Disclaimer: Property of Warner Bros, DC Comics, Legendary Films, Christopher Nolan, Heather Ledger, and Christian Bale.

Warning: SLASH!

-The time line is slightly confusing in this one. The separator lines indicate past and present and the --- and italics indicate a flashback within a flashback...yeah, I'm retarded and couldn't think of a better way to do this, so I hope you'll bear with me.

Special thanks to my Beta, Compy! I send lots of hugs and love for dealing with me : )


"You complete me." - The Joker, The Dark Knight

Bare

By: EIW



Batman slammed through the window, gripping his bleeding arm tightly. Shards of glass splashed across the polished wooden floor. Batman's dark eyes flashed across the room. He'd made it. He'd actually made it to his house.

The Dark Knight stumbled towards the desk, pulling at his mask, desperately trying to peel it away from his face with his good arm. Finally after several attempts, Batman got the blasted thing off. Not that it was particularly useful as a mask anymore since the entire right side was sliced open. The Joker had wanted a peek at his face.

Things in Gotham had actually settled down recently. Bruce had always thought if things cooled down for a while he'd be relieved and happy. That was not the case. To be completely honest, it made Bruce anxious and nervous. Alfred said he was cranky and constantly had to tell Bruce to stop fidgeting like a child, but he just couldn't help it. There was something ominous about the quiet within the city. It was almost like the still silence before a storm.

Bruce didn't like it.

This, of course, had caused him to wander into the night more often than was absolutely necessary. He had to try and figure out what was different about the city. The Joker had showed up, as he always did. Batman and the Joker had fought, just like they always did. Batman had won, just as he was supposed to. It was all an intricate routine by now. What had surprised them both was the appearance of a letter, which was thrown down from a rooftop over the street where they'd been fighting in.


The Joker had noticed it first, since Batman was busy trying to dodge the flaming mini-van that was trying to murder him.

The clown had a thing for fire.

Normally, the Joker was completely absorbed in the fight, almost to the point that he couldn't see anything else, which was his downfall and the reason he usually got caught. His brain would entwine itself with Batman and seek him out no matter what the circumstances were. However, tonight, the letter had clunked him on the head, causing his brain to be taken away from his Batman encounter for just a moment, something that could not be tolerated and was usually penalized by death. The Joker gripped the letter tightly within his purple gloved hand and was prepared to violently discard it, when he noticed something. The letter was addressed to Batman, his Batman.

Batman quickly rolled away from the flaming car, which exploded seconds later. The blast blew him a few feet away and he found himself flat against the rough pavement with a piece of metal from the car jammed into his right arm. Batman groaned as his head pounded from getting slammed into the road. He pulled himself up to a seated position and gripped his arm, which was searing with pain. That was going to hurt in the morning.

Batman quickly shook himself, trying to clear the lingering cloud of pain from his mind. He groggily looked around for his opponent. The Joker appeared to be standing across the street, reading a letter. Batman stared at him for a moment and blinked several times, making sure that the image he was seeing was actually the reality. Reading a letter in the middle of their fight was odd, even for the Joker.

However, Batman had learned long ago never try to understand anything the Joker did. It just caused headaches and people had a tendency to die. The Dark Knight stood up wearily and once he stabilized his equilibrium, he dashed toward the purple clad man, effortlessly tackling him to the ground.

The Joker's head hit the dark pavement with a crack and his eyes scrunched up as he cringed in pain. A few drops of blood oozed against his matted, dark green hair. The clown didn't try and push Batman off of him. He just opened his eyes and stared at the paper in his hand and then back to Batman, who was currently confused as hell about what was happening. The Joker wasn't even fighting back. Was this another of the Joker's tricks? If it was, the clown needed to come up with some new ideas because this was just dumb.

"What's that?" Batman gruffly asked, indicating the paper in his hand, pressing the Joker roughly into the ground. He was trying to play along with the Joker's new trick or whatever it was. Batman had realized through many tousles together that if he played along long enough, the Joker would usually be more cooperative. It was all part of their relationship as exclusive arch-nemeses. The Joker had carefully explained it all to him one day when he'd been chained up at the docks about to be drowned by the clown.

----

Normally Batman had the upper hand, but that day he'd had a cold and his sinuses had been clogged up, which effectively warped his equilibrium. He should have taken a sick day like Alfred had told him too, but the Joker was always there, enticing him, challenging him. He couldn't just ignore him. That never ended well for anyone, especially Gotham City.

So, he'd gone out into the night and gotten himself caught. Pitifully.

When the Joker figured out how he'd overpowered Batman so easily, he'd laughed hysterically, patted his head, and told him he'd stab him to death if Batman even thought about getting him sick. Batman had eventually escaped, but not before vowing to never go near water again. The next week had been very quiet on the Joker front. The following week the Joker had tried to stab him to death with a syringe, claiming that he'd spread his disease and was going to be put into quarantine. The clown told him it was for the best, considering the city's population. It had been a difficult scene to explain to Commissioner Gordon, especially since the ridiculousness of the entire situation had caused Batman to smile almost the entire time.

----

The Joker looked up into Batman's eyes.

"It's for you," he said quietly, handing the the letter to Batman as best he could from his tackled position.

Without any hesitation, the Dark Knight grabbed the Joker by his green vest and dragged him over to the sidewalk. Batman quickly chained the Joker to the nearest lamppost and grabbed the letter from the clown. His mind still trying to figure out what the Joker was playing at and why he was allowing himself to be caught and subdued so easily. It just wasn't like him. The Joker relished in their fighting, even reveled in it. He would provoke Batman to the point of bending the Dark Knight's rules.

Something wasn't right.

Batman glanced at the letter and quickly walked over towards the lamppost, seeing as it was the only source of light in the whole street block. The Joker hadn't wanted them to be interrupted so he'd shot down everything that could possibly radiate light within shooting distance. Batman thought this was counter productive as it would just warn the police, but sometimes it was just best to let the Joker have at it, as long as people weren't in danger of course.

Batman began to read the note. The words were letters torn out of magazines and newspapers. It just said something about someone coming to Gotham, a new rival or something. He'd gotten these before, numerous times. It was never cause for concern, but it was the Joker's reaction that confused and worried him. The Clown Prince of Crime was only ever this complacent and quiet right before a big, huge outburst.

This was not good.

Sirens blared as the police made their way towards their location. Batman looked over at the Joker and stared at the dejected clown. His hands were handcuffed to the lamppost and positioned over his head, while the rest of his body was stretched out languidly on the sidewalk. The orange light from the street lamp was lighting the Joker's white face paint up wickedly. His scars looked more demonic and his eyes stared darkly into the night. Suddenly, just as the police pulled up, he turned his face toward Batman and murmured, "I won't let him."

As Batman heard the sentence, the Gotham police ran up and began to haul the clown away. The Dark Knight watched as the Joker didn't even put up a resistance. He just let it happen.

Something was not right.


Bruce was currently sitting in his swivel chair with his head down against his folded arms on the desk. His Bat-suit was half way peeled off and his mask was carelessly discarded on the floor. His chest and arms were bare. Scars were carved into his back and bruises were painted along his torso in an array of colors, branding him as the Batman. The wind from the broken window was causing goose bumps to appear across his skin.

Alfred had taken a vacation day and Bruce didn't feel like ripping that piece of metal from his arm just yet. He just wanted to sit and think, something that didn't happen too often. His brain was trying to process tonight's encounter with the Joker. There was something not right about that letter. It had somehow had an effect on the clown's disposition. If a simple letter had done that, Bruce knew that he was in for trouble. It was too bad that he didn't even know where to begin. Nothing about this made any sense whatsoever.

He breathed in deeply, smelling the polish of the wood on the overly expensive desk. As Bruce's mind danced with the infinite possibilities as to why the Joker was acting oddly this time, his brain began to cloud over. He had not anticipated how exhausted he was and his eyes closed gently. All too soon, he was lost to sleep.

BANG!

Bruce's eyes opened quickly, but he kept his head down. His neck and back had become rigid and the hair on his arms was standing at attention. Someone was in the room.

"Hm…well, this is interesting, isn't it?" an eccentric voice said, giggling wickedly. "After all this, after all this time, you slip up tonight?" The Joker's voice became hysterical. Batman knew him better than anyone and he knew that the Joker was excited.

Bruce's brain was screaming for him to find some way of hiding his face. His eyes searched under the desk for his mask. He couldn't see much from this vantage point, but he needed to find something. This couldn't be it. It just couldn't be. After years of hiding his identity, this was it?

Bruce's frantically searching eyes spotted a glimmering silver letter opener in the rolling drawer directly under him. He discreetly grabbed it in his left hand and hid it under his arms, clenching it tightly with his bare hand.

"Come on, Batman. I know whose house this is. I'm insane, not an idiot." Bruce could hear the clown begin to walk around the desk, and his coat lightly brushed Bruce's back. The Joker's shoes crunched against the shattered glass of the window behind him. Bruce's brain was searching for any possible way out of this situation. Even if he did have a weapon, he'd still have to show his face. There wasn't any way out of that. Bruce's muscles were tense and steeled, his jaw was clenched in determination and his eyes were wide open, still begging for his mask.

"After you left, I overpowered all of those police officers. It was easy, really. Anytime you leave, they stop doing their jobs appropriately." A small breeze brushed across Bruce's skin. The Joker must be twirling around. He did that a lot.

"You should strike some fear into them. I could do it for you, you know." The Joker took a step towards Bruce. The glass crackled against the villain's shoes.

"All you have to do is ask." The Joker breathed this last word hotly against Bruce's bare neck.

The clown's gloved finger traced the line of Batman's spine, languishing in being so close to the real Batman, the one behind the mask. Then both the Joker's hands gripped Bruce's shoulders and squeezed, relishing in the feel of Batman's bones and muscles under his hands as the clown tightened his grip. The Joker pressed himself against Batman's side, marveling at how warm his skin was and leaned his head close to Batman's ear. Batman's skin along his spine burned and his arms started to shake from anticipation. The muscles in his shoulders were tingling from the loss of blood flow as the Joker's grip began to strengthen. Bruce could hear the tiny squeak of the clown's purple gloves as he gripped harder.

The Joker leaned his lips against Bruce's ear, smudging a little red paint onto the shell and whispered, "I know who you are, Bruce."

Bruce's brain buzzed hysterically for a few seconds, racing to find a way to deny it, to find a way to fix this.

Eventually, his body became slack as the tension lifted from his muscles. Biting his lip, Bruce closed his eyes in anguish. It was finally out. The Joker knew who he was. There wasn't hysterical laughter or a rambling, loosely stringed monologue from the Joker. There was just silence. The Joker was just lazily drawing patterns into Bruce's back with one hand while the other maintained a death grip on his good shoulder. He was humming some random tune. Bruce sat there simply shocked that it was finally out and now quite certain about what was supposed to happen after.

Bruce always thought that this moment would be horrifying, but in all honestly Bruce didn't feel any different.

It didn't actually change anything.

The Joker wouldn't tell anyone and even if he did it was too ridiculous for anyone to actually believe. Even though the circumstances had changed, nothing else really did. They were still Batman and the Joker. Even when he was out of costume, he was always Batman. Bruce had just begun to deal with what that meant. He gripped the letter opener tightly again. The cool metal dragged Bruce from his frazzled mind.

"I dreamed about this moment you know," the Joker said suddenly. His hands gripped Bruce tightly as his chin leaned against the curvature of Bruce's shoulder and neck, breathing hotly against the skin.

"I always wondered if I would be disappointed or excited or just indifferent. Would I get bored and move on, or just kill you there." The hand that had been holding Bruce's bad arm moved towards the knife in his pocket. "You know what?" Bruce held his breath for a moment, wondering what was going to happen now. He'd never actually considered what would happen after the Joker knew his identity. All the Joker ever wanted was to know who he truly was.

Now that was out of the way.

What was next?

"I'm not disappointed. I couldn't have picked anyone better to be the Batman. You're…" The Joker's words wandered off as he tried to figure out what the appropriate sentiment was. After all, it wasn't every day that he got to unmask his arch-nemesis. He pulled the shimmering knife against Bruce's side and applied a little pressure. A dribble of blood slid down the tattered torso.

"You're perfect," the Joker finished, and Bruce just stared at the ground for another minute, trying to follow what was happening. Too many aspects of their "relationship" were changing, and Bruce was just trying to keep up. A thought suddenly nudged its way into the forefront of his brain.

He sat there startled for a moment before he gripped the knife tightly and forcefully pushed off the desk. The Joker was caught off guard and was pushed back a few feet by Batman's sheer brute force. The clown found himself sliding across the wood floor with a letter opener poised at his neck, staring into the Dark Knight's blazing eyes, without his mask.

No, nothing had changed.

Bruce was still Batman.

He'd always be Batman.

The Joker's smile was positively demonic. His eyes were glowing and his hand was actually shaking as his knife was positioned at Bruce's neck, at Batman's neck. The Joker was completely ecstatic and his brain was slipping, trying to not simply stare at his nemesis in all his unmasked glory. The clown's blood was furiously pumping through his veins, mixing like toxin with the adrenaline, causing him to lick his lips several times as his eyes started to glitter venomously.

Bruce was perfect.

The Joker wondered how he'd ever thought that this person wouldn't be just as perfect as Batman was. As the morning sun crept through the shattered window, the two enemies, locked in an epic battle for all eternity, stared at one another.

The Joker suddenly kicked some glass into Bruce's general direction. Bruce blocked the shards from his face with his arm and the Joker took that moment to grab Batman's face and pull him close. The Joker stared at him for another moment, memorizing every feature until it was seared into his brain, until his mind was raw with his image. Then he roughly pulled Bruce forward and smashed their lips together.

Still shocked from being unmasked and from the fight earlier that night, Bruce stood stone still as his brain turned serenely calm. The Dark Knight's head cleared of useless thoughts and his body began to sting as blood pumped murderously through his veins. Bruce's eyes closed hesitantly and he pressed himself closer to the Joker. The Joker groaned, grabbing Bruce's injured arm, demanding him to be closer and pressing the metal deeper into the man's arm, reveling in the moan of pain it evoked from him.

As Bruce pressed closer, he slammed the letter opener into the Joker's stomach, smirking into the kiss. Dark crimson blood flowed from the wound and fell onto the skin of Bruce's hand, staining the tanned flesh as it continued to stream from the Joker's stomach.

The Joker pulled away, gripped his wound, grinned brightly at Bruce and kicked him in the stomach, sending him to the ground that was littered with glass. The Joker hovered over Batman for a moment and grabbed Bruce's chin as he cringed in pain. The Joker's wound dripped blood onto Bruce's battered and hard abdomen. The glass on the floor sparkled against the rising sun. The Joker stared intently at Bruce's face, knowing that nobody else in the world would ever adore seeing that face as much as he did at this moment; nobody would ever appreciate it enough.

Bruce was his.

Batman was his.

Everything that they were was his.

"I won't let him," the Joker said with venom, indicating the forgotten letter. "I won't let him ruin this." The Joker snatched the letter and stepped through the shattered window, kicking Bruce in his bad arm for good measure.

"See you around, Batman," hummed his distinctive voice before it and every other trace of the scarred clown disappeared into the morning dawn.

Bruce laid there for several moments. His muscles ached and his arm was screaming in pain. He gently sat up, glittering glass painted crimson fell from his back. Bruce turned his head to the side as he heard footsteps. Sighing as he recognized them, he relaxed again.

Alfred walked in.

The butler looked around at the glass and blood that was splashed across the floor and back to the half naked and battered form of Bruce, who had what appeared to be red lipstick smeared on his lips.

"Rough night, sir?"Alfred asked, raising his eyebrows.

Bruce could only nod as he leaned against the smooth leg of the desk.

"You have no idea, Alfred."


Thanks for reading and please review!

A/N: Hope that you all liked it. The beginning is a mess, but I liked the last bit. Hope you enjoyed.

--The letter is supposed to be from the Riddler, but you can make it anyone you want. It's not relevant or anything : )