Title: Wrath (2/2)
Disclaimers: Well, you've probably memorized them by now, right?
Summary: In this prequel to "It's Just Allergies" an enraged Poison Ivy vents her anger on a plant specially created for that purpose. It gets out of control, however.
Breathing heavily, Ivy stepped back and reviewed her work.
"Joker" sneered at her. After a beating like that, his face should have been a mass of bruises and swelling, but this was a plant, after all, and it actually looked healthier than ever. Ivy was relieved that she hadn't damaged it; in fact, it seemed to thrive.
"Is that the best you've got, Ivy? I've gotten more of a jolt from a garden-variety joy buzzer! Get it - _garden_ variety?" And it went off into peals of self-satisfied laughter.
Ivy stared at it. She hadn't imagined it would grow to resemble the Joker _this_ much. "Damn, I'm _good_," she whispered.
The cactus "heard" her. "If you're so good," it chuckled, "then how do you explain your string of failures?"
She caught herself growling, but if it was going to continue rising to the occasion, then why couldn't she say a few things she'd always wanted to? "I don't see people walking around town with permanent smiles on their faces either, Joker."
"Well, that's because if they had smiles, they wouldn't be walking, they'd be dead," it corrected her patiently.
Her lip curved down. "Face it, Joker, you've failed more than the rest of us combined."
It sighed. "Well, with the kind of help I have to put up with . . ."
"Shut up!" she hissed as it pushed one of her buttons. "I am sick and tired of hearing you put Harley down. She's the only one in this city who can appreciate your sick genius, and you can't be the least bit grateful?"
The Joker grinned evilly. "Do you expect me to thank every drooling mediocrity who begs to worship at my feet? Sorry, no thanks. In fact, I was thinking of upgrading. Tell you what, Pammy. Since you're the only one in this city who can appreciate Harley's knack for screw-ups, how about we trade? I'll give you to her for a couple squirting flowers. Although I have to be honest, I think I'm getting a steal." His laugh was less riotous and more taunting.
Poison Ivy was possessed by a towering loathing for the face in front of her. The sound of his voice, his laughter, had perennially set her on edge, but she could never keep her temper in an argument with him. Momentarily bereft of reason, all she could manage was a bitter "Fuck you!" before she leapt toward him and began pounding his face in.
"Ha ha ha! Ha-hahaha! Hahahahahaha!!!" it shrieked as she put her full strength into her physical assault. She bruised her knuckles on his jaw and her elbow on his chest, but she never noticed. In fact, she didn't even notice that his husk, as originally planned as an alert, was growing spiny thorns that pricked and wounded her hands. Her vision was as red as her hair, and all she could think about was beating the Joker into a pulp.
Exhausted finally, she stumbled backwards and only then noticed the sharp shooting pains in her hands. "Oh, oooh," Ivy groaned as she looked at her hands. They were bleeding in thirty different places, and dark blotches stained her clothes. She was forced to keep her hands tightly closed, as the pain was severe.
"My, my," the Joker murmured sympathetically. "Who's the broken reed now?"
Ivy looked at him, dismayed. The cactus couldn't have looked healthier if it had been sitting in the sun for two hundred years. Which meant she was staring at a happy, healthy Joker. The sight made her ill.
He showed her his "hands", which were covered with spines like the rest of his body. "The string of failures continues," he said, clucking his tongue. "But you're about out of rope," the Joker-clone added, grinning madly.
This had been a mistake, she realized. It was becoming TOO much like the original Joker. She had to leave it where it was, rooted in the soil, and think of a way to domesticate the quite untamed cactus. No, first she had to treat her screaming hands, and _then_ resolve this new dilemma.
She had half turned away from it, resolving not to listen to its jibes any longer, when it spoke again. "Where do you think you're going?"
Ivy looked back, surprised. "Excuse me?"
"I'm not finished with you," it said menacingly.
With just three pulls, the cactus tore one of its trunks out of the earth.
"This isn't possible," she whispered.
"But it is," it told her, freeing its other trunk and standing on its own two "legs". "I'm just following the orders you programmed into my body."
"One, defend myself," it said. "If I let you get away, you might find a way to hurt me."
Ivy stared at the Joker with growing horror.
"And two, be like the Joker," it reminded her. "Now, what would the Joker do at a time like this?" it asked thoughtfully. "I think I know, since you made me to think like him."
Its eyes gleamed, and the spikes covering its body grew to a full six inches in length.
"He'd kill you."
Those three words broke Ivy's paralysis, and the adrenaline that suddenly flooded her body made her forget the pains in her hands. She turned to run.
Stretching out a hand, the Joker spread its fingers and actually _shot_ several spines from its palm. One struck her in the lower leg, and another in the right shoulder.
Screaming, her momentum pulled her down to the ground, landing face first. Her body seemed to grow weaker even as it grew stronger.
For a few moments, the cactus stopped approaching her, as it was wracked with a fit of hysterical laughter. "Oh shit, it's just too funny!" it screeched. "Poison Ivy killed by plant!"
Her palms felt like they were on fire as she rolled onto her stomach and pushed up onto her knees. This pressed the needle into her leg a little deeper, but she barely noticed. Spotting the hedge clippers that she used to prune her trees nearby, she snatched them up and stumbled to her feet, ignoring the pain sweeping up her arms as she clutched the handles of the clippers in her abused hands.
This seemed to make the Joker-cactus laugh even harder. "Oh dear," it managed to say, "what are you going to do? Kill me?"
"That's the idea," she snarled.
"Right," he agreed mockingly. It put a hand to its chest. "But I'm one of your babies, aren't I? You didn't want to think you were stooping to my level, so why would you want to be like the ordinary yokels out there? If you kill me in my prime, what makes you different from them?"
Ivy trembled as she considered the ramifications of what he was saying.
"You can't do it," he told her. "You'd be a hypocrite for the rest of your days. Whereas I will be honest, Ivy. The Joker tells the truth in all its cold, dead, unvarnished weight. After I kill you, they'll come looking for me. I have to defend myself, you made me that way. I'll have to do what the original never could. I'll have to wipe out the city."
"And of course," he went on, his hand swaying near the outstretched clippers that he could easily have knocked away, "I'll have to kill the first Joker, since he'll resent my success. I know this, because I would. But the world will go on without him, because I am him, and it will not suffer the lack of my sparkling wit." It laughed riotously.
"Oh, and I'll have to kill that worthless twit Harley too," he pointed out. "She'll come after me. I killed her lover and her gal pal. But that should be oh . . . so . . . easy. Like killing you. Women shouldn't be criminals," he explained. "They're too soft." He would have knocked against his chest, but the spines were in the way. "Whereas I'm hard as a rock."
"You know what?" she hissed at him.
"What?" he asked, feeling another fit of laughter coming on.
"Sometimes rock doesn't break scissors," Ivy whispered.
Almost of their own accord, the clippers sprang forward and hewed his "head" from the rest of his body.
The screams of pain issued from within the cactus, deprived of its mouth. Its arms waved wildly, but Ivy was still able to come closer, avoiding the slashing needles, and chop the arms from the trunk.
With a primal scream that left her hoarse, lastly Ivy plunged the tip of the clippers three times into its chest, the last time so hard that she buried it in up to its handles.
Reeling, the cactus fell backwards.
Hurriedly Ivy limped over to a shelf and got the weed killer she kept for the hardiest parasites. Yanking the cap off, she splashed the entire contents all over the trunk of the cactus, and it shook violently, its skin bubbling and steaming.
Disgusted, she turned away from the melting mess, letting the empty container fall from numb fingers.
She'd just killed a plant to - to save Harley, hadn't she? Its last words had motivated it in a way nothing else had. She'd killed one of her own plants to save a human. This was very strange and somewhat disturbing, but she hurt too much to think about it for now.
She looked one last time at the decaying Joker-cactus.
And oddly enough, she did feel better.