A/N: It's finally posted! Writing this has been pretty much the only thing that's kept me going the last few days, today especially. I woke up at five a.m. and found that an old scar had split open, covering my sheets in blood, and the day just got worse from there. Thank god for writing.
Anyway, this is the pseudo-sequel to my Batman oneshot, Rooftop Philosophy. It's not necessary to have read that one first, but it is recommended. Just so's to warn you, THIS IS SLASH. Don't like, don't read, simple as that. This story will be mostly about the relationship between Batman and the Joker, so while there will be some fluff and some action, it isn't strictly either one of those. This is also my very first slash fic, and I'm still experimenting, so please, be gentle.
This fic is dedicated to the memory of the amazing Heath Ledger, may he rest in well-deserved peace.
Thanks for suffering through my novel of an author's note, I promise the next one will be shorter, I just needed to rant. Anyway, Read, Review, and please, above all, Enjoy!
I am flame and I am fire,
I am destruction, decay, desire.
I'll hurt you,
I'll heal you,
I'm your wish, your dream come true,
And I am your darkest nightmare, too.
I've shown you
I own you.
And though you made me, you can't change me -
I'm the perfect stranger who knows you too well.
~ I'm Alive, Next to Normal
The strangest night of Bruce Wayne's life began when he brushed his teeth.
Well, it's wasn't actually nighttime, per se. It was close to five a.m. Not that he particularly cared about the technicalities at that point. It'd been a long day and an even longer night, and he was more than ready for some sleep. He finished up in the bathroom and shuffled back into the bedroom, with no other thoughts than collapsing into bed and sleeping for a good eight hours straight. As soon as his head hit the pillows though, he felt uncomfortable, the blankets too tight, too heavy, the cloth awkward against his skin. As he twisted and turned, trying to find a position that worked, the Joker's voice came floating into his head, as it had so often over the past weeks.
Think of what we could do together. There's no fight we wouldn't win!
Ever since he had spoken them, that night on the rooftop, the words had swirled around his head. At times, the idea seemed crazy, preposterous. Other times, like now, it seemed perfectly plausible, perfectly natural. It seemed like it could possibly work. Like it was meant to work.
More than that though... in a way... he almost wanted it to work. There was no doubt that he and the Joker were bound together somehow, and they would fight until they destroyed each other - unless they found another way. Unless they learned to work together. But that couldn't happen, they were on opposite sides of the board...
You. Complete. Me.
Demented words from a deranged clown, accompanied by a mocking laughter track that kept playing through his head, no matter what he did...
Bruce groaned and rolled over, crushing a pillow over his head. He was exhausted, but he wasn't going to get much rest tonight.
"Get out of my head, Joker," he muttered.
"What, overstayed my welcome already?" a voice a few feet away asked. Bruce jumped. Even in the dark, he knew that voice.
The light flicked on. The Joker was seated not three feet from the edge of the bed, legs crossed, grinning under the scars, a knife in his hands.
Bruce slowly sat up, suddenly very aware of a number of highly unpleasant facts. First off, the Joker was here, in his bedroom, which meant that he knew who Batman really was, which was a disaster in itself. Second, the Joker had a knife, and looked more than ready to use it. Third, Alfred's room was right down the hall. As soon as he'd finished with Bruce, the make-up smeared clown would probably check the penthouse for anyone else. And last…Bruce was uncomfortably aware that he was on his back, in bed, completely unarmed, wearing absolutely nothing but a pair of black silk boxers. He groaned mentally. Of all the ways to die!
His martial arts training wouldn't be much use here. Whether by accident or design, the Joker had caught him in a position where he had absolutely no leverage. He might be able to get to the Joker, but he was half sitting, half lying down, it would take precious milliseconds to get upright, and the Joker was wicked fast with that knife...
Joker noticed his renewed concentration, and hazarded a guess at what Batsy was considering so intently. His eyes narrowed.
"Now now," he admonished, wagging the dagger far too close to the end of Bruce's nose for comfort, "I can't have ya trying anything, so be a good bat and lay back down, and maybe I won't need to, uh, hurt anyone."
Bruce did as he said, sinking slowly back into the pillows. What choice did he have?
"Now then," the Joker added, once he was satisfied his orders were being carried out, "when you were not out chasing after the local muck-raking lowlifes, did you, by chance, spare any thought for my, ah, pppppproposition?"
He drew the word out, making it sound as twisted and deformed as the scars across his cheeks, licking his lips at the end, as though tasting it. Even now, Bruce was equally fascinated and repulsed by him. There were bigger issues though.
"How did you find me?" he asked, his voice unconsciously taking on the roughness he always used when he was Batman.
"It wasn't that, ah, difficult," the Joker grinned. "Now that the games are over and I needed to find you, you left me a pretty wide trail. Batman would have to be rich to have all the fun gadgets he keeps, and, as it turns out, you are the only billionaire in Gotham who is under forty, over six feet tall, and has brown eyes. Piece of cake. Ya might want to ah, cover your tracks a bit, Batsy."
Bruce groaned mentally again. Nice to know where I went wrong before I die, he thought sarcastically. He'd have to start taking steps to remain anonymous. If he survived tonight…
"You're, uh, dodging my question though," the Joker declared, dragging his thoughts back to earth. "Did you or did you not think about what I told ya that night?"
He had thought about it plenty. No need to tell Joker that though.
"Hadn't thought about it much," he said, as lightly as he could. The Joker's grin twisted into a scowl.
"You're, uh, lying to me Batsy," he informed the billionaire. "I thought we were friends. If that's how you're going to play," he added, rising lightly to his feet, "I think we're going to have to take this game…outside," he finished, placing the purple-gloved fingertips of one hand against Bruce's chest.
Though normally the epitome of self-control, Bruce started. The Joker's hands were only a little warmer than he'd expected, but in spite of the relatively normal temperature, the points of contact on his chest burned like fire. He felt his face grow hot. Damn subconscious reactions. Of course it was going to be uncomfortable having your greatest enemy examine you like some rare antique he was thinking of stealing.
The Joker grinned. He liked seeing Bruce so uncomfortable. Every time Batman touched him – during the interrogation, during a fight, any time – the sudden thrill of sensation made it difficult for him to even remember to keep breathing. He was more than happy to return the favor, with added interest.
He also had to admit that it was nice seeing his archrival out of the Batsuit. Yes, very nice, he mused, his dark eyes raking the form he'd only ever glimpsed under all the black Kevlar and spandex.
His eyes narrowed. Was Batsy blushing? Yes, definitely blushing. He smirked. If that was how he reacted to a little thing like that, well then…
Bruce gasped as the Joker's hand flattened and slid across his chest. His entire body was burning now, his nerve endings tingling like live wires. Why was he acting like this? What happened to keeping a cool head?
His body answered for him, sending his pulse skyrocketing until his entire body pounded like a drum to his heartbeat. He groaned, aloud this time. Why him?
The Joker's grin widened. This was getting exciting. He'd been interested in Batman since he met the guy, but it had never even occurred to him that the caped crusader might be just as interested. Smirking, he increased the pressure. The result was instantaneous. Bruce gasped, and his entire body jerked as though electrocuted.
Ah. Almost certainly interested then.
"Twitchy little Bat, aren't you?" he grinned. Batman glared.
He was tempted to see just how far he could take this little shindig, but something told him that if he tried anything too drastic, poor little Brucey would die of shock. Better to keep it simple for now. Might as well leave him with something to think about though…
He leaned over the bed, putting his face no more than an inch away from Bruce's. The unmasked superhero pressed himself back as far as he could, but he couldn't get away from the twisted, grinning scars.
For a moment the Joker stayed there, drinking in the sight of him. How often had he seen those eyes under the mask? They were stunning eyes, but much to better to see the rest of his lovely face too. He could have stayed there for hours, simply staring at Bruce, but there were other things that needed to be done.
He brought the knife up. Bruce's eyes widened slightly, despite his effort to remain in control. Dammit, it was going to end then. Everything he'd worked for, undone by one stupid clown! Dammit dammit dammit...
He drew in his breath as the Joker placed the cold edge, almost lovingly, against his throat. For chrissakes, if he was going to kill him, then kill him already! His heart was pounding, fully expecting each breath to be his last, but he didn't look away from the crazed madman. If he was going to die tonight, he was determined that he would die well. The Joker leaned in even closer, probably to savor all the fun little emotions, Bruce thought bitterly, remembering the GPD surveillance tapes. He expected at any moment to feel the sharp steel rip into his skin, slicing cleanly through his jugular and spilling his lifeblood out across the bedspread. What he did not expect was to feel the Joker's scarred lips press against his forehead.
The Joker drew back and grinned broadly. Bruce starred at him in shock. Before the young billionaire could react, the clown blew him a kiss and vanished into the shadows, his plum-colored coat swirling behind him. Seconds later, the only evidence that he had been there at all was Bruce's still-pounding heart and one of his trademark playing cards, laid almost lovingly on the pillow. Bruce picked it up cautiously.
'See you soon, Bats'
Do not put your faith
In a cape and a hood,
They will not protect you
The way that they should.
~ I Know Things Now, Into the Woods