Hey everybody. So you all probably remember this story. I started it a long while ago, and it seemed to be getting really good reception at the time. I'd decided to take it in the direction of slash a few chapters in, and still, it seemed to be getting positive reviews, etc… Well, in the last few chapters of it I posted, I think it really started to fall off and lose direction. I got so frustrated with the whole thing that I ended up just deleting it. A decision which, in retrospect, I regret. Because I really was enjoying writing this story. Sooo, I'm posting it again, but I've gotten a new idea of the direction I'd like to take it and now have a clear view of its plot and how it's going to develop. So it's going to have a lot of the same stuff as before, with a whole bunch of new stuff added. No slash, me thinks. But I think you guys will enjoy it. It'll go deeper then just sex, lol. Anyway, let me know what you think anyhow, and I PROMISE I'm going to actually finish it this time.

Trying Too Hard:

Chapter 1:

He could feel them. Hanging relentlessly to his legs, to his arms; on to his back, pulling him, forcing him down, so that all Batman could do was watch as the hulking man before him stood, his glowing hands stretched out over the limp, unmoving form of the Joker. Only watch as those hands reached down, lifting him in to the air like some weightless rag-doll, swinging him back, smashing his frail frame against the hard stone of the wall behind.

A gasp escaped the clown's lips, and the man leaned in to him, pressing a forearm against his throat.

"You all shall be slave to me!" He roared. "You most especially. Chaos at my command. Gotham is mine to rule and your pathetic attempts at resistance will yield nothing but your own misery!"

The Joker lifted his chin, trying to relieve the pressure against his windpipe, his hands coming up to hold sadly against the arm of his attacker.

His usually immaculate attire was torn, hanging in shredded ribbons off his thin body, flapping uselessly in the wind, his thin, white face smeared in crimson, dripping from his nose and mouth and all the many cuts along his skin.

He laughed weakly.

"Y-ya know, if you wanted to take over this town as badly as all that… hmph… you could'a… just tried a…asking. I mean, Batsy wanted my help and all he had to do was… was ask. Ain't that right Batsy?" He called over to the now restrained vigilante, glancing his way, smiling and winking.

Batman stared back, his mouth turned to a frown, his eyes sorry.

The Joker looked away.

"I really don't think all this was necessaAKHH…"

The forearm pressed harder in to his throat.

Batman fought to break free, filled with sudden rage, the effort in vain.

"You talk incessantly…" The man hissed.

"Heeehee…" The clown managed, even as the breath was whisked from his lungs. "It's a useful form of dis… distraction."

And suddenly his hand shot forward, sinking a blade in to the arm against him.

The man's face twitch, registering what felt to him like nothing more then a pinprick.

His eyes slid down, seeing the Joker's hand, still gripping the handle of the knife.

He snarled.

"Pathetic little…!"

His hand came up, curling mercilessly about the madman's own, engulfing it, crushing it in.

The Joker chocked out with the pain, and he felt his whole arm being jerked up, his hand still trapped within the other man's, still gripping the knife.

And then it was being slammed back against the wall, once, then twice, then a third time, until his grip on the blades handle loosened, and the weapon went clattering to the ground.

"You fool! Did you really think so primitive a weapon would have any affect against me?"

Again the clown tried shifting up.

"Not really…" He breathed, barely audible. "But ya know… there's something… fff… something I think I should tell you… something that's been bugging me…"

"And what's that?"

"Your organizations, uh, name… title… whatever you want to call it… it really doesn't make much… sense. Makes me think you… you don't understand the meaning of c… chaos. Ya see, you can't control… ergh… you can't control chaos."

The man smirked.

"What do you mean? I'm controlling it as we speak."

The Joker shook his head.

"No. See? You really just don't… don't get it…"

"Get what? You sniveling weakling! I command you to speak clearly!"

And he pushed harder still.

"And it's the… the look of shock on your face which I… I look forward to most… when that realization finally dawns… how greatly you failed to understand… "

The man's eyes narrowed.

"You speak nonsense!" He spit.

The madman smiled.

"More words of wisdom, I like to think…"

The man's teeth beard in anger, pulling his arm away and snatching the Joker by the neck, his fingers pressing hard against the already bruised and delicate flesh.

He squeezed.

"By this nights end, I promise, you will commit my every bidding. I will have you on your knees, begging for my mercy!"

The Joker said nothing, his eyes trained as beams on those before him, the smile never leaving his face, even as he felt the hand on his throat begin to tighten.

Silence fell between them, the man staring back with equal intent. And each of their expressions was perfectly opposed, one twisted in rage, the other burdenless and free.

And as the moments passed, the quiet seemed to grow, and in it, the noise of a soft beeping could at last be heard.

The Joker's grin spread as the man's eyes slowly widened, then fell, his grip at once loosening as they took in the sight; a digital clock, peeking through the torn open shirt, strapped to the clown's stomach, the red, glowing numbers counting lower.

"You…!" He hissed, his gaze moving back up.

And then there it was.

There on his face.

The fear.

The madman leered.

"Now do you understand?" He asked.

Batman felt himself go numb, his eyes expanding.

He lurched forward, pushing with all his strength against the hands which held him.

"No!" He cried.

The Joker turned, looking to him.

And in that instant, his smile had changed.

Batman could see it.

A smile not of glee, or of malice or of cruelty. Not the one he'd become so very familiar with. But one of comfort, of consolation. Like he was telling the crusader it was all okay.

It was all going to be okay.

His brow furrowed in desperate despair.

"Joker, NO!"

But it was too late.

It was far too late.

There was an explosion of white, so bright Batman's eyes closed against it, followed fast by a colossal boom, filling his ears.

Then the shock wave.

He felt himself lifted up, in to the air, tossed back like he was something which didn't matter.

… And then there was nothing…

/

He'd found him in the park, just sitting there, on a bench, at one of the stone tables adorning the sprawling landscape.

Usually the tables were used by people engaged with one another in a game of chess.

And that's exactly what The Joker was doing.

Playing chess.

With himself, apparently.

Batman approached slowly, cautiously.

Ten yards from him and the madman still hadn't looked up from the board.

And then he stood, moving around to the other side, studying the opposing pieces.

He must have known he was there.

If he did, he didn't care.

Of course, it struck the vigilante as odd that he'd so easily located him to begin with.

He'd made no effort to hide. He'd been spotted on the street, strolling down Fifth Avenue, scaring the hell out of everyone unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But he hadn't hurt anyone, which in itself seemed unusual. At first.

But then Batman remembered that trying to attribute any sort of usual behavior to The Joker was an entirely useless endeavor.

Those questioned by police said the lunatic had merely walked by them, casually. They said he appeared relaxed, and made no gestures towards them, no acknowledgement.

And, of course, no one had tried engaging him.

Most people, in fact, had screamed, and then run away from him, either in the opposite direction from which he came, or across the street. And they said he didn't seem to take notice or care about that either. Just that he was walking… and whistling. They said he was whistling. And twirling a cane in his right hand, like a baton.

And then they'd seen him enter the park.

And then Gordon had called Batman from the roof, and told him everything.

So here he was, standing not ten yards from the madman, watching him play chess.

"Joker!" He said, his voice the usual growl he put on when he went out as he was.

The one he used to scare people.

It didn't work on the man in front of him.

"Just a moment…" The Joker said, never taking his eyes from the board.

So he did know he was there.

Batman wasn't sure why that surprised him.

It shouldn't have.

He stepped closer.

"They're missing you at Arkham." He heard himself say, as if it would make a difference.

The Joker said nothing to that. And then he reached out, moving a rook, then moving again to the other side. As he did he looked at Batman, and smiled.

"Care to join me?" He said, holding his hand out to the empty bench.

The vigilante again stepped forward.

"Did you hear me?" He asked.

The Joker only looked at him, still grinning, before turning away, sitting, seemingly completely unconcerned.

"It's boring playing myself." He began. "I can never win." And then he looked back up.

His eyes seemed to shine brightly in the park's darkness.

"Want to play?"

Batman's hands clenched to fists and once more he stepped forward.

"You're going back." He said.

The lunatic brought his gaze to the board again.

"I'll go back." He said, his voice soft. "But you have to play with me."

He sounded like a child.

Batman frowned.

"You want me to play you a game of chess?"

The Joker only nodded.

"And you'll go back?"

Again he nodded.

"You expect me to believe that?"

The Joker shrugged.

"You don't have to." He said. "But what could a game hurt?"

The detective looked incredulous, shaking his head.

"You'll go back if I play?" He repeated.

"That's the idea." The Joker said, smiling.

"No tricks?"

"No tricks."

Batman didn't believe him. Not for a moment.

But what could a game hurt? If there was any chance of getting the lunatic back in his cell, without a struggle, just by playing, well, it couldn't hurt much at all.

What's more, he reasoned, he would embarrass The Joker. The madman may have been champion within the asylum walls, but Bruce was rated a Grand Master.

This would be easy, and quick.

So he said alright, and took a seat opposite his enemy.

/

The Joker won.

He won easily.

He made Bruce look like an amateur, in fact.

And then he'd laughed, and told the vigilante not to feel bad, that it was a silly game and made no real reflection on his intelligence, or lack thereof.

But still, Batman had been angry, and embarrassed, and so he'd reached across the table and grabbed hold of The Joker's lapels, pulling him forward and taking up a fistful of his hair, smashing him face first against the stone table, knocking him cold.

And then he'd taken him back to Arkham, his hands bound behind by a plastic zip, dumping him unceremoniously on to the front steps of the looming structure.

And then he left.

/

The next night, The Joker escaped.

And Batman again found him in the park, at the same table, with the same chess board.

Only this time he wasn't playing himself. He was just sitting there. And when he saw the crusader, he waved at him, smiling wide, than gestured him over.

He moved forward.

"That was mean of you." The Joker said, pointing to his face.

There was a grotesque black and blue bruise forming along the top of his right brow and over his eye.

On anyone else, in the dark it would have been hard to see, but against the madman's white skin, it stood out starkly.

Batman said nothing.

"Rematch?" The Joker asked.

The vigilante stared.

He still was incensed from the night before, and had convinced himself during the day that The Joker had somehow cheated. Though how one cheats at chess, he couldn't figure out.

"You'll go back to Arkham if I do?"

The Joker grinned wide.

"I would have gone back last night." He said. "If anyone happened to catch sight of your reaction, they might have labeled you a sore loser."

"Will you go back?" Batman asked again, more firmly.

The Joker shrugged.

"That depends. Maybe it was a simple issue of you lacking proper motivation to win. How about this? You win tonight, and I go back, no questions asked. But if I win again, well, then I won't make it so easy. What do you say?"

Batman huffed.

He could beat the madman. He knew he could. He just… wasn't concentrating last night.

"Alright." He said, taking a seat.

/

The Joker won, again.

More quickly than the night before.

Bruce thought he might explode with anger.

And then he heard the lunatic giggle, and he looked up at him.

"You're trying too hard dear." He said.

"What!" The detective seethed.

"You're trying too hard." The Joker repeated. "You care too much. You care too much about winning. It's just a silly game, like I said. You shouldn't care."

Batman just stared at him, speechless.

He couldn't think of a reply.

And then The Joker leaned forward, across the distance separating them, pressing his lips against the crusaders, kissing him before falling backwards, jumping from the bench.

He laughed loudly.

"Until next we meet, my sweet!" He crowed, spinning fast on his heel and taking off, in to the trees.

Bruce could only watch, wide eyed, his mouth hung open in shock as the madman's laughter rung in his ears, fading off, in to the night.