Title: No One Scorns the Wicked (1/2)
Spoilers: Takes place after my stories "Defying Sanity" and "I'm Not That Daughter".
Disclaimers: All characters belong to DC Comics.
Rating: PG (profanity)
Summary: One of Poison Ivy's least-favorite holidays goes from bad to worse when the Joker suddenly wants Harley back. Conclusion of the "Wicked" trilogy.
To say that the Joker was insane was a truly colossal stating of the obvious. One would have to be as deeply disturbed as the man himself not to realize that. Which said a lot about his former sidekick, Harley Quinn.
Only the Joker could decide on the spur of the moment that Quinn, his loyal henchwench of several years, was a figment of his imagination, never to be seen again, because it now bothered him to think she was real.
Only the Joker could be that delusional, go on his merry prankster ways, and then over a year later forget that he had banished her from his mind.
And naturally, it was only the Joker who almost ruined Valentine's Day for Gotham for many years to come – and without lifting a finger.
Batman sighed. After his return from Bangladesh on the latest Justice League mission, it had taken him three days to piece everything together. So this would be a very long log entry.
The waitress set Ivy's drink down, and then leaned over. "Mr. Cobblepot would like to speak with you in his office," she murmured into Ivy's ear.
Poison Ivy frowned. She did not like being summoned. She did not like being summoned by men even more. "About what?" she asked.
"A private matter."
"Clearly, if he wants to speak to me in his office," Ivy said, exasperated. "He didn't say anything else?"
The waitress hesitated. "When Mr. Cobblepot tells you to do something, you don't exactly ask why," she finally said.
"Just go see what Ozzie wants, Red," Harley Quinn said. "Maybe it's because we've been gone for so long."
"Hmph. Very well," Ivy muttered. She stood up from their table. "I'll be back soon."
"And I'll sit here and get free drinks," Harley said brightly. "We're popular!"
Ivy scowled. "We're surrounded by perverts, is more like it, Harl. We're both women, we're both beautiful, we're both famous, and we're both sleeping with each other. They're buying us drinks because this is the first time in over a month we've been seen out in public together. I'm sure we're still the 'sexual objects du jour' of their adolescent fantasies."
"I fantasize about you. Does that mean I can't buy you a drink tonight?" Harley asked innocently.
They had returned three days ago from two weeks in Belize that had somehow become six, and as such their tans hadn't completely faded yet. Harley's remark, however, made Ivy's face turn as dark a green as it ever was on the Central American beaches. "You can do whatever you want with me tonight - after we get home."
Harley returned Ivy's blush as the redhead finally began making her way to the Penguin's office in the rear of the Iceberg Lounge.
They'd spent almost every minute of the past three months alone together, either on holiday or in the privacy of Ivy's lair in Robinson Park. This night was partly to go out and do something together, and partly to make sure everyone knew that Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn were back in Gotham, and that they were still a threat to be reckoned with.
Just as soon as Ivy figured out how that was going to work.
When Harley was still working for He-Whose-Name-Shall-Not-Be-Spoken, Ivy had always encouraged her to stay as long as she wanted. Watching her go had always pained and frustrated Ivy tremendously. But, to be perfectly honest, Ivy usually got over it after a few hours. Days, even weeks, might go by without Harley's presence, and it didn't bother Ivy all that much.
Now, however, Ivy needed Harley to be with her all the time. It didn't make sense! She could choose to spend or not spend time with Harley whenever she wanted, and yet she had to have Harley near constantly. Granted, at first blush, this didn't appear to be a problem. They'd hardly been apart for three months now, and Ivy had enjoyed herself enormously. And Harley, well, she'd always been clingy.
But there was one thing that could separate them . . . Batman.
Not that the Bat, colossal killjoy that he was, probably cared if they were together. Separating them would be merely the side effect of what would happen the next time Batman defeated them (not that it was going to happen). He would bring them to Arkham Asylum, where they would be expected to sleep apart in private cells. They'd never be alone together, never a moment's peace. There would always be doctors and orderlies and other inmates, and walls and bars and Plexiglas barriers.
The thought of enduring that for days, even weeks, had paralyzed Ivy's initiative. She was actually afraid to commit a crime, at the risk of getting them incarcerated. It had been the same way before they went on holiday, but Ivy thought she'd be over this by now.
Ivy had never imagined that becoming romantically involved with Harley would cause a burden. She thought happiness would lead to inspiration, and inspiration to success. But instead, she was failing in her mission to protect plants everywhere because of her suddenly insatiable sex drive!
Something, Ivy thought darkly, would have to change. And it wouldn't be her. She'd changed way too much already.
"Felicitations, Pamela," the Penguin chattered as the waitress let Ivy into his office. "How good it is to see you here in all your floral finery."
"Actually, it's a Vera Wang," Ivy said flatly. "What was so important that I had to come here alone?"
Penguin settled back into his chair and looked at her shrewdly. "Alone? As in without Ms. Quinn? I see you've become quite used to having her near, Ivy."
Ivy glared back at him. "You say it like it's a weakness, Oswald."
"Love is a weakness, Ivy, and you've got it."
"I didn't come here to be insulted."
"The Joker was here last night."
"And that sack of manure is my problem how?"
Penguin waited a moment before answering. "He was looking for Harley."
Figured, sooner or later he always . . .
She swore she could taste stomach acid in her mouth as it lurched up her throat. She looked at Penguin in disbelief. "But - but he doesn't want her any more! You know what happened! Instead of admit that he couldn't kill Harley whenever he chose - "
"He cut her out of his life, and convinced himself she never existed. Yes, Harley shared that with the bar one drunken night." He raised an eyebrow. "She also had a lot to say about how you had mistreated her as well."
Ivy felt a flash of guilt, but it couldn't compare with the fear that was rapidly flooding her stomach. "So you have to be mistaken!"
"I'm afraid not, Ivy. I heard him myself. Apparently he woke up yesterday morning and wondered where she'd got off to." He spread his hands helplessly. "You know how his mind works."
Penguin scratched the back of his neck. "All right, yes, nobody knows how his mind works. But that's the point. Logic and reason are hopelessly twisted in that brain of his. If he wants to wake up one day and forget the past year never happened, he will."
Ivy stood up so quickly that her chair was knocked over. "I have to go," she said.
"Ivy - "
"I have to go!" she repeated shrilly. "I have to get her out of here. We'll go somewhere, I don't know. It's warmer on the West Coast."
"He'll find you," Penguin told her. "If he's gotten it into his head that it's time for Harley to come home, he very likely won't let it go."
"I don't care!" Ivy shrieked. "If he finds her, she'll go back to him! She can't, she CAN'T!" She had completely lost her grip on any semblance of self-control, and she didn't even notice.
"I don't think this is the time to panic, my dear. It's not as if he's in the building. You don't have to go running out of here like - "
"This is exactly the time to panic," she retorted, her eyes wild. "You say 'he's not in the building' like it makes a difference. The rumors will be in the building! If Harley becomes aware of this - I have to get her out of the city before she has the chance to find out, Cobblepot." Ivy then bolted for the door like a rabbit running for cover.
"You don't seem to trust her very much, Ivy."
"About this?" Ivy asked as she ripped the door open. "I'll never be able to."
Ivy was already at the stairs leading down to the main floor before she was able to rein herself in. If she showed up acting hysterical, Harley would know something was wrong. She'd ask questions, and she didn't trust anyone there to keep his fat blab shut! So in what she imagined to be a measured pace, Ivy walked back towards her table.
Which was empty.
Her vision swayed like she was standing on the deck of a ship and the waves were forty feet high. She looked around wildly. If someone had already told Harley, she would rip out their eyes and peel them like grapes!
Fortunately, before she completely lost her cool, Ivy heard the jukebox start up. Her eyes darted in its direction, and she was relieved to see Harley leaning against it.
This, she realized, was how mothers felt when they lost their children in crowded malls.
"Harley," she said loudly as she went over to the jukebox. "There you are."
"Hey, Red," Harley answered, still looking at the jukebox display. "What did Ozzie want?"
"Nothing important," Ivy said. "Nothing at all. Come on back to the table, Harley."
"Hold on, I'm still picking songs," Harley said. She studied the selections with the utmost concentration. "I put on some Kelly Clarkson. I thought you might appreciate it."
"Yes, Harl, my life revolves around American Idol. Hurry up."
Harley rapidly pushed a few buttons. "Okay," she said cheerfully before she turned to look at Ivy. Her jaw dropped. "Red, what's wrong?"
Ivy swallowed. "Nothing's wrong, Harley. We're just leaving now, that's it."
Harley was looking increasingly worried. "Red, I know something's wrong because your skin turns a darker green when you're angry, and a lighter green when you're afraid. And your skin has turned white."
Not believing her, Ivy glanced over at the large mirror behind the bar, and saw Harley wasn't exaggerating by much. She looked more normal than she'd ever looked in years, except for a slight green tinge that made her appear ill. Well, so much for hiding it.
"Harley, do you trust me?" she asked anxiously.
"Um, of course, Red."
"Then trust me - something very bad has happened in Gotham, and we have to leave right away."
"But we just got here! And everyone here is acting like nothing's - "
"Do you trust me or not?!"
Harley squeaked and cringed. "Y-yeah, Ivy."
"Then hail a cab while I get our things."
Harley hadn't said a word in the taxi. She'd just stared at Ivy. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen Red this freaked out. In stressful or dangerous situations Red rarely got frightened. She got angry. For her to be afraid, it had to be about something really important, like plants or -
Or like her. And since Ivy wasn't ranting or saying anything at all, it was probably about her.
So now she was frightened too.
"Red," Harley finally said hesitantly after Ivy slammed the taxi door shut, "am I in danger or something?"
Ivy looked nauseous. "More than you can imagine," she muttered.
"More than I can imagine?!"
"Yes, Harley," Ivy said dully. "So you're better off not knowing. We'll be all right once we're in Star City."
"But that's on the other side of the country!"
"Well, we need to reach the Pacific Ocean. We can arrange for travel to one of the islands I've kept safe out there."
Who was Red protecting her from, the Army? "And how long do we have to stay on the island?"
Ivy shrugged and mumbled something.
Harley thought of asking her to repeat herself, but she had a sneaking suspicion Red had said "maybe forever", and she didn't want it confirmed.
A little of Red's color had come back during the taxi ride, but just as they reached Ivy's territory within Robinson Park, Red stopped, cocked her head, and turned deathly pale again.
"What is it?" Harley asked.
"There was an intruder here," she said slowly. "The plants don't know if he's still inside."
Harley gaped. This intruder, whoever he was, had handled Ivy's outer plant defenses. Normally anything larger than a dog would be expelled ruthlessly and painfully. So the intruder had to be someone like the Batman or . . . whoever was putting Harley in danger.
And again, this whoever had evidently dealt with Red's plants pretty easily.
"What are you going to do?" Harley whispered, starting to feel faint.
Ivy looked indecisive. "I'm going in, of course. I'm not sure if I should leave you out here, though. I don't want you out of my sight, but if he's still in there - "
"At this point," Harley said, "I don't think I want to be out of your sight either."
Ivy folded her arms. "Then we'll go in together. Maybe he's gone."
"You're sure the intruder's a he?"
"I know who it is. Was."
"But you're not going to tell me."
Ivy shook her head and led her into the trees.
"Can you tell me how he got in, at least?" Harley asked as she followed.
"The plants are afraid of him?"
"They're afraid the way dogs get when they tuck their tails between their legs and slink away. They know there's something wrong with him, something dangerous, something unnatural and toxic. They can smell it in him. If I had been here, I could have done something. My babies will do anything for me - but they won't if I'm not here to ask them," Ivy said grimly.
Did Harley say she was frightened earlier? Heck, she was shaking in her booties!
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary as they made their way towards Red's little greenhouse and lair. But Red's face grew longer with every second. When they got to the entrance, Ivy put her hand on Harley's chest. "You're not going in," she said firmly. "They're telling me he's still in there, and you're not safe."
"I am NOT letting you go in there by yourself!"
"Harley, please! If you go in there with me, you'll come out with someone else!"
"And what if you go in alone and never come out AT ALL?!" Harley shrieked.
"Goddamn it, lower your voice!" Ivy hissed.
That was when the door opened without any help from either of them.
"Why, Pammy, there you are," Joker said, looking at her. "You weren't home when I got here, so I thought I'd make myself comfortable. Lean Pocket?"
Harley froze. She hadn't seen Joker in over a year. But it still hurt. That being said, she didn't see why Red was freaking out. He'd just pretend she was invisible like the last time.
"Joker, get the fuck out of my hideout," Ivy snarled.
"Whoops, you should really put your name on any foods that belong to you, Pammy, if you don't want someone to eat them. Anyway, I've been looking all over for Harley, and - " Joker finally seemed to realize she wasn't alone. "Why Harley, there you are! Aren't you a sight for frozen facial muscles!"
Harley gasped. She hadn't been this shocked since - well, since the night he cast her out of his memories. And now . . . "Puddin?" she asked.
Ivy spun her head to look at her, utterly aghast.
"You wouldn't believe what a mess the hideout's in!" Joker told her. "The henchmen are just hopeless. I mean, if I told you to bring me that joke book, the red one?"
"Um, 'Why Did The Dead Baby Cross The Road, and 999 Other Jokes Much More Tasteless Than That'?"
"YES! I swear, it took Sir Laff-a-Lot five tries to get it! You really ought to train them better, you know. Plus I can't find my cufflinks! You're gone a few days and everything goes to hell-in-a-Montana."
"A few - DAYS? It's been a year!"
Joker looked at her oddly. Then he glanced at Ivy. "Pammy, I can't believe it! You've hooked my Harley on opium! You and your poppy-love! Get it, Ivy? Poppy-love? A-HAHAHAhaha!!"
"You can't take her," she growled. "She's going to stay here from now on."
"Well, that seems rather inefficient. How is she going to be my sidekick if you still have physical custody? I thought we'd settled on you having visitation rights."
"You - you want me back?" Harley asked. She couldn't believe it! Seeing him in front of her, asking for her, wanting her to come back to the hideout with him – suddenly the past year evaporated in her mind like the mist. And in an instant she did what she had always done. She forgave him.
"Let's go, Harley," Joker said. "I have this great idea. We're going to need seven tons of Brill cream, a live tarpon, and the first five Hardy Boys books, and we've only got thirty-nine hours! Don't worry, Zeppo's keeping the van warm."
Delighted, Harley jumped into Joker's arms.
Stricken mute, Ivy could only watch them go with desolate eyes. "You promised," she said hopelessly.
Several more minutes passed before Ivy finally went inside. "Well, that's it, then."
To be concluded . . .