Batman and Catwoman in Cat-Tales by Chris DeeCat-Tales 36: Worlds Finest

World’s Finest:  Red Cape, Big City 
A Cat-Tales/JLAin’t Crossover
by Chris Dee and MyklarCure

Reservations


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Batman was uncertain what to make of this new development.  He was unsure exactly when Selina had stopped stealing, but he was aware that Catwoman continued to prowl the neighborhoods she considered her territory.  The one time he’d asked what that prowling consisted of, he was treated to a Discovery Channel summary of cat behavior in the wild:  How little time a leopard or jaguar spends hunting, compared to the constant surveying of their territory to note who else has passed through and what is going on.  He didn’t press the issue.  She was Catwoman, it’s what he loved about her, and Catwoman prowled the night.

When he first noticed her that night—that once-familiar movement, darkly purple and so enticingly round and graceful, on a distant roof—he merely watched for a moment, a pleasant tickle tugging the corner of his lip.  This was the first time they had run into each other this way since their personal circumstances changed so radically.  Bruce reflected on that for a moment, calculating the square footage of the city and the relative size of “her territories” and his patrol routes.  It wasn’t really surprising.  In a way, he was surprised they hadn’t crossed paths before now… then he thought no more about it.

Until an hour later when he saw her again—or thought he did.  He realized at once that was too much of a coincidence.  He must have imagined it.  She was still on his mind from the earlier sighting, causing him to glimpse a pattern of color and movement where it didn’t exist. 

When it happened a third time, he refused to dismiss it so easily.  He was Batman.  He trusted his senses.  This is what he did.  He was Batman, he patrolled his city, and the very act of patrolling meant being aware.  He trusted his observations and he trusted his instincts. 

“Lenses engage,” he barked, focusing his attention on the spot where he thought he saw movement—where he had seen dark, purple, round cat-movement.  He scrutinized the spot as the lenses clicked into place, gazing with superhuman concentration as if the cowl systems required his will to function.  “Infrared engage…  magnify… magnify more.”

He waited. 

Waited.

Waited.

Then he saw it.  Her. 

With lightning speed, he fired a line and swung into intercept position.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he began before his boots hit the rooftop.  It was unlikely she heard more than the last word, but he didn’t care.  She’d know the tone well enough, and the question was obvious under the circumstances.  But she didn’t answer fast enough so he repeated, “I said what do you think you’re doing?”

She looked amused.  Impossible woman.

“Busted, eh?  Well, the junior bats never noticed.  But then you were always better.”

“Catwo— Selina,” he wondered why his voice sounded so tired suddenly, “What in god’s name are you doing?”

She looked at him a long moment, an unfathomable look in her eye.

“I would have thought…”  —it was obvious.  Something she’d said often over the years when it had been obvious.  Why else would someone be opening Tiffany’s safe at three in the morning.  How many times had he heard it:  “I would have thought it was obvious, Stud.”

“…it was obvious, Bruce.”

That was then.  This was now. 

“I was a bit worried you might go around trying to get all those scars back in a single night.”

Batman stared.  He felt himself exhale, a pocket of air that should have been a grunt expelled as silent breath.  It should have made him angry—following him, questioning his judgment—but all he could see was concern.  She cared about him; it wasn’t something she’d ever hid well.  They’d met on so many rooftops over the years, both aware what the other felt, both denying it.  Now that it was all out in the open, well… well, of course, she could come out and say it if she wanted to.  At home or in the cave, he wouldn’t have blinked.  But here, on a rooftop, in masks, it wasn’t something he could grunt away.  She was worried, and that’s why she was here.  That’s why—he shook his head with an ironic twitch-smile as realization dawned—that’s why she’d let him be all day.  He had wondered why she hadn’t come padding around with the pity and consolation.  This was why.  She knew Bruce would cope in his own way, and whatever that way was, it wouldn’t be anything where he could hurt himself.  But Batman, Batman might do who-knows-what, so she would keep an eye on him.

He reached out and stroked her hair absently.

“Go home, Kitten.  I’m fine.”

She looked skeptical, so he pulled her in and bent to kiss her forehead—opting at the last moment to kiss her lips instead.  He told himself that was the more effective way to persuade her, but he was quite aware, as he tasted the faint raspberry of her lipstick, that that strategic edge was only an afterthought.

“Go home,” he repeated gently, “I’ll come back in one piece, I promise.”

Sore muscles were not a familiar experience for Poison Ivy.  There was a curious ball of tight ache above each knee and a coiled gnawing sensation running up the back of each thigh. 

“Catty’s fault” she muttered, double-checking the address on the small plastic bag from her pocket.  Catty’s fault.  Insisting on all those rolls before they even began the martial arts training.  And why? Because the training would involve her getting thrown around a good deal (as if she hadn’t had enough of that by now!) and she needed to be able to fall safely.  Ivy didn’t see why she should have to fall down at all.  Catwoman was supposed to teach her how to throw other people around.  Getting tossed around herself she could manage without any instruction.  But Selina was insistent.  That itself was annoying.  Poison Ivy might be Nature Incarnate, but even she couldn’t tell a cat what to do.  Especially when the cat was doing her a favor; that weakened Ivy’s position even more. 

But the aching ball of tension in her back radiating out to her arms was enough to make anyone reconsider their options.  She had to reverse the intolerable situation regarding her image and retake her place in the rogue pantheon.  But it would be better if she could do it without punishing her body this way. 

She had paced back and forth in her secluded glade in Riverside Park, pacing and thinking, thinking and pacing, all the while ignoring the cries of her beloved meadow grass as her heels pierced the soil.

When she realized what she had done, it brought a sharp reminder of another time:  At the Highland Games, preoccupied with a setback, she had throttled an innocent bayleaf… The odd woman who came up to her then… who made her some kind of magical herbal concoction…  Ivy had experienced a phenomenal boost in her powers that day; that witch’s brew enhanced her abilities enough to order ancient trees into battle.  She never got the opportunity to test what other enhancements it might have made to her other powers.  It would be worth finding out.  If her more persuasive abilities could be enhanced sufficiently, she could undo the damage to her image without resorting to torturous exercise and aching limbs.  And if not, maybe it would at least be enough to bring Catty around on this awful “rolling” business…  If not, if that strange woman’s potions could do nothing at all to boost her pheromones, it would be enough to energize her as it had before.  If she could rally the trees again:  with all the trees from Riverside Park, Robinson Park, and Smokey Oval Park at her command, free will would be irrelevant. 

A quick search turned up the plastic bag that had contained the herbs, and the tiny typed label glued to the back told her she would find the mysterious woman at The Curiosity Shop, 16th and Lexington. 

Ivy looked from the bag to the sign on the door:  THE CURIOSITY SHOP: WE’RE OPEN, and inside the glass doors she saw the petite woman she remembered from the Highland Games, with half-moon glasses and a mass of graying hair escaping in wild wisps from a neat, prim bun.

Nothing pleased Giovanni d’Annunzio quite so much as the name Bruce Wayne on his list of luncheon reservations—except possibly that same name on the list of dinner reservations.  Giovanni was always delighted to put those two letters “BW” on his seating plan inside the little circle denoting the best table, and signify with his own initials that this placement was approved by Giovanni himself and was therefore untouchable by the rest of the staff.

As a customer, Bruce Wayne appealed to every aspect of the Giovanni’s nature:  His money and fame meant any appearance, even a quiet dinner, might be written up in the press.  But it was his social position that elevated him above the crass celebrities and nouveau riche that Giovanni-the-restaurateur might be happy to feed, but whom Giovanni-the-snob would never accept on par with true aristocrats.  But beyond this, Bruce Wayne had one additional quality, one that Giovanni-the-Italian appreciated above all the others:  the man was always accompanied by the most beautiful female companions.  For years, each woman was more striking than the last, a seemingly endless parade of blonde and brunette, ever changing, and who could blame him.  What man could choose from among such stunning creatures?  

When he did finally settle on one woman for more than a week, the lady had several qualities besides her looks to recommend her:  Selina spoke flawless patrician Italian, she appreciated his food and was not shy to say so in pithy and quotable terms, and she had brought royalty to d’Annunzio’s.  Diana, Princess of Themyscira, did not entirely conform to Giovanni’s ideas of how nobility should conduct themselves.  Certainly no European royals would show so much décolletage before five.  But Giovanni decided to forget about that the moment Diana left the restaurant.  Once she walked out that door, she ceased to be a too-flamboyant figure in his dining room and became a most distinguished personage that had once graced his establishment.

Giovanni was therefore excited—and curious—to see what great personalities might comprise today’s “Wayne Party of four” at 12:30.

Miriam watched impatiently as the customer with green skin browsed a corner set up with Ukrainian Easter eggs, carved boxes and batik paintings.  “Can I help you, dear?” she called over.  Poison Ivy smiled but shook her head no.  She drifted to a table of Wedgwood and Jasperware.  Miriam drummed her fingernails on the counter.  “You’re quite sure you don’t want any help?” she asked.  Poison Ivy shook her head again.  “Oh, you’re really too ridiculous,” Miriam said testily, “It’s perfectly obvious you’re here for the magicks, young woman.  But I can’t help you if you don’t ask.” 

“I— I—”

“So it’s lucky for you that I remember you,” Miriam explained, a friendlier cajoling tone taking over, “Because if I didn’t, you’d be looking at teacups for an hour until you finally bought a picture frame or something equally useless.”

Ivy stared in mute shock.  Miriam waited for the woman to find her tongue and state her needs, but when the silence went on too long, she tried again:  “Your look is quite memorable, you know.  I remember you quite well, from that booth I set up at the Highland Games.  You bought… bobile root, I think, and a crystal charm.”

She didn’t really know what Ivy had purchased, but then neither did Ivy.  All Miriam really recognized was the startling contrast of red hair and greenish skin.

“I— I—” Ivy began, just as before.

“Come into the back, dear.  I just brewed some tea.  Green cha, chamomile and catnip.  It will do you a world of good.”

Catnip struck a chord.  Aching muscles and endless rolls.  Postures to loosen her muscles and then more rolls.  No, no, no, no, no.

“No,” Ivy blurted.  “No thank you, I mean, for the tea.  I did want, that is, you were very helpful that day.  I had had a very humiliating experience—with a man,” she hastened to add.  “A rude insensitive brute of a—”

“Yes, yes, quite,” Miriam nodded with more sympathy than patience.  “It happens all the time.”

“Well this is ten times worse,” Ivy wailed, “a hundred times worse, a thousand.  There are who knows how many of the lowly scum-dwellers out there getting entirely the wrong idea about me.  And it has to stop!”

“Oh dear,” Miriam looked very troubled.  It sounded like a scorned lover was spreading a vicious rumor, a sadly familiar story.  “That’s just the sort of thing I’m here to help with, dear,” Miriam soothed.

She provided her customer with gems, herbs and oils appropriate to her supplication, and she found her a suitable ritual.  She showed Ivy where to substitute her own name in the entreaty, and where to state her needs.  The total came to $312 and Miriam handed over three discount coupons (“These are good for 15% off your next three purchases”) and a small card divided into ten squares with a tiny moon punched into square one (“Every ten-dollars you get a punch, and when it’s full, that’s another 15% off”).  Ivy noted happily that both the coupons and the card were printed on recycled cardstock.

“Do you want a receipt?” Miriam asked, “I don’t like wasting the paper if you’re just going to throw it away once you’re out the door.”

“You are a wonderful person!” Ivy exclaimed, beside herself at this rampant respect for Nature.

Miriam blinked, ‘have a nice day’/parting nod being the more usual way customers dismissed themselves.  The woman left, but as she closed the door (a little too firmly, surely), she jostled loose a terra cotta plaque hanging above the door.  Janus, Roman god of doorways, fell from his nail and crashed to fragments on the floor.

Miriam rushed over, looked down at the smashed plaque, out the door, down at the plaque, and back out the door.  She ran outside, looking in both directions for the green-skinned woman, memories of the Highland Games and wild crowds fleeing from walking trees flooding back into her mind. 

“Atropus, Lachesis and Clotho, What have I done?” she murmured.  She never associated that one chance customer with the bizarre events of that day.  It was just possible she’d sold a potentially destructive magickal device to exactly the wrong person.  

The lunch conversation began on a highly literary note.  This wouldn’t surprise anyone that knew the facts of the Kents’ visit to Gotham without knowing Clark personally.  If one knew only that Clark Kent wrote an exposé on President Luthor, setting off a chain of dominoes that ended in a book deal from Gothamite Publishing, it would have all seemed perfectly natural, a snapshot of Gotham’s power elite:  Visiting hotshot/investigative journalist/political pundit and wife having power lunch with billionaire CEO and female companion.  But no one who knew Clark’s humble, soft-spoken charm could ever think of him as a power pundit any more than they could dismiss Lois as “and wife.”  

It was Giovanni’s famous snobbery that caused the Wayne Party of Four to resemble the Algonquin Roundtable.  Lois had been the first to reach his podium at 12:15, having gone shopping while Clark attended his first meeting with the publisher.  Giovanni looked her over:  She was attractive, although her slim black dress, chic in any other city, was a bit provincial by Gotham standards.  But she was more than presentable, not “dressed down” in that horribly déclassé manner favored by certain movie stars, bohemians, and wannabes that fancied themselves ‘artistes.’  Giovanni greeted her warmly and led her to the cloakroom to check her bags.  

But that brief period of “sizing up” brought out Lois’s work persona.  As a journalist, she would assail kings and prime ministers with question after question, heedless of anyone’s power or pretensions.  It was her method of coping with the vaguely judgmental way Giovanni had looked at her.  She began questioning him and he, unused to being the focus of such attention, opened up at length.  He stationed Lois in the lounge and sat with her, insisting she sample Limoncello, his favorite aperitif.  They chatted amicably, although Giovanni had to leave from time to time “just for un momento, Signora, just un momento” to seat other customers as they came in.  By the time the rest of the luncheon party arrived, Lois had finished three Limoncellos, but she knew more about d’Annunzio’s than Gothamites who dined there for years.

Once they’d placed their orders, Giovanni made the rounds of the table.  He took Selina’s menu from her hand, he took Bruce’s, he took Clark’s, he took Lois’s—and he replaced the last with a much thinker volume:  REFLECTIONS by Diana, Princess of Themyscira.

“Look,” Giovanni said proudly, “Like I tell you, one of d’Annunzio’s most famous guests.  She sit in that very chair you’re in now.”

“Oops,” Selina winced.  “Hadn’t thought of that.  Sorry, Lois.”

Lois gave Selina a sideways look… then Bruce.  She was beginning not to regret the upcoming chat in re “marital bliss and you.” 

“Oh look,” Lois said with mock delight.  “It’s an autographed copy.”

Bruce’s eyes became focused and piercing.

“I didn’t know there was a book signing in Gotham,” Clark said casually.

“There wasn’t,” Bruce declared firmly.

“I send to her in Washington,” Giovanni explained happily, “and she signed.  Personal message.  Very gracious lady.”

Clark breathed a sigh of relief.  He didn’t want to think about the next League meeting if Diana had trespassed in Batman’s city without his knowledge.

“Very nice,” Lois said politely, handing the book back as if she’d enjoyed the privilege of holding it long enough.  “It might interest you to know that my husband, Clark Kent,” she pointed to him playfully, “is also about to be published.  Well, he’s been published many times, but this time it’s a book, a collection of his essays from THE GOTHAMITE, The Atlantic and George.  Since Clark actually is a writer, I think you’ll find his work—don’t laugh Clark, I see you sniggering over there—find his work far more readable than that of Diana’s ghostwriter, a.k.a.  that Australian that thinks she pisses champagne.”

“Lois!” Clark exclaimed, although he’d heard his wife’s rant a number of times.  Bruce hid his lip-twitch behind a sip of water, while Selina did nothing to conceal her wide grin.

“Don’t ‘Lois’ me, Smallville.  Diana has a ghostwriter and it’s that ridiculous Australian.  He left his fingerprints all over it.  Choppy sentences, overuse of similes, and apparently lacking any grasp of what a paragraph is or when to break it, he just starts a new one every ten words or so regardless.”

Selina turned to Bruce with a look of absolute delight. 

“Oh, I like her.  Can we keep her?”

Bruce had set down his water glass and the twitch was now taking refuge behind his thumb as he pretended to scratch his chin.

“Lois,” Clark said firmly, “honestly—and no offense, Selina—Lois, my darling, feathers in your mouth.”

“It’s not catty if it’s true.  I didn’t make this up, Clark, she wrote a book about ‘how to be a better person.’  On planet Earth, you spend that much time and energy telling other people how they should live their lives, you’re gonna catch some.  You hear what I’m sayin’?  There will always be the fan club with nothing but fawning admiration.  There will always be the opposition, every bit as extreme and determined.  And in between, there will always be a vast, vast majority that kind of wish you’d shut up, but don’t really care one way or the other.”

“I check on your appetizers,” Giovanni said hastily.

After such an introduction, the foursome had to seem terribly interested in books for the remainder of the meal.  It would have been suspicious if, spending that much time on the literary efforts of a woman they barely knew, they weren’t at least as engrossed in Clark’s own project.  It was not in Clark’s nature to boast, but Lois was ready to supply dialogue whenever Giovanni or the waiters came within earshot…

While the appetizers were brought: 
“After Clark broke that story about a Luthor-Imperiex connection, Perry put him on a tight leash.  The Planet was catching all kinds of hell from the White House spin machine.  Perry wasn’t about to fire Clark, but he couldn’t have the paper on the outside looking in for the rest of the Luthor administration.”

While the appetizers were cleared:
“So he started giving Clark these low-profile international stories with no political overtones.  Clark liked the work.  He’s always had a knack for filing on time against harried deadlines, he could somehow get into places that no other reporter in the world could get near, and he always kept his travel expenses remarkably low.”

And while the main courses were served:
“Anyway, the new assignments were giving him a new perspective on a number of issues, foreign and domestic.  He needed an outlet, and the GOTHAMITE said yes.  They’ve been publishing his essays for a couple months now, and it must have struck a chord somewhere, because George and The Atlantic were requesting reprint rights and Gothamite Inc.  called last week and said they wanted to collect the material in a book.  This trip is all about selecting which essays to use, writing a forward, adding some filler…”

While the main course dishes were cleared, there was no continuation on this elevated theme.  Instead, Lois was undergoing a kind of transformation—a silent transformation not unconnected to a persistent nudge from under the table.  She glanced at her husband for a brief moment… and he glanced back.  They appeared to be having an argument silently with their eyes.  Finally, Lois rolled her eyes, and sighed, defeated, as many before her had been when faced with the Man of Steel determined to do good.  She turned to Bruce and Selina, smiling politely.  She lifted her napkin off her lap and lightly dabbed at the corners of her mouth, then stood.

“Please excuse me,” she announced, glancing around the table and stopping at Selina.  “Selina, I was about to visit the powder room.  Maybe you’d show me the way?”

Selina stared at her curiously for a moment, then glanced over at Clark, who was sitting perfectly upright in his chair with a smile so wide he was almost swallowing his ears.  She glanced back to Lois curiously, then dropped her own napkin on the table, rising from her chair.

“Sure…” she answered slowly, a slightly bemused expression creeping onto her face.  She motioned in the direction of the restrooms and led Lois away from the table.

Clark watched them intently, tracking their path until he was certain they were out of sight.  Bruce tried desperately to control the smirk tugging at his lips as he blithely picked a few crumbs off of the table.

“So,” Bruce said, pulling Clark’s attention back to him.  “What did you want to talk to me about?”

Clark studied him closely for an instant, then chuckled.  “Was it that obvious?”

Bruce picked up his water glass and raised it to his lips.  Just before taking a sip, he muttered behind the rim of the glass, too low for anyone else to hear, but just loud enough that he knew Clark would catch it with his super-hearing.

“That ‘S’ on your chest doesn’t stand for ‘subtle,’ Clark.”

Clark laughed lightly.  “All right then, straight to the point.  I’m just wondering when you’re going to stop messing around and finally make an honest woman’ out of Selina…”

Bruce froze mid-sip and glared at him over the rim of his glass.  He slowly, purposefully, set the glass back down on the table and took a deep breath.  Clark noticed that strange twitch tugging at the corner of his friend’s mouth again.

“Define honest,’” Bruce replied dryly.

An oh-please look crossed Clark’s face.  “You know what I mean, Bruce.  When are the two of you going to finally settle down?”

Bruce leaned back in his chair, the lip twitch getting more erratic.  “Clark, in all the years that you’ve known me, have you ever seen me settle for anything?”

Clark shot him a disgusted look.  He knew that Bruce would keep playing with semantics unless he came right out and said it.  “Have you guys even talked about the possibility of getting married?”

There it was—finally out in the open.  The two men stared at each other across the table, neither one moving.  A waiter came over and quietly removed the plates from the table as another came in behind him and set down several dishes of palate-cleansing sorbet.  Both experienced employees of D’Annunzio’s, neither waiter made any outward indication that these two men staring each other down in complete silence was in any way out of the ordinary.  Just before they turned to leave, Bruce broke away from the gaze and thanked them both politely, then picked up his spoon and scooped out a small bit of his sorbet.

“I see,” Bruce replied flatly before sampling the lightly fruity, frozen delicacy.  He twirled the spoon slowly around in his fingers, lightly gesturing with it as he spoke in even, matter-of-fact tones.  “So, you’ve had this conversation with Wally.  You’ve had this conversation with Kyle.  It’s not that far of a stretch to imagine that you’ve had similar conversations with Diana and with Arthur as well.  So, it’s my turn now, is that it?”

“You two are perfect for each other, Bruce.  We can all see that.  Why not make that official—” 

“Look, Clark,” he interrupted.  “I know that ever since the announcement of Dick and Barbara’s engagement, you’ve had these wedding bells chiming in your ears, but you’ve got to stop trying to play matchmaker for the rest of the group.  Your heart’s in the right place, but the private lives… especially the private love lives of the rest of the crew are, quite frankly, none of your damn business.  So it’s time to put the Yenta back in the box now.  Eat your sorbet.”

Clark was taken aback by the bluntness of the words.  He stared blankly at Bruce for a few moments, then finally spoke softly.  “With all of the things that we see on a daily basis… the hatred, the anger, the madness and the violence… I worry about all of us, Bruce.  It’s important for each of us to have something to counterbalance that.  I just want to be sure that all of you… that all of us… have some level of stability in our lives.  Some amount of… happiness.”

Bruce considered the words solemnly as he finished the last bite of his sorbet.  He set the spoon down and glanced across the table at his friend, a warm, genuine smile appearing on his face.

“I am happy, Clark.  Happier than I’ve been since… since I can remember.  And that has nothing to do with any ring or certificate.” He wiped his mouth with his napkin, then stared pointedly into his friend’s eyes.  “Stick with the grand scale world-saving, Clark.  Leave the personal stuff to the rest of us.”

Clark let out a single, breathy chuckle and nodded slowly.  “Will do,” he replied lightly as he picked up his own spoon and began eating his sorbet.

“By the way,” Bruce said, leaning back in his chair again, the twitch-smile returning.  “Sending your wife to have the conversation I’m betting she’s having with Selina in the bathroom right now? Not your brightest move.”

I couldn’t figure it out.  I’d never seen a transformation like it outside of a Fop covering a secret identity:  the woman who was a dynamo at the lunch table had somehow downshifted into a stammering nincompoop.

It began with:  “So, um, things with Bruce going okay?”

“Fine,” I said.  And I started putting on lipstick, because I’ve never been big on ‘girl talk’ and every woman knows you can’t say too much that way without smudging.

“Good, good,” she went on.  Now please remember, this is a professional writer talking who disemboweled some fledgling Faulkner not an hour earlier.  Her next words I quote verbatim:  “Good is good.  ‘Cuz y’know Clark has been, I mean we’ve both been… not to mention… it’s just… well… you two look so good together.”

I got it. 

I let her twist in the breeze for a bit while I became very engrossed in my eyeshadow.  My silence led her to such astonishing feats of verbal lunacy as “And good together is so much better than good apart because even if you have good without anybody else, it’s fine to be independent and all, but alone is really no fun, and the apart kind of good can always get better if there is someone else to—”

“Stop.”  I snapped my compact shut on the word and dropped it into my purse.  “Clark put you up to this, didn’t he?”

She looked panicked for a moment, glancing at the door like I might blow or lunge at her or something.  Then she sort of deflated, and then she was Lois again.

“Yes, of course he did,” she announced.  “You think I give a shit if you two get married or not.”

What I find most troubling about the whole episode is the fact that the married state can apparently cause perfectly sane and capable women to go along with conversations like this one because HE thinks it’s a good idea.  The possibilities with regard to Bruce are nothing short of horrifying:
    Oh Pammy, would you come along to the powder room with me, please?
    Selina, you’ve been the Iceberg 600 times.  Why can’t you—
    JUST COME TO THE TOILET, IVY, AND LEAVE THE WEED AT THE TABLE!

Meanwhile, Lois had become fascinated by her nail polish. 

“Look,” I said finally, remembering our first meeting, way back when at LexCorp.  “You obviously need some leverage handling the hubby, and I need to get back out there before Bruce says ‘just coffee’ and I miss out on empress peaches stuffed with amaretto cream on a pomegranate reduction drizzled in Belgian chocolate.  So let’s pretend you had your say, I shot you down, and we agreed to settle it with shoe shopping like any sane, rational women with a free afternoon on Fifth Avenue.”

While Poison Ivy found her lair in Riverside Park to be cozier and more secluded than the one in Robinson Park, she chose the latter for the ritual.

Miriam had stressed that the summoning could not create power, it would merely draw it forth from elements where it already dwelled.  Since Ivy was not an experienced practitioner in the Craft, Miriam had been skeptical of her ability to focus her will to draw forth the dormant powers.  Ivy scoffed at this, since Miriam—while undoubtedly an excellent witch—could not possibly understand her special connection with nature.  The very notion that she, as a goddess of all things green, needed any great feat of concentration to bond with plant life!  But she would hedge her bets all the same.  Robinson Park was far larger than Riverside, and therefore had more greenery for her to draw on.

She found a clearing of sufficient size, where no grass would be sacrificed, and drew a circle in the soil, as instructed.  She placed one of the gems marked with symbols along the precise point in the arc to the north, another to the south… east… and west.  Placing the last one, she noticed for the first time a statue of Janus where the main path forked off to the ice-skating rink.  She made a wry face.  She had no particular objection to Janus as the Roman god of gates, doors, beginnings, endings and doorways.  She wouldn’t have cared, had she known, that he was also Bifrons, an Earl of Hell with six legions of demons at his command.  What she objected to was his appearance.  He had two faces, one pointing in each direction. 

Poison Ivy was not at all keen to conduct her ritual with some two-face staring at her, even if this one was 1) a statue and 2) a god.  He was 3) a man and 4) a two-face.  So 5) she could find a new clearing…

Except that it would take some doing to find another clearing this large.  She couldn’t kill grass for the sake of her ritual!  And she wanted to act now, while the sun was high and the plants were most energized.  She would simply have to ignore him.  Ignoring a two-face that pushed himself forward in an inconvenient place where he wasn’t wanted would be no problem whatsoever. 

So she composed herself, moved to the center of the circle, and began her appeal:

To the focus of my spirit
the nexus of my thought
I summon all the power
On earth or hades wrought
To right the wrong done the goddess
To right the wrong done the goddess’s name
My mentation is thy avatar
Thy transcendenceis, my claim.

To be continued…


 

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