Title: A Lily for Harley (1/1)

Author: Allaine

Email: eac2nd@yahoo.com

Rating: PG

Feedback: Please, reviews are nice, emails are even nicer.

Disclaimers: All characters belong to DC Comics and the creators of the Batman titles.

Summary: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy share the perfect island paradise. Or do they?

________________________

Harley bounced down the beach as the small boat puttered its way toward shore. It was an impossibly gorgeous tropical isle where the golden sands were practically the only thing left untouched by her bestest gal-pal's botanical arts, and where the absence of television and radio seemed a small and temporary price to pay for three whole weeks of fun and sun and nature practically fetching you your slippers when you put your feet up.

But it seemed they still needed their fix from the Gotham papers. That, and a few other essentials nature couldn't reproduce even without Red's genius, was delivered every few days in a bundle by a fisherman. Ivy paid him well, but he never set foot on the beach. This island, Ivy had determined, would never be spoiled by the footprint of man. "They'll even let men onto Themiscyra these days," Harley murmured, giggling and shaking her head.

The package was hurled across the water and landed with a soft thud before her feet. The breeze was strong that day, and the newspaper on top struggled and flapped against the coarse twine holding everything together. Harley bent down and smoothed it so she could read the headline of the paper.

She froze. Time stopped. The winds themselves seemed to die.

Harley Quinn had temporarily ceased to be.

__________________________

"What's this?"

Poison Ivy looked up from where she reclined on a blanket of reeds atop a craggy cliff that was high enough that not even the tall, healthy trees could crest it. The smallest scraps covering her private parts were more for Harley's modesty than her own. She would have preferred a full-body tan. Well, perhaps "tan" was a misnomer. She was slowly turning a darker shade of green. "What's what?" she asked, removing her sunglasses.

Harley seemed different from her playful self. She seemed distracted, almost older somehow. She was clutching a newspaper in her hand. "This," she said, handing it to her.

Ivy took it slowly, the blood and chlorophyll mixed in her system both turning to ice as she guessed what it was, even as she silently pleaded it wasn't. She looked at it.

"Longtime Joker sidekick murdered by his own hand."

The bullet hole in her chest, the article mentioned, looked like it had been fired by a cannon. It also said that those familiar with the Joker-Harley Quinn relationship weren't that surprised, even though she'd proclaimed undying love for years.

Even undying love, it appeared, still died if the lover did.

The high winds pulled the paper from numb fingers and carried it aloft. Neither woman cared. "How can I be dead if I'm here, Red?" Harley asked softly.

Ivy bent over, leaning on one hand. Tears ran down her cheeks and her body shook. "I'll tell you," she managed to say between sobs. "I just . . . I need a minute."

Harley fidgeted while she waited for this strong and fiercely determined woman to bring her sudden grief under control.

"Okay," Ivy finally said, wiping both cheeks with the palms of her hands as she struggled to her feet. "Let's go to the shelter. You deserve to know."

The blonde silently followed the redhead back down into the tropical forest. As they walked, a shower of brown leaves rained down on their heads. "What's happening?" Harley asked.

"The trees are mourning too," Ivy said dully. A fern withered and died as they passed.

Their "residence" did have a few basic needs supplied by a generator, such as the refrigerator, but it was made completely of natural products. And yet it wasn't uncomfortable, and it was never too hot or sticky, and the bed was soft. Ivy looked at it longingly, but instead sat at the table. Harley sat across from her. "Well?" Harley asked. "Am I - dead?"

Ivy wrapped her arms around her stomach as if she was about to be sick. "Yes," she whispered. "You are."

"Then . . . I'm a plant, right?"

She nodded quickly.

Harley looked down. "How long ago?"

"Three, almost three years ago."

The blonde started. "What? But that's impossible! We've only been here for - "

"Thirteen days?" Ivy asked with a bitter smile. "Yes, that's what you're supposed to think. You've woken up every morning for the past three years believing we've been here for thirteen days. Don't I look older to you?"

"With the green, it's hard to tell."

Ivy's chuckle was utterly without humor.

"I still don't understand."

"I used your DNA." The generator also powered a rudimentary but efficient laboratory. "I've improved on my work with Carlyle. I have a healthy supply of the plants I used to replicate him still, but now they ripen directly to maturity."

"Carlyle?" Harley asked, eyes widening. "But didn't those plants . . ." She stopped.

"Yes, they only lived briefly. Harley, every day for the past three years, you have ripened and bloomed with the rising sun. You believed yourself to be Harley, and why not? You are. You're a snapshot of who she was three years ago. Then you laugh and play the day away, every whim catered to within reason." A smile crept unbidden to Ivy's lips, but it died almost immediately. "And then, when the lights are out and you lie next to me in bed, something within you compels you to walk out to the shore and into the ocean, where your body decays into green matter." Ivy looked away. "And the next one is born the following day, with no memory of the day before, or the day before that, or the day before that."

Harley looked stunned. "Why?" she finally asked.

"Because I'm in love with you, Harley. I've been in love with you all that time." Ivy looked away. "Not that you know that."

"So you don't end every night with a round of passionate lovemaking?" Her voice as a little harsh.

"Oh Christ, you have no idea how much I wish they did!" Ivy groaned. "Do you love me?"

"No, not that way."

Ivy nodded somberly. "Because the real Harley didn't. So you don't. I can't compel you to. Sure, I could compel Carlyle to say he loved me, but that was because he was forced to obey me. It didn't mean he was. You," she added, "I can't make you do anything. I give you free will when I created you. No," she said, "you spend every day believing that you'll be reunited in a week with your 'beloved Mr. J'." Her face twisted with hatred as she spoke those last three words.

"Then why are you torturing yourself like this?" Harley asked. "Why endlessly create someone you can't have?"

"Because at least here we're alone," Ivy responded. "At least we're together. Looking without touching. I dare say these have been the best and worst three years of my life."

"Why couldn't you have just stayed then?!" Harley demanded to know. "That headline was new. Why couldn't you have stayed in Gotham for the past three years?!"

Ivy was briefly taken aback, but then she laughed. "Of course, you wouldn't remember that, would you?"

______________________

"This is sick, Ivy. Do you know sick this is?"

Poison Ivy sneered at Batman. "I'm not sick, Batman," she informed him as the vines wrapped more tightly around his joints, squeezing until he cried out. "I just see things with more clarity than your brain can handle."

"I know you were friends, in your own way," Batman told her, "and I know you were upset when she died . . ."

Ivy stared at him. "When she - oh dear." And then she started laughing uproariously.

He gritted his teeth at her laughter as much as he did at the pain in his arms and legs. "But this _shrine_ you seem intent on erecting for her is twisted and preposterous." He pointed with a finger as best he could at the bed of greens behind Ivy, where Harley's body lay swaddled in vines. "Now that she's dead, you think you can have her all to yourself?"

She finally controlled herself, and stared at him with a wicked smile. "And how, O great detective, did you put this all together?"

"The Joker denied killing her. He confessed to beating her, he confessed to leaving her there, but he swore she was alive when he left. Maybe her wounds were terminal," Batman allowed, "but the Joker always seemed to know just how far he could hurt her without killing her. She was too valuable to him."

"The Joker values _nothing_ but himself!" Ivy spat at him.

"Which is why he needed her. For his ego." He stared at her. "And his ego has never stopped him from taking credit before. So why now? Why say it wasn't him? I decided to inspect her body at the city morgue for some superseding cause. Maybe someone killed her after the Joker left. And that's when I discovered the drawer was empty. Someone had removed her body."

Ivy only looked at him, still enjoying herself on some joke he didn't know.

"The small bits of plant residue were all I needed," he said. "You stole her body and you brought her here. Maybe," he added darkly, "you even killed her yourself just to deprive the Joker of her obsession with him."

"You're the one who's sick!" she replied, enraged, and the vines squeezed again, eliciting another cry. "Not to mention the one who's wrong, wrong, wrong!" She went over to Harley's body. "Harley, honey? Sweetie?" she said quietly, patting her shoulder. "Wake up, Harley."

Harley's "body" stirred. "Red?" she muttered thickly.

Batman stared, and suddenly he understood. He really had been wrong. "She was never dead," he realized.

"Batman's here, Harley," Ivy went on, "but he won't be for much longer," she assured her. "Then we can be alone."

Harley mumbled something indistinctly.

"You took her after Joker beat her," Batman said, "and brought her here."

"Harley called me," Ivy said quietly. "She was scared. I was too late to stop him, though."

"Then you left one of your plant recreations in her place. It must have been very believable to fool the examiner."

"You think I concocted this plan on the spur of the moment?" she asked, smirking.

"And you let everyone, especially the Joker, believe she was dead," he said. "What are you planning for her?"

Ivy looked back down at her, and love shone in her eyes. "To take her away from all this. To take her away to some isolated place where we can be alone forever, and I can protect her and treat her the way she deserves to be treated."

Batman stared at her. "My God. You love her."

She only nodded.

"Red."

Ivy turned back to Harley. "Yes?" she asked eagerly.

Harley raised her head slightly and summoned a great effort to speak. "I - I don't love you."

Poison Ivy looked uncertain at this remark. "Well, I know that, but with time . . ."

"No," she said, sounding exhausted. "I will never love you. I love the Joker. I will never love anyone other than my puddin'."

"DON'T CALL HIM THAT!" Ivy shouted savagely, and Harley cringed.

"Be careful," Batman said. "You're scaring her."

Ivy flinched.

"Please, Red," Harley said. "Take me back to Mr. J. I want to be with him."

"Or you could hold her against her will. Take her to your paradise by force," Batman suggested.

She seriously considered this for a few seconds before understanding the point he was making. "No," she whispered. "You're coming with me by choice, or you're not coming at all. You called _me_, Harley. You asked _me_ to take you away from him."

"That night, yeah. But not forever. I knew I'd go back later. Red, why do you have to go anywhere? Gotham wouldn't be the same without my best girlfriend," Harley pleaded.

Ivy looked at her and her heart clenched. "No," she said again. "I can't stay in this ugly, dirty town and hold your hand until the day he kills you for real." She got up. "I'm leaving tonight, Harley, now that Batman knows. You can either come with me, and be treated like a queen - or you can stay here, be treated like dirt, and never see me again."

"Don't ask me that," Harley begged. "Don't do that to me."

She didn't respond.

Harley closed her eyes. "I can't leave him."

Something broke inside of Ivy, but she refused to let herself go to pieces. "Then goodbye," she said, kissing her fingers and resting them on Harley's forehead.

"Red . . ."

Ivy made a gesture and Batman was yanked back into the growth, out of sight. "I'm sure you'll make your way out sooner or later, Batman," she called to him. "Take her to whatever hospital you want. I'm done with this hellish town. Don't try to find me. You'll regret it." She didn't dare look back at Harley as she got her bags, packed her most vital things, and left.

______________________

"That's why you don't remember," Ivy said. "The blood samples I used were from earlier." She got up. "I'll be right back."

She returned slowly from the kitchen, as if her body pained her. "Here," she said, putting two syringes on the table. "Take one."

"What's it for?" Harley asked suspiciously.

"It's an herbicide," Ivy said.

"What?!"

"The human DNA in both our systems will fight it," Ivy explained, "but it will do too much damage to the part of us that is plant. We won't even feel it. It will be over in just a few minutes." She took hers.

Harley looked at her. "You spent three years watching my ghost, basically."

"Yes."

"You tortured yourself. Because you left me?"

Ivy looked down. "It was a sweet torture at first. But it hurts a little more every day. I probably would have stopped given enough time." She shook her head. "I should have stayed," she added, starting to cry again. "Maybe you - I mean Harley - you know what I mean! Maybe she'd still be alive. I should have tried harder. I shouldn't have given up!"

"No, you shouldn't," Harley agreed. She pushed the needle back. "And I don't need that. It wouldn't work on me. I'm one hundred percent human."

"I know you don't want to believe," Ivy began gently.

"Come on," Harley interrupted, standing up. She took Ivy by the wrist. "Get up. I want to show you something."

Hesitantly, the bewildered Ivy did as instructed.

They went down to the shore, to where the boat had first arrived. And it was still there.

Ivy gasped. "How dare he remain here! He should have left immediately, like he always does!"

"It wasn't him on the boat," Harley said. "It was me."

The botanist gaped at her. "What? I don't - "

Harley pointed to the green pool at which the ocean gingerly lapped. "When I saw her, I shot her with this." She went to the boat and pulled the silenced handgun out. "Then I took the newspaper and went looking for you. It cost good money to get that old man to let me pilot his boat here alone."

Ivy couldn't believe it. "But you - I mean, the paper!"

She shrugged, and Ivy realized that she really _did_ look older. There were faint lines under her eyes, and a scar on the back of her hand that hadn't been there yesterday. "You think you're the only one who can fake someone's death?"

Poison Ivy staggered back. "Harley?" she asked in a small voice.

Harley nodded. "Hi, Red."

Ivy swayed momentarily before regaining her balance and running toward her. But Harley stopped her. "Ivy, we gotta talk."

"Oh, Harley," Ivy wept. "What about the Joker?"

Harley scowled. "I was wrong, all right? So he wasn't the one. I never told anyone, but over a year ago, my affections started to - wane. I would have told you, but like you said," and here she frowned, "you shouldn't have given up on me."

Ivy suddenly felt cold again, and she took a step back. "No," she whispered. "I shouldn't have."

"Took me a long time to track you down, arrange for my death. Lots of money, too. I spent months planning this." Harley looked at her. "Even the Joker thinks he killed me. I pushed him farther than I ever had before, and now he thinks I'm dead. They all do. Except you."

She nodded dumbly.

"And when I got here, I was going to tell you, then leave," Harley continued. "But then I saw my copy. My double. She's not very accurate, you know. I'm not that bubbly any more. I've changed."

"I was getting sick of her anyway," Ivy said, her mouth dry. Someone who never changed became pretty one-dimensional.

"Then I was really upset," Harley told her. "Pretended to be her so I could squeeze it out of you. Wanted to punish you, you know. You left me all alone with him. Batman, the doctors - they were worse than useless."

"I know," Ivy responded, nodding vacantly.

"But you seem to have done a pretty good job punishing yourself," Harley finally said, sighing.

There was a moment's silence. "So now what?" Ivy dared to ask.

"Well, now I go bring the boat back to the old geezer," Harley began.

Ivy drooped. But then, she was alive, and she was safe from the Joker. This was some of the best news she'd received in years. And she would never make another faux-Harley. She would remain there, alone, forever.

"Then I guess I'll have to give him more money to drop me off here," Harley went on.

The eyes snapped back up. "What?!" Ivy almost screeched.

Harley reached out her hand and took Ivy's. "I think I can forgive you after all," she whispered. "I don't love you, you know. But I've missed you so much. And maybe, we can see where the days take us." Then she grinned. It was so like her old Harley, but there was a new element of sanity in it. "Besides, this place looks divine."

Ivy's legs buckled and she fell into Harley's arms. "I'm so sorry," she sobbed into her chest, daring to feel what she hadn't felt in years.

Happy.

Where before the leaves were turning brown, now the forest exploded in blossoms of every color as Harley just went on holding her.

The End.

(Author's Note - Obviously this story is an alternate universe from "It's Just Allergies". I don't even know where this idea came from. I thought of an ending where Harley really was dead, and the other Harley was just a plant, and Ivy killed both the plant and herself. Or where Ivy just killed her and went on torturing herself with endless days of fake Harleys. But I couldn't do that to them. It was just too gruesome.)