And feel its total dark sublime
by Te
March 12, 2004

Disclaimers: They *so* aren't mine. All hail DC.

Spoilers: None, really.

Summary: Ivy is content.

Ratings Note: R.

Author's Note: One of the several Harley/Ivy stories
I've been trying to write for a very, very long time.

Title from Auden:

"... Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time."

Acknowledgments: To Bas, reilael, and Livia for
audiencing. Liv also had many helpful suggestions.


Gotham is crowded with them.

Them -- in the old days, the high and mighty among
the criminal element called them all 'freaks,' with
varying degrees of loathing, disdain, and fear. The
fear took over quickly enough, spreading through the
dives and the back rooms and the old, legitimately
de-legitimized brownstones like roots beneath the

It didn't last long enough, and now they're gone. Or
absent enough to be unimportant.

No one family will ever rule Gotham again, and
everyone knows that has very little indeed to do
with the Batman.

*They* had broken the old-timers, shredded them,
*mulched* them in a dozen, a hundred forgettable
games and whims.

Insanity is difficult on the sane.

What *they* would call insanity.

When she's here, buried far beneath Arkham and
away from everything green and pure, it's hard to hold
on to the right thoughts.

The fluorescents are too harsh, and the walls are
indifferently soundproofed. When she stands here,
Wesker's little puppet mutters and mutters constantly
in her head, just too softly to make out individual

Over there, Zsasz is a blank, cold wall of silence,
weighted with all the things he would do to her if he

He can't.

It's still... unnerving.

On the far side of her cell, close to where her bullet-proof
plastic wall meets her stone wall, it's better.

"You are my sun-shine, my only sun-shine...."

Ivy smiles, and settles her cheek against the wall.

"You make me hap-eeee... when skies are greyyyy..."

She doesn't ask who Harley is singing about.


The guard -- a new boy, with cheeks pale and soft
as petals -- stinks of fear. Ivy's senses aren't especially
enhanced, but it's the sort of thing she has come to
recognize, over the years.

He's holding a plain-wrapped package, and the
sweat rolls down and down his face to stain his collar.

This will be interesting.

"P-p-package for you, Miss Quinzel."


It's entirely against the rules, of course, but the petal
boy is the only one who works this shift, and no
one sees him slipping the unopened package through
Harley's food chute, no one sees him not-quite
running back to the safety of the towers.

Rather: They *all* see him do it.

Not a one of them will tell. Down here, they've all
used up every bargain that could be made with the
district attorneys and doctors for anything short of,
say, the kidnapped brat of a popular Senator.

She watches the faces on the opposite side of the
hall, watches them watching to see...

Harley squeals, and the pale, mad faces fall. Nothing
*they* can use.


"Oh, Red, he DID remember!"

It isn't her birthday, or any one of the dozen
anniversaries Harley counts obsessively. "Hmm?"

"Back up, girlfriend!"

Ivy grins, and slips under her cot, just to be sure.
The wall explodes inward in a shower of plaster dust
and rubble.

Out of the smoke, Harley's small, pale hand reaches
for her. Ivy takes it, enjoying the ragged feel of
Harley's fingernails as she hauls Ivy to her feet.

She's holding a large, flat gun, painted in green and
purple and white.

"Let's blow this pop-stand!"

They do. Thoroughly.


"I just don't understand, Red! He sends me the gun,
I paint up that matron who kept making him take the
bad, sleepy pills all pretty-like, I get out into the city,
and... nothin'!"

Ivy hums to herself and continues waking up the
plants. She hasn't been to this greenhouse in much
too long, and the Feraks can only do so much. The
leaves curl around her fingers, and rustle with
pleased, quiet laughter.

"*Why* would he bust me out if he didn't want to
*see* me?"

Because he is, actually, insane. He isn't just playing.
The flytrap groans with hungry recrimination, and
Ivy strokes him. Carefully. "Soon," Ivy whispers into
the stroke.

"Maybe he's plotting somethin' big!"

Maybe Batman is beating him to death. A Ferak
comes up from behind, and hugs her. She growls
into Ivy's hair, and Ivy strokes her arm. "You did
well," Ivy presses into the Ferak's wrist, a slow circle
of approval.

"Maybe he's *testing* me," Harley says, and Ivy
sighs and pushes back against the Ferak.

The Ferak chirrups questioningly until Ivy gestures,
and then she pounces.


Ivy continues through the greenhouse.

"Ow! Ow! HEE! REHHHHD! She's *got* me!"

There's a sound of tearing cloth.


The concept of 'tickling' is still slightly beyond the
Feraks. Harley can handle it.


The car is sleek and blush as an orchid, and it's theirs.


It still smells faintly of the cologne of the silly man
they'd acquired it from, but she's filled Harley's
perfume bottles with something far better, and Harley
is crawling over and over the seats, spritzing merrily.

With the top up, a human would last, perhaps, five
minutes before choking to death on the poison.

Fifteen with it down.

"More, Red?"

"Absolutely," she says, and Harley giggles and
spritzes herself in the face.

And sneezes.

The bank job goes smoothly enough, though Harley
pouts when Ivy refuses to let her *deliberately* set
off the alarms.

Ivy twists vines around bundles of cash.

Harley continues to frown, stubbornly.

Ivy sends the vines to twist around Harley, instead.


Squeeze, she thinks.

"Oof! RED!"


Harley giggles and kicks and flies up and up.

Ivy eyes the guard thoughtfully. He's thoroughly
useless from Ivy's kiss, and won't remember enough
to tell the police. Still, her baby's *hungry*.

Down, she thinks at the vines, and Harley shrieks
and tumbles to the floor and into a handspring,
landing perfectly next to Ivy and wrapping her
arms around Ivy's waist.

"Take out?"


Harley giggles against her neck, and her breath is
damp and warm and candy-sweet.

The vines stuff the guard neatly into the trunk, and
Harley settles in the back seat on a bed of money.

She folds a few of the hundreds into birds, and plants
them in Ivy's hair.


"I don't... I don't always understand," Harley says, and
her eyes are wide and clear and faintly wet.

Ivy kisses just beneath them, one and then the other,
tasting salt and greasepaint.

"I know I shouldn't talk about him so much, but I
just -- I -- *Red* --"

Ivy twists her fingers inside her. Harder.

"He *made* me," Harley cries, and works herself
down onto Ivy's fingers. The plants feel her sweat,
and curl and stretch closer, closer.

Ivy slips her other hand out of Harley's hair and
gestures. The vines wrap around her pale wrists and

Pull, she thinks, and Harley gasps and screams.


"Ivy... oh, Ivy, *yes*...


The new Batgirl -- she will always be the new
Batgirl -- creeps silently through the greenhouse.
More silently even than Batman, and the plants
barely rustle with her passing. She is a careful one.
Ivy knows it's her *because* there's so little

The Feraks know the stink of leather, and growl
quietly at Ivy's feet.

Harley picks at her salad with a glum silence Ivy
can't -- quite -- touch.

"We have company," Ivy says.


"Mm-hmm. Get your gun."

Harley's eyes flare, shining with a wild, cheerful
brightness she will never believe is wholly her

Ivy bites deeply into her last radish, and sets the
Feraks to hunt.


They process her first, and so she has time to settle
into the sterility of her new cell before the commotion

The latest commotion, that is -- the Hatter has been
keening like a clumsily neutered hound since she's
been here. Ivy curls on her cot and waits, wincing to
herself at all the new bruises.

Beneath her greys, her ribs are thoroughly taped.

"No! *NO*! I wanna see Mr. J!"

The thick, meaty thud of flesh hitting flesh.


Deep-throated curses. Harley must have gotten one
in a tender place.

"I -- no not the NEEDLE I HATE the needle I hate it
you can't make me I I I..."

The guards walk Harley past Ivy's cell, and she
slumps between them like an unwatered vine.

Ivy watches, and makes plans, and waits.

Riddler is on her other side, chuckling to himself.
They must be allowing him crossword puzzles again.
Perhaps he'd given evidence against someone
interesting. She counts the hours in the plants she
can feel, far above and far beyond. She feels them
yearning toward the setting sun, and begins the
slow, careful process of moving.

She can't quite hold in a grunt of pain, but no one

Everyone hears, and no one pays attention.

She crouches on the far side of her new cell and taps
on the wall.

Tap tap-tap-tap tap.

Tap tap-tap-tap tap.

"Please don' take my... sun-sunshh... oh, Red, 'm
so sleep-eee..."

"It's all right, Harley," she says, "I'm here."