"I always knew you rolled that way Batbreath," his voice juddering from the cold, "that doesn't mean I do. The Joker's got women, he doesn't have to waste his nights fucking Robins and a lot of other rejects." No, but apparently he does have to sit there shivering and shaking, and all he can do is say no.

And throw a lot of random insults. It's his fault they're there in the first place of course. On top of a ski resort, one of those tacky, falling-down places he loves so much, with a doomsday device he's set up that just happens to pick T-10 to stop working. You can't resist making a comment. "A death machine that freezes up at a ski lodge?" With a smirk, "not your best plan, Joker," you say.

And then the avalanche hits. And whatever his plans might have been, it looks like both your plans for right now is to cool your heels right here in Joker's ski lodge. A very poor pun that one, but true. Because he's forgotten to bring firewood. Three cases of weapons, still packed in grease and sawdust, 50 rounds of ammo minimum, for each one, a dozen cans of gasoline, and no firewood? Is this how all homicidal maniacs make their plans? There's no blankets on the beds upstairs either. "So sue me," Joker says, "I didn't plan on staying here very long."

"Only until you died," he says, "and how long is that supposed to take?" Suddenly he gives you a look that's almost appealing, and he adds "haven't you got a sleeping bag or something in that utility belt of yours?"

There's one in the bat-copter. "Mine," the Clown Prince of Crime carols, "you don't need it. Everyone knows heroes are indestructible."

It's at this point that you suggest the logical. After all, two bodies make more heat than one, even if one of them is clinically insane, and more dangerous than a whole barrelful of Jeffrey Dahmer's with a full order of Jack the Ripperses on the side. And it's after that, that Joker starts throwing jibes. But he's got to admit that the straitjacket you brought for him isn't as cozy as half a kilo of goose down in a sack with a Bat logo. And he has to admit that 180 pounds of Caped Crusader just make the bag warmer.

The first half hour, you're seriously expecting him to try killing you. That's why you keep your suit on inside the sleeping bag. And, "holy fuck," the Joker grumbles, "that kevlar shit's cold, Batso."

A couple knuckles to his head -- Did you ever seriously expect to be noogieing the Joker? Or that it would really work to shut him up? -- "Truce," you tell him, "you don't try killing me, and I won't beat your sociopathic ass to a pulp." He snerks a little at that one, and says he didn't know heroes ever used profanity.

You noogie him again. "It's obsecenity," you say, and then you and the Harlequin of Hate have a deal.

A lot of that is probably because he's sleepy. He cuddles closer, as his eyelids start to close, and suddenly you feel the Joker's arms wrapped around your chest. You feel the Joker's legs twined close up against yours. And he's a lot skinner than he looks with his clothes on. He's as light as a kitten in your arms -- A seriously deranged, dangerously homicidal kitten -- and "tell me a story," he murmurs, as he tucks his green curly head right up under your chin.

"All right," you actually find yourself saying, "once upon a time there was a family of bats" --

"Nawww," he says sleepily, "they've gotta be clowns." So you make them clowns -- You tell yourself it's only to shut him up -- and in between when the Daddy Clown leaves to go chop some wood, and when the Itty Witty Baby Clown tells his Momma he has to leave to seek his fortune, that's when you join your arch-nemisis in Dreamland.

You don't hold it against him when he tries to kill you again the next morning. Still half asleep, you roll over to get hold of your batarangs, your utility belt -- To get hold of something that will re-establish the balance of power from the night before -- and it's not until you realize the Joker has you wrapped tight in his own straitjacket that you start to get a little pissed.