Blame It On The Red (Part I: The Boy with the Thorn in His Side
DC Universe (Gotham City Sirens)Pairing/Characters:
Edward Nigma & Harley Quinn (Edward/Harley in later parts)Rating:
Edward Nigma, a.k.a. The Riddler, contemplates his status as a reformed super villain, and the betrayal of Pamela, Selina and Harley. Set just after Gotham City Sirens #10.Word Count:
He was tired. But, then, when wasn’t he, these days? He just couldn’t seem to shake the blanket of lethargy that had wrapped itself around him anymore. A constant state of weariness.
He knew what the problem was -- though he loathed to think about it. The thoughts were like poison, and the longer he spent concentrating on them, the longer he would need to heal from them. He liked to think that this was down to the fact the situation had no mystery to it, no riddle for him to puzzle over. Really, he knew it wasn’t that. It was the twang of hurt that kept finding its way into his stomach every time he let his mind slip to it. After all, Dr. Aesop had been right; he was a bat. He was neither hero nor villain nor citizen of Gotham. He was alone. And though once upon a time, he had been okay with that, the thought was hard to digest now. What had changed?
Or, perhaps, he had not changed at all. Perhaps Edward Nigma had never been okay alone. After all, there had always been allies, even if he could barely trust them to stay within their agreements. At least he had been needed, had been begged for his help in some scheme or plot that could only be pulled off with his ingenious mind.
Now he wasn’t so much needed, as used.
He had a feeling it wasn’t just the fact that he had been used so despicably -- no, it wasn’t that, as much as he wanted to blame that fact (he’d been used so many times before - who was he kidding?) -- but, rather, the fact it had been done by not one, but three of the few people he thought he could trust. Pamela didn’t surprise him, but hadn’t he been there for Selina? For Harley? When had he denied their requests? Admittedly, he sometimes took persuading, but he had never let them down when they needed him, and he hadn’t planned on doing so. He had expected the same in return, as stupid as he had been to do so. But he had wanted, at the very least, honesty, especially after all the shit they had put him through. He was too old to be heavily drugged by villainesses before the took over his apartment, too old to be used like a piece of meat - as bait - and yet too young to find forgiveness. He could forget - yes, he could. And he could move on. Possibly, he could forgive - but not this. Not betrayal to the highest degree, not when it could have gotten him murdered - which it very nearly did. It wasn’t right, wasn’t fair. Edward just didn’t have the energy for it anymore, especially when he was putting everything he had into staying clean.
After all, the sweet taste of crime was so hard to resist. How long now before he broke? He wasn’t sure he had the power to stay on the right side of the law for much longer. Everyone was waiting for him to slip up - he could practically feel their breath on the nape of his neck, watching his every move for him to make a mistake. And soon, he was sure, they would be satisfied. Everyone’s suspicions would be confirmed and Eddie Nigma would be called a fraud - and probably quite rightly so.
But even then, he wasn’t sure the life of crime would embrace him like the warm, familiar arms of a lover like he wished it would. He knew he probably still would be unsatisfied. Forever unsatisfied.
And talking of lovers - when was the last time you had one, Eddie?
That familiar feeling in his stomach. As much as he detested the fact, no man was an island. Even Batman had women. Even the Joker, for Christ’s sake, and he was the biggest psychopath Edward had ever encountered - and he’d met a lot of psychopaths. He had Harley, even if it was on a use and abuse basis. Poor Harley. Edward couldn’t help but feel sorry for the ditsy damsel, who definitely didn’t deserve all the shit the Joker flung at her - not after he ruined her life as a professional already. But then, Joker was never one to feel empathetic, to give anyone mercy. Just a shame he had picked Harley to torment.
Not that it mattered. Some sap had to be the victim to Joker’s games.
Edward sighed, and pulled himself up from the soft leather chair so he was standing. He removed the mask from his eyes slowly, blinking quickly to allow his eyes adjust after being trapped behind the thin netting of the mask.
It was almost eight - which, now reaching high summer, spelt sunset for Gotham City. From his office on the ninth floor, he could just see the sun tipping down under the high rise buildings and skyscrapers of Gotham from the window behind him. Without any cases to deal with that evening, he moved from behind the desk to the door, opening it and sticking his head out.
“You can go now, Marcy,” he told his assistant, who looked up from where she was tap-tapping at her keyboard. “Look like we won’t get much else work today.”
The blonde paused for a moment, and pursed her lips, looking up at her boss. She was nice, Marcy. He had been very glad to find someone so willing to work and to get things done well. He couldn’t really remember where he found her - an agency, probably - but she kept the ball moving in the business, when he was knee deep in some case or other. He was lucky she put up with him, especially some of the abuse he had thrown at her when he had been interrupted during re-enactments or such things. She creased her brow slightly.
“There’s someone waiting outside to see you, Mr. Nigma,” she told him, voice slightly lower than usual, as if she were talking to some wild animal in attempts to calm it. She nodded to the outer door, that led into the hallway of the building.
Edward frowned. Nobody waited outside the office, usually they sat in the secretary’s room, waiting for Edward’s attention. He looked intently at Marcy, but she said no more, only looked up at him with that concerned face, and so he wandered out to the door, letting his hand rest on the doorknob for a few seconds before he turned it cautiously.
Out in the hallway, leaning against the wall opposite, was a young woman. Her hair - blonde - was in loose bunches, and she was dressed in a pink t-shirt and blue shorts. Her face was pulled into a sad pout, and she looked up as Edward opened the door.
She nodded slowly, before walking over to wrap herself around him. Edward stood, a little shocked at the embrace, and not quite sure how best to deal with the situation that just presented itself as Harley cried into the shoulder of his jacket.
“I’m sorry, Eddie…” she mumbled into his collar in between sobs.
He looked over to his secretary, who sat still at her desk, cocking her head and watching the scene intently. She shrugged at his puzzled look, and he slowly moved his hand to the small of her back.
“You better come in,” he told her, slightly reluctantly leading her into his office.