Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Bruce/Cat, Ivy
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words A to Z: W
Warning(s): SPOILERS for Season 2
Word Count: 1,650
Date Written: 12 November 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to DC Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.
"Isn't it sweet?" Ivy asks, her tone near a croon as she leans forward and examines her two entwining plants more carefully. She looks up at Cat. "Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be like that?"
"To be what?" Cat sneers. She's in no mood for games today, and her friend's ramblings are interrupting her thoughts which are far more important than some stupid plants. "A plant?"
"No." Ivy smiles patiently as though she's the one who has something to teach Cat when, in fact, it's always been the other girl who's come to her rescue when she's needed help. "Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be in love?"
"Of course not." Selina does snap this time, and then she shivers in an unconscious reminder of the fact that she actually had thought she was falling in love not too long ago, and had been foolish enough to believe the boy she liked might have been falling in love with her in turn. But he hadn't loved her. No one would ever love her like a man and a woman did in the movies, or even two women or two men these days. No one would ever love her.
"Where's your jacket?" Ivy asks in concern, peering closer at her friend as Cat shivers again.
"None of your business," she snarls and rubs her hands together to try to entice some warmth back into her. It's going to be much colder tonight. She wasn't even that cold until Ivy started asking stupid questions and reminding her why she'd tossed away her jacket. She thinks, not for the first time, of going back to where she tossed it and seeing if, by some uncommon stroke of luck, it's actually still there, but she knows what donning the jacket again means. It means she'll be reminded of that little spoiled, rich kid even more, and it means she'll be reminded of his actions that she'd mistaken for kindness at the time.
She wonders again why he fixed her jacket, but tonight, suddenly, she knows. He didn't mend it for her. He mended it to show her he had some usefulness and wasn't just a complete idiot, and he'd wanted her to think he was useful, perhaps even planned on making her think he had feelings for her, so that she'd keep him around.
It had worked. Cat looks away to the growing shadows in the far corners of the Gotham Botanical Gardens where Ivy sneaks in some of her favorite plants in the Winter. "We need to go," she says, growing ever more irritable. "They're gonna catch us here."
"I just had to see them for a few minutes," Ivy replies in a quieter tone than the one in which she'd just been babbling. Cat makes the mistake of looking at her friend again and finds the girl peering closely at her. "Are you okay?" Ivy asks.
Cat knows her friend, quite possibly the only friend she has left in the entire world, isn't feigning her concern for her. She actually does care, but Cat doesn't want to be the one to tell her that she's not as badass and capable of taking care of not just herself but Ivy as well. She doesn't want to break the pedestal she likes to believe Ivy has on her on. She doesn't want to admit to anybody just how stupid she could be -- and how stupid she had been where that millionaire kid was concerned.
"I'm just itchy," she says, shaking her head before looking around them again. "We need to go."
"Okay," Ivy relents at last. "I just need to do one more thing."
Cat watches as her friend stands and starts digging into the bushes behind her cherished plants. Cat still doesn't get why Ivy likes plants so much, but then, people don't get her either. They certainly don't get why she tends to adopt strays, like Ivy and Bruce, like that mother cat and her kittens two alleys away from here for whom she stole milk just last night. "Okay, but be fast," she says aloud, clearing her throat and standing. "I'm not going down if you get caught over some stupid plants."
"Uh huh," Ivy mutters, and Cat's beginning to wonder if the girl actually heard her when she pulls something big and black from the bushes.
Cat cocks her head, instantly curious. Ivy's blocking most of her view from the object, but it looks like a . . . jacket? she wonders. "Whatcha got there?"
Ivy turns back to her with the item in her hands. It is indeed a jacket whose leather folds look soft and warm. "Who'd you lift that from?"
Ivy smiles secretively. "That's my secret," she says, "but it doesn't matter." She holds the jacket out to Selina and eyes it like she's trying to imagine it on her friend. "It's for you," she adds.
"For me?" Selina asks uncertainly.
Ivy nods. Cat still doesn't move it. "If you don't want it," Ivy shrugs, "I guess I can fence it."
"I didn't say that," Selina speaks quickly. She's tired of being cold. She's tired of shaking and shivering at night until she finally falls asleep. She's tired of thinking of the other jacket and the boy who mended it and made it as good as new again.
Ivy beams as Cat grabs the jacket and pulls it on. She presses her lips hard together to keep from gasping aloud at its luxurious, soft lining. "What is this?" she asks, touching the material gingerly.
Ivy shrugs. "Beats me. I just happened to see some rich kid leave it behind when they got on the bus."
Selina's mouth opens. She's about to ask her friend if that rich kid was Bruce Wayne, but then she shuts her mouth quickly again. Bruce is done playing with the common people. He wouldn't be caught dead now taking public transit. There's no way the annoying kid has anything to do with this jacket. "You sure you don't want it?"
Ivy shakes her head. "I've still got my jacket, and besides, green is my color. Black is yours."
Yes, Cat thinks agreeably. Black is her color, black like the absence of love, light, and heat, and everything else that's supposed to be good in this world, black like the color her heart needs to be so that she doesn't keep letting people get to her, so she doesn't keep believing in things that aren't going to happen like Bruce Wayne developing feelings for her, or a real conscience, or her mother returning. Black like the absence of stupid dreams in which she needs to stop believing. Black like the shadows of the night into which she'll soon be slipping. Black like the tattered coat of that momma cat last night.
Cat's eyes flick toward the greenhouse's main entrance as she hears approaching footsteps. "Okay," she agrees as she flips up her new collar. Then she leads the way out and back into the settling night.
She's about to take her leave when Ivy suddenly throws her thin arms around her. "Hey, cut it out!" Cat pushes the other girl away.
"I'm sorry," the redhead apologizes although her pretty, little face is flushed from heat and her smile and doesn't look at all apologetic.
"Uh huh," Cat retorts carefully as she watches the other girl return to a respectful distance.
"It's just . . . " Ivy hesitates, then raises her eyes to meet Selina's. "It's going to be okay, Cat."
"I'm always okay."
"I know you miss him."
"Miss who?" She raises her chin a little higher in a clear show of dignancy.
"Bruce," Ivy insists.
"I do not!"
"I'm not going to stand here and argue with you about a spoiled, rich kid when I've got a heist to pull off tonight."
"Uh huh." Ivy nods but backs away. "Good luck with that," she calls as Cat turns her back to her. She knows her friend will think she's referring to her plans to lift some money or goods to make the harsh Gotham Winter a little easier to survive. She won't tell her that what she's actually wishing her luck with is in hardening her heart against that cute, rich, little plaything instead of her upcoming heist partially because she knows Cat will succeed in her robbery plans and doesn't need luck to do so and partially because she does need help if she's going to forget about Bruce Wayne.
Ivy grins as she watches her friend fade silently into the night like the animal for which she's named. Then she turns around and heads back to her own plants with that same smile still on her young face. Selina doesn't think the jacket came from Bruce, and Bruce, Ivy is quite certain, believes that he tricked her into helping herself to the jacket he purposefully left on that bench. Ivy, despite her age and the harsh reality of the Gotham underworld all around her, already knows the truth. Those two are meant for each other, and their lives are every bit as entwined as her plants back at the greenhouse. They don't see it yet, but one day, they will. One day, they'll love each other just like her plants, and that love, just like all things Mother Nature creates, will be a beauty to behold.
With stars in her eyes, Ivy continues on her path to the place currently serving as her home. Cat stops by a nearby alley with a fresh quart of milk and pours it out for the mewing litter and their hungry mother. And miles away, a certain boy millionaire holds a certain jacket to his nose, inhales deeply, and dreams of what could be, and might yet be, once he's solved the riddle of his parents' murder.