Title: Perfect Opportunity (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: Just keep it up. Feedback sent to my email address will almost certainly be returned.
Rating: PG
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: Poison Ivy receives a tempting offer, but she's not completely convinced. Takes place between Chapter 5 and 6 in "Life Don't Have to be No Bed of Roses".
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Chapter 1

"May I sit here?"

Ivy glanced up suspiciously. There were plenty of other tables in the cafeteria. Of course, her table was _always_ empty. The hospital personnel were by now quite familiar with Ivy's daily presence, but that certainly didn't mean they were willing to sit across from someone with a reputation for being a psychotic mad scientist with no regard for human life.

This woman, by contrast, was obviously a visitor by her attire. Her black hair shined under the poor hospital lighting, allowed to hide part of her face so that she almost resembled a playing card. "No, go right ahead," Poison Ivy finally said flatly, resolving not to give her another thought as she worked on her falsified papers for future employment.

She set her tray down and sat opposite her, so Ivy could see that the sum total of her meal was a golden apple and a bottle of water. "Diet?" Ivy asked.

"No," the stranger replied. "It's just that the chemicals of man have so pervaded everything we eat and breathe. It's now a question of choosing that which is least corrupted. A pity this apple isn't organic."

Ironically, Ivy herself wasn't a big advocate of the organic movement, since she had long employed chemicals, irradiation, and other gene-altering devices in her botanical experiments. The uproar over "mutant tomatoes" years before had struck her as wildly amusing.

Still . . . the woman's words sounded suspiciously like someone who, having only a superficial knowledge of Poison Ivy, hoped to open a dialogue with her. Reporter? Police officer? Stalker? "Sure," she only said, shutting the door on further conversation.

The woman sighed. "Do you really think you need to go to all that trouble, Pamela Isley?" she asked, gesturing at the forged papers.

"You obviously wanted to speak to me," Ivy replied, "but you don't even know enough about me. Nobody calls me by my given name any longer." She shoved her papers into a pile and prepared to leave.

"I am sorry," the woman said quietly. "Ivy, then. Why do you feel the need to disguise who you are for some interview?"

Ivy looked at her wintrily. "You shouldn't know I have an interview unless you got a _really_ good look at my papers. And if you did, then you had no right."

"You have an interview with Nightstone Unlimited in New York City, about four days from now. They think your name is Patricia Exley, and that you are merely a botanist with good credentials. This," she said, "is not an efficient use of your resources. But then, what is civilization if not the waste and misuse of natural resources?"

Ivy stared at her. "If your information wasn't accurate," she finally said, "I'd think you'd had one acid trip too many. Who are you?"

"I'm here with a job offer," the woman explained. "A job with someone who doesn't care if you're Poison Ivy. Someone who, in fact, thinks you would be just perfect for his organization."

"Work for a man? Unlikely. Who is he?"

"His name is Ra's al-Ghul, and he is my father."

Ivy had been hovering over her chair for the last couple minutes, but now her shapely rear fell into it with a whump. "I see," she said slowly, processing. "We've never met, but I've heard of him. You must be Talia."

"You've heard of me too, then," Talia responded.

"They say things about you and the Batman," Ivy told her.

"He is a great man," Talia said simply, as if it were obvious, "and my beloved."

"And yet you serve at the right hand of Ra's al-Ghul, whose criminal enterprises have all the subtlety of, say, Ernst Blofeld."

"He is _also_ a great man," Talia replied, seemingly not put out by Ivy's comments, "and moves with more subtlety than you could appreciate. And he is my father."

Ivy had the impression that much was being repeated, rather than said. "So what does your father want with me?" she asked, knowing perfectly well.

"Ra's al-Ghul has spent centuries building up his empire," Talia said calmly, "so that he might one day return this planet to its former glory. Before humanity truly descended upon it like a swarm of locusts whose hunger can never be sated. He is the world's first preservationist, Ms. Ivy, but only he sees the issue with a crystal clarity devoid of social blinders. The best way to preserve Earth is to remove those who wish to despoil it. That would be the human race, Ms. Ivy, and so he seeks to remove that."

"Not too big a task," Ivy said dryly. "And drop the Ms."

"He has had time, _Ivy_," Talia replied. "His eyes stretch fifty years into the future." She paused. "At any rate, I hardly think you need to be convinced. Aren't I preaching to the choir?"

Ivy's hand tensed slightly as it rested on the table. This was the greatest truth Talia had spoken. Sure, she was interested solely in plants, while Ra's had broadened his horizons to include the animal kingdom as well. But on the whole, their goals _were_ largely similar. Plants were solely on this earth to benefit humanity - this was accepted by society. Ivy didn't accept it, however, and neither did Ra's. More importantly, both did something about it.

In short, Ivy was somewhat surprised that it had taken Ra's al-Ghul this long to send an emissary. "Perhaps I'm sympathetic," she said cagily. "But why now? He's had his eyes on Gotham for years now, probably as long as I've been active."

"Longer," Talia assured her. "To be honest, Ivy, my father was never convinced that you were the most stable person. Your were considered to be wildly unpredictable, and my father cannot count on that which is not predictable."

"Honey, predictable is vastly overrated," Ivy retorted. "Again, why now? Why was I damaged goods one year ago, but not today?"

Talia waited a moment. "My father has become aware of your relationship with Harley Quinn, Ivy. He thinks your being in love, as reports indicate, is a sign of maturity and consistency."

Ivy did not reply. She was dealing with a man who had way too much information, and thought he understood all of it. "If there is even the slightest veiled threat in that remark . . ."

"No, absolutely not," Talia quickly interrupted. "Miss Quinn is in no danger from me."

"Good," Ivy said. "So what's in it for me?"

Talia smiled. "You would be well compensated, of course. But my father has resources you couldn't imagine. The things you could achieve . . . He sees in you a dedication to a cause that few share beside himself. Wouldn't you like to see the day when this city is overrun not with crime, but with flowers? When satellite photos show continents where the only signs of life are the animals that make their nest in the abandoned skyscrapers of Gotham, Paris, Tokyo, and Mexico City?"

Ivy blinked. She realized she could taste the saliva in her mouth. Damn it, it was just a vision of a megalomaniac!

But oh, was it tempting.

"And what about this man, the Joker?" Talia added.

Ivy's face hardened. "What about him?" she shot back.

"You know he'll escape again some day," Talia pointed out. "And he'll come for you. Will you be able to keep your love safe from him, even in New York? Are you sure he won't get his revenge sooner or later? The two of you could be taken to some place completely safe, where he'd never find you. My father has a wonderful installation hidden deep within the rain forests of central South America. You could study the flora there, conduct your experiments, save the planet - all the while secure from his mania, knowing that he would one day die with all the rest."

Her voice had dropped considerably, probably because there _were_ other people around, but in Ivy's ears, her words rang like bells. Her fingertips were white as she pressed them into the tabletop.

Talia pulled back and stood up suddenly, taking her apple. Ivy saw she hadn't touched it. "I'm sorry, this is a lot for right now. My father told me to give you twenty-four hours to consider his request. I will meet you here tomorrow. Know that he doesn't offer this lightly - refuse, and there will be no second offer." She looked around and turned to go, but first she looked down at Ivy. "I hope you will accept," she said softly, and smiling at her, she vanished.

Ivy sat there. The idea of subordinating herself to another, especially a man - absurd. But . . .

Could she dare say no?

"Harley," she whispered. "This affects both of us. I have to speak to Harley."

Not waiting another moment, she shoved everything into her bag and hurried out of the cafeteria.

The apple lay there until Talia returned a minute later, talking into her cell phone. "Yes, Father," she said, picking the fruit up. "I believe she will bite."
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"Oooooh, I'm in pain!" Harley moaned theatrically as she was wheeled back into her room. "I'm in pain, and I'm wet, and I'm still hysterical!" She spotted Ivy sitting in her customary place. "I need 20 cc's of TLC, STAT!" she added.

"You'd think career criminals would be able to take a little physical therapy better," the registered nurse muttered exasperatedly.

"Criminals only think of themselves, Nancy," Harley's PT said from the door. "They don't think they deserve to be in pain. Plus Harley thinks she's still an eighteen-year-old gymnast, and stretching is the easiest thing in the world."

"Ha-ha," Harley pouted, folding her arms as she sat on the bed. For whatever reason, physical therapy worked better than years of psychotherapy. "I said STAT, darn it."

Ivy smiled in spite of the recent conversation with Talia. "Wouldn't you rather wait until we're alone?"

"Well . . . okay, yeah, let me catch my breath," Harley yielded. Admittedly, she was still coated in a light sheen of sweat, and her torso was extremely sore.

"Just a couple more sessions, Harley," the therapist said as he left. "Then you don't have to take orders from anyone else - except maybe prison guards."

Harley stuck out her tongue.

"Mm," Ivy murmured. "Hold that pose."

When Harley turned to look at her, uncomprehending, Ivy leaned in and captured Harley's tongue with her lips, kissing her deeply.

"Was that enough T and L for you?" Ivy finally asked when they parted.

Harley's eyes looked slightly crossed. "More like XT and XL," she said, swallowing.

Ivy glanced outside to make sure no one was near. "I had a visitor today."

"Really? Because, you know, they don't get many of those at hospitals."

"So funny I forgot to laugh, Harl. It was Ra's al-Ghul's daughter. Her father wants me to work for him."

Harley looked blankly at her. "Who?"

"Haven't you heard of Ra's al-Ghul?" Ivy asked, surprised. "Allegedly he's this immortal mastermind trying to wipe out the human race to save the environment. You can't be serious. You must have heard of him."

She shrugged. "All I know is Mister - I mean, the Joker once said he had absolutely no concept of style."

"Well, your ex thinks anything less over-the-top than Dennis Rodman is lacking in style," Ivy retorted, feeling her stomach clench at the mere mention of Harley's would-be murderer. Talia had been right, she wasn't sure she could keep them safe forever.

"So I guess he wants you to make some kind of super plant that eats people, or something?" Harley asked idly.

"He just wants to hire me. Talia - "

"Ooh, her I've heard of. They say the Bat's sweet on her."

"Right. As I was saying - "

"And her father is a criminal mastermind, and she works for him? Boy, talk about 'Meet the Parents'."

Ivy rolled her eyes. "May I finish now?"

"Oops. Sorry."

"Talia says we'd be well compensated, and we'd stay somewhere far away from here where the Joker could never find us, and together we might be able to save the plant world before it's too late," Ivy finally explained.

Harley looked at her for a second. "It sounds too good for you to pass up."

Which was, of course, a red flag in its own right. "Us to pass up, Harley. Us," she reminded her. "That kind of decision, we would make together."

"Oh," Harley said, still somewhat unused to having so much control over her life. "I don't know, Red. I really don't know enough about these al-Gool people to know if it's a good idea or not . . . whatever you think is right, Ivy, I'll do. I trust your judgment."

Ivy took her hand. "Thank you, dear. But damn it! I wish I paid more attention to the rumor mill. Who do I ask about this?"

Harley gave Ivy a look that was usually reserved for comments she herself made. "Well, duh, who else would you ask? Pengy."

"Yes, there is that, but he likes to receive as well as give. What information do I have for him? I've been out of the loop for so long."

"Judging from the visits you've been getting from the other Rogues," Harley said thoughtfully, "I'd say you and I have _become_ the loop. All you have to do is sit some place in the Iceberg where people can look at you. Penguin will have to tell you whatever you want to know."

Ivy had been afraid of that.

To be continued . . .