Two or Three?

byMild Mannered Author©

1) The following is a work of erotic fiction. Those under 18 (or whatever is the age of majority in your jurisdiction) should stop reading now.

2) This story contains characters and settings copyrighted by DC Comics. This story should be considered a parody of those characters and settings. It is also distributed free of charge and is a non-commercial enterprise; the author derives no profit from its distribution. No copyright infringement is intended.

3) I'm no continuity buff, so for simplicity's sake this story uses the TV show Batman: the Animated Series and its successors as its model, with bits and pieces picked up from the comics as I'm familiar with them. Please accept it as the best knowledge I had when the story was written. This caveat applies especially to Poison Ivy's menu of powers; these appear to have changed from treatment to treatment and over time, so I suppose the version I've given her is appropriate to some incarnation of the character.

4) Stories like this take time and effort to write. The chief reward an author receives for this labor is the knowledge that other people have found them good. If you enjoyed this story, or if you have constructive criticism, please drop the author and let him know. The more feedback I receive, the more likely it is I'll keep writing new stories.

* * * * *

Heroes are supposed to be lucky. It comes with the territory. What he couldn't figure out was, had he had two pieces of good luck that day, or three? He couldn't tell.

His first piece of good luck was that he noticed the drop at all. There were any number of reasons he should have missed it. One reason was anxiety. The breakout at Arkham a few days before had everyone worried. The whole crew of psychos— Two-Face, Killer Croc, the Ventriloquist, the Riddler, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy—had gotten out. Who knew what sort of horrors the city would endure with them all loose at once? Another reason was fatigue. Bruce, even more tightly wound than usual, had unleashed his pack. Bruce, Babs, Dick, and even Helena were all out on the streets, working alone; there was too much ground to cover to shrink their forces into pairs. That meant he, Tim Drake, was working without a net. In his opinion, he should have begun working solo a long time ago. Batgirl worked alone. Huntress worked alone. Now that he was a man—he'd just had his eighteenth birthday a few weeks past—he was entitled to work alone too. I'm still called Robin, but I'm not a Boy Wonder any more.

His pleasure at finally being free of the older crimefighters' supervision quickly melted away: operating without backup was hard. He'd gotten a rumor from one of his sources—to be honest, his only source, a drunken ex-con he'd helped out once—that the Ventriloquist's gang meant to hit a particular jewelry store, sometime after two o'clock that very night. So he'd taken up a position across the street, on top of a commercial art gallery, and was patiently waiting for the string to make its move.

With all of his attention focused on the store and the alley next to it, there was no reason for him to have given the guy any thought, but a quick glance at him prompted a thoughtful double-take. This fellow had just rounded the corner and was walking nonchalantly up the street... but wasn't that nonchalance a trifle forced? The more Tim watched him, the more he felt sure something was up. You couldn't spend all that time with Bruce and not become attuned to the signs of someone acting out a role, however subtly. Sure enough, the guy was up to something. As he passed a trash bin, the open-topped kind, made of wire, he dipped into his pocket and threw an envelope in. Not an envelope for a letter, but a bigger one, for documents, rolled up. He hadn't stopped, fumbled around in his pockets, grabbed the envelope and tossed it in, as a normal person would do. He'd tried to hide it, as if his arms didn't know what the rest of his body was doing. That confirmed it; it had been a drop. He'd been lucky to notice it at all.

Robin, secure in the shadows, stared down at the trash bin, brows furrowed. What should he do? Go get the envelope, or wait to see who came to take it? Protocol was to wait, and then shadow the recipient; but a good tail needed two people to work it right, and he was alone. Also, his gut told him this had nothing to do with the jewelry heist. That envelope was too small to hold explosives or some other distraction. He couldn't follow the envelope and stop the robbery.

Crimefighters didn't have the luxury of indecision. Attaching a zip line, he jumped off the roof. He did a slow fall, reaching out and catching eaves, diverting some of his downward momentum into dips and darts to the side, landing on his feet on the pavement. The shock ran up his spine, and then was gone. It was a move any gymnast or stuntman would give eyeteeth to perform, but nothing special for Robin. He didn't even think about what he had just done as he smoothly approached the bin, grabbed the envelope, pulled on the zip line and snapped back into the sky as the line retracted. Tumbling to a crouch on the rooftop, he examined the envelope. From decision, to descent, to grab and return, fifteen seconds had elapsed.

The envelope was unmarked and unsealed. Reaching in, he pulled out a single sheet of paper. It had a single line of text, written in pen. It was just gibberish—an apparently random sequence of numbers and letters. He scowled; someone was playing games, and at the moment, he couldn't afford to join in. It was time for another one of Bruce's tricks. With a moment's effort, he hypnotized himself, as he had been trained to do. His face blank, he stared at the sheet for a few seconds before his conscious mind reasserted itself. Now, with a moment's effort, he'd be able to recall that string of characters until the day he died. He put the paper back in the envelope, crushed the envelope into a ball, and put in one of his utility belt's spare pockets to consider later. He returned to his stakeout of the jewelry store.

He didn't have long to wait. Maybe ten minutes later, two black sedans appeared in the empty street, rolled up next to the jewelry store, and parked, engines idling. Large men in trench coats came out and hustled around to the back of the store, out of sight.

Showtime, thought Robin, as he rose to his feet. His attention focused on the events unfolding below him, there was no reason he should have caught the flicker of motion in his peripheral vision, but he did, his second piece of luck that day. Without thinking, he ducked, and the blow that should have knocked him flat only caught his shoulder. His side screaming in pain, he crumpled to the rooftop, turning his fall into a roll at the last second, coming up in a fighting stance.

There were two figures in the darkness, coming closer. One of them giggled, a high-pitched burst of laughter. "Got 'im, Red!"

The other figure's voice was low and sultry. "Get him again, Harl."

The two figures fanned out and moved closer, hemming him into the corner of the roof. Even before they emerged into the dim light cast by the streetlights below, he knew whom they were: Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. This was bad, very bad. Two against one; they had the drop on him; and his shoulder still hurt. Focus, man, focus. You can get through this. Just stay focused.

The mantra steadied his nerves. He backed away, slowly, watching them as they came near. They were both in costume: Harley in her clown suit, jester's cap, domino mask, and whiteface; Ivy in her slinky green leotard, complemented with long olive gloves and boots. Her outfit seemed an inky black in the twilight, as did her mane of red hair, which set off her pale white cleavage and legs. Focus. Harley had a big mallet in her hands, which he presumed she had mashed him with; Ivy's hands were cupped. She had something in her right hand, but he couldn't see what.

Seize the initiative. "Hello, ladies!" he sang, his voice exuding a confidence he didn't feel. "You know, you could have turned yourselves in. You don't need me to escort you, but I'll be happy to oblige." He shifted his weight to the balls of his feet, ready to spring.

Harley growled and swung her mallet in a long arc, swooping from right to left. She wasn't a trained fighter, so she telegraphed the blow, but she still had the advantage of reach. Robin undulated backwards, the mallet sizzling past his gut, and then rocked forwards into combat position. "You'll have to do better than that..."

Normally, his lines had more zing, but he was too worried to crack wise. With his shoulder banged up, he couldn't drop to the street safely, at least not for a few minutes. If he tried to escape on a zip line, he'd need to pull it out, aim properly, fire, wait for the bolt to strike home, then pull the release; they'd be all over him long before he was done. He couldn't go down, he couldn't go up, he couldn't go forward, and in a moment he wouldn't be able to go backwards either. He was only a few paces from the building's side. He needed an advantage.

"Believe it or not, we don't want to fight you, Boy Wonder," Ivy purred. Even as Robin bristled at the name, he felt a twinge. Somehow she could be sexy even in mid-battle. "Just give us our envelope, and we'll be on our way. You can take Arnold and his boys in. That'll keep the big man happy."

"Or we can give the robin a red breast!" burbled Harley, making short jabs with her mallet.

The envelope. That was his edge. "Oh, you want this?" he asked. His voice cracked a bit on "this". Damn. Don't let them know you're not in control. Reaching into his belt, he pulled out the crumpled envelope. "Then go get it!" He tossed it over the side of the building, aiming low so they couldn't grab it.

Ivy cursed and turned to the street; Harley, less calculating, gaped as the envelope went over. Robin seized the moment. Pulling his zip line from his belt, he turned and in one smooth motion aimed and fired at a tall building on the far side of the block. The bolt sped through the night. This time, though, his luck had run out. His shoulder, still weak, interfered with his aim, and the bolt missed its mark, falling uselessly to the street, embedding itself in nothing. Without an anchor, he couldn't pull himself out of here. He wasted no time cursing his fate; instead, he braced himself to leap across the gap he had been pushed to, to the next building. It was at least ten feet. It would have been a difficult feat, but not impossible, but he never found out if he could have made it. Harley, with a hiss of frustration, stepped forward and clubbed him on the back of the neck. He dropped like a stone and sprawled across the rooftop, unconscious.

* * * * *

Criminals didn't have the luxury of indecision either. "Harley!" Ivy snapped. "Take him to the car. Put him in the trunk. I'll join you in a moment."

"You're the boss!" If Harley had any doubts about this course of action, she didn't express them. Humming snatches of 'Turkey in the Straw', she grabbed Robin by the shoulders and dragged him to the fire escape.

Ivy planted the ironvine seed she'd been holding in a crevice by the side of the building. She'd planned to use it to incapacitate her masked opponent, but this would do. In a moment, it sprang up, growing in seconds to thirty feet in length. Gripping it, Ivy lithely rappelled down the side of the building, crossed the alley, and entered the street. Where was that envelope? She had only moments before Arnold Wesker's thuggish antics in the jewelry store brought the cops. She had to be gone by then. When she'd heard he was planning this heist, she had thought it a perfect distraction for the cops and Batman: the Ventriloquist's caper would give Harl and her all the cover they needed so that they could be in and out with the prize, and no one the wiser. Damn that Robin, anyway. They'd known he was there, but were counting on him being preoccupied. When he'd interfered, it had thrown them off, forcing them to reveal themselves. All was not lost, though; if she could just grab that paper, they'd be set.

There it was, lying in the gutter. She frowned; it didn't seem that he could have thrown something so slight so far. The wind must have moved it. She strode forward, but even as she reached for it, the wind sprang up again. The paper flew up in an eddy, then landed at the side of a storm drain. It teetered on the edge and was gone.

She cursed with frustration, but aware of the danger she was in, she didn't belabor the point. Turning, she rushed through the alley and went around back, where Harley had managed to muscle Robin down the fire escape. Ivy was not surprised, though at first glance it might have seemed an impossible task. Looking at her, in her garish costume, people tended to underestimate her, but there was much more to Harley than met the eye. Harley slammed the trunk of their car, a mid-size compact, shut. "I know why the caged bird doesn't sing!" she exclaimed, in a childish sing-song.

"Sure, Harl. Let's go."

As they slipped into the car (Ivy driving) Harley said, "Uh, Red? Where are we going?"

"Back to the apartment."

"With him?"

"I'm afraid so."

Ivy pulled into the street on the far side of the block and drove, careful to keep below the speed limit. Harley knew the drill; as they moved, she removed her cap and mask, and used a cloth to wipe her face clean. There wasn't anything she could do about the suit, but other drivers and pedestrians, seeing the car go by, would only be able to see the faces of two women, pretty, but not otherwise remarkable. No costumed villains here, no sir.

"I don't get it, Red. If we were gonna kill him, why not do it back there?"

"A few reasons," Ivy replied evenly. Both of them knew she was the brains of the outfit. Harl was a bright girl, and on her own turf—psychoanalysis—she was still sharp as a tack, but beyond this the same eccentricities that made her a criminal interfered with her reasoning, especially the long-term, abstract sort. Ivy thus had to do the thinking for both of them. They were both used to it by now. "Firstly, if we killed him, Batman would never rest until he tracked us down."

"Oh, fer sure. And I bet it wouldn't be jail for us, neither! Bats in the belfry..."

Ivy nodded. Yes, Harl still had a good sense of how people would behave, especially the less stable, a category in which Gotham's self-appointed protector certainly fell. "Secondly, if we left him there, we'd lose our only link to the job. The envelope went down the drain. Even if I could get it back, it wouldn't have anything readable in it any more."

"I still don't get it..."

"We can't get the paper back. We can't get our contact back, either; by this time, he's long gone with the money we paid him. The only way to get the code now is to get it out of Robin. We saw him read it, right? He'll tell us the code, and we're back on track."

"Gee, Red, I dunno. How we gonna get him to do that?"

Ivy smiled, thinly and sharply. "We'll find a way..."

* * * * *

Robin came to with a snap; in one moment he made the transition from dreamless unconsciousness to alert awareness.

This is bad. This is very bad.

His situation became clear to him in a rush. He was in a largish room, maybe twenty-foot square. The floor was battered hardwood, the walls cheap plaster. A floor lamp, with no shade, sat in a corner, casting harsh yellow light. There was a skylight, a big one, at a forty-five-degree angle from the floor, but fifteen feet up; it didn't seem to open. It was dark outside, but purple instead of black; dawn was coming. Still morning, then. Though the light was bad, he was fairly sure there was nothing beyond the pane, no adjacent building.

The only furnishing in the room, aside from the lamp, was a chair, which at present he was sitting in, securely tied down. Handcuffs, one for each wrist, chained his arms, and his legs were pinioned with some sort of thick cord. Another cord wound around his waist. They had trapped him well.

With a surge of panic, he realized he was out of uniform, without boots, gloves, shirt, or utility belt. Even his tights were gone, leaving him in his briefs. He still wore his mask, though. He relaxed slightly; whatever else had gone wrong tonight, he hadn't lost his secret identity. Word had gotten around, then, of what had happened to Croc when he had tried to remove Batman's mask the one time that Croc had gotten the better of the Dark Knight. The resulting electric shock hadn't killed Croc, but that arm had been out of commission for days.

Okay, inventory. What have we got? Nothing. Without the gloves and the belt, no lockpicks. I could get out of one pair of handcuffs by breaking my hand, but with two pair, I'd be left with two broken hands. Not a good idea. The cords... can't untie them, I bet, and no tools to cut them. All right. If I can't get out of here myself, I have to wait for someone to get me out. The tracer in my belt... eventually, Bruce and the others will come looking for me, and the belt will lead them right here. Wherever here is. Just gotta stay alive, stay safe, until then.

Secured as he was, he could only see one door out of the room, in front of him about fifteen feet away. It opened a crack, and someone stuck her head in. It took him a moment to recognize Harley. She looked very different out of uniform: blond hair done up in pigtails, clear skin, high cheekbones. Amazing what a domino mask and greasepaint can conceal. Harley was, in her own way, as attractive as Ivy, a girl next door to Ivy's femme fatale. She's also as crazy as wounded bear, and as dangerous, too. Stay focused.

"Ayyy-vee!" Harley trilled. "He's awayyyy-ke!" Dancing an impromptu dance, Harley entered. She had ditched her clown suit, too; she wore an old T-shirt ("Property of Gotham University Athletics") and bicycle shorts. Tim tried not to show it, but he was shocked; under that baggy harlequin outfit, Harley was seriously hot. The T-shirt, tight as it was, showed off her slim waist and her surprisingly large chest. She had to wear some sports bra under her costume, and it would have to be at least a 36D. Her legs and arms weren't bad either, slim but well muscled. I guess incarceration at Arkham gives her time to work out. She pranced over and stood before him, striking a pose of mock horror, she cried, "Oh, officer, officer, there's a man in my room!"

"Knock it off, Harl," said Ivy without rancor. Striding in, she brushed Harley aside, who moved off behind Tim, so that he couldn't see her any more. Ivy was still in her costume. In the light, better here than on the rooftop, Tim was all the more aware of how distractingly sexy she was. Though slightly slimmer-chested than Harley, she had wider hips and a narrower waist, giving her a classic hourglass figure. Her hair hung round her face and dripped to her shoulders in an auburn wave. Her almond eyes and her curl of a smile would be, under other circumstances, highly exciting.

Her most prominent feature, at the moment, was the bright green lipstick she wore. "Be strong, baby," she whispered. "This won't hurt a bit." She leaned forward, and Tim, despite his predicament, couldn't help but check out her cleavage. Ivy firmly pressed her lips against his cheek. Making a smacking sound, she pulled away and looked down in satisfaction. Tim looked back at her, saying nothing. A minute passed, then Ivy broke the silence.

"That should have done it. All right, Robin"—she mockingly emphasized the name—"tell Ivy, what was the code, hmmm? The one you read on that piece of paper."

Tim stared at her. He licked his lips, and shuddered slightly. "I... I... I can't resist. I'll tell you. It was..." He paused. Ivy leaned forward expectantly. In the background, Tim heard Harley stop whatever game she had been playing (something involving jumping up and down) to listen. "It was..."

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