Title: I'm Not That Daughter (1/2)
Disclaimers: Takes place after "Defying Sanity". Set within a fusion of B:TAS and Batman comic-book continuity. Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are the property of DC Comics. All other major characters are of my own invention.
Summary: Harley and Ivy spend their first Christmas together by getting a glimpse of each other's families, and find that not all women turn into their mothers.
Ivy loathed Christmas.
She hated most holidays. Because people certainly weren't taking a holiday from killing plants! Quite the opposite, in fact. Millions of flowers were murdered for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. On Halloween pumpkins were mutilated, and then their corpses were displayed outside like hanged Wild West cattle rustlers awaiting burial. People carelessly lit firecrackers on Independence Day and started forest fires.
Christmas was the worst, however. For most of December, thousands of slaughtered defenseless trees would be sold like common household goods, and then the buyers would return to their homes with the victimized conifers on the roofs of their cars, as if they were trophies from the hunt. (Like killing a pine was some kind of achievement!)
And after Christmas came what Ivy called the "thirteen days of Hell", when she had to remain indoors at all cost. Otherwise she would see all the butchered bodies of trees casually thrown out into the street, so they could be disposed of like bags of smelly garbage!
The sight would drive her insane with rage. It had happened in the past. Batman couldn't imagine how many of her plans had been launched before they were fully ready because she had a sudden overwhelming urge to kill someone. And if she was defeated, well, Arkham Asylum was an improvement on the carnage on every street in Gotham.
If Ivy didn't have any plans that were even close to execution, or if she was feeling particularly withdrawn, then she'd simply retreat to the sanctuary of Robinson Park and not come out until the middle of January.
Unfortunately, neither of those options was available to her. Because of Harley – her girlfriend.
Her "girlfriend". It had taken weeks for the novelty of that word to end. It was still difficult to believe. After years of watching Harley throw her life away on the Joker, Harley was hers. Hers.
Since their unlikely reunion around Halloween, Ivy and Harley had taken it relatively easy. No crimes committed, so there was no chance of being sent to Arkham where they'd be separated and constantly monitored. Instead they'd stayed in most of the time, except for a few trips to the Iceberg Lounge where Ivy had made it abundantly clear that Harley was taken. A great deal of money changed hands that first night. The big winner, oddly, was Killer Croc.
There was a lot of time curled up together on Ivy's sofa, or in the embrace of her largest plants. They talked about more than they'd ever talked before. (Unfortunately, this had included a discussion of what Harley had been doing for the past few months. Ivy had felt an intense wave of that unfamiliar feeling called "guilt".) They tended to Ivy's babies.
Oh yes, and the sex. The first time had been incredible, at first. By the fourth or fifth time, when the two had finally figured out each other's preferences, Ivy understood that the first time had merely been good. The fourth or fifth time was incredible.
However, their extended seclusion meant that Ivy could not spend the next month inside Robinson Park. Harley was starting to get restless, and that would only get worse if they remained cooped up.
A crime spree would be just the thing for Harley, but as discussed, Ivy had no intention of being separated from Harley and locked in a private cell any time soon.
Plus Ivy had an "upgrade" to make before she could carry anything out.
Three days ago Harley had, out of the blue, asked Ivy if she was going to continue using her special lipstick, the one that allowed her to put men into an instant lovestruck daze.
Ivy had blinked. "Why wouldn't I?"
Harley had looked down. "I dunno. I guess I'm a little uncomfortable about seein' you kissing some strange men in front of me."
"Kissing . . . don't be silly, Harley. You know it doesn't mean anything. It's all about taking control of them."
"Yeah, I know," Harley had said, embarrassed. "But how would you feel if you saw me kissing some guy?"
Ivy had known the answer to that question. She would have felt instantly, ragingly jealous. But that was different. That was –
Someone besides you?
She still didn't know where that random thought had come from. But if she looked at it from Harley's point of view – not something Ivy often did for anyone, even her – then Harley had a valid argument.
She had also realized that even though they'd agreed that their professional relationship, unlike their personal one, would be as it was before, it wasn't quite so easy to separate the two.
So the lipstick was out. There were ways she could enslave men without kissing them – drugged claws, perhaps - but it would take time to find the best alternative and perfect it. But she'd made Harley happy, and that had made her happy. And, deep down, perhaps a bit furious.
Well, she still had a few control issues to work out.
Still, Ivy needed to get Harley out of the lair. She'd thwarted Harley's annual plea for a Christmas tree by growing one right out of the ground. But she already knew Harley wouldn't be satisfied. Soon Harley would want to decorate it too. A tree was a majestic, dignified being. Dressing it in ornaments and tinsel was demeaning and insulting. Ivy found this tradition to be disturbing in the way other people found it disturbing when pet owners dressed their dogs in human clothing.
Logically, therefore, they would have to leave Gotham for a while. Preferably for a less urbanized location where the annual holiday genocide wasn't quite as unavoidable. For several obvious reasons, Ivy liked winter little more than she did Christmas, and a warm, tropical climate would feel quite nice right now. They could go to either of two private islands in the Pacific that she knew about, pristine wildernesses where she'd left certain "natural defenses". If any greedy, plundering humans had set foot there since she'd visited last, well, the world could always use more fertilizer.
These islands were remote, however, and arranging transportation took a great deal of time and advance preparation. What they needed was a quick getaway. So Ivy would have to settle for one of the more commercialized locales. She felt soiled doing it, but sometimes you made sacrifices for the one you loved.
Still, it was in the hotels' self-interest to leave much of the local flora intact, so after they arrived, they would go on a nature walk. And after they got back to the hotel the following week, then they could just lie on the beach and tan.
Then Ivy's thought process was temporarily derailed by the image of herself applying suntan lotion to Harley's body.
Maybe they could spend just one day on the beach first.
She gave a little shake of the head. That would come later. First she had to decide where to go. Oh, of course, Harley had a say in where they went . . . but only after Ivy had carefully considered their options and limited the choices to two.
"Harley," Ivy asked sweetly that afternoon, "I'd like your opinion on something."
"Can it wait?" Harley asked. "Kim Possible is about to start."
"You can watch the Disney Channel later," Ivy grumbled. "I need you to help me plan our Christmas vacation."
Harley sat up from where she'd been lying on the couch. "Vacation?"
"Mm-hm. I was thinking either Hawaii or Belize. I know they're horribly overdeveloped and crowded, but we can get a flight almost right away, and – "
"You want to go to the beach?" Harley asked, flabbergasted. "On Christmas?"
"You know how I feel about Christmas," Ivy said testily. "I can't stay in Gotham."
"But, but – I like it when it snows on Christmas!"
Ivy sighed. "We can recreate a white Christmas when we get back. I'm sure Victor can be 'persuaded' to loan me his freeze ray for a day."
Harley narrowed her eyes, a look Ivy instantly recognized as her "stubborn face". "Christmas is supposed to be about sitting in front of an open fire after Jack Frost nipped at your nose."
At least she left out the "chestnuts roasting" part. "I don't see why you're so opposed to this, Harl. It'll be warm and sunny every day, and we can go on the beach and – "
"Can't we compromise on this, Red?"
That was a word Harley used like a weapon. Ivy did not like compromising. She preferred only having ideas that Harley agreed with.
"What if we leave Gotham," Harley went on, "and go some place else where it's still cold? Where there won't be as many people?"
"That – might work. Perhaps. But I'd like to be out of Gotham as soon as possible. I don't know if we have the time for you to plan an entirely different vacation for us," Ivy said smoothly.
"Well," Harley said. She paused.
"We could go to Ithaca," Harley suggested timidly.
Ivy blinked. "Greece?" Was it even winter in Greece this time of year?
"No, um, it's about two hundred miles west from here," Harley said. "We could drive there in less than half a day."
"Okaaay," Ivy said. "And what's in Ithaca?"
Harley hesitated. "My parents. You could, you know, meet my mom and dad."
Ivy's jaw dropped.
"Because, you know," Harley added quickly, "that's what you do. Isn't it? When you're with someone, and you're happy, and you want to be with them forever? You bring them home to meet the folks!"
And you want to be with them forever.
Ivy sat down. "Did your parents ever meet – him?"
Harley laughed nervously. "Uh, no, I didn't think that would be a good idea."
It was weird thinking of Harley having parents, people who still called her "Harleen". Ivy hadn't thought of her own late father in years. Dropped dead of a massive heart attack when he saw "Poison Ivy" for the first time. Bastard. And her mother, well . . . she tried not to think about her.
And you want to be with them forever. Forever.
"Okay," Ivy said softly. She wasn't cold any more. "Let's go."
Harley fretted as she drove. She glanced in her rearview mirror yet again. Red was lounging in the backseat, looking calm and peaceful – the way a jaguar looked when it lounged on a tree branch, waiting for lunch to stroll past. She was swaddled in a winter coat, a scarf, gloves, pants, boots, and one of those furry hats with the earflaps. Red always was a warm-weather gal, but that wasn't the only reason she was dressed like an Eskimo. It was because she didn't want to be recognized when she left the car. One of the few benefits of winter for Red was that she could cover herself from head to toe, and nobody would be able to tell she had green skin.
Nobody, that is, except for Harley. Because Red had taken off her big sunglasses, and Harley could see part of her face. She could also see the eyes that glittered dangerously. It occurred to her, not for the first time, that her girlfriend had changed her mind about Ithaca.
It never felt weird thinking of Red as her girlfriend. She supposed some gals might have felt strange dating another woman after being with men all their lives. But it had never bothered her. Harley could admit now that all those times when she'd told herself she was just "experimenting" with Red, or just "having a little fun", there had been more to it than that. She'd always been attracted to Ivy, but she could never admit it until she let go of her obsession with Mistah – with Joker.
She could also compare her current relationship to her old one with a somewhat objective eye. She had to admit that Ivy never hurt her, liked spending time with her, and was often receptive to Harley's advances. And that Joker had been none of those things. Harley was dismayed by all the times she had chosen him over Red.
(And by the fact that a little part of her still wanted to be with him. That had to go away, though – sooner or later.)
There were times, however, that Red reminded her of the Joker – not that she'd ever say that out loud! But when Ivy wasn't "happy" about something, she steamed and seethed like a Joker-grenade right after the pin was pulled. And when she exploded, well, that's when you started barricading all the doors.
Red hadn't lost her temper since they started dating. That looked ready to change, though. Harley knew why, too. Red had suddenly, unexpectedly, agreed to their trip to Ithaca. Harley still didn't know why. Since they'd become a couple, Harley had discovered a way to get Red to change her mind, but it involved a lot of time and a lot of stripping. But Ivy had agreed almost immediately. Harley wondered what it was she'd said.
Whatever the reason, though, it had worn off. And Red was looking at her like it was all her fault. Which, she supposed, wasn't wrong. It was her idea.
Looking back, Harley's suggestion had been as bizarre as Red's agreeing to it. What had she been thinking? Her parents? She wasn't twenty and bringing the cute boy from Chemistry 201 to have dinner with the family!
What was Harley going to say?
"Hi, Mom, the good news is I'm not in love with the Joker any more. The bad news is I'm now in love with Poison Ivy."
"Young lady, I thought I raised you better than this. An evil, insane lesbian? I can't believe you're dating a Hollywood stereotype now."
Her mother might say something like that too. She was a tenured film studies professor at Cornell University. And Dad was head of the Ancient History department. They were both intelligent, opinionated people who happened to disapprove of Harley's lifestyle completely. About the only thing Harley had done right in the past ten years, if you believed her mom, was to change her last name. There weren't too many Quinzells in the world.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Harley's younger brother Herbert was a married attorney, and her older sister Winifred was a trauma surgeon. It had been her parents' ambition to see all three of their children earn college degrees and high-paying professional jobs. And they'd succeeded, sorta. It wasn't Harley's fault that she broke the Joker out of Arkham before Herbie graduated.
Harley could only hope that her siblings were too busy with their own lives to visit the old ha-ha-cienda. She knew she'd be unfavorably compared to them for the entire visit, but it would be worse if they were actually there to bask in their superiority.
She could also hope that Red wasn't going to seize the wheel, pull the car over, tie her up, ravish her (well, that part wouldn't be so bad), and then drive them straight back to Gotham and LaGuardia International.
"So Red," she said anxiously, "how about your family?"
Red's face turned positively malevolent. "I don't like talking about them. You know that."
Harley swallowed. She should quit, but danger lay in every other direction too. "When's the last time you saw them?"
"I said – " Red huffed in irritation. "I saw my mother a few years ago. Now drop it."
"What does she do?"
Red growled and shifted forward slightly. "She works in a laundry," she muttered.
Oops. That was probably why Red didn't like to talk about her family. She wouldn't want to admit that Gaia Herself came from a lower-class neighborhood. And here Harley was taking Red to her family of intellectuals. Double oops.
"Cornell's a nice place," Harley said, changing the subject before she got Red to say something else Harley would regret. "Lots of trees and stuff. They have this one school, the College of Agriculture - "
"And Life Sciences, yes," Red interrupted. "I know all about CALS, the plantations, the Agricultural Experiment Station, the land grant mission, the misleadingly named College of Human Ecology, all of it. It's – a relatively good program," she admitted.
"What's wrong with the CHE?"
"It's based on a fallacious premise that humans and plants can coexist," Ivy said frostily. "Clearly the staff isn't very bright. Your family doesn't work there, does it?"
"Nope," Harley said. "But Mom and Dad are both professors."
"At CALS, maybe?"
"No, Arts & Sciences."
Ivy shrugged, losing interest. Evidently she wouldn't have anything to talk with Harley's parents about.
Her anger, however, had been temporarily transformed into boredom. Harley breathed a sigh of relief as Red lay her head back and closed her eyes. It was possible to work her, if you did it just right.
Five minutes later, however, Harley yelped and almost drove off the freeway when she suddenly felt a hand slide down into her blouse. Ivy's eyes glittered once again in the rearview mirror, but now they were gleaming with desire.
Bored Ivy had apparently become Horny Ivy.
Fortunately though, after Red untied her and let her get dressed again, the car was allowed to leave the shoulder and proceed again toward Ithaca.
Ivy wasn't sure how to feel as Harley led her up the driveway. She was forced to let Harley take the lead here, and that was an unfamiliar sensation. Being the sidekick sucked. She wondered why Harley enjoyed it.
"We probably shouldn't say we're sleeping together," Harley told her. "Not yet anyway. I need time to figure out how much of a disappointment I am to them these days."
Harley had actually had the gall to give Ivy directions on how to behave around Harley's parents. The only good thing about this experience so far was that Ivy knew she would never take a subordinate role every again. It was true that when you flew first-class, you could never fly coach again.
"Whatever," she told Harley. "But we're still sharing a room."
"We can share my old room," Harley said. "No, wait, they turned it into a library. We can share Herbie's or Winnie's room."
"Whatever," Ivy repeated. She was getting cold, and Harley was stalling. "Were you planning on ringing the doorbell?"
Harley started. "Oh yeah, right, silly me." She giggled a trifle hysterically.
And this had been Harley's idea!
Gingerly Harley's finger approached the buzzer, but it failed to move that last crucial quarter-inch. Impatiently Ivy stabbed her own finger forward, pinning Harley's to the button and making her wince. "Honestly!" Ivy mumbled.
The door opened a few moments later.
"Hi, Mom!" Harley said a little too brightly. "Just thought I'd drop in for Christmas!"
A woman in her late fifties stood there and stared at them. The familial resemblance was clear. Harley had inherited her figure, her hair (if you forgot she wasn't a natural blonde), her eyes, her cheekbones, and her lips from her mother.
Those lips, however, pursed in distaste. "Harleen," she said coldly. "And look, you brought your boyfriend."
Ivy snorted. She only let that slide because she was practically cocooned in cold-weather gear. "Does she really think the Joker is shorter than you, Harley?"
"It's not him, Mom," Harley said. "This is a friend of mine. I've been living with her since my old relationship ended – for good."
"For good?" her mother asked dubiously.
"Eight months, eleven days, and twenty-three hours," Harley replied, like she'd quit smoking or something. Although, Ivy supposed, the Joker could be considered an extremely tenacious addiction of Harley's.
Her mother looked at them both. "Won't you come in, Harleen?" she finally asked with a heavy dose of caution. "You both must be chilled."
Ivy felt equally cautious as she followed Harley into the house. This was another thing she hated about Christmas – family gatherings.
To be concluded . . .