Author's note: I don't own the Riddler or any other DC characters. I do own the Captain, and I hold some kind of dominion over Al and Techie, but I'm not making any money off them, and if anyone out there wants to make use of them, all I ask is that I get a poke before the posting.
This is part of a series. I highly recommend that you read "The Unkindness of Ravens" (by me) and "Headstones of Henchgirls" (by BiteMeTechie) before this. There's also the entire rest of the series.
Official timeline of the series (and keep in mind, the years are merely as a point of reference):
www. freewebs. com/ bitemetechie/ catverse. html
Take out the spaces, and if there's anything you want to read, feel free to poke the author until posting be done. And poke TheNoblePorpoise, just because I said so.
He was the Riddler. Not as obnoxious as the Penguin, not as madly careless as the Joker, not as fanatically devoted to his goals as the Scarecrow. He didn't step on other villains' toes if he could help it. That didn't mean he had never pissed anyone off, but he didn't make a habit of it. And he hadn't done anything recently, at least not that he knew of.
At any rate, he felt secure enough to sleep at night without posting guards.
Well, everyone was entitled to a few mistakes in his life, right? Yes? Maybe?
It was Halloween night. He probably should have thought of that before he went to sleep.
He had spent some time watching the trick-or-treaters before he'd come home. It had been rather flattering to see a bright green question-marked Riddler nestled in the middle of a group of tiny ghosts and goblins. He had been thinking of that, and not of the ghosts. Certainly not of three very specific ghosts.
But just before he fell asleep, it did occur to him how very like them it would be to pop up in his room in the middle of the night, waking him from a sound sleep just to say hello.
If there were any such things as ghosts…
"Eddums…" The soft, eerie moan just barely brushed the edges of his consciousness. "Eddums…"
"What?" he groaned, and turned over.
"Eddums," the voice said sharply, and he jerked awake.
"Wha—Nova?" He sat up, rubbing his eyes, and stared in surprise at the young woman at the foot of his bed.
She was dressed all in white, in frills and lace that fluttered as if touched by a nonexistent breeze, or as if she were floating underwater. And she was smiling, gently, beatifically.
And there were three things wrong with this picture.
One: her appearance. He had never known her to wear frilly dresses; in fact, she had taken a certain measure of pride in wearing too-large man-pants most of the time. And he had seen her hair dyed every color of the rainbow, but never this natural shade of brown, and she always wore it either cut short or tied back, never long and loose like this. She was supposed to be mousy, not ethereal.
Two: she was alone. No first mate by her side. No chief operations officer by her other side. When was the last time he had seen her acting alone? Never, that was when. Even when she had shown up on his doorstep (that second time, not the day she had sprung him from Arkham) she had brought Techie along. She just wasn't much of a solo artist, no more than her friends were.
Three: she was supposed to be dead. He had been to the three graves on the hill not two days before.
Granted, that might explain the floating and wailing, and the way the light seemed almost to shine through her.
"Eddums," she moaned. "Be not afraid. I bring you a message from beyond the graaaaaaave."
"So…you are dead, then?" If she really were a ghost, if he were being haunted, he probably should be afraid, but…she was giving him that look as she nodded and smiled. The eyes…the uncanny shining expression of what she called "lurve"…how could he be afraid of that? "Shouldn't you be haunting Crane?" he asked. She let out a rather un-ghostly giggle.
"Haunt him? Eddie, honestly, don't you think we've tormented him enough? The poor man is finally rid of us." She went back to fluttering her hands and moaning every word in a particularly ghostlike way. "Now, listen, Eddie. I bring you a message from—holy—" She fell, hitting the ground with a noisy thud, and yelled out something that sounded suspiciously like, "Oh, cocksucker!"
"Are you sure you're dead?" He had never heard of any ghost hitting the floor that hard, or hitting any solid objects, for that matter, and he couldn't imagine a spirit swearing like that. He tried to get up, only to find that he had gotten tangled up in his own blanket sometime in the night.
The Captain (or the Captain's ghost) got to her feet, brushing herself off very carefully and looking extremely pissed off.
"I told you this wasn't going to work out," said a second voice. Eddie looked up just in time to see her friends, Al and Techie, climbing in through his window. Techie was holding the flashlight that had made the odd lighting effects, and Al was carrying a fishing pole. They both bounced off his bed before they hit the floor with a couple of thumps. They certainly seemed solid enough…
"You dropped me," the Captain growled.
"Well, Spindlykins, you're heavier than you look."
"Can it, Short Stack Stevens."
Techie gave Eddie a look that seemed to plead for understanding. When she was the reasonable one in the group, clearly there was something wrong with the universe. But, then, the same could be said of the other two. If the three of them were ever completely rational at the same time, hell would probably freeze over, fish would ride bikes, and the Joker would start wearing drab gray business suits with sensible ties and socks.
"You'd think, between the three of us, we could come up with better special effects than this," she said.
"You do realize I learned everything I know about film from Ed Wood, don't you?" said the Captain. Al poked her. "Quit it!"
"Are you dead, or not?" Eddie demanded. The girls fell silent. "Well?"
"Well…let's just say that if we weren't dead before the autopsy and the burial, a week inside those coffins in the cold ground would have finished us off, don't you think?"
"Then why are you here?"
"What, aren't you glad to see us?" asked Al. "We're glad to see you."
"We know you miss us, Eddie. And thank you for the flowers. They were beautiful."
"Uh…yes. Well, it seemed fitting, you being dead and all." They all smiled.
"Now, you didn't think we were going to go leave without saying goodbye to you, did you?"
"I hadn't thought there was much you could do about it."
"You do remember us, right? Since when have we ever let the laws of nature, society, or physics dictate what we can or can't do?"
"So you came back from the grave just to say goodbye to me?" He couldn't help feeling just a bit flattered.
"Oh, it's not really goodbye. Let's just call it, 'so long and thanks for all the fish.' You won't be seeing us again until, you know, the proper time. But we'll be watching over you."
They would? How sweet. And disturbing. But mostly sweet.
Although he could have lived without the reminder of his own impending demise. Now he was likely to spend the next few days obsessing over just how soon he might see the three of them again.
"We really do have to go," the Captain said, checking her rather incongruous Boba Fett watch.
"Wait!" He wasn't quite used to being the one asking the questions, but he couldn't let them go just yet. "What happens when you die?" The three of them shared a glance.
"I'll field that one," said the Captain. "When you die, Eddie, generally something bad happens, and then you stop breathing."
"Yes, but then what? Is there heaven and hell? Do we reincarnate?"
They burst into song, which shouldn't have surprised him.
"Is mankind evolving, or is it too late? Well, tonight, here's the meaning of life!"
They really weren't acting like ghosts at all.
"Are you absolutely sure you three are dead?"
"Why do you ask? Did we not sell it? Sorry. We're new at the whole afterlife thing."
"And now that you mention it, this could just be a dream you're having. I mean, you did scarf down a lot of Halloween candy before you went to bed," Techie added.
Oh, and the idea that they had been watching him without his knowing it wasn't creepy at all…
"Maybe you're dreaming, maybe we're ghosts, or maybe we're just messing with you. It's something you'll have to decide for yourself when you wake up. But, if you could do us a favor and say goodbye to the Squishykins for us, we would really appreciate it. We don't want either of you to be too sad that we're gone. We might deny this later, but we love you."
"Did you forget the R?" he asked.
"Nope. Love. Now go back to sleep."
He knew better than to argue with them, whether they were dead or alive. But he had one more thing he had to ask them before they disappeared forever.
"Did it hurt?"
"Well, you've seen the photos. What do you think?" He winced. Yes, he had seen the photographs, and he couldn't think of that without imagining the poor girls begging for the sweet release of death. And that was not a comfortable mental image. They just didn't do that sort of thing. Begging for mercy was not a part of their accepted behavior patterns.
"Hey, don't worry about it," the Captain said gently. "We're all okay now. Everything's fine. You couldn't find so much as a bruise or a scar anywhere on our bodies, no matter how carefully you looked." It took him a moment to realize exactly what she meant by that. (Do ghosts make suggestive little double entendres?)
His mind shouldn't be working this slowly. Unless they—or someone—had managed to slip some drugged candy into his midnight snack.
Or unless they were really dead, and this was all just a dream.
Either way, he managed to get out a slightly fuddled, "Goodbye, then," before biology made up his mind for him and dropped him back into unconsciousness.
The last thing he heard was a chorus of giggles and a softly whispered, "Gosh, but you're cute."
And that was goodbye.
He woke in the morning, feeling quite strange. There was no sign that anyone had been in his room the night before. But no matter what the truth of it was, this didn't come as much of a surprise.
He was going to have to speak to the Scarecrow sometime soon. Not to pass on any words of comfort, because Crane certainly wouldn't appreciate that, but…well. He was just going to have to speak to him, that was all.
Jonathan Crane might never be able to admit that he missed his three fanatically devoted henchgirls, but Eddie Nygma could. Even though they hadn't been his minions…they had been his friends.
And while no self-respecting villain could ever have said the words, "I love you, too…"
Wherever they were, he hoped they knew.
Author's note: If this made you go "awww," then how can you possibly stand to wait for "Tomfoolery" and "A Very Squishy Christmas"? Well, you'll just have to. But in the meantime, you have "Wishy Washy" to bring you comfort and joy.