Disclaimer: Batverse, not mine. CATverse, co-owned.
This story is part of the CATverse, the official story listing of which can be found at freewebs dot com slash catverse. It takes place in Arc Four, after "Spring Training" by Twinings.
There were very few ethical codes that Gotham's criminal element respected enough to observe. Little things like lying, cheating and stealing most certainly didn't matter to anyone in the underground, but specific other things did.
For example: if a villain died in the line of duty and they actually bothered to leave behind a last will and testament, their dying wishes were carried out more often than they were ignored.
Surprisingly, if you had a last message to leave behind for anyone, you didn't leave it with your lawyer who'd gotten you out of countless scrapes in the past-instead, you left it with a trusted fellow member of the underworld.
You may ask yourself who in Gotham served as the 'legal counsel' for such matters, but if you were to give the matter any thought, the answer is quite obvious.
In a seldom used storage room in the Iceberg Lounge, you could find all manner of safe deposit boxes that had been entrusted to the little birdlike man, and-for an exorbitant fee-Oswald Cobblepot took it upon himself to make certain that anyone who left behind something with a specific recipient or purpose in mind got to have their final wishes carried out.
Sometimes it could take months on end to fulfill his mission (delays that were no fault of his own, of course), but he always got the job done, even if it was completed months after the fact. After all, unless you were a man in a bat suit, villains were notoriously difficult to track down if they were in the mood to disappear.
Such as it was in the case of the Scarecrow. Back in late October, Oswald had been given a modest sized safe deposit box with express instructions that it be given to Crane as soon as possible.
But the opportunity to fulfill his duty didn't actually occur until several months later.
Oswald had, at one point in the not-too-distant past, had an encounter with someone who looked eerily like one of the 'dead' women who had left the box with him, but he had suffered a rather nasty series of blows to the head on that particular occasion, so he couldn't be sure whether or not he'd been mistaken.
It followed then that there was no point in bringing it up when he finally found the Scarecrow in his establishment, looking to get his hands on some rather nasty chemicals that only Oswald's suppliers could get their paws on.
After the initial transaction for the chemicals, Cobblepot pulled Crane aside and made brief mention of the fact that 'the Scarecrow's girls' had left something in his keep and had directed him to give it to Crane the first chance he got.
With his eyes narrowed somewhat suspiciously and a sneer fixed firmly on his face, Crane followed Cobblepot to a small private room, furnished with a table for two and a little metal box set in the center of it.
Crane flopped down and crossed his arms over his chest to wait as Cobblepot unlocked the box and fiddled around with the papers inside, searching for the envelope with Crane's name on it.
When he found it, he held it out to Crane, who glared at it with distaste before snatching it from his hand and tearing it open.
"I'll just leave you to it-"
"No need," Crane replied. "I guarantee you that I will not become emotional-" the word was said with a level of revulsion that Cobblepot had only heard Crane use in relation to Batman in the past. "over whatever those three stooges had to say. Stay if you like.
Somewhat awkwardly, Oswald settled in the other chair and watched as Crane unfolded the slightly yellowed paper and began to read.
It seems cliché to write this, but-if you're reading this letter, we're gone. Maybe to a better place, maybe to a worse one, (who's to say?) but in any case, we're definitely no longer with you.
Techie and Al have delegated the task of writing this letter to me, since my handwriting is the most legible we have to offer as a group, so I'm taking dictation as best I can.
Let me preface everything that follows with one thing:
We're sorry. We've let you down. It might be a day late and a dollar short-maybe even more-but for whatever it's worth, we're sorry
Sorry for any grief we've caused-or maybe "annoyance" would be a more appropriate way of putting it, but you have to remember that we did it out of love.
Not lurve, not friendship, love. Whether you believe it or not, we do-did-no, you know what? Even if we're gone, we still love you. Love is one of those things that even death can't put an end to.
The handwriting changed abruptly, from the neat cursive to messy scribble.
Techie here. Captain just burst into tears (sorry for the runny ink, but you know how she is). She's absolute suck at these sorts of things. I'm not much better, but at least I don't cry
Okay, I don't bawl. I admit I am feeling a little soggy, but it's allergies, I swear.
Look, Jonathan, there's…stuff we never told you. Stuff we probably should have.
Since Captain is crying and Al is serving as a make-shift Kleenex at the moment, I'll just start with me.
The scrawl became somewhat halting. Little spots of ink in the lines of the letters indicated where Techie had paused and left the pen pressed on the paper a little bit too long, but it was still readable.
I…um…I respect you, okay? Don't get a big head or make a huge deal out of it, just take it at face value and discard it like I know you will.
Al says she's sorry..in fact, that's pretty much all she's saying, just "sorry, sorry, sorry" over and over again. She's blubbering too now (How did you put up with us for so long? Emotional train wrecks, all of us. Geez.) and Captain is quoting The Princess Bride left and right.
I think the general gist of all of the nonsensical hiccups and sobs is…
We love you. Really. All three of us. We love you more than you could ever possible comprehend for reasons we ourselves don't quite grasp. I guess love's funny that way. It doesn't have to make sense.
There's not much else to say, is there?
We love you.
The Captain, Al and Techie
P.S. Eat a sandwich. The bread's in the fridge-Captain
Jonathan had visibly sobered through the reading of the letter but by the time he finished it and looked back up at Cobblepot, the sneer was back in its customary place.
"Codswallop," he said, crumpling the paper in a tight little ball as though it meant less than nothing. "You've wasted my time, Penguin."
Cobblepot said nothing, but noted with interest that rather than tossing the crushed paper aside, Crane tucked it into his pocket as he stood up. The lanky man tried to be stealthy about the action, but Oswald saw it anyway.
"If there's nothing else, I have places to be."
"No, no…there's nothing else for-"
The door slammed shut with a deafening bang as the Scarecrow stalked out in an obviously foul temper.
Oswald shook his head and fingered the other letter that had been left in the little box, the one in a bright green envelope scribbled with purple ink, running one gloved hand delicately along its edge.
Cobblepot could only hope that Nygma wouldn't be so hard on the door's hinges when he got his letter.
Wondering what happens next? Mosey on over to my story "Black and Blue" to find out!