It's Good

July 21, 2018:

For the first time since Poison Ivy got back into town from Belize, she and Harley have a good talk.

Harley's Hideyhole

It's a rundown studio apartment with worn floors and peeling walls, and it sure ain't much to look at.

Harley Quinn's hideyhole looks normal enough at first. There's a twin-sized bed, complete with mattress and sheets of reasonable quality, and a black pressboard wardrobe to make up for the fact that there's only one closet in the whole place, presently functioning as a linen closet / pantry. There's a dresser, and a illuminated vintage 1950's vanity with a red and white polka dot cushion on its bench top, set with all manner of cosmetic boxes. Red and white striped fabric hangs over the windows in the form of painfully simple handmade curtains, including the one window in the tiny kitchenette that houses little more than a dorm fridge, a couple of cabinets, and a sink.

To one side of the room, there's a pair of large gymnastics pad with a boombox set next to it and a pile of CDs. To the other, there's a small round table sourced from a thrift shop that seats four in tight quarters. Over the table, there's a small pendant light fixture… that doesn't really work, but has fashioned into a fantastic new creation by means of red and black tissue paper, Elmer's glue, a few heart cutouts, a string of battery operated Christmas lights, and a YouTube tutorial.

There are a couple of oddities: a pile of stinky blankets on the floor in the corner by the bed. A small doll that is surprisingly heavy—maybe 7 or 8 pounds-on the bed.

But it's normal in here. Really. …Until you start opening things.

The steamer trunk at the foot of the bed: packed to the brim with weapons. The decorated baseball bat and giant mallet under the bed. The cork gun in the messenger bag that hangs on a hook by the door with a wide array of color-coded canisters. The wardrobe, packed to the gills with the most eclectic collection of red and black garments, business suits, and random costumes that one could ever hope to find. The vanity drawers, where normal cosmetics reside with a collection of stage makeup and clown paint. The bathroom drawer, where a few cans of mace rumble around with jingle bells and jars of girly essentials.

So, if you actually like normal? Man, are YOU in the wrong place!


NPCs: Bud and Lou

Mentions: Boomerang, Taskmaster, Amanda Waller,


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

When Ivy said she wanted to talk, Harley said she had a place. Not a problem.

And when would it ever be problem to tell Poison Ivy the deep secrets she had acquired for herself—hoarded like precious rubies? Someday, perhaps. But not today.

Instead, the harlequin gets out her bike, loads the Queen of Green onto the back of it, and they motor into what is arguably the worst neighborhood in all of Gotham: The Narrows. It’s a neighborhood so blighted by crime and the malintent of its own inhabitants that the police refuse to come.

For the likes of the redhead and blonde on that motorcycle, that means safety.

The operator of said motorcycle makes a stop at the local corner grocery and walks away from it with an enormous paper-wrapped pile of sandwich meat that is tucked into her the messenger bag slung across her body. “You’ll see,” Harley explains apologetically after that is done, and motoring off the rest of the way.

The rundown apartment looks like it could be condemned in the likes of Metropolis, but here? Here, it’s really just looks like it is only in a little need of some TLC. Quinn pulls Ivy inside by the hand, fingers twined through her friend’s even as her other hand reaches into her bag and pulls out the meat.

And then she opens the front door. Only to be pounced over by two enormous hyenas who are frantically whining and walking all over her until they get ahold of the bag she’s brought home. Then they bound off of her to joyfully tear it apart. Ivy does not seem to bother them in the least, and they pay her no mind.

Beaming brightly from her place on the floor, Quinn chirps in explanation, “I got Bud and Lou back!”

Poison Ivy has been on the subdued side ever since she got back to Gotham. I mean, she hasn’t even murdered anyone, how likely is that? But this is exaggeration. She has had quiet periods and they have usually not ended in good conclusions for anyone, but this one, at least, seems to be a little different in an ethereal way.

She rides behind Harley without trouble. She even dresses ‘down’ for the occasion - dirty work jeans, a button up shirt of uncertain provenance, and a motorcycle helmet. (Only break one law at a time. Besides, this conceals any oddities in her appearance.)

Despite the motorcycle helmet, Harley can all-but-feel the raised eyebrow at the sandwich meat. “I think if you’re buying that much,” she says, “they’ll sell you the entire ham, Harley.”

But that is her piece to say, and she is quiet the rest of the way, unless spoken to.

Soon enough, it’s another run-down location that is part of why Gotham has such high plaudits for an excellent quantity of housing stock and reasonable rents. Something about the air makes Ivy’s nose wrinkle, but she can’t place why. Something African in the air. Perhaps I should go to Africa again, she thinks, when


Ivy relaxes within seconds. Behind her, the withered but hangin’-on acacia tree that had been set in a planter across the road relaxes gently, its renewed foliage and extended branches giving it a plaintive look. “Hah,” she says, smiling. “Well! Look at them. They seem to be in good health. Do they get restless kept in here like this?”

She doesn’t reach out for the animals, but then, she rarely does.

Her hand does reach out to Harley, who had so recently been holding it, even as her other takes off the helmet and shakes out all that red.

“Thank you for bringing me here, Harley. I would have said something earlier, but you’d seemed on edge and I thought I shouldn’t add to it,” she continues. “But I need your perspective on something.”

Her eyes turn to Harley’s.

“I’ve been having strange dreams,” she says. “It’s why I came back. But I don’t understand them.”

Harley readily takes Ivy’s hand and assistance as she rolls up onto her feet, although the trained gymnast doesn't really need the latter to make the graceful ascent back onto her feet. And her pale eyes look up to unwaveringly stare back into Ivy’s deep and verdant own. “Of course, Red! Mi cabeza es su cabeza!” she exclaims without hesitation on the matter of sharing the apartment space and her thoughts. “I woulda told ya earlier, but …” But the redhead was kinda gone. Quinn shrugs helplessly and then pushes inside to where the pair of hundred pound carnivores are littering the floor with rapidly multiplying and flying shreds of uncured ham and butcher paper, tugging Ivy across the threshold behind her before dropping the other woman’s hand.

Crossing the floor towards the hyenas, the slender blonde stoops down and ruffles them, fingers in their odorous haunches as they eat. This is a routine they know, marked by all the telltale signs of comfort and familiarity. The clown princess breathes easier, and makes airy kissy noises at them.

It may not seem immediately that she’s going to address the dreams, but she goes quiet for a moment.

“What kinda dreams, Ivy?” Turning to take in her friend anew from over her shoulder, Quinn in her shorts and outlandish thigh-high knit stockings—red with black hearts, for the curious—continues to squat down near the hyenas who have already nearly polished off what was easily pounds of food.

“I mean, I know this might surprise ya, but I ain’t any sort of Joseph-level dream interpreter. And nowadays, most of the dream meaning gurus are bunk in my opinion anyway, but I c’n do my best.”

The first thing Ivy does is turn to close the door behind them. The hyenas won’t object, perhaps.

The second thing is that she takes off her shoes. While she does this, she speaks. Her voice is intent, low. There is none of the air of being the impenetrable voice of the trees here. It’s an honest tone.

“I understand completely, but it’s starting to leak into everything else. Given my situation, with… everything; I can’t exactly get a sleep study. It comes through on the same… “

Ivy exhales with great force. “Oh. Oh, this would be so much easier if I could just *show you*.” After this she turns her head to look to Harley, long enough in contemplation that it probably gets unsettling, before she shakes her head. “No. No, it would be too much. I’ll have to use my words and struggle through like everyone else on two legs.”

Ivy walks towards the bed and sits on the edge of it. A moment later she actually - really! - flops backwards, firmly enough to make the bedspring squeak faintly.

“As I was saying. It comes through the same sort of signal that the plants do. You understand what I mean, don’t you?” Her hands raise up, fingers splaying apart, turning to face her own vision. “When I say I hear them, I don’t mean it literally. The sensory information appears to be as something closer to hearing than anything else. I expect it’s ultimately some sort of trace chemical sensitivity… I’m getting off topic. Set the hyenas on me if I do it again.”

Her arms flop down, one crossing her belly and the other raising up onto the bed as she stares at the ceiling. “The dream,” she says.

“I’m standing in a building in Gotham. About thirty stories up. I’ve been able to figure that out because the angle is always the same. The building has no windows, it’s open-air. I can see others, like great obsidian pillars where the skyscrapers used to be. They’re alive, Harley; vibrant with vines as thick as a redwood, blooming in great vertical platforms. I can… I can see them speciating, see them thriving in this new environment. There’s a lot that I see there…”

Her eyes turn to Harley. “You’re there,” she says. “I don’t see you but I know you’re there. There are children laughing, but I don’t think they’re humans - or at least, not all of them. In the distance I can see a stand of mangroves and I *KNOW*, when I look at it, that that’s Arkham. That’s where Arkham used to be. The stars are out, you can *see* the stars over Gotham - already the least realistic part of this entire scenario.”

“Should I go on?” Ivy says, eyes half-lidding. “There’s more. I see it in brilliant detail but I don’t UNDERSTAND it. I’m afraid I’m retreating into fantasy.” Says the green woman with the poison kiss in the studio apartment with the Joker’s moll and two hyenas, but never mind that.

“What’s your diagnosis.”


When she needs to—when she really needs to—Harley remembers how to listen. She continues stooping by her animals, scratching their fur pensively as they finish the last of their meal and then slink off back towards their bed after a little bit of nudging at her to indicate that they haven’t quite had their fill.

From their bed, a twisted up bunch of blankets, they watch Ivy warily.

The blonde stands back up, because it’s a long dream to explain. And she considers it for a moment after Ivy puts her question to her, arms threading through each other under her breasts.

“Whatcha up to, Ives?” The question is soft, and hardly accusatory. Well, maybe a little accusatory. But mostly wary.

Her boots fall more gently than you’d expect, perhaps, but they still are like the hooves of the minotaur when compared against the redhead’s bare feet. They carry her back into the other woman’s proximity while she drags one of the kitchen chairs with her, and her head falls inquisitively to one side.

“I mean,” she says, a hand untucking to extend towards Ivy emphatically, as she sits down in some mockery of the classical therapy room arrangement. “On one hand, it could be just yer pickin’ somethin’ up when yer sleepin’. Kinda like when ya hear folks arguin’ in the next room, and it’s not enough to wake ya up, but it gets incorporated into yer dreams. Ya feelin’ like yer gettin’ something extra on …? I dunno. Garden of Eden Radio?” Shrugging, she continues on. “Or, it could be yer jes’ stressed bein’ back in Gotham after Belize? Ain’t never been, but I gotta imagine it’s a lot less gloom and grim than ‘round here.”

Another shrug, and then her hand tucks back in, as she breaks the final thin parts of the illusion of professionalism as she pulls up her knees and sets her feet on the edge of the chair. “But it makes me think yer up to somethin’. Yer not, right? Because I don’t particularly wanna be sproutin’ leaves. That’s more yer gig, yanno? And I don’t wanna see ya get on Satan’s bad side, and that bitch finds out way more than she should.” Her brow creases in concern. “Yer not gettin’ into too much trouble…” Blonde eyebrows lift, and uncertainty creeps in around the edges. “…Right?”

Ivy rolls onto her side then, facing towards Harley. She watches. She listens! She attends.

“I’m not UP to anything,” she says. “I’ve had some half-formed ideas about urban gardening. I thought vertical farming was a crock of warm, well-rotted manure but evidently they’re making it work with LEDs. At least that’s what I read. It’s humiliating.” To Ivy, at least, this makes sense. She contemplates the other proposals.

“The dream started in Belize,” she says then, musing seeping into her voice. “It’s become clearer now that I’m here but the details don’t change consequentially. In fact, some parts became less clear. I remember seeing the ship…” What ship?

Then her attention snaps back into place. “I haven’t done anything to you, Harley,” she says, with a faint note of being wounded. “I would *never* do anything like that unless you asked me to. I promise you that. Alright? Hm?” She attempts a smile but it is obviously an effort. The pensive look comes back and is stronger.

“But you’re asking me in greater detail. I don’t know what I’m doing. I went out to the pine barrens and some whining policewoman on probation came over because, naturally enough, I’d chosen to sunbathe near an accident victim. I was growing out a couple of mangroves - out in the swamp, you see - in the hopes that I could get them to be able to survive the winters here, now that they’re changing…”

“I assume when you say Satan you’re referring to That Woman,” Ivy says, perhaps not daring to speak the name aloud in case it sets off a reference trigger in a smartphone three doors down. “It was funny, actually, that policewoman with some kind of bracelet that’s supposed to keep her from using a computer, because I suppose that’s something the government does now - She was so pathetically in love with this international spy agency, ugh! I should have killed her.”

She kicks one leg, once. It may be a surprise. “I suppose I know this isn’t all a fantasy because if it were a fantasy we’d be spinning around the maypole stuck in That Woman’s fat guts as a spider lily grew in her eyesockets.” Vivid!

The single kick seemed to have worked off an obscure nervous energy. Her eyes focus up again.

“I felt like I had to come back here… do you understand that kind of feeling? I loathe it, myself. Ultimately,” she says, gesturing now at herself, to Harley, back again, “ultimately, we’re women of science, aren’t we? Certainly there may be something like luck, or fate, and I know there’s some sort of psycho-technological horse manure being slung out by the Asgardians, but there is a material explanation for all known phenomena, even if our understanding is limited - even if perhaps our understanding CAN’T encompass it because of the limits of our brains -”

Her tone became oddly pleading. It’s enough that she sits upright, wrapping her hands around one knee and grunting. The knee-grasp becomes a leg-hug, looking away from Harley now, cheek on her own knee.

“I don’t mean to put all of this on you, Harley. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

The blonde on her chair listens patiently, about to chime in several times to cut into the conversation. It’s not often that Poison Ivy is the one to dominate the conversation, nor Harley Quinn the one to take the back seat in it. But it is known to happen. Here is such an example.

Women of science, yes. Once upon a time, one must suppose they were.

Perhaps it is the call to that once-upon-a-lifetime memory that ultimately stays Harley’s tongue and bids her listen. She lets her friend talk and try to get comfortable on the bed. Until the last, anyway. And then, Harley’s head tilts and she smiles kindly. “Aww, Red,” she pleads, shaking her be-pigtailed head softly. “It’s not like that.”

Pushing herself up out of the seat and stepping around her smelly pets as they settle in for a post-meal nap at the foot of the bed just past her weapons chest, the clown princess moves towards the bed and then swipes at the other woman with her hip in an unspoken bid for her to move over and make room. Quinn wants to sit down, and she will wherever Isley makes room.

“Yanno that I always wanna hear whatcha gotta say! I get it!” And maybe she does. Her hand searches out Ivy’s off-color own to wrap her pale fingers around it. “I mean, like, when Mercer and I went to go hang out in New York fer a bit. It was nice t’get out, yanno? I never get out. And it’s not like when we have ta play errand girl for Satan. It was jes’… Jes’ out.” And it was nice, even if Harley didn’t do half of what she meant to in order to show how much she appreciated it. It’s hard, when one is stuck in one’s own thoughts. When one can’t sleep enough to escape the loops of reasoning.

“But at the end of the day, there’s… There’s jes’ no where else that you belong. Everywhere else feels like yer pretendin’ to be somethin’ else. Fer better’r worse, Gotham’s home. An’ ya reconcile yerself to it, right? Every day, it’s jes’ more and more home.” The philosophical waxing draws Harley to a sober note, which clearly can’t last.

“Besides,” she continues, biting her lower lip as she smiles impishly. “Yer best friend’s here. An’ how much more ‘home’ do ya need?”

But somewhere, down in the back of her brain, there is the very acute processing of the other thing Ivy talked about. The thing that Quinzel doesn’t give voice to. The awareness and quiet cautiousness that comes of hearing ‘accidental victim’. The thorns that perpetually circle her best friend’s better qualities. She doesn’t want to be an accidental victim.

In the abstract Ivy would probably be proud.

In the moment she is not being abstract.

No; rare those these moments may be, she is being concrete now. Grasping for straws. Grasping for something. Of course it is not something that she quite grasps, because it comes when Harley bulls onto the bed and nudges her aside. She startles visibly for a moment. She sucks in a deep breath through her teeth and something peculiar happens. It is, at least, not the kind of thing that leaves one an accidental victim.

That is to say: The green in her skin fades. It’s a subtle thing to see this close up; there is even the impression that there’s some kind of subtle organelle in her skin, like an octopus, maybe. But she gets two shades less green, before she turns her head to look back at Harley and pulls herself back, inchworming to yield a generous spot of the bed for Harley to sit upon. (It’s hers to begin with, isn’t it?)

Her hand is taken. Fingers curl round and she lets it happen, clasping at an odd but fond angle with gentleness. Harley might vaguely perceive that her touch is not completely ‘clean,’ but it’s not actually doing anything. This is, at least, probably why she didn’t pet the puppers.

“I suppose you’re right,” she says, closing her eyes, smiling again.

“For better or worse this is where I’m supposed to be. It’s funny, isn’t it. Why couldn’t it have been LA? Far fewer bats, much sunnier skies… But then I wouldn’t have met you, would I?”

After a meditative silence, she says, “You should have a better place than this. I could make you one inside of a week but I suppose That Woman would have me shot for putting landlords out of business.”

Then Ivy’s brow knits a little more. Her eyes don’t open right away, either.

Harley’s eyes look around the apartment, drinking in the details of it. “Eh. It’s okay,” she allows with a small shrug. “The babies are happy here, and I’d have everyone all uppity if it was anything more than a dive. ‘Sides, I’ve slept in worse. This is practically palatial by Arkham standards.”

It’s good, right? Of course, it is. Things are back on an upswing with Owen despite everything that happened in New York, despite the bad job crossing Mister J. Ivy’s here, and things are seemingly back to good there, too. She has the hyenas back. She has a place away from Amanda Waller’s eyes—at least for now.

A small, contented smile curls Harley’s painted lips upwards. Yeah, despite everything, she decides: it’s good.

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