Disclaimer: The plot is mine, nothing else is.

As the Clown Prince of Crime made his way to his favorite- and most secret(only he and one other knew of it)- hideout, he could barely contain his excitement.

It was Christmas Eve! And he always received a present from his most favorite person in the whole world on Christmas Eve.

As he made his way hastily through his lair, the madman reflected on just how this tradition had gotten started.

Five Years Ago

The Joker slunk down the street towards his hideout. He was depressed, it had been weeks since his escape and he had yet to come up with an idea of how to celebrate Christmas with the deserving citizens of Gotham.

Oh, he had plans mind you; it was just that none of them had any oomf.

At first the panic caused when he had not immediately caused mass destruction and death had been enough to offset his depression, but now it was just a reminder that he had nothing to give this year. What good was a clown without any new tricks?

As he turned down an alleyway close to his temporary abode, a dark figure dropped down in front of him. Without even looking up, the clown just walked on by.

"Not tonight, Bats. Maybe after the New Year." As he walked passed the masked figure he missed seeing a look of concern cross over hidden features, a dark look of suspicion quickly replaced it though.

"You don't honestly expect me to believe you are taking the holidays off, do you." With a heavy sigh, the Joker finally quit walking and turned back towards his Bat.

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn what you believe. I am going through a rough patch of artists block right now, and can not come up with anything worthy of presenting to my adoring fans. So, if you want to say that I am taking the holidays off, go right ahead; I won't stop you." Turning again, with a new slump to his shoulders, the green-haired man listened as the Bat made his retreat without another word.

Typical, he thought, I pour my heart out and he just ignores me.

A week later it was Christmas Eve and the Joker still hadn't thought of anything to do for his city.

As he trekked home from the take-out place around the corner- it was a high-end joint too, they would look you in the eye as they lied to you about where the meat came from- the Harlequin of Hate resigned himself to a lonely Christmas without even the fires of a burning building to keep him company.

Entering his one room dwelling, he immediately noticed the small, brightly wrapped box sitting on his bed.

It was slightly bigger than his hand and wrapped in purple and green stripped paper. It had a large green and purple bow on top with a small card on one side.

Cautiously picking up the card- he did have a lot of enemies after all- all it read was: Merry Christmas Joker, in an elegant script.

Setting the card down, he moved to examine to box more closely. That was when he saw it: an itty bitty little bat, nestled inside the ribbon.

Now satisfied that nothing inside was meant to hurt him, the Joker picked up the- surprisingly weighty- box. Ripping off the paper- but being sure to preserve the card and bow- acidic-green eyes stared at the plain white box he now held.

Opening the lid, he was taken aback by what was inside. Lifting out the silver case- much like the cigarette cases of old- he examined it. It was beautifully made and had an embossment of a laughing joker on the front.

Opening the case up, he began to giggle. It was a deck of Batman playing cards! As he began to howl, he realized just what he could do to relieve the winter boredom of his people.

But perhaps he should put it off until after the New Year was over. After all, Batsy wasn't expecting him until then, and he would hate to be ignored because of a previous engagement.

Yeah, he would wait until the holidays were over, then he would really sock-it to Gotham.

Four Years Ago

Christmas Eve in Arkham, how dreary. He had been tossed in only a few days before, and was now having to suffer through chipper sing-a-longs and forced yuletide cheer. It was utterly depressing.

As he was gratefully herded back to his cell after a mandatory Holiday party, 'To help boost morale!' as the new head shrink put it- he only hoped that he got to be the one to gut that guy, but from the looks of things he would have to get in line- his spirits began to rise at the sight of a green and purple wrapped box sitting on his narrow cot.

Rushing over to the package, he didn't even pause to give his customary creepy smile to the guards. Picking up the card he saw the expected 'Merry Christmas Joker', written in the same hand as before. Checking for the small bat in the bow- one could never be too cautious after all- the Joker ripped the paper to shreds in his excitement.

Opening the box he pulled out a snowglobe. Inside was a replica of a joker style carnival; he could just make out two tiny figures poised on top of the ferris wheel, one in purple and the other in black.

Cranking the key on the bottom, and flicking the 'on' switch, the clown starred in awe as little lights started blinking all across the fair grounds and a tinny version of 'Jingle Bells' began to play. Grinning now- he had just been singing his own version of that song not a week before- he turned the globe over to begin the snow. As he watched he began to laugh with maniacal glee: tiny joker cards and bats had been mixed with the fake snow.

Three Years Ago

The disguised man moved quickly through the silent halls of the hospital. It was Christmas Eve and he shouldn't be here, but he really had nowhere else he wanted to be. Reaching the correct door, he slipped silently inside.

Looking over the sorry sight of the broken man in the bed in front of him, he was unaware of anyone else in the room until a gentle hand landed on his shoulder. Turning to face the other person, he didn't know what to say.

"He will be alright sir, he is far too stubborn to quit on us." For all the conviction in his voice, the old man looked haggard.

After all these years of hand to hand combat on the streets of Gotham, his Master had finally been grievously injured though ill-luck. Leaving the Joker to his thoughts, the butler returned to his vigil in the corner.

All the news stations were playing up the story of how 'Billionaire Bruce Wayne had been viciously mugged while out shopping this holiday season'. The Joker and the Butler both knew better though.

A new gang had sprung up from nowhere and were trying to make a name for themselves, the Batman had gone out to put a stop to their antics as he was wont to do. A stray bullet had found a small opening in his armor and down he went.

The Joker had found him, unconscious; being beaten by overzealous members of the gang. Suffice it to say that they had not lasted long.

Bundling up the unconscious man, and calling for the Batmobile using a device on Batsy's belt, the Joker had worked at saving the man's life; it had first entailed removing all of the man's armor. Putting the car on auto-drive, they drive off to the injured man's base. By the time they arrived he knew that Bruce Wayne was the Batman, but he couldn't bring himself care.

Alfred was startled to see the mad clown holding his bloody and unarmored Master. Pushing passed his shock, the two worked together to stabilize the injured man; but he would need surgery to remove the bullet and to repair all the damage. As soon as they could they moved the bulky man into the back seat of the Rolls Royce and took off for the hospital.

Now here they were, waiting for the man to finally wake up. The Clown Prince didn't know what he would do if his arch-nemesis were to die. Turning back towards the door he prepared to depart.

"Sir? If you are leaving, then you should take this with you." Taking the large, green and purple wrapped box presented to him; the clown made to leave once more.

"One last thing, Mr. Joker..." Looking over at the old retainer as he gazed down at his old ward, the Joker knew just what was going to be asked of him; and he had no problem with it.

"Don't worry, Alfred. I'll make sure that they all suffer. I won't kill them all- he wouldn't want that- but most will beg for it before I'm done." The butler merely nodded at this.

"When your done come by the Manor, I'll have a fresh batch of cookies waiting and we can talk." Giving a nod of his own that went unseen, the Joker left.

A week passed and Bruce Wayne was finally released from the hospital and put on bed rest. During that time no-one saw the Batman, but criminals were still being rounded up and left at police headquarters like normal; and so no speculations were made.

As Bruce started physiotherapy, the Joker finally paid a visit to Wayne Manor. Alfred kept his word and produced fresh cookies while the two talked.

The Joker learned more about the extensive damaged his Batsy had suffered and the months it would take for him to fully heal, and the Butler learned about what had happened to the rest of the gang that had hurt his boy.

By the time the cookies were gone they were both satisfied that the other was doing all that they could to help and protect their boy. With mutual promises to not speak a word of the Joker's involvement in anything related to Batmans' rescue, the two men parted ways amiably.

Finally able to relax know that he knew his Bats would be alright, the mad clown looked over to the still wrapped present he had been presented with at he hospital. It hadn't felt right to open it until his Batsy was better.

Taking a seat at his desk the starkly white psycho began to unwrap his present. Art supplies. His Bat had gotten him Art Supplies!

Beginning to laugh, he never noticed the tears sliding down his cheeks. He remember a conversation with the Bat some six months before, he had said that he would only retire from crime to become a painter. Now he had all he needed to start!

Grabbing the Drawing for Dummies book that was included, the mad man began to study.

Two Years Ago

The Joker had decided to take December off. He had had a hard year, what with his own projects and keeping Batman's image up until the man was able to get back into the swing of things, he needed a vacation.

Harley had been ecstatic to be given the reins and had shrilled loudly with promises to make him proud. With an eye roll he told her to have at it.

Taking up his sketch pad and pencil, the clown began drawing random ideas for his newest hobby: Comic book drawing! Christmas was fast approaching, and he needed to be ready this year.

A shadow detached itself from a wall and made its way noiselessly to the bed in the middle of the room. Leaving behind a box on the purple blankets, the shadowy figure quietly let himself out again.

Returning from a job well done, the Joker looked around for his gift. Finally spotting it on his bed, he squealed like a teenage girl and dived onto his pretty purple bed to tear into it.

Grabbing the card he was shocked at what it said. The first part was the predicted 'Merry Christmas Joker', the second part however was very different. It was written in the same hand as the first and read: Please don't let Quinn off her leash any more. She's crazier than you are.

Frowning slightly at not being the top crazy around- he would just have to work harder next year- he tore open the box. There were two teddy bears inside.

The first was a white-blonde bear with a little tuft of green hair on top of its head and it was wearing a purple and green pinstriped suit. The second was a regular teddy wearing a Batman suit.

Clutching his bears to his chest, the fully grown man threw himself back on the bed and squealed in delight.

Upon returning to the Batcave, Bruce took the large box wrapped in black paper with little velvet bats- he had found it in the Batmobile after he had dropped off the Joker's present- over to a work bench.

Being sure to check for bomb residue and other booby-traps, the still masked man finally reached out and opened the card. Inside was a scrawling script that read: Merry Christmas Batsy! I just thought you'd like to know what I've been doing with last years' present! XOXO Joker

Cautiously unwrapping and opening the box, the Batman crack a smile at what was inside.

Alfred was just giving a last walk through to ensure that all doors and windows were securely locked, when an odd noise reached his ears. Turning towards the master bedroom, he heard it again.

Silently opening the door, he was startled by what he saw. His young Master, lying around in a pair of pajamas, surrounded by comic books and laughing. It was a scene he had not seen since the old Master and Mistress had died. Before he could retreat, Bruce called the butler further into the room.

"Look at these Alfred. Aren't they incredible?" Alfred dutifully looked over the colorful books laid out across the bed. They were indeed incredible works, but something seemed off.

"Sir? Were these hand drawn?"

"Yes. They are the Joker's work. He has taken up comic book drawing it seems." Showing off a page that depicted the Batman and Joker having a food fight in a chocolate factory, the usually tense man laughed again.

"He has, of course, taken an artistic license when it comes to depicting our interactions."

"Of course." With a small smile at the open happiness on his Masters' face, the intrepid butler began restacking the comics.

"Now, young Master, you know you have to be up early tomorrow. I don't want you staying up all night reading."

"Just one more hour. Please, Alfred." Making the best puppy dog eyes he could, the grown man in the bed stared down his butler.

Turning away with a cough to hide his chuckle, Alfred composed himself.

"One hour, and then its lights out. Do you hear me young man?" Giving a stern expression, the butler got a wide grin in response.

"Yes Alfred, sir, I understand; one hour." Giving a slight smile, the butler took his leave. His only problem now was that he had no way of contacting the mad clown to show him his thanks.

One Year Ago

Bruce had been run ragged over the last several weeks. Most of his time in board meeting, and what little time he had to spare spent out on the streets as Batman, he was exhausted.

Finally home after four days in Japan overseeing the last of the buyout, Bruce flopped onto his bed. He had never gotten around to working on the Joker's present this year, and now it was the day after Christmas and he didn't know what to do.

Those were his last thoughts before sleep finally claimed him. He was so far under that he never noticed the lanky figure that stole into his room.

The next day Bruce woke up feeling refreshed. He didn't remember removing his tie, belt, jacket and shoes, or climbing under his blankets; but he must have as that was how he had woken up.

Once he had showered and dressed, Bruce looked for his cufflinks. He found them on his night stand next to a small box wrapped in black paper with velvety bats.

Grabbing up the card with trembling hands, he read: Merry Christmas Batsy! You really should take better care of yourself, I won't be around to help forever you know. And don't worry about a present this year, I know how busy you've been and hold no grudges. Hope to see you soon! XOXO Joker

Sitting on his bed a moment to absorb all the revelations this one simple note made, he mechanically opened the box. It was a tie pin, and a beautiful one at that with three gems: an amethyst, an emerald and a black diamond all set in a triangle at one end.

Giving himself a shake- he could deal with the ramifications at a later date- he clipped the pin to his tie and headed out to start his day. He would also have to start thinking on what he could do for the clown next year.

This Year

Opening his bedroom door, the Joker was met by an unusual sight. Bruce Wayne- the Batsuit was piled neatly on a chair- was lounging on his bed in a pair of black pajamas.

As he turned to the stunned clown standing in the doorway, the billionaire held up sacks of take-away and several movies.

"I hope you don't mind Chinese food. Now get changed, we have a movie marathon to start." Spotting the new green and purple p-jays laid out for him, the Joker made short work of changing and jumping into bed with his vigilante.

"So what are we watching first?" He asked as he grabbed a container at random.

"Your choice. I have here 'Miracle on 54th Street', 'Nightmare Before Christmas', 'It's a Wonderful Life',-"

"'Nightmare Before Christmas'! I haven't that in years!"

As the two enemies sat back for a Christmas movie marathon and Chinese take-out, they both wondered what had taken them so long to get to this point. And what they would be doing come next Christmas.