Kicked in the Side 2
Part 1 : Yet Again Still Even More Fragments! Chapter 72
"Reminds me of home," Xander said with some surprise as he entered Gotham. It looked like someone had asked Angel to design a city and he'd made an ultra gothic version of New York, but it felt... very faintly like the Hellmouth. Even though he shouldn't, Xander felt himself relaxing a little. He'd looked up the stats on Gotham and done a bit of reading. Gotham didn't have a very large demon population despite the feel of the place, but it made up for it by attracting the worst humanity had to offer. He'd called Willy to ask about the place after seeing the stats and he'd said the current opinion in the demonic community was that it was the site of a failed attempt at creating a Hellmouth. Most Demons avoided the place because of the high levels of pollution, which made those with senses even a little better than a human gag and choke.
Xander felt his eyes watering and his sinuses begin to stuff up within a few minutes of arriving.
"Glad I gassed up outside of town," Xander said as he saw the prices at the gas station. It took half an hour of driving around before he found the address for his aunt was actually a public park.
Getting out of his car, he used a drinking fountain near the entrance to rinse his eyes and tried to figure out what to do next. His mother exchanged Christmas cards with this address, so it couldn't be fake, but it was without a doubt a public park. Xander took a deep breath and started coughing. The air was cleaner inside the park, but it was still polluted. Walking deeper into the park, he found the air quality steadily improving. He ended up following his nose to the air that smelled the cleanest, which just happened to be around a large greenhouse in the center of the park.
There was a mailbox in front of the greenhouse and Xander chuckled. "Mom said her sister had a green thumb."
"Who's got a what now?" a female voice with a New York accent asked from behind him, making Xander shriek and jump.
The blonde haired woman just grinned as Xander clutched at his chest and tried to catch his breath.
"What were you saying about a green thumb?" she asked curiously.
Xander cleared his through and tried to pretend the last five seconds hadn't happened. "I was just saying my mom said my aunt Pam had a green thumb."
"Aunt Pam?" she asked, looking even more amused for some reason.
"Yeah, Pamela Isley," Xander said. "I haven't met her, but my mom said I was to stop by and say hi while I was here."
"She goes by Ivy," the blonde haired woman said with a grin. "I'm a close friend, I'll introduce ya."
"Thanks," Xander said. "By the way, I'm Alexander Harris, my friends call me Xander."
"Nice to meet ya, Xander," she replied cheerfully and shook hands. "My name is Harleen Quinzel, my friends call me Harley."
"Nice to meet you Harley," Xander said as they walked to the greenhouse.
"So, what brings you by?" Harley asked.
"Just graduated high school so I thought I'd see the US," Xander replied. "I've never gotten a chance to get out of my little corner of the US before, so I wanted to see some of it before I join the nine to five."
"And you chose Gotham?" she asked in disbelief.
"I chose to visit my aunt," Xander corrected her as she opened the door and waved him into the greenhouse. "Gotham I could give a miss to." Xander closed his eyes and breathed deeply. "Oh, thank god, some breathable air!"
"I didn't notice anything wrong with the air outside," Harley said with a frown.
"It's so polluted I swear I heard a couple of leaves scream before turning brown and falling off the tree, if they weren't committing suicide to escape it."
"You and Pam are going to get along like a house on fire," Harley predicted.
"Harley, who is this?" Poison Ivy asked as she started her usual vamp routine, slinking up to Xander, a cloud of pheromones and pollen being released to ensnare him.
"His name's Xander," Harley said with a grin, finding this situation too amusing to stop.
"Really?" Ivy drawled out as she ran a finger across his chest while giving him a half-lidded stare.
Yep," Harley said, popping the 'p' as Ivy rubbed against him, ensuring her chemical cocktail would put him completely under her control. "Xander Harris," Harley added with a smirk.
"That sounds..." Ivy froze, ignoring Xander's hands as they stroked her. "My nephew?" she asked, sounding horrified.
"He did mention that, yes," Harley said trying to sound innocent and failing as she burst out laughing.
"Wait right here," Ivy ordered Xander as she removed Xander's hands from her butt and hurried to her office, quickly returning with a syringe of gleaming green fluid.
Xander stiffened as the serum flooded his system and his conscious mind regained control. "Can we please pretend that didn't happen?" he begged, his face buried in his hands.
"Agreed," Ivy said. "My sister would kill me."
"Good old repression, my most practical and practiced mental tool," Xander said before taking his hands off his face. "What's with the green anyway, and what did you inject me with?"
"An industrial accident and something to neutralize the pheromones and toxins I naturally secrete now," Ivy replied, not wanting to go into details on one of the worst days of her life.
"Tough break," Xander said, recognizing a sore spot when he heard one and quickly changing the subject. "How often am I going to need a shot to avoid doing a 'Flowers in the Attic' spin off?"
Harley burst out laughing while Ivy sighed and rolled her eyes. "It figures you'd have a sense of humor like Harley and the serum imbues you with permanent immunity."
"And green eyes," Harley added.
"What?" Ivy asked before taking a closer look at Xander.
"Green eyes?" Xander asked.
Ivy pulled out a compact and showed Xander his reflection. "Sorry, I guess our genetics are a close match in some areas."
"Actually, this looks nice," Xander said. "I'll just claim they're contacts if anyone asks."
"Good, now let's start over," Ivy said. "Hello Xander, I'm your aunt Ivy. What brings you by?"
"Mom suggested I stop by and..." his voice trailed off and he turned red once more.
"And what?" Harley asked curiously.
"Knowing my sister Jessica, it was probably her teasing me," Ivy said. "I won't take it personal," she promised Xander.
Xander sighed. "She said I was to stop by and be sure to show my spinster aunt some affection."
"Well... I believe we got that out of the way already," Ivy said, the pair ignoring Harley who was rolling around laughing on the ground.
"Next time, how about a simple hug?" Xander suggested.
"And what do you think of Gotham?" Ivy said, changing the subject.
"It should be cleansed with fire," Xander replied instantly. "The air isn't fit to breathe. I can't tell you how relieved I was to find the park outside and even there the air is almost caustic."
Ivy smiled broadly.
"Hey!" Harley complained. "I happen to like Gotham!"
"Sorry, but I can't breathe out there," Xander said. "I'm going to need a respirator just to see the sights."
"I'll see what I can dig up," Harley said cheerfully.
"Go get your stuff from your car, you're staying here," Ivy said firmly.
"Normally I'd at least put up a fuss, but I can't imagine sleeping out in that," Xander admitted.
"You guys are serious, aren't ya?" Harley asked before continuing, "I mean, I always thought Red was joking, but you guys actually can't stand the air here."
"It's only because of my enhanced physiology I can stand it," Ivy replied. "Before my accident, I'd probably have ended up going into shock within an hour of arriving."
"I'm not quite that bad, but I'd probably end up crawling around on all fours in the grass just to get some fresh air," Xander admitted.
Ivy put a hand over Harley's mouth before she could say anything. "Nephew," she reminded her.
Xander laughed at their byplay. "Man, do you guys remind me of me and Buffy."
"Girlfriend?" Harley asked curiously.
"I wish," Xander said. "She has a thing for men old enough to be a founding father, but I still enjoy flirting with her and making comments that annoy her or make her blush."
"Ya can't give up hope," Harley said, "sometimes ya just gotta annoy them until they either accept your love or try and kill ya!"
"Do not look to Harley for relationship advice," Ivy said seriously.
"I can truthfully say every girl I've dated has tried to kill me," Xander said with a grin. "Kiss me, kill me, seems to be a staple in my life."
Harley laughed making Ivy sigh.
"Let's go get your stuff so I can poke through it," Harley said.
Ten Minutes Later...
"You got a harlequin outfit!" Harley exclaimed with a grin.
Xander sighed. "My cousin must have slipped it in there."
"Why would he do that?" Ivy asked curiously.
"Because the villain hangout in Central City has the best nachos," Xander replied. "To be fair, they were the best nachos I've ever had."
"Nachos are nice, but you should taste the pizza at the Iceberg lounge," Harley enthused. "I know Peengy likes to try and be swanky, but even he can't resist a proper Chicago deep dish,"
"Pizza does sound good," Xander admitted, right before his stomach growled.
"You'll have to dress up a bit," Harley said with a grin.
"How did I let you talk me into this?" Xander asked as he straightened his Jester's cap.
"The other choice was a handful of leaves," Harley reminded him with a grin.
"Better be some damn good pizza," Xander said, bracing himself for the air outside the park, only to find it was tolerable. "I held my breath when I got my bags from the car, but the air is almost breathable now."
"The shot I gave you confers a broad-based immunity to a wide variety of toxins," Ivy explained.
"Guess you won't need this then," Harley said, holding up a gas mask painted in white, red, and green.
"Thankfully not," Xander agreed. "You are officially my favorite Aunt."
Xander and Ivy both put a hand over Harley's mouth before she could comment, naturally she licked their hands.
"We'll take my car," Harley said as they were wiping off their hands, pointing to a pink Cadillac.
Ten Minutes of Pulse Pounding Terror Later...
"And here we are," Harley said as she pulled in front of an old-fashioned club that looked to cater to the rich and famous and tossed her keys to the valet.
Ivy let out a relieved breath and stepped out of the car before noticing Xander looked fine. "How are you so calm after a ride like that?!"
"My blonde friend is an even worse driver," Xander replied. "The driving instructor actually quit to join a monastery. Plus, it's not really that I'm calm so much as I'm good at faking calm."
"It said one way street and I was only going one way, I don't see what the fuss is about," Harley complained as they entered the club.
"Sound logic," Ivy said, exchanging a smile with Xander.
The interior was definitely upper class, though Xander noticed the furniture was all reinforced, which considering the size of some of the clientele was obviously needed. He saw several men who were big enough to give a Polgara pause and everyone was dressed strangely enough that Xander didn't feel out of place.
"Picked up a third, and a man no less," a woman in a black leather cat suit with a whip said, sounding a bit surprised.
"He's my nephew," Poison Ivy said with a glare while Harley giggled.
"He doesn't look that young," the leather clad woman assured her, "and I doubt anyone will judge you for it here."
Harley burst out laughing.
"No, I actually am her nephew," Xander replied. "I'm just visiting."
"Ah," Catwoman said, sounding slightly embarrassed. "Sorry about that. Catwoman," she introduced herself.
"Xander," he replied, giving her hand a small shake rather than kissing it as it was presented, not wanting to take his eyes off hers as that instinctively seemed like a bad idea.
Catwoman seemed amused. "Well its very nice to meet you, Xander. What do you do?"
"Make inappropriate jokes and innuendo mostly," he replied honestly.
Catwoman turned to Harley. "Are you sure he's not your nephew?"
"He does seem to take after me, doesn't he," Harley said proudly.
A fight broke out as a broad-shouldered mobster tried to calm down two of the guys in costume and just made it worse.
People started taking cover and overturning furniture to use as shields, something Xander hadn't seen outside a western. Avoiding those involved in the brawl, he made his way to the kitchen door and found a server to take his order.
"What are you doing?!" Ivy hissed at him as he slid into a booth and waited for his food, like half the place wasn't assaulting the other half.
"Waiting for pizza," Xander replied calmly. "Most people are reacting to each other based on how they act, don't act like anything is going on, and they'll ignore you in favor of someone who is acting sneaky or like a threat."
He wasn't sure it'd work outside the strangeness that was Sunnydale, but he was willing to risk being hit over the head with a chair for some food.
Harley quickly joined, picking up a menu. "That's a sound idea. Now, behavioral studies ain't something I've been involved in recently, but in this kinda atmosphere, it's got a fair chance of working. Not nearly as much fun though."
"I'm curious enough to try it out," Catwoman admitted, sliding in next to Xander.
"Why am I always surrounded by lunatics," Ivy lamented as she sat next to Harley.
"Trying to be 'normal' in the world we live in is a lot more insane than learning to deal with it if you ask me," Xander said.
"Put like that I can see your point," Ivy agreed.
Two face rolled past their booth, being chased by Bane who paused at their table, but when Catwoman smiled and nodded politely, he tipped his head and continued on.
A few minutes later as the fight was winding down, Xander noticed a server trying to get his attention from the kitchen door. "Be right back, our pizza is ready."
Once he'd left, Catwoman asked, "He's really your nephew?"
"My sister's son," Ivy assured her.
"He's... interesting," Catwoman purred out.
"He just graduated high school," Ivy replied.
Catwoman sighed. "A bit young for the business, isn't he?"
"He's not involved," Ivy explained, "He's just spending time with his aunt."
"And you dressed him like your girlfriend and brought him here?" Catwoman asked with a grin.
"His cousin gave him the outfit so he could sample the food in villain hangouts," Ivy explained. "Stop trying to make it sound dirty."
"Fine, but you're ruining my fun here," Catwoman complained.
"Well if you want to play Mrs. Robinson..." Harley said with an evil smirk.
Catwoman looked surprised for a brief second before saying, "I think your nephew was just kidnapped by the Joker."
Harley and Ivy didn't even pause to ask how Catwoman would know that before leaping to their feet and rushing to the kitchen. Following pointing wait staff, they reached the back exit just in time to see an ice-cream truck speed off.
"Jessica is going to kill me!" Ivy moaned.
Typing by: Abyssal Angel
Kidnapping by: Mark Hamill