(Author's Note: This is inspired by the animated series more than the comic book, but since that section of fanfiction.net seems to be something of a ghost town, I thought I'd try posting this here. Sorry if this was a faux pas.)


Title: It's Just Allergies (1/??)
Author: Allaine
Email: eac2nd@yahoo.com
Distribution: Probably at fanfiction.net and the factsofslash group. Anyone interested should just ask, and can expect a positive answer.
Spoilers: Takes place after the New Batman/Superman Adventures, with one alteration - in my story, Ivy's skin never turned white like the Joker's. So she still looks like you and me.
Feedback: Well, this fanfic is uncharted territory for me, so reader opinions may very well determine whether I finish it or not. So I would encourage it even more than usual.
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimers: All characters belong to . . . let's see, DC Comics, Kids WB and the Cartoon Network, the producers of the two Batman serials, the talented artists and voice actors, etc. I have borrowed them entirely without permission, for which I humbly beg forgiveness, but I seek no form of profit from this undertaking.
Summary: When Poison Ivy finds her well-being threatened by the unlikeliest of sources, Harley Quinn proves that Ivy doesn't have to be alone anymore, ever again. My first Batman fanfiction.
_____________________________________________

Chapter 1

Much like some of her beloved plants, Pamela Isley, a.k.a. Poison Ivy, woke up with the sun. It didn't matter that she didn't get any sunlight in her cell. Her biological clock seemed to know each morning the exact time of sunrise.

Yawning, she slowly sat up and swung her legs off the bed. Looking out the transparent partition that kept her inside, she saw that, as usual, no one else appeared to be awake. The lights were not yet on in the corridor, and the occupant of the room across from hers, the sadly deluded Maxie Zeus, did not move under his blanket.

Ivy smoothed her auburn hair back with her fingers before getting up. And, as usual, her first step was not to wash or do exercises. It was to tend to her lovelies, her plants.

At the moment she had three she was cultivating. For a while now, the doctors who ran Arkham had decided to confiscate her plants after a few weeks' time. They had witnessed her innocent-looking flowers, ferns, and vines wreak harm on both person and property one too many times. But she still had a week or two with these, she figured.

"And how are you this morning?" she asked the one on the left quietly. It seemed to droop forlornly in the dim light, bereft of any bloom or exotic marking. Just your common, ordinary houseplant. One might almost think it wax, like the ones you found in cheap Italian restaurants.

As it happened, it was not ordinary. Nor was it dangerous, she thought absently. It was more of a flight of fancy for her. She had bred a strain of flowering vine which, at sunset every night, would grow blossoms of a striking red and yellow color almost instantly. And yet, the flowers would wither and die within ten minutes, just like a sunset. And just like her, it did not need a window to know when it was sunset. Like her, it just knew.

"My shooting star vine," she whispered. Yes, it was very much like one. It flared brilliantly, but then it was gone much too . . .

Suddenly there were two vines in her vision, and she rubbed her eyes as they watered. "More tired than I . . ." she began, but she was unable to finish.

Her nose hitching, she took several short, deep breaths before she let loose an uncontrollable sneeze. Fortunately she had been able to turn away, so she didn't shoot germs all over her plants. They were very sensitive in the developing phase. It wouldn't do to just disrupt all that.

Ivy lost her train of thought, however, when she sneezed violently three more times. The third time, she was able to put her hands to her face, and her fingers were splattered with a disgusting mucus.

"Ugh!" she said, revolted. She hurried to her personal sink and washed her fingers off. "Just what I need, a cold," she muttered. She almost never got common colds, which just made the few times she did all the more unpleasant.

Looking around, she saw no signs that her sneezing fit had woken any other inmates. Nor did she hear any complaints. Shrugging, she wiped her nose and went back to check on her plants.

Five minutes later she was forced to return to bed, shaking like (no pun intended) a leaf. The entire time she had attempted to examine the progress of her shooting star vine and the other two specimens, she had been afflicted with a variety of ailments. Sneezing, watery eyes, a dry cough, even a moment or two of nausea. When it got so bad that she felt like she was about to pass out with fever, she had stumbled away from the table and back to her bed.

"I hate being sick," she pouted. And they would keep her isolated from the other patients because if they got sick, the doctors wouldn't be able to help them for fear of having the treatment conflict with their _other_ medications.

Putting the back of her hand to her forehead, she thought it felt slightly hot, but nothing too worrisome. What worried her was when she took her hand away and saw what was on her wrist.

She was sure that when she woke up, there had been nothing there but her normally creamy pale skin. And yet now, there was an ugly red rash on her left wrist. It began to itch even as she studied it.

Poison Ivy growled. "If I was out," she hissed, "I would have it taken care of within minutes with one of my herbal remedies. And since when do I get rashes? And where did it come from?" What had her left wrist touched recently? When she sneezed? No, that had just gotten on the fingers of her right hand. Or . . .

She glanced over at the third plant she was raising. If the authorities would only let her keep it for another month or so, it would start sprouting small pods that, when squeezed, squirted a corrosive agent with an effect similar to Mace. At the moment, however, it only had very broad leaves. The pods would grow underneath those leaves, and so she had carefully inspected the stalk under the leaves while gently raising the leaves with her left - wrist.

"That's absurd," she scoffed. "I couldn't have made a mistake that badly." She could always test it with her other wrist.

Then she looked at her left wrist again. Tiny welts were starting to form.

"Then again, maybe not," she said, not wanting to risk having itching bumps all over her arms. She would see the doctor as soon as they let her, that was all.

Ivy sniffled and burrowed deeper into her pillow. It wasn't often she found herself unable to look at her plants.
______________________________________________

"You had an allergic reaction," Dr. Warner said calmly.

"Excuse me? I don't have allergies. My medical history says I don't have any, doesn't it?" Ivy folded her arms. No competent doctor would work at a place like Arkham.

"Yes, I see that," he replied, going through her record, "but some allergies only develop later in life. Or perhaps you were exposed to something you haven't had contact before. But all the signs are there. Your body found something it didn't like, and it overreacted. Like carpet bombing a cricket."

"But I was fine until this morning," she protested.

He nodded. "Did you encounter anything which could have caused such a reaction?"

"All I did between the time I woke up and when I started sneezing," she recalled, "was get out of bed and start checking my plants."

"Perhaps your plants were the cause."

She stared at him. "Doctor, you know my history as well as anyone else in this booby hatch," she said flatly. "As well as anyone in the entire city of _Gotham_. So why don't you listen to yourself when you say that again?"

He flushed slightly. "Yes, well, of course, we couldn't expect an experienced botanist to suddenly become allergic to her own plants," he admitted. "Only, have your symptoms returned?"

"No," she realized. "In fact . . ." She looked at her wrist. The redness was fading. "The itching has subsided as well, Doctor."

"Well then," he said, "like I thought. You have an allergy to something. Perhaps it was something you ate last night, and you suffered a delayed reaction. Still, just to be on the safe side, you might want to move your potted plants outside of your cell."

She sneered at him. "Nice try, Doctor. If they want to confiscate my plants, they can fucking do it themselves." Getting up, she stormed out.

He watched her leave. "We'll see," he murmured.
___________________________________________

"Pamela Isley, vegetarian plate," the cook said in a bored tone.

"Thanks," she muttered, taking her lunch. She quickly found an empty table and started eating. "Well, I'm not allergic to dead plants, that's for sure," she thought as she ate her salad.

She wasn't alone for long before someone sat down in front of her. "Hey, Ivy. Mind if I sit down?"

Ivy smiled a little. "Sure thing, Harley. What, the Joker isn't here yet?"

"No, Mr. J wants to be fashionably late this afternoon," Harley Quinn said cheerfully. When Ivy said nothing, she scrunched up her face in thought. "Besides, I want to sit with you today."

"Thanks, I guess."

Harley rested her elbows on the table and leaned her chin on her folded hands. "What happened to your hand?"

Ivy rubbed her wrist idly. The redness continued to fade, but the bumps were still there, and they itched a little. "Just an itch. It'll be gone by the end of the day." Pausing in her eating, she considered the young woman in front of her.

Harley Quinn was a truly frustrating woman. She practically fawned over the Joker, like the most pathetic kind of groupie. Mr. J? What the hell kind of nickname was that? Her voice could get annoying at times, she could be blindingly dense sometimes, and even after a couple years of Ivy trying to instill a little self-esteem into the girl, it was like filling a sinkhole with marbles.

For all that, Harley was the only human friend she had. When they were out on the town and Ivy was feeling naughty, Harley was right there with her (when the Joker didn't crook his finger or sit in a padded cell). She seemed genuinely attached to Ivy, when most people avoided her like the plague. Then again, most people believed she could give them the plague if she wanted to (she could, but too much effort). And to be honest, for anybody else, would she have even bothered trying to build up their independence? For _years_?

Looking at Harley, Ivy realized how much she had in common with her shooting star vine. Perhaps that was even where she had gotten the idea. When she was in action, she was a brilliant ball of red and black energy. But she feared that Harley was destined to flame out much too soon. Most likely her beloved Mr. J would put her in the morgue.

If he ever did, she would hunt him down and shove a cactus down his throat.

"Uh, Ivy? Is something wrong?"

Ivy looked down and saw she was clenching her fork so hard that her skin was turning white. "Nothing, Harley, I was just thinking about something. And don't put your elbows on the table."

As if to prove her point, a stray elbow hit Harley squarely in the back of her head, causing her arms to fly out from under her. Her face fell into her lunch.

"I couldn't agree more, Pamela. Her table manners are execrable. Just look at her stuffing her face like that." With that, the Joker made one of those mad cackles that drove Ivy up the wall and continued on to get his lunch.

Harley slowly raised her head. Her face was a mess. "Ha ha, good one," she whispered.

Ivy sighed with compassion. "Here, Harley," she said, picking up her napkin. Calmly she tried to wipe her face clean, but inside she was seething. That arrogant bastard . . .

"Why do you let him do that to you?"

"I'll get him back one of these days," Harley assured her weakly.

"When was the last time you 'got him back'?"

"That time he hired an actress to replace me," she instantly replied. "I broke out of here and beat him black and blue on the way back."

Ivy remembered that one. Harley had escaped through the laundry. Since it was the oldest trick in the book, no one thought of it. When the Joker had returned, he had two black eyes to go with his two black eyes.

She also remembered that three days later, Harley had been sent to the infirmary. She had denied knowing who had twisted her arm behind her back so badly that she dislocated her shoulder, sprained her wrist, and slipped a disc. "And how about before that?" she asked sadly.

Harley looked down. "It's not easy playing jokes on Mr. J. Everyone's too afraid to laugh at him. Nobody's afraid of me, so it makes more sense . . ." Her voice trailed off, as if even she was too embarrassed to continue in that vein.

Right then and there, Ivy decided she would give her shooting star vine to Harley that night. Not that it was making her sneeze or anything, of course, but her friend needed it more than she did.

"Maybe she needs a bib," the Joker said out of the corner of his mouth as he came back the other way.

Instinctively, Ivy picked up one of her cherry tomatoes and flung it at him. It smacked him squarely on the back of his head. He spun around and glared at her, but she just looked innocent. Grinding the tomato beneath his heel, he stormed off.

Everyone witnessed it. But like Harley had said, no one laughed.
__________________________________________

"Doctor?"

"Yes, Miss Isley?" Dr. Warner asked as he stood outside her cell. "What is it?"

Ivy was pressed against the partition, as far from the table where her plants were as possible. Those beautiful red and yellow blossoms had appeared, regular as clockwork, and almost instantly her throat had seized up. Her eyes watered and her nose itched, but she didn't notice as she gasped for air. Even now her mouth was pressed against the holes in the glass, breathing the air that passed through the hall outside her room.

Anyone else would have said she was having a severe allergic reaction to pollen, but it simply didn't happen to her. Her plants could never harm her. She looked back briefly and sneezed loudly.

Turning to face him again, he could have told her if he wished that her face was all red and blotchy, making her look much less attractive than she normally was. "Take them away," she said. She would have sounded defeated if she was able to muster more than a croak. "Take the flowers to Harley Quinn, and just put the others somewhere else."

"Of course," he told her, snapping his fingers. Two orderlies materialized. "Take the flowering plant to Miss Quinn. Tell her it's a 'gift' from Miss Isley."

"I was going to give it to her anyway," she protested feebly.

"Indeed. Bring the other two to the solarium for now. Maybe with proper treatment, she won't need to be kept separate from them for long." He looked down at her dispassionately. "After all, Miss Isley needs her beauty sleep."

When they were gone, she sat alone in her cell. Her breathing was slowly returning to normal. And she felt very alone.

She almost never cried, but that night she did.

To be continued . . .