Six months of agony, of not knowing where his other half had gone. Suddenly the space beside him, forever occupied by Ed, even before he had wanted him to, felt empty and cold. A space he had never quite taken notice of. Its funny how we never think of puzzles as pieces until we can’t find their match.
And to think..that there was a time that Oswald wouldn’t have risked it all for him. There was a time where Eddie was Edward Nashton and Oz was Oswald Cobblepot, not ‘Oswald and Ed’. He often wondered when that happened. He and Ed had gotten closer recently- it was a relief for both when the finally set aside their past and decided to make amends. Ed still didn’t reciprocate the same feelings that Oswald had for him, but just having him by his side again was more than Oswald could ever ask. He would rather not look a gift horse in the mouth if it could be avoided; the world can be a dark, cruel place and to find someone you love whom you can share it with is a miracle in and of itself, especially for people like them. But often he still wondered: when had they become a set piece? Never one without the other, never Oswald without his Ed.
The world around him felt so much emptier without Ed in it. Little moments throughout the day would remind him of his friend, making the space left behind by him feel larger as the days passed. A single day didn’t go by where he didn’t see something that reminded him. Sometimes he caught himself talking aloud to Ed before suddenly remembering that he was no longer there.
Everything was still just the way it had been before he left, untouched. His bowler hat sat on the edge of the desk, a ring of dust forming around its shape. Occasionally Oswald would stop to brush it off, attempting to keep it pristine in the case of Ed’s return, always returning it to the same spot afterwards.
“He’s not coming back Oswald, its time to face the f-“
“You shut your goddamn mouth! I don’t remember asking for your opinion on the subject- and even if I had, what the hell would you know?”
And so this had become a pattern, people bringing up Ed it past tense, or trying to force Oswald to face the facts, only to be yelled at or aggressively escorted out of his sight. He saw the way people bowed their heads or avoided eye contact with him, almost as if they pitted him. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe these things himself- no, Oswald truly and honestly believed Ed was still alive- but the implication alone was enough to make him stumble. Was he doing enough to find Ed? What if Ed had been held captive this whole time? What if he was still alive right now but didn’t have much time left? What if- No. No he couldn’t think like that. Here he was devoting all of his time and resources into finding Ed and yet he was letting these people who knew nothing get under his skin. No Ed was alive, Ed was fine. He’ll waltz through those doors any day now with that stupid smug look on his face.
Restless days turned to night with still no sign of Ed. Oswald already didn’t get much sleep as is being the king of Gotham, but now even more so. It wasn’t unusual to see him pacing from room to room in his nightclothes with a scarce look upon his face. He stopped in the high-ceilinged parlour and sighed heavily, his fingers tracing the origami penguin which permanently resided on the coffee table.
“I would do anything to see you again Ed. I promise, whatever it is you’ve done or however you may feel about me, I can take it. I just need you to come home”
He had thrown out these words, to whom he wasn’t quite sure, most of the days that Ed was gone. No matter how desperate things seemed to be or how every other person in Gotham seemed to have put Ed into his metaphorically grave, he still waited patiently for his return.
“As you wish”
Oswald whipped around, wide-eyed at the sound of Ed’s voice. Ripped clothing hung loosely off his form as he inched closer to where Oswald was, a gun gripped tightly in his hand. Cuts and multicolored bruises adorned his face, choppy unwashed hair barely hiding his blank stare.
“Ed! Oh my god you’re alive!” He ran forward, not minding the gun that was still pointed unwavering at his head. “Everyone said you were dead, but I knew better. I knew you couldn’t be dead!” Ed continued to stand unresponsive as Oswald pulled him into a hug.
“Oh old friend, where have you been?!”
“I- um…” His voice came out scratchy and strained, as if speaking had suddenly felt unnatural to him. “I don’t know, Oswald, I mean I really don’t…I can’t-“ He stopped, silence permeating the air, only disrupted by the clattering of the gun hitting the floor.
“You don’t remember where you’ve been for the past six months?” The softness of Oswald’s own voice surprised him as he guided Ed to the couch, his hand hovering over the small of his back.
“C’mon let’s just sit, and uhh we won’t worry about that for now okay? When’s the last time you had something to eat? Can you remember that?”
A growing panicked look along with the quickening of Ed’s breathing informed him that he couldn’t.
“Okay, no no that’s okay Ed. I’ll have someone bring you something, just wait right there.” He attempted to get up off the couch before feeling a vice grip around on his arm.
“I’m just going to stick my head out the door right over there” he pointed to a hallway on the other side of the room with gold trimming around the doorframe, “you’ll still be able to see me, I won’t leave the room unless you want me to, okay?”
Ed nodded, giving a tight smile before slowly loosening his grip on Oswald’s arm. He stood up again, successfully making his way to the doorframe, peaking his head into the hall to bark an order that Ed couldn’t quite make out before turning on his heel and returning to the couch, not waiting for a response from whoever he was speaking to.
“Your limp…its gotten worse?” Oswald slowed at his mention of it. Of course Ed would notice. He couldn’t remember the past 6 months of his life or when the last time he ate was, but he noticed the second that there was something wrong with Oswald.
“Oh this old thing? It’s nothing, just needed a few little adjustments is all.” He patted Ed’s leg reassuringly. He couldn’t even imagine what Ed was going through. For someone who took so much pride in his intellect, to lose his mind yet again had to be terrifying. Oswald had been this cause for his fear once before, he didn’t intend on repeating that particular mistake again. Ed needed him right now, and he decided in that moment that he needed to be Ed’s anchor. Even if Ed didn’t love him, he needed him, and Oswald was okay with that. Ed was alive- that’s all that mattered.
His heart skipped a beat as he felt the sudden weight of Ed’s head upon his shoulder.
“You need to be more careful Oswald, I don’t know what I’d do without you”, he mumbled, his words slightly muffled by the material of Oswald’s jacket.
By the time his people had brought the food he had requested, Ed had already fallen into a peaceful sleep, his soft snores reminding Oswald of a house cat. All this time- all these months of searching every inch of the city, interrogating every suspicious character he came upon, and worrying himself sick (not that he would admit that last one to anyone)- and now here Ed was, leaning against Oz and sleeping soundly. He had so many questions: Where had Ed been? Was he really okay? Who was the cause of all of this? How did Ed find his way back to him? Would he ever recover the memories of the past 6 months?
It was for the best that he tabled those questions for a later day, at least until Ed felt more like himself. Carefully shuffling to the side, making sure not to wake Ed from what was probably the most sound sleep he had had in six months, Oswald grabbed a pillow from the other side of the couch, tucking it under Ed’s head while covering him with a soft throw blanket.
Without giving it much thought, he leant down and placed a chaste kiss upon Ed’s forehead.
Ed woke with a start to a room he couldn’t remember.
Dammit not again…
Fearing the worst, he began to panic, jumping off of the couch and promptly slamming his shin into the coffee table.
“Ed?!” Oswald burst through the hallway door, quickly hobbling over to Ed who was hopping around on one leg and coming very close to injuring his other leg with the coffee table.
“Osw-? Oswald." His nose scrunched up in thought, scratching the small bit of stubble that had grown along his chin. "Yes, I remember I came here last night! I remember!!” A goofy grin broke out across Ed’s face as he momentarily forgot about the pain in his leg. Oswald let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“So you’re okay?”
Ed faltered, obviously having to think about his answer for a moment before responding.
“Yes? Yes I’m okay…Thank you.” His face softened, a genuine smile settling onto his face.
Ed shrugged sheepishly, a distant look in his eyes. “I just…I don’t know. Everything we’ve been through and you still…You brought me into your home, you didn’t turn me away even though I’ve done some pretty horrible things to you in the past. You’re a good friend Oswald”
A good friend . A phrase that should have made him happy instead made him feel like the air had been violently ripped from his lungs and replaced with gasoline, his heart a newly stricken match. He tried not to think about that too much. A good friend was all he was, all he could ever be. It would be selfish too get so worked up over that; after all, he spent half a year thinking Ed was dead, and now he’s upset about him thinking of him as just a friend- a good friend. Who the hell did he think he was, to take this for granted?
“Of course, Ed. You never have to thank me for our friendship…I’m just glad you’re okay.”
A month had passed without incident. Ed had been staying with Oswald- to no one's objection- and hadn't had another memory lapse since, although he still hadn't recovered his memories of the previous six. Oswald had set up consultations with doctors from all over, but none could provide an adequate answer for why Ed didn't have his memories- no brain damage, no concussion, nothing.
Ed quickly made himself at home at Oswald's right hand once again- wherever he went, Ed followed. Together they were the perfect mixture of controlled chaos, completely unstoppable: where one of them may have faltered before, the other filled in; one's weakness was the other one's strength; and as long as they were by the other's side, nothing could ever get in their way.
"Good morning Oswald"
"Hm...It is, isn't it?" he replied with a smug glimmer in his eye. "So what's on the agenda for today?"
After today, nothing would ever be the same
The past 12 hours played on a loop in Oswald’s head as he stared at the ceiling above his head. It wasn’t meant to be that exciting of a day; in fact, they had only left the house for an hour to run a quick errand, but someone (probably one of the new hires…he had doubted their loyalty from the beginning) had leaked their location to one Barbara Kean who was currently on a rampage to kill him. Before he could register the sound of the gunshot or Barbara’s presence, he was being tackled to the ground in a blur of limbs and looked up to find Ed’s face not even an inch from his own. For a moment, he almost lost himself right then and there, almost let himself get lost in the field of green in Ed’s eyes before Ed quickly rolled off of him, pulling Oz up with him before sprinting in the opposite direction.
Their feet beat against the pavement with the rhythm of the ensuing gunfight as they darted through alleys and behind run-down houses. The crisp winter air pricked at their faces, causing a wind-burnt blush across their cheeks and noses.
After several blocks of silence, they slowed to a halt, bending over to catch their breaths before bursting into relieved laughter. It wasn’t until he had caught his breath that Oswald looked down to see that Ed was still holding his hand.
Normally, Oz would have let go and brushed it off as Ed being forgetful. Normally, he would have been embarrassed by his own neediness for Ed, embarrassed by the love that had made him weak. Normally, he would have kept his emotions in check and reacted logically to the situation. But today wasn’t normal.
Before he could stop himself, his lips crashed into Ed’s, his fingers raking through his hair with an air of recklessness- complete abandon for whatever consequences he would have to face once Ed came to his senses and pulled away. Maybe he’d yell, maybe he’d threaten to kill him again, or maybe he’d leave Oswald for good this time. The one thing he didn’t anticipate was Ed kissing him back like the world was running out of oxygen and Oswald was his air.
He reluctantly broke the kiss, letting out a breathy chuckle, fingers tracing over Ed’s lips
“I thought you you didn’t feel the same way…”
“I know, I didn’t want you to-“ Ed furrowed his eyebrows for a moment, trying to find the right words. “I…loved you long before we ever met. I’ve always loved you and that has never changed as long as we’ve known each other. No matter what I did to you or you to me, that love never faded; but….loving someone and…acting on those feelings are two very different things. I had always known love as something that hurt you, but you suffer through it because its supposed to fill a void or something; but I was wrong. Its not like that- not with you- and it took me a long time to realize that. There’s a lot of words I would use to describe loving you, I mean a lot . It’s crazy how many words there are-“
“Ed, you’re rambling” Ed blushed, running his fingers nervously through his hair
“Right, um but suffering- suffering is the last word I would use to describe it”
Oz smiled knowingly, his eyes growing slightly misty- though if anyone ever asked, it was the windchill making them water.
And so one miracle turned into another as Oswald not only found the man he loved to be alive, but also reciprocated those feelings he had been trying to shove down for so many years. He felt on top of the world- as if nothing or no one could ever bring him down.
“Wha- Ed what’s going on?”
When Oswald woke up one morning with the space beside him empty, only occupied by a note telling him to meet Ed in some abandoned building, he thought nothing of it. Ed was an early riser and this certainly wasn’t the first time he left a note such as this, but somehow he just had a feeling in the back of his mind that something wasn’t right. He successfully pushed it down all morning; but when he got to the building and caught sight of Ed, it became impossible to ignore.
“What’s going on? You’re really going to ask me that Oswald?” Ed’s eyes darkened as he spoke in an uncharacteristiclly monotonous tone. “I’m tired of living in the shadows of the man who ruined my life.”
“Ruined your- what?! Ed we’ve talked about this, come on…We’ve both done things that we wish we could take back, but that’s all in the past.” He could hear the smallness of his voice- like a child’s- and he hated it. Hated how Ed could always do this to him, always make him feel as small or as big as Ed happened to view him that day.
“Eddie please, you know me! I love you, I’d do anything for you- you know that! I promise you whatever it is that I’ve done…we can fix it! Please I’m sorry just put the gun down.”
Ed continued to barrel forward, not seeming to register that Oswald was even speaking.
“You have to die. That’s the only way I can be happy. You do want me to be happy, don’t you Ozzie?”
“Yes- Ed what are you talking about?! Please just talk to me I’m begging you!” He frantically searched Ed’s eyes for some sign of what he was feeling, or whether he was even listening, but all he saw in return was a blank stare. “Come on Ed, I know you, this isn’t…its not…”
Something clicked in Oswald’s head. The lost memories, the blank look on his face, the way everyone in Gotham had seemed to know what they meant to each other before they knew themselves…It wasn’t Ed. The realization hit him like a brick, made worse by the fact that he had no idea how to stop it. No idea of how to pull Ed out of it. No clue how to stop whoever it was that had taken over his mind.
The coolness of the gun barrel pressed up against his head ripped away any remaining hope that this was all just another bad dream that he would soon wake up from. It was fitting of course: together they were unstoppable, as long as they were together, nothing could ever stop them…except each other.
“Its okay…Its okay Ed….I forgive you, for everything. I- I deserve this, I do. Its okay.” He tearfully smiled at Ed, grabbing the end of the gun and pressing it against his own forehead. He closed his eyes, suddenly content with whatever his fate may be. Back when it really was Ed who held a gun to his head, he screamed and cried and begged, but if Ed was in there….somewhere, if he could see what was happening now….this wasn’t on him.
Perhaps death was the only solution to their rotten souls: dying together or by the other’s hand. Maybe love was meant to kill him- and somehow he was okay with that. If he had to die by something, there are much worse things than love.
A gunshot echoed out followed by a scream. Oswald’s eyes flew open to see Ed crumpled to the ground, blood seeping out from the spaces between his fingers pressing into his stomach. He lurched towards him, kicking the gun away in the process before crawling closer.
“NO! Don’t come near me Oswald! He- he did something to me…” Oswald continued forward as Ed continued to scream. “Please! I don’t want to hurt you…not again” A panicked look shot across his face, a drastic contrast to the emotionless blank stare he had had before.
“Nonsense” Oswald shook his head, pulling Ed into his chest as he convulsed into sobs.
“I’m sorry I’m so sorry Oz if I would’ve known I would have stayed away I swear-“
“Shh its okay I know, it wasn’t you”
“How did you-“
“Because I know you Eddie” he laid a soft kiss on Ed’s nose “After everything we’ve been through, you would never hurt me again- I know that. I trust you”
“Too bad, I do; and there’s nothing you can say to convince me otherwise. Get used to it” His voice was soft, but had an underlying sternness that Ed knew better than to argue with. Instead he just nodded his head and allowed Oswald to help him to stand up.
“Let’s get you home”
“Arnold Wesker, aka the Ventriloquist, Taken To Arkham After Record Short Trial”
“Are you going to read that article all day, dear?”
“He deserves to be dead after what he almost made me do to you” Ed slammed the newspaper down on the dinning table as Oswald looked on fondly.
“Almost. And besides, I came out of out of that interaction unscathed- you’re the one with sutures all down your stomach”
“No ‘buts’ Edward Nygma, I won’t hear it” He stood up out of his chair to press a quick kiss to his cheekbone as he walked past; but no sooner than he turned around, Ed grabbed the edge of his coattail to spin him around & stood to meet his lips, fingertips lightly tracing his frame as he let out a hum of satisfaction and pulled away.
“I love you”
“Good” Ed kissed him one last time before sitting back down at their dining table- in their kitchen, in their home- to finish his cup of coffee. He took one last look at the newspaper before sighing and throwing it near the closest trash can. Oswald was right: everything was okay now, the Ventriloquist was in Arkham where he belonged, and Ed…? Ed was home.
If you think this seems super rushed PLEASE don't tell me that in the comments because I KNOW. I wanted to get this out before 5x05 even though its not canon compliant and I originally planned for it to be more chapters but shit happens man. Now that I'm done with this I'm probably gonna go write some tooth-rotting fluff with NO ANGST!! :)
Thanks for reading my fic btw