Blue: (1) a primary color (2) off-color, suggestive or lewd
"This was a mistake," Dick hissed at Tim, "Ollie AND Eel AND Kyle AND Bruce – You don't put these guys together unless a malignant intelligence is hurling huge meteors at heavily populated cities – and even then you THINK ABOUT IT FIRST!"
"It's his place, Dick," Tim insisted, "I couldn't tell him not to come."
Dick sighed, "Yeah, I guess. But Eel makes him crazy!"
"Bro! If I nixed everybody Bruce doesn't get along with, it'd be you, me, and Alfred sitting here. Hey, can you see Alfred with some 'Bambi' on his lap, trying to look disapproving!"
It was an amusing enough image, but it introduced a less-than-amusing subject.
"I don't see me with any Bambi on my lap."
Tim looked dejected. But Steve, the roommate, the outsider in the group, saw him slump as he walked away. He crooked a finger at him and said: "Don't worry, kid. I got a plan." If Tim noticed a distant glaze in Steve's eye, he would have attributed it to meeting too many new people after too much scotch and soda.
"Is it my imagination," Selina whispered "or has Diana been toasting for like 10 minutes?"
"Sit down, dear," Dinah answered, "she's just warming up."
Barbara now wore the traditional bride-hat of bows from the giftwrap stuck on a paper plate. The theory was that Diana respected ritual and the closer they stuck to prescribed shower activities, no matter how clichéd or inane, the more comfortable everyone would be.
Everyone apart from Lois, that is, who chose this particular moment to tell Cassie, who hadn't asked but was sitting beside her, about her interview with Oprah Winfrey.
"She has all these 'experts' on her show, but winds up doing all the talking herself," Lois declared pointedly, "I mean think about it, what's the point of having other people around if it's just going to be talk talk talk about you and what you've done and your precious advice to all the little people…"
Cassie nodded, not out of any strong sense of agreement but simply because she preferred nods to speech. That was true under any circumstances, but especially in a case such as this when someone else had the floor.
"I like to think of myself as Every Woman…" Diana continued, ignoring Lois's asides.
"She doesn't," Lois objected, "she likes to think of herself as, literally, gods' – with a small 'g' - gift to mankind."
"Of course," Diana still appeared to be oblivious to Lois's comments, but her toast changed tone slightly, "however much we might champion the cause of women's strength and independence, it is so important that we actually live up to those ideals. For who can consider themselves truly independent if they're forever in need of rescuing by a more able partner?"
"The thing I find most interesting about Oprah," Lois continued, undeterred, adding "in a tiara" under her breath, "is the way she'll give policy on things she has absolutely no experience of. Why it'd be like some professional virgin presuming to give advice on marriage… But anyway, I shouldn't be monopolizing your attention, should I, dear? We were listening to—oh look, the toasts are still going on."
"Hey Barbara," Selina whispered, thinking back to her own confrontation with the demonspawn, "just out of curiosity, how big is your shower?"
"What was the name of that drama major you dated sophomore year?" Steve was asking Dick, "Megan?"
"Molly," Dick said with a twinkle, "Molly was drama, Megan was business administration with a minor in anthropology."
"And Cheryl," Steve rounded out the list, "was the music major with the Kermit the Frog backpack and the cello case she always laid on my bed."
"That's right, I forgot that."
Tim listened in awe: "Drama, business, anthropology and music. So the common theme here is…?"
"Red hair," Steve pronounced, as though answering the riddle of the sphinx.
"Of course," Tim smiled at Dick.
"Of course," Wally echoed.
"Oh brother," Dick rolled his eyes.
"I couldn't help noticing," Steve went on, raising his voice a little so the others at the party could all hear, "the lack of any …traditional Stag Night entertainment…"
Tim blushed, as there were guttural murmurs of agreement even from the partygoers who had souls.
"…and knowing our guest of honor's preference for a certain hair color…" Steve went on, signaling to Kyle, who stood nearest the door, "I figured: Do I give a silver-plated chafing dish like everybody else? Or get my ol'buddy something he'll really enjoy…" He waved to Kyle, who opened the door to see a stunning woman, long red tresses cascading down her shoulders to… oh my… Kyle swallowed… great knockers… he inhaled sharply… great everything… and all of it… draped… in green…."
"So I told Donald Trump," Lois was now discussing her recent interviews with Stephanie, in just as audible a voice as before, "for a sharp businessman, you're awfully gullible. Anything that round can't be real!"
"What about one of those games," Zatanna suggested, swallowing her champagne at a gulp.
Selina and Dinah just looked at her. They had skipped that section of the books entirely.
"I don't know any shower games," Dinah hedged. "We figured, they were icebreakers, and everybody here…" she noted Lois glaring at Diana and Diana glaring at Lois, "…already knows each other."
"I know a good one," Stephanie offered enthusiastically, "The Penny Game! We sit in a circle, and everybody names something they've never done, and if anyone else in the group has done it, they put in a penny…"
"Let's begin by clarifying it's someTHING you've never done," Zatanna giggled, "and not someONE."
"First," Selina confided to Barbara, "this shower idea is more fun than I thought."
"And second?" Barbara asked, staring at Zatanna, then Lois, then Diana in stunned horror.
"Second is: Magic Gal is cut-off on the bubbly."
"I hear ya."
"I always assumed Black Canary was the party girl in your circle."
"Everyone does, poor thing."
Eel took in the buxom dancer before him with a gaze of pure lust:
"Oh sure, it's all fun and games 'til someone puts an eye out."
She smiled knowingly and leaned over him. Her scent was intoxicating….Flowery and fruity…he inhaled deeply… but musky, too… thick, heavy… like the jungle… green.
"Mile-High Club!" Zatanna chirped, while Diana and Lois watched each others' fingertips like gunfighters at the OK Corral…
Roy, Vic, and Gar had retreated from the rest of the party. Dick was more than preoccupied being Bruce Wayne's son, the groom, and the guest of honor. They collected a bottle of whiskey, found a card table, and played blackjack while discussing, alternately: "Are they real", what really happened at Clark's party, what was so cool about BattleBots, who they'd like to see appear in a JLA-swimsuit calendar, who would win in a cage-match between Huntress and Power Girl, and finally that bullshit editorial that said a hero changing his name or costume was official notice to the world that they'd "jumped the shark."
"Felicty?" Roy sputtered, "they said it's like Felicity cutting her hair – what kind of thing is that to say? It's a TV-show! It's hell-ooo," he noticed his audience was no longer looking at him but looking past him. Turning in their direction he saw… bewitching beauty… "Hello," he continued, "and whose little girl are you?"
At the conclusion of the 'Penny Game,' the 'Safety Pin Game,' three bottles of champagne, and several hands of five-card stud, Diana was the universal winner, and Selina and Dinah scrambled to find the door prize for which she would exchange her pennies, safety pins and poker chips.
"What the hell is this?" the Amazon Princess exclaimed.
Stephanie focused hard on the object, then answered decisively: "It's soap – shaped like a blue pigeon."
"Why?" Diana asked. Steph shrugged and Diana left.
The remaining guests looked at Selina and Dinah.
"It was either that or aromatherapy candles," Selina explained defensively.
"Serenity, Memories…" Dinah added, specifying the varieties.
"Valium," Lois suggested a more suitable fragrance.
Zatanna had another idea and giggled: "Ya sure you don't want a humming toy instead of soap?"
Barbara looked at Selina. "No special powers to get heroes drunk, huh?" she whispered.
"Um, Z'anna, maybe you missed this part," Dinah chimed in. "We didn't plan on having games. We had no prizes. We ransacked Barb's stuff to get the soap."
Zatanna's brow furrowed, then she said, "Nothing that goes 'whirr' in your old Batgirl stuff?"
There was a long, long pause.
"Okay, new rule," it was Selina who finally spoke, "We don't even joke about sex toys with bat emblems on them, not even hypothetical ones, not while I'm in the room. Everybody got that?"
Clark's super-senses detected the scent long before the temptress got around to him. He sat enraptured, watching her with Wally, while Oliver grumbled that the Bat's stay-out-of-my-city rules were interfering with his attempts to get Black Canary back….
Oliver trailed off as the beauty finished with Wally and approached him and Clark.
"Gentlemen," she announced her arrival in low come-hither tones that made their insides vibrate, "It's most unsociable to stay over here talking together when there's a lady present to be… entertained."
Oliver blinked a few times, looking up at her, then sank back in his chair.
"Do join us," he murmured.
"But there's nowhere for me to sit," she answered.
Clark stood from his chair, but Oliver offered his lap.
"What I don't understand," Selina asked, watching Dinah and Barbara drain the glasses while they cleaned up, "is why you're all not dead by now. You guys can't keep secrets worth shit."
"-hic- That's not true," Dinah objected. "I din't tell anybody 'bout Jason Blood and Shiva."
"Do you know," Selina ignored Dinah's outburst and spoke to Barbara, "how many versions of the Clark-Diana story I heard tonight? Everybody has one. Except for Lois of course, and she had to make sure I knew Zatanna only got your gift ten minutes before she got here. From the tourist Disney Store in Gotham Plaza, she specified, not the good one on Fifth Avenue."
"Lois is happiest when she's gathering and disseminating information," Barbara mused philosophically, "-hic- As am I. What do you think the guys are up to about now?"
"Red," Dick said with a pained longing as the sharp vision of Poison Ivy filled his mind. Red Hair – what was it about red hair?
Ivy's enticing but displeased features contorted as she spoke.
"None of you are rich?"
Bruce Wayne's son – Shouldn't all his friends be loaded? This lot of mouth-breathers were – Ordinary! A reporter, an artist, a cop, a high school kid, a salesman – at that point she stopped asking…
"I used to be rich," Ollie grumbled through the haze of pheromones, anxious to please this bewitching siren.
"Used to be?" she asked flatly.
"Gone now," he admitted.
"Dot-coms?" Steve asked.
"I don't like to talk about it."
Ollie took Ivy's atomizer from her belt and spritzed his inquisitor. Steve's eyes glazed and he sank bank into dreamy contemplation of the green.
"We should've gotten a stripper," Dinah declared, passing the Hagen Daaz carton to Barbara.
"I don't want some himbo dressed as Zorro groining around my apartment in speedos," Barbara objected, passing the cookie dough tube to Selina.
"You'd rather have Diana and Lois squaring off?" Selina asked, staring at the cookie dough much as Diana had scrutinized the bathsoap and passing it on to Stephanie.
"They brought presents," Barbara pointed out.
"You'd rather have a Body-by-Victoria camisole than Zorro? Babs, you turned a corner somewhere, dear. That ring is cutting off circulation to your brain."
Barbara huffed, looked at the heap of blue lingerie piled on her couch, and reconsidered.
"You guys wanna go out? There is a club down by Pier 17. They have male dancers."
Selina looked at her appraisingly. Barbara was full of surprises.
"How do you know this?"
"They have a wheelchair ramp, and a ten o'clock show," she added.
"Barbara, how do you know this?"
"How do you think? They have a website!"
Dick's breathing became quicker and harsher… God, how he desired this woman, she was so beautiful, she was everything he had ever wanted… and her scent, burning into his lungs, was overpowering… fruity but tart… citrus… like… lemons, but with something else… something chemical…
His eyes cleared a little as a thought came into focus …not lemons – Lemon Pledge. Poison Ivy! …red… so beautiful and exciting… not natural red, henna maybe, not real like Barbara… Ivy… Poison Ivy… This wasn't real… Lemon Pledge… This wasn't real, this was a drug. Ivy – Poison – He shook his head clear.
Poison Ivy was standing before Bruce, fingering his hair like a plaything. "Looks like you're the only one here worth enslaving," she sighed.
Oh shit! Bruce looked totally out of it. He could be faking, but it didn't look it. Eyes empty, head back, staring up at Ivy…
Summoning all his resolve, Dick stood.
"No, he's not, Red. I'm his heir. I'll get it all."
Conjuring visions of Rhett Butler, he strode up to Ivy, grabbed her forcefully at the hips, and turned her into his arms. Before she could gasp, he kissed her, raising a hand to her hair, then raising the other to her throat. He moaned into her mouth, turning her face ever so slightly to better reach him… laid a finger on the nerve he was searching for, and pinched. He felt her tense for a quarter-second, then go limp.
He lowered her gently to the floor, let out a long huff, and looked around the room of passive, enthralled heroes.
"Next time," came the thought, "elope."
FeistyFan: Now DeepDude, seriously, you're telling me
of all the women that run around in spandex
you'd want to spend the night with Amethyst??
MarvMan: What are you, a perv! She looks like she's 12!!
BabeMagnet: YEAH! Figure of a VENUS PENCIL, dude
Selina, Dinah, Barbara, Cassie and Stephanie, who were logged into the chatroom as "Underwire", huddled around Oracle's oversized monitor, trembling with laughter.
DeepDude: You guys are so shallow. Look at her, you can
see she's got so much more character than
someone like Black Canary or Catwoman
The women burst into peals of laughter. Selina pushed her breasts into her chest and pondered: "Why yes, I feel more complex now."
Dinah mimicked her: "Me too. I've got a good three, four more inches of character this way."
Stephanie asked to take over the keyboard to see what more ludicrous postulates she could lure out of "DeepDude" through private whispers…
She didn't get to find out, because the OraCom alert closed the chat window and threw up a feed from the police band.
"Barbara," Selina complained, "you said you were turning that OFF for the party."
Barbara became all business, taking the keyboard back from Stephanie and centering her chair before the monitor.
"I did," she said puzzled, "At least, I turned all the filters up to screen out anything that wasn't practically in our back yard. This can't be. To be going off like this, it'd almost have to say—"
Barbara broke off and inhaled sharply. The others gathered around the scene and read the words that triggered the OraCom panel:
: visiting Bludhaven Police Officer Richard Grayson… Wayne Building… :
"Oh dear," Dinah murmured, amused, while Barbara and Selina alternately mouthed various words as they scrolled up the screen.
: …apprehended…Pamela Isley aka Poison Ivy… infiltrated a private party… as a stripper!… :
Partners. Partners work together, understand each other, depend on one another. Bruce and Dick were not simply the groom and his father, they had been Batman and Robin! Bruce and Tim were still Batman and Robin. The men shared a bond borne of surviving unspeakable perils together, as a team.
The rehearsal dinner did not look like a deathtrap when they walked in. But then, neither had the abandoned warehouses, the clock towers, the greenhouses, the factories, or the comedy clubs.
The women were already waiting. They made smalltalk.
"How was the party?" Selina had asked casually. It didn't seem like a trap.
"Oh, it was fine," Bruce answered.
"Not too rowdy?" Barbara had asked.
"No, no," Dick answered.
"Strippers?" Stephanie had asked.
"Nothing like that, no," Tim insisted.
And then, just like the time they tripped the electric eye in Mr. Freeze's hideout, the room's temperature plummeted ninety degrees in four seconds.
"So Poison Ivy was caught at a different party?" Selina began.
"A different bachelor party," Barbara corrected.
"Right, a different bachelor party," Selina continued.
"In the Wayne Building," Stephanie added.
"Dressed as a stripper," Barbara finished.
The arrival of Steve and Aunt Kate stymied any more explicit conversation, and the group went in to dinner in the much the same spirit three lions, three Christians, and two indifferent spectators might have entered the Coliseum.
Unlike the Mad Hatter's Aunt Maud, Dick's Aunt Kate was an attractive, pleasant woman in her late 30s. Steve found her an attentive dinner companion, happy to hear his stories about being bewitched by one of the actual costumed rogues of Gotham City. So far from feeling a victim, Steve seemed to look on the episode as an adventure and an exciting brush with fame. Besides which, his good friend Dick was the hero of the day! How cool was that? No Batman or Robin that foiled that crime, but Officer Dick Grayson…
"How exactly did that come to be, anyway," Barbara muttered through clenched teeth.
Dick's eyes flickered. He wasn't about to give details on how he'd actually subdued Poison Ivy, so, needing to give some answer, he explained briefly how he'd fought off her pheromones.
"And just how did you originally come to notice her pheromones smell like Lemon Pledge," Barbara asked testily.
"Or that she's not a natural redhead," Selina muttered disapprovingly under her breath. Only Bruce heard this and, for the first time, was grateful it wasn't he who first broke out of Ivy's spell. With the noble intention of watching his partner's back, Bruce leaned over to Selina and defended him:
"You remember adolescence," he whispered. "He was sixteen, he was a hormone machine, and he noticed everything about all of you."
It was, perhaps, not the wisest time to allude to Selina's Catwoman past, for lacking any claws, Selina stuck a fork in his thigh.
"Hey!" Bruce exclaimed.
"So Dick is observant," she whispered back, before falling back on their sign language: ˜˜You trained him to be, right? Then how'd she get to you?˜˜
Bruce blinked. It was starting to sound like he was in as much trouble as Dick.
˜˜What do you mean?˜˜ he signed.
Slowly, as one might speak to a moron, Selina spelled out her question: ˜˜How… did… Poison Ivy… who …I do believe… you've seen before… a number of times… waltz into …Wayne Penthouse… and get close enough… to spritz YOU… not Dick, not Tim, not Wally… YOU, Dark Knight bad ass crimefighter extraordinaire…. How did she …get close enough… to …spritz… YOU… ??… I'll tell you how … 'cause you… were not looking… at… her… face!˜˜
Yes. He was in as much trouble as Dick – if not more.
"You said there weren't going to be strippers," Stephanie looked daggers at Tim.
"I didn't get a stripper. I had a nice quiet evening planned, which it turned out was a mistake, cause everybody was bored stiff and mad at me 'til Ivy showed up and…"
Tim looked up - Bruce could deliver much deadlier looks than Steph.
"As best man, don't you have a toast to make?"
"Umm," Tim blanched.
©2002, Chris Dee
Mr. Bruce Wayne requests the honour of
your presence at the marriage of
Miss Barbara Louise Gordon
to his son
Mr. Richard John Grayson
East Garden, Wayne Manor, Gotham
next time in DEARLY BELOVED