(along with the rust one)

essence & alchemy | nygmobblepot

“I could,” Ivy begins, winding a strand of copper coyly around her right index finger, “make a love fragrance, you know.”

Oswald hesitates, looking at the rows of glass bottles, the sets of mortars and pestles, the oils and crushed flower petals and piles of seeds and imagines, for a moment, what that might be like: to be desirable, irresistible to Edward, the compulsion of pheromones overwhelming the senses.

“No.” He sighs regretfully. “It wouldn’t last. And it wouldn’t be real.”

“It would last long enough,” she murmurs, releasing the trapped lock of hair which immediately springs back into place with its brethren. “Your body wouldn’t know the difference.”

“My heart would.” He reaches for a delicate looking leaf, a spade shaped pale green wedge, before Ivy halts him hurriedly.

“I wouldn’t touch that, if I were you.”

He recoils, eyes flicking to his companion’s features. “Poisonous?”

“Nope. Just tends to stain your skin.“ Ivy shrugs at his exasperated look, humming thoughtfully as she begins removing ingredients from the shelves, then setting them on the nearby workbench. “Truth compulsion it is, then. Every fragrance has three notes: top, middle, and base. The trick is to get the right balance between those that you first experience, and those that linger later on…bergamot, jasmine…and…sandalwood, perfect.” She surveys her chosen materials with a small smile of satisfaction.

Oswald settles into an ivory patio chair nearby, watching the young woman’s progress with interest. Her fingers move deftly, expertly grinding and mixing, pausing to inhale the results every so often.

“You should, of course, ideally be placing this on right after a hot shower, when your pores are open. Applying it on your pulse points enhances its effectiveness, triggered by your body heat. You don’t want to rub it in; that changes the chemical nature of the fragrance, so it doesn’t last–”

“I know how to apply cologne,” Oswald snaps.

Ivy pouts. “I’m only trying to help. I don’t have to do this, you know. You’d already be dead if I hadn’t intervened.”

He inhales deeply, then lets all the air leave his lungs in a rush. He knows she doesn’t intend to try his patience; she’s just incredibly vexing at times. He plucks at a loose thread on the worn striped sweater he’s borrowed, calming his frayed nerves. “You’re right. I apologize.”

Huffing in acceptance, she resumes her previous activities. “You know, it would probably make more sense just to make a poison and be done with it. That is your ultimate goal, after all: to destroy Edward Nygma.”

“Poisoning is too simple. I have something else in mind.” He rises to his feet as she offers him a small clear vile filled with a pale almond colored liquid. “But first, I want answers.”

“It’s ready.”

“So am I.”

***

It’s not exactly how Oswald had envisioned it; this first encounter with his former chief advisor since the attempt on his life.

Oswald glances at his surroundings with disdain. A cage, of all things. The Court of Owls has him locked up like some circus attraction.

Beside his prison, Edward is trapped in an identical cell, pacing restlessly. He’s gotten over the initial shock of seeing his intended murder victim alive, clearly; now it appears that he’s itching to be free for another attempt.

“Will you stop that infernal movement, Edward?” the shorter man queries, the fingers tucked into the pocket of his jumpsuit rolling the vial of cologne contemplatively. He’s been waiting for the right moment to use it, but the other captive has been anything but cooperative.

“For the last time: don’t call me that.” His long limbs fold as he slides to the floor, resting against the side of the cage closest to Oswald’s.

“That’s right; it’s Riddler now, isn’t it? Brilliant concept, by the way,” he mocks, grimacing slightly as he eases down to join his fellow prisoner’s seat on the floor. His knee is stiffening up something fierce; he probably should have asked Ivy to mix him up something for that, too.

“Shut up.” Edward scowls, shoving at his glasses.

“No, I don’t think I will. In fact, I think it’s time you and I had a little chat.” He withdraws the sliver of glass pierced between index finger and thumb, staring at the mixture.

“What is that?” In spite of himself, Edward can’t help but look interested.

“Cologne,” Oswald murmurs, carefully easing the stopper loose.

That’s what you chose to smuggle in here?” he scoffs. “Instead of something useful to escape, you bring perfume?”

Cologne,” Oswald corrects again, pressing the pad of his middle finger against the vial before inverting the delicate container. “And on the contrary, I believe this is going to be quite useful.”

“Ridiculous,” Edward sneers, but his expression softens the instant the raven haired man swipes a streak of the fragrance across his wrist. The scent permeates the air between the two captives.

There’s something of the old Ed in that visible transformation–more…vulnerable, perhaps is the word Oswald is searching for. The cruelty and disdain has slipped completely from the angular features, leaving behind a kind of innocent wonder that makes Oswald’s heart stutter for a moment.

“What did you…” he pauses, clearing his throat. “What did you do, after you left me for dead?”

“I tried to find a mentor, to help mold my new identity.”

Oswald shakes his head. “No. I mean directly after that day on the docks.”

Edward’s nostrils flare slightly, drawing in a deeper measure of the perfumed surroundings. “I went back to the Van Dahl mansion. Dismissed all the staff. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep.” He pauses, rubbing a thumb along a rusting spot on one of the iron bars. “I went to someone I knew, back from my days at the GCPD. They had access to…pharmaceuticals. I originally was going to get something for sleep; nothing I could obtain over the counter was working. But then I realized that rest wasn’t what I truly needed. I needed to see you again,” he says quietly.

Oswald swallows thickly. This isn’t going at all like he’d imagined. The anger surging through his veins is already being flushed from his system. “Why did you need to see me again? You murdered me; tried to, anyway. You said I’d ruined your chance at happiness with that woman,” he struggles over the word, refusing to say her name, “and that you don’t love me. So why, Ed? Why were you so desperate?”

“Because I lied,” he admits simply. “I lied about how I felt. It was easier than admitting the truth.” He inhales deeply, resting his forehead against the cage.

“You lied,” Oswald repeats blankly. His heart is doing that awkward stuttering again; was there some side effect to Ivy’s concoction?

“Yes, Oswald. I lied.”

“How do I know you’re not lying now?”

Edward meets his interrogator’s gaze. “I’m still not sure you’re real. Even though I stopped taking the hallucinogens days ago…I just can’t tell anymore. So it doesn’t matter, does it? There’s no reason not to tell you the truth.”

“You still want me dead.”

“I never wanted that. But I was so overwhelmed with grief. The concept that you, the only person I really trusted, had betrayed me…I couldn’t cope with that knowledge. I had to destroy it. I had to destroy you. And in doing so, it killed a part of me. At least, I thought it had. But you’re still alive. So what does that mean for me?” He digs the heels of his hands against his eyes as if attempting to correct his vision in the dimly lit room. “You are real, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Ed. I’m real.” He reaches out a hand, hesitates, then threads it between the bars.

Edward accepts the offering, letting their fingers tangle together, remaining intertwined long after the last of the cologne has dissipated.

When We Were Young

Part Three (1,057 words)

Part [1] [2]

Pairings: Past ReaderxDean, Past Bestfriend!ReaderxSam

Warnings: None

Summary: Being at the Singer Salvage Yard brings back both good and bad memories and you struggle as anger gets the best of you.

When you and Sam eventually hit the familiar dirt tract, nostalgia hit you hard. 

The two of you had driven for a solid ten hours straight never stopping longer than a few minutes for bathroom breaks and gas. You’d both talked more about the last year and all the things the brothers had tried to do to break the contract before you’d finally fallen asleep. Now Sam was nudging you awake, as he reached your destination.

You were pleasantly surprised to see that the Singer Salvage Yard hadn’t changed a bit since your last visit. The grounds will still filled with hundreds of different cars and the house in the centre looked as old as ever yet the place gave you an odd sense that you could only describe as home.

“Still the same huh?” He laughed lightly, you can only imagine the look that must be on your face.

“Yeah.” You laughed too as your eyes continued to look around.

“I had the same reaction when I first came back.” He stopped the car right outside the garage and was out of the door before you could say anything else.

You followed him eventually, taking your time as you breathed in the scene before you. You ran your fingertips along the rusted hood of one of the cars as all your memories of the place come flying back. You smiled as you remembered the time you and Sam had been playing hide and seek amongst the car parts and how it took him almost an hour to find you. You and Dean had shared your first kiss of many tangled up in the back seats of one of the old cars, before you star gazed on its hood for most of the night, lost in your own little world. You’d tried so hard to forget all those memories that it felt strange to finally be back.

It took you awhile, but you finally built up the courage to head inside after Sam.

“Good God, Y/N?” Bobby’s eyes were so wide you were surprised they didn’t fall out of his skull.

“Hey Bobby.” You smiled at the old hunter. It was comforting to see that just like his home, he hadn’t changed at all. Same scruffy beard, same ripped jeans, same worn down baseball cap. You’d adored Bobby growing up, unlike John or your own dad he’d always check in to tell you he was safe and to ask if the three of you were okay. He’d often take breaks in between hunts to spend time with you all, take you to places none of you’d been before. You’d quickly become the children Bobby had never had.

“I had to see it with my own eyes to believe it.” You barely had time to blink before he was hugging you. You hadn’t realised how much you’d missed him until now. “We didn’t think you’d come.”

“Well you know me, never one to disappoint.” You looked over at Sam who gave you a sheepish shrug. Had they really believed that you’d be so hard to convince? Truth was as long as Dean was in danger you’d always come running.

“I’m glad you came.” He lightly patted your shoulder before heading back to his seat at the dining table.

“Bobby thought we could start with what he had here first before we widen the search.” Sam handed you a cup of coffee as he explained the stacks of books laid out before you all.

“Sounds good. Do you mind if I take a quick shower first?” You asked taking a sip of your drink, thankful for the caffeine. You were so stiff from the drive that you were hoping the hot water could help you relax a little so you could focus solely on the task at hand.

“Course not, you know where the spare room is.” Bobby nodded towards the stairs as he grabbed one of the many books from the pile.

“Thanks.” You made your way up them, suddenly annoyed at yourself for not coming back here sooner.

When you reached the bedroom you were shocked to see it was filled with Dean’s things. The room even smelt like him, a mix of whisky, leather and gunpowder. A scent you knew all too well. The box Sam had told you about sat on the dresser and you couldn’t resist peaking inside.

Once you did, you wished you hadn’t.

Just like Sam had said, it was filled with pictures. Mostly you and Dean, ones from the first time you’d ever visited the beach, ones at the yard, ones of you kissing, holding hands, hugging, ones of you laughing like you didn’t have a care in the world. There were also ones of just you, pictures you hadn’t even realised Dean had taken. There were other things too. Stupid little notes that you’d wrote to him, the menu from the diner you’d had your first date at and even the watch you’d bought him for one of his birthdays.

Then you’d found the piece of paper Sam had talk about. You recognised Dean’s hand writing instantly as you read your own phone number, work address and home address. You knew Dean like you knew the back of your hand, there was no doubt in your mind that he’d driven past your house at least once to check the information. Probably in some borrowed car so you didn’t recognise the impala. So if he’d known all this, why hasn’t he reach out to you? Why hadn’t he kept his promise? Had you really meant that little to him?

The tears you’d been holding back all night finally spilt over as you launched the box across the room, it’s contents littering the floor. You didn’t bother muting your rage filled sobs as you continued to throw what ever you could get your hands on, not caring about damaging them. You hadn’t realised Sam had entered the room until you were on your knees, crying out and his arms wrapped around you as he pulled you into him. He cradled your head to his chest as you soaked through his t-shirt.

Why didn’t he call me Sammy?“ You managed to choke out the question once you’d finally calmed down.

“Because my brothers idiot.” His arms tightened around you as your heart continued to break.

Part Four

2

Sometimes she wished she had gone off across the narrow sea with Jaqen H’ghar. She still had the stupid coin he’d given her, a piece of iron no larger than a penny and rusted along the rim. One side had writing on it, queer words she could not read. The other showed a man’s head, but so worn that all his features had rubbed off. He said it was of great value, but that was probably a lie too, like his name and even his face. That made her so angry that she threw the coin away, but after an hour she got to feeling bad and went and found it again, even though it wasn’t worth anything.

Okay, after looking over the numbers for a minute… is there a rust belt city that went to Trump? This isn’t about scapegoating rural voters but it is crucial: “rust belt” does not mean “all those states over there,” it is necessarily about how manufacturing cities are politically related to their periphery. This gets a little more complicated in steel country but like…Youngstown voted for Clinton. Akron voted for Clinton. CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA WENT BLUE. Every single place, as far as I can tell, where (1) union manufacturing jobs are at stake or on the table (2) there is a history of industrial disinvestment and renewal cycles (3) there are large black populations (this is the most key piece but it is actually not the case in many of these cities) voted for Clinton. Am I missing something??

I looked more closely at Ohio counties because I know that, you know, Flint and Detroit and Pontiac and Lansing did not vote for Donald Trump. And like, based on the way people are talking about Ohio I assumed I would be surprised. The only real outlier I can spot are the counties with Dayton and Canton, which are both places that I consider staunchly rust belt even if they have more union ambivalence–the counties as a whole both voted for Trump, I am not as sure about the cities.

This matters, because if you had listened to anybody from Chicago or Calumet or Gary or Cleveland or Detroit or Milwaukee ever in the past fifty years you would know that our biggest political struggle is that people in county x are voting to defund our schools or dismantle our unions, that people are being systemically disenfranchised. This exact relationship, along with the one that defines “rust belt” as “a place that is left,” is the structure of American inequality.

(Again, like, not to disregard rural underdevelopment, especially as it relates to migrant workers and indigenous land, especially re: capital flight to the sunbelt and land exploitation in the southwest.)

There are two big complications here: there is the issue of the former urban industrial worker on the suburbs or country–more complicated than they’d have you think, and probably more rare–“voting against their interest” (as if this was about economics and not nationalism, and also honestly as if scorned ex-industrial workers felt like Bill Clinton served them well).

And then there is Macomb County, MI, which is probably America’s most “perfect” example of a white working class organized into a suburb under explicit white supremacist logics (including undermined unions and stratification within the auto industry!) It is also one of the most “perfect” examples of a peripheral public-private partnership underdeveloping working-class cities with high black populations, you know, “rust belt.”

/bites into pizza

/all of the cheese and toppings come off the crust in one scalding hot chunk along with the bite

/cheese monstrosity slaps my chin, scalding it with all the fury of the sixth layer of hell