Young Jason Todd was poor and hungry. After his father was arrested from the fiasco with the Penguin, Jason and his mother barely had anything to eat.
The most he could eat was at public school; receiving free breakfast and lunch. Often, he can sneak extra food home so that it could be their dinner. But ever since the new administration forced the children and parents to pay for food, Jason would not have a bite to eat.
Eventually Jason had to drop out of school to take care of his ailing mother. Nobody would hire Jason, too young and scruffy looking. The money he gained from either begging or stealing wasn’t enough to buy food for the both of them. Often he would go to bed hungry.
But Jason endured. He endured for his mother and self-preservation at the price of his pride and morals.
Today was just another day. The dark and dreary skies shadowed Gotham matches Jason’s mood. With expenses and debts piling up, it was cheaper to be outside rather than stay at home. He will take what he can get and if the opportunity presents itself he will do what needs to be done.
On the street corner he usually begged is eventful. Batman is chasing some green-colored lunatics of the week with his Batmobile. The goons have driven off with a truck full of money while shooting at Batman. The Batmobile isn’t taking any hits as the bullets bounce right off the hood.
I wonder how much Batman spends on his car, Jason thought. Probably enough to last me for years. Batman’s secret weapon is actually capitalism.
The money truck suddenly got upturned by a random pothole. The truck jumped and turned a couple of times before it crashed into a lamppost on its side. The green goons scrambled out just as Batman arrived to the scene. One by one they were caught, some put up a hell of a fight before being restrained or knocked out by the Batman.
One of the goons landed on his face directly in front of Jason. The batman had used his grappling hook, tying and tripping the goon’s legs. As the goon was dragged back to his companions, something dropped out of his sleeves. Jason went to pick it up.
Three pieces of beans.
The beans don’t look anything out of the ordinary but considering the goons who are employed to, Poison Ivy perhaps, these beans were possibly unique and dangerous. The beans look harmless. In fact those beans look like what first graders used to learn about plant life.
Also the beans are barely enough to eat.
The loud sirens screaming down the street had Jason running home with the beans in his pocket. Remembering what he learned in 1st grade, he puts the beans in a clear Ziploc bag with water. He sets it down next to his window and calls it a day.
In the early morning Jason wakes up ready to scrounge up for food when he realized the sun hadn’t risen. It wasn’t that the sun hadn’t risen but something is blocking the window.
He opens the blinds wide open and staggered back in shock. The beans he had planted grew big and tall. The beanstalk went up and up till it reached the sky.
Curious, Jason grabbed his hoodie and climbed up the beanstalk. He climbed and climbed till he reached the sky. He gave an experimental step on the cloud, surprised that its solid he sets down both feet on the cloud, letting go of the beanstalk.
“This is a dream,” Jason said out loud. “This is a really weird dream.”
But it felt so real. With nothing left to lose he starts walking toward an unknown direction. He sees a greenhouse on the clouds and decided to head towards it. He gave a series of knocks on the door until someone opens.
Poison Ivy answers the door. It should have crossed Jason’s mind that he should be scared of the femme fatale green villain but at this point Jason couldn’t care less.
Poison Ivy raised a brow at the boy in front of her door. “How’d you get up here, kid?”
Jason shrugged. “I dunno either, ma’am,” he answered. “I’m just surprised about it as myself.”
Poison Ivy crossed her arms. “You want something?”
Jason takes in the giant greenhouse and Poison Ivy before him. What’s the harm? “Ya got anything to eat?”
Despite being an infamous femme fatale villain of Gotham, Poison Ivy is very generous and kind when she wants to be. She laid out a spread of various hot and delicious food in front of Jason. All plant based origin but Jason wasn’t complaining. He hasn’t eaten this much in weeks.
“It’s convenient to build my greenhouse up here away from the ground,” Poison Ivy explained, joining Jason for breakfast. “Away from the pollution and people, away from the cops and Batman. And my babies have enough sun that Gotham can’t provide.”
“Wouldn’t Batman or someone on an airplane realize a floating greenhouse in the clouds?” Jason asked.
“Eventually they will,” Poison Ivy said. “As soon as I’m done with what I need to do, I wouldn’t need my greenhouse up here anymore.”
“What would you be doing, Ms. Ivy?”
Before Poison Ivy was about to explain when a series of stomps can be heard coming from the other side of the greenhouse.
“Oh no he’s back,” Poison Ivy quickly moves Jason to hide in the plants. “Be quiet and hold your breath.”
Jason didn’t get a chance to protest when the plant he was forced to hide in swelled up and incased him. He did what he was told and held his breath. Through a small gap of the plant he could see the outside as a large figure approaches.
“Good morning, Floronic Man,” Poison Ivy greeted.
Floronic Man arrived to the dining area green and plant-like. His figure towers over Ivy and most of the plants in the greenhouse. An intimidating and fearful figure, Jason almost lets out a gasp if it were not his hands covering his mouth and nose.
Floronic Man sniffs the air.
I smell the blood of an Gothamite:
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
“Oh you smell that?” Poison Ivy asked. “I had just fed the roses with blood of men. You know how good blood is for roses, look how beautiful and strong they are.”
Floronic Man looks over at the roses she was gesturing, nodded and accepted her answer. “I’ll be heading down to grab what we need to build the device.”
Poison Ivy looks busy, cleaning up the table she and Jason recently ate at. Not giving Floronic Man any ideas or suspicions. “Go do what you needed to do. I might head down later today.”
Floronic Man gives a last glance before he heads out. After waiting a beat or two Poison Ivy snaps her fingers to let the plants release Jason.
Jason stumbles out. “Why is Floronic Man here?”
“He and I are working on a project,” Poison Ivy replied. “All for the greater good of the green.”
An ominous way to put into words but who is Jason to judge on what’s not his business. He left the greenhouse with drawstring bag full of fruits and vegetables Poison Ivy conjured with a wave of her hand. You need to eat more, she said. The plants had told me so.
Jason goes back to where he came and climbs back down the beanstalk. He climbs back into his window just as the beanstalk receded back into its original bean form. The bean shriveled and faded leaving only two beans left. It was as though there weren’t any traces of the beanstalk ever existed to begin with.
The bag of fresh fruits and vegetables were rationed out to make the most of what they got. It fed Jason and his mother for days, gave his mother the strength to fight against her illness and energy for Jason to earn more money.
Good things couldn’t last long and soon the food was gone. On a particular unlucky purse snatching Jason barely escaped from the owner and police, limping all the way home. He glanced at his mother on his way to his room. His mother had been sleeping all day, courtesy of his father’s stash of drugs found between the floorboards.
Jason gave a wistful look at the beans sitting innocently in the clear Ziploc bag by the window. The two beans that were left had not grown since that time. All Jason could do is give the little beans some fresh water before calling it a day.
As though his prayers have been answered, the beanstalk had grew overnight and Jason climbed up right away in the morning. Without hesitation he walks across the clouds toward the floating greenhouse and knocked on the door.
Poison Ivy answered the door, not surprised. “Hey Red.”
“Your hoodie,” she pointed out. “You never gave me your name and it’s probably best if you didn’t.”
Jason nodded. “Probably best.”
“I guess you’re here for food and something else. Come on in, I just finished setting it up.”
Just like last time the food Poison Ivy prepared was warm and delicious. Jason ate as much as he could while Poison Ivy watched on. She came back later with a first aid kit and a small plant to treat Jason’s injuries. Jason was about to protest but one sharp look from Poison Ivy silenced him.
“So how did the other guy look?” Poison Ivy asked.
“Ugly,” Jason replied. “Not from anything I did to him though.”
“So you lost.”
“Didn’t know there was something to lose.”
“Everyone has something to lose,” Poison Ivy closed the first aid kit. “We just don’t realize it until it’s gone. All we can do is hold onto what we have and make the most of the best that we can.”
Wise words from the villainous Poison Ivy. Jason contemplates her words as she tipped his head to apply salve from the plant onto the wounds on his face. “What did you lose?”
Poison Ivy paused in her treatment for a moment and resumes without looking into Jason’s eyes. “My humanity.”
Jason gave a sharp noise causing Poison Ivy to look up confuse. “I don’t think you gave yourself enough credit,” he said. “Honestly you are way better than those jerks walking around in Gotham.”
Poison Ivy moves back to look at Jason’s face carefully. Her expression doesn’t give away what she feels and Jason couldn’t tell at all. He stares back at Poison Ivy with equal measure though he doesn’t have a choice with the way she’s holding his face.
”What did you lose, Red?” Poison Ivy asked softly.
“Too much,” Jason replied without waver. “And with barely anything left at all.”
Heavy stomps can be heard from the other side of the greenhouse. Automatically Poison Ivy lifted Jason from his chair and puts him into the plant she previously hidden him in. Right on cue Floronic Man enters and takes in the area.
“Did you sleep well?” Poison Ivy asked sitting in Jason’s seat. “Did you even sleep at all?”
“I slept as much a plant would sleep,” Floronic Man answered, going to the opposite side of the table to sit. He stops when he takes a sniff in the air.
I smell the blood of an Gothamite:
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
Poison Ivy sighed, her hand covering her head exasperated. “We fought some lab techs and security from last night’s heist. There were a lot of them, did you not remember?”
“I swear I smell something,” Floronic Man asserted. “A man was here.”
“Did you even shower last night?” Poison Ivy suggested. “Their blood could be sticking to your… whatevers. And you weren’t any gentle either.”
Jason’s eyes widened. Eating a warm hot meal, he forgot to realize that both Poison Ivy and Floronic Man are capable of hurting people. Possibly kill to get what they want.
Floronic Man doesn’t look satisfied as he closes his eyes to commune with the plants. Whatever the plants had told him, he was dissatisfied with the answer. He dropped his whole weight onto the chair causing the greenhouse a small shake. Poison Ivy looks back with an unamused look.
“What did I tell you,” Poison Ivy said. “Maybe you should eat something, you’ll be more awake.”
Grudgingly Floronic Man grabs a gourd and takes a vicious bite. After a couple of bites he couldn’t take it anymore and got up to leave.
“Where are you going?” Poison Ivy called out.
“Couldn’t eat,” Floronic Man growled. “I can still smell the blood of men. Ruined my appetite.”
“Then go shower,” Poison Ivy shooed him away. “After you’re done we could work on the stolen serum together.”
Floronic Man made an indecipherable growl as he left the area. A couple of crashes and loud sounds can be heard from his direction.
Poison Ivy gestures the flower to open up for Jason to get out. “I’ll need to check on Floronic Man before he breaks something,” she told him. “You know the way out.”
“H-how did he –did he just talked to a plant?”
“Plants do not lie. But with enough influence from me gives him a completely different answer.”
Poison Ivy left but not before giving Jason a bag of fruits and vegetables. It could be his eyes tricking him but it looks like she gave him a lot more.
Jason straps on the bag and takes a minute to look around. The plants reached as high as the ceiling would give, all of them lushed and healthy green unlike the park down in Gotham.
He passes by what looks to be a laboratory. Things that he would see on the TV are right in front of him. He forgotten that villainous criminals although do less than legal activities are smart in their field of expertise.
One particular set of beakers caught Jason’s attention. The vials contain some sort of chemical that’s glowing green and smelled like roses. This must have been the serum the two had stolen from last night.
A sudden noise from the other side of the greenhouse startled Jason out of his daze. Without hesitating he grabbed one of the vials with the serum, stuffed it deep into his bag, and left the greenhouse without a glance back. He climbed and climbed back down into his apartment and the beanstalk dissolved as soon as he touches his bedroom floor. The bean disintegrated leaving only one bean left in its place.
Jason decided he wanted to try a more legal way to earn money. He collected cans and bottles to be exchanged for 5 cents each. He did pretty well enough to give him legitimate income even though the amount would be considered as pocket change.
With his mother hooked on drugs, she doesn’t have much of an appetite. If he forced her, she wouldn’t keep the food down. Knowing her portion of the food would be spoiled, Jason saved some in the freezer to be preserved and gave the rest to individuals he thinks would need it more.
Although Poison Ivy has given him more food, it doesn’t seemed to be enough. What little Jason managed to save and rationed ran out before he knew it.
He glanced at the serum he had stolen, still glowing and smelling like roses. He could try to find a fence to sell it but it sounds too risky. He doesn’t know what the serum does and if he sells it, Ivy would hear about it. He couldn’t even go to the police or Batman for this. They would regard him with scorn or worse; arrest him for the multiple crimes he committed to survive.
He goes to sleep troubled and woke up the next day to the beanstalk growing up to the sky. He climbs up all the way to the clouds and walks to toward the greenhouse.
He moves to knock on the door when he pauses. Could he still do this, taking food from a charitable villain? He stolen something from them and wouldn’t know if he would even be allowed to –
The door opens to reveal Poison Ivy sporting an annoyed look. She looks at the raised fist that Jason was about to knock on the door. “You gonna do something with that?”
Jason quickly puts his hand down, nervous when he couldn’t meet Poison Ivy’s eyes. “You said everyone has something to lose and that we should do something to make the best of it.”
He takes out the vial from his back pocket and shows it to Ivy. “Can you please help me?”
Jason agreed to help Poison Ivy in exchange of her making a serum to cure Jason’s mother’s drug stupor. After eating, Ivy directs Jason to a machinery to be put together. With some innate knowhow and instruction, the machinery is close to be completed.
“So what is it that you and Floronic Man are trying to do,” Jason asked.
“We’re trying to build a greener world,” Poison Ivy answered. “Trees are being cut down faster than being grown, forests are burning and disappearing, endangered plants and animals are slowly dying. The air and water are being polluted, suffocating the Earth as we speak. We need to make sure that it doesn’t happen.”
“Ok… so what’s with the serum?”
“The serum will go into the clouds. It will rain down and spread.”
Heavy stomps are heard indicating Floronic Man’s arrival.
I smell the blood of an Gothamite:
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
“Yeah yeah, we heard it so many times already,” Poison Ivy yawned, bored with the routine. “How many times do you have to keep saying that you smell something? You don’t even like bread!”
Floronic Man sees Jason by the machine. “A man!”
Floronic Man snaps his vines out to snag at Jason if it were not for Poison Ivy stopping the vines in its tracks. “Cool your horses,” she said. “He’s helping us with the machine.”
The vines receded back into Floronic Man’s arms. “You dare to bring a man to our sanctorum?!”
“I hired him actually,” Poison Ivy explained. “I feed him and in exchange he helps us with this doo-hicky here. And FYI he’s not a man, he’s a boy.”
Floronic Man approaches Jason until he is standing before him. Jason had never felt so insignificant and scared with this giant before him, tightening his grip on the tire iron he had been using for the machine.
Floronic Man looks down at Jason with a sneer. “You care for the green, boy?”
“I guess I should,” Jason shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant. “I live in Gotham so there’s not much green to go around. Only in the parks and botanical garden are greenish but none of them could be compared to the plants here.”
Floronic Man assessed the boy before turning over to Poison Ivy. “The stray can stay provided he do his job.”
“He’s been doing a good job so far,” Poison Ivy said. “He even found that vial we lost.”
The mention of the vial had Jason stiffened and looks over at Poison Ivy as she gives him the look.
“The vial must have fell out and down to Gotham,” Poison Ivy doesn’t take her eyes off of Jason. “Little Red picked it up and brought it back to me like a good boy.”
Jason nervously swallowed and moves to go back. “I guess I’ll get back to work then.”
Jason doesn’t dare to look behind him, knowing Poison Ivy and Floronic Man are right there. He concentrates on working on the machine hopefully to chase off the nervousness. He takes a chance to glance back and sees the two villains busy on the other side of the room. He couldn’t hear what the two were talking about but knows it’s nothing good.
With the machine completed Jason glance back, the two villains are still talking. Knowing it might not be a good idea to stick around Jason quietly crept back to leave. He didn’t notice the vines until his legs were binded together, making him fall and dragging him back to them.
“Where are you going boy?” Floronic man sneered. “Leaving so soon?”
“Be gentle,” Poison Ivy scolded. “That’s no way to treat him like this.”
Jason is being held up, ensnared by the vines. He struggles to get free but in vain as the vines tightened its grip. “Well I thought since my work here is done I should get going,” Jason stammered. “No need to include me in your nefarious plans so I’ll just be on my way.”
“I like you Red,” Poison Ivy strokes Jason’s hair in an attempt to calm him down. It doesn’t work. “And you’re still young. It’s better if you are up here with us.”
“Why? What’s going on?” Jason struggles intensified. “What are you planning to do?”
“The Earth is dying,” Poison Ivy gestures around them. “They call me a villain when I am the farthest thing from it. I’m not destroying the world, I’m saving it from the takers and the users. We’ve been surrounded by men like that all our lives but we can change them. Trim them and shape them like a good gardener. I don’t want to do it but I have to do it.”
“You mean what you said?! Turning into plants?!” Jason’s eyes widened, his struggling temporarily stopped. “That’s crazy. You can’t do this. There’s people – my mother, you promised!”
“And I promised,” Poison Ivy replied. “With the serum, the drugs would be flushed out and she will be greener and better than before. Just like the rest of us.”
“Nonononono,” Jason shakes his head wildly. “This shouldn’t happen and I don’t like vegetables! I don’t want to be brussels sprouts!”
Floronic Man groaned, pinching the space between his brows. “I starting to think boys might be worse than men. But you know what, we haven’t had a proper test subject for our solution. A human test subject. I say let’s have our little friend here test the fruits of our solution.”
The words of Floronic Man made Jason quiver, shrinking back as the vines drag him close to the villains. “Ms. Ivy you can’t be okay with this?! Please don’t do this!” Floronic Man grabbed hold of Jason’s face tight so he wouldn’t move.
“The solution to all the world’s problems,” Poison Ivy tips the vial near Jason’s mouth. “One way or another.”
A loud piercing noise startle and shook the greenhouse. The glass of the greenhouse rattles and the fragile lab tools vibrated off the table and break. The window above them cracked and in drops the Batman like the vengeance personified.
“The brat has led Batman to us!” Floronic Man shouted.
The villains didn’t have time to dwell as Batman immediately threw batarangs at them. A fight is ensure that wrecked most of the laboratory and equipment. In the midst of the battle Jason was freed from the vines and crawled on his hands to the nearest sturdy like structure to take cover. He jumped when Poison Ivy was slammed into the machine next to where he was hiding, knocking her out for the count.
Floronic Man and Batman are the only ones left battling out. It seems Floronic Man is winning due to his strong physique outweighing the Bat. Jason spies the serum that they were about to use on him rolled toward him, glowing green and not a drop spilled. Jason puts the serum into his pocket, made to leave the fight nearby him unscathed.
Fate must have had it out for Jason when Batman was thrown over and fell in front of Jason. With Batman blocking his way, Floronic Man approaches them with a menacing presence.
“How convenient for the both of you to be together,” Floronic Man raised his arm, the vines formed into a giant spiked hammer above his head. “Makes it easier to crush you both!”
But Jason has a solution up his sleeve, throwing it head on at Floronic Man. He yelled in pain when it hit him straight in the chest, the giant spike hand dropped behind him.
“Weed killer,” Jason gloated. “Nicked it from the park. They always got them lying around so I helped myself. Didn’t think I would had to use it on you tho.”
Floronic Man snarled but a simple weed killer can’t deter him. The vines spread across his chest to fill the hole, his arm raised again for a second strike. The weed killer bomb gave the Batman enough time to recover and attack again.
It gave Jason an opportunity to escape. Jason escaped the greenhouse, running towards the beanstalk as fast as he could. He took a chance to look behind him and saw a sight that made his jaws dropped.
Floronic Man is chasing after him and it looks like he had grown in size. His build became wide and his height towers like a building to cover the sun.
“I WILL CRUSH YOU INTO DUST AND FEED YOU TO MY PLANTS!”
Jason cursed up a storm as he increased his speed back to the beanstalk. He takes out the serum from his pocket, it must be the reason why the giant villain is chasing him.
Jason raised the serum up high. “Ya want it ya boob? Go get it!”
He threw the serum in the other direction forcing Floronic Man to change course. Jason reached the beanstalk and quickly climbs down. Floronic Man is hurtling at Jason with top speed.
Jason readies the tire iron he’s been holding since before. He readies it in his hands and takes a swing. “Batter up!’
He hits Flornic Man square in the face, and the villain topples down sideways. The momentum causes the beanstalk to shift and fall, Jason drops down on a nearby rooftop safely out of the way. Floronic man fell from great heights, landing on the street with a giant impact print. The beanstalk fell on top of Floronic Man and it disappeared and shriveled soon after. Off in the distance he sees the greenhouse fall from the sky, crash landed a distance away.
Floronic Man turned back to his normal size just as the police arrive. Jason stays on the rooftop watching the police cleanup after the two villains were taken into custody. It was a close call, one that he barely got away. He doesn’t want to dwell on what could have happen if he wasn’t so lucky. What more he could have lost.
The sun finally shines through the clouds, bringing light to dreary Gotham. It chases away the depressing feelings and thoughts, filling Jason with renewed energy. He picks himself up along with the tire and takes a leap across the rooftops as the start of a new day.