Albert Penniworth… the strange man that had invited him here. A man of mystery and suspense. Presumably he was an elderly man; at least, that was the impression Oswald had received from the letter he’d been sent. There was something about the name that implied a man in his golden days. Then again, with the name Oswald Cobblepot the young man had no right to judge. It was as if he’d been born old. Probably some bitterness from father there, bless the bastard.
People couldn’t be blamed for mistaking Oswald for someone older. His appearance, his manner of speech and bearing… the only thing that really betrayed his youth was his voice, which had barely deepened from his youth. It made him sound like a child much younger, rather than someone several months from seventeen. Nevertheless, a case of mistaken identity was bound to occur…
Hearing a voice behind her, the young man turned to see a cheerful girl. She couldn’t have been much more than his age… probably a little younger. Nice-looking, too, in that… common people way. But definitely a more attractive sight than the society ladies who liked to attend mother’s soirees. Huh. He actually hadn’t spoken to many girls his age, mostly because Blackgate Academy had been an all-boy’s sc-
“Mr. Penniworth? Oh no, I believe you have the wrong person, miss.” It was only polite to tell her. Not to mention that to be mistaken for a family of SERVING PEOPLE was an extremely vulgar idea to the portly boy. But then…
Face turning a deep scarlet, Oswald shook his head while profusely refusing her offer, stammering as he did so. “Children? Oh HEAVENS no! No no no no no goodness no, I’m only sixteen and I’m not Mr. Penniworth! B-Besides, you can’t be v-very different from my age, miss… whoever y-you might be! Not an age to be thinking about… about about children!” Wiping the sweat now streaming from his brow with a handkerchief taken from his pocket, the young man lowered his eyes to his feet. “A-and as I stated earlier I’m not Mr. Penniworth. M-My name is Oswald. Oswald… Oswald Cobblepot, although I could t-try to take you to… ah, to Mr. Penniworth.”
“You aren’t.. Mr. Penniworth?”
A lengthy silence followed. Seconds turned to minutes, and Mukae still did something close to nothing in response (though her smile had noticeably fallen). Rather, she wasn’t sure how to respond— or whether or not she should respond. While she didn’t hold any contempt for Oswald – could she really detest him? He hadn’t done anything wrong, and he was only being honest about the fact he wasn’t the man she’d hoped him to be – she couldn’t say the same about her disappointment.
After a considerable delay, she blinked. Once, twice, three times. Any ordinary person would’ve taken this time to make hurried apologies and go along their way to avoid any further embarrassment, but Mukae hadn’t moved an inch – save for her breathing and the occasional blink. Her expression remained vacant for quite some time, but she made a little noise to signal that she’d managed to process her mistake.
Luckily for her, though, he seemed to have sweeped the matter under the rug and instead appease her desire to even catch sight of Albert Penniworth. She was definitely a woman with drive, if anything.
“Ah— but you’ll take me to see Mr. Penniworth—?!” An unnecessary amount of enthusiasm filled her tone, and that sickly smile returned.
Excitement boiled in her very blood, and the corners of her lips gradually began to curl up into a grin. She grew flushed – not out of embarrassment, but the pure admiration that she held for this elusive man (whether or not he existed) brought these reactions about at even the mere mention of his name. Incessant giggles poured past her lips, and amidst her glee, she took the chance to take hold of his hands and hold them to her chest.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Cobblepot!” The foreign name didn’t slip very well off her tongue (the only reason why Penniworth did was more than likely because she’d rehearsed the pronunciation a little too much). That hadn’t hindered her good mood in the slightest, though. “I’m glad, I’m really really really really glad—!”
Albeit happy, there was still something wrong. Mukae was oblivious, but intuition would tell anyone that something was off. Her hands were still on his, and, regardless of the fact it was a harmless gesture that displayed her appreciation for Oswald’s offer of assistance, he’d come to learn why everyone at home kept a healthy distance.
The stench of rotting flesh permeated the air, and it grew stronger and stronger as she kept his hands in hers.