Title: Kiss From a Rose (1/??)
Author: Allaine
Email: eac2nd@yahoo.com
Disclaimers: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, along with the other residents of Gotham, are the property of DC Comics, the creators of "Batman: The Animated Series", and God knows who else. All other characters are my invention.
Feedback: As always, greatly desired and usually responded to.
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: This takes place about 15-18 months after "It's Just Allergies" and "Life Don't Have to be No Bed of Roses", which you can read at FFN as well.
Distribution: If you want it, just ask.
Summary: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn visit Gotham after being absent for over a year. A sequel to "Life Don't Have to be No Bed of Roses". Nuff said.
_______________________________

(Author's Note: This is for everyone who hasn't bothered to read about their ongoing adventure in NYC. And for everyone who HAS.)

Chapter 1

"Now Jonesin', you know we had a contract," Ivy reminded him. "Forty-five percent, and I relinquish all copyright and slander claims. Oh right, and I wouldn't kill you, either."

Johnny "Jonesin" Jones, who was an established enough pornographer to operate without breaking too many laws, but still sleazy enough that his office was located in an unsavory part of Gotham, leaned back in his chair. Well, actually he cringed. "Well," he replied, gulping, "I thought those were very fair terms. Especially the, you know, not killing part. What, you want more now?" he whined.

"We want what's ours," Ivy said simply. "The money flowing into our secret accounts has turned into a trickle recently."

"What, you think you two were going to be a hot item forever?" Jones argued.

"It's hard for the _first_ video about us to continue selling," Poison Ivy shot back, emphasizing the word "first", "when you release two follow-up videos. And since you don't appear to have given us our cut on those artistic endeavors . . . I may have to sic the attack dogs on you."

Jonesin', who obviously had been hoping that Ivy would not hear about a couple pornographic movies sold strictly in the Gotham market, broke into fresh layers of sweat. The words "attack dogs" pulled his gaze away from Ivy at last. Instead he looked at Harley Quinn and her "babies". The hyenas grinned at him with their sharp teeth. The only things keeping them in place were the leashes going from their collars to her hand. "Attack dogs?" he said weakly.

"Phew," Harley said, waving her other hand. "He stinks. I think he needs more deodorant."

"Sure thing, dear," Ivy replied sweetly. She yanked out a large atomizer and sprayed a cloud of particles onto the sticky pornographer.

He shrieked and leapt out of his chair, brushing helplessly at his clothes. "Holy shit, they're killing me!"

"Relax, moron, it's just cologne," Ivy muttered.

Jonesin stopped and sniffed his armpits experimentally. "It's not poison?" he asked.

Ivy snorted.

Harley took a whiff. "Ewww," she said, scrunching her nose. "He smells worse now. What did you douse him with?"

Poison Ivy glanced at the bottle. "Oops."

"Oops? _Oops_?!" Jonesin yelped.

"I appear to have sprayed him with Eau de Joker."

"Joker venom?!"

"No, you just smell like him now."

He put his wrist under his nose suspiciously. Joker had a smell? There did seem to be a meaty aroma. "Why would you have Joker scent?"

Harley grinned. "We spray it on tackle dummies and train the babies to rip them to shreds."

Jonesin swallowed. Were those animals - they weren't drooling, were they? Had they been drooling before? Dogs drooled all the time. Didn't they?

Ivy sighed and tossed the bottle into her purse. "Anyway," she said, "where's our money? We want to see your books."

He mustered a glare. "You kidding? I don't even pay my taxes. You expect me to show you my books? Who do you think you are - Batman?"

Harley's eyes gleamed.

"Remember what I said about attack dogs?" Ivy asked softly.

Jonesin watched as Harley allowed the leashes to slacken a little. They instantly stretched taut again as the hyenas drew closer to him, having moved directly from drooling to slavering. Having a "jonesin'" was synonymous with having a "hankerin'", and right now he was a-hankerin' for the front door.

Ivy put her fingers in her mouth and whistled piercingly.

The producer screamed and dove under the desk.

He heard the doors open. "You called?" two voices said in unison.

"Sic'im," she said gleefully.

"Er, who?"

"What - oh, for heaven's sake, this isn't the White House, Jonesin. Get out from under there."

Reluctantly, not hearing the patter of paws charging across his floor, Jonesin struggled out from his hiding place. He gaped at who had entered.

"Jim Apple, Esquire," the first man said, looking extremely natty in black suit and - was that a bowler hat?

"Tim Thorpe, Esquire," the second man said. He happened to be dressed exactly like the first one. In fact, he happened to look exactly like him, too.

"Identical twins at law," Apple and Thorpe added together.

Jonesin just stared at them.

They put identical black briefcases on his desk. "Johnny Jones," Apple said calmly. "Our clients, Pamela Isley and Harlene Quinzell, are suing you for breach of contract." He dropped a thick sheaf of papers onto the desktop. "We might be willing to settle for arbitration in this case."

"On the other hand," Thorpe continued, taking his own papers from his briefcase, "we could just drag you to court." He dropped the bound papers, which was three times as thick as his brother's petition, onto the desk as well. It landed with a resounding thud. "Where we will show the jury what a disgusting piece of filth you are. They'll be eager to find against a smut peddler like you."

"A client so vile he could never hope to win a defamation suit," Apple sighed contentedly. "God, I love my profession at times like this."

"Just how did identical twins get different last names, anyway?" Harley asked, scratching her hyenas' ears.

"We weren't sure which man our father was . . ."

"So I took one name . . ."

"I really didn't want to be known as Jim Thorpe."

". . . and I took the other one."

"Wait - so these are the attack dogs?" Jonesin asked, boggled as he pointed at the twins.

"What, you thought we meant the babies?" Harley asked innocently. "They're not dogs, idiot. They're hyenas."

Jonesin looked at Ivy. "This isn't really Joker smell, is it?"

"Actually, no. You smell like steak now."

He looked back at the hyenas. They definitely weren't feigning interest. He wilted into his chair.

"Of course," Apple, the soul of compromise, said, "it might behoove you to allow us access to all your records regarding the sales of all videos concerning Pamela Isley and Harlene Quinzell, aka Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn . . ."

"Specifically," Thorpe said, looking at a sheet of paper, "such titles as _Pretty Poisons_, _Strawberry Schwing!_, and _Garden of Eatin'_."

Ivy made a disgusted sound.

"Otherwise, we'll sue you to shreds," Thorpe added.

"Find every girl you ever exploited and put her on the stand," Apple said, shaking his head.

"Hey, hey! She wuz blackmailing me!" Jonesin whined. "She said she'd kill me if . . ."

"You didn't have to make the pictures," Ivy replied coldly. "You came to me, remember?"

"Besides, what's one less pornographer?" Harley pointed out.

Ivy opened her cell phone. "Aidan? Ivy. Bring the car around. We've reached an understanding. We'll send you back later for our attorneys. They'll be reviewing Mr. Jones' records."

Jones shoved a threatening finger in her direction, and one of the hyenas snarled at him. He yanked the finger back.

"Good boy," Ivy said sweetly. To who, one couldn't be sure.

When Harley and Ivy strolled out of the building, their pets' tongues lolling out of their mouths, a young man was waiting for them outside of his car. He mumbled something completely unintelligible.

"The hotel, Aidan," Harley told him. "We have a show to catch later tonight."

He muttered something and opened the door for them.

"Harley," Ivy said.

"Yes, Red?"

"Couldn't we have found another driver?" she asked quietly, out of his earshot. "One who we can, you know, understand?"

"Aidan Cavendish is a very good getaway driver," Harley pointed out. "The Joker used him once or twice."

"Yes, but he took a bullet through his cheeks, Harl. And he's British. Either one alone would be a problem. Together, he's absolutely incomprehensible."

"You just have to pretend like you understand what he's saying," Harley replied simply. "Besides, he's the driver. Does he really have anything important to say?"

Ivy thought about this. She had a point.
____________________________

"Heard who's back in town?" Gordon asked calmly as he leaned against the Bat-signal.

Batman said nothing, evidently keeping his answer in reserve.

"Tim Thorpe and Jim Apple," Gordon said, shrugging. "The Bowler Boys."

"Really?" Batman asked, mildly interested.

"What, you mean you didn't know?" Gordon replied, surprised.

"They haven't been wanted for anything in a few years," Batman said. "And they never were very high on my list. How do you know?"

"One of our boys spotted them arriving at the airport. Flew in from LAX."

Batman nodded. "So Two-Face is bringing in outside help. Whatever his plans are . . ."

"We're not convinced it's Two-Face," Gordon said.

"The Rogues aren't very keen on borrowing each other's modus operandi, Commissioner," Batman pointed out.

Gordon handed him two large black-and-white photos. "They were met at the airport by this woman," he said.

Batman looked at her. Her face largely obscured by dark glasses and a scarf around her hair, she still looked vaguely familiar.

"And this car."

He looked at the second photo. It was a limousine, and sticking out of the back window were . . . he looked again. "I see," he murmured.

"The officer thought it was Two-Face too," Gordon told him. "Because of the two dogs. But those aren't dogs, are they?"

"They're hyenas," Batman confirmed. "And that's Harley Quinn."

"No word on Poison Ivy," Gordon said. "First word on either of them in over a year. We don't know if they've broken up and Harley's come back on her own, or if they're still together."

"They're still together," Batman said. "Trust me, they're still together."

"If you say so," Gordon replied. "Thorpe and Apple are clean. Members of the California state bar, actually. Might be legit."

Batman did not reply. "Thanks," he finally said.

Gordon took the photos back and looked at them. "Are you all right?" he asked. "It's not like you to be out of the . . ." He raised his head. "Loop," he finished, finding himself alone.
_______________________________

"Gordon seems to think I've been distracted lately," Batman said ten minutes later. "Maybe he's right."

"Well," Selina replied as she sat on the chimney, legs crossed, "I do have an effect on people."

"I should have known about the Bowlers hours ago," he muttered more to himself.

"Batman fails to learn of small-time hoods' arrival within two hours," Catwoman said dryly. "Details at eleven."

Batman glared at her. "Harley and Ivy being back is a lot bigger than two ex-cons. And twins - Two-Face could definitely be involved somehow. Why twins, otherwise?"

"Harvey? And Ivy? Are you kidding? Ivy managed to piss off both halves, remember?" Selina answered. "He would never work with her."

"In that case," Batman replied, "Two-Face might just find them and kill them for changing sides. Which means I have to find him anyway."

"You know," she said, pulling her mask off her head so that it hung limply down her back, obscured by black tresses, "you knew him for years. Would it kill you to refer to him as 'Harvey' just once?"

"Yes," he responded flatly.

She chuckled. "Fine," Selina said. "Maybe I'll just call you 'Batman' from now on. Yes, waiter, reservations for Selina Kyle and Batman at seven."

Batman's mask remained in place, naturally. When Selina took hers off, it meant she was less interested in talking shop and more interested in talking them. When his mask came off, it meant he was going to bed.

Of course, last night this had coincided with the rest of her costume coming off. And the rest of his. And this hadn't been the first time.

He realized she'd said something more, and he'd missed it. She _was_ distracting him. Maybe these last few weeks had been a mistake.

"Hello?" Selina said, breaking his concentration. "Is this that time of night when you ask yourself why you're doing this? Because if it is, I know this lovely little boutique I could be robbing right now."

"You're not helping," Batman grumbled.

"No, I just have a sense of humor," she replied. "The fact that you don't is what's not helping. And I said I _could_ be robbing it right now. If you'd let me finish, I might have pointed out that instead I'm here, and I'm trying not to steal, and okay, maybe I wonder if this was such a good idea too." Exhaling, she ran her gloved fingers through her hair and grabbed the back of her hood to pull it back on.

She let it fall again halfway up, however. "But you let me see your face," Selina added. "Regret that?"

He stared at her. "No," he admitted.

The smile made her face brighten the shadows.

"Is this that time of night I kiss you?" he asked.

"Well, I don't know," she purred. "Why don't you tell me?"
__________________________

Harvey "Two-Face" muttered to himself as he made his way down the hotel corridor. (He conversed with himself a lot, so this wasn't entirely surprising.) Whoever had brought the Bowler Boys to Gotham must have had a serious bankroll, because he'd tracked them down to one of the best hotels in the city. And they'd taken a room on the twenty-second floor, damn it! It had taken him over an hour to get up here unnoticed. Were these people trying to piss him off?

"Maybe they're going to kill us when we come through the door," Harvey pointed out to himself.

"And maybe we've survived ambushes before," Two-Face growled.

At least his suit was equal to the splendor of his surroundings. His guns were equally expensive, and any guest there would have agreed they looked good in his hands. They'd better, anyway.

"Room 2222," Two-Face snarled. "They are so dead."

"We don't have to go in. Probably a trap. It's a red cape in our face."

"Flip you for it."

Ten seconds later, they smashed their way through the front door. It helped that it was jammed slightly open, but he didn't notice at first.

Two-Face didn't notice the woman on the couch to his right either. His guns only had eyes for the bowler-clad twins on the couch to his left. "You don't call, you don't write, you drop by unannounced," he growled at them. "I thought I deserved better treatment than that."

"You're breaking the law, Harvey," Jim Apple said, unperturbed, as he sipped from a cup of tea. "By pointing those guns at our heads . . ."

"You're obviously intending to put us in reasonable apprehension of bodily harm," Tim Thorpe reminded him. "Which is assault," he added as he drank his black coffee.

"Thanks, boys," he said, cocking the hammers. "If I hadn't been a prosecutor all those years, I might not have known that. I also know that when I pull the triggers, it's first-degree murder."

"Specific intent," Thorpe agreed.

"More than just malice," Apple said.

"Oh, there's malice, too," Two-Face said, smiling.

Poison Ivy entered the room in her dressing gown and sighed. "Christ, Harv, we've been waiting an hour. Put your guns away and sit down already."

Two-Face goggled at her. "Pammy?" he asked, startled. He swiveled around to look at the second woman, whom he'd never noticed before. "Quinn? What the hell did you do to your hair?"

"What?" Harley asked.

"You dyed it brown!"

"Oh," she said, touching her hair self-consciously. "Actually, this is my natural hair. I'm not a, um, real blonde."

He lowered his nine-millimeters finally. "Well," he said slowly, "I guess the blonde stereotype just went out the window."

"Hey! It was an act!"

"Sometimes, anyway," Ivy murmured.

"Again, hey!"

To be continued . . .