The first time it happens Owlman decides it must be a fluke.
... Not the sex – he always knew that was going to happen sooner or later (an antagonism as obsessive and physical as theirs was inevitably going to result in the occasional bout of hatesex) – but the part where he wakes up with the Jokester drooling in his hair.
The awareness creeps over him gradually. Roused from the depths of an unusually satisfying slumber, he smells the familiar scent of his own bedclothes and feels the softness of the high thread count sheets, then notices the excess warmth lying up against his back and the weight of an arm across his waist. His first drowsy thought is that it's Lois, but Lois has never deigned to stay the night in his apartment (and he has never invited her to do so); and, furthermore, she is emphatically not the cuddling type.
Still too close to sleep to be truly alarmed, Owlman rolls onto his back and feels the other body adjust in response, shifting to slide beneath his arm. The cold tip of a nose brushes against the underside of his jaw and paint stained fingertips twitch before coming to rest on his right pectoral. He blinks rapidly, and even before his sight clears he experiences that sinking feeling as he catches a blur of purple on the periphery of his vision.
"Mmm," a lascivious purr in his ear, then that all too familiar middle-pitched scratchy tenor. "Morning loveeeeer..."
It all comes back to him then: the fight; the falling masonry; bringing the unconscious clown back to his apartment complex with the idea of some intimate and uninterrupted torture session in the specially equipped basement; things taking that new but dimly expected turn which caused them to ascend to the living area in search of more amenable items of furniture, and then the eventual move into the bedroom which had seemed like a good idea at the time...
His reminiscences are interrupted by a tongue tracing the shell of his ear and long-nailed fingertips pinching one of his nipples.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
"Split-shift, Owlsie," is the cheerful reply. "What, are you going to try and tell me that you have an early meeting to go to or som–" The Jokester then lets out a cry that is more surprise than pain as he is bodily hefted from the bed, taking out a lamp and a bookcase on his journey to the floor.
Owlman sits upright to glare at the sprawled figure, finding that he hardly feels his usual intimidating self with his hair sticking up in all directions and when naked but for a bedsheet. "Get the hell out of my house, freak."
The Jokester rises to his feet, cracking his spine back into alignment and twisting his face in an expression of displeasure. "Sheesh Big Bird, I suppose breakfast in bed and a proposal of matrimony are out of the quest–" here the clown ducks to avoid an ancient Athenian owl sculpture (stolen from the Gotham museum) hurtling towards his head. His next move is a swift exit stage left (with the majority of his clothes); leaving Owlman to pull the covers over his head and brood.
So, a fluke, Owlman eventually decides. A convergence of circumstances which would never again be repeated: the fight had been all-out, of course; the multiple orgasms were tiring.
The clown is never getting back into his bed again. Heck, the clown is never even getting his pointy-toed shoe back over the threshold. From now on, he resolves, they will fight and fuck on rooftops and in alleyways, like respectable nemeses.
When Owlman gets up he finds that the bastard has somehow hacked into the central security system and reprogrammed all his doors, so he's locked in his own house. A giant smiley face has been daubed on one of his eggshell white walls with what turns out to be mustard when he later runs it through analysis.
Owlman doesn't even own mustard, which means that – mind-bogglingly – the Jokester must have brought it with him.
One of these days I'm going to END that freak. I'm going to grab him by his skinny shoulders and fucking shake him to death.
The second time it happens he wakes up vaguely aware that something is wrong again...
... but he allows himself to be soothed back to unconsciousness by a voice in his ear saying 'shh-shh-shh-shush, it's still sleepy-time for birdies."
When he wakes for a second time it is brought on by an awareness of clattering sounds and the smell of freshly brewed coffee and something frying. This confuses him, because no cooking has ever been done in his immaculate show-kitchen (generally he puts on an average Joe costume and goes out to eat, or has a minion fetch him something).
He sits up, scratches his head, pulls on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and goes to investigate.
As he enters the huge open-plan kitchen it takes him a moment before he is able to assimilate and accurately identify what he's seeing – bread rolls, plates, gleaming cutlery, a coffee pot, cups and saucers – a table laid for breakfast. The whole scene looks alien to him, like something from a situation comedy or a cereal advertisement where photogenic people gather around with their paid-for richtus grins ... not something that has a place in the real world.
... Except once upon a time, it had – on Sundays there had been informal family breakfasts in the kitchen instead of the austere dining room. Alfred's day off... his mother always delighted at the novelty of cooking in her own home... the grains of the scrubbed oak table beneath his fingertips as he watched and waited...
"Well hiiiii!" the Jokester turns around, a skillet in one hand and a spatula in the other. Owlman notes absently that his adversary is wearing a yellow and purple floral print apron over his suit (where does he even get these things?). From the amount of butter he is now dropping into a second pan it is clear that he also doesn't plan to live past forty. Which is just as well, really, since Owlman is personally going to see to it that –
"Sooo, how do you like your eggs? Scrambled? Over-easy? Hatched under a sixty-watt bulb?"
Owlman scrubs a hand over his face and wonders if this is a dream – these days he often has rather vivid dreams about the Jokester.
How did it happen this time? He remembers the alleyway, the rain pattering against his mask...
The Jokester is a terrible kisser - his tongue always sloppy and lax, or suddenly insistent and going where Owlman doesn't expect it – he remembers the clown drawing the length of that warm, wet muscle across his front teeth and recalls tasting the sugary corruption of the lipsticked mouth (he thinks that the Jokester probably lives on insubstantial, saccharine things like candy floss and pop rocks).
The voice, low, rough and intimate – for once not laughing: "ummhnn, you are so sexy." Icy fingers pushing back his mask to card through the sweaty, tangled locks beneath.
He recalls thinking that no-one has ever called him that before... such a simple, stupid compliment... the Jokester's green eyes still alive with that mocking light that never really goes away, but still, no laughter. And for a moment he was distracted, how did this happen? We were fighting, we were...
Still, he remembers the overwhelming feeling of suddenly wanting it so badly, how that yearning rose up from his chest until he thought he was going to choke on it or go mad. Taking off one glove just to slide his fingertips beneath the fabric of the clown's shirt and feel the bare skin (is the freak's body temperature actually above normal, or does it just seem that way?). His fingertips following the curve of the other's hip up to his ribs – he is sensitive there, and Owlman remembers watching with fascination as the Jokester suddenly jerked and shuddered.
He remembers wanting another kiss, but every time he leaned in the Jokester would turn his face away, giving him his jaw or upper-cheek, never his mouth or scars. He had grunted in frustration as he received these mixed messages - the clown's top half shying away while his hips ground back into Owlman's. Fucking tease.
"What the fuck is your problem?"
"It's just–" the red tongue flickering all around the rim of the clown's lips made Owlman want to grab the freak's jaw and hold him still while he pressed their faces together and sucked on that tongue... so he did. When he pulled away again he made sure to trace each scar with his thumbs: that made the clown shiver again.
"It's just what?"
"It's not very romaaantic, now, is it? The rain, the cooold... the drunk hobo passed out over there in a cardboard box. I mean, I don't know what you've heard, but I'm really not that kind of girl..."
"What's your point, freak?"
"Wouldn't you rather do this indoors?"
His mother had a weakness for stray cats. One would come to the door and his father would say "don't encourage it, Martha," and she would say: "oh, poor thing, maybe we could just feed it," and his father would say: "alright, but it's not coming in the house."
But they always did, eventually. They were clever like that, winding around your ankles and tripping you up so they could dart through the door ahead of you.
He remembers the feeling of the Jokester's mouth, hot and wet on his neck as he leaned over the clown's shoulder to punch in the twelve-digit entry code.
He remembers how good it was when he fell down onto the bed and felt hot, bare skin beneath his hands. How intoxicating it was too realise he could bend the Jokester into any position he wanted and the clown would just push back... would moan and love it and murmur encouragement...
He dismisses the memory with a shake of his head and fixes his nemesis with the Goddamn Owlman Patented Death Glare. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?"
"Breakfast, lover. I don't know about yooou but I worked up quite an appe–"
Then comes the sound of clattering metal utensils and smashing crockery as Owlman picks the Jokester up by the scruff of his neck and hurls him across the table.
"Ow, ow, ow." the Jokester says dully, rolling back and forth on the among the decimated breakfast settings and then laughing as he withdraws a macerated banana from the small of his back. "Think you tossed me in the fruit bowl - heh, visual pun..."
"Get. THE FUCK. Out of my house," Owlman grits out.
"If you're not a fan of fried food, I can make oatmeal... aaack! Owie ow ow!"
After Owlman kicks the clown down seven flights of stairs and locks him outside, he returns to the living area and pauses to scowl at the wreckage. As he phones a lackey to come and deal with the mess, his stomach rumbles.
The third time it happens... it doesn't happen – the clown completely wrong-foots him.
He flops onto his back and gasps, pausing for a few moments to get his breath back before pulling the Jokester close and tilting his face up for a kiss and running the fingertips of his other hand over the feverish, damp skin of the other man's back. In response the Jokester makes a deep purring sound and rubs Owlman's chest in a circular motion before collapsing down onto it with a sigh.
As they lie there together, Owlman reflects that sometimes, when they're both exhausted and blissed-out – and the Jokester isn't trying to do anything too infuriating with his tongue (like sticking it in Owlman's ear, or using it to talk) – it becomes almost possible to feel something like affection towards him.
"That was amaaaazing," the Jokester sighs, opening his eyes to add: "you were pretty good too."
"How do you do that thing?"
"The thing where you orgasm but you don't ejaculate, so you just flip me over and keep going..."
"Can you teach me?"
Owlman's eyelids flicker as he edges towards sleep. "Maybe. Some other time, clown."
The Jokester kisses him again, deep and satisfying, then presses his long fingers against Owlman's narrow lips.
He closes his eyes... it is simple, and it is nice – body heat, the way the Jokester's limbs tangle with his own. Owlman does not allow himself many indulgences, but on this occasion he is willing to just relax for a few hours... and when he wakes up he will deal with whatever crazy scheme the other man has concocted in the interim.
When he feels the bed rock from side to side as the Jokester clambers out of it he grunts in vague annoyance, thinking that the clown is off to use his bathroom (to leave make-up stains in the sink and flecks of mascara on the mirror) – but instead of running water he hears the sound of fabric rustling and the raising of a zipper. He opens one amber-flecked brown eye to see that the Jokester is half dressed... for some unfathomable reason.
"Where the fuck are you going?"
"I thought we were done for the night."
"So I'm going home."
Owlman folds his arms across his chest and glares murderously at him, unable to think of anything to say.
"– Thanks for a swell time though big guy. Be seeing ya," the Jokester adds lightly as he heads towards the door.
Owlman reaches out for something to throw at the retreating figure, then realises that he destroyed the lamp and the owl statuette the first time his nemesis stayed over. He socks his pillow with his fist in annoyance and settles down to try to sleep.
... But somehow the moment of drowsy contentment is gone. The rumpled state of his bed sheets begins to annoy him, as does the fact that they now smell of sweat, come and whatever cheap cologne it is that the Jokester wears.
I hate that goddamn clown.