Title: In which Jim isn't a dick
The muted purples and reds of the setting sun, unusually beautiful for a Friday in February, spill through the Lounge's windows, bathing the sleek, modern interior in a warm glow. Oswald takes a sip from his glass, relishes the burn of the whiskey, perched on a barstool. Around him, patrons, seated in booths lined with plush, royal purple, chat away, creating a gentle background hum. The hour's early- the Lounge doesn't get busy until later at night, when the cover of darkness offers a sense of security to the rich and morally ambiguous. The Lounge's icy centrepiece looks almost contented somehow, though it might just be Oswald projecting. After all, he always did wish that things had turned out differently. It's the Lounge's fifth anniversary in three days- five years since he's acquired it from Barabara and Tabitha- or, as they refer to themselves, the Sirens.
In honour of the occasion, he's sent out an invitation to the appropriate socialites- and, as for the past four years, one to the now-Commissioner, Jim Gordon. And if that one just happens to be hand-signed, and written on the same paper as the invite to Oswald's first club, with a gold trim?
That's just a coincidence.
He feels a presence, someone sitting down on the barstool next to him, before he hears, "One Rainbow, please."
"Jim, old friend!" he says, surprised. The animosity between them's faded in the past years, though, "I didn't expect to see you here." It's a bit- well, a lot- pleasing, actually, to imagine that Jim might be here for non-GCPD related reasons, and, judging by the fact that Jim's ordered a drink, Oswald can't imagine that he is here for GCPD-related reasons.
Jim smiles sheepishly. "I'm sorry- do I know you?"
Oswald blinks, then, anger. "You- you! How dare you, Jim Gordon? You have the- the audacity to come to my club and act like you don't know who I am? And after everything I've done for you!"
Jim looks stunned, raises a hand to his cheek. It infuriates Oswald, a white-hot, burning rage. It's further exacerbated by the clueless expression on Jim's face. Oswald grabs his cane, practically stomping up the stairs to his quarters, ignoring the way it makes pain shoot up his bad leg.
The night of the anniversary party, and Oswald's mood is still foul. Instead of pushing it to the back of his mind like he usually does, though, he's let the anger run through his blood, turning his veins icy-hot, and, as in all other instances, this leads to broken vases, cups, and, notably, an incredibly kitschy set of tortoise teacups that once belonged to Grace. Those, Oswald throws out the window.
Eventually- though not before four unfortunate staff try to get him to come down- Oswald pulls on a dark-grey pinstriped suit and a black tie, inspects himself in the full-sized, ceiling-to-floor mirror, and, deeming himself presentable, makes his way down to the Lounge- after all, he does have a speech to give, and no one, godsdamn Commissioner, or otherwise, is going to stop him.
When he enters, a hush falls over the Lounge, silent, save for the click, click of the metal of his cane hitting the floor. Oswald smirks to himself as he surveys the assembled. After a lifetime of conniving and scheming, he now has the reputation, the influence, the power he's always dreamed of, the ability to silence the masses simply with his presence.
Victory tastes so, so good.
"Ladies! Gentlemen! Others!" His voice carries effortlessly, soft but commanding instant attention. "It is my privilege to welcome you all to the Iceberg Lounge on this very special day- the fifth anniversary of this fine establishment! Please, do enjoy yourselves- after all, what would the Lounge be without its patrons?" His speech is met with thunderous applause, and Oswald bows slightly, flashes a smile. "Thank you, thank you all!" The audience starts to disperse, and he winces as an unexpected stab of pain shoots up his leg.
Suddenly, there's a bang, and sharp pain in his abdomen. Oswald presses a hand to the spot, feels warm liquid spilling out over his fingers, pulls his hand away. Blinks in surprise at the glistening, wet, ruby-red blood coating his fingers, and feels his knees buckle, cane dropping from his hand and hitting the floor with a slow, echoing clang.
He falls backwards, the screams of those around him muted, as if he's underwater again, drowning, and chokes back a bout of hysterical laughter, the bright lights swimming and making his head pound, black spots floating across his vision. The floor is cold against his skin, grounding, almost.
Someone's kneeling by his side, pressing against the bullet wound, their voice cracking, and he thinks they might be begging him to stay awake. He wants to ask why.
His last thought before slipping into darkness is, who would possibly want me to live?
Darkness. Cold. Frigid-
He gasps, eyes snapping open. Tendrils of red float around him, frozen in time and space, suspended in the icy waters. His lungs burn as water fills them, chocking him.
Through the curtain of blue-black, he can see a hazy outline, two figures standing, one short, one tall. Then, movement. His body jerks, and he's standing on the docks, Ed in front of him. A sneer, and, "I could never love you. Who would ever care about a freakshow like you?"
The words bite deep, and even though Oswald knows what's about to happen, he still flinches in surprise when Ed whips the gun out, lodges a bullet in him, still brings a shaking hand to cover the wound, still feels pain and grief when Ed grabs him, pulls him close for just a moment, a sneer on his face, and pushes him back into the water.
The waters morph, and this time he's standing on the docks, this time with Jim, gun pressed to his head. Jim leans in close to his ear and growls, "Gotham's better off without you."
Oswald's eyes widen in fear for just a second, and the gun goes off-
He bolts upright, the lights bright and burning, shaking. The heart-rate monitor picks up, loud and fast, and a woman rushes into the room, calming words having no effect. His breaths are quick and gasping, and panic makes his blood pound loudly in his ears.
She gives up, and pulls a syringe from a tray, and Oswald tries to get up, get away, but someone else grabs his arms, holds him down for long enough that the woman can jab the needle into his neck and the room swims again, a dizzy feeling overcoming him, and he slumps back onto the bed-
The bang of the gun rings through the damp cell, and a moment of silence before it all hits. Oswald screams in anger, pain, grief, and everything freezes for a moment, rewind. Rewind, and his mom's standing now as he kneels, her eyes dark.
"How could you?" she asks, and as she speaks, blood wells up out of the wound, pours out of her mouth. "How could you? You brought this upon me."
The words are like bullets, piercing every one of his defences, and hot tears prick his eyes. "I'm so, so sorry," he whispers, brokenly, "I-"
"You killed me!"
The gun goes off again, but this time, he's the one catching the bullet, doubling over as he chokes to death on his own blood-
He gasps back awake, panting, and someone moves in his peripheral vision, says- asks?- "Can I see him?" The other person says something, a denial, judging by the increase in volume in the next sentence: "Damnit, I've been waiting for over a week for him to stabilize, the least you can do is let me see that he's alright!"
A swell of- something, rises in Oswald, a mixture of anger, fear, and something he can't name. Apparently, though, Jim gets his way (as usual, Oswald thinks, sardonic) and a moment later, footsteps signal his approach. The footsteps falter a few feet away from the hospital bed, and Oswald rolls over, painfully, to face the other.
"Um- hi," Jim says, then grimaces when Oswald goes to answer and instead starts to hack up a lung. "Here- let me help," he says, helps to prop him up on the pillows, then hands him a glass of water from the bedside table.
"What-" Oswald goes to speak again, then takes another sip of water when the words catch, a cough tickling the back of his throat. "What are you doing here? I thought you were pretending not to know me?" It comes out bitter, and Jim winces. Oswald can't bring himself to feel bad.
Jim fidgets for a minute, shamefaced, before he says, quietly, "I'm sorry. I- you know that Tetch was loose, right? Well, um, I was the one doing the mandatory Arkham patrol that night and-" he pauses, clears his throat, "Tetch whammied me- made me forget everyone I care about." The last bit is quiet, more like a whispered confession, and Jim drops his eyes to the floor.
Oswald blinks, taken aback. "Oh."
"Yeah. I kinda snapped back when you were shot though- good thing, too, since I was the only one other than Victor- Zsasz, that is- with any sort of first aid knowledge." Jim grins sheepishly. "So- uh, I'm sorry for making you think that I would try and pretend not to know you- and that you got shot, too, obviously."
The last bit barely registers though, because, "If you forgot about everyone you care about, then why'd you forget me?"
Jim freezes, ears reddening and a blush spreading across his cheeks. "I-I-" he stutters, swallows. "I care about you, Oswald. Deeply."
Oswald's the one frozen this time, before he croaks out, "Then why'd you always push me away?"
Jim's expression darkens. "I was an asshole when I was younger. I thought that life was black and white, and whenever I encountered anything- anyone- who challenged that belief, I tried to convince myself that I was just being mislead. And then- when you were mayor you disappeared and I couldn't think straight, worrying about you, and when I found out you were alive, I tried to push you away- tried to protect myself from ever being hurt like that again." It's a quiet admission, layered in guilt.
"Oh," Oswald breathes, "Jim."
Jim gives a self-depreciating smile. "Yeah- I'm an idiot and an ass, I know. And- I understand if you never want to talk to me again just- please know that I don't hate you. Don't want you dead." His expression is one of pained acceptance. And, well.
"Come here and kiss me, Jim, you silly man," Oswald says, and surprise flits over the other's face before he leans in and kisses Oswald softly.