The Real Mes
Author’s note: We now begin to join Veronica on her wonderful voyage of discovery.
Disclaimer: Buffyverse=Joss Whedon; Marsverse=Rob Thomas. Storyline=me.
X X X X X
So, you may be asking, how do I know I’m stuck in School Hard and not Lover’s Walk?
Now, I could dazzle you with tales of my deductive prowess, but the real answer boils down to two simple words:
She’s alive. Therefore, this is School Hard.
Of course, like all simple answers, I’m leaving a lot out.
I came to in my new life a few days ago, fortunately over a weekend, so I had enough time to catch my breath and figure out when I was. Not that I think the entity responsible was doing this to be nice to me; I think he figured a couple of extra days would give enough time to slowly come to the realization that I was screwed.
And since I have come to that realization, I think we can call the weekend a roaring success.
Of course, it’s also taken me this long to try to process two sets of memories. Just because no one else remembers a world in which I was born in 1987 and not 1980, doesn’t mean I’m still not having to deal with unexpected differences. Let me tell you, this is no one’s idea of a good time.
It took me the better part of the weekend to try to sort through the details.
To give you an example: I still remember -- if remember is the right word for the recollection of an event that never happened except in my memories, Shelly Pomroy’s Christmas party. It was a mind-bending beer bash that, of course, ended with me staggering to a slut-covered car and no memory of what had happened after early the previous night. During which amnesic period I had, of course, been raped by Cassidy Casablancas and had been technically raped by Duncan, even though he’d believed it was consensual, which is why in the end I ended up not holding it against him.
Problem one with my memory is that there’s no Cassidy Casablancas in this universe. No Dick Casablancas, either, which is something I’m profoundly grateful for, believe me. Still, no brothers Casablancas means I don’t even know if I was raped once or twice in this universe, or who did it. It wasn’t a fun investigation the first time; I don’t know if I can stomach it again.
And yet, sadly, important as that is, it’s beside the main point, which is that in the Buffyverse it was Cordelia Chase’s party I ended up stumbling away from in the early morning, and Cordelia’s party was about as different from Shelly Pomroy’s to get and still bear the name “party.” Not that it still didn’t have the crème de la crème of Sunnydale society; Duncan Kane, Logan Echolls, Harmony Kendall, all the Cordettes; but one thing you can be sure of is that Cordelia Chase would never throw anything so déclassé as a beer bash.
But, whether it was a junior grade cocktail party or a blowout by the swimming pool, the end was the same: me, amnesiac, in a back bedroom, with a graffiti-covered LeBaron.
And this was only one of the memories I had to sort through. Take that and multiply it by a couple hundred, and toss in vampires and demons, and you’ll see what I had to handle that weekend. (And my Sunnydale self didn’t know about vampires and demons, but she was getting pretty suspicious. If she hadn’t been so preoccupied with Lilly’s murder, she might have tumbled to it already.)
I have to stop doing that. She, me. We’re the same person.
It got to the point where Dad was starting to get worried about me, but I managed to fend him off by saying I wasn’t feeling very well.
Which was not only true, of course, but an understatement the size of Lake Michigan.
Anyway, Monday -- and what a positive joy it was to be back in high school, let me tell you; the only good part was that, having lived through this once before and having a near-eidetic memory, I could have slept through most of the classes and still gotten A’s -- Monday was devoted to figuring out when in the Buffyverse I was. My dueling memories had let me hash out my past, but I was still catching up on my present. The names of my teachers helped be not a bit; the only faculty members whose names stuck out were Rupert Giles, Principal Snyder -- maybe now I could finally figure out his first name -- and Jenny Calendar.
And as soon as I remembered Ms. Calendar, I went and looked for her classroom, and found it, inventing an excuse about maybe taking the class next semester to explain what I was doing there.
Now I knew: Second season. The exactly when didn’t hit me until I saw the knocked-down “Welcome to Sunnydale” sign. And that’s pretty much where you all came in.
So: Now that I know this, what am I supposed to do?
My first instincts were to tell Buffy and Giles exactly who’d come to town and what they had to look forward to, but even apart from my orders not to tell anyone what was going to happen, there was a problem with that:
They didn’t like me.
At the very least, Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris didn’t like me, and Cordelia Chase didn’t think too highly of me, either. My relationship with Rupert Giles was that of any well-read student to a librarian: Cordial, but hardly chummy.
I got along best with Buffy herself. She hadn’t been here as I completed my rather spectacular belly-flop from grace, so she didn’t treat me as though I were slumming, like Xander and Willow did, or like something she needed to hire someone to scrape off the bottom of her shoe, like Cordelia did. We were reasonably friendly; I’d even met her mother a couple of times when we’d gotten stuck working on school projects together.
And how did I feel about them? Again, literally, of two minds. I could take or leave Cordelia and Willow and actively disliked Xander Harris, though he didn’t torment me like Logan did. He couldn’t; he didn’t have the emotional connection to me that Logan did. Basically, we made snide comments about each other.
As for Logan, well, he was once again the obligatory psychotic jackass and tormentor he had been at the beginning of my first junior year, instead of the on again, off again boyfriend he’d become by the time I’d graduated from Neptune High.
Welcome to Sunnydale, where the fun never starts.
I had Xander Harris to thank for my nickname: Practically every student at Sunnydale High -- except for Duncan, Logan, Cordelia, and Buffy -- called me the Martian Manhunter. Ha ha ha.
So, here I am. Alone again, unnaturally. The in class thinks I’m a traitor, and the outcasts think I only realized what was what when I was the one under fire. And, let’s face it: They’re right.
Didn’t bother me, really, except for Logan. It had been a lot of work getting our relationship to the point where we had one, and now I had to start all over.
And this is just my personal life. Never mind the trivial things like Lilly’s murder and my rape, which, now that they’d been shoehorned into the Buffyverse, still needed to be solved. It was tempting to think about simply stranding Aaron Echolls near a vampire nest, but with my luck they’d turn him and he’d be just that much harder to get rid of.
At least I had a second chance here: To make sure things went right, that he was convicted for what he did.
It would be just as hard this time around; he was still a major Hollywood star with all of the perks and privileges that came with it. But I’d figure out a way to do it.
And, in the meantime, there were events from the mainstream Buffyverse to deal with, such as the impending invasion of our school by vampires in a couple of days. At least I knew I wasn’t going to be there; Dad was out of town tracking down a bail jumper, and even if he was here he wouldn’t have any particular need to talk to my teachers.
At the moment, I was watching Buffy, Willow and Xander deal with Principal Snyder. Buffy said, to a newly returned -- damn. What was her name again? The girl Spike was going to make into a vampire in time for the invasion --
I’m a Buffy fan; I don’t have every episode memorized. I’m sure she was named in the show.
So much for my near-eidetic memory.
Buffy said to her, “I know you wanted everything to be perfect, but let’s just go with what we have.”
Snyder said, “Just make sure everything’s perfect on Thursday,” and turned to leave. He stopped when he saw me standing there. “What are you staring at, Mars?”
“Just observing the preparations,” I said. “They look like they’re doing a pretty good job so far. Too bad I won’t be here to see it.”
“That’s right. Your father abandons you several nights a week while he chases down the scum of the earth. Well, maybe he won’t be here, but you will.”
“Gosh, I’m so sorry, but I have other plans.”
“Change them,” he said. “As of now, you’re the third member of the preparation committee. Summers. Sheila. Meet your new helper.” As he left, he was smirking.
Okay, now. This was not
going according to canon.