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I haven't updated in a while, but I and the fam have been well :) Lucian is almost fully potty trained! *squee!* He still has accidents every now and then in the mornings, but has been going without prompting these past few weeks, so I'm super proud of him :) He's got Fox, Cat, Dog, Nox, Mom, Dad, Egg, and Pig down pat. We went to see an arthritis doctor about Jason's hands and feet swelling (he's been coping with this since around 2008, we got him some meds to try out and see if they help) but while we were in the waiting room, Lucian impressed me and the people he was interacting with by phonetically spelling out 'triangle!' (I'm such a proud mommy!) Nox has been pulling up on everything and using it to move about, I see him walking any time now! He's also wearing 12 to 18 month clothes! Getting so big! XD

I've been coming home from work a couple hours early this week ...from feast to famine I swear!... Can't wait till the college gives me my tax info! They wait until the 31st *sigh* and I'm feeling impatient :P

Been doing a lot of writing! YAY! Next chapter has been updated below the cut ;)


Chapter 4

Full Circle

As Oswald left, Jim didn't waste any time. He left the apartment and headed for the stairs, sending a quick text to Barbara to let her know where he was going. He reached outside in time to see Oswald getting into the Cadillac, but he hung back so neither would notice him long enough to get into his own vehicle.

The trick to a good tail was to make sure it wasn't too obvious and Jim was very careful not to make it look like he was following by keeping enough space between the two cars.

Oswald's car sped down to the other side of the city heading towards the casino. Maroni was waiting impatiently when the two arrived. Sheepishly, Oswald slid out of the car holding his hands up in supplication, "I, I'm sorry to keep you waiting Don Maroni! Detective Gordon needed a little convincing to let me leave."

Maroni pointed a finger at him, "I thought you was going to try to bail out on our little venture... That made me a little unhappy," at that moment, one of Maroni's thugs landed a quick jab to Oswald's side sending the other man to crumple to the ground. Maroni continued, "Don't disappoint me."

Even keeping his distance from the other car, Jim didn't miss Oswald crumpling to the ground. A split second later, he had his cell phone out and was making an anonymous call to provide a tip-off about action happening at the casino.

Oswald had alerted his inside man well before they had arrived using Maroni's lackey's phone, so the heist was well in motion by the time the sirens could be heard in the distance, and Maroni and his men started scattering. Even though they could likely pay off the police, not knowing if this particular police officer was on the take or not could be a costly endeavor to have to dig out of and not worth the overall hassle.

The handoff was a disarray, but it was made before everyone dispersed like roaches when the lights are turned on. In the confusion, Oswald's ride sped off without him, and when he tried to get into one of the cars that were left he was met with having the doors slammed in his face before he could limp to them, and they too drove off with screeching tires leaving Oswald behind.

Hearing the sirens closing in, Oswald ran as quickly as his disability allowed around the corner and into an alleyway trying to get away from the encroaching police cars. His heart thumped violently in his chest from his fear of getting arrested and the physical exertion from running. He couldn't be caught out here like this!

Jim had been casing the casino after calling in the tip, so he saw when Maroni and his goons fled the scene, leaving Oswald to try and escape on his own. Shaking his head, Jim pulled up alongside the other man and reached across to open the door. "Get in."

Oswald froze in his tracks hesitating momentarily as he eyed Jim cautiously knowing that the other man would likely be none too pleased with him, but the sound of closing in sirens was enough to have Oswald decide he'd rather take his chances with Jim over the prospect of getting arrested and most likely killed by Fish like a sitting duck.

He jumped in the car turning to face Jim as they sped through the alleyway and back on to the streets. He cleared his throat to try and dislodge the uncomfortable tightening there as he stated, "I appreciate you not leaving me back there." Oswald didn't quite understand why, but being next to Jim now had him feeling a level of shame making Oswald break away eye contact to stare at the floor.

Jim kept his eyes on the road ahead of him as he drove, even as he replied to Oswald's comment. "I'm not going to leave you there where you could get arrested. I told you the truth. Getting arrested isn't going to help you change."

Oswald gulped thinking back on their previous conversation before he’d left the brownstone. The glare Jim had given him promised retribution as he’d self-assuredly waved goodbye with all intensions of never getting within arm’s length of the other man again. He studied Jim now not quite sure what to say, but knowing he had to say something, “You know I didn’t have a choice right? If I didn’t go, Maroni would have killed us both along with Barbara… he got what he came for though, so that may put him in a better mood.”

Oswald also thought that it proved to Maroni he was at least someone useful although having the fuzz show up while the heist was going down likely didn’t reflect well on his ‘sure thing’ spiel he’d given the don prior to the job. He’d worry about that later though. The fact that they got the score at all should appease Maroni enough not to want his head on a pike.

"I think you weren't even prepared to try," Jim said. "You had every intention of going on this heist. I saw the look you gave me when you gave me the phone." He finally pulled up outside his apartment after making sure there weren't any pursuers.

Swallowing hard, Oswald nodded, “Well, I can see how it may have looked as if I planned to go on this outing, but I assure you that it really was in both of our best interests regardless. I will admit that I wasn’t exactly displeased to be leaving your company at that point after all you put me through, but I think we can both move past this incident and look towards a more prosperous future… working together.” Oswald had to concede to himself that he was getting rather worried the closer the two got to the apartment as his rear end was still sore from the previous bout the two had shared, and Jim had threatened a repeat of the same if circumstances warranted, and Oswald planned to do his best to assure Jim his motives were necessary.

Jim didn't concern himself with responding to Oswald's comment. He knew the other man had played him deliberately and nothing Oswald could say would convince him otherwise. He wasn't too fond of the idea of repeating the spanking he'd given Oswald a short while ago, but it was quickly proving to be necessary that he step in and keep his word when it came to the consequences.

Parking the car outside the apartment, Jim got out and then stepped round to open Oswald's door. "Come on. We're going inside."

Going inside was the last place Oswald wanted to go with Jim, but from the severity of the glare Jim was fixing him with, Oswald knew he had better comply without resistance if he was going to have a chance at talking Jim down from any rash actions.

Oswald timidly climbed out of the car moving towards the elevator, "I think I'll retire to my room for the remainder of the morning... I'm sure you're quite exhausted as well." It was true, Oswald was exhausted, but he was far from tired. His adrenaline was pumping and his heart fluttered as a wash of numbness settled over him. He was quite fearful of what the near future was likely to bring.

"You can go to your room once we've finished talking," Jim said, once they were in the elevator and there was less room for Oswald to try and bolt... not that he would get very far anyway. Even so, he made sure he was positioned between Oswald and the doors... just in case. He really didn't feel like wrestling with the other man.

“Can’t we talk tomorrow?” Oswald asked rather feebly, “This day has been quite taxing, and I doubt that I’ll be much of a conversationalist at the moment.” Oswald was pushing for more time in an attempt to calm Jim down and give himself a chance to regroup his own thoughts.

Jim shook his head. "We're going to talk tonight," he stated firmly. "Besides, I'm not sure there's much you can say that would change anything." Or anything that he would believe.

Oswald visibly shuddered his hands absently reaching back to cover his ass as if he’d be able to deter Jim from just snatching him up and going to work as the man had earlier that evening. Knowing exactly where this was going, Oswald tried to make Jim see reason, “You’re right! I… I can’t change anything, but please hear me out! What I did could have been approached much differently… I know that now! It was an error of judgment on my part, but I was afraid your stubbornness was going to get us all killed… I… I’m not used to relying on anyone else, and I made a rash assessment of the situation out of fear. I should have consulted you further… I realize that now, and I can swear to you that such a foolish action won’t be made on my part again.”

Jim snorted softly, well aware that Oswald would say anything to save his skin... or his butt, in this case. "Maybe you even think you mean that right now," he said. "But I warned you what would happen again if it was necessary." When the elevator doors opened, he wasted no time in dropping his hand to Oswald's shoulder and guiding the other man out and to the apartment.

Oswald's breathing became rapid as he shouted in earnest, "Wait! Just... just give me a chance to make it up to you! There really is no need to result to violence!"

Small beads of perspiration dotted his forehead as Oswald was led once more back in to Jim's apartment; deep down he was well aware Jim had all intentions of following through because once the man settled on a course of action, he was like a locomotive, there was no stopping him.

Jim moved Oswald quickly through the apartment, where his shouting wouldn't attract as much attention. "I'm not expecting you to make it up to me. When I told you not to meet Maroni that was as much for your protection as anything else."

Oswald was running out of ways to counter Jim's responses, so he lashed out in anger at the futile position he felt he was left in, "Well I NEVER asked for your protection; I can take care of myself!"

Jim led Oswald back to the living room. "You can't take care of yourself," he pointed out. "More than once, your manipulations have gotten you hurt. And badly hurt."

Oswald didn't like this line of thinking; it made his anger fade as he thought about how many times he'd almost been killed or had been given quite a beating. After such events, he had reminded himself it was for a bigger win when the game played itself out.

Having been brought back to the couch where it had all started last time they'd done this dance, Oswald began to panic spinning about to face Jim and placing his hands out in front of himself in a gesture of keeping distance between the two, "I know you're angry with me, and I'm truly sorry for the way I acted towards you. Please, can't we just start over with an understanding that I will be sure to run any further notions I have by you before acting?"

Jim paused and made eye contact with Oswald. "I'm not angry with you," he stated. "But you are going to stop manipulating me. And you are going to stop putting yourself in danger. Each and every time either of those happen, this will too." Deciding he wasn't prepared to argue with Oswald (it was late and he was tired), he decided to just get it over with and sat down on the couch, pulling Oswald across his lap.

Oswald let out a choked whimper as he found himself once more over Jim's lap. His stomach was twisting in knots, and he wanted to scream and fight, but Oswald knew to do so would only make this whole thing that much worse to endure. He wanted to cry already, and Jim hadn't even begun to strike him. His voice broke as he pleaded, "Please don't do this to me! I'm still so sore... I don't think I can take anymore!"

Jim didn't actually intend to spank too hard or too long - just enough to prove that he was serious about this. "I told you this would happen again when it needed to." Deciding not to bare the other man (Oswald was probably sore enough that it wouldn't make a difference), Jim brought his hand down in a firm swat that was stinging rather than really hard... enough to make an impression, but not unbearably so

Jim's steel hand making contact and his words were affirmation enough to Oswald that he wasn't going to get out of the consequences Jim had laid out previously. Even though Jim was taking it easy on him comparatively, the fact that Oswald was still quite tender made it sting just as badly as he'd originally remembered.

Oswald hissed as he involuntarily jerked about every time Jim's palm made contact. The anticipation of the next blow was almost as bad as the feeling left behind in its wake. He was ashamed to hear his own voice already calling out in rhythm to the tempo of delivered swats. Inwardly he had hoped to hold out at least for a little while, but Oswald's pain threshold was already abysmally low, and that mixed with the torrent of feelings he was experiencing had him mewling, "No, no, no, please have mercy on me Mr. Gordon! I'm sorry, believe me I am! Just tell me what you want from me, and I'll do it!"

"It's simple, Oswald. I want you to not fight me. Or try to manipulate me. Or do anything that proves I'm wrong about you having the capacity to be a good person." All of those were probably tall orders, but they were still doable. Jim just had to resolve to keep stepping in, until Oswald could manage on his own.

Oswald wailed desperately, “It… I… yes, of course! I can do that! I will! Believe me I will!” Oswald didn’t know if he believed himself, but he was more than certain he was willing to agree with whatever Jim’s stipulations were to get him out of getting spanked any longer.

Jim just shook his head. "I'm not expecting that to happen straight away, or for there to be no slip-ups... but that's what I'll eventually expect from you." He had no doubts that Oswald was saying anything he could to stop the spanking.

Nodding vigorously, Oswald made his best efforts to show he was on board, "I...I won't disappoint you sir!" The words that tumbled out of his mouth sickened Oswald, but it didn't exactly shock him that he was so agreeable, and he supposed that was what sickened him most.

Maybe, in the heat of the moment, Oswald really meant it... but Jim didn't think that promise would last. He was sure that trying to help Oswald do the right thing would become a full time job. In either case, he finished up with a final few swats, before resting his hand on the other man's back. "I don't expect you to be perfect, but I expect you to be as good as I'm sure you can be."

Oswald trembled taking in big intakes of air as he attempted to regain control of himself. Realizing Jim had finally stopped slapping him, Oswald grimaced at the remaining tenderness that radiated from his posterior. He could tell between this one and the last one, it was going to be a day or so before he'd be sitting comfortably.

He'd managed not to cry, and that was a small victory, but he still felt as if he were close to tears even though the spanking had concluded. Jim wanted this badly to set him on a better course, and the sentiment wasn't lost on Oswald. Being a person who was always seen as a bit odd and not overly liked, the fact Jim wanted him to be a better person and that Jim was a better person worth looking up to was inspiring.

Oswald turned back to stare at the other man searching for some falsehood lying there, but he didn't see anything but sincerity staring back at him. Oswald blinked, and the tears he'd been holding back fell, as he nodded his voice warbling, "I'll... I'll do my best," feeling embarrassed at the show of emotions, Oswald ducked his head and weakly added, "Can I get up now?"

Jim nodded, moving his hand from Oswald's back. "I know you're tired, but do you want to have something to drink before you go to bed?" He actually wasn't sure how to leave things after this, but he was unwilling to just ignore Oswald, feeling a lot of responsibility towards the other man.

Sniffing, Oswald wiped at his face before sliding back off Jim's lap to the ground. He still couldn't bring himself to look at Jim and merely nodded affirmation as he really was quite thirsty now, and having the other man leave would give him a moment to collect himself.

"All right." Jim moved off the couch and through to the kitchen. He poured out a glass of water, reflecting that he needed to check what kind of things Oswald liked to eat and drink, and then brought the glass back through to the living room.

After Jim had left, Oswald shakily slid carefully onto the sofa only glancing up when Jim had arrived with the water. He took the cup gingerly whispering a hoarse, "Thank you," before sipping the drink and putting all his focus on the cup. He ran unsteady hands up and down the glass now feeling quite awkward after the fact. Jim must think him quite less of a man he thought bitterly a slight frown working its way onto his face now.

Although he wasn't sure if it would be accepted, Jim reached out and placed a hand on Oswald's shoulder, squeezing gently. "Do you want to tell me how you're feeling?" He was certain he could guess at some of it, at least, but he wanted to give Oswald an opportunity to talk.

Oswald jumped slightly shoulders rising and tensing defensively upon contact of Jim’s hand, but realizing it was meant to be comforting, Oswald relaxed a bit as their eyes met. He still looked afraid and uncertain as he opened his mouth to speak before closing it once more gulping down the rising lump in his throat. He felt lost and afraid, not of Jim, but of the direction Jim was pushing him in and whether or not he was up to walking the path Jim thought he was capable of. His chest felt heavy and he lost eye contact again answering almost inaudibly, “I feel… numb.”

Jim nodded, not all that surprised by the response. "I'd guess that you've never had someone step in and give you consequences for your actions before." He couldn't imagine Oswald's mother had ever been strict with him... and Fish and Maroni would have hurt him in much worse ways.

Oswald was offended slightly to be told that he needed someone to step in and give him consequences as if he’d never suffered. His nose crinkled as he responded curtly, “I’m perfectly aware of what I’m doing and well aware of the risks.”

"And yet you've managed to get yourself badly hurt... and apart from your mother, is there anyone who really cares about you?" Jim asked.

Oswald’s mouth tightened into a small line; he really couldn’t think of anyone outside his mother that actually really liked him for more than what he could do for them let alone cared about him. The tight line quivered slightly as Oswald thought on this as he often tried to avoid this line of thinking replacing them with thoughts on how when he finally made it big all his past ridicule would be far beneath him. People would worship him, but they would never truly care about him. He avoided the question responding flippantly, “I’ve made mistakes in the past, but I’m a survivor.”

Jim knew full well that Oswald was avoiding the questions. "I can tell you're a survivor, and that's where a lot of your actions come from. I care about you as a person. I know you can do better than your actions to date have shown. I tried to stop you talking to Maroni because I know he, and Fish, and everyone like them are dangerous and by manipulating them, you're playing with fire."

Jim was right of course, Oswald realized the further down the rabbit hole he went the higher the stakes became. It was terrifying and exciting. Above all, these games he played were how he proved his worth to himself. He had ambition after all, and most of those thugs couldn’t even begin to touch on the brilliance of the plans he had made and enacted... even if they all hadn’t panned out like he’d hoped. Jim was supposed to be his pawn not his savior. Oswald fixed Jim with a curious stare. The fact Jim admitted to care about him and was concerned for his safety was both touching and bewildering. He had brought this man nothing but trouble, and yet he still wanted to help him. He asked doubtfully, “…And what do you expect me to do Jim Gordon? I have nothing else going for me… I’m a dead man walking after all.”

"I told you what I expect you to do," Jim said. "I don't expect change will come easy, but that's what the consequences are for. Working against the law and playing Fish and Maroni off each other is just going to end up with you getting hurt. Or someone putting a bullet in your head, because they're not going to make the mistake of someone sparing you like I did."

Oswald didn’t like the insinuation of consequences carried out by Jim for decisions he wanted to make, but he knew better than to mention as much. Instead he just sighed his discontent and nodded for Jim’s benefit as arguing with the man his points Oswald was more than sure would earn the man’s ire. “I’m very clear on what I need to do,” Oswald stated tiredly even though he didn’t disclose that what he felt he needed to do and what Jim felt he needed to do were very different. He rose stiffly, “If you don’t mind, I’m pretty drained, and I’m sure you are as well. Can we continue this conversation tomorrow?” Oswald knew better than to challenge Jim by trying to leave any time soon, and getting some rest would lend to a clearer perspective which he needed sorely.

Jim nodded, standing as well. "If you wake up before I do, you can help yourself to breakfast... and make a list of what you like to eat and drink, so that Barbara and I know for meals." He was tired himself and had to stifle a yawn.

Oswald smiled meekly, “I think I’ll skip breakfast since it’s almost four in the morning… but maybe lunch.” He turned to move down the hall and added, “I’ll make that list… thank you.” Oswald shuffled down the hall his mind still whirring about the possibilities of tomorrow. Stepping back into his room, he closed the door moving over to the nicely made bed to tear the covers back and collapse into the soft mattress. Oswald let go of all thought for the moment; he had a feeling there would be plenty of time for contemplation after a bit of shut eye.
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