Even the Bus Station's Nicer Here
Roleplaying Log: Even the Bus Station's Nicer Here
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Ivy tries to re-enter Metropolis only to be welcomed by the Man of Tomorrow himself

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: February 07, 2019
IC Location: Metropolis, Grand Central Station
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 07 Feb 2019 21:48
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

There is a saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

However, as an escaped and certifiable mental patient, Pamela Isley has grounds to do exactly that. If she had any more grounds, she would be a coffee chain.

Her return to Metropolis was not particularly grand or garish, because she knows how to do these things, or at least, has some idea. Her vanity, immense as it may be, is not enough to take her off of public transportation. She went to the bus terminal in Gotham City and bought a ticket off of someone else who had one for a small premium and a little kiss on the cheek.

Then she had a pleasant late-morning-early-afternoon sitting on the sunny side of the bus and reading through an old paper back. It was very relaxing, very centering. It’s sitting in her little canvas overnight bag, right now. The paperback novel still has an extremely weathered sticker from a used bookstore in Seattle. It is “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Abbey.

What better for her to read?

Even so the bus pulled into the station. While any bus station will have a little dirt and grime from the road and the passage of large road-chariots of the concrete rails between the cities of America, the one in Metropolis has a more Art Nouveau open-airy quality to it. Not concrete walls with harsh if bright lights inside and a formica bottom. No, thanks to the wealth LexCorp pours into the City of Tomorrow, the walls are largely glass bricks where they aren’t glass, and the air flow is excellent. Even in winter it seems airy. Most importantly, you can walk in under comfort, even if you came in on the third level.

Unfortunately (?) for Pamela Isley, her bus stop was very near the side of the building… and some of those big, beautiful picture windows that are, conveniently, so easy to /open up and slip through/ if you can move at Super-speed.

Pamela Isley looks like any unescorted college student with her tatty military surplus jacket, black jeans, trainer sneakers and canvas overnight bag. Her hair is done up in a messy bun, too.

As the people debark there is a little muttering.

Among the half-dozen or so people who came all the way into the bus terminal to meet their party is someone Pamela Isley really did not want to see.

As a couple of incidental cell phone cameras fire, Pamela Isley looks up at the Man of Tomorrow. Her lips purse, then pull slightly to the side.

Pamela sighs and takes off her cheap sunglasses, folding them and putting them in the collar of her undyed T-shirt. Poison Ivy looks up at Superman and says, as she puts one hand on her hip, “Afternoon, Mr. Man. How was India?” She seems obscurely displeased, for some reason.

-=-=-

FIFTY-TWO HOURS AGO …

Clark Kent has just turned on the stove when his blackberry buzzes.

JIMMY: <link to WLEX news>.

Clark clicks on the link. A page that’s been setup to ‘update as the scene develops’ that briefly describes a giant plant having erupted in the middle of a MPD transport. There’s a lot of speculation about what occurred but the words ‘one officer injured’ is what gets his attention.

CLARK: Wow! Thanks Jimmy. I hope everyone’s okay.

THIRTY-SIX SECOND LATER ..

Superman hovers silently in the stratosphere, his brow furrowed in supreme concentration. Five kilometers below several commercial airlines moves slowly through the sky in the airspace around eastern Delaware. The Man of Tomorrow’s steely blue eyes flicker rapidly as he mentally cordons a city of eleven million people into a grid and utilizes a combination of X-Ray and Telescopic vision to search each square meter.

It takes him twelve minutes to search the city like this. He ignores the vaguest pressure in his head, a slight tension headache, as he radiates a search pattern outward from the scene of the crime an extra two and a half seconds spent per segment beneath the city, in each of its parks, and almost three seconds given to the botanical gardens. He had saved the shore until last because certainly that’s where he least expected to find her – but there she was.

Trudging at the bottom of the bay just over the line into Gotham city He estimated she was only about two hundred meters over the border. He could cross the thirty kilometers between, blazing a streak through the upper atmosphere, to reach her in seconds.

However, he decided not to do it.

Back in his apartment Clark Kent pulls a small device out of his bureau drawer. It looks like a remote clicker for his car. Except, Clark doesn’t own a car. His finger moves rapidly tapping out Morse code: .. …- .. …- -.— / .. -. / . - - …. .- — / -… .- -.—(ivy in gotham bay).

A radio tower picks up the signal where it is eventually relayed to the caves beneath Wayne Manor.

NOW:

Superman descends to the curb outside the bus terminal an informal look upon his features. As people produce cell phones he raises his right hand, waving, as red boots come to alight upon the ground. “Afternoon, everyone.” The Man of Steel says, “Welcome to Metropolis. I hope you had an uneventful trip.”

This seems to intensify people’s desire to linger but also gives no sense of urgency to what is occurring, “If you’re staying for a few days I recommend the Jules Verne Extra-Terrestrial Institute.” He holds for a beat, allowing pictures, and then then gives a casual gesture towards the door.

A pair of unarmed security guards step out, their smiles betrayed by the nervousness in their eyes.

“Pamela,” Kal-El says as if they were acquaintances and he strolls towards her, “I didn’t expect you back so soon. No need for carshare – I’m happy to give you a lift.” The words are completely without menace and yet there’s something inherently unnerving to his lackadaisical attitude. Like when your father walks into the room just as you’ve been doing something he wouldn’t approve of – maybe he doesn’t know? Surely he knows.

In any event, the security personnel begin to stir people from their star-struck stupor and direct them inside. Not Pamela though. It looks like she’s with Superman.

-=-=-=-

Poison Ivy seethes scenically for a moment, which is another thing that might be expected.

Her eyes turn towards the security guards, but she thinks as she looks. The thoughts go in angry little circles for a moment, an emotional effervescence, but then they hit a track.

Why is he running a tourist message here?

He said that in particular. This is Superman, not some pubescent mutant. He doesn't say things without meaning.

Ivy's seething expression fades.

Jules Verne Extra-terrestrial institute.

Her eyes widen.

He knows.

AND HE'S HELPING.

Poison Ivy shifts and reaches up - pausing when she can see tension in several people to turn her hand around and keep it clear. “Hey,” she tells the guards. “Don’t worry; I just wanted to let my hair down. It can wait.”

Her attention goes back to Superman.

“How could I turn something like that down? But if I can make one tiny little request,” and here she shifts her shoulders, making the bag move closer to her — though a quick check with X-Ray vision reveals that the most dangerous things in that bag are “a comb” and “a cell phone charger” — “Could you take the scenic route before you stuff me down in some deep, dark hole to rot the winter away?”

She smiles. “You have to be a little curious about what I’m up to.”

-=-=-=-

The guards do hesitate as she reaches for her hair. Yet Superman’s presence seems to pre-empt their training and when the gesture brings no additional caution from the Man of Steel they just continue to herd people inside.

“I’m not worried,” Superman speaks up as he Ivy feigns hesitation in reaching upward; the guards are unarmed, “It’s been an odd season. One day it’s spring and then the next day its winter. You know when I got here a decade ago,” it was actually more like fifteen years ago if anyone is closely counting, “Thanksgiving through Easter there was a frost almost every night.” He says in casual recognition of the short-term climate change, “I’m hoping that next year we’ll get a good /natural/ winter.” There is inflection in his voice upon the word /natural/ as if the effort of mankind, whatever their intentions, to forcibly — and rapidly — spin the climate in any direction was not the thing he was hoping for.

“I’m in no rush, Pamela,” Superman says and reaches outward in a half-gesture, “Can I carry your bag?” It would take a precise level of extra-normal acuity to know that for a micro-second he scanned the bag and its contents assessing it all down to the molecule. If given he’ll sling it carefully over his shoulder and continue forward.

Whether she gives him the bag or doesn’t so long as she seems content to stroll so does he. In the background vehicles continually slow. MPD, now on alert, begin maneuvering to cut off access to the direction they travel. The ‘Superman Protocols for Metahumans’ an actual department policy.

“Of course I’m curious —,” he admits and glances down at her his words moving completely past ‘in some deep dark hole to rot away’, “We could be /better/,” he admits because /it can always be better/, “but with respect to renewable energy outside of Wakanda and maybe Latveria I think we’re doing pretty good.”

“But if there’s something that we’re missing – I’d like to know,” Superman stops there and looks directly at her as if truly valuing Ivy’s criticism, “Why Metropolis, Pamela?” He asks her. Why not any place where the rooftops are lined with chimneys instead of solar panels? Why not any place where Superman isn’t?

-=-=-=-

Ivy listens.

And she worries.

\\He might be stalling me. He may be a big boy scout but that doesn't mean he can't be canny.\
Ivy says, "Oh, sure," and hands it over. She keeps the paperback in her hand, although it too does not have any discernible gimmicks on it other than some dirt on the spine. Her eyes flick around, examining the area, spotting, probably, the slowing-down vehicles. "That's sweet of you."

She keeps listening.

"Natural can be a loaded word. I've heard technology people say that anything humanity makes is obedient to physical laws, and therefore, natural: even if it's not a good idea, it's not impossible. But that's a pretty useless definition, don't you think?" She walks, not in any great rush, craning her head around to look at.. or for… something.

\\There's one big road out of this… in more ways than one. I have to play the angles right.\
"I didn't come here because I had anything against Metropolis. If anything, I'm liking it more and more every minute I spend here. Leaving aside all those little problems, like how I can smell the exhaust from some of those cars out there - but not all of them - it's got a good vibe to it. I felt something resembling hope when I was visiting the place. Maybe you can make a good, clean city. I'm sure half of what's happened here is just the clean end of a dirty supply train going back to China, or Qurac, or whatever; but that's HALF. And half is better than zero."

"But not always enough," she adds, more quietly, to herself. Maybe that's the real face.

"But I wasn't trying to make some grand anti-Lex statement or whatever. I just wanted to rob the museum. Ah!" She puts a hand over her mouth. "I admitted it, didn't I? Well, I was under duress. Clearly joking."

She lets herself keep going. "I had a tip from a little bird that there was a meteor in that museum, Superman. That part, no surprise. But that that meteor had come from another planet, a lifebearing planet. I had heard, what's more, that it was pretty intact, and it'd been, oh, not that long at all."

"You're familiar with the idea of a soil seed bank, Superman? I'll explain if you want, but I know you've got a lot on your agenda."

=-=-=-

“Sure,” Superman confesses to multiple definitions of ‘natural’, “It took almost a billion years for life on Earth to evolve the ability to process light and atmosphere to produce oxygen and that was more than /four billion/ years ago,” pause, “If you believe the science.” It’s obvious that Kal-El does believe the science and surmises Pamela is also at least aware of the research.

“Have you ever read the book Sapiens?” He glances at her novel there and then looks back saying, “It’s a brief history of humankind and within the author asserts that mankind was ‘happiest’ as a hunter-gatherer,” He gestures slightly but continues in a conversational way, “Because they would spend only a couple of hours a day gathering food but were otherwise communal – spending its time in leisure.”

“And that the ‘downfall’ of man was actually the development of agriculture – attempting to master nature – because it locked them in a workday where they spent twelve hours a day assuring to the health of their fields rather than their family.” He looks at her with an understanding smile, “It’s even proposed that mankind didn’t tame nature thirty-thousand years ago but it was nature that tamed mankind — wheat’s desire to propagate its own species.”

“That’s hard for a lot of people to see,” he admits, “when you look at what mankind has built — but I think there are a lot of people yearning for a simpler time the problem is it’s hard to go backward without great sacrifice.” And by his tone the idea of going backward is more a philosophical curiosity and certainly it’s not a sacrifice he would ever be willing to make.

“Sorry,” he says in a seemingly earnest apology, “I didn’t mean to go on about Sapiens.”

“Half /is better/ than zero,” he concurs, “I think that if Lex had his way we’d all be driving Lexcorp electric cars that were refueled by wind turbine but to your point – what about the iron in the motors? The copper in the wires?” He sighs there, seemingly understanding.

“Soil seed bank?” If she looks at his eyes there she’d see them blur back and forth as he attempts to recall that specific phraseology, “I don’t know,” He says after a long pause, “I’ve /seen/ the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway but …,” another pause, “I don’t know if that’s the same?”

He looks at her with genuine curiosity, relaxed and unhurried as if she were the only thing on his agenda today, “What’s the soil seed bank; and you said a meteor?.”

=-=-=-

"Oh, I buy it," Ivy says about the science. "If anything's wrong with it, it's around the edges. The plants grew and they choked the world… and nowadays we're breathing it all so happily."

Her eyes widen slightly at the mention of the book. (\\he reads! Why does that surprise me?\\) "I do," she says, head tilting slightly forwards. "I like the way you're framing it, of course, in that the idea is that wheat enslaved humanity, rather than the other way around. But I always thought that smacked a little of blaming the victim. Just because very few things are totally unalloyed evils - why, all this pollution, all the ancient carbon everyone's so excited to crack out of the ground and put in the air."

Ivy shrugs one shoulder. "I hate what it does, but for me personally? It's funny. I've been feeling more energetic as time goes by." She tilts her head back to smile at Superman, as if she's trying not to giggle.

\\Maybe nobody's told him about this. He might not think of it. He's an alien, even if he looks like a human. Maybe he's got more in common with —\\\But that's exactly what I'd want someone to think.\
The giggle leaves Ivy's face.

\\How dare he.\
She speaks more normally though her arms fold in front of her.

"The seed VAULT is a different thing entirely. The seed bank refers to the latent spores and seeds in the topsoil of any persistent location. It's why that, for instance, a forest fire doesn't sterilize the area if it's outside of the usual germination season. The opportunistic plants, the weeds, the ferns, they're present… just suppressed. Like a memory in the soil."

Ivy tilts her head back. She keeps speaking, tone more dismal. "As for the meteor, supposedly it was from a planet that had been alive quite recently. We're speaking of decades, perhaps centuries, not thousands and millions of years. I'll be damned if I know how it got here - the Chitauri, the Asgardians, whatever. Probably some Asgardian crap, it was Loki I was with; believe that if you want."

Ivy sighs. There is a little mist from her breath but it is just the thermal imbalance between a reasonable approximation of a live person and a cool afternoon.

"So then I got there, and I imagine you're upset about the damage, even if Firestorm Lass fixed most of it. That's fair. I was excited…"

"But in the end," and her head flops forwards like a string was cut, "it wasn't that at all. Tell me, Superman, have you ever found someone dead? I mean, \\just recently\\ dead, a perfect corpse."

-=-=-=-

Ivy’s shrug and then head tilt finds the Man of Tomorrow in a moment of reflection. The corner of his mouth quirked slightly as he processes the novelty that so-called ‘dirty energy’ would have an energetic effect upon the plants that aren’t subject to fallout of ash and acid-rain. He’s never really thought of things from the plant’s perspective.

He blinks himself from his reflection and meets her gaze and broad caped shoulders rise and fall, “That’s an interesting point,” he says so that she doesn’t have to read his mind, “I’ve never really thought of greenhouse gasses from the perspective of the plants.”

The fold of her arms causes him to question her with a slight furrow of his dark brow. This look fades as she explains the difference in the VAULT and the BANK.

‘Like a memory in the soil.’

When she says that he glances briefly to the east. A moment of brief distraction as his gaze peels back reality rendering invisible every manmade object between he and ‘Natural Lands’ Glades Wildlife Refuge’ on the far edge of the Delaware bay. Subtle shifts to his perception like lenses cycling over his eyes changes the way he perceives things until he can see it – beneath the soil. Dormant seeds that he’d never quite noticed before.

“Huh,” He says in a way that rings of ‘isn’t that interesting’. A scientist who has just been provided insight into a way in which the world functions. Something he had been completely ignorant to, “That’s interesting,” Superman replies matter-of-factly, “The layers of survival bred into all species is amazing.”

“The damage is done,” Superman shrugs there in a gesture that is meant to explain whether or not he’s upset, “Buildings we can repair. Lives we can’t. No one was hurt /that time/ – and I appreciate that.” The Man of Steel says with sincerity.

When Ivy explains the meteor he just listens – the duo now strolling down an empty sidewalk just beyond the terminal. Then she poses a question. He doesn’t seemed alarmed by it nor needing to consider its meaning for any great length of time replying only, “Yes.” And then giving her an inquisitive look.

-=-=-=-

“You’re welcome,” Ivy says, about the killing. She sounds a little flat about it, and her arms stay folded.

After this slightly grudging reply she is quiet for a while, for about the space of nine steps.

"That's what I found," Ivy says. "In that meteorite. I had expected there to be seeds there. Awful condition. Maybe recently what you might call 'non-viable' but what really means, 'dead'. But like they say, there's dead and then there's dead. I imagine you've given your share of Super-CPR; well, I have my own ways, and somewhere secret I have some wonderful friends from seeds that got thrown in the garbage."

"But I didn't find that," Ivy says. Her arms tighten. "What I found was like - it was like a fossil, but impossibly fresh. Fossilization takes millenia at best, the right conditions… when they talk about recent human fossils they're just talking about well preserved trash. What I saw there was like if you had found a dead body so completely preserved, so perfectly - perfectly -"

Her arms snap apart and her fingers tighten in the air, before her hands. "It was like it was SAYING, what are you DOING? Where ARE you? I’m DEAD in here, why —"

Ivy stops herself and is silent for another eight paces, before exhaling and speaking at a more measured pace. "If you heard about a drowning child - well, you're not the best example. Let's borrow Batman, he won't mind, he's fond of me. If Batman saw a child drowning in the sea, he might take a moment to kick off his Bat-boots, take off his god damned utility belt, but past that he'd be in there, don't you think? He'd get that child out."

"Same principle for me," Ivy says. "If I'd known what was actually there, I would have just bought a ticket."

-=-=-

“Like the proverbial mosquito trapped in amber?” Superman asks after her description of the seed’s condition, “So perfectly preserved that its genetics are still viable? I think I understand.” Although that understanding stems more from the fantasies of Michael Chrichton than it does the advanced science of his birthplace.

The zeal of her statement brings silence from him and he acknowledges the passion behind her explanation and the tightening of her fingers with a measured nod of his head.

“I think he would,” Superman agrees about Batman, “that’s a good comparison.” He compliments her description without judgement or never seeming for a moment that he might try to persuade her to the difference in a child and a seed.

“But,” The Man of Steel says, “you still could have bought a ticket.” Lips purse slightly, “Is that why you’ve returned? To save them from drowning?”

And then he asks her, “As a scientist, you don’t have any misgiving that reviving alien flora might pose a risk to the plants and animals native to this world?”

-=-=-

"Well, that's the thing, I don't know," Ivy says, her eyes flicking to the right as her arms fold and her shoulders hunch slightly. "I had wanted to get… Not THERE… but close enough to listen. I could be mistaken about this. What I thought was a corpse, to continue our analogy, might have been a coma patient… or an alien life form having its own cycles and rhythms. Perhaps the plant life on whatever-it-is incorporates silicon and iron oxides, the way plants here already incorporate silica and carbon."

Ivy takes a deep breath and lets it out. "But, yes: you're right. I could have bought a ticket."

Her lips thin then. They seem slightly discolored when she relaxes them.

"As a scientist, I would. I would still take that gamble but I'd want a level 4 biohazard facility, ideally on a remote island. You'd be running the challenge that anything you'd grow back survived a meteoric impact. I'd have to debate, to challenge, to figure out whether it would be best - I'm imagining here that Lex Luthor's fallen for me and is writing the checks - if it would be best to do this in orbit, because that's the other big challenge, Superman, because you would have so FEW. Unless you were just… taking out the genes; making frankenstein monsters out of the information, cutting up the child to make something new."

Her hands come to fold behind her head as she exhales again. She taps the back of her head with the spine of the book.

"Maybe you could defend that," Ivy says: "As a scientist. But they tell me I'm not a scientist any more. The big limiting factor I'd bring up is that even if God snapped her fingers and gave me a cubic yard of fresh top soil from some alien star, the genetic diversity inside of it would be such that Earth would win out. Just like in H.G. Wells."

"As a — I don't have the word for it, it's like a feeling… As a *mother* — I'd know that they'd behave. They'd be so grateful for everything. They might need guidance, but they'd enrich, not overwhelm."

Her eyes turn back towards Superman. "Don't you think you have to consider that possibility, Superman?"

Superman does have to consider it. Thousands of miles from where they stand – deep in the transantarctic mountains – robotic servitors tend to dozens of habitats. The other Kryptonians refer to it as his ‘zoo’ but in truth its quite similar to what she has just described. Quarantined habitats that replicate alien environments and nurture orphans he does not have the capability to return home; either because their own homes have been destroyed or even he lacks the means to discover their origin and return them there. Even those he trusts implicitly, such as his own dog, is kept penned within his Fortress of Solitude.

The distinction is that the Man of Steel believes in a separation of species – the right to choose a path – based upon an articulable state of cognition; that is the ability to choose a path based upon intangible concepts such as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. A quality that he would not ascribe to most flora and fauna – not even Krypto.

“I would have to consider it as a possibility,” Superman says, “I weigh that consideration against the knowledge that there are billions of species native to this world but there is /only one/ that can reliably act against its own self-interest and …,” he meets her gaze, “/even then/ most of the time it chooses not to.”

“And so I think that /in this case/ I’m going to trust your scientific intuition rather than your motherly instincts.”

“In either case,” Superman continues, “there’s a more immediate problem before us.”

And with those words its clear he’s finally come to the point of their meeting, “Even with a ticket I can’t let you go back to the botanical gardens - not while you still need to answer for the charges that have been levied against you.”

“What I’d prefer you to do is to make a choice, Pamela, because to me it doesn’t matter whether you await arraignment in Stryker’s or in Arkham. Once the outstanding charges have been addressed,” he shrugs there in a movement of broad shoulders that stirs a faint ripple in his red cape, “You’re free to see the sights.”


Ivy looks up at Superman.

Her brow knits a little. Her skin is pale and clear but for a moment, just a moment in the subtle flexion of the muscle and the skin there, there is a glimpse of a hint of greenish sheen where there ought to be pinkish-red.

And then a look dawns on her face. The eureka look. The look that says: I figured it out.

\\He knows he's being watched.\\\Of course he is. Of course Superman would know the surveillance state. The government probably has six different cameras on us right now and a sky satellite.\\\Superman could stop them all. Why doesn't he? Tch!! He could be an autonomous zone in ten seconds if he cared to be!!\\\I should make him.\
Ivy then glances dead upwards, as if she is going to look towards space. It only lasts a second. She seems classically paranoid for a moment, her arms folding again, tucking her paperback under her armpit as she says, with a certain degree of petulance, "I can't believe it."

\\I should leave him hints.\
"This is how these conversations always end. You know, I had been enjoying this - I've really felt like you've understood me, that you were *listening*. I understand THIS," and she sweeps a hand towards… Metropolis, broadly constructed, "is YOUR garden, and in my excitement I trampled. I'm truly sorry. But this is where you always want to put people like me."

\\Eddie could do this off the top of his head, the rat.\\

"In some old mountain. At the bottom of some lake. All the way south of Cannery Row. And everywhere in between. It's MADDENING."

Did she realize she was asked a question? At least her annoyance seems comparable to getting her breakfast order wrong.

Superman’s countenance retains its conversational repose as her brow knits and the pigmentation in her skin shifts shades. Evidence, perhaps, of his renown as a being who is so accepting of others that he would never knowingly never gives an expression to another person that would make them feel self-conscious about their appearance.

It’s only when she looks up that his gaze turns a mote quizzical and he glances upward too. Unworried that he’s taken his eyes from her even after declaring that he intended for this conversation to end with her detained he looks back after a beat - uncertain whether her senses provide her with the capability to see something that he cannot - but having perceived nothing unordinary at least within the perception of what is considered to be ‘human’.

“I’m enjoying it too,” the Man of Tomorrow admits and raises his hands, palms out, at either side of the ‘S’ sigil upon his chest as if in apology, “and this isn’t about trampling on anything of mine. To be completely fair, the decision for who goes where isn’t mine and I’m not sure the options that do exist are the best ones. But all I can do is advocate for a better system when asked.” One might wonder how he feels about the Phantom Zone - in truth no society makes perfect decisions. Not even Krypton.

His hands fall then left going to back to his side and right giving a slight gesture for them to continue walking, “Did you say Loki went with you?” He then asks her, “Does he have an interest in meteors? Horticulture?” Upon reflection Superman thinks the prospect of a ‘Mischief God’ having an interest in something other than ‘mischief for mischief’s sake’ to make sense. Surely no being is so one-dimensional.


Ivy exhales once. It is rather petulant. As she keeps walking, she says, “It was, in a sense, Loki’s idea. In hindsight I feel a little bit used, although I suppose if I’m dealing with a god, I should be DEFERENTIAL, pleased, flattered, really.” Her eyes turn back to the ground. “We had SUCH a rapport going. He must have had some interest in the meteor, but for all I know he was there to steal the penguins out of the Arctic exhibit.”

Poison Ivy is aware of where penguins live, but Antarctica has few plants, so does she care about it? Only in so far as the ice stays on it.

“If you must know, though, he said he was interested in ME. He said he was a big fan. I don’t think he was just into me for my green thumb, but perhaps he had some idea or some plan. I don’t know. Ugh!”

Ivy tilts her head back, letting the winter sunlight rest on her neck. She walks straight ahead, perhaps feeling that sense of confidence that comes from knowing that Superman is beside you.

“I hate that,” Ivy says. “I hate being used,Superman. Do you ever feel that? That sense that you’re just there, that you’re serving a purpose for someone else? I suppose you and I have that in common, we’re self contained, but I have so many things that I WANT,” and her hands snap apart, the paperback held tight as she lets her brow knit again, “so many things I want to DO and to HELP. There are so many PROBLEMS and even all those well meaning college students, they don’t see HALF of them. Half at BEST.”

“I don’t know if you hate anything,” Ivy continues, her eyes turning back to Superman. “Injustice, I suppose.”

“Why do you do this? I mean, the way you do it. People don’t listen, they don’t LISTEN. But you take it. What is it? Is it because you’ll be fine either way, so you can relax?” Ivy continues, fingers curling loosely. (It’s pure gesture.) “I feel that way, sometimes… then I see an orchid, or a tree older than America getting cut down.”

“So he abandoned you?” Superman asks her his easy-going disposition seemingly to not lob aspersions at Loki but also not condone whatever had driven them a part - its just a simple question.

When she asks him if he feels used his casual-diplomatic mein shifts with subtle understanding, “I’ve committed myself to helping others in need,” the Man of Tomorrow says, “and in doing so I’ve invited people to try and involve me in disputes. I’ve found that sometimes the people wish to involve me do so not to help others but because they stand to benefit when the matter is settled.”

“I try to be very careful,” he confesses, “and to support ideals rather than individuals. This can be hard as one of my core beliefs is /working together/ for a better future. But I find we all need a little grace, Pamela, because we’re all bound to make mistakes. Sometimes people take advantage of others without meaning to I think someone’s reason for doing something can be just as important as what they actually did. Don’t you?”

“I suppose he did,” Ivy says.

Her eyes half-lid at that statement.

“I’d like to agree,” she says. “I’d like that. I’d even say you’re a little bit right. But the problem is that there’s a lot of things where no matter what you INTENDED, what you WANTED, what you had HOPED TO DO… the outcome is what it is.”

Her head lolls forwards. “Come what may,” she says.

She is quiet for a moment then, a few more steps.
\\Maybe he’s influencing me.\\\Is that one of his powers? I don’t think we know everything he can do. He’d be a fool to tell everybody everything.\\\Batman probably knows…\\\But he spends time with him anyway.\
At this point Ivy’s eyes open again.

“It reminds me of something I did in New York a few years ago that I’m not proud of. Do you want to hear the story? I’m just rambling now, hah; I suppose this is building the rapport, isn’t it?”

He gives a faint nod of his head at outcomes being what they are. A sign that he doesn’t completely disagree but perhaps feels it’s too fine a point to debate. Certainly outcomes may seem very different when when comparing a man to a superman.

The look upon Superman’s face then warms as his casual demeanor breaks around the corners of his mouth in an inviting smile, “I suppose it is,” he agrees to ‘rapport building’ as if unphased by the rambling, “Sure, I’d like to hear the story.”

“Long ago and far away,” Poison Ivy says, “when I was just starting out - I think before I was even on Batman’s radar - I needed money. You may not know quite how it is, but I wasn’t as … secure in myself as I was then, and I did a job for some people in New York.”

“I can tell you their names,” Ivy says, “but most of the ones I knew are dead now. Some probably aren’t.”

“What I did was simple, really pretty straightforward when I put it this way. I developed some hybrid apple seedlings, Superman. Harmless, right? Except that these weren’t going to be pink, or purple, or survive some caterpillar. Externally they were going to resemble crabapples, and internally -”

Ivy breathes out. “They were going to be modified poppy pods. Do you understand me? Three times the alkaloid production, in a perfectly camouflaged package, distributed all throughout New York City. Any crab-apple tree could be one. Though I suppose they’d want to control them, before people started noticing the junk-sick deer.”

She looks at her hands. “That was when I was getting started,” she says. “So… about six years ago? Has it really been that short a time? Feels longer, doesn’t it?” A glance up to Superman and a sudden flash of a smile.

“Some of them are starting to fruit,” Ivy says. “There may have been an early crop this fall. I’m sure some of them have died - it’s a big city - but most of them, probably not. An apple tree is the kind of thing you’d leave up in your neighborhood, even if you’re the kind of person who thinks about cutting down trees at all.”

She looks back to her hands. Her fingers curl loosely. “I made over ninety of them… I grafted them all myself. I don’t remember exactly where they were, but I kept notes. Good notes. I even had some names in them… and I wrote down every address. So I could check on them later, you see. I think at the time I had fantasies of getting into the business myself.”

“I don’t know if this is going to be a bonanza for racketeers - they didn’t pay me, incidentally; drug dealers are like corporate executives, the good ones think a year or so out, most of them barely past this week - or if it’s a widely distributed narcotic time bomb.”

“But we all make mistakes, don’t we.”

Ivy’s hands flop to her sides. Back to Superman she looks. The faint peppermint scent gets an undertone of lavender with some slight tobacco notes, sort of a Chanel-adjacent thing.

“I don’t want to go back to Arkham,” Ivy says. “They’ll stuff drugs in me and make me go to group therapy with the Ventriloquist, and Pyg. But if you’ll take me to New York, I’ll show you where I put the notes. From there, you’d be able to move those trees, wouldn’t you?” Her arms fold. “If you’ve never transplanted a tree, I can show you how. For you it would be easy. X-ray vision, right? Put them all in the Southern Hemisphere or something.”

“And then I’ll go tell the police about all those nice gentlemen,” Ivy concludes. “After all, we all make mistakes.”

Her eyes seem shadowed.

Superman listens to her tale. The idea that it was ‘far away’ conflicts with New York and he cannot help but look to their north as she speaks the name of the other city his brow straining slightly as if focusing upon something in the distance.

She’s got his attention again at ‘apple seedlings’ though thoughts of pie when she asks him if it were ‘harmless’. He takes it as a rhetorical question because he says nothing except through his blue-eyed which silently encourage her to continue - with mild apprehension.

“The older I get the faster time seems to move,” he says to her six years and at her smile he inhales slowly chest swelling a bit and then exhales slowly as she states they are just beginning to fruit because the situation seems somehow less dire - though maybe it’s just knowing the reality of it rather than leaning upon his own imagination that makes him feel better.

He fails to hide the flare of his nostrils at the scent of lavender and tobacco. One might wonder if his sense of smell is as keen as his vision and, if so, what nuanced fragrance sends running through his alien mind, “We all need some grace, from time to time.” Superman affirms his earlier position.

“Pamela,” he stops and looks at her with appreciation, “Thank you. I’ll take you to New York.” He’ll try to move the trees too though he won’t promise something that’s completely outside his control but he does say, “I’ll do what I can for the trees I can find. Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me.”

If Superman looks…

Well, on the ground it's hard to peek through the curvature of the Earth. Even with X-ray vision. But nothing in particular is coming from the direction of NYC beyond some cold air moving gradually through Earth's upper atmosphere.

And if he breathes in…

Well, it really is just aromatic compounds. If Poison Ivy is trying anything she's being very reserved. At a certain point, aromatheraputic fourteenth-dimensional chess starts to look just like wildly flailing at problems.

But inside of her mind:

\\THIS IS SO HORRIBLE. WHY DID I DO THIS? THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I could have just GONE TO NEW YORK!\\\He isn't going to buy it.\\\Damn it!! This is going to add months AT BEST. They could kill me in there!\\\I'm not immortal — I'm not a erl-king — why do I do these things to myself??\
She smiles, a little, weakly.

\\Maybe I have a chance.\
Her eyes turn to the ground.

"I'll take what I can get, I suppose," she says.

Then she looks back up.

"So how do you do this sort of thing, anyway? Do you wrap them up in the cape, or is it just a bridal carry?"

("Come visit if you can find the time," Ivy adds. "HE never does.")

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