Author's Note: As the title would suggest, this was inspired by some things that the Joker said to Batman in TDK. Batman and the Joker's relationship is a strange one, because while they might both be working towards the other's destruction, there is a connection between them that is completely different from hate (as the Joker puts it, "what would I do without you?"). So, yeah, this oneshot was meant to explore that idea a bit. So, I really hope you all enjoy it! (:

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"I think you and I are destined to do this forever." – The Joker.

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"You know, sweetheart, sometimes I sit up late at night, imagining what it would be like to be you…" The Joker jutted his chin into the air, his dark eyes glinting through slit lids. A wide grin slowly parted his lips. "And I just want to kill myself." His shrill laughter echoed off the walls, his mouth a dark gaping hole that could devour hundreds of lives in a second.

Batman lunged out of the shadows.

But the Joker took a few quick steps backward, holding one hand aloft. The deadly glint of a homemade detonator shone through his gloved fingers, the loose parts rattling softly.

"Give it to me, Joker," Batman growled, advancing slowly.

His scarred mouth twisted into a suggestive smirk. "Are you sure you can handle it?"

"You know what I mean." His patience was wearing thin. The only thing that kept him from throttling the Joker was the fact that he could incinerate hundreds of innocents with one twitch of his finger.

"What," the Joker said, feigning surprise, "this old thing?" He shook it in the air.

Batman's heart skipped several beats, waiting for the explosion. "Don't do that."

The Joker giggled, taking slow but constant steps back. "See, there's your problem. I swear, you're going to drop dead one of these days, and it won't be because a sniper finally gets you; it'll be because your blood pressure's just too high and your heart will explode." He stopped, and Batman hesitated, facing him.

His lips still pulled back in a maniac grin, the Joker added, "You're just too goddamned serious. Maybe if you started looking at the brighter side of life, you know, laughing more… like me."

"I don't need you telling me how to live my life," Batman snapped.

"Really." His tongue darted over his lips. "How many friends do you have, Batman? Aside from me, of course."

"What kind of question is that?"

The Joker grinned. "Defensive. You don't actually have any friends, do you? I think I can see why. People don't like a downer. And you," he said, reversing their dance and taking a few slow steps toward him, "are such a downer. But don't worry; I can help you. See, if you only smiled more." He took out a switchblade, holding it lightly in a hand. The playful mockery of his tone was gone, replaced by sensual lips and smoldering eyes. "I could teach you."

Batman slammed his hand hard into the Joker's outstretched arm, and he dropped the detonator without so much as a yelp. His head made a satisfying crack as Batman slammed him into the wall, his fists balled tightly in his shirt collar.

The laughter never left his eyes. "Who needs friends, anyway?"

But then the world was falling away from him. Batman lay on the ground for a moment, completely dazed. The dark clouds above were barely visible in the night sky, and his ankle screamed in throbbing pain. He only came back to himself when he felt the Joker straddling him. All his muscles tensed, his teeth gnashing together, and he pushed himself up.

"Ah, ah, ah." The Joker placed a firm hand against his shoulder, shoving him back down to the ground. He waved the recovered detonator in front of Batman's face victoriously. "Just take it easy," he said. "Think about what I said." He planted his free hand near Batman's head, resting his full weight on his chest.

"Get off of me."

The Joker shook his head haughtily. "I will only if you seriously think about it. You have to play my way now."

Batman hesitated, squinting up at the Joker through the darkness. He took a moment to calculate the chances that the Joker would just hand over the detonator if he played along, and they didn't look very good. But there was still a chance. Grudgingly, he said, "It's sort of hard to carry on relationships when you're nocturnal—"

"No, no, no," the Joker said impatiently, waving his knife hand dismissively in the air. "Who cares about other people? I was talking about us, about our relationship."

"We don't have a relationship."

"You're in denial. That's sweet," he purred, his voice growling low as he stuck the knife into Batman's mouth, letting the sharpened edge cut a shallow wound into the corner of his lips. "But can't you see it? I think you and I would make quite a pair. See, because you and I really aren't that much different. Birds of a feather and all that, after all. Or," he amended, looking thoughtful, "I guess that would be a bat in your case."

Batman shrank away as much as he could from the blade and hissed, "I am nothing like you."

"Oh, but you are." He seemed to think about this for a moment, but then he nodded, resolute. "You are." He grabbed Batman's chin in one bony hand and shook his head roughly back and forth. "You're just not thinking hard enough. But I guess I could see why you might avoid that, since you like to think of yourself as so upright and good and sane. I'm sorry if it depresses you, I truly am." He grinned. "You're no fun when you're sad, honey."

Batman swiped his arm up, hoping to make contact with the Joker's chin, but he easily dodged the hit. A malicious gleam in his eyes, he carved a short, red line up Batman's cheek. Batman didn't cry out, but lay very still, his teeth clenched on the blade. Metallic blood tickled the back of this throat, choked him.

His voice quieter, more serious, the Joker said, "We're two sides of the same coin, aren't we? Sure, you might not have the balls to kill people, but our two halves have to meet somewhere. Don't tell me that you've never thought about it, the warm pleasure of watching the life bleed out of someone, their terrified eyes gradually clouding..." His gaze refocused on Batman, meeting his eyes through the slits of his mask. "I'm sorry. Does that kill you? Do you die a little bit inside every time you realize that, just one—oops—slip-up, and you're no different from me?"

"I will never be like you." But his conviction was wavering.

The Joker paused, his expression unfathomable as he stared down at Batman. Slowly, a gleeful chuckle rose in the Joker's chest; he bit his lip to keep it under control. "All right then," he said. "All right. Maybe I'm more like you, then. Maybe the only reason I exist is because you wear that little mask of yours." His fingers slid along the joints of his cowl. "It's because of you that criminals run rampant in this city. If you didn't exist, they would have no reason to either. What Gotham needs is a true hero," he said, running the blade across Batman's exposed skin. "Like me. Gotham needs someone brave enough to finally put the psychotic, deranged Batman aw—"

He judged the distance better this time. With one well-aimed palm, he slammed the Joker back, splayed him out on the ground in front of him. Not pausing for a heartbeat, Batman leapt on him, his hands going for his throat—

The explosion sent shockwaves through his chest, interrupting his pulse for the split second before the alleyway was completely illuminated by a warm orange glow. The blast sent Batman sprawling forwards, collapsing over the Joker and too stunned to do much of anything about it right away. He expected the Joker's wiry legs to be kicking the moment he got his bearings, but no—they were completely limp.

His ears still ringing, he looked down at the Joker in shock. All trace of playfulness had disappeared from his features, replaced by the cold smile of a victorious monster. He leaned up so that his mouth was right next to Batman's ear, his cheek pressed against the mask. No ounce of remorse in his voice, he whispered, "Oops."

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Bruce clutched his head in his hands, his elbows digging painfully into his knees and fingers tugging sharply at the roots of his hair. The room was completely dark but for the faint lightening of dawn on the horizon. He unconsciously chewed the scab at the corner of his mouth, and the blood flowed down his chin. But his mind was elsewhere.

He imagined what it would feel like to break the Joker's neck with his bare hands. He would look up at him, probably still smiling, would probably even help him along, the crazy bastard. He could feel the way the Joker's windpipe would collapse first, feel the way his chest would heave and heave and heave but accomplish nothing. He could see the laughter in the Joker's eyes fading, see the scarred cheeks resting slack over yellowed teeth. But most satisfying of all, he could feel the way his spine snapped when he twisted his head sharply to the side, and he finally went limp forever.

Or he could kill him with the Joker's favorite weapon, his knives. Then the joke would be on him, and Bruce would have the last laugh—

"Master Wayne?"

Bruce sat up, feeling guilty, as if Alfred could sense his darkest secrets.

Alfred was a mere shadow backlit by the bright hallway light. His shoulders slumped in relief when Bruce turned to face him. "Thank God," he breathed. "I heard about the explosion, and I thought you might have been there—"

"I was, Alfred." Bruce slumped back into his chair. "I was there. I couldn't stop him."

Alfred was quiet for a few long seconds. His voice careful, he said, "You will next time, sir."

Bruce explored the cut with his tongue, wincing when he felt the tender skin rip. Fresh blood oozed down his cheek. Next time, and the time after that, and the time after that. "I know."

Because just like the Joker, Batman would never be stopped.

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Author's Note: Please review! :D And if you enjoyed this, check out my other Batman story, Deal with the Devil.