A/N: On one of the tumblrs I run, Twinings and I offered ourselves up for one full week of filling fic prompts for our readers, varying in length from a hundred to a thousand-plus words. The project has been dubbed the Free For All Fic For All—or FFAFFA for short. This is one of those stories—and this is the boilerplate author's note you'll see on all of 'em.
Prompt: The Riddler is sick. Scarecrow takes care of him. Undoubtedly, this is not what the prompter had in mind, but the characters refuse to cooperate with anything else.
The mud caked to Jonathan's shoes, layers growing thicker with every struggling step. His footing was far from sure, being dragged down as he was by a half unconscious Edward Nygma clinging to his arm, and the ground was soft in the downpour.
"Have you…" he huffed and puffed as they retreated further into the woods on the outskirts of Gotham, "gained…weight?"
An incoherent groan was his only response.
"I had to…get shackled…to you, didn't I?" Jonathan grumbled, his feet doing their level best to slide out from under him. "They had…to cuff me…to a man with…a fever and…a half dozen horse tranquilizers…in him."
Edward's head lolled to one side, coming to rest on Jonathan's shoulder. "I'm…"
The single word that might have given way to a sentence under other circumstances was lost in a sea of half formed mumbles and syllables that were stuck together in ways that made no rational sense.
Jonathan scanned the horizon for the signs of any one of a dozen things. The police were foremost on his mind, of course—after all, the overturned and empty Arkham transport van wouldn't remain at the crash site undiscovered forever—but a place to hide was very much at the top of the list too. He kept a sharp eye out for caves, thick patches of underbrush that could shelter them from the rain, campsites…
"Cubnnnn," Edward muttered, blinking one eye very slowly, then the other. "Cubbbbn!"
"What are…you on…about, Nygma? Bad…enough…I have to drag…your sorry…carcass along," he wheezed a few times in between grunts of effort, "you could at least…have the decency…to shut up about it."
Without warning, Edward flailed an arm to one side, desperately reaching for something.
Jonathan wasn't entirely clear on why the ground suddenly rushed up to meet his face, but in the time it took for his face to hit cold mud and his glasses to be sucked into the mire, he figured it out.
"You slipped—" he struggled to sit up, spitting mud and scraping it off his face with his free hand, "—Imbecile!"
Grabbing Edward by the shoulder, he tugged him into a seated position all the better to glare at him properly. Never mind that they were both covered in mud; never mind that the sky had opened and a flash flood was sure to follow soon; never mind that—
"Cabin!" Edward said, more clearly than his drugged state should have allowed. He flapped his free arm again in the direction he'd reached for in the first place, mud and rain water flying off his sleeve as he did so.
Jonathan's eyes followed the path of trajectory and sure enough, a run down, boarded up cabin was nestled in a grove of pine trees. He might have overlooked it entirely if not for Nygma's strategic faceplant.
With what felt like the last of his strength, Jonathan stood, wobble-kneed, and pulled Edward up by the collar after him. It was thirty feet to the cabin, maybe a little more, maybe a little less, but with every inch, Nygma seemed to get heavier.
They reached the porch, which was old and sank inwards at the doorway, but there seemed little point in complaining about so minor a detail. The roof was intact, so some safe harbor from mother nature's wet, wet wrath was secured, and the door—despite looking solid—gave with relative ease.
The interior of the cabin was slightly drier than the outside, though the roof had a sprung a few prominent leaks. Discarded books littered the floor, so old and mildewed that Jonathan could only make out one title—A Farewell to Arms.
He looked at the Riddler, then down to the pair of handcuffs that held them together, and wondered idly if the universe had so wicked a sense of humor. He ultimately decided that the universe didn't care one whit whether or not he would have to amputate Nygma's arm, and promptly forgot all about it.
With a huff, Jonathan dragged his inconvenient partner in crime over to the nearest, driest looking piece of furniture, a full sized bed situated in one corner of the room, and shoved him at it. Edward sat without complaint, looking rather disconnected and muddle-headed. "Where…"
"Somewhere," Jonathan said, grabbing up the cleanest looking blanket from a nearby stack and throwing it at Nygma. "Does it matter where precisely at this particular juncture?"
Edward said nothing and only barely registered the blanket whacking him in the face.
Jonathan looked around, his eyes catching on several items in the room before settling on the rusted fireplace poker lying near the hearth. He leaned forward and snatched it up, refraining from releasing a sound of triumph with a good deal of effort.
It took a few tries, but Jonathan managed to wedge the end of the poker into one of the chain links of the handcuffs that bound him to the Edward. After nearly twenty minutes of slowly bending it this way and that, the link gave just enough to snap the cuffs in half. It wasn't a perfect solution—taking the cuffs themselves off would be another matter entirely—but for now, it was enough.
"End of the road, Nygma," he said, almost cheerfully. "This is where you and I part ways."
"You're leaving me?" The look on Edward's face, eyes watery with exhaustion, face flushed from fever, was enough to melt solid ice.
Jonathan remained unmoved. "I am. Take your clothes off, dry off, lie under a blanket, you'll be fine by morning."
Jonathan was already on the way out by the time Edward got to I. He flung the door wide and…
Stopped dead in his tracks.
Night had fallen.
How did that happen?
Black as pitch and twice as thick, the dense forest had seemingly swallowed up any indication that there had ever been a sun in the sky. Peering into the darkness, Jonathan couldn't see a foot in front of his face.
He slammed the door in defeat and turned on his heel.
"Oh for Christ's sake, Nygma, put your clothes back on!"