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The cold rain beats down on the old apartment's dirty windows. Through the thick curtain of water, the city lights glint as the last of the rush hour drivers slowly manoeuvre across Gotham.


Jim clutches his mug of steaming coffee in one hand with the barest contact as he avoids scalding himself. The ceramic gets placed down on the weathered coffee table and Jim hisses, shaking his hand, before sitting on the equally ancient couch. Muscle memory in his fingers push down on the remote, switching the channel to a sport game he doesn’t even follow.


His mind is still backtracking through the day’s events. A shabby robbery of a local convenience store, during which the shopkeeper's wife was shot but not killed, was all that entertained the detective. The thieves had parked close to a security camera, and it took all of three hours to track down the owner's residence and arrest him.

An hour, and one of Harvey's interrogations, later and his accomplices were apprehended and thrown into the cells. The rest of the day was spent writing reports and sorting through various piled-up paperwork from the previous week.


Jim groaned as he stretched his neck, one hand coming up to massage the sore tendons. He was used to his body aching but it normally came from physical strains, like fighting off drugged up goons or dodging bullets. At least that usually came with some satisfaction, but sitting five hours at a desk wasn’t rewarding or interesting. At least he and Harvey no longer had a mountain of files built up on the floor.

 

As he sits casually, sipping his coffee and lazily watching the women kick a softball around the AstroTurf, Jim starts to wind down for the evening. Just as he begins to nod off, chin dropping onto his chest, a sharp series of hurried knocks fall on his front door.


Startling back into awareness, Jim grabs his handgun from the kitchen table and strides up to the door. He glances briefly through the peephole and sees one of the last people he wants to ever talk with on any occasion. Reluctantly, he unlocks the multiple latches and opens the door with his gun raised.


Zsasz barely meets his eye before rudely pushing in, shoving both Jim and the door aside.


“Hey! What-“ The detective's protest dies as he notices Zsasz helping the Penguin down onto his couch.

Oswald is very pale, paler than usual at least. Jim closes the door and steps nearer. Blood soaks through Oswald's shirt in various places but before he can ask what happened, Zsasz is demanding to know where the first aid kit is.


“By the sink.” Zsasz rushes to it, dropping to his knees in front of Oswald and rummaging through the contents of the well-stocked box.

“Zsasz? What happened?”


“He was kidnapped.” The hitman's words are blunt but his voice shakes slightly despite the stone-hard expression. “You were closer than any safehouse.”


“Vi-?” Oswald mumbles weakly, dropping in and out of consciousness as Zsasz works efficiently to stop the heavy flow from the deep cuts scattered across Penguin's torso. Nothing vital was damaged, though.


“It's okay, Boss. You’ll be fine. It’s just a few scratches.” Despite the light hearted tone, Zsasz looks anything but relaxed.

Jim stands by, watching silently because he knows there’s no point in interrupting or trying to help. Zsasz has it under control, his hands work faster than Jim’s could and he seems to know exactly where the medical tools are without glancing away from Penguin's sullen face.

 

Secluding himself from the scene by heading into his room, Jim slumps back against a wall and rubs at his eyes tiredly. His hand fidgets with the phone in his pocket and he’s tempted to call Harvey.

The gun is still in his hand, so he holsters it, not willing to give Zsasz even the slightest chance.
The flip phone clicks open, and his partner's name is the first on the contacts list. His thumb hovers over the call button for a moment, but Jim relents.


If I call him, he’ll just get in the way. It’s not like Victor will even let him near Penguin... Just leave it for now. Harvey doesn’t need this right now. Jim settles on that conclusion, and pockets the phone.


Penguin will need a fresh set of clothes for the night. It’s obvious that neither of his uninvited guests will be leaving anytime soon. Yet another thing to go wrong in Jim’s life. He can’t have a single night of peace.


Jim heads to the dresser, digging through to the bottom where his older, smaller clothes are likely to be. He holds back a smile at the worn set of academy sweatpants and tee neatly folded with the faded logo staring up at him. Jim grabs it, his fingers pressing into the soft fabric. He chuckles at the thought of seeing Oswald in police wear. And then he remembers that Oswald is currently bleeding out on his couch and probably won’t be healed for a while. But Jim trusts that Zsasz will do his best.


He risks a glance through the open doorway to spy on the pair. It feels uncomfortable to act this way in his own home but it’s not like any part of his life is normal. In fact, it seems like he’s the one intruding on them.

 

Zsasz is meticulous in his work, stitching Oswald back together with an efficiency that worries the detective. How often has he been in this situation? Jim doubts Falcone ever needed to be rescued or put back into one piece on a cop's couch. Despite Oswald's constant security, his name isn’t respected anywhere near as much as the Falcones. Victor definitely has his work cut out, swapping between assassin and bodyguard on a daily basis.

After ten or so minutes, four neat stitch lines adorn the pale, sweaty skin. Jim finally returns into the living room, having rearranged his bed and left the folded clothes on top.


“The bed's made. I’ll help you carry him,” Jim provides as Zsasz rocks back and admires his work. The hitman finally raises his eyes and acknowledges Jim for the first time since barging in.


“Thanks.”

Jim nods and with Zsasz's help, they lift the unconscious man and lie him down on the fresh sheets. Oswald’s head is propped up on several pillows, his slicked hair fanned across the bland cotton. His breathing is steady but his face twists with pain when he moves in his sleep.


Jim watches him for a moment, contemplating how innocent and vulnerable Oswald looks. It’s not the first time he’s seen the Penguin beaten up and bleeding, but something he’s tried to bury almost yearns to make the small man feel better somehow. He knows for certain that Zsasz has killed whoever kidnapped Oswald and a feeling akin to jealously sparks up.


“We should-“ Jim stops his proposal to change Oswald's clothes, when Zsasz suddenly gasps and clutches his side. The hitman falls to his knees, one hand thrusting out to hold himself up. “Hey! Easy now, come on. Lie back.”


Jim rushes to his side, looping an arm under Zsasz's shaking body, and pulls him back against his chest. He drags him to sit up against a wall, and carefully pries Zsasz’s hand away. As soon as he does so, blood flows freely and heavily.


“Keep pressure on it. I’ll fix you up.”


“I know. Fuck...”


“You’ll be fine. I’m sure you’ve had worse.”

Zsasz chuckles, grinning through the pain even though his head slumps back against the wall. “Yeah, that’s true.”

 


Jim is back in an instant, after gathering the supplies left on the floor, and sits down besides Victor. He moves the hand away again and lifts most of the man’s shirt up, noting the small holes in the dark fabric. The smooth, white tally marks greet him but Jim pushes down his confusion and slight repulsion at them in favour of examining the wound.


“You’ve got some shrapnel stuck. I can get it out but it’ll hurt like a bitch.”


“Just get on with it, or I’ll do it myself.” Zsasz spits out through the pain.

Carrying Oswald caused some of the longer glass shards he had been stabbed with to dislodge. The pieces stick out of his skin, with little streams of blood snaking down to pool on his stomach.


“You ready? 3, 2-“ Jim yanks out the smallest piece with a pair of tweezers, and sets the glass down on a small plate he took from the dresser. He’s rewarded with a tiny whimper. “You should have told me about these.”


“Oswald needed my help. I’m just doing my job.” Zsasz attempts a nonchalant shrug but the pull causes the glass to move. He hisses in pain as Jim continues to work.


“He’s okay now. Let’s just get you sorted out.”


“You’re not a very comforting nurse,” Zsasz jokes even as he twists his head from side to side in pain and tries to sit still.


“I’m almost done.” Jim ignores Victor's words. “Hang in there.”


The last shard is the largest but it’s not deeply embedded. Whatever happened to Victor was only minor compared to Oswald.

Jim clasps the metal around it, gripping it tight, and yanks. He’s rewarded with a sharp cry and laboured breathes but Zsasz is still conscious. The hitman’s hands clench and unclench behind his head, holding his arms up so Jim can wrap the bandage around his torso once he’s wiped the blood away.

“You’re lucky you won’t need stitches.”


Zsasz glances up, his eyes reddened only slightly and clearly exhausted. Jim thinks he'll get a thank you or something sincere, but the hitman cracks a smile and joyfully asks, “Do I get a lollipop now?”


Jim doesn't feel the least bit guilty as he gathers his things and tidies up in the kitchen, leaving the giggling assassin to sort himself out on his own. The box will need refilling, so the detective makes a quick list of the supplies he'll need to grab on his way home tomorrow.


Later on, he'll blame a variety of factors for jumping at the sight of the assassin suddenly appearing beside him. Exhaustion will be the main one.


“I don’t have any sweets,” Jim teases despite using his ‘annoyed' voice on Zsasz, and promptly refusing to look away from his task.


“Shame. Also you should add some kind of injectable painkiller. The Boss could use some.”


“And you? I’ve got some paracetamol in the cupboard.”


“Nah, I’ll be fine. You got any food in this dump?” Jim fixes him with a glare, and Zsasz grins unapologetically.


“There’s leftovers in the fridge. Knock yourself out.”

 



Jim watches with amusement as Zsasz wolfs down the contents of his fridge, and then toss the multiple paper containers into the trash. The hitman barely speaks a word throughout his dinner, pausing only to make stupid jokes and try his best to make the stone-faced Jim Gordon laugh or at least smile just a little.


“I’ll take the couch tonight,” Jim says once he notices that Victor is getting sluggish. The hitman yawns loudly, confirming Jim’s theory.


“You sure? I don’t mind.” A small smile forms on the detective’s face at Victor’s humbleness. Jim knows he's just trying to make it up to him.


“I don’t want to share with Oswald.” Jim admits. It’s not a complete lie. Whilst the idea of sharing a bed with the Penguin doesn’t disgust Jim, with the state the small man is in, he would prefer not to risk injuring him further in his sleep.


A strange look crosses Victor’s dark eyes but the hitman shrugs and stands, already dragging his exhausted body over to the bedroom. He pauses in the doorway and turns to face Jim.


“Does this mean I owe you?”


“No, it doesn’t. Go rest.”


“Thanks, Jim.” Zsasz ducks his head with a smile as he speaks, before disappearing into the darkened room and shutting the door quietly with a small click.

Jim watches the door for a few moments but sighing heavily.
He grabs a nearby blanket and settles down on the tiny couch and sets his alarm. During the night he keeps waking up, the image of Zsasz standing over him in the dark still haunting his thoughts. Every time he looks into the unlit corners of his home but sees nothing. The door to his bedroom remains closed and only the sound of rain and traffic fill the apartment.

Chapter Text

The sound of his shower running disturbs Jim’s languid awareness that comes from only just waking and staying in a limbo of sleepiness. He groans, slapping an arm over his eyes as the sun’s rays blind him. He'd forgotten to draw the curtains last night.


The events of the previous night throw Jim up from his nest of blankets and discarded pillows. The sudden motion causes his head to spin for a minute before the detective gathers the bravery needed to knock on his own bedroom door. There’s a long, silent pause and then Jim cracks the door open only a slight to peer inside.

Oswald is still sleeping on his back but the sheets have moved to pool around his waist. His tiny frame is almost swimming in Jim’s old clothes, and the detective smiles warmly at the sight. The realisation that Zsasz stripped him down gets pushed into a corner of Jim’s mind with a blush.


The bloodied clothes are piled up on a wooden chair and folded so that the blood can’t stain the wood or carpet.

How thoughtful, Jim sarcastically tells himself.


Jim steps forward to stand beside the bed and gently lays the back of his hand across Oswald’s forehead. Despite the dampness of his skin and the sickly tone, Oswald doesn’t have a fever.


Jim wants to say something comforting to the sleeping man but he doesn't know what to say. So he just strokes a few strands of raven hair and settles on the side of the bed. His fingers run through Oswald’s hair, marvelling at the softness and messy styling.

It’s not something he would want anyone to know but on occasion, the loneliness catches up with Jim. During those moments of weakness, his mind tries to find something positive and constant in his life. Oswald has always been there, has always been his friend even if Jim has never reciprocated that kindness. Seeing Oswald hurt... Jim clenches his jaw and forces a fake smile.


“Want me to leave you two alone?” Victor’s low voice cuts through the quiet moment.

Jim turns to face him, and is greeted with the half-naked hitman. He forces himself to keep eye contact, cursing the warmth spreading in his face. But he doesn't watch the other change, preferring to let Victor have some kind of privacy; not that he seems to care in the least.


“No. I have to go soon. How long will you stay here?”


“Dunno. I’ll make some calls, try to find out if we can go home yet.” Victor shrugs as he hunts down his ruined shirt he’d dumped on the floor. The bandages shift slightly as he moves but no red stains appear on the white fabric. Victor must have removed them to shower, and rewrapped them after.


“What do you mean?”


Zsasz looks at him incredulously for a moment, before realising he’d never actually told Gordon what had gone down.


“The mansion was attacked yesterday. I sent my men but I don’t know if they’ve cleared it out yet. I’ll text you later. If I can move the boss, I will. We'll be gone.”


“I’m not kicking you out. Stay as long as you need.”


“Don’t wanna impose.”


“You’re not. It’s an invitation. You’re both hurt, so take some time to rest.”


“Okay.” Victor concludes the conversation with no sense of commitment, leaving the room without another word as he tracks down his abandoned jacket. Jim observes him quietly as he tugs his shirt over his head, stretching his pale back. It’s riddled with tally marks, descending along his sides and lower back. A moment later, he hears Victor’s droning voice and the slam of the front door.

 


 


“Hey Jim, buddy, I’ve got some news for ya.” Harvey yells across the station as soon as Gordon steps within view. Reluctantly, the detective jogs up the stairs to greet his partner.


“Mornin'” Jim clasps a hand on Harvey’s shoulder, taking a seat at his own desk and placing his coffee down beside the pencil holder.


“Penguin’s house was hit. Massive shoot out.” Harvey is giddy as he talks, grin splitting his face.


“Do we know the culprits?”


“Not yet but there’s a rumour it’s an old fangroup of Falcone's acting out. They're pissed as usual.”


“It would explain the weapon shipment we saw a month ago.”


“My thoughts exactly. Now, no one’s seen Penguin or any of his goons since yesterday morning. My guess is he’s holed up somewhere, planning revenge.”


Jim leans back in his chair, nodding along to Harvey’s theory. If he informs him that Penguin is currently taking up the left side of his bed, Harvey will blow a fuse.


“What’s our angle on this? Did they catch any of the shooters?”


“Penguin’s boys are done combing through the mansion. I don’t think we can get in on this. It’s a fight over Penguin’s title.”


“If there’s no reason to involve the GCPD, why tell me?” Harvey stuns for a moment, head moving back slightly in astonishment before opening his mouth.


“Well, I- I figured it would make your day. I know how much we both hate the little prick.”


“I’m not happy about this.” After an awkward minute has passed, during which Harvey tries to distract himself with messing up some paperwork, Jim smirks a little. “But it's our duty to check it out, after all.”


Harvey is up and grabbing his keys in a flash, grinning madly as he leads the way to the garage.

 


 


The drive up to the mansion is filled with Harvey’s theories and banter, and Jim’s non-committed hums and nods. Jim stares out the window for most of it, wondering if Oswald has woken up yet. Maybe Victor is out and Oswald needs something-


I’m getting carried away here. Oswald can take care of himself just fine. He’s survived worse on his own.

Still, the doubt lingers and Jim can’t shake the feeling that he should call Victor for an update.


When the car finally stops and he’s greeted with the sight of the lavish home, Jim grabs his cell phone and stops- He doesn’t even have Victor’s number. If it didn’t look so strange, Jim would slap himself. Better to wait for Victor’s promised texts.

 

 

The mansion is in an awful state. The grass is torn up several places where bullets have made their impact, and plenty of fighting went down if the puddles of blood are anything to go by.


Harvey whistles sharply as he passes through the smashed in entrance, the door barely hanging on its bent hinges. Cold air filters through the broken windows and some of the tables have been turned over to create makeshift shields.


“No bodies.”


“They’re already gone, I’ll bet, knowing Penguin.” Harvey says as he steps over some scattered shells. The senior detective rounds the next corner, into the dining room and yells, “GCPD!”


Jim has his gun unholstered and raised in a flash, tailing Harvey and stepping just beside him to get a look at what caused the commotion.


“The hell are you guys doing here? This ain’t your fight.” A kid, no older than nineteen, sneers, not the slightest bit fazed by the two guns trained on him. He’s dressed in simple body armour, with a vest strapped across his chest and riddled with bullets that didn’t manage to kill him.


“We'll decide that ourselves,” Jim retaliates, lowering his gun for the time being.

Harvey follows his cue. “What’s your name?”


The kid sighs when he understands he won’t be able to shake the cops away. There’s only two entrances: one blocked by them and the other too far to reach.


“Jake.”


“Alright, Jake, why don’t you tell us what happened here?” Jake seems to consider the pros and cons of talking, but eventually settles on an answer.


“I was making my rounds when these guys came outta nowhere and started shooting up the place.”


“Did you see how many?”


“Man, it doesn’t matter. They've been taken care of. I wasted them.”


“Sounds like a confession to murder,” Jim stage-whispers, cocking his head towards Harvey as though they're speaking code. Harvey smirks just a little, playing along with Jim’s game.


“Yep, it sure does. Our boy here just told us he committed murder.”


Jake’s mouth gapes open and close comically as he flusters and panics.

“No, no, no! It was self defence. They shot first. Man, look at this.” He gestures to his vest. “I barely survived. Please, I was just tryna save my ass!”


“Duly noted. Now, how about you answer a few more questions and we'll consider this so called ‘self-defence'.”

 

 


“We're not going to find those bodies, Harv,” Jim concludes as they exit the dining room ten minutes later. Jake is still shaking slightly, terrified of being thrown into Blackgate, but the detectives ignore him.


“Yeah, maybe you were right. This doesn’t seem like something we can finish. The most we could do is ask around, but then what?”


“Give it a day and everyone will have their stories straight. All the evidence will be gone.”


“Unless we have proof. We're already here,” Harvey smiles wickedly as he takes out his phone and aims the camera at the damaged interior.


“What’s that going to do?”


“I dunno, but it’s better than sitting around on our asses.” Jim chuckles dryly and nods.

The place is an absolute mess and he’s glad he won’t be there to witness Oswald’s rage when he returns.

“Okay, let’s take some photos of the outside and get out of here. We can head down the Falcone district after lunch.”


“Sounds like a plan.”


Harvey pockets his phone and lets Jim lead the way out of the ruined home. They walk quietly, dodging the debris scattered across the floor. Jim looks down for a moment to step carefully around a dismembered table and with his attention on that, he doesn’t notice the man standing just around the corner in the foyer. He collides chest-to-shoulder with Zsasz and almost stumbles back into a confused Harvey.


“What- Victor?” The hitman in question glares at Jim for a moment before dismissing the guard beside him.


“Detectives,” Zsasz greets politely but without emotion. “You’re not needed here.”


“Just looking after the citizens of Gotham,” Harvey answers nervously with a choked laugh. The hitman always frightens him a little, not that he’s willing to admit it.


Before neither Harv nor Victor can exchange any further, Jim plants a hand on Victor’s shoulder and forcefully leads him outside and away from Harvey. But not before adding a clear and demanding “We need to talk”.

 

“What the hell are you doing here?” Jim spits as he watches Victor sigh. “What about Oswald?”


“Relax, I’ve got somebody watching him.”


“So you let someone into my house without permission?” Zsasz looks away, guilt in his dark eyes, but the hitman doesn’t say anything to defend himself. “Now answer me, what are you doing here?”


“Overseeing.”


“Who’s watching Oswald?”


“One of my girls.”


“How are you feeling?” It takes Victor a moment to process the question, let alone the oddly caring tone that snaked its way into Jim’s smooth voice.


“I... I’m fine.”


“Victor, do yourself a favour. Go back to my apartment, take something for the pain. Because I know you’re hurting,” Jim adds when Zsasz scoffs and shrugs off the advice. “And go sleep.”


“I’m not tired,” he argues like a five-year old. Jim holds back a smile and nods.


“Then look after Oswald. He needs you and you know it.”


“Ok, but stay out of this.” He gestures to the house and to Harvey, who has taken a spot on the steps and watches with a doubtful look in his eyes.


“You know I can’t do that. What about the people that kidnapped Oswald?”


“I’ll find them myself. You’re a good guy, Jim, don’t get involved with politics.”


“I can’t promise that. Now go home.”

Jim doesn’t even realise the meaning behind his words until Victor has already started walking back towards his car. But he can’t exactly take them back either. Hopefully Victor didn’t take his words to heart. Otherwise, it means he’s just permanently allowed the hitman to stay whenever and make Jim’s apartment a safe house itself.


“You gonna tell me what just happened? Since when do you drag away Victor Zsasz?” A nagging and exasperated voice appears beside him as Jim heads towards Harvey's car.


“It’s a long story.”


“You screwing him?” Harvey asks bluntly with no shame.


“What? No! Look, I’ll tell you over lunch.”


“You’re buying.” With that, Harvey smirks and sits down in the ancient vehicle. For a moment, the detective looks longingly down the driveway at the purring Bentley. “Man, I need one of those.”

Chapter Text

The restaurant is oddly quiet for lunchtime. For many potential customers, the stagnant smoky air and lack of hospitality is a turn off. Harvey, however, embraces the rundown establishment and he strides inside with confidence as though returning home after a long day.


The owner greets the two officers with a gruff ‘Hey' and sets about making their usual order. The old man is both cook and barkeep, and unable to have staff last longer than a week in this dump.

Harvey and Jim take their seats by the window, watching the rush of cars with mild interest. Their food arrives minutes later, the fries soggy with grease and the lettuce in their burgers far from fresh.

Harvey digs in without a word, sipping noisily at his Pepsi can. Jim is less hungry; the worry for Oswald making it more difficult than usual to stomach the harsh junk food.


“So...” Harv begins, waving a fry at Jim to invite him into whatever weird confession he’s expecting. “You and Zsasz are buddies.”


“It’s not quite like that. Look, you’re gonna be pissed at me but please just hear me out. Okay?”


Harv raises a brow but says nothing, continuing his lunch. Jim retells the events of the previous night with ease, carefully missing out the parts where he stroked Oswald’s hair and how he had some less than PG thoughts about Victor. By the end of it, Harvey has gone from interested-silence to brooding-silence.


“Let me just recap here so that I know I haven’t gone insane. You let two psychopaths into your home, patched them up and basically invited them to a sleepover.”


“If you want to look at it that way...”


“Alright, let’s explore something else. What are you going to do when Penguin wakes up?”


“I don’t know. Victor said they would leave ASAP once Oswald could move.”


“Great. And until then, you’ll be harbouring not one but two criminals.”


“Look, Harv, I didn’t ask for this.”


“You sure as hell didn’t stop them either!”


“Oswald was bleeding to death! I did the humane thing. Not to mention that Victor was injured too.”


Harvey glowers, pointing an accusing finger at Jim. “The way I see it, you could have saved Gotham a hell of a lot of trouble. The universe keeps giving you chances to get rid of Penguin. For once, can you please take those chances?”


“How can you even say that, Harvey?”


“Because, Jim, people like Penguin are scum. He’ll always come out on top, unless we do something about it.”


“So what would you have done?”


“I would have aimed my damn gun at Zsasz and made him leave, even if I had to shoot the fucking creep. Let him and his boss find somewhere else to crawl to. And if they happened to... die along the way, so be it.”


Jim has heard enough. It’s clear Harvey will never see things the way he does. He gets up from the table and throws down enough bills to cover their lunch.


“Where are you going?” Harvey demands, still fuming and red in the face.


“To find out who kidnapped Penguin.”


“Zsasz will do it himself. I know you don’t like hearing the truth, but they deserved what they got. You’ve got to stop defending Penguin, Jim. He’s nothing but gutter trash.”


“He’s a human being, for fuck’s sake!” Jim yells, forgetting for a moment that he’s in a public place and everyone is staring at them. “I’ll find the culprits on my own if I have to. Hell, maybe I'll ask Victor to tag along. He’d make a better partner than you. Wanna know why? Cause he barely fucking speaks and he respects my opinion.”


“He’s a murderer,” Harvey scoffs, unwilling to show how hurt he feels. He folds his arms across his chest defensively and leans back in the booth.


“Yeah, well so am I. I’ll see you around, Harvey. Don’t wait up.”

 


 


His apartment is quiet, the only sound filtering in through the tiny kitchen window. Gordon doesn’t remember opening it this morning. He eyes his kitchen, noticing his dishes were cleaned and put back in place.

The lingering smell of something spicy fills the apartment and Jim’s stomach growls despite the fact that he’d eaten half an hour prior. Though he only picked at certain parts on his plate.


He walks to his fridge, and raises his brows in question as the sight of the fully stocked shelves. And it’s not his usual lot of groceries either. The amount of greenery makes him chuckle but he isn’t about to complain for the free food.


Click.


Jim turns his head towards the noise, and greets Victor with a shaky smile. Despite his kindness towards the hitman, Victor’s presence unnerves Jim greatly. It’s like being trapped in a room with a tiger; not knowing whether it would curl up in a corner and sleep, or rip you to shreds.


“I’m glad you listened to my advice.”


Victor snorts quietly as he closes the bedroom door behind himself.

His typical, body-hugging attire is gone, replaced with a sleeveless shirt and loose fitting joggers. Of course it’s entirely black and despite the soft, loose fabric, Victor still cuts a menacing figure. His pale skin is littered with scars, some following his tally pattern and others likely unavoidable wounds.


“How's Oswald?” Jim asks as he grabs a stray beer and shuts the fridge, joining Victor on the couch.


“He woke up for a bit. Drank some water and went back to sleep. He’ll be fine.”


“Thank you for taking care of him.”


“He’s my boss, it’s kind of in the job description.” Victor shrugs, waiting until Jim sits down to put his legs in the detective’s lap.


Jim freezes up, tensing entirely as his hand reflexively reaches for his holster. It happens within a stressful few seconds. The two men watch each other carefully, Jim uncertain of Victor’s next move. But a simultaneous calm washes over them when they understand neither of them plans on hurting the other.

Jim relaxes back into the couch and doesn’t bother to move him. Instead, he offers the bottle but Victor politely declines.


“Plus Oswald has done a lot for me. He’s more fun than my previous bosses,” Zsasz continues as though nothing happened.


“Meaning what, exactly?”


“Not sure I should be telling this to a cop,” Victor teases with a toothy grin. “Also, I guess I should say sorry for letting Trish in without your say-so. My bad.”


“Just don’t let it happen again. This isn’t one of your safehouses, Victor. I’m still a cop.”


“I know. So, I have to head out soon. When are you off the clock?”


“I don’t really have planned hours. Can I ask what you’re up to?” Jim chugs down some of his beer, relishing in the cold beverage.

He slumps further into the couch, one hand falling down to rest of one of Victor’s knees. Some part of his rational mind tells him to move right now, but Victor makes a tiny, pleased sound so Jim stays put.


“I’m tracking down the assholes who kidnapped the Boss. It’s easier doing it myself than calling a bunch of people from here.”


“Any leads?” Victor gazes at Jim with a strange look in his eyes. “What?”


“Since when do you care? No offence, but you’ve never given a shit about Oswald.”


“That's not true.”


“Every time you two meet, it ends with one of you pissed off. I know, ‘cause I have to deal with the Boss afterwards.”


“Oswald is...” Jim pauses to consider his next words. “He has a way of getting under my skin. But I get what you mean.”


“Do you? I know he calls you his friend, but I really don’t see it. I see you taking advantage of his position and knowledge without ever giving back.”


Jim scoffs, the sound catching on the rim of the bottle. “He does the same, Victor. We have a twisted, messed up way of getting what we both want.”


“Agreed. Is that why you suddenly care? Because you feel guilty?” Victor’s words stab through Jim and the detective becomes uncomfortably silent for a minute. The hitman’s eyes are fixed on him, demanding an answer even though he already knows it.


“I... I hate seeing him hurt. I don’t see him as means to an end, Victor.”


“Could've fooled me...” The hitman mutters, finally looking away. His head tilts back to watch the door for a while, seemingly ignoring the world.

Jim doesn’t dare move.

He should get up, continue his investigation rather than sit around on his ass. It’s not like he has a real plan, though, just striding up to some of Falcone’s supporter and asking some questions. Who knows how far it will get him? But it’s still better than doing nothing.


He should get up; pat Victor’s knee to indicate he wants to leave, maybe clear his throat or say something. But there’s something so incredibly calming about Victor just lying there.


Maybe it’s just been too long since he’s relaxed at home with someone. With Lee, it was always busy. Preparing food, going out, being called to work at ungodly hours... none of it left anytime to just sit and let the world carry on spinning without Jim.

 

The detective watches Zsasz quietly. The soft rise and fall of his chest, the oversized clothes pooling around his lithe body, the pale stretch of his throat and the visible pulse. Jim can’t help but stare.


He’s terrified as well. The monster in his lap is the furthest thing from peaceful. Victor could decide any second now that he wants Jim dead, maybe revenge for the way Jim treats his boss. And whilst Jim can’t see any visible weapons, it doesn’t mean the hitman isn’t carrying something. Hell, even without one he’s deadly beyond anything Jim has ever seen.

“I should check up on him,” Victor speaks up after a few minutes of silence. And yet he makes no move to get up.


Jim waits for a moment, readying himself for the nimble body to curve itself away from the couch. Victor is still gazing at the door, wordlessly. Ignoring all warning alarms to avoid any more contact, Jim gently rubs the knee under his palm.


At the touch, Zsasz finally comes back from whatever mind-set he was stuck in and looks back at Jim. His dark eyes don’t portray any emotion and his body tenses. Jim can almost imagine Victor bringing his knees up and curling into a ball. But that’s not what happens.

They both stay perfectly still.

“What’s on your mind?” Jim prompts quietly, using his sympathetic tone on the younger man.


“I’m worried about him. He’s always stirring up trouble and one of these days, he won’t have someone there to save his ass.”


“He has you.” A shy, almost unnoticeable smile flicks across Victor’s lips at those words.


“I almost didn’t make it. If I had been just a second too late, he-“ Victor stops. He looks away, still keeping whatever emotions are eating him up under wraps.


“But you did. You were there. You brought him here and you saved his life.”


“Yeah, I suppose...”


Jim sighs, his hand still moving in comforting circles but it has extended its reach down Victor’s shin. The caress seems to calm the hitman down and tension washes away just a bit.


Comfort isn’t one of Jim’s strong suits but he can’t just leave Victor in such a foul mood. He’s seen the hitman angry, when he had killed one of his girls. That fire in his eyes will always haunt Jim. And he’s witnessed that strange, uncharacteristically bubbly happiness he seems to show when he’s relaxed. But Jim doesn’t know how he behaves when he’s worried and upset, and any sign of depression could lead to a number of reactions that the detective would prefer not to see.


So he thinks back to his brief history with Zsasz and tries to find some way of showing him that his fear is unwarranted.


“Remember when you worked for Falcone? Oswald was already getting into trouble. To the point where it almost got him killed.” Victor stiffens slightly but doesn’t interrupt. “I was there for him. I’ve saved his ass more times than I can count. The bastard's got a knack for staying alive, no matter what. You know as well as I that he can talk his way out of any situation.”


“Promise me something,” Zsasz finally says after the speech has sunk in. Jim nods, interested in whatever the hitman has to propose but not yet agreeing. “If something happens to me, I want you to look after Oswald. You’re gonna be nice to him and keep him alive. For me.”


“Victor... It sounds like you already know you’re going to die.”


“This shit is personal. I don’t even know who put out the hit on us, but I’m gonna find out and I’m going to kill them. So I want your promise. Right now.”


Victor’s gaze is intense, calculating and desperate. Jim doesn’t even have to think twice about it.


“I promise. And you won’t be alone. We'll both find out who did this and make them pay.”

Chapter Text

A series of high pitched screams follow Zsasz's cold voice. Hurried mumbles reach Jim’s ears but he can’t make out what the victim is trying to say. The next moment, a shot rings out through the room and Zsasz is opening the door Jim stands guarding.


Blood has splattered across the left side of his face, some thicker drops creating small rivulets down his throat. They disappear below his Mandarin collar.


Jim swallows the disgust down and pushes away any thoughts of quitting this investigation. With Oswald being watched by Trish once more, he and Victor are on their search for the kidnappers.


“Did he say anything?” The detective asks, hoping the murder he just allowed was worthwhile.


“Yep. There’s a gang down in the Narrows who knew the kidnappers. We should pay them a visit.”


“What about the body?”


“Leave it. The cops will blame it on a turf fight or something.” Jim frowns, and Victor chuckles at the stern expression. “Well, the other cops. Let's go.”

 

Without another word, Victor is heading down the stairs and towards his car. They agreed that any evidence of Jim’s involvement should be avoided, therefore he was forced to leave his badge behind.


Jim follows obediently. Arguing with Victor proved fruitless when the hitman clearly had no intention of letting Jim run the investigation. For now, he'll let Zsasz take point just because his reputation. The criminals are more afraid of Zsasz than Gordon.

 


 

 


The drive to the Narrows is pretty quick. Victor knows all the shortcuts and his driving is rather reckless and way above the speed limit. Jim doesn’t even bother to ask him to drive slower. He’s just as bad, according to Harvey.


Speaking of Harvey, the senior detective hasn’t sent a single text or call. He won’t apologise, Jim thinks solemnly.

The anger has dissipated in the last two hours but his own bitter words still sting his memory. He shouldn’t have said those things to Harvey, but in the moment it had felt good and liberating. Harvey is always saying those things about Penguin, but so does Jim. He’s just a giant hypocrite.

 

“We’re here. Once we're in, let me talk. I’ve worked closely with Falcone’s gangs.” Victor informs, cutting the engine after parking the car behind a pile of metal junk in a way that allows them to drive away quickly if things go south. His face is clear and clean, but still a few smears stain his neck.


“Alright. You’re in charge here.”


“I can’t believe you’re doing this with me.”

“I want revenge too.” Victor gives him an odd look, but shrugs off the strange statement. He isn’t used to the detective admitting such things.

“Glad you’re on my side.”

 

 

The derelict slum doesn’t appear to be heavily fortified. Two older men stand at the entrance, each armed with a pistol but no protection. They reach for their weapons as soon as Zsasz steps into sight.


“The fuck do you want, Zsasz?” One asks in a typical, gruff voice. He eyes Gordon with disdain too.


“It’s always a pleasure, Maxwell. Don’t worry, this doesn’t concern you. I just want a little chat with your boss.” Victor purrs in that cold, menacing tone he only uses when he needs co-operation.


The goon scoffs and holsters his gun, stepping aside to open the door. “Fine.”


“Thank you. Oh, and give my love to your daughter. I’m very proud of her graduation speech.” The assassin adds with a toothy grin and predatory gaze as he steps past the fuming man and waits for Jim to follow.


A large paw of a hand pushes firmly against the detective’s chest to keep him from entering.


“Not you,” Maxwell huffs.


“He’s cool. Don’t worry about him.” Victor interjects, noting the hostility growing within the group.


“Don’t care. He stays here with us.”


Zsasz turns to Jim, apologetically, and shrugs. He disappears into the building without another word, leaving Jim chuckling nervously at the two men moving forward threateningly.

 


 

 


Five men have gathered around a table, throwing down cards and swears as they argue and cheer. Rap blares from the stolen stereo system, muting Zsasz's footsteps down into the messy, crowded hideout.


He waits in the shadows for a moment, looking for any weapons or more men. But there’s only two rooms down here: the main one and a small bathroom. Once he’s scoped out the room, he steps out into the light.


“Evening, gentlemen!”

A scurry of chairs and raised weapons follow his greeting and Victor is faced with three guns, a switchblade and a crowbar. Nothing he can’t handle on his own.

“Now, now. I come in peace.”


“What do you want?!” The leader spits, keeping the barrel of his S&W pistol trained on Zsasz.

The hitman scoffs and steps forwards fearlessly. He glides past each member and takes a seat on top of the table, planting his boots on the seat and backrest of a chair, tipping it forwards and backwards.


“Well, you see, I need some information. Yesterday, a handful of very unfortunate people decided to shoot up my boss’s house. Now that itself isn’t too bad. My boys took care of the shooters and that was that.
“My problem is that somebody decided it would be a good idea to kidnap the Penguin and THINK that they could possibly get away with that!”


The room falls silent after Zsasz's outburst and some of the men share nervous glances.


“Of course,” Victor continues, “I’m certain that you delightful people aren’t to blame for that little idea. I’ll make you a deal, cough up the name of the kidnappers and all of you can keep your lives. Pretty fair, huh?” He grins and cocks his head, waiting for an answer.

A murmur breaks out amongst the members and even the leader seems to weigh the deal. Eventually his scratchy voice breaks the noise.


“We don’t know anything.”


“No? You sure about that? You only get one more chance...”


“We don’t know. Now leave, Zsasz.”


“Okie dokie.” The hitman slides down off the table and straightens his jacket with another shark-like grin. The group part to let him walk back to the staircase.


“Hey, Zsasz, give our love to Penguin!”

Someone calls out from within the room, their tone light and joking. It’s followed by the shuffle of cloth and a pained ‘ow’.


“Why would you say that, idiot?” Another whispers, praying that Zsasz will ignore the comment and just leave.


Victor can feel their eyes trained on his back, and he can’t help the chuckle that escapes his lips. His hand slips across his chest slowly and grips one of his handguns.


“You know what? I will certainly pass it on.”

And with that, Zsasz spins and fires two rounds into the nearest gunners. The third panics and the hitman takes the moment of indecision to slam his elbow down on the man’s wrist. He drops his gun in pain and doesn’t manage to dodge the incoming fist.
The man stumbles, groaning and cupping his bleeding nose. The back of his head splatters across the nearest wall and Victor takes a moment to smirk before firing another round into the crowbar-man.

 


 


Jim paces slowly, observing the guards and general environment. The junk yard is filled with destroyed and rusted cars. He’s used to visiting the Narrows for unpleasant business but it still makes his skin crawl.


Multiple shots fill the air. The detective has his gun in hand faster than the two other men.


Maxwell steps in front of the door, keeping through to see what’s going on downstairs. Whilst he’s distracted, Jim springs up on the other guard.


He smashes the man’s nose with his free fist, making the guard double over. Using the momentum, Jim pushes down on his shoulders as his knee meets the man’s face. Another punch to the head and the guard falls unconscious.

Maxwell takes notice of the grunting over the gunfire and turns to shoot Jim, only to have his arm twisted and broken by a quick pull in the wrong direction.


The goon's gun falls to the floor but Maxwell uses his weight to slam Jim back into a wall. The plaster crumbles under the force.

Jim groans in pain, and snakes a hand to grip the broken joint tightly. A sharp cry hurts his ears but Maxwell moves away, allowing Jim to breathe and stumble away from the wall.


The older man dives down to retrieve his gun but Jim is faster, landing two bullets in Maxwell’s chest. He slumps dead in the mud, fingers inches away from the grip. Jim gathers the muddy gun and checks on the unconsciousness man. He’s still down and doesn’t look ready to wake up anytime soon.

 

Jim jogs down the stairs, his eyes immediately spotting Victor in his murderous glory. The hitman is distracted by his opponents, shooting with deadly accuracy and twisting his torso to catch the next.


One man creeps up behind Victor, knife raised and ready to kill the hitman. Jim shoots him without hesitation, and the attacker chokes on his own blood. Confusion blossoms over his face as he feels the holes in his throat, before he collapses to his knees and face-plants the dusty floor.


Victor spins around, wondering who could have fired, and he grins madly at the sight of the body beside him. His eyes flick up to Jim’s in gratitude.


“Thanks, partner.”


“Did you get any info?” Jim asks as he leads the way back upstairs, promptly ignoring the fact that Zsasz is absolutely buzzing with energy and that the psychotic grin isn’t going anywhere.


“Ah, crap... I guess I got carried away.”


“Don’t worry. One of the guards is still alive.”
“Maxwell? Please say it’s Maxwell.”


“It’s the other guy.”


“Goddamnit. Hey, umm, thanks for having my back. Didn’t notice the little fucker.” Jim smiles tightly but takes the compliment. Harvey’s words ring in his head, and maybe this was another chance to get rid of Zsasz for good.


A warm hand clasps his shoulder just as Jim reaches the landing. He looks back and is met by an honest smile. “I mean it.”


His knowledge of appropriate behaviour when dealing with an assassin is rather limited. His brain didn’t quite know how to deal with the kind words nor the fact that Zsasz trusts him. So he just nods and smiles back. And heads outside without thinking too much about the heat from Victor’s palm and how he can still feel the weight of the touch after it’s gone.

 


 


“What do you want with me? I’m just a nobody.”


“We just want to ask some questions, that’s all.” Jim smiles, leaning back in his chair.

Across from him is the guard he knocked unconscious, strapped down securely and flitting his frightened eyes between the detective and the assassin.


“Okay. Fine.”


“What’s your name?” The detective asks nicely, giving off friendly vibes and no sign that he plans to hurt the guard. Zsasz is close by, hovering patiently in a corner and watching the scene with a blank expression.


“Andrew.”


“Ok, good start, Andrew. I’m Jim, and I’m sure you know Victor.” The guard swallows nervously when the hitman waves from the shadows with a creepy grin. “Now you’re a lookout, right? You stand watch and keep your bosses safe, don’t you?”


“Y-yeah.”


“So surely a guy like yourself overhears things. Little bits of conversation, snippets of addresses and names.”


“I guess.”


“We need you to tell us about Penguin’s kidnapping. Anything at all.”


Andrew shuffles in his seat, his hands fidgeting at the zipties fastening him to the metal chair. He scans the room rather obviously, checking over his shoulders in case there’s a third person in the room or a bunch of weapons to torture him with. He also watches the door just opposite him, behind Gordon.


“Andrew. Focus. Did you hear anything?”


“Look, I’m loyal only to Falcone. Not the cops or Penguin or anyone else.”


“Sure you are, but for a price.” Jim flashes a smile, acting innocent and every bit the Golden Boy of Gotham. “How much does your boss pay for your silence? I’m willing to bet it’s not all that much.”


“It’s not about the money. Penguin’s a freak and he doesn’t belong on top. He can’t hold the city together like Falcone can.”


“So your bosses figured they could kidnap Penguin, and then what? Kill him? Teach him a lesson?”


Andrew smirks, parting his lips to say something witty but he holds himself back at the last second. “Dunno. I’m just a lookout.”


“This is taking too long,” Zsasz whines from his corner. He stalks forward, a switchblade blade in his gloved hand. “I’ll make him talk.”


“Victor, don’t. There’s no need for violence. Let’s stick to the plan.” Jim lowers his voice when speaking the last part, standing to join Zsasz.

He puts an arm across the assassin's chest, palm flat over his clavicle. After Victor gets the hint that Jim refuses to budge, he sighs dejectedly and takes a step back.

“We still have the other one, remember? Let’s ask him. You told me yourself he would talk.”


“Fine.”


Jim sits back down, peering back to watch Zsasz open the door. Another person is held hostage, a sack over their head.


“Now, Andrew,” Jim starts, noting the guard's sudden worry. “I made a deal with Zsasz. I would let whoever answers my questions live. The other person... Zsasz has asked nicely to play with.”


The assassin trails his blade across the hostage's arm and around their shoulders. He says nothing but a wicked grin splits across his sadistic face. His hands clasp down on their shoulders harshly and loudly.


“So,” Jim regains Andrew's attention. “Here’s what’s going to happen. You can tell us what you know about the kidnapping, every little detail, and you get to live. If not, we'll offer the same deal to that guy. Our friend here is still sleeping but once he wakes up, I’m sure he’ll tell us everything in exchange for his life.
“What’s it going to be, Andrew? Are you really that loyal to Falcone?”

 

The guard shifts his attention to Zsasz, his eyes widening as he sees the assassin clearly in the process of waking up the other hostage. He turns back to Jim, panicked and desperate.

“Okay, okay! There’s this chick named Sarah White. She’s the one who came up with it. It’s her people who took the freak.”


“That’s great, good job. Now, where can we find her?”


“There’s this place she likes downtown. The Red Card. It’s this really freaky joint but the boss was talking about going there to thank her. That’s all I know, I swear. You gotta believe me,” Andrew pleads, tears gathering in his eyes.


“Alright then. Thanks for your co-operation. Let’s go, Victor.”

 

The assassin straightens up, sheathing his knife and stuffing it back into his pocket. As he passes the hostage’s side, his hand grips the sack and pulls it off. Underneath is a pale man with a neat bullet wound in his head.


He smirks at Andrew’s swears and yells and joins Jim outside. The detective's gaze is lost in the distance, watching the slow traffic as the sun starts to vanish behind the skyscrapers without any real interest. The cold breeze sends shivers through the two men, bringing a refreshing calmness over both.


“That went better than expected,” Jim mumbles once Victor stands beside him. He turns to face the assassin with a small smile. “Told you we didn’t need violence.”


“What do we do about him?” Victor tilts his head in the direction of the building.


“Leave him. Someone will find him.”


“And what if he talks to this Sarah?”


“I’ve already let you kill a hostage today. He lives and that’s final.” Victor sighs but backs down, reaching inside his trouser pocket for the car keys.


“Shall we go then?”


Jim nods his agreement and they head off towards the glistening car. Behind them, the guard is still screaming every insult known to man and then some.

Chapter Text

A warmth shifts beside Oswald as he drearily wakes from his fitful sleep. The blanket rustles and tugs him further into awareness despite his feeble attempts to smother his face in the pillow.


“Stop...” He whines quietly. The movement beside him stops and a gentle hand curves around his bicep.


“Hey boss... sorry I woke you.”


“Victor?”


“Yeah, it’s me. You feeling okay?” Oswald holds back a smile at the soft voice drifting in the dim light. He twists to lie on his back, wincing slightly as his body protests. “Easy, Boss. It’s only been a day.”


“I’m alright, Victor. Would you get me a glass of water?”


“It’s right here. I’ll just turn on the light.”

A warm, golden glow fills the room as Zsasz switches on the bedside lamp on his side. Once Oswald has adjusted and no longer holds a hand over his eyes, Victor passes him the glass.


The water is refreshingly cool, and eases the dry walls of Oswald’s throat. He downs most of the glass in one go, handing it back to his hitman. With a sigh, he shuffles up against the headboard and allows Victor to rearrange a few pillows so he doesn't have the sharp wooden planks digging into his spine.


“Why did you leave me in Gordon’s apartment?” Oswald asks once his breathing has settled and he feels the silence has lasted long enough.


“He was the closest. I wasn’t willing to gamble with your life.”


“No, Victor. I mean, I woke up with no clue how I arrived here and when I left this bed you were gone.”


“You shouldn’t have moved so much.” Victor chides with a frown, shifting from his perch on the edge of the bed to a cross-legged position beside Oswald’s hip.


“I was scar-. Never mind, it doesn't matter now. I imagine you’ve been busy.”


“Yes, sir. Jim and I make a pretty good team.” Oswald snorts, never quite ready for one of Victor’s jokes. But the hitman doesn’t crack a smile.


“You’re serious?!” Oswald’s eyes widen in shock and he can’t help but stare openly at Victor. “How on Earth did that happen?”


“He wanted to help. I’m not really sure what he’s hoping to gain but he seems genuinely worried.”


“Well, he’s a damn good liar. Where is he?”


“In the living room. We figured we should rest a bit. We’ve been out all day and he clearly isn’t used to this much hard work.”

Victor smiles with too many teeth, reminding Oswald of the sharks he used to love watching whenever his mother could afford a trip to the aquarium.


The assassin has changed into his baggy clothes, softening his lean appearance. Oswald spots two bags dumped in the corner of the room, and he guesses they must contain some personal belongings and clothes. He wasn’t too amused to wake up with the GCPD logo on his chest, even if the comforting scent of Jim still lingered in the worn threads.


“Help me up, I’m sick and tired of this room.”


“Boss, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” The hitman leans forward to press Oswald back against the pillows, only to have his hand swatted away.


“Just do what I tell you, Victor.”


“Yes, sir,” Zsasz grumbles as he untangles his limbs and rounds the bed. One of his hands hovers behind Oswald’s back while his other arm is being used as support. Penguin shakes with the effort, gasping here and there, but managing to keep upright as his assassin leads him to the door.

 

 

The brighter lights of the living room greet them, along with the noise from the television. Jim busies himself with some paperwork at the desk, raising his head to say hello. He takes a second to take in the sight and then he’s on his feet and guiding Oswald onto the couch.


“How are you feeling?” He asks, using the moment Oswald is distracted to glare accusingly at Zsasz for letting Oswald out of bed. The hitman just shrugs and heads back into the bedroom to switch off the light.


“I’ve been better. Victor told me you took us in. That was very kind of you.” Oswald smiles wryly, searching Jim's face for any little tick that might indicate his motive in all this.


“I couldn’t just leave you out there. You should know, we're hunting down the people responsible. Does the name Sarah White mean anything to you?”


The unpleasant memories of the time he spent in captivity bubble back and Oswald can’t help but clench his fist in anger. They held him in a dark room, always wearing masks and never using names. He says this much to Jim, who nods and sighs dejectedly.


“Okay, well Victor and I will head out to the Red Card tomorrow night. She’s supposed-“ Jim stops short as the small man beside him starts to giggle uncontrollably, sending the Penguin into a laughing fit that leaves him breathless and red in the face.


“I’m sorry, my friend. It’s just that-” He laughs some more, prompting Jim to raise a quizzical eyebrow at Zsasz. “Oh dear... Jim, do you even know what the Red Card is?”


“A club, right?”


“It’s a bit more than that. It’s certainly not for the innocent hearted such as yourself.”


“I’m not innocent,” Jim retorts immediately without even contemplating what Oswald could’ve meant. His rushed defence causes the small man to fluster and clear his throat.


“It’s a sex club, Jim. Elite and certainly not a place I would imagine you visiting.”


“Send me, Boss. You know that stuff didn’t bother me.” Victor shrugs nonchalantly, plopping down on the armrest and crossing his legs. His arms fall limp between his knees, and the hitman suddenly doesn’t seem as threatening.


“Yeah, I think I can manage. Plus I can’t trust you not to start a fight.” Jim points an accusing finger at the hitman though there’s no anger behind it.


“Oh please, I’ll blend right in. You’re the one who screams vanilla.” Oswald snorts at the comment, giggling just a little at the confusion blossoming on Jim's face.


“I’ll ignore that. Since you’re such an expert, Oswald, anything I need to know?”


“Well,” Oswald starts, feeling soft and happy from the easy banter. “I suggest you find something dark to wear. Preferably all black. They have a strict dress code and if the security doesn’t believe you look kinky enough, you’re not getting in.”


“Christ. Would a black suit work? I don’t exactly have... that kinda stuff.”


“Relax, nobody’s asking you to show up in a gimp suit,” Victor jokes. His laugh carries longer as Jim has pulled several different disgusted faces. Oswald can’t help joining in.


“I'd rather die.”


“A suit would be fine. Perhaps with some silver accents thrown in there. Anything that makes you look intimidating. I’m sure Victor has some things you can borrow.”

Jim groans into his hands, the whole situation making him uncomfortably warm and aroused despite his best effort to ignore it.
But he can’t send Victor in and not expect something to go very wrong and very violent.


“Alright. I see what I’m getting into. Let’s drop the discussion for now. I’m starving.”


“Takeout?” Oswald chimes with an eagerness that shocks Jim. Just as he’s about to agree and grab the leaflets tucked beside the toaster, Victor crosses his arms and clears his throat.


“Your fridge is full, courtesy of Trish.” The other two swear quietly under their breath, the excitement washing away at the thought of eating healthy.


“I meant to thank you for that, but I don’t cook all that well.” Jim apologises, watching Zsasz get up and start digging things out of the fridge and placing them on the counter.


“Good thing you have me then. Okay, what part of the world do you wanna eat from? We’ve got Mexico, Britain, Germany or Asia.”


Oswald is the first to speak, hurriedly making his choice. “Asia.”


“Victor, as kind of you as it is to cook for us... I don’t have a lot of equipment.”


The hitman fixes him with a nonchalant look, and says “Pick.”


“Mexico.”


“Dammit Jim,” Oswald curses him from his comfy spot, melting into the pillows. “Asia is obviously the way to go.”


“All I eat is Chinese. I could use a change.”


“Alright fine. But Victor, you better keep it mild.” The hitman chuckles but nods, moving around the nearly empty kitchen to find what he needs.


“Oh, by the way, Jim. You said that I would be cooking. You’re my assistant in this. So go wash up and I’ll tell you what to do.”


Jim stands there for a moment, the domesticity of his evening crashing down on him. He'd never thought he would see the day when Victor Zsasz was cooking in his kitchen and the Penguin was laughing in the back.


A shy smile graces his lips at the stern but friendly order, and Jim can’t help himself chuckling just a little at how ridiculous his life has become. He salutes Victor mockingly and heads to the bathroom to wash his hands and try to calm his racing heart.

 


 


Gordon’s apartment has never been filled with so much laughter and happiness. Even with Barbara and Lee. The television normally serves to fill the black-hole silence that normally graces the rundown home, but tonight Jim switches it off because it’s wasting electricity.


He stands beside Victor, chopping up a variety of vegetables he hasn’t eaten since he was a child. Despite his minimalistic kitchen, the hitman has no problem getting things done. A pot boils quietly, filled with rice, and Victor busies himself by frying up meat and whatever Jim passes to him.


This is so nice, his peaceful mind provides now that the shock has faded away. His heart still beats too fast when Victor leans over or his hip brushes against Jim’s. Not that the hitman minds, if anything they both relish in the accidental touches.


He probably doesn’t get to do this often. Jim glances up at the younger man and smiles to himself. Victor’s concentrated face is rather adorable, and he glides around the tiny kitchen with far too much grace. The rising scent of food fills the room and Oswald comments on it, eagerly awaiting the finished product.

 


The mobster has found a stray book, flipping pages without interest, but he’s bored just being on his own. He longs to grab his phone so he can take a photo of his two favourite men, minus Edward. Having his lanky friend here would certainly make things better but he can’t bring himself to call him, not after everything.
Oswald sighs, unwilling to let the wounding thoughts take over and ruin his night. He turns back to the little domestic moment and relaxes further into the couch.

 

 

A gentle hand shakes Oswald’s shoulder and the small man wakes with a tiny gasp. Jim smiles at him, looping an arm around the Penguin’s back to lift him into a sitting position. The movement pulls on his wounds but he remains quiet. Eventually the pain fades to nothing.


“Would you like to sit at the table or should we eat on the couch?”


“Table. We’re not animals.” Jim chuckles and leads Oswald to the kitchen, helping him sit down before taking his place on his left.


Victor is still readying everything. He places down various plates filled with rice, vegetables, meat – all seasoned. Once he’s sat down, the trio pill whatever they please onto wraps and shells. Oswald thanks his two chefs and digs in, moaning at the first bite.

 

Dishes clatter in the sink as Jim washes up the many bowls and pans. He doesn’t mind at all, instead he dives into the task and lets the autopilot in his head do all the work whilst he contemplates the evening.


Behind him, Victor and Oswald are dozing off together. Jim risks a glance over his shoulder. Oswald has his head in the hitman’s lap, mewling and gasping at the fingers scratching his scalp and tugging his hair away from his eyes.


You’re never going to have that, a cruel part of Jim reminds. You destroyed everything between you and Oswald. He’ll never forgive you. You sold him out, treated him like shit. Why would he want you?


Jim sighs, clutching the side of the sink as the water drains away. He finds a towel to dry his hands with and once he has a grip on his emotions again, he turns to the two men with a fake smile.


Victor is entranced by the shapes his long fingers make as he massages down Oswald’s neck. A sharp, pleased gasp escapes Oswald and it’s a wonder how Victor doesn’t blush at the arousing sound.


Too bad he'll never make that noise for you.


Shut up! Jim’s mind fights itself, arguing back and forth though it’s all for nothing. His body moves of its own accord, and Jim find himself sitting on the armrest without ever realising that he’d left the kitchen.


A moment later and Victor's cheek nudges at Jim’s thigh. “I had a lovely evening, Jim.”


“Me too. You’re a great cook.”


“I had a pretty great assistant. Hey Jim?”


“Yeah?”


“Could we do this again sometime? It’s the most fun I’ve had in years.” Jim’s heart may have broken a bit at that confession. He smiles weakly and places a hand on Victor’s shoulder comfortingly, subconsciously pulling him closer.


“Yeah, I’d love that. Maybe he can help out next time, too.”


“I’ve been stabbed. I’m excused,” Oswald chimes into Victor's leg, his words muffled. He twists to look up at the ceiling, his head tilting back to observe the two handsome men.

He doesn't say anything about Jim’s odd acceptance of the situation but he adds the soft, happy look to his collection labelled Jim. “Could one of you help me back to bed? I’m more than ready to turn in.”


“I will,” Jim offers.

He carefully stands up, taking care of Victor's head by gently lifting it off his thigh. The hitman looks exhausted and Jim scolds himself for forgetting the hitman’s injuries.

His thumb brushes against a sharp cheekbone and Victor nuzzles his palm sleepily before letting Jim take Oswald away.

 


 


“Here you go. Can I get you anything?” Jim asks as he stands back from the bed.

Oswald shuffles the pillows around, keeping one just under his twisted leg, before settling down under the blanket.


“I'd like some answers, Jim. I want to know why you’re even letting this happen.” The Penguin gestures wildly, anger starting to flare at the confused, puppy-dog look he receives from Jim.


“Because you’re hurt. I couldn’t turn you and Victor down.”


“So we both owe you, now, is that it?” Oswald spits, praying that Jim will say yes and all of this will have meant only one thing: Jim wants to use him. After all, when hasn't he? And if he confirms it, Oswald can start to bury the want crawling up from where he last left it.


“No, of course not. I want to help you. I know I’ve been a terrible friend and I want that to change.” Tears prickle Oswald’s icy glare but he refuses to back down.


“Why? After everything we’ve been through, why are you suddenly so desperate to heal our friendship?”


Jim steps forward, taking a seat on the bed. His hand slips beside Oswald’s but the mobster moves away, refusing any kind of comforting touch.


“Because I realised what I was doing to you, and it’s not fair. You deserve so much better and all I do is make things worse.” In a much quieter tone, he says, “I always make things worse.”


“So what changed? You suddenly got up and thought, I should be nicer to Oswald. You expect me to believe that?”


“I don’t expect you to, but it’s the truth.”


“I hope you can understand why I don’t. I’m sorry, Jim, but I’ll need time to process this.”


“Of course, I get it. I know this is a lot to take in so. Sleep well, Oswald.” Jim stands, patting the bed twice with a sigh.

“Jim?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for this. I truly appreciate your help. I know Victor already said so, but I also had a good time. It was nice to let go for a few hours and not be the Penguin.”

When Jim heads back into the living room, Victor has already fallen asleep on the couch.

Too bad you can’t join him, a snarky voice echoes in his head. Bet you’ve forgotten what a guy feels like.


Ignoring the voice and the cold memories of his crappy love life, the detective grabs the blanket from the back of the couch and drapes it over the hitman. The latter mumbles in his sleep, curling a hand around the fleece instinctively and pulling it closer.

Jim drags his knuckles across Victor’s cheek without thought, before stepping back and retreating to the armchair in the corner for the night.

Chapter Text

“Are you serious?!” Jim demands, voice raised several octaves. He stands in his bedroom, examining the black mess Victor has insisted on spreading across his bed.


“Look, if you don’t act the part you’ll get thrown out. It’s simple, Jim.”


“What you are asking me is not simple!”


“Alright, alright, calm down.”


“Victor, dressing all dominating is one thing. Saying you're my pet is something else. Come on, who’s gonna believe that?”


“Give me ten minutes and I’ll prove it. Oswald can judge!”


“Oh God... fine. Ten minutes. Fucking hell...”
Jim slams the door too loudly, anger and embarrassment morphing into a twisted beast. He groans into his palm, rubbing his eyes afterwards and sighing.


Victor had disappeared by the time Jim woke up, and had returned during breakfast. Now he was trying to convince the detective that they had to play roles in the Red Card. Jim had been nervous enough the night prior when talking about it but this was... it is too much.


Part of him, the nasty, self-loathing part, says to just walk out and head to work. He’ll have to deal with Harvey and whatever case comes his way and it will distract him from his evening plans. He could turn the two criminals away and forget this ever happened.


“You should let him go by himself if you can’t handle it,” Oswald comments as he munches on some toast.


“No way. I want to keep an eye on him.”


“I know you and your GCPD friends think he’s just a psycho killer, but he's not. If you order him not to murder, he'll obey that command. He's incredibly well trained.”


Jim sighs again, near collapsing onto his chair. He runs his hands through his hair, messing up the careful styling. His eyes scan Oswald for any lies but deep down, Jim knows Victor is as obedient as his kind come.

 

The bedroom door opens and heavy boots stride towards the kitchen. Jim hears a soft gasp from Oswald and pulls his hands away from his face to get a look. His breath catches in his throat.


Victor kneels obediently, with his knees spread, on the floor beside Jim’s feet, his head raised and eyes defiant. His clothes are dark: tight trousers covered in distressed patches and zippers, a loose sleeveless vest with mesh beneath, and a leather harness that wraps around his torso in a mess of straps and buckles. A simple, chunky collar adorns his slender throat.


In what Jim can only imagine is his sex-addled curiosity, he hooks his index finger in the small hoop on the front of the collar. When he pulls gently towards himself, Victor follows without a word. His eyes don’t fill with disgust or arousal, in fact he acts as if this is all normal.


“Fucking hell...” Jim can only mutter, entranced by the arousing sight. Never in his wildest dreams would he have thought of this.


“So, Boss, do you think I can pass as a sub?” The question is directed at Oswald but Zsasz refuses to break the staring contest first.


“Uh huh,” a soft, almost silent voice answers. Oswald clears his throat and attempts to compose himself. “Definitely. Are you going out in that?”


“Yes sir,” the hitman purrs, directing the words at Jim. The detective subconsciously licks his lower lip so Victor mirrors the action, earning two barely contained moans. “That settles it then, Jim. Tonight, you’ll play the role of my Dom and I’ll be your loyal pet.”


“What do I have to do?” Jim manages to breathe out, unable to look away. Barbara liked wearing lace, and his search history contained a few vulgar things, but seeing it in person was something else.


“Act like you own me. Lead me around, make me do stuff, whatever you would do if you actually owned a sex slave.”


“Right.” At that point, Jim’s brain decides to short circuit. He excuses himself to get ready for work, despite already wearing his suit and badge. The bedroom door slams, followed by the bathroom.


“I think you broke him,” Oswald comments. He stretches his palm out and Victor crawls to him, nuzzling his fingers with a shark-like grin. “You’re going to have fun tonight. Too bad I can’t join and see it for myself. But you’ll tell me what happened afterwards.”


“Bet you twenty bucks he’s jacking off right now.”


“Victor!” Oswald’s fake outrage is met by a filthy grin. “...He totally is.”


“You want some help?” The hitman nods towards Oswald’s bulge, his kinkier persona taking over his usual, vocal restraints. His boss smirks, spreading his knees wider to accommodate the assassin. “Is that a yes?”

Oswald hums his approval.


He leans in bravely, rubbing his cheek along the outline of Oswald’s cock. He earns a breathy moan but the sound of the bathroom door opening and closing has him pulling away in time.


Jim pokes his head out before exiting the room completely. His face is flushed but his hair and suit are impeccable as always. He takes one last, longing look at Victor and heads to work once he’s bid his goodbyes.

 


 


“Where the hell have you been?” Harvey yells as a greeting from his office doorway.

Several officers turn their heads but Jim ignores them, jogging up to the platform.


“Working a lead,” the detective drawls as he sits down and glares at the mountain of paper that somehow built up yesterday. He’s certain to find Harvey’s own stuff in there, just to spite him.


“Cobblepot?”


“Yep. I’m on the case, Harvey.” He gives his partner a sarcastic smile and starts with the first file.


“You working with Zsasz?” The question is innocent but the thoughts that come rushing to the surface are not. Jim shifts subtly, his earlier problem rising up again. Goddamn that stupid, kinky man.


“Uh huh.”


“So?” Harvey prompts after a long silence follows. The pen caught between his index and middle fingers taps noisily on the front cover of a homicide report.


“So what?”


“Is he a better partner than me?”


Jim sighs, letting go of all hope of starting work and just forgetting this spiralling mess.

“He’s different. Listen, I didn’t mean what I said earlier, I was just angry.” Harvey doesn’t seem convinced. “I’m sorry I said what I said. Do you think you could find it in your heart to forgive me?”


The playfulness returns naturally to Jim’s voice. The detectives have had their ups and downs but things always manage to end well after they’ve apologised and had time apart.

It’s like a long term relationship, his mind whispers and Jim barely stifles the chuckle.


Harvey seems less volatile after the apology but he leans back with his arms crossed. “For a price.”


“Anything you want.”


“I want in on the investigation.”


Jim's mind takes a stumble at the request. He was expecting to pay for lunch or buy out Harvey’s tab at the local cop bar.


“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Harv.”


“Why not? I’m a better detective than you, after all.” Harvey smirks, his anger also fading away.


“Sure you are. It’s just that...”


“Well, come on. Spit it out!”


“Our only lead is a woman by the name of Sarah White. She’s known to hang around the Red Card. We’re heading there tonight.” Jim confesses at last, his attempts to push away the planned evening into the dark recess of his mind completely fail. Anxiety and nervousness claw at his chest relentlessly. It’s not like him to feel so vulnerable and uncertain. The implications of the change makes Jim panic.


“You do know it’s a sex club, right?”


“Yeah, I’m not too thrilled. Victor is tagging along and having you there as well would raise too much suspicion.”


“I will never understand you. How could you not be thrilled? Naked babes in leather! What’s not to love?”


“It’s not my kind of scene, Harv. But you could help me track her history? Penguin doesn’t know who the culprits are. They wore masks and used nicknames.”


“If that’s the case, how do you know about this White lady?” Jim squirms under the question, not exactly pleased to admit allowing Victor to kill. “Jim? It was Zsasz, right?” But Harvey beats him to it.


“We tracked down a gang, one of them gave up the name.” Jim proceeds to give Harvey the details of his clever plan, missing out the part where Victor killed a hostage and almost the entire gang.


“I’ll give you props for that. Alright, I’ll look into this Sarah White. But you, my friend, have got other business to attend to.” Harvey gestures at the paperwork with a sadistic smile. Jim reflects it and grabs the top file.

 



“Don’t look so scared, Jim.” Zsasz mumbles, his eyes fixed on his phone.

The quiet darkness of the Jaguar's backseat is lit only by the screen, illuminating Victor’s sharp features and casting long shadows across his handsome face.

The detective squirms in his seat, unable to decide whether he wants to watch the city lights stream past the tinted window, admire the man next to him, or tuck and roll out of the car.


“I know you don’t like me, Jim. It’s obvious you’d rather be anywhere but here, but you promised to help the Boss. All you have to do tonight is go undercover. I’m sure you’ve done it before.” Victor finishes by flashing Jim a smile and turning his attention back to the retro game on his phone.


“I like you,” Jim stumbles out before his brain catches up with his big mouth. Victor freezes, thumb hovering over his screen for a moment before the words ‘GAME OVER' flash up and the title menu replaces the bloody letters.


“Yeah right. Just because I’m wearing skin tight clothes doesn’t mean I’m not carrying,” Victor warns. His voice is cold, like when he speaks to an unfortunate victim. The temperature in the car seems to drop a few degrees.


“I just mean... you’re not that bad.”


“Whoa.” Zsasz drags the word without emotion.


“Okay, I’m not great with words-“


“No shit.”


“But, what I’m trying to say is that I do like you.” Jim finally finishes without interruption from his sarcastic companion. “You’re fun and it’s actually been pretty great having you two there. Makes the place lively, you know?”


“Do you wanna know what I think?” Victor asks, still incredibly cold and emotionless. He doesn’t seem to believe a word or care for Jim’s stunted emotions. “I think you have a crush on the Boss, and you’re trying to keep me happy because you know I can cut your throat at any moment.”


Victor’s words sting him bitterly. “But last night...?”


“Last night was the first time you were honest to us and yourself. You weren’t Jim Gordon, golden boy of Gotham. You were just Jim, lonely guy who doesn’t know what he wants. I’ll be honest here, I don’t like indecision. Guys that wait around for that perfect opportunity to present itself or that, magically, others will know what you want, piss me off.”


“I don’t-“


“Let me finish. The thing is, Oswald likes you. A lot. You’re all he ever talked about for months before you sold him out and made your opinions very clear. And now, you’re all up for being Mr nice guy.
“You hurt him. You don’t get to swoon over him and act as if it will all be okay. He’s had his heart broken enough times. Nygma nearly destroyed him, and I won’t let you do the same.”


The anger seeps out of Victor like a tidal wave, and it’s terrifying to witness it. But Jim listens to what he had to say and now he tries to form the words to make it right. He can’t, though. He messed up and trying to fix things would just make things worse.


Jim risks glancing at Victor, but the hitman is engrossed with watching the late night shoppers and early drinkers.


“You’re right,” Jim starts, because Victor deserves the truth even if it makes him hate the detective. He already hates you.                “I don’t know what I want. It was simple to ignore Oswald, I could pretend I was avoiding a criminal. We kept using each other and eventually, I realised I relied on him too much. He was all I ever thought about. So I started lashing out, hoping he would keep far away from me. But he kept coming back and it got easier to push him away each time.”


The hitman says nothing.


“I do like Oswald. He’s kind, brave, and one hell of a fighter. I respect him, but there’s always a part of me that says it's wrong and I need to stop. Every time he smiles or just...” Jim trails off, the sting of tears blurring his vision. “It fucking hurts so bad.”


“I believe you,” Victor mumbles as he turns his head towards Jim. He notes the unshed tears and something akin to pride sparks in his eyes.

“That’s not all. It’s not... just him. I like you too.”

Now you’ve done it. Like hell is this going to go well, his darker part snickers.


“Why?" Victor asks before shaking his head and chuckling. "Just kidding, I don’t really care. But I’m glad you finally confessed.”


Jim watches him uncertainly, narrowing his eyes and balling his fists. That wasn’t the response he was expecting. His inner demon pauses too.


“Dude, I know about your crush on us. But it’s good to hear it. All of it. The Boss will be happy.”


“W-wait! Did you set me up?”

“Uh huh. Had to be sure you were serious.” Victor flashes a mad grin, leaning back against the leather seat with his arms crossed.

“So what you said wasn’t true or-?”

“Oh, every bit was true. I stand by what I said, including the part where I’ll kill you if you hurt him.” Jim struggles to say anything intelligent so he just shuts his trap. “We're close to the club. Remember what you have to do?”

“Act like I own you,” Jim finally says after an awkward moment of silence. He’s not too sure how to do that. He can take control of situations and be a leader, but this takes another route that Jim has never explored. He has to think and act for two people, and find the suspect.


“You know, we could get started right now. That way, you’ll be ready when we get in.”


Jim starts fidgeting with his cufflink at the thought. “What do you mean?”


Victor suddenly climbs into his lap, knees hugging Jim’s hips and hands clutching the lapels of the black suit. His warm lips meet the detective’s in a harsh, biting kiss and Jim allows him to lead. The shock fades as the unfamiliar taste and softness pique his interest. The man straddling his lap is so unpredictable but Jim relishes in that, embracing the spontaneous turn of events.


“Fuck, Victor...”


Jim’s hand snakes up to wrap around the hitman’s throat. Like this, he can forget the awkward discussion and keep his mind from overworking. His fingers slide into the collar and he tugs at the metal ring to pull Victor closer. Their chests bump and slide together, the harness catching onto the silk tie and unknotting it.
Before Jim can even think his next move, Victor is climbing back to his side of the backseat. He smirks, dangling one leg between Jim’s as his knee casually rubs into Jim's straining length.


“Fucking tease.”


“Gonna put me in my place?”


Jim grins before pouncing on the younger man, pinning him down on the leather. All animosity disappears as his hand reaches for the collar again, pulling Victor into another heated kiss. The hitman curls one leg around Jim’s hip, drawing him impossible close. His arms wrap around his neck tightly and Jim shivers at the eagerness.


It feels good, but completely different to anything Jim has ever experienced. Victor is demanding and rough and insane, nipping at his sensitive lips and grinding upwards into his abdomen. The nervousness fades as he loses himself in the sensations. He can manage this, at least.


A sharp knock on the partition glass informs them that the car has arrived at the club. Jim pulls back slightly, glancing down at Victor just in time to see him lick his bruised lips to chase the taste. The hitman meets his eye, those dark eyes watching Jim with a mixture of amusement and lust.


“We should get going,” Jim states as he sits back and rearranges his suit and tie. He looks back to see Victor leaning up on his elbow, clothes askew and thumb tracing his lower lip. A red bead stains his skin and Jim realises he must have accidentally bitten too hard. Zsasz doesn’t seem bothered. He licks the blood away, flattening his tongue and curving it around the digit needlessly. But Jim is more than affected by the display, observing that curious tongue and imagining what it would feel like.


“Agreed.”


They exit the car, and the driver moves to park behind the building with the strict instruction to wait. The club is rather high-end with a flashy neon card and devil tail twisting around one corner. A short cue of leather-clad people wait to be judged by two bouncers.


Jim takes Victor’s hand, linking their fingers. It’s more for his benefit than appearances. He casts one look at his companion, who flashes him a wicked smile, and then they head to the front with the knowledge that Victor already has their names on the list.
The bouncers judge quickly, and a minute later the doors are opened for them.

 

Chapter Text

Unlike most clubs where the music can be felt pumping through to the foundations of the building, the Red Card gives the impression of a warm house party. The EDM is loud but not so loud that Jim winces and tries to cover his ears.


A red lit, shiny black bar sits at one end where several patrons chat happily. Many leather couches fill the open room and several doorways lead into private areas.


Jim scans the room automatically, barely stopping himself from slipping into cop-mode. He leads them through the dense crowd towards the bar.

It’s their best bet at striking up a conversation with the strangers already dancing and kissing. The night is young, though, and with the photo of Ms White in both their minds thanks to Harvey’s research, they’re bound to find some helpful clue.

Just as he dodges a drunk couple, he spots her chatting at the bar with some people.


It’s too risky. Better get close to them and eventually separate her from the rest.


The detective takes a seat, making sure that he sits close enough to the group. It takes a moment to realise that Victor is not sitting next to him. A nudge at his thigh indicates the hitman’s position, kneeling obediently on the floor at Jim’s feet as though it’s the most normal thing. I guess it is in this place, Jim thinks.


Swallowing dryly, Jim’s hand ventures down to caress Victor’s cheek briefly in the hopes that he'll understand how grateful he is. The nervousness still lingers deep down but he’s glad to have someone familiar with him.

 

 

Three women and two men take interest in the newcomers, and Jim can overhear them talking about Victor. The ladies wear an array of lingerie and leather harnesses, and one wears a latex mask that covers her eyes and extends upwards into large rabbit ears. The men are dressed in simple, black tees and jeans that cling to their muscled bodies attractively.


One of the women steps forward bravely, looking up to Jim but keeping a respectful distance. “Never seen you here before.”


“We're new,” Jim provides. He introduces himself and his pet, briefly looking down to smile lovingly at Victor. “We were hoping to make some friends tonight.”


“Oh, well I’m sure you will right here. I’m Katie, and these are my fellow doms; Jack, Wickers, Sarah and Lucy.” Jim waves at the group with a big smile, earning some himself as the doms crowd around and start a pleasant but sex-heavy conversation. Victor also finds himself the centre of attention and Jack takes a string liking to the sub.

 


 


“So what’s the deal with these scars, pretty boy?” Jack asks as he trails the back of his hand along Victor’s scar-riddled arm without permission.


Inwardly, Victor cringes and aches to run a blade across the man’s throat. But he allows the touch, blending in to the club’s clientele without issue, and acting every bit the sub he’s pretending to be. He smiles and curls up into Jim’s side without a word, even when Jack reaches up to tug at his collar. Victor moves his head away, crawling further into Jim’s personal space and hoping the detective will notice his discomfort.


“What, can’t talk?” Jack sneers, crossing his arms over his broad chest. His questions have caught Sarah’s attention. Jim scolds and wraps an arm around Victor, keeping an eye on Jack. 


“Leave him alone. Not every sub likes you groping them,” she defends before getting up from the opposite couch and plopping down between Jack and Victor.


“Whatever. He ain’t that good looking anyways.”


“Man, shut the hell up.” It’s Wickers that speaks up, before Jim even opens his mouth to defend his partner. The two oversized men start yelling, exchanging colourful insults before a staff member violently escorts them out.


“Whoa, good riddance. Don’t worry, sweetheart. You’re gorgeous, whatever your story is,” Katie adds a nod to the red lines that adorn Victor’s toned arms.

Jim stares at them too, his theory on them rather gruesome but accurate. They’re proof of his kills; he’s counting each one and priding himself in his sick, twisted assassinations.
But if he and Jim are to keep working together and perhaps see more of each other, Jim will just have to buck up and move on.

It’s your choice, buddy, Jim thinks. Accept Victor for who he is or forget him. You can’t be ignorant of his lifestyle when he isn’t with yours.

Despite his internal battle between choosing a love life with two criminals or living a sad, boring lie, Jim pulls him closer. He imagines that it’s the lack of manners that bothered the hitman, not the mentions of his scars. Hell, he decided to walk around with his arms bared proudly so that can’t be the reason for the clenched fists and tense posture.


 

 


Eventually the two ladies leave with other people and it’s just Sarah and the two men left on the couch. She skims her index along Jim’s jawline, tracing the sharp bone with a twinkle in her eyes.


“Want to take this somewhere private?” Jim offers, smirking and gesturing at the rooms designed for that very idea. The night has gone relatively well and Sarah has warmed up to Jim and Victor.


“Sure thing, darling. I wanna see what your pet knows.” She leads the way to the nearest available room, noting that most have a card on the doorknob.


Jim enters first, holding back a shudder at the display of toys and bondage gear strapped to the walls. He hears the door click and spins to see Sarah grabbing a knife from the display.

But she’s too slow.

Victor pounces on her in an instant, tackling her to the ground which sends the knife skittering across the floorboards. Jim grabs it before anyone else.


Pinned under Victor’s weight, Sarah grits her teeth and punches the hitman hard. His head twists under the force but he chuckles, spitting blood in her face. Sarah’s disgust is voiced loudly but Victor knocks her out by grabbing her head and smacking it down on to the floor. The impact causes a sickening crack and her eyes roll back.


“Let’s get her out of here,” Jim says as he scoops her body up easily. Victor opens the door a smidge, peering out into the hallway. His hand gestures for Jim to follow, and soon they exit through the fire door and join their driver.

 


 


Blinding lights illuminate the concrete room. The LEDs line the walls and ceiling. A single chair sits in the middle, and zip-tied to it is Sarah. Her head lolls against her chest and dried blood cakes down her neck.


“Wake her up, Victor,” Jim orders as he watches from the door of the hitman’s basement.

The hospital-like room unnerves him. Neat cabinets store a variety of tools and bottles and a folding bed occupies one corner. A bar with metal cuffs hangs from the ceiling by chains and Jim shudders at the thought of what horrid things have happened in this room.


Zsasz smirks and takes a bucket of ice cold water from the sink, before tipping half over Sarah’s head. She gasps and shivers, a half-scream dying on her lips as she’s ripped into consciousness. Her body contorts and fights against the restraints but the throbbing pain in her skull stops her erratic movements with a whimper.


“What do you want from me?” She demands, her eyes watering from the white lights. The pain in her head intensifies and she screws her eyes shut.


Victor glances back at Jim, who nods his acceptance at the hitman’s unspoken question. He smirks and places the bucket down, away from Sarah’s legs. They’re tied down but Victor doesn’t like to take risks.


“Hi Sarah, I’m Victor Zsasz. I'd like to know the names of the people involved in the Penguin’s kidnapping.” The words are spoken slowly and calmly, but Victor can’t keep his grin hidden.


“I don’t know about that.”


“Really? That’s a shame. Well, if you don't know... I guess you’re free to go.” Victor says nonchalantly as he rounds the chair and cuts the zipties.

Sarah watches him with uncertainty before slowly standing up.
She stumbles towards the door, the pain making it difficult to walk straight.

Jim stands aside, allowing her to step towards the door. Just as her hand touches the handle, Victor grabs a fistful of her loose hair and yanks her backwards. She yells as he throws her to the floor, her body impacting the tiles painfully.


“Did you seriously think I'd let you go? Now, this can go two ways: you tell me everything you know or I will tear you apart until there’s nothing left. Choose carefully, Sarah.” Victor kneels over her, one boot pressed heavily against her spine to keep her from crawling away.

She whimpers and nods, allowing the hitman to drag her back to the chair.


“There’s a gang. On the North side. Professionals. I hired them.” Sarah breaks into tears, the pain overcoming any inner strength or pride. Victor laughs cruelly and clasps a hand on her shoulder. “The leader is called Jamey. He wants Penguin gone too.”


“There you go. That wasn’t so hard. One more thing, did you never think that I would come after you? That little attempt back at the club wasn’t very well thought out, now was it? You should’ve known I would kill you no matter what.”


“Victor...” Jim chimes in, stepping forward at the clear threat. This isn’t part of the plan like with the boy in the Narrows.


Zsasz turns to him, his body tense and face blank. “Not this time, Jim. She dies, same as the others. You knew you would end this way.”


“I won’t let you,” Jim steps forward, hand hovering over his GCPD issued handgun.

Victor sighs, anger and disappointment blending together across his face. His own gun is raised and aimed at Jim before the detective can unholster.

“Victor. Put it down.”


“Thank you, Sarah.” He smiles, his voice light and kind even as he faces Gordon.


The gun turns to her temple and a second later, her brains are splattered across the wall and floor.


“NO!!”


“I’m sorry, Jim. I thought you knew what you were getting into,” Victor tucks away the gun, and fishes his phone out of his pocket. He dials and holds the phone up to his ear, walking past the shocked detective without another glance. “Yeah, need a clean-up crew down in the basement. Bullet to the head. It’s pretty messy.” And then the heavy door opens and swings shut, and Jim is left staring at the remains of Sarah White.

Chapter Text

Victor leans against the damp wall of his safe house, the cool breeze sharpening his senses and dulling the buzz that comes with killing. He pockets the old phone and nudges a crushed cigarette. Smoking isn’t one of his habits but he’d found one inside that Trish must have left.


The basement door leads out to a modest garden, and it is the only way into his torture room. The house behind him is simplistic, filled with some personal belongings and enough supplies to keep him alive for a few months in the unlikely event he needs to hunker down. There’s a light in the house, and the warm glow invites Victor inside.


Sitting comfortably down on a simple couch, he grabs the jacket he had tossed over the back rest and finds his knife. The blade extends smoothly and it stings sharply as he adds another mark.

46.

The blood rises out in small drops at first, eventually gathering into a long rivulet that flows down his forearm and gathers in the crook of his elbow. He watches it for a minute, observing his body’s reaction and the sweet lingering pain it leaves behind. He cleans the knife on the hem of his shirt and puts it back in his jacket.

“What the hell was that?” Jim demands as he stomps his way into the house. His fists are clenched and he looks ready to fight. The hitman stands from the couch, huffing in annoyance.

“I told you already. They have to pay and-"

“What the fuck is that on your arm?!” The detective interrupts as he spots the blood running down Zsasz’s arm. The hitman shrugs with one shoulder, and opens his mouth to explain but Jim gets there first.

With his fist.

Zsasz recoils with a grunt, cradling his already sore jaw. He glances at Jim and observes the angry man for a moment.

When the detective doesn’t draw his arm back again, he assumes it’s safe. But Jim was counting on it. There aren’t many people who can fight Victor fairly, so Jim uses the advantage to throw another punch. It’s lower this time, striking Zsasz in the abdomen.

“Okay, Jim. You want to fight me? Fine. Do your worst!” Victor taunts once he straightens and fixes his stance as Jim throws himself back in violently.

Zsasz lands a kick straight in Jim’s chest, sending the detective stumbling back and onto the floor with a grunt. He prowls towards the fallen man and plants his boot down onto his chest, hoping the older man will give up. But Jim elbows the side of his knee and Victor gasps at the unexpected pain.


Distracted, Victor can’t stop Jim from knocking him down as well. In another scenario, having the detective straddling his chest would be heaven but not in this reality. Jim uses every ounce of strength left in him to paw at Zsasz’s shirt and lift his head up enough to crash his forehead against the hitman’s. The contact make them both grunt in pain, and Victor slumps onto the floorboards.


Jim retreats at last, standing up shakily and stumbling to the kitchen. He aches everywhere and his breathing is erratic from the pulsing in his chest where Victor kicked him. He grabs a clean glass and fills it with tap water, downing it quickly. He sputters and coughs afterwards.
Glancing back to the spot he left Victor, he notices that the hitman is gone. He spins quickly and finds the bloodied killer far too close. The last thing he sees is the man’s fist aiming for his temple.

 


 


Jim winces as he twists his head on the pillow. An unfamiliar scent fills his nose, waking him up further. It’s a mix of detergent and cologne. He recognise the hints of pine and smoke from somewhere which piques his curiosity. With a groan he opens his eyes and notices that he isn’t in his bed at all.


He’s on a couch in Victor’s safe house and the clock on the living room wall says it’s half ten. Stumbling into a sitting position, Jim searches his jacket for his phone. He flips it open and finds plenty of new messages. He presses onto Harvey’s name and scrolls down.


Harvey 10.54pm: Hows ur night going? Send pics or it didn’t happen


Harvey 11.27pm: Dude message me when ur done


Harvey 7.10am: ur not still mad at me right :’(


Harvey 8.45am: bro text me back so I know ur not dead


Jim sighs at the childish texts but types a response back anyways.


Jimbo 10.34am: I’m fine. Got a lead. All’s good. I’ll see you Monday.


Checking for any other messages, he finds one from an unknown number and hesitates to open it. Eventually curiosity wins and he opens the message.

Unknown 6.37am: nice moves last night. Way to overreact Jim. Not my fault you couldn't handle it. If you want to help Oswald, go to your apartment and stay there. I’m flying solo from now on. thanks for nothing.

 

Jim stares at his phone for a long time, tears pricking his eyes. Why couldn’t he have just stayed away from Penguin? He knows he can’t turn a blind eye to the kidnapping or the crimes that Oswald commits on a daily basis.

He’s lost, uncertain whether he wants to embrace what his heart demands. It means letting go of his morals and willingly allowing Penguin to continue without intervention. Not to mention he’s lost whatever chance he thought he could have had with Victor.


The sight of the new scar had just made him angrier. He wasn’t able to control it or keep it down, and it chased the hitman away.

Why the fuck did you hit him? He was right all along, his mind screams at him furiously. Jim sobs into his palm until a small beep interrupts his dark, unrelenting thoughts.


Unknown 11.47am: Hello Jim, it’s Oswald. Victor left me your number this morning and said that he was going after the culprits and that you were coming home. I don’t know where you are but I could use the company if that’s alright.


A small smile graces Jim’s lips. Leave it to Oswald to make things better... He texts back immediately after adding the number into his contacts.


Jim 11.49am: hey Oswald. I’ll be there in an hour or so. Want me to grab some breakfast for us?


Oswald 11.50am: I’m afraid I already ate a while ago but if you’re getting something for yourself, could I trouble you for some tea? You don’t have any at home. Any kind will do :)


Jim 11.52am: Sure. See you soon


Oswald 11.53am: Thank you Jim. I look forward to it. Bye.


Jim’s smile stretches across his face and he can’t help the little bubbly laugh that escapes his throat. He stands up and looks around the safe house for a bathroom. A quick shower and some borrowed clothes Victor won’t notice missing later and he’s off to his favourite cafe to pick up some breakfast and tea.

 


 

 

The keys rattle noisily as Jim unlocks his apartment and enters the warm living room. The place looks much cleaner and the detective wonders who bothered to dust.


“You’re back,” Oswald exclaims as he exits the bedroom.

His hair is damp and beads of water soak the collar of his t-shirt. It must belong to Victor, and the crimson cotton hangs off Oswald’s tiny frame. His pyjama trousers are folded up at the ankles so he doesn't trip over the excess fabric. Jim smiles at the adorable look and holds out the tea.


“It’s Chai. Sorry I’m late, busy night.” Oswald waves his hand to dismiss the apology and grabs the tea greedily with a small thanks. “Should you be up?”

“I’m a very quick healer, and Victor left me some wonderful painkillers. I hardly feel a thing.”

“How is he?” Jim asks as they sit at the kitchen table. He unravels the paper bag and starts eating his bagel sandwich, rejoicing in its familiar and hearty taste.

Oswald pauses to contemplate his answer. In truth, Victor came back bloodied and incredibly angry. “Oh, he’s fine. Cuts and bruises don’t bother someone like him.”

“Did he tell you what happened last night?”

“He said you both found this woman and interrogated her.”

“Anything else?”

“Jim, if you’re asking if I know about the fight... I do. He was- Let’s put it this way, I don’t see Victor angry often and he was terrifying when he came home. He told me you fought him over killing the woman and he knocked you out. Then he gave me your number and left to go find the others.” Oswald finishes with a sigh, blowing on the steaming tea before taking a careful sip.


"I thought we could resolve this without killing people. We could arrest her for kidnapping or-"

“I gave Victor the order to kill,” Oswald interrupts without emotion. “She and several people humiliated me and cut me up. Even if you arrested them, I'd find a way to kill her from within the prison or even your lockup.”

“I... I just wanted to keep this as peaceful as possible.”

“Jim. I understand your position but this is Gotham. They hurt me so I kill them. It’s the way this city works and you need to get that through your head. It hurts to see you being torn apart; but you’re playing by different rules that don’t apply to this game. I know you’re trying to help and I’m grateful. But you have to choose where you stand.”

For the first time in a long time, he glances up and sees the real Oswald staring back. Not the mighty Penguin, infamous mobster. But the true friend he always had by his side and chose to ignore.

“What do I do?” Jim whispers. He couldn’t care less how he looked, though. He just wanted to feel whole and understood.

Oswald smiles weakly. “Let Victor finish the job. He’ll probably be done by this evening and then we can all put this behind us. After that... I’ve still got a week or two of healing to do. Who knows what will happen then.”

“You’re right. Thank you.” It hurts to admit it but he needs to step aside this time. This isn’t his fight.

His phone rings loudly from within his jacket pocket, breaking the moment.

Jim apologises, rising from the chair to answer it in private. “This is Detective Gordon.”

“Jim, buddy, you gotta come down to the station immediately. Zsasz just killed three people in broad daylight and some rookies pulled him in.” Harvey practically yells down the receiver over the commotion behind him.

“I’m coming. Try to keep the place calm.”

“What do you think I’ve been doing?” Harvey hangs up after some yelling fills the station.

Jim sighs and turns to a confused Oswald.

“Victor’s been arrested. Stay here. I’ll keep you informed.” And with that, Jim sprints out to his car.

Oswald groans into his hands and sips more tea as he searches for the remote, and hopes something will keep him entertained all day whilst he waits for his two idiot friends to come back.

Chapter Text

The precinct is in an uproar by the time Gordon gets in. Some officers are yelling at each other, either side arguing their points violently. Most agree to let Zsasz go, in fear of his revenge, and few others want him sent to Blackgate.


Jim pushes past the crowds of cops, praying that none are stupid enough to use their guns or fists to prove their point. The cells are filled with the usual crowd of delinquents but the hitman is nowhere in sight.


He grabs the nearest officer roughly and asks, “Where’s Zsasz?”

“Interrogation.”

Jim practically sprints down into the hallway. He dodges a few people, and finds the door blocked by two newbies.

“Sorry, Sir. Captain Bullock is questioning Zsasz. Can’t let you in.” The youngest smirks, still pleased with himself for catching the infamous assassin.

“Markel, right?” Jim starts as he eyes the rookie with barely controlled anger. “Are you the one who arrested him?”

“Yes, Sir. We both did.” Markel gestures to his friend with a proud grin. Poor kid doesn't understand what he’s done.

“How? Zsasz wouldn’t come quietly.”

“I shot him, Sir.” The rookie recounts how Zsasz almost got away but two bullets and a thorough beating managed to subdue the hitman long enough to cuff and throw him into the back of the patrol car. “I know it’s probably too soon to ask, Sir, but I don’t suppose we could get promoted? After all, we did Gotham a huge favour.”

Jim grits his teeth throughout the story. “What you’ve done, kid, is unleashed hell on this city. Zsasz keeps the underworld in line. Without him, the scumbags won’t have anyone to fear. You’ll be lucky if you survive the weekend. Now move aside.”

Markel stares in disbelief but does as ordered, stepping away from the door. His partner looks equally frustrated.

Jim shoulders past and strides into the interrogation room, slamming the door on the idiot rookies. Jim can’t blame them, he would have done the same a few years ago.

 

“Look, whatever you’ve been up to with Jim, you can tell me. I know you’re out for blood, so let me help. The more assholes are locked up, the better Gotham will be. Come on, Zsasz. Talk to me.” Harvey pleads as he sits on the edge of the table, watching the hitman closely. At the sound of the door, he turns his head and smiles tightly. “Good of you to join us, Jim.”

Zsasz raises his head an inch at the newcomer but returns to his task. Spread across the table is a medical kit, and Victor busies himself with bandaging up his thigh.

A thick puddle of blood drips from the metal chair onto the tiles and Victor’s hands are working hard to stop it. His arm makes a similar mess.

“Why aren’t you helping him?” Jim questions bitterly as he steps further into the room.

The sight of Victor in a thin t-shirt and boxers would normally make his heart speed up but the blood is too distracting.

Harvey scoffs. “You think I haven’t tried? It’s like trying to pet an angry tiger.” Both cops turn their heads quizzically at the hitman’s quiet chuckle but Harvey continues to complain. “He wouldn’t let the examiner anywhere near. And he won’t tell me anything. You know I’m trying to let you go, Zsasz. But I need to know what you’re up to!”

The assassin says nothing, not even wincing as he guides the needle through the bullet wound. He’s chosen to deal with the worst one first.

“Can I sort out your arm, Victor? You’re losing a lot of blood.” Jim states, concern in his voice.

The hitman shrugs with his uninjured shoulder and lets the detective clean the wound.

The bullet has collided with the top layer cleanly, taking a small chuck of his flesh. The amount of blood makes it seem worse than it really is. Jim dabs it gently, impressed at the lack of discomfort Victor portrays. He suspects the needle is worse than the alcohol.

“Alright, Jim, you tell me what’s going on.” Harvey speaks loudly, breaking the comforting silence.

He slaps his knees and stands up, annoyed and stressed. The yelling outside doesn’t elevate but the crowds aren’t going away either.

“We tracked Sarah White down. She told us about the people she hired to kidnap Penguin.” Jim recounts as he wraps the gauze around Victor's toned bicep and shoulder.

He glances at the bruises scattered across his face and guilt surges up, almost causing Jim to flinch away from the hitman's warm skin. Not all of them are his fault but he still drops his head in shame.

“So where is she?”

“Dead.” It’s the first word Victor has spoken since being dragged into the station. Jim clenches his jaw but says nothing, ignoring Harvey’s annoyed scoff.

“Of course. And since you’re finally talking, wanna tell me why you were shooting up the place?” Harvey asks, acting very part the disgruntled old man he pretends to be.

Jim pays closer attention, equally curious.

“They were responsible. I made them pay. There’s one person left.” The words are muttered quietly as Victor finishes with a wince as he tied the thread and starts wrapping up his leg. The crumpled bullet sits on the table and Jim stares at it wordlessly.

“Well you’re done now, pal. We'll call this a public service and you can go home. The police will deal with the last guy. Just give us a name.”

“Harv, those cops out there won’t let him walk,” Jim reminds with a frown. The rookies outside won’t let that happen, let alone the dozen armed men in the main hall.

“I’ve got an idea,” Harvey smirks happily. “But I’ll need both of you to cooperate. And I'm going to need a name and address from you, tough guy.”

 


 


The door of interrogation room 3 creaks open and Harvey pokes his head out. He glances at the two rookies and smiles, closing the door behind him.

“You boys did Gotham a great service today. I’ll make sure you’re both rewarded for your efforts. Shall we talk in my office?” The rookies smirk to each other, brimming with pride to hear such words from the Captain, and follow Bullock down the hallway.

 

Once the footsteps have faded, Jim turns back to Victor and sees him zipping up his jeans. He nods at Victor once he has his attention. The punch hurts like a bitch and he feels the hot rush of blood down his face.

“Fuck!” Jim exclaims as he stumbles back and clutches his face, blood staining his fingers. He glares at Victor but it needs to look like the hitman escaped custody. “Satisfied?”

“Very. Payback's a bitch.”

“We're letting you walk. Be grateful, Victor. And you better go straight to my apartment. Oswald needs you.”

“I don’t follow your orders, Jim. I work for Penguin, not you.” Victor states as he limps past and exits the room without another word.

Jim sighs and spots the bullet on the table. He pockets it without a thought, the cold weight reminding Jim just how far Victor will go.

I don’t try, and I never stop. Those terrifying words surface up in Jim's head after all these months and although he'd always taking it as scare tactic, the realisation hits him that Victor was telling him the truth. Zsasz is unbelievably determined. Two bullets, a beating and several stabbings later and he was still on the hunt.

Jim wonders if losing a limb or two would even stop him for a minute. It’s doubtful. Victor is the equivalent of the terminator in Gotham. That thought causes him to chuckle lightly despite himself. Checking his watch, he notices that enough time has passed that Jim can leave the room and declare Zsasz missing.

He heads to the car park, blood dripping slowly onto his shirt. Victor is already gone. Time to run back inside and inform the Captain.

 


 


Harvey’s plan goes through without a hitch. The officers grumble and bicker as the unfortunate news circles around the station, and Jim catches the two crestfallen rookies consolidating each other over some coffee.

Guilt crashes down on him once more but he stands by what he told them.

The old him would have been out there, chasing the assassin down. Thankfully, the newbies don’t have that much determination.

Zsasz does keep the peace and his departure would worsen the state of the underworld. Penguin’s kidnapping has already caused a stir as people try to gain from his disappearance, even though it’s only been a few days. Scuttlebutt says gang activity has already increased but it's not Jim's department, thankfully. 

 

Jim sits at his desk, and grabs his phone. His thumb scrolls through the contacts until he reaches O.


Jim 13.56pm: he broke out after giving us the name. He should be on his way to you. Let me know when he gets back.

The detective stares at the screen for a minute before pocketing it and typing up a brief statement on what happened in the room. At least the cameras have no audio.

The tapes can be edited if necessary too. Not that Harvey will let anyone see them since he'll be overseeing the issue.


He keeps it short and sweet, and places it on Harvey’s desk with a smirk. The older man sighs.

“You know he’s not going to keep his promise.”

“I do,” Jim admits solemnly.

“Good, cause I sent a unit to watch that address he gave us. And another near where he was arrested. Should give us more chances to catch him and this Jamey guy.”

“Thanks, Harv. I know it couldn’t have been easy to let him walk.”

Harvey stares at him incredulously. “You’re kidding, right? If we arrest him, the city will go crazy. Crazier. Who would even let Zsasz go to Blackgate? No judge or mobster would allow it. I’m saving us a lot of paperwork.”

“Right, well thanks anyways. I’m off to find Jamey. I’ll try to bring him back by tonight.” Harvey waves him out with a tired huff. “See you soon, buddy.”

 


 


The parking lot of the GCPD is half filled with ancient and trendy vehicles. The sunlight filters through the concrete support beams but Jim has always parked in the same shady area since he first transferred to the force, and he doesn't plan to pick another spot soon.


He sits back in the worn leather and switches on the radio. The afternoon news doesn’t even reach his ears. He’s too caught up in his thoughts to pay attention to anything.

Jim sighs for the hundredth time and slams a hand down on the steering wheel.

He hastily grabs his phone, cursing himself even as he scrolls through his contacts. The call button gets jabbed too harshly.
A dull beep rings twice before a soft and rushed voice answers it.

“Jim! Is everything alright?” Oswald exclaims. Jim prays he didn’t wake the mobster up from his well needed rest.

“Yeah, Oswald, everything is fine. Did you get my text?”

“I... My apologies, I just woke up.” Jim smacks the steering wheel again in frustration. “Judge Judy is unsurprisingly boring as always. But to answer your message, he hasn’t returned yet.”

“You know where he is, don’t you?”

“In a sense. I know what he’s doing, but not where he is exactly. I haven’t placed on tracker on him." After a tense pause, he says, "I should've known you wouldn’t let it go, Jim.”

“I can’t ignore this.”

“What would you even arrest them for? I’m not going to testify or let you charge them. I want them dead.”

“Victor got shot. He’s wounded and he still won’t back down.”

There’s another short pause before Oswald answers. “I guess you too have a lot in common. He can take care of himself.”

“I know that... I just- I hate knowing he’s out there alone.”

Oswald sighs on the other end of the line, and Jim can hear fabric rustling. He imagines the kingpin shuffling around on his couch, hair mussed and blanket wrapped tightly around his small body.

“45, Rounder’s street. Room 301. It’s where Victor was headed.”

Jim smiles tightly, and nods even though Oswald can’t see the movement. “Thank you, Oswald.”

“Be careful. He doesn’t like you very much right now.”

“I’ll buy him some flowers,” Jim jokes. He hears Oswald's soft, genuine laugh, and everything seems to narrow down to that sound.

“Good luck with that.” After a moment of companionable silence, Oswald suggests, “He likes peonys. Preferably red.”

“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind. I’ll see you soon. Get some rest, Oswald.”

“I will. Goodbye, Jim.” The kingpin hangs up first, and snuggles back into his mountain of pillows with a smile.

Jim sighs and chuckles at the absurdity of his life. He drops the phone on the passenger seat and turns the engine on, pulling out of the carpark.

Chapter Text

The small, cramped apartment building creaks and groans with the barest shudder of wind. The badly lit staircase provides pockets of shadows and the exit light buzzes and blinks.

Victor stalks up the stairs, his boots absorbing any noise as he makes his way of the treacherous building. The doorman is already slumped dead behind a garbage can, out of sight.

A step creaks under his weight; the wood is rotten and ancient. He stops, pausing so he can hear any shuffling from the lowlife residents.

When a few minutes have passed, he resumes his climb.

His leg aches and protests with each movement, and the painkillers only manage to dull his shoulder. The stitches threaten to pull but hold together for now. He’ll need to finish this quickly before the pain takes over and he passes out.

 

301 comes into sight.

Victor shuffles up along the wall and glances down at the doorknob. It’s likely locked along the length of the door, maybe reinforced with a couch or cabinet to slow Victor down. He sighs internally and heads to the staircase, climbing upwards towards the roof.

 


 

 

The warm breeze fills his lungs. The fresh air is a welcome change from the stuffy, mouldy smell, and it clears Victor’s head. He takes a step toward the fire escape that comes down in front of 301's window.

His leg buckles and a sharp, mind-numbing pain shoots up his spine from his thigh. He cries out, collapsing onto the rooftop without warning. Victor clutches at his leg, gritting his teeth with a series of curses.

He takes a minute to catch his laboured breath before getting back up with a hiss. Shuffling forward determinedly, Victor makes it to the fire escape. The metal scrapes loudly together under his weight but Victor steps down quietly. The pain has started to subside.

 

The single window in the apartment leads out onto the fire escape. It’s not barred or blocked, but Victor bets it's locked as well.

Shuffling down the last few steps, out of sight, he grabs his handgun and fires two rounds into the glass.

It shatters and Victor wastes no time in reholstering and climbing through, positioning his hands away from the few remaining shards still embedded in the wooden frame.

 

The last man on Victor’s hitlist yells in panic, raising a shotgun at the intruder. Victor smirks before pouncing closer, smacking the barrel to the side with his forearm.

“You fucker!” Jamey spits, dropping the gun and throwing a heavy fist into Victor's abdomen. The hitman winces but doesn’t relent, grabbing at the kidnapper's clothes to throw him back against a wall.

Jamey grunts but the large man doesn’t give up, taking whatever hit he can and throwing them right back. He finally ends up kneeling over Victor’s body, knocking away the remaining handgun out of reach whilst holding the second against the hitman’s forehead.

“Man, you are one determined motherfucker, aren’t you? Should've known you’d come running. Too bad you’re gonna die now. Could've used a clever bitch like you.” Jamey taunts continuously, laughing when Victor grits his teeth and raises his head against the barrel to show his lack of fear.

“You talk too much.”

Jamey smirks and moves to hold down Victor’s struggling limbs. One knee comes down on the bullethole. Victor barely holds back the scream, as the fiery pain consumes every nerve.

“What’s the matter? Someone rough you up?” Mock worry stains Jamey's words as he digs his knee deeper into the toned, spasming muscle. “Good!”

“Fuck...You!” Zsasz spits through his harsh breathing, trying desperately to silence his whimpers. His hand grabs at the knife strapped to his belt.

“You know what? I’ve had enough of this! You die, right fucking now!”

The door explodes into shrapnel as detective Gordon shoots at the lock. The door swings open and the cop rushes in.

 

And then Jamey fires the stolen gun.

 

The shot rings in Jim’s head and he barely hears himself yelling “GCPD!” as he aims at Jamey. But his finger pulls on the trigger before the kidnapper can even turn to attack the detective.

Jamey crumbles down onto the floor, lifeless, missing an eye and a knife stabbed into his stomach.

“Victor?!” Jim sinks to his knees, drops the gun and cradles Victor’s slumped head. “Hey, can you hear me? Victor!”

Jim rushes to find the bullethole but there’s no blood to be seen. His hands paw at his chest before realising how firm and straight his chest feels. He desperately tears at the shirt, ripping the buttons apart.

“You son of a bitch...” Jim smacks his palm against the Kevlar vest and sighs at the tiny bullet embedded into the fabric. Relief washes over him as Victor groans and winces quietly.

 


 

 

Dragging a half-conscious hitman down several flights of stairs and into his car isn’t as easy as Jim had naively believed. He dials Harvey’s number and informs his partner of the corpse up in 301, promising to fill out the paperwork the following day.

“Come on, let’s get you home,” Jim sighs as he finally drives away from the mess of police cars and ambulances. Victor hums in agreement, and snuggles up further into the leather benchseat with several painkillers working hard to keep him quiet.

 


 

 

Rushed knocking crashes down the front door, tearing Oswald from his pleasant dreams.

He shuffles to the glass, noticing two figures. He opens the door widely, allowing Jim inside with a stunned sound. The detective carries Victor inside, cradling his unconscious body with such care as though the hitman is fragile glass.

“Is he... okay?” Oswald queries as he shuts the door and watches the detective lay his friend on the bed.

“Yeah, he will be. The paramedics gave him something for the pain.”

“Paramedics? What happened?”

Jim sighs and slumps down onto the couch, inviting Oswald to sit as well with an open palm.

“He was shot at point-blank. Whoa, slow down!” Jim exclaims in surprise as Oswald flies off the couch and into the bedroom.

The detective smiles tightly as he finds the mobster perched on his bed, one hand on Victor’s rising chest and the other gently holding his hand.

“If you’d let me finish, you’d know that he wore a vest. He’s gonna have horrible bruises but nothing else. Didn’t even crack a rib, lucky bastard. Os, he’ll be fine. Really.”

Oswald ducks his head at the new nickname and a small smile graces his lips.

“Thank you for going after him. Did he kill the target?”

“I did. Self defence. I guess you get your wish.” Jim admits, taking a seat beside Oswald. The adrenaline has faded by now, leaving the cop exhausted and aching for a shower and a sandwich.

“It was never my wish for Victor to get hurt.”

“It's part of the job. He knows the risks. But it’s over, right?”

“Yes, it’s over. Thanks to you both. Victor was right, you do make a good team.”

Jim raises a brow, stealing a glance at the sleeping hitman. “He said that?”

“Amongst other things. We share a lot. I don’t have many friends, Jim. He’s very honest, compared to many people I talk to, and I like that. It’s... refreshing and annoying at the same time,” Oswald raves with a giggle.

As if remembering where he is and who he’s with, Oswald clears his throat abruptly and stands up. He brushes away some imaginary dust and fidgets with the hem of his borrowed shirt.

“I should get him into something more comfortable.” He eyes the ill-fitting white shirt that covers the mass of bandages with scorn. Jim had thrown it on Victor in a rush, grabbing his spare clothes bag from the trunk of his car.

“Right, of course. I’ll leave you to it. I’m gonna grab a shower in the meantime.”

Jim can tell things will just get more awkward if he sticks around. He stands too and grabs the first thing in his dresser, before hiding in the bathroom.

 


 


Jim slumps against the door with a content smile. He can now put most of the worry and fear behind him and start to work out whatever the fuck is going on with his feelings. Great.

He steps towards the shower and twists the chrome knob until a gush of hot water splatters down into the tiny cubicle.

His jacket and tie get tossed on the floor and Jim glances at his reflection.

The circles under his eyes are heavier and larger, giving him a skull-like appearance. His carefully styled hair is mussed horribly and his body slouches over.

“You look like crap,” he hears himself say to the tired man in the mirror. The steam starts to creep across the glass, obscuring his reflection.

Not bothering to even check the temperature first, Jim strips down and steps into the scalding spray.

His skin reddens quickly, burning under the heat, but Jim doesn’t mind. He hardly feels the pain even when focusing on the tiny pinpricks water that hit his back.

Everything’s okay now. Oswald got his revenge and he'll soon be able to go home. Just keep it cool for now, he thinks as he grabs the shower gel he received as part of a set for secret Santa last year. Victor will forgive you and everything can go back to normal.

 

The thoughts fly around in his head, his mind desperate to cheer him up from the grumbling mood he finds himself in despite the positive end to his day. The cacophony of his shower routine stop Jim from hearing the door close.

“Mind if I join you?” Oswald asks loudly, hoping Jim will hear him. He stifles a laugh when the detective nearly jumps out of his skin.

“Oswald... why would you-?” Jim is glad his face is already red from the water. He stays facing the wall, trying to keep some dignity.

“I’m not blind, Jim. I know how you feel about me. I figured I should prove to you that I feel the same.”

Oswald smiles confidently, his eyes alight with mischief as he pulls his shirt over his head. The movement causes him to wince but the pained noise isn’t audible over the loud spray.

“So, I suggest you move over.”

“Your bandages...” Jim weakly protests.

He’s tempted to call the whole thing off, tell Oswald that he doesn't like him in that way, that they should stop before they can’t take back anything and regret whatever this is. He just wants to keep Oswald away from his destructive nature.

“I need new ones anyways.” Oswald removes the gauze quickly, leaving his pale chest in easy view for Jim’s sake. The detective traces every scar, old and new, with his eyes and the fresh wounds look to be healing well.

By the time Jim has finished leering at the small and slim expanse of skin, Oswald is already nude and stepping toward the shower determinedly. Jim lets him in with a shy smile and nowhere near as much confidence as the kingpin.

As long as we keep this simple...

The water drenches Oswald’s hair, flattening the thick strands across his forehead and eyes. Jim raises a hand to brush it aside, combing through the raven hair, and his fingers linger on Oswald’s skin.

The freckles scattered across Oswald’s face continue down his slender throat and torso, and Jim knows he wants to spend hours tracing and mapping each dot of that entire galaxy.

“You’re beautiful,” Jim whispers.

Oswald lets out a quiet laugh and takes the praise as an encouragement to move closer. His chest presses up against Jim’s and the cool contrast makes the taller man whimper. The detective wraps an arm around Oswald’s lower back, pushing him until there’s no space between them.

Oswald rests his head on Jim’s chest, just to the side of his heart. The lulling beat relaxes the smaller man and Oswald sighs contently, nuzzling at the warm skin. He daringly presses a soft kiss to it before giggling to himself.

“Oswald?” Jim observes him with a smile as he asks for the man’s attention.

When Oswald looks up with wide, expectant eyes, Jim tilts his head down to capture a kiss. The soft lips beneath his move gently, and Jim finds himself cupping Oswald’s face with both hands, his fingers drawing the kingpin upwards as he kisses down with as much force as he dares.
Oswald whimpers under the gentle touches and kisses back confidently, over the moon with how his evening is developing. He smirks internally at the little voice that told him to buck up and admit his feelings for Jim. He should listen to it more often.

“We should clean up,” Jim suggests as they finally break apart. He can’t stop Oswald from giving him tiny pecks across his neck and jaw but he doesn’t want to anyways. He’d imagined that Oswald would be gentle and romantic but not to this extent.

Oswald hums in agreement, unwilling to be parted from Jim’s tanned body for more than a few seconds. He sighs happily as Jim runs his hands down Oswald's back, the shower gel leaving blue trails where it hasn’t turned to bubbles. He lets the detective move across to his abdomen, always mindful of the wounds and rough stitches.

His favourite part of their shower adventure starts when Jim scoops up a handful of shampoo and easily dumps it over Oswald’s head. The cute shriek is worth the glare Jim receives and Oswald readies himself to scold the detective, but Jim starts massaging the fruity soap into his locks. The frown turns into a delicate yet sultry expression.

Oswald’s lips part and his eyes flutter closed as Jim works his digits into his scalp, tugging his hair and lathering it up appropriately. The kingpin refuses to be held accountable for the moans and whimpers that escapes him under Jim’s touch. No one’s ever done this for him so Oswald soaks up every second, leaning into the skilled hands like a demanding cat.

With an evil chuckle, Jim pushes Oswald back under the full spray of water. The sudden heat causes the mobster to yelp but Jim’s hands are back on him in an instant, and his lips silence any snarky comment. Oswald moans and melts into the embrace, kissing back fervently despite the water streaming down their faces.

 

The shower comes to an end and Jim grabs the nearest towel. He wraps it tightly around Oswald before fetching his own. His greedy glances start to get noticed more and more until Oswald abandons the task of drying his hair in pursuit of something more interesting. 

He wraps his arms around Jim’s neck, ignoring the wet skin meeting his dry chest. Pulling the detective down into another dizzying kiss, Oswald leaves open mouth pecks across Jim’s lips.

Jim loses patience with the cute stuff and holds Oswald still long enough to slip his tongue past Oswald’s spread lips. The moan he earns echoes between them is deafening in the silent bathroom and Jim barely holds himself back from moving further than kissing. But his reasonable side knows that neither are ready for that, and he’s content with kissing Oswald madly until they are.

So much for simple.

Oswald eventually moves away and resumes his task, and ignores the quiet laugh from Jim. He knows the towel draped over his head would appear funny. As he gives his hair one final rub, he grabs the towel and wraps it around his waist. He didn’t have the foresight to bring fresh clothes in.

“Look in the mirror,” Jim comments between little laughs.

Oswald raises a brow but passes his hand over the foggy mirror. He smirks at his impossible hair as various unruly spikes decide to defy gravity.

“It's a new style I’m going for.” Oswald shrugs as he attempts the flatten his hair into a more sensible look. As he moves past Jim, a large hand ruffles his hair joyfully. “How dare you?” The comment is spoken with a large grin and an evil glint in Oswald’s eyes.

“Oh, I dare. What are you going to do about it?” Jim teases as he crowds the kingpin against the door.

Oswald’s eyes widen and a nervous smile crawls onto his delicate face. He bites his lip and pushes his hips forward into Jim’s, his intentions very clear and naughty.

“How about I show you on the couch?”

“Let's take this slow, Oswald. Please.” Jim hopes he'll understand and not walk away annoyed. He places a hand on Oswald’s hip to keep him back.

“Oh. Okay. Sure, we can go slow. I just figured since we’ve known each other so long, you’d be dying to make love to me. I know I am.” Despite the disappointment, Oswald takes a step back and nods like the perfectly behaved gentleman he can be.

“I am too. But I want to get to know you first. As Oswald, not Penguin. Hell, I don’t even know what your favourite food is or your favourite flower. I’ve messed up so much between us in the past, I want to make this right. You’re not just another person in my bed.”

“What am I then?”

“You’re my Oswald.” Jim leans down for a quick kiss but the mobster has other plans. All this romantic mush has gotten to him. He hugs Jim tightly, embracing the man he’s cared about for years at last. And then he proceeds to kiss the life out of Jim, tugging at his hair and clothes.

Chapter Text

They wander out of the bathroom quietly, Oswald giggling like a teenager sneaking out at night. He quickly dresses in Jim's clothes and exits after checking his friend's even breathing.

The bedroom is painted orange from the setting sun and the blinds cast long, black lines across Victor’s body.

He sleeps with one bent knee raised and his arms crossed behind his head, under the pillow. His face is relaxed and he almost looks friendly with the GCPD logo emblazed on his tee.

Jim smirks at the passive revenge and follows Oswald out without another glance. When he shuts the door behind him, he asks, “You hungry?”

“Very. I thought you didn’t cook, though.”

“I meant takeout.” Jim feels guilty for ignoring the food in the fridge, but aside from frying up eggs and bacon he really can’t cook. He does check the contents but he comes up clueless as to what to do with any of it.

“Chinese.” Oswald doesn’t miss a beat, smiling cheekily.

“Done. What do you want?”

“Literally anything you’re having, please.” Jim nods and grabs his phone. He spends five minutes ordering and once he’s finished, he leaps onto Oswald for another make out session.

 

 

“I’ve never seen someone eat so much and still be hungry,” Jim comments as he helps Oswald to clear up the dining table of plastic containers.

“I can’t help it! I’ve got a big appetite.”

“I noticed,” Jim smiles as he wraps an arm around Oswald’s waist and pulls him back into a hug. “We should talk about this.”

“What? My need for dessert?” Oswald spins and plants his palms on Jim’s chest, leaning his weight onto him when his leg starts to ache. “I need to sit down. My leg-“

“Of course, here.” Jim guides the kingpin to the couch, helping him lie down. He props the bad leg on a floral pillow. “I meant us. We need to talk about how this is going to work.”

“I see. Well, I was thinking you and I just spend as much time as possible kissing.”

Oswald smiles charmingly, his hand grabs Jim’s and absentmindedly rubs his knuckles. The detective sits on the coffee table, making sure he has the kingpin’s full attention.

“Os, you’re aware I have a record... with partners. I’m not good at romance.”

“I must also confess something, Jim. I’ve never dated. So we’re both a bit lost, but I care for you. I always have and I know you do too.”

“Did Victor tell you that?” Jim tries to pass the comment off as a joke but it falls flat and Oswald glances away.

“Yes. I needed to know why you were doing this. I didn’t think you’d ever tell me in person. Victor offered to question you and I agreed. He told me everything.”

“Even that I like him too?” Jim rubs the back of his neck, amazed that Oswald is still holding his hand. He feels dirty for even mentioning his interest in Victor. He was only just starting something with Oswald. He’s already ruining things.

If you don't count all the other times, his mind offers cynically.

“Yes, that too. I’m not jealous, if that’s what you imagine. The two people who have my back and my full trust like each other. Call me naive but I think we could work something out between us.”

“The word you’re looking for is ‘threesome'.” Jim supplies, his mind reeling and overflowing with ideas and dreams. Maybe all isn’t lost.

“That’s sex related. I want something meaningful too, not just mindless fucking.”

“You really think we can do this?” Oswald smiles brightly and nods enthusiastically, turning back to Jim. “How do you propose we ask him?”

“I’m not sure. Perhaps we should just tell him what we’ve decided and if he wants to join, he can. If not, I get you all to myself.”

“I like that. Over breakfast?”

“I owe you for taking me in. Why not dinner? My treat. I’ll pick somewhere simple yet classy and we'll break the news to him there.”

“Won’t he be on high alert in public? You were just kidnapped, not to mention he’s injured badly.”

“I suppose you’re right. Look at us two, planning a date already.”

“What does Victor like anyways?” Jim asks as he glances back at the door, hoping Victor isn’t on the other side listening in.

“Food. Loud music. Guns. Are you trying to buy his affection?” Oswald snuggles down into the couch, yanking the blanket on the backrest over him. He lets Jim tuck him in.

“I do need to apologise for that fight. Does he like pizza?” At that, Oswald snorts and nods frantically. “Good. Pizza night then!”

“Sounds like a deal. I hate to cut the night short but I’m feeling quite tired. I’m claiming the couch for tonight.”

“What about me?”

“Go bond with Victor. He could use a hug after the day he’s had.” Oswald smiles wickedly and pulls the blanket tighter.

“Alright. Goodnight, Oswald. Sleep well.” Jim plants a quick kiss on the man’s cheek and ruffles his hair before switching off the overhead lights. He glances back at Oswald before entering his room at last.

 

 

Victor is still slumped across the bed messily, limbs thrown about. The alarm clock glows on his bedside. 22.21pm. It’s earlier than Jim would ever climb into bed and without a belly full of whiskey like usual, he approaches his bed more tentatively.

His room doesn’t even feel like his own anymore. Although it’s only been a few days, Jim’s mind reacts as if he was gone for months.

There’s not much of a mess. Two open bags occupy a corner, and both Victor’s and Oswald’s boots are neatly set by the door; toes against the white skirting board.

Even the dirty clothes are gone, leaving the room in a strange, domestic mess. It should shock Jim just how he accepts this with a shrug, but there’s no point fighting something he admittedly enjoys.

His shirt remains on him despite the warmth of the room. He doesn’t want Victor to freak out and risk upsetting the younger man even further.

 

The sheets are blissfully cool when Jim finally slips underneath them. Sleeping next to somebody isn’t something he’s done for a while but the soft, even breathing and occasional shuffle of sleepy limbs helps Jim calm down. He would have thought it would be difficult to shut his eyes and drift away but Jim sticks to his side and Victor doesn’t crawl closer in search of heat or companionship.

Jim tightens his grip on the cover and tugs it closer over his shoulder. He turns away from Victor, and gazes out of the window until his eyes shut and he drifts off.

 


 

 

His alarm bleeps noisily in the pale room as the sun lazily starts to shine through the wooden blinds. Jim groans and twists to reach over but a heavy smack silences the poor machine before he can even shuffle closer.

A soft sigh whispers next to his head and Jim remembers where he is and who likely destroyed his clock in drowsy anger.

His eyes flutter open and he settles his gaze on Victor. The cold, pink light casts heavy shadows in all the defined areas. Victor’s neck appears longer and his jaw even more pronounced. His pale lips part and another exhale escapes quietly.

Without thinking, as is common occurrence with the detective, Jim raises a hand and traces the sharp bone with his thumb.

Victor is suddenly wide awake and his hand snatches Jim’s firmly, pulling the offending digit away.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Victor demands sharply.

“Wanted to touch you. You’re so relaxed in your sleep.”

“Was relaxed.” Victor sighs loudly and throws Jim’s hand away as if the mere contact burns his skin.

He rips the covers away and stands abruptly. His leg threatens to collapse but he bites down on the pain and ignores his body’s warnings.

“I’m sorry for what happened, Victor. I never should have hit you. I was mad and I wasn’t thinking straight-“

“What am I wearing?” The hitman interrupts unsurely, his voice raising slightly as he pulls at the t-shirt and observes it with concern.

“My old stuff. It was Oswald’s idea.”

“Right...” Victor continues to stare at it suspiciously.

His leg continues to protest so he sits down with his back to the cop.

“It suits you. Listen, there’s something you should know about Oswald and I.”

The mention of his boss tears Victor away from his fidgeting and he fixes his intense gaze on Jim.

“We kissed last night, a lot, and we agreed to give dating a try.”

“Good for you. At long last.” The encouraging words are spoken in a way that can only be described as choked. Victor turns away, head tilted downwards.

Jim dares to crawl up next to him, keeping some distance from the flighty hitman. He notices Victor has wrapped his arms around himself, clutching at the hems of the shirt in a white-knuckle grip.

“That’s not all but I promised Oswald we would tell you, together.”

“You’re not getting married, are you?” The hitman jokes, a tiny smile tugging at his lips. Jim rejoices in the change of mood.

“Nope. Not there yet. Come on, I’ll make you some breakfast. Do you need my help walking?”

“Yeah.” Jim slips Victor’s arm around his shoulders and carries most of the assassin’s weight as they leave the room.

From the scent of fresh coffee, Jim knows Oswald put a pot on for him. He smiles, embracing the life he’s found himself tangled in.

They make it to the table and Victor sits down carefully, extending his injured leg to the side of the seat.

“Morning,” the detective greets Oswald with a kiss to his forehead and smiles at the blush that crawls across the kingpin's flustered face. “Thanks for the coffee. I’ll fix up some breakfast. Eggs and bacon sound good?”

“Absolutely. Thank you, dear.” Oswald immediately panics, mouth gaping and eyes widening with something close to fear. “I’m sorry, Jim! Was that too much? I thou-“

“No, no, it’s fine. I’m just not used to hearing that. Please, don’t stop. I like it, really.” Jim reassures, stroking Oswald’s cheek. He leans down for a brief kiss, realising how easy and right this all feels.

“Jeez, you weren’t kidding,” Victor chimes in at the sight.

He leans forward in his chair, resting on his elbows and entwining his fingers together under his chin. A lascivious grin splits across his face and it only grows wider when Oswald pulls away and gazes directly at him, lips still tingling.

“We only started last night. Just... kissing,” Oswald stammers, grabbing his mug of tea and sipping quietly.

“Of course, boss. Just kissing. For now.”

Full plates are placed down in front on Oswald and his personal assassin, and the kingpin even waits until Jim has seated himself to begin. He casts a glance at Victor, smirking at the sight of the wolfish expression as he shovels his food down impatiently.

“Enjoy,” Jim says as he starts as well. He receives two muffled compliments and smiles at the idea to get up earlier than usual to spend more time with his boys. The thought makes him chuckle out of nowhere and he doesn't miss the odd looks.

 

“Victor,” Oswald begins once the dishes are stacked away in the sink. “Jim and I were talking last night about everything that has happened. He repeated what you told me and admitted his feelings for both of us, and I thank you for your honesty in sharing that with me.”

Victor nods with interest, not entirely sure where his boss is going with this but not dismissing him either.

“I know I’m not good at showing my true feelings, but I want you to know that I truly care for you, Victor. You’ve been through so much with me and I want you to continue to stay by my side, but not just as my friend. Jim and I have both decided to invite you into our relationship. You would be an equal partner in everything and if I’m being entirely honest, it would give me a reason to finally kiss you.” Oswald finishes his elegant speech with a genuine smile and leans back with his tea firmly in his grasp.

He observes Victor’s processing calmly, each emotion flicking across his eyes for brief seconds before another takes its place.

“Well? What do you think, Victor? Wanna give it a go?” Jim asks when a response doesn’t escape the hitman and he grows tired of the awkward silence.

“So to simplify that really sweet speech, you want a threesome.” Victor deadpans, still not giving an answer.

“Yes. But not just in the bedroom. I want a real relationship with both of you. Jim cares for you, as do I.”

“So, what do you say?” Jim prompts further.

Victor smirks and says, “Sure. Why not? I’m in.” And then he leans in to capture Jim’s lips roughly and demandingly. Jim whimpers under the brutal kiss, trying his best to keep up with the killer's enthusiasm.

Eventually they part for air and Jim catches a glance at the clock.

“I need to get ready. We'll continue this after work.” Jim stands and head to his room for a shower and shave.

“Thanks boss. You know I would have been okay staying in the shadows.” Victor tilts his head and rubs at his tired eyes.

His entire body screams in pain but he shuts it down.

Oswald stares at him incredulously. “I didn’t do this because I thought you would be jealous. I really want you in this part of my life too. Not just work.”

“Thanks. I’m happy to be considered.”

“You don’t sound happy... Is something wrong?”

“I always thought you wanted to keep work and life apart. It’s why I never bothered to ask you out on a date.”

“You get the chance to now. Please give this a go. If it’s not right for you, we will go back to our previous arrangement. Deal?”

“Yes. Can I kiss you, boss?”

Oswald nods eagerly and scoots into the closest seat. Victor leans in, licking his lower lip to hide how nervous he actually feels, and presses his lips against Oswald’s softly.

With Jim, he wants it rough. Zsasz wants the stinging pain because they both deserve that.

But he wants to treat Oswald right and he does so by moving his mouth slowly, teasing his boss into letting go of all fear until he can place a hand on Oswald’s cheek and pull him closer. His thumb strokes the soft skin on his cheek, tracing the curve of the bone. The tips of his fingers play with the short strands, massaging into the flesh he can reach as he encourages Oswald to part his lips.

Zsasz cherishes the soft mewls his boss makes as he licks into his mouth and lets his tongue dance across Oswald’s own.

They share the intimate moment until Jim re-emerges from the bedroom with combed hair and a neat, yet boring suit. When they finally part, both are flustered and panting and Oswald glances up at Victor with wide, innocent eyes.

The hitman flicks his gaze to Jim momentarily. “I’ll take care of him.”

“I’m sure you will,” Jim smirks and bids his goodbyes before disappearing out of the front door. Once he is out of sight, Victor returns to his task of worshipping Oswald’s mouth with drawn-out kisses.