The sleek black Batplane cut through the sky like a machete through a snowman. The small craft had two seats, placed in front of one another. Normally, Robin took the backseat...but Robin wasn't here. Instead, Talia al Ghul sat right behind him, making the muscles in his neck tense ever so slightly with every sound she made, and continuing in her neverending diatribe about Poison Ivy.

"And a proper lady wouldn't strut about in such revealing attire, if you could call it that," Talia sniffed haughtily.

So, nothing like your old bellydancing rig, then? Batman asked himself silently.

"And she just keeps pestering Father. She won't leave him alone so that he can work!"

...Projecting much, Talia?

"And she-"

"Talia," he cut her off, "I have dealt with Poison Ivy before. I know what she's like."

She shifted sulkily in her seat. He could hear the little containers of herbicide that he'd armed her with clanking into one another as she moved. She'd informed him that Ivy was breeding a new race of plants to kill off humanity - like that was a surprise - and that she had at least fifty prototype plants half-grown at their hideout.

On one hand, it was good that Talia constantly dragged him off to mess up her father's schemes. He didn't have to bother with tracking him down, since Talia always obligingly led him straight to the lair. On the other hand, he'd gladly spend his time tracking Ra's if it meant that Talia would just leave him alone. He was sick of dealing with her. Five hours trapped in a plane with her hadn't helped.

A pointing hand with perfectly manicured fingernails appeared to the left of his head. "There, Beloved. The control room is at the top of the building."

Now that was odd. Normally Ra's buried the control room under layers of hallways and barracks and the occasional trap or two. Of course, no mere wall that shot arrows could ever compare with the walking betrayal that was Talia.

"You're sure?" he grunted.

"Thatfemale made him move it so she could be closer to the sun."

Batman nodded and gently slid the aircraft down to the ground. If Ivy had managed to get Ra's to change his thinking...well, he had a pretty fair idea about what was going on.

In a matter of minutes, Batman had grapneled them up to the rooftop. They crept toward a greenhouse that adjoined the little room. Plants crowded up to the clear glass and spread wide, green leaves to catch what little sun filtered through the neighboring wild trees. Batman easily identified them as fairly harmless examples of rare flora - probably the plants that Ivy couldn't bear to leave behind - and set to slicing through the glass. A slightly irregular oval of glass about the size of a large pig fell quietly into Talia's waiting hands. They did work marvelously well together. It was a shame that she had to be completely insane.

They sidled through the greenhouse, carefully avoiding every one of the plants that laid haphazard tendrils of vine in their path. Since Ivy wasn't around, they stayed inert - but that didn't mean that Ivy couldn't stroll out and interrupt them mid-sneak. After an eternity of carefully avoiding harmless houseplants, they arrived at the solid wooden door that Talia assured him led to the new control room. It was locked and, when Batman rattled the door ever so slightly, the sound revealed that it was barred as well. Someone had taken great care to make sure that no one would burst in on whatever was happening in there.

Well, so much for subtlety. With one kick, he slammed the door open.

The first thing he saw was Poison Ivy, lounging happily on what looked like a hammock made of vines. A curling tendril held a tall glass of water. She rested, feet crossed at the ankles, her back to Batman and Talia, so totally wrapped up in whatever she was doing that she hadn't noticed the crack of snapping wood as Batman had let himself in.

Talia's gasp of utter horror alerted him to the fact that Ivy was not alone. Ra's was there, alive and well, stretching up on tiptoe to water a hanging plant. He had expected that. There was no way Ra's would have had anything to do with Ivy without the assistance of some serious pheromones, and Ivy was not above using her cohorts as slave labor. The thing that made his brain shut down for a moment, though, was the fact that Ra's was wearing a rather brief French maid's uniform, complete with fishnet stockings and a little lacy hat. His shiny black high heels clicked happily on the floor as he continued watering, ignoring his visitors.

Apparently Ra's wasn't a proper lady either. And from the experienced way he was sashaying around in those ludicrously high heels, he hadn't been one for some time.

The human mind is wired to respond in very specific ways under certain stimuli. When presented with a tasty dish of pasta, the average human will start feeling hungry. When presented with a snarling lion, the average human will either soil themselves, run away, or both at the same time. And when presented with a psychotic mind-controlling plant-witch, the average devoted loving daughter will shriek like an injured banshee and launch herself directly at the interloper.

Of course, the problem with launching oneself at a plant-witch reclining in a hammock of vines is that the vines are no longer an inanimate object. This was made abundantly clear when the ends of the hammock unwound and lashed around Talia like an angered kraken awaking from the deeps. The two women and the mass of vines rolled and thrashed on the floor as Talia did her very best to take off Ivy's head or any available portion of her anatomy.

Batman took a moment to sidle over to Ra's and look him over. He stood there, staring vacantly at the fight, the watering can pouring a steady stream of water on the floor. Ra's seemed okay, well, fairly so - as okay as a forcibly crossdressed and mind-controlled cult leader could ever be - and he decided to let Talia work some of her excess energy off in the wrestling match that now had them rolling over and over on the floor before he intervened. The two of them were pretty evenly matched, since Ivy had a never-ending supply of plants and Talia was fueled with a never-ending supply of disgusted rage, and they could try their best to beat hell out of one another fairly harmlessly for a few minutes.

The fight finally ended with Ivy sprawled, panting, sweaty and scratched, on the floor, with Talia held aloft in a nest of vines much like a chandelier.

Ivy panted on the floor for a moment, splay legged and undignified. She tossed her sweat-dampened hair over her shoulder and only then caught a glimpse of the Batman, standing solidly in the wreckage of the greenhouse door. She instantly wrenched herself into something approximating a sexy position and cooed "Hello, Batman."

Too little, too late. "It's over, Ivy."

"Is it?' she purred. Batman felt a set of vines caressing his back, wrapping around his cape - the very cape that he had lovingly saturated with the strongest herbicides known to man. The vines withered and dropped to the floor, browned and dead.

Ivy snarled and went for his throat. He'd managed to face down the greatest martial artists in the world, so a rage-crazed botanist wasn't much of a challenge. As he idly batted her away, Talia was furiously thrashing in the clump of vines, spreading herbicides through the knot of greenery trying to strangle her.

She landed on the ground with a whump and rushed toward them. Batman registered the thump but didn't pay it much mind, since it was at about that point that Ivy decided to try and scratch his eyes out through his cowl. It took a mere three minutes of furious activity before he had her down on the ground, swearing as he pinned her arms together behind her and clipped a set of cuffs firmly in place. When he rose, looking for Talia, she had gone, along with Ra's. He absently pushed Ivy back to the ground as she writhed beneath his foot and considered going after her. But no, it probably wasn't worth it. He'd have to track her all through the building - and by the time he got her, Ivy would probably have disappeared.

Who was the biggest threat? At the moment, it was probably Ivy, who was arching herself like a hooked fish in order to try and kick his knees out from under him. Talia and Ra's would, at the very least, need a few months to get their operation back into shape. They couldn't continue with the whole killer-plant scheme without Ivy's intervention, after all.

Batman took one last look around as he hauled the kicking, spitting botanist up to his shoulder. A tiny, tiny smile twitched into being for a fraction of a second as he saw the elaborate webcam setup in the corner. Whatever plans Ra's might have for world domination would probably come a distant second to getting that footage of himself off of the internet. He noted the website hosting them - for research, of course, to examine Ivy's methods - and, with a quick grapnel trip through the skylight, disappeared.


Author's Note: I think I enjoyed this chapter far too much. Oh, Ra's, how lovely you look...bahaha! I apologize for the lateness of posting - I spent the last two days in a car on the way to the greatest comedy music gathering ever, Marscon, and I couldn't link in to our caravan's wireless connection. (Traveling with geeks is fun.)

So, dear readers, tune in next time for a continuation of 'Breaking' and, on next Thursday...the next installment of the Eddie and Jackie saga, lovingly titled "Playing House". See you then!