Tense

Bruce walked through the doors of Wayne Manor, letting the fresh, familiar air settle over him in a wave. He hadn't really realized just how much he had missed the place. Sure, hotel rooms were all fine and dandy, but somehow the walls of his childhood home whispered to him in ways he never fully appreciated until he had been deprived of them for a week.

Alfred walked in behind him, his suitcase in tow. He set down the bag beside his master and stood next to him, watching the billionaire's eyes survey his home as if he had never seen it before. Almost…getting reacquainted, Alfred thought.

"Missed the place?" he asked with a sideways grin.

Bruce closed his eyes and exhaled deeply, breathing in the aura of his mansion. "Yeah," he replied softly. He stood there for a moment in silence, then picked up his suitcase and made for his room.

"Oh, Master Wayne," Alfred called back to him, stopping him in his tracks. "You…have a guest."

Bruce turned back to Alfred, his eyes lit up with a new fire. He hadn't missed the code word Alfred had just used for referring to Bruce's current…roommate.

"How long has he been here?"

"The entirety of this last week, sir," Alfred answered. "He came inquiring after you not an hour after you had left. He hasn't left since, to my knowledge. He's currently upstairs, in your bedroom."

Bruce glanced up in the direction of the mentioned room, wondering what he would find there. After the last fight they had had three weeks ago – which had culminated in him throwing the maniac out his third-story window – he wasn't exactly counting on a warm welcome. There could be any sort of booby traps or practical jokes set up for him once he reached his room. Hell, even if his lover wasn't mad at him, he would still pull pranks on him. Such was what he had grown accustomed to, after inviting the madman into his mansion time and time again for the past seven years.

"…would you like me to escort you, sir?" Alfred offered tentatively, fully aware of what was running through Bruce's mind.

Bruce shook his head. No sense dragging Alfred into the clown's wrath, as well. This was his problem, and he would be the one to deal with it. "No thanks, I'll take my chances."

"Very good, sir," Alfred answered, quite relieved, and turned to disappear into the eastern wing of the house to begin his nightly chores. "If you need anything, shout for me."

Bruce smiled. "Thanks," he said dryly, and slowly ascended the stairs to his room.

What could the man have in store for him? Yes, it had been Bruce that had thrown him out the window, but to be perfectly fair he had been asking for it. Quite literally. The scene played through Bruce's head as he climbed the second flight of stairs, the words stabbing through his memory.

What I do is what I do. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

I'll never understand why you have to be so damn hard to please!

I'm hard to please?! How about you, and your perfect little goody-two-shoes ways?

Stop being such a fucking intolerable asshole!

Why don't you just toss me out the window, then, if I'm just that intolerable?

The sounds of shattered glass followed afterward, and clattered through Bruce's mind as he reached the door to his room.

It was so…quiet.

Things were never this quiet when the clown was around. There was always some sort of scuffling, or murmuring, or insane peals of laughter and spurts of giggles. Even the sounds of gunfire would have set Bruce more at ease, for then at least he would have a clue of how to handle the situation. With this silence…there was no way to know what he would meet behind the door. Yet, he had to do what he had to do. There was no avoiding this forever. So it was with all the caution in the world that Bruce Wayne turned the doorknob and quietly slid the door open into his bedroom.

Instead of finding what he had been expecting – a bucket of acid positioned above the door, a wall plastered with playing cards, another gunshot design to match the "B & J" pattern shot into his ceiling – he found the still form of the Joker laying on his bed, stretched out in a quiet slumber.

Bruce could barely believe what his eyes were relaying to his brain. He had never seen the Joker sleep in this manner. He usually slept fitfully, in and out of dreams the likes of which only the criminal mastermind could conjure up. He would thrash about sometimes, clawing into Bruce's back even while unconscious. It was never easy sharing a bed with the Joker.

But the way he looked now, it was as if the violent nights had never happened. All the fights, all the violent, rampant lovemaking sessions, all the pain and screaming…it was as if it had never been. All that was left was…him. A quiet, sedate side of him that Bruce had never thought existed. Shocked, he pulled the door closed behind him and set his suitcase to the side, then silently padded to his bed where his most hated and most loved of enemies lay sprawled out in deep sleep.

As gently as possible so as not to awaken the man and ruin the moment, Bruce slid onto the bed and sat next to the sleeping form of his Joker. He was amazed at what he saw. The Joker seemed…so relaxed. So at ease. What astounded Bruce the most was his muscles. They lay on his bones in a sort of tamed grace, not a tensed area among them. Such a miracle fascinated Bruce. Joker had always seemed tense. Whether tensing to receive the next blow, or contorted tightly to let Bruce pound into him, or tightening his lips around Bruce's in a death grip…it was always the same. Never loosened, never lax. Always tense. Until now.

Bruce scarcely knew what to do with himself. He couldn't let anything spoil this moment, this beautiful golden moment he had chanced to come across and couldn't let go. Then, softly, he stretched himself down next to his lover and pressed his body against the other's back, curling his arms around the Joker's chest in a quiet embrace. His face lay buried in the dense green hair of the other man, and he breathed in the familiar, deep scent just as he had his home, only this time in a far more intimate manner. Gunpowder, ashes, hair dye, and sweat found their aromas into Bruce's nostrils, as well as…Joker. Something so completely Joker that Bruce knew no other way to describe it; it was so completely his, so signature, a brand of his own. It tickled his nose as only it could, as if to say Welcome back.

He felt a hand suddenly move up to cover his own, softly caressing it as he felt Joker smile. He grabbed the hand above his and squeezed warmly, marveling at the heat he still felt so acutely from the other man's body after seven years of living with him, and three more of fighting and fucking him on the streets.

Joker's eyes fluttered open, and he swiveled his upper body around to face the bed's newest occupant.

"Where've you been?"

Bruce felt a grin slowly taking over his face, revealing his subconscious happiness at having his lover back in his arms after a week of excruciating business meetings and lonely hotel rooms.

"New York, on business."

Joker's hand moved up to softly stroke down Bruce's hairline, as his bare foot reached to rub gently against the billionaire's ankle.

"I thought you weren't going to be back until the sixteenth."

Bruce ran his hand soothingly up and down Joker's back, before settling at his shoulder.

"Meetings ended early."

Joker smiled wider, his eyes shining with the light reserved only for his Bat, and met his lover in a gentle kiss. Bruce let the man play over his lips, before deepening the kiss further as they took each other into their forgiving arms.

There truly was no place like home.


I figured I needed to write some fluff between these two. It can't be all bad all the time. Moments like this keep them together, no?

This and Funeral Pyre I whipped up last night somewhere between midnight and 4AM, but I couldn't post it cuz my Internet was down. U.U

Hope you enjoyed that warm, fuzzy feeling that I get when I read this. ^^