Chapter 1: Fateful Meetings
She finally said yes!
After three months of requesting it, Dr. Joan Leland had finally given Dr. Harleen Quinzel the go-ahead to schedule a session with the Joker! Harleen had been begging for this ever since she started working at Arkham Asylum, and finally, finally it was happening.
Racing down the asylum hallway, white jacket and strands of blonde hair flapping about, Harleen barely avoided running into an orderly or two in her excitement. Dr. Leland had expressed appreciation for the progress Harleen had made with patient Julian Day, which Harleen assumed had been the key to her finally receiving this chance.
A door suddenly swung open, and Harleen barely managed to skid to a stop to avoid crashing into the person stepping out of it. A short, rotund man with a moustache stood before her. One of the janitors, she was fairly certain. Her eyes flashed over his name tag moments before she said, “Sorry, Bill! Wasn’t watching where I was going…”
He tipped his ragged hat at her. “Not to worry, Dr. Quinzel. Glad no one got hurt.”
Though her immediate instinct was to carry on toward her office, Harleen couldn’t help but notice the large ballistic glass door behind Bill, and the abnormal cell it was attached to. “This is one of those special cells for the superpowered patients, right?” she asked, jerking her thumb toward it. Bill tipped his head downward once. “Huh. I didn’t think we had any superpowered patients. Besides Waylon Jones, I suppose.”
Shuffling aside and closing the cell door, Bill raised his shoulders up and down. “Dunno, Dr. Quinzel. I was just told to check this cell over, make sure it was useable. They don’t tell me much more than that.”
Frowning slightly, Harleen turned away and quickly walked back down the hallway, in the direction she’d just come from. Though she was eager to start reading through the file on the Joker she clutched tightly in her left hand, her curiosity about the potential new patient was too great to ignore.
Booking it down a few more hallways, Harleen didn’t have much trouble finding Dr. Leland.
“Joan!” she called out as she approached, tucking a bit of her hair behind her ear and hoping she didn’t look too terribly disheveled from all the pseudo-running. Dr. Leland turned, an eyebrow raised.
“Yes, Dr. Quinzel?”
Finally coming to a halt, Harleen wasted no time on pleasantries. “Are we getting a new patient? A superpowered one?”
There was a hint of exasperation in Dr. Leland’s expression and voice as she replied. “Yes… we are. ...Poison Ivy, as a matter of fact.”
Harleen’s eyes went wide, as did her sudden grin. “That plant woman that destroyed Kane Tower? They’re sending her here?”
“They are indeed.”
“Joan - Dr. Leland,” Harleen corrected, “please, you have got to let me be the first to have a session with her.”
With a sigh and a shake of her head, Dr. Leland replied, “Dr. Quinzel. I just assigned you Joker. You’re going to have your hands full enough with that one.” Shifting her glasses where they sat on her nose, Dr. Leland continued, “We know very little about Poison Ivy aside from her destructive power and her apparent obsession with plants. It would be irresponsible-”
“Dr. Leland, please !” Harleen cried, holding her hands together and shaking them, folder under her armpit. “I can handle them both! Give me a shot, at least one try. I know I can do this.”
Eyes narrowing, Dr. Leland gave Harleen a piercing stare. “Let no one claim you lack ambition, Dr. Quinzel. But you’re eventually going to bite off more than you can chew.” With a another sigh and the ghost of a smile, Dr. Leland continued, “I’ll allow you to be the first to interview her, but you’ll be sharing her with other doctors until we have a better idea of what her needs are. And if attending to her and the Joker at the same time proves to be too much for you, I won’t hesitate to remove you from them both , if that is what I deem necessary.”
Nodding emphatically, Harleen couldn’t suppress the humongous smile on her face even if she had wanted to. “Thank you so much, you won’t regret it, Joan!” Not waiting for a reply, Harleen took off down the hallway, more excited than ever to prepare for next week’s sessions.
The fateful day finally came, and Harleen felt confident. She’d read all the files, learned everything there was to know about her two new patients. Which wasn’t much, when it came to Ivy, admittedly. Of course, it was Joker who was scheduled first, and it was Joker that Harleen felt most confident about. She knew all the tricks he’d used to elicit sympathy or throw off guards, doctors, parole officers, and many others before her. She could handle him, she was sure of it. Her only question was what tactic he’d start out with.
“You know, my father used to beat me up pretty bad.”
So going strong with the sympathy play then. Harleen scribbled something on her notepad, then watched patiently as Joker told a story about attending the circus with his father. The details varied slightly from other stories of his on record, but the overall substance was the same.
Something the files and pictures failed to adequately describe, however, was the man’s face. It was rather pointed, particularly his chin and nose, but it had an odd attractive quality to it. His voice, too, was unexpectedly alluring; it was quite enjoyable to listen to him, even if she couldn’t believe a word he said. It was becoming clear to her how so many people could fall for the man’s charms, despite his homicidal tendencies.
Suddenly, Joker stopped talking, and sat up from the reclining position he had been in. A sly smirk sat upon his face. “You’re not actually buying this BS, are you.”
It was a statement, not a question, and Harleen could do nothing to disguise the look of surprise that momentarily overtook her face.
Grinning wider, the Joker leaned toward her, staring intensely. “Come now, Doctor, I’m not stupid! You’re either heartless or you don’t believe my story, and dear Julian claims you’ve got a pretty big heart.”
Trying to regain her composure, Harleen sat up a little straighter and adjusted her glasses. “I didn’t realize the two of you talked.”
Rolling his eyes dramatically, Joker said, “We don’t, the idiot just won’t stop going on about you in the mess hall.”
Harleen felt a small smirk form on her lips, but quickly forced it away. “Well, regardless, yes, I have heard of you telling remarkably similar stories to the one you were just describing.”
Leaning back against the wall, hands behind his head and a large smirk on his face, Joker said, “And you were just going to just let me prattle on? How rude!” Harleen barely managed to contain another smirk. “Look, Doc, let’s level with each other. I don’t even remember my childhood. I just like having a laugh at the idiots who believe the crap I make up! But you - you’re no fool.” His smirk grew. “And you’re no philanthropist, either, no matter what Julian says.”
Harleen kept her expression blank, though her eyes narrowed slightly as she tried to anticipate where Joker was going with this. He wasn’t completely wrong, though she’d never admit it out loud.
Sitting forward and gesticulating with his arms, Joker said, “I can create a real good story for you, though. Lay it all out, help you write the best, most lucrative tell-all you’ve ever dreamed of!” Once again, Harleen had trouble disguising her surprise. Joker stood, his toothy smile at its widest. “Don’t be so surprised, dear, I’m good at reading people, is all!”
Harleen shook her head, grimacing, irritated at how well she was playing into his hands despite her preparation. “Mr. Joker. Please, sit.”
“ Mr. Joker. That’s a new one.” He stood a second or two longer, then sat back down.
Managing not to roll her eyes, Harleen continued. “I am not interested in your stories, no matter how elaborate. I am not trying to write a tell-all, I am trying to help a mind that is clearly in need of it!”
Joker cocked his head to the side. “You’re cute when you’re angry, Doc.”
It took all Harleen had not to throw her pen to the ground. Standing abruptly, Harleen headed for the door. “You’re clearly intent on making this an unproductive session. We’ll table this for now.”
And with that she left the room, trying to ignore the laughter ringing out behind her.
“You want me to get Day next, Dr. Quinzel?” the guard outside asked.
She shook her head. “No, thank you. I’m taking my lunch early.”
That proved to be a good idea. A lunch outside in the sun mellowed her out, and another excellent session with Julian Day lifted her spirits even higher. She was back to feeling confident again by the time her other big session of the day rolled around.
This one was different from the others right off the bat, in that Harleen was unable to talk to Poison Ivy in the normal interview room. Ivy was still a largely unknown quantity, especially when it came to her powers, and thus Harleen was forced to put on a chemical-resistant suit and step into Ivy’s cell, where a small plastic table and foldable chairs had been set up. Ivy’s chair was backed up against the back of the cell, and her legs were chained to the ground. It was a very different environment than what Harleen was used to, to say the least.
As she entered, the first thing Harleen noticed, aside from the room’s setup, was the intense glare she immediately received from her patient. To say the atmosphere in the room was hostile would be an understatement. But it wasn’t purely hostility Harleen felt from that stare... Ivy was like a caged animal, terrified and enraged all at once, and no doubt ready to attack if given the opportunity. Harleen suddenly felt appreciative of those chains.
Taking a seat in the chair opposite Ivy, Harleen looked her patient over, getting a good look at the ‘plant menace’ that she’d only seen in a few pictures and on tv before now. Ivy was a damn good looking menace, Harleen had to give her that. Wavy red hair cascaded over a lithe, green-skinned form, covered in clothes made of leaves. Her face, despite the anger currently displayed on it, was exceedingly pleasant to look at, as well. Those lips, in particular seemed… Damn, Harleen, maybe try to keep your thoughts professional, sheesh. Ogling Joker and now a woman who clearly would kill you if she had the chance. Harleen shook her head and gripped her pen a little tighter, successfully banishing the inappropriate thoughts for the time being.
Though Harleen had gotten lost in her own head for a good half-minute, Ivy hadn’t budged, and Harleen wasn’t even sure the woman had blinked.
“Hello,” Harleen said with a smile, extending her hand. “I’m Dr. Quinzel.”
There was no response.
Slowly retracting her hand, Harleen maintained her smile as she said, “So, I’m told you go by Poison Ivy. I’m going to assume that’s not your given name.” She laughed lightly at that, then scribbled a note about ‘humor’ not being a good ‘in.’
Tapping her pen against her clipboard, Harleen tried again. “They say you claim to have destroyed that tower in the name of… plant-life? Plants are very important to you, then?”
“Yes.” Ivy remained completely still, save the movement of her mouth.
Grinning slightly and dancing a little in her seat, Harleen continued. “What is it that draws you to them? What makes you so passionate that you would destroy a whole skyscraper, along with the people inside?”
Ivy moved slightly this time, looking away for a moment, perhaps to think. Harleen tried to quell her excitement over such a small success. “...They… need help. Humanity is killing them. Ignoring their screams.”
Furiously scratching notes down, Harleen pressed on, eager to see how far she could get. “So you hear the plants? Their screams?”
“Do they… talk to you?”
Fascinating . It felt like Harleen couldn’t write fast enough. Ivy had said so little, and yet, in a way, so much. Harleen had to keep this going. “You killed humans in your assault… why do you care less about them than the plants?”
Ivy looked away again, then looked back, directly into Harleen’s eyes. “..I... fight for my own. ...I take no pleasure in destroying you kind, but this is a fight for survival.”
Harleen stopped writing, and stared at Ivy. The green woman seemed slightly less hostile; her glare, in particular, had softened. There anger in her eyes had given way to… passion.
Tapping her pen against her cheek, Harleen said, “So when you say ‘my own’, you mean plants, and when you say ‘your kind’, you mean humans, yeah?”
Clearing her throat and leaning forward slightly, Harleen said, “But… I mean, know you have green skin and some sort of metahuman powers… but you’re still human, at least in part.”
Ivy’s glare returned, even more intense than before. “I am no human. I am one with the plants. I am Poison Ivy.”
Leaning back and waving a hand, Harleen said, “I - I don’t want to anger you, but… the medical doctors say you are, in fact, still significantly human, even if part of your physiology is now plant-based-”
SLAM. Harleen jumped a little out of her seat Ivy’s fists ferociously met the table that sat between them. “I am no human!”
Scooting back a little, Harleen grimaced and said, “I apologize, I didn’t mean to upset you, I-”
“You will not convince me to betray my cause, human! I will hear no more of it!”
Grimacing, Harleen tried desperately to salvage the situation.“I’m sorry, forget I said it. If we could just go back-”
“NO! MORE!” Ivy yelled, gripping the plastic table and slowly crushing it with her bare hands.
Harleen’s eyes went wide, and she scrambled to her feet. “Aheh, point made. We- we’ll talk later, then.”
“GET OUT!!” Ivy screamed, picking the partially-crushed table up.
Harleen sprinted for the door, slamming it shut behind her as soon as she’d cleared the doorframe.
“Hey, um… no more tables for her, I think,” she said with a strained smile to the surprised guard that stood nearby. “Also, maybe let her calm down a bit before you go in there.”
Free of her clothes and, with them, the persona she always wore for her job, Harleen crashed backwards onto her small, messy bed. She let loose a loud sigh and stretched her muscles, still a little sore from her daily work-out routine. Her hair, free of the bun she normally kept it in, splayed out across the wonderfully cold sheets.
What a day! A good one, largely, but also very tiring. Both her new patients had surprised her in their own way, and she couldn’t get either of them out of her head for more than a few minutes at a time.
The Joker felt like he had her all figured out, and, to an extent she was uncomfortable with, he was right. But, for as much as he liked to act as though he were the one in control, ultimately, he was her patient. She wasn’t about to give the man the power he craved by agreeing to some ridiculous deal. She’d get a good story for a tell-all out of him all on her own, thank-you-very-much.
And Ivy. 0 to 180, that one. But Harleen had gotten a surprising amount of info out of her, which Dr. Leland had been impressed with. Harleen wondered if Ivy would’ve given that info to whoever was first to interview her, or if it was something Harleen in particular had done or said. Regardless, it was good that Harleen had gotten the first go at the ‘plant menace’, so that she could have the credit for these discoveries. She’d already been gaining a great reputation with her rehabilitation of Calendar Man - and Poison Ivy, despite how new she was to the scene, was far more high profile than Julian Day had ever been.
The cold sheets below her were starting to warm up from her body heat, and Harleen was also belatedly realizing that a lump of scrunched blanket was pushing into her back in a painful way. She flopped up the bed like a fish until her head was on her pillow, and adjusted herself so that her body was once more touching cool fabric.
Alone in a dark room with no clothes on, Harleen’s mind started to drift, going back and forth between the faces of her new patients. They were both quite attractive, she had to admit. Joker’s face was longer, more angular, while Ivy’s had a much softer quality to it, even with her large nose. Not that large noses couldn’t be cute. And Ivy’s certainly was.
Also, their mouths. They both had nice mouths. Joker’s smile was toothy and charming, while Ivy… well, Harley hadn’t seen Ivy smile. But those lips were so full, and looked so soft.
There was a significant heat growing in Harleen’s lower body, one she considered taking care of before bed. But she had to get up early. She had to start preparing for the next time she conducted a session with either of those two. And besides, it was terribly improper for a psychiatrist to fantasize about her patients.
Harleen let loose a loud laugh, so unlike the soft chuckles she occasionally gave in more professional environs. But that was the thing. This wasn’t a professional environment. What did Harleen care if she had indecent thoughts? Giggling even more, she reached toward the dresser next to her bed, searching for a certain vibrating toy that would help ensure her a good night’s sleep.
Chapter 2: Sunlight
Had some time for writing today, so I wanted to hammer this chapter out before I'm gone to a work conference for the rest of the week and weekend. I hope you enjoy it!
For weeks now Poison Ivy, defender of all plant life, had endured hell. For weeks she had been stuck in this small box, with no other plants, no sunlight, just ‘doctors.’ Again and again these ignorant, pathetic humans attempted to analyze her, figure out what was ‘wrong’ with her. As if there were something wrong in caring more for plants than the people that murder them. Ivy wished dearly that she could wring their scrawny necks for their refusal to see her desires as anything other than pathologic in nature.
There was only one of the many, many doctors that had spoken to Ivy that she did not currently wish death upon. The young blonde doctor - Quinzel, if she recalled correctly. At least that girl seemed to try to understand. After their first meeting, in which Quinzel dared try to tell Ivy whether or not she were human, the blonde doctor had avoided saying such ridiculous, slanderous things again. Unlike the others. Quinzel also seemed genuinely interested whenever Ivy spoke about her cause. Though whether that was because the doctor found any of Ivy’s words enlightening, or because the doctor was trying to find the root of her ‘madness’, Ivy was unsure. She was not optimistic about it.
The only positive thing that happened as time achingly passed in this prison was that the number of doctors conducting ‘sessions’ with her gradually diminished. Perhaps they were busy. Perhaps they realized they each were getting nowhere. Perhaps they were all gradually giving up. Ivy could only hope. Eventually, only two doctors remained to bother her - a black woman with piercing eyes that Ivy was fairly sure was called ‘Leland’, and the unflappable Quinzel.
Today was a Quinzel day, if the recent pattern held true, and Ivy was tired. Tired of the same thing over, and over, and over again. She couldn’t imagine Leland and Quinzel didn’t feel the same. But Ivy didn’t trust Leland - those piercing eyes always made it abundantly clear how little the woman in possession of them thought of Ivy’s crusade. But Quinzel… she was more malleable. Ivy might be able to work with her, especially if she could win her over.
The blonde doctor entered Ivy’s dark cell with a chair, as usual. There was no table between them, and there hadn’t been since Ivy’s initial table-crushing bit of rage. Probably wise, she admitted. Quinzel wore a bright smile as she often did, throwing some pleasantries Ivy’s way that Ivy didn’t bother paying attention to.
Once Quinzel had settled, Ivy began to speak. “Why do you keep doing this?”
Quinzel looked surprised. Her bright blue eyes looked Ivy over, as though she were checking to make sure it was the right person. After a moment’s pause, she replied, “I, well… I want to help you.”
Ivy’s eyes narrowed, and her voice lowered. “Help cure me of my supposed mental illness?”
Once again, Quinzel’s response was not immediate. She bit her lip for a few seconds before finally saying, “No… I… don’t think you’re sick, necessarily. But, I do think you might have unresolved issues in your past. Ones that you refuse to tell me about, or otherwise deal with.”
Ivy rolled her eyes. The idea had been floated before, by Quinzel and others. It didn’t hold any merit, but it was something the doctors, with their narrow points of view, seemed to be stuck on.
“If you truly want to help me… perhaps we could make a deal?” Ivy offered, leaning forward slightly. Quinzel’s immediate reaction was one of shock, almost horror, which Ivy had not remotely anticipated.
“Do you - have you… you don’t talk to any of the other patients, right?” Quinzel said, one of her eyes twitching slightly. It was off-putting. “No, nonono, you couldn’t have… you haven’t left this cell, and no patients are allowed near…”
Though the doctor seemed to be talking more to herself than to Ivy, Ivy decided to push forward anyway. “I do not know what you are thinking that has you so concerned, but no, I have spoken to no one save for you and the other… ‘doctors.’”
With a small shake of her head, as though clearing her mind of thoughts she didn’t want, Quinzel said, “I - sorry. ...But, no, I don’t make deals with my patients, so-”
Ivy leaned forward, probably a bit too quickly. There was a desperation in her eyes that was planned, but genuine. “Wait, please. I do not mean anything illicit. I just - I will talk to you about my past, which you apparently so wish to hear about, if you can do one little thing for me. Please, I… I want to feel sunlight on my skin again. Bind me, gag me, whatever you all must do to satisfy your fear, but please...” She leaned in even closer, her eyes pleading, her voice dropping to a whisper, “let me feel the sun.”
Quinzel was shocked, which was little surprise to Ivy - Poison Ivy had never acted this way before, and no one had expected her to. The blonde woman looked Ivy over, and remarked, “You have seemed really… pale, and ragged. Way worse than when we first met. Is it… because you’re a plant? Are you suffering, not getting any sun?”
Ivy nodded, trying her best to look pathetic, which was quite easy given her current state.
Gnawing on her lip again for a moment, Quinzel said, “I think I can do it, at least temporarily. Tell me about your past now, and I’ll talk to Dr. Leland about getting you some sun after.”
Ivy stared at Quinzel, trying to get a read on her. The woman had a sunny disposition, but she was also almost certainly hiding darker aspects of herself beneath that veneer. Though Ivy felt more able to trust her than any of the other doctors, she had never dared trust her completely. Even now, she knew there was a distinct possibility she would give the doctor the info she wanted, and Quinzel would refuse to hold up her end of the deal. But Ivy’s desperation wasn’t faked. She needed that sunlight; it was killing her not to have it, perhaps literally, she wasn’t sure. Betting on Quinzel’s decency was a chance she would have to take.
“Fine,” Ivy said, sitting back up, and resuming her normal, colder expression. “Where do you want me to start?”
Grinning, pen in hand, Quinzel replied, “From the beginning.”
“I was born in Seattle, Washington, to wealthy parents. They were… not particularly loving. They had expectations for me, both in terms of how I acted and what I would do in life, and they made me regret it if I dared attempt to deviate from those expectations. I was to be perfect, and anything less was punishable.
They also taught me that other people are beneath me, that I should view them as peons to be manipulated. My father…. he eventually made it clear to me that this mentality applied to everyone … even my mother.”
Quinzel gasped, covering her mouth and blushing slightly when Ivy glared at her for the interruption. “Sorry, sorry, please continue. So your father did something to your mother?”
With a small sigh, Ivy said, “He divorced her. And he took her for everything. He manipulated her into bad deals, made her out to be a terrible parent to the judge. He got virtually everything he wanted out of the trial, including sole custody of me.
I cried about it… I was a child, I missed my mother. But he would not have it. Told me that if she was too weak to play the game, she was not worth crying over. I still did, for a time, in private.
Eventually I went to college. Dear father, for once, didn’t seem to have any designs for what exactly I majored in. He was more interested in me finding a suitable husband that would provide for me.”
Ivy practically spit the words, anger and disgust written all over her face. Before she could continue, Quinzel interrupted again, this time with a question.
“Your reaction... Is it a feminist thing, or a lesbian thing?”
Blunt. But why should Ivy be surprised, really. She raised an eyebrow and stared directly at Quinzel. “Why can’t it be both?”
“Fair point,” Quinzel replied, scratching something into her notes.
“Anyway… I chose to pursue botany. And as you may have guessed, I chose not to pursue a man, but a PhD. I excelled academically throughout my undergrad years and for most of graduate school. But… I made a mistake. I chose the wrong research partner. I chose a young man named Jason Woodrue.”
Ivy paused, taking a moment to calm herself. She felt such hatred when she spoke his name, but really, she should thank him. She wouldn’t be Poison Ivy without the part he had to play in her life, though he may never know it. The bastard.
Clearing her throat, Ivy said, “Woodrue and I both worked on an important project together, but as we neared completion, I attempted to make it appear as though I were the only one deserving of credit. I had successfully done so before, with other partners, but Woodrue… he was smarter than I expected. He outmaneuvered me, and took all the credit for himself.”
Sighing, both her hands clenching into fists, Ivy continued, scowling. “But he didn’t stop there. He made sure to ruin my reputation among everyone else in the field, too. It was all rumors and nasty lies - nothing was provable, and I still achieved my PhD. But no one in the damn state would even consider hiring me. Woodrue didn’t just beat me, he destroyed me.”
Silence pervaded the room as Ivy’s story drew to a close. Quinzel, eyes wide, face eager, seemed to be waiting, expecting more. When nothing came, she frowned, adjusting her glasses and saying, “Wait, so… then what?”
“Then I moved to Gotham, to escape my destroyed reputation. My father was disgusted in me and helped make sure I was able to move far, far away from him.” She stopped again, and when she glanced at Quinzel’s expectant face, added, “That’s it.”
Looking a little like a deflated balloon, Quinzel said, “But - but how’d you turn green, and start talking to plants? What happened when you got to Gotham?”
Ivy stared blankly. “Let me feel the sun, and I can tell you.”
Quinzel looked irritated, but she shook her head in affirmation. “Okay, yes… that’s... fair. You’ve told me a lot. And it sounds like we’ll have much to discuss in future sessions, with your father and this ‘Woodrue.’” The doctor bit her tongue, then raised a finger. “Just… one more question. What was your name? Before?”
It was Ivy’s turn to look annoyed. With a heavy sigh, eyes downcast, she said, “Pamela Lillian Isley.”
Humans. Ivy hated them all so much. The leering stares of the other asylum inmates as she passed. The guard that walked much too closely behind her, gun occasionally pressing into her back. The only one she could stand was the blonde doctor that walked next to her, the woman who had kept her promise and was now taking Ivy to somewhere with sunlight.
The three of them approached an open cell door, Dr. Quinzel stepping through and then gesturing for Ivy to enter. The guard remained outside and closed the door, pointing his gun at Ivy through the bars.
“Ya try anythin’ funny and I’ll-”
“Yes, Frank, we know,” Dr. Quinzel said with a dismissive hand wave.
Ivy barely registered any of this, however. Her eyes were staring straight ahead, at the barred window on the wall, through which beautiful streams of light shone. Ivy took a few slow, halting steps forward, then broke into a sprint until her body slammed against the wall. She desperately pressed her face against the bars, feeling the cold steel but also the healing, loving, warm rays of sunlight.
Like a starved woman in the desert discovering an oasis, Ivy ate the sunlight up, relief washing over her in waves. After a few moments she fell to her knees and then backward, into the area where the light hit the cell’s floor. Tears streamed down her face as she rolled around, laughing, not caring what anyone who was watching thought. There was, for now, only this moment, only this feeling. Nothing else mattered.
Her eyes opened wide when a hand touched her shoulder, and she realized, even through tear-obscured eyes, that Dr. Quinzel’s worried face was hovering over her.
“Are you alright?” the woman asked, a strand of her blonde hair dangling down and shining bright in the sunlight.
Ivy reached her hands, bound together by cuffs, upward, and tucked Dr. Quinzel’s strand of hair behind her ear. Then she took the woman’s cheeks into her hands and said, in the kindest, most genuine tone she may have ever used in her life, “Dr. Quinzel. Harleen. Thank you. Thank you so much.”
Harleen’s eyes were wide as saucers and her face as red as a beet. “Y-you’re w-w-welcome.”
Frank’s voice rang out, harsh and irritating. “Dr. Quinzel, ya alright over there? You need me to come in an’ help?”
Harleen sat straight up and, without turning, waved her hand emphatically at the guard. “No!! No, no, no. I’m fine! Just checking on the patient. She hasn’t tried anything!” Her face was still bright red, maybe even more so.
Ivy closed her eyes and lay against the warm, hard ground for a while longer. It didn’t sound as though Harleen moved from her spot on the ground nearby. If it were anyone else, or perhaps if it were any other circumstance, Ivy would have minded being watched, but for now, she was content to lay here and let the moment last as long as she could.
Eventually, Harleen softly informed Ivy that it was time to go, and slowly, ever so slowly, Ivy rose. Reluctantly, looking back more than once, she walked away. It hurt to return to her dark cell, and even Harleen’s shy smile as she said goodbye did little to lift Ivy’s spirits.
But now she had a rejuvenated body and mind. She had tasted the sun after weeks in misery, and she would say whatever she had to, do whatever she had to, in order to taste it again. And eventually, she would be free of this place. She had seen freedom through the bars of that cell, and she knew it would again be hers.
She had a feeling Dr. Harleen Quinzel would be the key to her getting it.
Chapter 3: Trust
It’d been a few weeks now since Harleen had realized she was in love with one of her patients. It’d been a few weeks now since Harleen had first brought Ivy to what they now called ‘the sun room’. It’d been a few weeks now since Harleen had first realized how gentle and warm Ivy’s touch could be, how musical and enthralling her voice could sound, how enchanting and affectionate the look in her eyes could appear. Ivy was unlike anyone Harleen had ever met, in the absolute best of ways.
It was far beyond simple attraction, at this point. They still hadn’t discussed how Ivy gained her metahuman status, and not because Ivy had refused to talk about it, but because Harleen had decided it should wait until the two of them had further established trust between each other. She wanted Ivy to feel like she had some manner of control in the doctor-patient relationship.
Trust was a difficult thing for Ivy, Harleen had quickly learned. It was hardly a surprise, given the betrayals men like Ivy’s own father and Jason Woodrue had inflicted upon the poor woman. And Harleen had wanted to talk through those issues, those betrayals, more - to help Ivy truly process and deal with them, as she so clearly had not done before.
So far, it felt as though Harleen was doing a decent job. Ivy had become more and more receptive, more friendly, more open. Mostly with Harleen, granted, but there were signs of improvement in Ivy’s interactions with Dr. Leland, as well. Harleen knew the rapid improvement was due in large part to the continued ‘sun room’ visits, but she hoped that her approach to their sessions was helping, too.
And for the first time, Harleen really, genuinely wanted to help a patient. Her sessions with others, like Mr. Day, or the Joker, were always more about Harleen mining her patients for good stories, anything that would lead to a better book to make her rich and famous. Also, admittedly, some level of attraction, in the Joker’s case. But when she was in a session with Ivy, that original motivation fell away, and instead an actual desire to help her patient heal took over.
Today, she was going to try something new, which she was surprised she hadn’t thought of before. Today, she and Ivy would have their session in the ‘sun room’. It only made sense to associate their sessions with something so positive, not to mention Harleen loved seeing how much Ivy brightened up when near sunlight, in both a literal and a more metaphorical sense.
But she had a few other sessions to deal with first. Her heart wasn’t in them, but still she went through the motions, doing her best to pay attention to the other people in the building she was supposed to be helping.
“What was that?” she said, realizing she hadn’t processed what Joker had just said.
Grimacing dramatically, Joker replied, “I said , ‘Knock knock.’”
Harleen rolled her eyes. Jokes, of course. The Joker was cute, she’d give him that, but his constant use of flirting and comedy, in lieu of usable backstory or genuine emotion, was becoming a bit tiresome. She knew he had said he wouldn't offer such things without agreeing to a ‘deal’ - he made sure to remind her every other session - but she refused to make deals with someone so inherently untrustworthy. She'd get it out of him the hard way, one day or another.
Throwing his hands up, Joker laid back in his seat and pouted. “Oh, what’s the point? You’re not paying attention anyway. Still thinking about that Poison Oakie?”
“ Ivy ,” Harleen instantly corrected, before looking a bit sheepish. “I… I’m just trying to think of how best to help her, with her therapy-”
It was Joker’s turn to roll his eyes. “Oh, yes, I’m sure you are. Sex therapy, maybe.”
Harleen’s face hardened. “I - that is not an appropriate joke to make. I am your doctor-”
Smiling wide, a glint in his eye, Joker sat back up. “Oh, goodness, sorry, Doc! I didn’t mean to push your buttons. I know you like to let the ol’ plant lady be the one to do that!” He winked.
Leaping to her feet, Harleen blushed and scowled. “I - I. Am. Your. Doctor ! You will not speak to me-”
“You’re not denyyyying iiiiit~”
Stamping her foot, Harleen jabbed her finger toward Joker. “You! I-!” She paused, still fuming, staring into the green abyss that was Joker’s eyes. “You’re just… you’re just jealous, aren’t you!?” She grinned and crossed her arms, feeling more sure of herself. “Thought it’d be easy to seduce me, huh? But it’s harder than you thought!”
With a smirk, Joker raised an eyebrow and said, “Too true, toots, but... I think I figured out the problem. Bet I’d have an easier time if I had tits. Or long red hair. Or green skin.”
Harleen growled and stomped toward the door. “You’re the most frustrating person I’ve ever met!!”
Flashing a dazzling smile, Joker said, “You love it, though, don’t you?”
Barely resisting the urge to scream, Harleen threw the door open and then slammed it closed behind her. She paid the shocked orderly standing outside no mind, and immediately beelined toward her office, where she could cool off by herself.
She hated that man. He was infuriating in a way no one else she’d ever met had been. Mostly because of how right he tended to be, particularly when Harleen least wished he were. Like now.
Were her feelings toward Ivy that obvious? They couldn't be, or surely Dr. Leland would've removed Harleen as Ivy’s doctor. Joker was just good at reading people, at figuring out their weaknesses. She groaned. Why did she find that awful man so attractive? It was like she was more into him, after that whole debacle. She sighed. Maybe you’re the one that needs a doctor, girl… Shaking her head, she attempted to recompose herself, and prepare for the next session.
Her mind stayed focused on Joker throughout the next session and her lunch break, though, try as she might to banish him from her thoughts. There was only one person that she felt sure could save her from her own head - and fortunately, that’s who she was scheduled to see next.
Ivy looked surprised when Harleen opened the door. Probably because no one had chained Ivy’s legs to the ground beforehand. She only seemed more confused when Harleen beckoned her toward the cell exit, but she finally seemed to figure out what was going on as they neared the sun room, where a table and chairs had been set up.
“You’re trusting me with a table again?” Ivy said with a smile, once the two of them had taken their seats.
That smile. It was always so lovely to see, filling Harleen’s heart instantly. “Like I’ve said, I’m very interested in building trust between us. Plus, it seems a bit less likely that you’ll get upset, given the room we’re in.
Ivy, whose seat was situated directly in the sunlight, closed her eyes for a moment and nodded. When her eyes popped open again, they seemed more focused, resolute.
“Dr. Quinzel,” Harleen corrected, glancing over her shoulder at Frank, who was on the other side of the bars again. It had been quite a while since the man had seemed to think it necessary to keep his gun trained on Ivy.
“Dr. Quinzel,” Ivy continued, not missing a beat. “Why don’t you tell me about your history this time?”
Harleen blinked, taking a moment to process this. “... Me ? ...Why would you want to know about that?”
With a small lift of her shoulders, Ivy said, “We’re trying to build trust, right? I’m just… curious. How someone like you comes to be.”
Feeling a bit of heat in her cheeks again, Harleen shuffled and stared at her papers, thinking. It wouldn’t hurt to tell her… at least to tell her some things. She didn’t have to give all the details. Still, though… “Ivy, I’m… I’m not sure. This is supposed to be about you, and I'm not sure it's appropriate for me to share that kind of information.”
She glanced back up at Ivy, whose eyes had narrowed slightly. All of a sudden, Harleen was hit with an almost overwhelming urge to talk to Ivy about her past. Why not, really? She loved the woman, right?
“I was born here in Gotham. My dad’s always been a sweet man, but when I was younger, it was my mom that I idolized. She was an… important figure, in Gotham.” Ivy raised an eyebrow. Why was Harleen leaving out the details? What a silly thing to do. “By which I mean she was a pretty big criminal, at tha time. Sharon Quinzel. Went by Shari Quinn, though, said it sounded betta. She was right!”
Ivy seemed pleased, and also maybe a little sad? Harley couldn’t have that! Maybe she was going too slow with the story. She continued, speaking faster this time.
“Anyway, she got arrested when I was like six, an’ I never saw her again. Dad said she chose a bad path in life - one she wasn’t smart or lucky ‘nough to handle. Said it finally caught up wit' her. He raised me, an’ I ended up takin’ gymnastics, an’ goin’ ta college on an athletic scholarship, an’-”
Ivy, leaning forward, pressed a finger to Harley’s lips. “Harleen… thank you, that’s enough.”
Harley instantly stopped talking, and soon after felt a little embarrassed. She’d slipped out of her professional voice, hadn’t she? Hopefully Frank hadn’t been listening…
When Harleen looked again at her patient, she found that Ivy was staring at the table, seemingly lost in thought. She looked back up at Harleen a moment later, and, before Harleen could say anything, spoke.
“I started new research, when I got to Gotham. Found a new partner, a man named Michael Turner. We got along well, until…” She sighed. “I… thought he was trying to sabotage me. In retrospect… he almost certainly wasn’t. But at the time, I was sure of it, and I confronted him. The confrontation grew physical, and… we both fell. His neck snapped, though I didn’t realize at first. I wasn’t as lucky. I crashed into the cabinet holding our research, and all the other chemicals and samples we were using. They fell around me, on me, cutting me, dripping into the wounds. It hurt worse than any other pain I’ve ever felt. Despite the pain, I tried to see if Michael was alright, but no, of course, he was quite dead. I tried to run, even though I had no idea where. I stumbled out into the alley and fell unconscious.”
Harleen sat quietly, enraptured. She gripped her pen tightly, but wrote nothing down.
“When I awoke, I felt different. There was grass growing out of the cracked concrete, and it spoke to me. I reached out to it, and realized my skin was green. The grass reached back toward me, grew until it touched my fingers.
I was some sort of monster, and I knew that, even if I could cover up my colleague’s death, I would never be able to live a normal life again, with skin like this.” She gestured toward herself. Harley didn't know what she was talking about, though - Ivy’s skin was gorgeous, green or no.
“The last remnants of the woman named Pamela Isley ran, ran until she reached the forest outside Gotham, and disappeared into it. She was never seen again. The creature that eventually emerged from those green depths bore little save a vague resemblance to that human woman. The monster that strode out of the forest was not Pamela Lillian Isley, but Poison Ivy. Me.”
Harleen’s mouth hung open.
“I had talked to the plants of the forest, learned of how big that forest had once been, how much humanity had taken from it, how much plant life had been murdered for the sake of ‘progress.’ The plants pleaded with me, begged for me to be their champion, to fight for them in ways they were unable. I promised I would. I promised I would show humanity the error of their ways, even if I had to use force. A great rage overtook me, rage at all that the plants had lost - at all I had lost.
And then I attacked the tower, as you know, and Batman subdued me. ...That is the story I promised you.”
Harleen stared, unsure what to say. Ivy had been through so much; Harleen wished she could embrace her, try to comfort her somehow. Especially since, for some reason that Harleen couldn’t fathom, Ivy looked a bit melancholy. Maybe the story had gotten to her.
“Harleen, come here, please.” She immediately did, walking around the table to stand at Ivy’s side.
Ivy stared into her eyes, practically looking through her. “Harleen, I need you to let me out.”
“Oh, yeah, no pro-” Harleen shook her head. Wait, no. She couldn’t do that. She loved Ivy, definitely, but she still couldn’t just let her go. She was her patient, afterall. “I-Ivy, I… I want to, but-”
A dark look overtook Ivy’s face. She cupped Harleen’s cheeks with her hands and kissed the blonde doctor, directly on the lips. Harleen’s brain short-circuited, only able to focus on the soft, wondrous feel of Ivy’s lips upon hers. It was over much too quickly.
“Harleen. Let me out.”
There was no refusal this time. “Sure, a course!” Harley said, bouncing on her heels and striding toward the door. She threw it open and waved her hands, inviting Ivy through.
The beautiful red-headed goddess strode out into the hall, and immediately pressed her lips to Frank’s, before he could express his shock. Harley felt a slight tinge of jealousy, but hey, Ivy was a goddess, she could do what she wanted.
“Go release some other prisoners. Keep the other guards focused on them. Do not come after me,” Ivy said to Frank, who immediately ran off. Then she turned toward Harley. “Harleen, go hide in your office… until this is all over.”
Harley nodded and bounced away, down the hallways, and eventually into her office. She stayed put there, in her chair, ignoring the screams, and the crashes, and the gunshots that she heard outside her door. She stayed there, as the noises slowly faded and her mind slowly returned to her, as the horror of what had happened washed over her… until it was all over.
Chapter 4: New to the Criminal Scene
I really, really appreciate everyone's lovely comments!! They inspired me to write this chapter more quickly than I was going to! ^^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The cool night air felt heavenly on Ivy’s skin. Gotham’s air was sick, filled with pollutants, not to mention a plethora of smells that varied from unpleasant to vomit-inducing. And yet, compared to the lifeless air of the cell she had spent weeks locked inside, Gotham’s was a virtual paradise.
That said, Ivy would have vastly preferred to have escaped into the forest, to be breathing the purest air available in the general Gotham area. The forest wasn’t far from Arkham, either… but then, that was part of the problem. It was an obvious place to escape to. And though she knew the good plants of the forest would fight to defend her, she didn’t want them to be hurt in the process. It was safer for them this way.
Unfortunately, when it came to things such as ‘finding a place to lie low’, Ivy knew virtually nothing. Where did the other infamous Gotham criminals go when they escaped? Perhaps she should have tried to tail one… surely she wasn’t the only inmate to escape Arkham that night.
But it was too late for that now. What other options were there? Currently, she stood in some random alley, one she had deemed ‘far enough’ away to allow her to stop and think. Most options that came to mind would involve money, and human interaction. She had none of the former, and her green skin would make the latter difficult. She might be able to craft some sort of disguise later, and she could always steal money if she really had to. But neither option seemed feasible right now; she had exhausted herself in creating all those pheromones, not to mention in running all this way.
Now that she had a minute to think, a feeling of guilt started to creep up on her. She knew it had been necessary, to use her newfound powers on Harleen. Given how untested this new pheromone trick was, it only made sense to test it on someone that was already friendly toward her. Which was an understatement, admittedly… it had become quite obvious to Ivy that Harleen had, at the very least, developed a crush on her. And despite how distasteful she found the idea of having any sort of positive feelings toward a human, Ivy had to admit she was also… fond of Harleen. In fact, Ivy was fairly certain her feelings toward Harleen had been what caused her to start secreting pheromones, or at least had helped speed up the natural process.
“Hey, sweetcheeks,” said a slimy male voice from somewhere behind her. “What’cha doin’ in a place like this?”
Ivy swiveled around, irritated to find three tall, scruffy men standing a few feet away. They leered at her, three different pairs of eyes running up and down her form. She scowled, her hands balling into fists.
That same slimy voice spoke, emanating from the man standing nearest to her, a greasy-haired pig with scraggly facial hair. “Hey, what’s the matter? You ain’t happy to see us?”
“Give us a smile, baby!” said another man, staring not at her face but at her chest.
The urge to murder was proving very hard for Ivy to stifle. But she realized it would be best to test her powers more, particularly to see how much she could do with just the airborne pheromones. The more concentrated form, which she was able to secrete from her lips, seemed to be capable of complete mind control, at least temporarily. But it would be ideal if she could achieve something close to that without having to come into physical contact with the person.
“No,” she said with a sneer. “ You give me a smile.”
Big, toothy grins appeared on all three men’s faces almost immediately. The man in the front said, “Aw, hey, anything for you , doll.”
“Now, get on your knees,” Ivy said, extending her hand.
One of the men did. Another started to, then seemed to think better of it. The man in the front didn’t do anything for a moment, then said, “Hey, hey, now… I - I’d love to, but… but look, baby, we’re the ones callin’ the shots here.” Despite pulling a knife out of his pocket, the man’s face still appeared conflicted. “Hey, wait - is your skin… green?”
This couldn’t go on any longer… Ivy was too drained. She darted forward and grabbed the man’s arm. Before he could do anything more than look surprised, she broke it. His knife clattered to the ground as a screech of pain ripped out of his mouth. She grabbed his neck and twisted until it snapped.
The man who wasn’t already on his knees screamed and tried to bolt, but he only got a few steps before Ivy was upon him. A moment later, his corpse crumpled to the ground.
Rounding on the third man, who was huddled in a ball on the ground, crying and shaking, she took hold of his neck and lifted him up to his feet. Firmly grasping his chin, she forced him to look at her.
“I need a place to sleep tonight.” There was no emotion in her voice, nor on her face.
The man’s eyes were wide, his pupils dilated. “I-I’ve got an apar-apartment! You can have it!! J-just please , don’t kill me!”
Ivy released her grip on the man’s face. “Take me to your apartment. If you try to run, or to attack, I will kill you as easily as I killed them.” Almost casually, she waved her hand toward the nearby corpses.
Tears filled the man’s eyes, and the scent of urine filled the air. “I won’t, I s-swear. .Follow me.”
It wasn’t far, fortunately. A mere two blocks away, the man had a small apartment on the second floor of a shoddy complex. His hands shook as he unlocked the door.
Striding inside, Ivy glanced about at the dingy, messy room. She swiveled around when she heard the door close, holding her hand out to the still shaking man. “Keys.”
Without hesitation, the man dropped them into her open palm. Immediately after, he said, “C-can I go? You can have the apartment, I’ll just leave, you’ll never see me again!”
Setting the keys on the nearby counter, Ivy walked toward him slowly, moving her hips more dramatically, more sensuously, than normal. “First, dear, tell me. How do you feel about plants?” She didn’t have much energy left to produce pheromones, but if she acted more ‘appealing’, perhaps she could get a lot out of a little.
His shaking temporarily subsiding, the man seemed confused, but responded quickly. “P-plants? I… I mean, they’re fine… I got nothing against them!”
Putting her hands on either side of the man’s head, Ivy practically cooed as she spoke, a sickeningly sweet smile on her face. “And tell me, big boy, what were you and your friends going to do to me, before I put a stop to it? What was the big plan? Be honest.”
Wearing a dazed smile, the man said,. “Oh, hey, you know… We were gonna have sex with you! Hah, don’t worry, though, we wouldn’t’ve been too rough, long as you didn’t fight it.”
Smile unchanged, Ivy pressed her hands together, popping the man’s head like a grape.
After rinsing the blood and bits of brain off of herself in the sink, Ivy quickly found the tiny bedroom and, after throwing the man’s dirty sheets off it, collapsed onto the hard, lumpy bed. She was asleep within seconds.
There wasn’t much money to be found in the man’s wallet. A couple twenty-dollar bills, and an expired credit card. She’d take it, but she’d need more if she wanted to live somewhere other than a dank apartment with a corpse.
After putting on a few of the clothes from the man’s closet, which didn’t fit well, but served their purpose of obscuring most of her skin, Ivy left the apartment in search of… something. She hadn’t quite figured out what yet. An opportunity, hopefully.
It didn’t take long. Buying a newspaper with the dead man’s money, Ivy flipped through and found that there was an event at a nearby museum that evening. Some priceless bit of jewelry was being shown off, which Ivy might be able to steal. But, more importantly, she’d been to that museum before, and she remembered its lab. Last time she had visited, they’d had several plant specimens. She could steal a few valuables to make some money and rescue some of her precious darlings.
It would be easy, too. All she had to do was wait until the event was over and everyone had left. Then she’d find a guard, kiss him with pheromone lips, have him turn off whatever security systems the museum had in place, and then grab anything she wanted. All she had to do now was wait.
“Sorry, ma’am, I got no idea how to turn the thing off,” the white-haired security guard said with a shrug.
Attempting to hide her surprise, Ivy said, “You don’t? ….Of course not. I…. can you turn off the cameras, at least?”
The old man shook his head up and down. “Yesiree, I can. You want me to get on that?”
“Yes, please. Then stay there, and do nothing until I am gone.”
“Whatever you say, lady!” the man said, walking slowly away.
This was unfortunate. Ivy had no idea how to circumvent security measures. She would almost definitely end up sounding the alarms if she tried to take anything. But she was already here, and those plants needed saving. She’d grab them, at least, and maybe she could nab a few valuables on the way out.
It didn’t take long to find the specimens. And, just as she’d anticipated, when she broke the glass to get them, alarms sounded. She scooped them up into the small cardboard box she’s brought with her, then ran as fast as she could toward the exit.
The sound of sirens suddenly filled her ears, ringing along with the constant alarm. Through the doors ahead, she could see cop cars pulling up, their lights flashing. Damn, they were quick. She turned to run the other way, and couldn’t help but gasp. A woman was standing behind her. A very irritated woman, clad in black, with goggles and pointy ears on her headpiece.
The woman grabbed Ivy wrist and led the pair of them down another hallway and around the corner. Letting go of Ivy’s wrist, the woman pressed herself against the wall and shot a glare Ivy’s direction.
“Nice work, idiot. Why didn’t you just flip on the Bat Signal while you were at it?” The woman was holding a large diamond in one hand, a hand that was covered in a black glove. A clawed black glove, Ivy belatedly noticed. Also, “Bat Signal?” That man had some sort of signal ?
“I wasn’t trying to get caught!” Ivy said indignantly, clutching the box that held the plant samples a little tighter.
“Could’ve fooled me,” the woman said, rolling her eyes. Those same eyes then gave Ivy a quick once-over. “Wait, aren’t you that plant woman? From the news? ‘Poison’ something or other?”
“Sure. And I’m Catwoman, if you don’t know.” She smirked. “You’re new to the criminal scene, afterall.”
Ivy glared. “I’m not like you.”
Catwoman rolled her eyes. “Right, sure, you’ve got a cause, so you’re better than me, I get it.”
“I-” Footsteps sounded in the hallway. Looking this way and that for a place to run, Ivy muttered, “This is not a good time to get acquainted.”
A cop rounded the corner. “I found ‘em!!” he shouted, right before a well-placed kick from Catwoman knocked him to the ground. He didn’t get up.
“No, it sure as hell isn’t,” she said with a scowl.
The two women started running, darting from cover to cover. One of the cops yelled, “It’s that plant woman! The one that collapsed a tower!” And then they started shooting.
Ducking behind a large stand with a dinosaur skeleton displayed atop it, Catwoman said, “Why the hell are they trying to shoot you!?”
Clutching her babies desperately, Ivy felt fear for the first time in a good while. “I… I don’t know! They’re terrified of my powers, perhaps?” A shot whizzed by to her right, and she bent her head over her precious cargo, trying to keep her breathing steady. After a moment, she looked back at Catwoman, who stared at her, seemingly disconcerted. “Any ideas for getting out of this?”
“I mean, I was going to quietly sneak back out the way I came in,” Catwoman said, gesturing upwards. Ivy looked up, and after a few seconds realized that one of the panels of the skylight above had a circular hole in it. “But I can’t do that now , at least without getting shot.”
Mind racing, Ivy glanced about the room. There had to be something… Her eyes grazed over the box she held, and almost simultaneously an idea formed in her mind.
“I’m sorry, baby… but, please, I need your help,” she whispered, pulling one of the plant specimens out, and then setting it on the ground. She pressed a hand to it, and rapidly it grew, expanding outward until it was wide enough for both Ivy and Catwoman to fit on top of.
“What… in the world?” Catwoman muttered, shaking her head slightly.
“Trust me. Get on top of it,” Ivy said, already doing so herself. Catwoman hesitated for a moment, then climbed on too. Ivy pressed a hand to the plant again, and it grew around them, enveloping them almost completely, save for a hole at the top. The plant lurched, almost causing Catwoman to fall over, then they began to rise, hurtling toward the skylight above. Shots rang out, and Ivy grit her teeth as she felt their gracious plant savior become riddled by bullets. A great crash rang out as the glass above them shattered, and a moment later the plant opened back up, a few inches above the concrete part of the roof.
Catwoman leaped off immediately, but Ivy moved more slowly, stepping softly onto the concrete, and then kneeling next to the plant. It cried out to her in pain, mortally wounded from the many shots it had taken. Tears filled Ivy’s eyes, and she gingerly pressed her hand to the plant one last time. “Thank you, for your sacrifice. I am sorry that your last moments are ones of pain… I will never forget you, and what you have done for me.” A sense of gratitude emanated from the plant for one brief moment, and then it was gone.
Bowing her head, Ivy continued to kneel for a few more moments. When she finally stood, she was mildly surprised to find that Catwoman was still there.
“Is your, uh, ‘friend’ okay? Couldn’t really hear your whispers, with that alarm still blaring.”
“It is dead.”
“Oh. I… I’m sorry.” She didn’t seem sure how to properly deal with this situation, which Ivy was hardly surprised by. “It, uh… It really saved our asses, there.”
Exhaustion hit Ivy like a truck. Her body suddenly felt like a lead weight, and she found it difficult to remain on her feet… or to retain consciousness.
“Please, hold this,” she managed to spit out, thrusting the box with the remaining specimens into Catwoman’s chest.
“Wait, wha - oh, shit!”
The last thing Ivy saw before she collapsed into darkness was Catwoman grabbing the box with one arm, and reaching out toward her crumpling form with the other.
Hey, raise a hand if you love Catwoman! I sure hope your hand is raised, 'cause you're gonna be seeing a lot more of her.
To say the last week of Harleen’s life had been miserable would be an understatement. Part of it had been spent in a hospital, checking to see if there were any residual side effects to Ivy’s pheromones. She’d seen a lot of Frank; they hadn’t talked. But most of the week had been spent at home, alone with her thoughts. Dr. Leland had insisted Harleen take a few days rest before trying to come back to work, and no amount of pleading would change the woman’s mind.
Sure, she’d tried to go out - to see a movie, to shop, to hang out at a bar - but she kept accidentally running into people, or not realizing someone right next to her was trying to talk to her. It was like her mind was just categorically uninterested in what was going on around her, making it difficult to enjoy anything, no matter how fun she might have found it before. Now, inevitably, her thoughts would drift back to Ivy’s escape, where they would remain, trapped, until something managed to shake her out of it, typically only for a minute or two.
It was hard to believe what an idiot she was. She’d thought she was helping Ivy, actually making a difference in the woman’s life. But ultimately she’d just been an unwitting pawn. And now Ivy was gone, doing who knows what. Maybe killing people. Were those deaths on Harley’s hands? Probably. She liked to think that, if it hadn’t been her, it just would’ve been someone else that had fallen into Ivy’s clutches. But she knew no one else would’ve been so foolish, so cocky, so unprofessionally attached. Ivy had escaped and it was unmistakably Harleen’s fault, because she was an utter failure as a psychologist.
And that wasn’t even taking into consideration her apparent ineffectiveness with Julian Day, who had murdered a guard on his way out of the asylum during the breakout.
Harleen had made absolutely no impact at Arkham, other than to contribute to yet another breakout in her own uniquely stupid way. It was a wonder Dr. Leland hadn’t already fired her… likely just a matter of time.
Her thoughts didn’t get anymore positive from there, and they still plagued her by the time she returned to work. Try as she might, she couldn’t prevent her mind from drifting when she held sessions, and more than once a patient had informed her of how gloomy she looked.
The Joker was the third one to say it.
“I say, Doc, you’re sadder than a cat in the shower,” Joker said, his usual smile replaced by a grimace. He was one of the few high-profile cases to not escape during the breakout, and though Dr. Leland had encouraged Harleen not to keep him as a patient while she recovered, Harleen had insisted on it. If she couldn’t still handle him , then what was the point of even working here?
Her eyes stared, unfocused, somewhere near his chin as she spoke. “Yes, I’m… I’m sorry. I just have a lot on my mind. But you deserve my full attention, so again, my apologies.”
Joker waved a hand. “Oh, there’s no need for all that. I get it! Your girlfriend betrayed you and then left you. It’s gotta be hard to come to grips with!”
Her eyes managed to focus enough to glare at him halfheartedly. “She wasn’t… It wasn’t like that. But I… I do feel betrayed, admittedly.”
“Harleen - can I call you Harleen?” Joker asked, pressing on before she could answer. “There’s no need to deny it! We all saw how you looked at her, how you treated her.” He paused, thinking for a moment. “Or I did, at least.”
Flicking her wrist irritatedly, Harleen said, “Okay, let’s say you’re right? So what? You want to gloat, tell me you always knew it’d happen? I suppose I’d have been better off if I’d picked you, huh? What the fuck do you want , Joker!?”
“I don’t want something from you, Harleen!” Joker insisted. “I want something for you! I want you to stop bottling your emotions inside, to admit how she made you feel!” It was strange seeing a look of sympathy on that face… Harleen hated it. “You gave that woman nothing but your love, and what did you get in return? The heartless witch played you like a fiddle, then threw you to the curb! She abandoned you! What a monster.”
Bolting up to her feet, hands balled into fists, Harleen’s face contorted with rage. For a moment, she thought she might strangle the man, but then, suddenly, it was like a dam inside her broke, releasing a torrential flood of emotion. She cried out, collapsing to her knees, and began bawling. Tears poured like waterfalls down her face, her hands hanging limp and useless at her sides.
“She left me!!! She never really cared!” Harleen said through her sobs. “I was never any good at - at any of this, but she let me think I wa-a-aaaaas!!!” Dimly, it registered in her mind that arms were wrapping around her, that someone was embracing her, offering her comfort. She pressed her face into the person’s shoulder, wiping her tears and snot on their white shirt. “J-Julian, too! And all the rest!!! They all pretended like I was helping them, but I didn’t do a damn thing ‘cept let ‘em all escape! I’m a worthless fail-ail-uuuuure!!!”
Carrying on like that for a good minute or two, she was surprised that the person, who at some point her mind pieced together was obviously Joker, never pulled away. He silently held her, letting her talk, letting her vent each and every one of her dark thoughts. When she finally fell silent, save for hiccuping and the occasional sniffle, he continued to silently hold her, waiting several more minutes before speaking.
“You’re not as much of a failure as you think, you know,” he said, his voice far softer than she had ever heard it. “You’re far from the only doctor in here to mess up, and you’ll be far from the last. Even Dr. Leland’s messed up and let a patient escape, soon after she first started here.”
Harleen pulled away a little, tear-filled eyes wide. Wiping a bit of snot off her face, she said, “Really? Dr. Leland ?”
Joker smiled, laughing a little to himself. “Yessiree! One and the same. It happens! Arkham’s a rough place to work, to say the least. But you know what you’ve got that none of the other doctors do?”
“Wh-what?” Harley said, staring, unable to even imagine what the answer could be.
“Humility!” he said, smiling wide. “None of those other idiots have ever admitted they were wrong, especially to any of us ! And none of them have ever really cared about us, either.” The smile shifted into a smirk. “I mean, you cared about one of us, really, but hey, more than the other doctors can say.”
Sitting back a little, allowing Joker’s arms to drop away from her, Harleen said, “I… I shouldn’t be proud about being attracted to my patients-”
Raising an eyebrow, Joker said, “Oh, with an ‘s’?”
Feeling her cheeks heat up, Harleen cast her eyes to the ground. “I-I… maybe . Look, that’s not the point-”
Seemingly ignoring her, Joker rose to his feet, then pulled her up onto her own. Looking her straight in the eyes, expression more serious than she’d ever seen it, he said, “The point , Doc, is that you haven’t made any mistakes that your peers haven’t already. But are you different from them? Yes! And that’s part of what makes you great! Stop viewing those parts of yourself as negatives; you’re wonderful the way you are, and anyone who doesn’t think so isn’t worth your time!”
Harleen stared, dumbstuck, for a good thirty seconds. The words were hard to process, harder even to accept. Impossible to accept, truthfully, but what she could accept was that someone else did accept those words as truth, and that wonderful someone was standing right in front of her. Without warning, she leaned forward, pressing her lips softly against Joker’s cheek for a second of two. Before he could respond, she pulled away, avoiding eye contact and bee-lining for the door, stopping once her hand was upon the handle.
Turning her head, but keeping her eyes off him, she said, “...Thank you. You’re… different , too. From what I thought you were.”
And then she left without another word.
Over the next few weeks, Harleen’s dour mood lifted, and she grew ever closer with the Joker. Her sessions with him were the highlight of any day they occurred on, and she was fairly certain that was true for him as well. The two of them didn’t talk about the kiss, or even her breakdown, they just… talked. She rarely remembered what about, because it didn’t really matter. What stuck in her memory was just the time spent with him, laughing, feeling free and relaxed in a way she wasn’t sure she ever had before. Her accent was on full display during their sessions, and once or twice afterward she caught herself letting it slip when she talked to other people.
It didn’t take long for her to start resenting those times that she wasn’t with the Joker. It was becoming so tiring, hiding who she really was around other people, to try to seem more ‘professional’, to seem more like what society expected of her. The way she talked shouldn’t dictate whether or not she were smart, and yet she knew that’s exactly what it did to most people… except the Joker.
The Joker was a lot of things. He was a prankster, a thief, a murderer. But he was also funny, and compassionate, and supportive. She knew he had a history of manipulation, of using people to get what he wanted. She knew there was a real possibility he wanted to do exactly what Ivy did - prey on Harleen’s feelings until he could take advantage of them in order to escape. And so she stayed vigilant, watched for signs, waited for the moment he would show his true colors. But he never did.
She would have to test him.
“I wanna take your deal,” Harley said, blurting it out quickly.
Joker stopped talking, despite being mid-way through the story he’d been telling. He seemed shocked. “What was that?”
“I said I wanna take your deal. Tha one where you gimme a good story for a tell-all, an’ I do somethin’ for you,” Harley said, doing her best to look earnest.
The Joker seemed genuinely confused, and took a moment to respond. “Oh! Oh yes, that deal… I’d forgotten, actually.”
Harley sat up straight. “You forgot !?”
Smiling sheepishly, Joker said, “Well… yes. That was so long ago, now. And we’d been getting on so well - it hadn’t even crossed my mind!”
Moving her face closer, a look of determination upon it, Harley said, “Well, I’m remindin’ you! An’ I’m ready! So what do ya want in return?”
“What do I-? Harley, I - I don’t want anything from you-”
Leaping to her feet, Harley glowered. “Whaddaya mean you don’t want anything!? Everyone wants somethin ’, an’ ya offered me a deal!”
Joker looked remarkedly uncomfortable. “Please, Harley, I-”
“Don’t call me that!” Harleen said, her accent disappearing. “My name is Dr. Harleen Quinzel! I’m your doctor, and you’re my patient, and you want to get something from me, so just tell me what it is, already!”
Smiling weakly, Joker said, “Can’t I just… have your friendship?”
Throwing her hands in the air, Harley huffed and then plopped into a chair, away from Joker. Crossing her arms and pouting, she said, “Friendship? Com’on. What is this? I’m givin’ ya a chance, and you ain’t takin’ it!”
They sat in silence for a bit, Harley staring angrily at her arms and Joker squirming uncomfortably. Finally, he spoke. “Harleen, I don’t… I don’t want something from you. Not anymore. The two of us, we might’ve started whatever this is between us with… less than noble intentions. But… but you’re the only person I’ve ever really enjoyed talking to. I don’t want anything from you, except your company.”
Still pouting, Harley glared at him for a few seconds. Then she rose sharply to her feet, stomped over to him, and threw her arms around his shoulders. A few tears formed in her eyes, and her voice wavered slightly when she spoke. “You… you’re a much betta person than anyone gives ya credit for.”
“I could say the same to you,” he said, chuckling and patting her on the back.
Pulling away, Harley put her hands on his shoulders, staring at him intently, looking deep into the green depths of his eyes. She could never hope to see the bottom, and while that once terrified her, now it was… comforting, somehow.
“I need ta go. I’ll see ya later,” she said, turning away.
Shortly after, she was out of the cell, and headed to her office. She grabbed her things, then left the asylum. Technically, she wasn’t supposed to be done for the day, but it didn’t matter. Not anymore.
She returned to the asylum that evening. After leaving earlier, she’d picked up several supplies, including a costume. Costumes were important for the new life she was about to lead, so she’d put a lot of thought into what hers would be. It was red and black, with diamond shapes, and form-fitting, but also flexible. She liked it, so he’d like it, she was sure.
It wasn’t hard to sneak in. The late-night security wasn’t terribly attentive, and was easily subdued with a good hit to the head when need-be. It only took whacking two or three guards to get to his cell, where she peered in at him for a moment. He looked so peaceful when he was asleep. It made her giddy to think she’d see the face again, and often.
Using the keys she’d swiped off a now unconscious security guard, she opened the door and threw it wide open. “Hey, Puddin’!” she shouted.
He awoke with a start, pulling the sheets over his chest as though it could shield him. After a moment, he seemed to wake up enough to recognize her.
“It’s Harley Quinn now,” she said with a toothy grin, standing proud in her new jester outfit. “New an’ improved!”
He stared at her, eyes wide. Then his lips twitched, a smile involuntarily forming, before he broke out into loud, raucous laughter, clutching his sides. “I can’t believe this! Amazing !!”
“Thought you’d like it,” she said, still grinning. The sound of running feet rang in her ears, prompting her to rush forward and pull Joker out of bed. “We gotta get outta here, Puddin’! Don’ worry, I gotta escape car, long as we get outta the buildin’!”
It was easy. She shot at them, distracted them with snakes in a can, tripped them up with marbles. No wonder people escaped from this place all the time. And through it all, Joker laughed, as though he could hardly believe what was happening, as though nothing else could ever be as funny as this one moment.
Soon enough, the two of them were in Harley’s car, driving into the sunrise, Joker’s laughter echoing out the windows.
It was an amazing start to a life that Harley was sure would only get better.
Apologies for all the Jarley, but I assure you, this IS ultimately a Harlivy fic. Just give it time. Speaking of, next time in this supposed Harlivy fic - more Ivy and Selina!
Ivy felt… cozy. As though she was surrounded by a great warmth, though not unpleasantly. It was like… oh!
Her eyes fluttered open, allowing her to verify what she’d just realized - she was in a bed. A big, comfy bed. Ivy hadn’t slept in a nice bed, wrapped in fluffy covers since… well, Ivy never had. She hadn’t realized how much she missed it.
Slowly, she pushed herself into a sitting position, gazing about the room. It was well-furnished, and large. Assuming she was still in Gotham, wherever she was had to cost a lot to rent, or had cost far more to buy. And that wasn’t even mentioning the expensive-looking trinkets displayed about the room. One in particular, a large diamond, seemed oddly familiar.
The memories of her poorly-planned museum heist, and of her escape with the thief, Catwoman, came rushing back. She’d fallen unconscious from exhaustion, and given this wasn’t a cell, she could only assume Catwoman had carried her somewhere - presumably the woman’s home..
The plants! Ivy had thrust them into Catwoman’s arms, but where were they now? She scanned the room desperately, her eyes falling upon a cardboard box sitting on a dresser, remarkable in its comparative plainness. Within, she could sense plant life - the only kind of life that mattered.
Pushing herself out of bed, she was surprised to find that her legs were still a bit shaky. She needed to practice with her powers more often… perhaps they wouldn’t take so much out of her then. Walking slowly to the dresser, she peeked into the box, her face lighting up when she saw that all the specimens were safe and sound within, save for the poor soul that had given its life to save her.
“They’re all there, no worries.” Ivy’s head snapped to the side, where Catwoman, no longer in her signature outfit, was leaning in the doorframe of the room. “Figured you’d try to kill me once you woke up if I didn’t keep ‘em safe.”
“I would have thought about it,” Ivy admitted, turning away from the box and toward Catwoman, making sure to stand up straight.
Ignoring Ivy’s response, Catwoman said, “So, you feeling okay? You’ve been out a good couple of hours.”
“Yes, of course. I just needed a moment’s rest,” Ivy said, draining her face of emotion.
Catwoman quirked an eyebrow. “Right. Well, if you need more than a moment, you’re welcome to stay longer. I’d feel bad sending you back into the world with those shaky legs.”
Damn, she’d seen that. “...Thank you, for the offer. I will… consider it.” She paused. “Also, thank you for saving…” she trailed off. After a moment, she gestured toward the box, as though it was her original intent. “Them.”
With a smirk, Catwoman said, “No problem. They looked they needed the help, and they helped me out, so I figured I owed ‘em one.”
Ivy hesitated. “So you would say that you and they are… square?”
Both of Catwoman’s eyebrows raised this time, and it looked like she was having a hard time holding in a laugh. “Yes, I’d say so. They don’t owe me anything, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
Ivy nodded. “Good.”
Silence grew between them, which Catwoman only allowed to go on for a few seconds. “Well, I’m gonna be out here,” she gestured behind her, “if you need anything. Feel free to get more rest, if you want.”
Throwing out another nod seemed to serve as enough of an answer, prompting Catwoman to turn and leave. Letting out the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding, Ivy put a hand on the dresser for support. In retrospect, she may have gotten up too quickly. Though the idea of sleeping in some criminal woman’s bed wasn’t the most appealing, leaving seemed like a bad idea in her current state.
Taking her time, Ivy worked her way back to the bed, wrapped herself back under the covers, and drifted back to sleep.
The next time Ivy stood, her legs didn’t shake. She walked over to her box and checked on her babies once more, then decided to see what was outside the bedroom. Poking her head out into the next room, she was unsurprised to find a huge living room with an open kitchen to the side. Large windows looking out at the city covered the majority of the far wall. It was light out now, so Ivy had been asleep a good while.
Catwoman was sitting at a table near the kitchen, watching something on a tablet and eating… well, judging from the box next to her, eating Froot Loops. She was wearing a tank top and shorts, and Ivy belatedly made a mental note that the woman’s short black hair very much suited her.
“Oh hey, you’re up again!” she said with a grin, setting her spoon down. After reaching out to pause whatever she was watching, she waved Ivy over, pushing a chair out from under the table with her foot.
Though a large part of Ivy wanted to just take her box and go, she was intrigued by this welcoming, bed-sharing thief. Against her better judgement, she walked over and took a seat.
“Well, you’re looking better,” Catwoman said, glancing up and down Ivy. “Glad you went ahead and rested some more. No offense, but you clearly needed it.”
Despite the frown that took over her face, Ivy replied, “None taken.” Silence reigned again, and while Ivy sat there feeling more and more awkward, Catwoman just looked at her benignly, eating a few more bites of cereal. Finally, after what felt like half an hour, but was more like a minute, Ivy said, “I… I do not know… what I should say.”
Catwoman didn’t bother hiding a laugh this time. “Not one for small talk, huh? Well, how about we introduce ourselves properly?” She held out a hand. “I’m Selina.”
Tentatively, Ivy grasped the hand, mildly surprised by Selina’s firm grip. They shook once, then Selina pulled her arm away.
“I am Poison Ivy.”
“Oh yeah, sticking with that one?” Selina said, smirking again.
Looking a little indignant, Ivy said, “It is the only one there is. The name I had before is no longer applicable.”
With a shrug, Selina said, “Okay, sure. It cool if I just call you Ivy, though?”
“That would be acceptable.”
Selina grinned wide. “Well, Ivy. How’s Gotham treating you, now that you’re freshly out of Arkham?”
Mind drifting briefly to her alleyway encounter, Ivy grimaced. “Not well.”
Selina laughed. “Yeah, sounds about right. It’s a rough city, but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. Gotta admit, though, I’m not real sure why you’re here. In Gotham, I mean.”
“Why is that?” Ivy said, genuinely confused.
“Well, I mean, your whole thing is plants, right? And there ain’t a lot of plants to be found in this dismal city.” She gestured toward the big windows to her right. “Practically anywhere else would seem much more suitable for your… interests.”
“ Interests is hardly the world,” Ivy said, waving a hand dismissively. “Plants are my life , in a quite literal sense.”
Rolling her eyes, Selina muttered, “Fine, my mistake.”
“But as for your question,” Ivy continued, talking over the last word of Selina’s apology, “the dearth of plants to be found in this city is precisely the reason I need to be here. Gotham is a blight on the landscape, and I shall either force it to more peacefully coexist with my kind, or I shall wipe it from the map.”
“Heh, well, I did ask,” Selina said with a sigh, eating another bite of cereal. Once she swallowed, she said, “Hey, uh, if you go the ‘wiping it from the map’ route, you mind giving me a shout beforehand so I can avoid being there when it happens?”
It was Ivy’s turn to shrug. “No promises.”
“I’d hope you were joking, but you’ve clearly got no sense of humor,” Selina said with another sigh.
Ivy frowned. She was certain that wasn’t true.
“So, back at the museum,” Selina said, pointing her spoon at Ivy and staring. “What was your plan there, anyway? Please tell me you didn’t just forget alarms were a thing.”
Finding it difficult to maintain eye contact, Ivy said, “No, I had a plan to circumvent those… but it did not work out.”
“Oh? Do tell.”
“I do not owe you an explanation,” Ivy said with irritation.
With another shrug, Selina leaned back and said, “No, you don’t, but if you don’t tell me I’m going to assume you’re an idiot that forgot alarms were a thing.”
Despite how annoying this woman was, Ivy found her… was endearing the word? Well, regardless, she kept talking to her, for some reason, and her urge to kill was minimal.
Not bothering to mask her irritation, Ivy said, “I have a power I recently discovered, which allows me to control people with pheromones. I used it on a security guard, but he did not actually know how to disable the security measures, only the cameras.”
Though she seemed to try to stifle her laughter, ultimately, Selina failed in that endeavor. “Did you not do, like, any research before coming up with that little scheme?”
“I… I thought a security guard would surely-”
Still laughing, Selina pointed at Ivy’s face. “Hah, your cheeks get more green when you’re embarrassed!”
Clamping her hands to her cheeks, Ivy glared daggers at Selina. “I fail to see what is so funny about any of this.”
“That’s part of what’s so funny!” Selina said, her laughter still ringing through the apartment. After a few moments, it finally died down, and Selina wiped a few tears from her eyes. “Sorry, you’re just… You’re so super serious, but then…”
Ivy’s eyes narrowed further.
“Fine, fine!” Selina said, still grinning. “So pheromones, though, huh? That’s weird. You can control people with, what, nice smells?”
“It needn’t have an odor,” Ivy said, finally removing her hands from the sides of her face. “And I used a more concentrated dose on the guard, to ensure complete obedience.”
“Huh. So, what, these pheromones make people like you? Make ‘em attracted to you, even?” Selina said, raising an eyebrow.
“If they are able to be, yes,” Ivy said with a nod. “I do not believe they would work, for instance, on a gay man.”
Selina pursed her lips. “You’re not… using them now, right?”
Donning a mischievous smile, Ivy said, “Do you have reason to think I am?”
Whatever response Selina had been expecting, that wasn’t it. Her cheeks colored slightly, though she otherwise kept her cool. “Oh, no, um… no. Just curious!”
“The fact that you were able to question it is a good sign that I was not,” Ivy said, dropping her smirk. “In my uses thus far, those I have used it upon have not noticed the effects while they were under them.”
Thinking for a moment, Selina said, “Oh, hey, that’s how you got out of Arkham, isn’t it?”
“...Yes,” Ivy said, the emotion on her face involuntarily draining.
Perhaps noticing Ivy’s mood shift, Selina didn’t press for details on the matter..
Nudging her cereal bowl aside, setting her elbows on the table, and resting her head in her hands, Selina said, “So, how far away is your place? I can walk with you, if you’re still feeling a bit out of it.”
Ivy stared. “I do not know how far anything is, since I do not know where I am.” Selina looked mildly embarrassed for not realizing that. But before she could reply, Ivy continued, “I also, admittedly, do not have a ‘place’, exactly. The apartment I slept in the night before was taken from a dead man, and is not a place I particularly want to return to. I will need to find-”
“You can stay here,” Selina said quickly.
Blinking a few times in surprise, Ivy said, “I do not wish to impose-”
“It’s fine!” Selina insisted. “As you can tell, I’ve got a pretty damn big apartment. I don’t mind sharing it, least for a while. I figure you’ll still want your own place at some point, but there’s no need to rush into something.”
A smile crept across Ivy’s face, the first genuine one she’d had since… Harleen. “That is very kind of you. I think… I think I will take you up on your offer.”
Beaming, Selina leapt out of her seat, cereal bowl held high. “Great! This’ll be good. You’re fun to talk to, and a lot less scary than the news makes you out to be.”
Frowning slightly, Ivy said, “I assure you I can be quite intimidating.”
Rolling her eyes, but still smiling, Selina said, “I just mean that you’re not, like, a monster.” Walking over to the sink, she poured the milk left over in the bowl down the drain. “You’ve got ridiculous powers, but you’re not some murderous clown, for instance.”
Frowning more, Ivy said, “I’d like to think I’m far more terrifying than that buffoon.”
“Well lemme put it this way,” Selina said, rinsing her bowl. “Even if that guy had saved me from the cops, if he’d fainted afterwards, I definitely wouldn’t have brought him to my home. Would’ve just left him there, honestly.”
Giving a small nod, Ivy said, “Hm, yes, that makes sense. Men are far less trustworthy.”
“Especially men like that,” Selina muttered.
Waving her hand dismissively, Ivy said, “I have no trust in the lot of them, murderous clowns or no.”
“Eh, there’s a few good ones to be found. I’m dating two of them,” Selina said, with a smirk.
This was by far the strangest thing Ivy had heard Selina say thus far. “ Two of them? You are dating not only more than one person, but two men ?”
Chuckling, Selina said, “Hah, yeah! I’m polyamorous, so I’m totally down for dating more than one person. And what, you thought I was a lesbian like you?”
“I… I might have..” Ivy said, glancing at Selina’s hair.
“Hah, no, I like the fellas. Or some of ‘em, anyway.” Smile growing wide, she said, “But don’t worry, you’ve still got a shot, ‘cause this lady is bi!” She jutted both her thumbs into her upper chest as she said this.
Fairly certain her cheeks were growing greener again, Ivy said, “I did not say I was-” She stopped, as Selina had started to waggle her eyebrows. “You are insufferable, and I immediately regret my decision to stay here.”
Laughing hysterically, Selina walked back over to Ivy, wrapping an arm around the red-haired woman’s shoulder despite the death glare. “Aw, don’t say that! I’m positive that this is the start of a beautiful friendship. You’ll see!”
Though she was unsure she wanted to see something like that, begrudgingly, she admitted to herself that, well… there were probably worse things. Her loyalty was still, as ever, to the plants of the world. But maybe, just maybe, having one human friend wouldn’t be too bad.
This was WAY more fun to write than the last chapter, let me tell you. Also, thanks to Saraiguma for betaing it for me!
One year ago. Just one year ago today, Harleen’s life had changed forever. Just one year ago today, she had busted Joker out of Arkham, and taken on her new role as his sidekick, Harley Quinn.
“Sidekick”... Her initial thought was that she and Joker would be considered ‘partners’, but the media had taken to calling her ‘sidekick,’ and her Puddin’ seemed to enjoy it, so… sidekick it was.
Still, that aside, they’d had a good run of it so far. There’d been all sorts of ridiculous schemes, including robberies, hostage-taking, comical murder, and, of course, attempts to kill The Bat once and for all.
That last one was her least favorite… Puddin’ had a strange, honestly irritating fixation on Batman, and whenever he indulged in it by planning the next big plot entirely around Batman… well, it was always doomed to fail. Early on, Harley had let herself get caught up in the idea that they just might be able to kill The Bat, but at this point, she knew that was virtually impossible. That guy was a monster, and she wouldn’t be surprised to learn he was immortal. Not that Harley would ever pass up a chance to take a shot at the guy, but she didn’t expect she’d actually manage to off him - not anymore.
Today there wouldn’t be any plans, though. No great schemes. No talk of Batman. Today was the one-year anniversary of Joker and Harley’s new life together, and she was intent on making it the best day either of them had experienced in quite a while.
She’d gotten up early, sneaking into the kitchen of their hideout so she could make breakfast. There were two main levels of this current ‘home’ of theirs - the main floor, where ‘the boys’ stayed and where planning and such was done, and the top floor, where Harley and Joker stayed. There was a small kitchen on this top floor, and Harley had stocked it with a few of her favorite foods, including breakfast staples like eggs, sausage, and pancakes.
Those staples were what she prepared this particular morning, her goal to get them all ready before Joker awoke. Which almost worked - just as Harley poured the last of the pancake batter onto the skillet, Mistah J stumbled into the dining room, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“You’re up… early,” he said, yawning partway through. “What’s the occasion?”
Harley stopped moving, spatula beneath a partially-cooked pancake. Flipping it, she turned sharply to look at him, pointing the utensil accusingly. “Our anniversary !”
Eyebrows raising for a moment, he cocked his head to the side. “Anniversary? Did we get married at some point?”
Rolling her eyes and sighing dramatically, Harley said, “No, we didn’t. It’s the anniversary ‘a when I broke ya outta Arkham!”
“The first time!” she yelled, throwing her hands up. “It’s when our lives togetha started, an’ when I became Harley Quinn!”
He nodded slowly, one eyebrow still raised. “I see.”
Plastering a smile on her face, Harley bounced on her feet. “So I wanted ta make ya a nice big breakfast, an’ I gotta whole lotta other stuff planned for today, too!”
Joker grimaced. “ Do you?”
Harley’s smile faltered. “Why don’t ya sound happy ‘bout it?”
“Well, Harles , it’s just that…” He paused, as though reluctant to continue. “I was thinking of talking to the boys about my new plan…”
Harley slammed the spatula into the counter. “You told ‘em ‘bout your plan yesterday !”
“Yes, but, I had some new ideas I wanted to incorporate,” he said, rolling his eyes, as though this should have been obvious.
A burning smell reached Harley’s nose, prompting her to knock the skillet off the burner, which she did without a backward glance. “ Puddin’ , can’t ya do that tomorrow ? I wanted today ta be ‘bout us !”
“Why?” Joker said, starting to look just as annoyed as Harley. “I get it’s the anniversary of a big day for you , but for me it was just another asylum escape! A funny one, but still.”
Harley jutted a lip out, for a more dramatic pout. “But, but… the start ‘a our lives…”
Waving a hand, Joker said, “We met months before that! If you wanted to celebrate our anniversary, it should’ve been earlier this year!”
“Well then why didn’t ya say somethin’ then !?” Harley cried, wishing she was still holding the spatula so that she could slam it down again.
He shrugged. “I don’t remember when exactly we met. I don’t see why it’s so important, frankly.”
“You don’t see !?” Harley clamped her mouth shut and stamped her feet. “Ain’t it enough that it mattas to me !?”
Joker got to his feet, sighing softly. He strode toward her, arms open wide, a reassuring smile on his face. Reluctantly, she let him hug her. “Baby, look, I get it! Today means a lot to you. But you know what means a lot to me ?”
Harley’s eyes narrowed, even if she was unable to focus her gaze directly at Joker while being hugged. “...Your plan ta kill Bats?”
Squeezing her tighter, Joker nodded his head against her shoulder. “ Exactly .” He pulled away, smiling warmly despite her obvious anger. “So, how about this: I’ll eat this wonderful breakfast you made for us, and then we’ll go downstairs and talk through my new ideas. Maybe later tonight we can do one of the things you planned, if we’ve got time.”
That was it.
“ If we’ve got time !?” Harley screamed. “Do ya know how many fuckin’ times I’ve tried ta have us spend a day - ONE DAY - togetha!?”
“Harley,” Joker hissed, glancing toward the stairs. “There’s no need to shout-”
“There’s every reason ta shout! Ya won’t listen if I-”
She stopped abruptly, ending her screaming with a whimper as Joker gripped her arm like a vice.
“I don’t want the boys downstairs hearing you talk to me like that,” Joker said, voice low and dangerous.
Shaking her head up and down quickly and biting her lip, Harley breathed a sigh of relief when he let go, allowing her to rub the newly sore spot with a hand. Sniffling, she wiped away a tear that had welled up, then turned back toward the oven, Flicking the burner off, she then marched back toward the bedroom, not glancing Joker’s way even once.
Heading straight for the bed, she grabbed a pillow off it, then marched toward the bathroom.
“Harley, what are you doing?” Joker asked, standing in the bedroom door frame.
“I’m leavin’,” she said, still not looking at him.
She heard a sigh. “ Leaving ? Why?”
Grabbing her toothbrush, she twirled around and marched back toward him, staring at him angrily. “‘Cause ya care more ‘bout Batman and your dumb plans ta off ‘im that ya do ‘bout me !”
Joker’s eyes narrowed, even as he stepped back to allow her to leave the bedroom. “My plans are not dumb , and I don’t care about them more than you! But I don’t think you care about them enough !”
Grabbing the spatula off the kitchen conter, Harley turned to face Joker again. “I don’t care ‘bout the plans! I care ‘bout you , and I like seein’ ya happy, makin’ your plans an’ stuff! But you don’t seem ta care if I’m happy!”
Making sure to use his ‘soothing’ voice, Joker shook his head and said, “Harleen, of course I care if you’re happy! But this one’s going to be big , don’t you see!?”
“You say that every time!!” She marched toward the stairs leading downward, stopping right before she reached them. “I’m leavin’, an’ I hope ya think about how ta treat me right while I’m gone!”
“Harley,” Joker said, voice hard again. Surprised, she turned toward him. “If you’re going to go, don’t go through there. They don’t need to know about this.” He gestured toward another set of stairs to the right, which led upwards to the roof.
Hands balling into fists, Harley glared daggers at him and stomped toward the other stairs. “‘A course, wouldn’t wanna upset tha goons’ delicate feelings, huh?” Stomping her way up the stairs, she paused before opening the roof-access door. “I might not come back this time, ya jerk!”
“You will,” he said, just loud enough for her to hear.
Barely avoiding a scream, she tossed the door open, stepped through, and slammed it closed.
Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, Harley got as far away from her old lair as possible. Finally, after a good ten minutes, she stopped. allowing herself a moment to breathe.
Admittedly, she didn’t have any idea where she was going, other than ‘away’, and she didn’t have any idea what she was actually going to do with herself now that she’d left. She’d have to stay away for a good few days, to really make him worry that she wouldn’t be back. But where was she supposed to go? What was she supposed to do? It’d be difficult to get up to the sort of shenanigans she’d been a part of throughout the past year without a gang backing her up.
“Pamela, please ,” said a deep voice that Harley was entirely too familiar with. She flattened herself against the wall behind her, as if that would do anything to stop the friggin’ Batman from finding her if he wanted to.
“You are not allowed to call me that,” said another, feminine voice that Harley was also familiar with, though she hadn’t heard it for quite some time. Her heart skipped a beat, and she shuffled along the wall, getting close to the corner, Tentatively, she peeked around it. Past the door leading into the building, near the edge of the rooftop, were none other than Batman and Poison Ivy, and neither of them looked happy. Not that Harley had ever seen Bats look happy , admittedly.
“Fine - Ivy . I’m sorry,” Batman said, his hands open in a sort of supplicating gesture. “But please, consider it. I don’t want to to have to fight you again.”
“So just leave then,” Ivy said, arms crossed and eyes in full ‘death glare’ mode.
Batman sighed. “You know I can’t do that. I have to take you in, one way or another, but it can be peacefully, if you want it to be.”
“Oh yes, I’m sure you’d love to avoid taking a beating from me, wouldn’t you?” Ivy said with a sneer. “Bet you’d love getting Selina all to yourself for a while, too.”
Batman seemed to falter for a moment, which was amazing for Harley, who had never seen him do anything of the sort. “This isn’t about that-”
“Of course it is!” Ivy said, throwing her hands out for a moment before crossing them again. “You can’t stand that we’re together, don’t pretend otherwise.”
Batman spoke more softly this time, another first for Harley. “You’re a murderer , Ivy.”
“There it is, jumping on your moral high-horse again,” Ivy spat, rolling her eyes. “I only murder the plant-killing scum that deserve it!”
“No one deserves death.”
Ivy laughed. “What a load of crap. Of course some people deserve death! Even before I became a plant I knew that. Nazis, Klan members, rapists - none of them deserve to live. But Batman doesn’t think so, does he? Everyone deserves a chance, even monsters like that, right?”
No response was forthcoming. Batman seemed incredibly uncomfortable, and Harley had to stifle the urge to cheer Ivy on.
“...Ivy, that’s not the point.”
“But it is ! Your sense of moral superiority is the only reason you won’t even consider I might be right to do what I do, and why you so hate the fact that I’m dating Selina.” She jutted a finger toward Batman, and Harley noticed a small vine to Ivy’s side mimic the movement. “And then you have the gall to think that awful asylum can ‘fix’ me, even though it’s proven over and over again that it can’t help anyone . All it’s ever done is break people, and you know it. Joker’s sidekick is proof enough of that.”
Harley frowned. Even Ivy was calling her that?
“We both know that Harley Quinn happened because of Joker.” He paused. “And you.”
Harley and Ivy’s eyes both went wide at virtually the same moment. For the first time in the conversation, Ivy seemed to be at a loss for words. “H-how… how dare you…”
“I read the reports, Ivy. And I saw her after your escape.” He crossed his arms, shaking his head like a disapproving father. “Joker might be the one that twisted her, but you primed her for it.”
Those jerks, talking about her like she wasn’t there! Well, technically they didn’t know she was , but… but it was the way they talked about her like she had no agency, like she was just being strung along by one person or another. She was her own woman, dammit! Not to mention their horrible mischaracterization of her Puddin’, which was hardly surprising. No one understood him like she did. She wanted to give both of the self-righteous jerks a good slap.
A sharp, loud yell tore through Ivy’s throat, and several vines covered in sharp, twisted thorns shot out at Batman. He seemed to be anticipating this, and dodged to the side as he threw something at Ivy. When it hit, she cried out again, this time in obvious pain, her body shaking as what Harley guessed was electricity coursed through it. Ivy fell to her knees, and her vines collapsed to the rooftop.
“I’m sorry it had to be this way,” Batman said, moving in close and raising a fist.
“Liar,” Ivy spat.
Springing to action, Harley charged at Batman before her mind even realized what she was doing. What exactly was the plan here? She had no weapons - just a pillow, a toothbrush, and a spatula. Well, better than nothing.
The spatula clanged against Batman’s head and flew off to the side, but throwing it seemed to accomplish what she wanted, which was to distract him.
“Harley?” he said, incredulous.
“That’s right!” she said, leaping into the air and falling back down with her pillow in hand. It smooshed against Batman’s face, but didn’t budge him an inch. She should’ve grabbed the firmer pillow.
His shout of surprise muffled, Batman suddenly tumbled to the ground. Harley belatedly noticed vines wrapped around the Bat’s ankles, and she smiled as she saw Ivy getting to her feet.
“Harleen?” the plant lady said, just as baffled as Bats had been. “What are you doing here?”
“Saving your ass, that’s what!” Harley said, hands on her hips.
Ivy glanced at the pillow. “...Is that what you’re doing?”
“He was gonna knock ya out, and I successfully distracted him!” Harley said, pouting.
There was no disagreement. Vines wrapped around Batman’s wrists, and one grabbed the pillow on his face, raising it up and offering it to Harley.
“Ew, no thanks, it’s got Bat face on it now.”
The vine dropped it back onto Batman’s head.
Locking eyes with Harley, Ivy said, “Harleen, I’ve got to go, before he manages to get free.” She paused. “Thank you.” Another pause. “For helping me.”
“No prob!” Harley said with a grin. She glanced down at her unusable pillow, and then to the toothbrush she still held in one hand. “Hey, uh... any chance ya can do me a solid an’ help me out?”
“I-” Ivy stopped her comment short, seemingly thinking better of it.
“Ya owe me,” Harley said, quirking an eyebrow. “And not just for this .”
Suddenly it seemed as though it was difficult for Ivy to maintain eye contact. “...You’re right. What do you need?”
“A place ta crash for a few nights.”
Shock and anger warred with each other on Ivy’s face. “A place to-? Harleen, you can’t be ser-”
“It’s Harley now, ain’t ya heard? An’ I’m totally serious.” She glanced down at Batman again, who was visibly struggling against the vines. “Also, ya owe me a new pillow.”
Rolling her eyes, Ivy said, “Ugh, fine, we’ll discuss it later.” She turned to run. “Let’s go.”
“Lead tha way!” Harley said, smiling and running after her.
This was working out way better than Harley had expected. Maybe she could stay away from Joker for a good week or so; that’d teach him. And all while annoying Ivy, who really, really deserved it for what she’d done. This anniversary just might turn out alright afterall.
Hey look, Harley and Ivy together again for the first time since chapter three!