|he's (misterenigma) wrote in rooms,|
@ 2015-04-23 23:27:00
|Entry tags:||!hannibal, *log, death, eddie nigma|
eddie muerte baltimore log
Who: Eddie, Muerte (part 1)
Where: Hannibal door Baltimore
When: fuzzily recently
What: meeting up
Eddie finally convinced himself to go looking for Muerte. It happened while he was having a meeting with some Falcone men. One of them started to talk about figures and shipments and girls and Eddie couldn’t help but think is that all there is? This, the ghouls and his duties as a Justice Leaguer. Was that really all there was? Maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with burying himself in his work, but what happened when that was gone, too? Eddie’s biggest fear of being rejected and unwanted made Muerte’s run from the door cut deep even if he knew she didn’t want to hurt him. She probably ran because she didn’t want him hurt. But, was he really going to give up all of the good between them so easily?
He left the meeting with the Falcones and went home to change into something more durable. If he was going to go searching for her in different doors, he’d need to be prepared for the worst. Zombies, dinosaurs, sunshine. All of it. He also packed a few things for her, since he figured she simply left without thinking about what she’d need as a human. Thinking about her sitting in a cafe somewhere without any money or even a coat made him smile fondly. For all the things she knew, Muerte could be so unaware sometimes.
Dressed warmly without bothering to shave or fix his hair, Eddie set out to find Muerte. He started with Marvel and used his powers to see through security cameras and smart phones for her. Nothing. He went to Dragon Age and asked around if anyone had seen a raven haired mage. Nothing. He went to Mass Effect, a couple different Londons, Sailor Moon and the place he bought his comic books from. A full day passed of him simply looking through doors and it was clear to him that Muerte purposely went somewhere he couldn’t find easily. There was a very good chance she really didn’t want to be found.
He kept telling himself one more door over and over. Muerte had been the key to his happiness for the past few months and losing her like this as if she had set up a puzzle he couldn’t solve wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right and he thought he’d be a lot happier driving himself crazy looking than going home and giving up. Being a romantic was, after all, a very foolish thing.
Eventually he found himself in a Baltimore. From scanning the internet (with his powers that apparently worked), he found that it was almost as full of crime as Gotham. There were mentions of a serial killer and Eddie didn’t give a damn enough to suss out what that was about. Instead, he sleepily went through security cameras and phones until he found a certain octopus haired woman sitting near the Knoll Lighthouse. Bingo.
The morning weather was nice, brisk and so Eddie took his giant jacket off, went to a Starbucks to freshen up a bit and then got coffee for the both of them. There was no taming his hair or erasing the worry from his face. All he could do was splash some water on his face and hope for the best. Once he was satisfied, Eddie headed over to where she was sitting and after taking a few deep breaths of confidence, handed her the coffee cup. “Hell of a place to pick for a hideaway. Next time, can I suggest a beach? Circus?” He tried to joke and his voice cracked with weariness and pain he had been carrying around with him this whole adventure. With the jacket off, he was wearing a thin, dark purple sweater over a shirt, jeans and boots. He looked like he wanted to collapse, but Eddie didn’t make a move to sit until she invited him.
Eddie may have been right about her not quite thinking through what she'd need outside of their own door. She'd been upset enough that simply leaving had seemed the best idea, and finding another door that seemed innocuous enough (no dinosaurs, no superheroes, no zombies) was her main goal. Someplace that would be 'boring' enough for people to overlook.
Not that she wanted to be overlooked. She wanted to go back to being curled up on a couch somewhere, talking about opening a comic book shop in a door where she could be human for a while and find at least a little sense of peace. Just for a bit. But Destiny had cut right through all of those thoughts, and she struggled between what he insisted to be true, what she wanted to be true, and not actually knowing what was true as they remained under the control of the hotel. Did the rules really hold, when she could open doors to other universes and with a few steps find herself exactly as human as everybody else?
She didn't know, and that was the problem. There was so much that was unknown, and it was hard to cling to the possibilities when Destiny was so sure and so certain. Especially when the possible outcome to him being right was awful things for Eddie. And possibly, at this point, Gotham. Pain and destruction, death that wasn't governed by her - or worse, pain without the release of dying. She had seen so much, and she knew how bad things could be. The thought of that, of it being her fault, closed her throat when she was human, made her choke on it. Brought tears to her eyes as her mind (smaller and simpler) tried to hold all of it in her thoughts, scared and tired and hurting and so frustrated with her brother.
It was likely not the best place to sit, but she'd settled on a bench near the water, feet pulled up and closer to her body so she was able to huddle in on herself and hug her legs close. The wind whipped off the water and through her hair - through her clothing, which was only the usual things she wore. Jeans and a tshirt and a soft-worn flannel over it. Socks, but no shoes, and hadn't that been fun, walking through the city with no real shoes. They were the ones Eddie had knitted for her, given her for Valentine's Day, but the walking (on real, human feet) had started to wear through the bottoms already. She had no money, either, and she knew that she was going to have to go back to her own door at some point, just to gather things together that she needed to stay alive. But she didn't quite want to go yet, didn't want to feel the judgement from Destiny or the hard-to-ignore desire to contact Eddie. She'd even opened her journal, seen the message from Selina, but she had to try her best to do this the right way.
A clean break was always easier. Wasn't that what they said?
The waterfront was empty enough that no one came to bother her, and she was grateful to let the wind numb everything for a while. Eyes closed, forehead resting on her knees, she let everything else move on. No awareness of the time passing or what was happening on the other side of the universe. It was quiet in a way that only came when she was human. And even if there was an ache behind her ribs when she thought about things too much, at least she was only one tiny being in the entire existence of the door.
The sounds of wind and water covered his approach, and with her face tipped down into her knees, she didn't see him either. She only knew he was there when he spoke, and the sound that escaped her was part laugh and part something desperate and hurt. It took a moment, but she finally lifted her head and looked over at him, staring at him, taking in the way he looked. Tired, drained, sad in a way that she didn't want to see (that hurt her to see), but good. Familiar and wanted. Her own eyes were red and sad with crying and the guilt of running from him (especially when she saw how tired he looked, when she did her best to calculate how long she'd been gone and wonder how long he'd been looking for her), her cheeks whipped pink from the wind, her hair an absolute disaster from the same.
She stared for too long, leaving him standing there waiting, but finally (finally) she uncurled enough to reach out for the coffee, getting it settled in one hand and touching the back of his wrist with the other, a brush of fingers. It was the closest she could get in the moment to an actual invitation, just that slight touch.
Eddie held his breath until she acknowledged his existence. When she finally looked up he exhaled loudly, like all the air in his lungs had turned stale and worthless. There was no response to his quip, nothing except an extending hand for the coffee and Eddie really wanted to fucking run for it. He had been doing that a lot lately and so far it had done wonders for him. But, the brush of fingertips against his wrist stopped him and he slowly, cautiously took a seat next to her.
“I brought you some stuff.” Eddie said, setting his coffee near his feet carefully before offering his jacket to her. Once she made her mind up whether to take it or not, he unzipped his backpack and pulled out an energy bar and put it in her lap whether she wanted to take it or not. “You need to eat. Probably. I also have some water once you’re done with your coffee. Or you could have the water if you prefer. I’ll take both of them, I’m not ashamed.” He rambled out awkwardly and looked down at her feet. “My socks. Well- your socks. The socks I made for you and then- you know if you wear those someone in Gotham randomly gets the flu and is a little annoyed by it for a week. Oooh.” Eddie waved his hands like he was telling a spooky story and then reached into his backpack with a waggle of his eyebrows, whether she was watching him or not.
“Finally, my dream of being a mix between Mary Poppins and Felix the Cat are coming to fruition.” Eddie pulled out a cute pair of shoes he got in Sailor Moon land that were disgustingly pink and blue cotton candy colored. “I don’t actually know your size, but guessing on your height and frame, I think these will work nicely?” A smile cautiously flip flopped on his lips.
His jacket was still warm, and thick enough to cut the wind from making its way through the thin fabric of the clothing she wore. In a strange opposite turn-around, the warmth made her shiver, and she burrowed down into it for a bit, still holding the cup of coffee carefully inside, close to her body, and turning her face so she could press her nose to the coat's collar and breathe in. Her eyes closed as she did, as she took a moment to catalog shampoo and soap and the little bits of other scents that added up to Eddie. She was still curled in on herself, legs pulled up, and her eyes were warm but sad as she watched him. She accepted the energy bar and continued to watch as he dug in his backpack. He was still healthy, still whole, even if there were shadows beneath his eyes (even when he smiled). She wanted to keep it that way. But she wanted to keep it that way and still be around him.
Her toes curled when he looked down at them, like they could find their way back into her feet (which was a very strange mental image, she admitted to herself), and she breathed out something that was almost a laugh when he pulled out those sneakers. Eyebrows up as she studied them, and she nodded, still silent, as she used her free hand to take them from him. But she just sat them to her opposite side and looked at him. And then her coffee joined the shoes so that her hands were free, and she reached out to press fingertips to the corner of that cautious smile. Careful, like she was afraid he'd break or disappear at the touch. They lingered there, a tableau for a moment, and then she finally worked up to a whisper: "How many doors?"
Eddie was tired and before he found her he felt like curling under a table in the Gatsby door and napping until a new party started. But, seeing her here and having her ever-so-slightly respond to his usual ridiculous charm made him buzz with a bit more energy. Just enough to survive this door and get her back home. Or to Marvel. Right then, he couldn’t think of anything better than the inky smell of comic books and glow of fluorescent lights above. Well except them taking a long nap in some hotel room a few doors away from Gotham. That sounded pretty nice, too. “You hate the shoes, huh? Well, too bad.” Eddie teased without the usual punchiness of his words. Everything he said was in a raspy kind of whisper, like he thought talking too loud would scare her off.
He waited for her to adjust, leaning his shoulder into the bench as he watched her juggle the shoes and the coffee and the jacket. When she reached for his face, he smiled more genuinely, eyes closing at even the slightest of touch. Eddie brought his hand up to catch her fingers and he pressed the palm of her hand to his rough, unshaven cheek. “You don’t want to know. I’m pathetic.” He murmured and let her hand go in case she wanted to recoil away from him. “I’ve been out looking for- jeez I don’t even know anymore. I’m sorry it took me this long to even start. I had Justice League things to do and Bruce is gone.” His voice hitched at the end of that, but he kept his shit together.
She didn't hate the shoes. She thought they were ridiculous, sure, but she'd eventually put them on and laugh at the fact she was wearing them. It was just that there were things more important for the moment. "I don't hate the shoes." It was still a whisper of her own, delivered because she felt like she should at least offer a little bit of reassurance about them.
Just touching him, have him lean into it, pulled a soft sigh from her, her fingers curving so that her thumb could press to his cheekbone, roughness cradled in her palm. She didn't pull away when he let go, leaning closer instead, nodding at the news about Bruce. She'd known. Maybe she should have said something. Maybe that would have been better. But it was too late to rewind and try again. Too late for so many things. Like for them to be "just friends". Her heart hurt (in its very human way) at the thought of him traveling into enough doors for him to label it 'pathetic', just looking for her, and her face crumpled just a bit into something sadder again.
"I'm too selfish to let you go. I'm sorry…" Her voice caught on the words that slipped out from her, like they were having two different conversations. And even with the apology, she held herself tense and tight, keeping herself back from moving closer to him.
“I picked the really colorful ones to make you smile.” Eddie said candidly, like there weren’t any more riddles for him to tell. Like he was Willy Wonka normal and scribbling away in his back office the size of a closet after everyone let him down. Still there was a hint of mischievousness in his eyes and he looked up at her, trying very hard to catch her gaze with his own. “I’m glad you don’t hate them.” He said after a second and turned his face into her palm so he could kiss her wrist. “Missed you.” Eddie whispered without thinking and he didn’t care if he was so clearly stating the obvious. A man who traveled a dozen realms to find her would of course miss her. Of course he did.
He looked up when she said she was selfish and she was sorry. At first he didn’t know how to take it. Eddie was sure that he’d have to convince her to stay with him, that finding her was half the battle. “Does it look like I know how to keep you at a distance? To let you run away?” Eddie rested his hand on her wrist for a moment before letting go as she tensed up. “I didn’t talk to your brother. I don’t care what he has to say about your rules or the doors. He doesn’t have any idea what’s happened between us here. He can’t say it’s about feelings because I-” Eddie looked away, ashamed that he’d finally have to admit it. “I’ve-” He shook his head and stood up, sweeping his coffee off the ground so he could take a sip.
Eddie crossed his arms and looked out over the bay. He had never been to this city before and it made him think that he hadn’t been to many cities at all. And, that was sort of a shame. “The first time I really admitted it to myself was when I had to patch up your neck. Do you remember that? I keep thinking about it.” He turned to look at her and shifted his weight. “You kept telling me that I didn’t need to be there and I was so worried I wouldn’t hear it. I wanted to stay there with you the whole night and I knew how bad that was. I knew I was being selfish for even caring about you.” He took another sip of his coffee and shook his head. “Selina suggested I go after someone else. Something easier like Zatanna. And, I just can’t. I want you, Muerte. Not because you’re difficult or there’s a chance you’ll break my heart. Because it’s you.”
His shoe-buying confession made her smile and glance over at them again, in all their atrocious pastel glory. She wasn't going to take the time to put them on at the moment, but she would. Eventually. But the kiss to her wrist was far, far more important. It drew the softest hint of a pleased sound from her throat, and then a quiet: "I shouldn't miss you this much." It came out as a whisper, and she shook her head. "Even for normal people… this is a lot." She didn't have the experience, but she could see it. "I worry that he's right. I want to believe he's not, because…" Well. That wasn't anything she could quite say out loud yet, but it was there in the way she angled toward him, even after he'd let go. "If he's right, then the one that's going to get most hurt is you." The laugh it drew out of her even sounded like it hurt, needles and ache. "I can't even deal with thinking about the other rogues hitting you in the head. This," she gestured, a roundly sweeping thing that encompassed herself and the world around them. "This is what happens when I think about it being all my fault."
And then he was gone, moving, coffee in hand and over closer to the water. She watched his back, the tension of his shoulders. And while her feet ached with cold and the sharp grate of walking barefoot through a city, she finally unfolded herself and padded carefully over toward him. He turned before she'd quite reached him, and her goal of wrapping her arms around him was stalled by his next confession.
She blinked at him. And blinked. A frown and a shake of her head and another blink. No, that didn't make sense. There was something she was missing. "That was so long ago. When we still had our other people through the doors, and you were with…" The words caught and she shook her head. She couldn't quite bring herself to 'remind' him of who he'd been with at that point in time. Or the fact that she'd learned afterward how selfish it had been to expect him to keep coming to her aid like he had. Insensitive of his life beyond his knowing her. It was so far in the past for her, but it was still one of the things that had dug itself into a small hurt under her skin. The kind that remained as a behavioral lesson of what not to do. Though even in the moment, she couldn't quite say how well she'd learned that particular lesson.
His next words were big words. The sort she'd never heard before, not for herself. And she stood that arm-length from him and stared. Because she wanted to reply, but she didn't know the words to give him. Her mouth opened more than once, in hopes that the right words would just be there, but she was silent each time until she forced out in a rush: "I don't want to break your heart."
“I know.” Eddie said and watched her with a little hidden amusement as she tried to put the whole equation together. His posture loosened up and he turned to look at her. “I wanted you. I don’t know how long that’s been true, but that was the first time I admitted it to myself. Stephanie- I think deep down she knew it, too. So, I hid it from myself. I pushed you away. Hurt you. Breaking her heart wasn’t the right thing to do and I was so caught up in being a good man. Being everything that everyone wanted me to be.” He smiled sadly because he was still having a hard time shaking that feeling. It was better now, especially since people trusted him. But, back then he was still trying so hard to prove he could be the best little green bat.
He saw her move, awkwardly keep a distance and he shook his head. Not the response he expected, though retracing his words he found that it made sense. Admitting that he really did care for her, that he thought about her sometimes completely tarnished the persona he was trying to build up for himself. But, Eddie didn’t care. She deserved to know that this wasn’t something triggered by the hotel. That she wasn’t a new flavor. Eddie wouldn’t have done this for any other woman that he knew. Only her.
Eddie decided he didn’t like the distance between them and he reached out to gently tug her elbow so she’d come closer. “Then don’t.” He said about her breaking his heart and gave her a sort of pleading look for her to touch him. “We’re doing this the right way. We’re being careful. Being apart won’t work. We’ll both get lonely and do something remarkably stupid. I’ll show up to your door- or cloud- whatever you live in and seduce you. It’ll be a mess.”
It was still a little more than she knew how to believe, and she stared at him some more. If what he was saying was true… it had been so long. Before so much that had gone wrong. And she could feel a part of her own mind that almost thought it was funny - that it had been so long. But the other part - the part that was the overwhelming and vocal majority, carved a very vulnerable sort of guilt into her chest and a reflection of it across her face. She tried, in those moments, to tell herself that it wasn't truly her fault that any of it had happened. And hadn't she wanted to shake Stephanie for trying to shoulder overwhelming levels of blame about things? But maybe she could understand now how easy it was to start to feel that way.
The racing of her thoughts was easy enough to see, leaving her a little unmoored in the storm of them. She didn't even know where to start to think about them, and there was the creeping start of the feelings she'd fought the first few times through a door, when she couldn't get a handle on all of it right away. She tried to take a breath, even though it shook, and then another, but it was the touch to her elbow that helped the most. He didn't pull her all the way in, but she took the extra step to stop so close to him, nearly (but not quite completely) pressed to his side, a hand lifting to alight fingertips on the fine weave of his sweater, not quite with enough pressure to be felt on his stomach.
And he earned a laugh. It wasn't a good one, or particularly strong, but it had enough to prove that it was a laugh, and not just an exhale of breath. It was a tease, his words, and she knew what she should do in return, even if the tone was miles away from what it should have been. "The fish will be scandalized."
Eddie didn’t know what his confession was going to achieve, but he needed to get it out there. He had been thinking about her, about them while he searched the doors for her. It was hard to justify this kind of leap of faith, this insane trek across worlds to find a woman who could have outright rejected him the second she showed up. “I can find someone to pass the time with easily. I can turn off all the stuff that people don’t like about me, I can keep someone at a comfortable distance. But, I don’t want that. I want someone who knows me. I want you and if you want me to list all the things I like about you, I’d be happy to.” He tugged Muerte a little closer, wrapping his arm around her.
It occurred to him that she likely never heard confessions like this before directed towards her, at least not by someone she had feelings for. His body tensed as he wondered if this was all too much, if he should have had the good sense to keep more cards hidden. Eddie’s filter was gone thanks to exhaustion and anxiety, so he couldn’t stop himself even if he wanted to. Still, he smiled at that barely-there laugh and he looked up at the bluish grey Baltimore sky. “I’d offer to bring my salamander to keep the fish company, but someone hasn’t gifted me one yet.”
The words of his confession kept coming, and her hand pressed more just below his ribs, using the contact to ground herself and her thoughts. "Don't turn off stuff about yourself. That's not the way it should work." The words were a little random, a little more naive than most people could be, and they weren't exactly what needed to be talked about between them, but they slipped out nonetheless. She kept staring at him as he kept talking, and stepped in at the tug of his arm. "I don't…" she shook her head, and the uncertain smile returned. "Maybe keep them? The list? Let me know little by little?"
Before his body could tense too much, she slipped her arms around his waist, glad to be close enough, pressed along his side. She didn't mind that his filter was gone, recognized the ramble for what it was - being over-tired and not quite sure of what to say - letting everything spill out. she closed her eyes and listened, somehow moving even closer, as if the initial contact wasn't nearly enough, feeding a desire for more. Head on his shoulder, ear almost over his heart, she listened as his words echoed in his chest. And then she laughed again, more able to be felt than heard. "Things have been… complicated. I didn't know if it was a good time for a new pet."
He laughed when she told him to not turn stuff off about himself. It was a fond laugh because what she was asking of him simply wasn’t possible with most people. He couldn’t hide who he was with Muerte though and she always seemed to make disapproving noises whenever he flipped off his more ugly emotions. Eddie found it frustrating sometimes, but generally it made him feel safe and comfortable and he wanted more of that when things got bad for him. And things? They were not great in Gotham.
Eddie leaned his head down and pressed it against hers. His heart was beating messy fast at first and then it slowed and steadied the longer she stayed in his arms. Another smile at her laugh, an automatic thing and he kissed her hair. “I understand. I can wait until peace for a salamander. Or, well, Gotham’s version of peace.” Eddie tried not to focus on all the things he was tangled up in, but it left his body still noticeably tense. Like a ball of string that had knotted up on itself.
The laugh wasn't quite timed the way she expected, and it earned a sigh. "Weird thing to say?" She did realize that there were still a great many things that she didn't quite understand and didn't quite know how to deal with. She stumbled across them every so often, and it always tripped her up a little. They weren't usually awful things, and Eddie had been patient enough with some of them in the past. She hoped that this would be much the same.
"Marvel peace, maybe. A shop salamander?" And maybe she shouldn't have been talking any more about the possibility of spending time in another door, about basically building a life, not after what Destiny had said. But she wanted it. Some part of her thought about it, about something so normal and steady, and she wanted it. Wanted to be there and have Eddie be around too. She didn't know how other people felt, if it was a 'normal' thing to want, but she didn't really care. She hoped maybe he felt the same. Or that he could at least for a little while. She tugged herself closer to him, one big press against him, and did her best to not tip her face up toward his quite yet. Another question first. "Would you bring anyone else over? If Marvel ends up being…" But that probably wasn't the sort of thing to think about, much less ask about, and she trailed off.