Xander looked around and through the invisible jet nervously, not because it looked like they were floating unsupported at thirty-thousand feet, they did, but because he was feeling a bit uneasy. Something was majorly off and he didn’t know what it was. Wonder Woman looked normal. Superman looked normal. The Flash looked normal. Batman looked… like he was wearing Adam West’s costume!
Xander examined himself for any changes, but he looked fine. ‘Holy mixed up costumes, Batman! OK, Batman has been replaced by the friendlier Super Friends version and the others probably have been too. I can’t really tell because the costumes are the same for both sets. What the hell is going on here?’
The air shivered as a wave of shimmering light swept across the sky, leaving a subtle change in its wake, unnoticed or commented upon by anyone, with the exception of the extra dimensional donut fetcher. ‘OK, things are normal again, Bats has a steel rod up his ass, if his black costume is any indication, and everyone seems more serious than they were a second ago, but what caused that?’
Xander clutched his axe like a security blanket, feeling completely at sea in what was practically his second home growing up. What had felt like a vacation, moments ago, had sprouted strange angles in his mind and an alien feel.
“Do you know how much longer they’re going to be gone,” Galatea asked J’onn, who was still wearing Xander’s form and writing revisions to a script in his hand.
“About five minutes less than five minutes ago, which was the last time you asked. It’s a shame you don’t have super patience to go with all the other miscellaneous super powers you Kryptonian types have,” J’onn deadpanned, not looking up from his work.
“Argothian and technically, I’m not really that either,” Galatea muttered.
“Superman got here first, so you all get to be called Kryptonians. It’s similar to how all Cubans in Californian are called Mexicans and I better not hear any angst over your origins. There is nothing wrong with being a clone, it occurs in nature enough to be downright boring.”
“What!? Really,” the blond haired, blue eyed girl asked curiously, wondering about the number of holes in her education that Cadmus hadn’t filled in, either by accident or design.
“Yes, we call them twins and even if the method of twinning was a bit unusual, you yourself are not. There are people in the league that have cornered the market on angst and unusual origins and frankly your story is pretty dull. The Question became who he is, because he has no idea who he is, so he questions everything. Now there is an unusual origin. For all we know he could be the love child of Adolf Hitler and Eva Brawn. You know exactly who and what you are, so you don’t get to angst,” he grinned.
“But I was created and conditioned to be nothing more than a weapon,” Galatea complained, feeling oddly cheated by his offhand dismissal of her past.
“So are tens of thousands of children each year in war torn countries. If you look through all of human history you’ll find that, that is all too common.”
“I’m not exactly a perfect match for Kara, which I should be if I was a perfect clone,” Galatea said, trying to justify a bit of self pity.
“No, you are not, although according to Xander your breasts come close and he’s convinced your eyes are.”
“My eyes are what,” she asked, curiously.
“Perfect,” J’onn replied, wondering if Green Arrow would mind playing the lead in ‘Men in Tights’.
“I don’t recall him saying anything like that to you, before Clark dragged him off.”
“He didn’t say it, but he was thinking it,” the Martian said, considering the merits of blackmail in casting for roles.
“Really?” Galatea perked up, before tilting her head to the side and regarding the Xan-clone. “Do you read everyone’s minds all the time?”
“No, but me and the Xan-man have a rather strong connection, which he’s given me permission to listen in on, as long as I don’t start annoying him with it by answering questions before he asks them. He had a friend who did that and it threw him off his game.”
“Ohhh, so… how long now,” Galatea asked.
J’onn sighed in annoyance and then grinned evilly, taking her form. “He’ll be back soon and I think I’ll take him off somewhere for lunch. We do have a connection I’d like to explore a bit and I’m sure I can figure out some way to… occupy his time.”
Galatea’s eyes practically bugged out. “I thought you were a guy, isn’t that a bit like cross-dressing,” she asked nervously, not liking the competition J’onn could actually become if he was serious and she didn’t know enough about him… err her, to tell how serious the Martian was.
“Don’t be silly,” J’onn laughed in Galatea’s sexy contralto, “I’m not human and my people are shape shifters. Gender is more like a pair of shoes than any real permanent feature.”
Etrigan walked into the league’s teleporter room and leaned against the wall, watching the two argue, as J’onn teased Galatea, not that she was experienced enough to recognize that, with amusement. ‘Even when he is away, the chaos he causes does not decay.’
“I wonder what Cordy and them are up to,” Buffy said, as she and Willow walked through a graveyard, trolling for vamps.
“Faith is seducing some biker by now, Wesley is playing poker in some smoky back room, and Cordy is finagling an invite to some swanky party,” Willow said firmly.
“So you think you got it all figured out, huh,” Buffy grinned.
“Yep, the skank, the blank, and the swank.”
Buffy snickered. “That’s a bit catty, if not entirely incorrect, but the blank?”
The red haired witch shrugged. “I couldn’t think of anything else that rhymed and until recently he was kinda overly stuffy.”
“Well, we sure cured that in a hurry,” Buffy said, spinning around to stake a vamp that had been sneaking up behind them.
“Yeah and like most men, he probably thinks playing poker in a back room is the height of being manly. I mean, he’s either boring or a walking cliché. Why, what do you think he’s doing?”
Faith disarmed the security guard with an economy of motion, as Wesley pointed his shotgun at the bank teller, his ski mask bulging oddly because he’d put it on over his glasses.
“Money. Bag. Now,” He growled at the teller, leaning over the counter to snag her purse and fish out her driver’s license. “If there is even one dye pack in the bag, I know who you are and where you live. I can wait a year or so to find you, by that time the cops will have forgotten your name, but I won’t.”
The blond paled and quickly rifled through the bag she was filling, tossing out bundles of cash, seemingly at random, before empting most of her drawer into it.
“Time,” Faith called out, having glanced at her watch and seen they’d reached the two minute mark they’d set for the operation.
Wes tossed a bag of money to the dark haired slayer and grabbed another one, leaving a hand free to cover the people in the bank as Faith moved out and he covered her.
A squeal of tires marked the arrival of Cordy in a white car, who kicked open the passenger door for Wes to jump in, while Faith dove in the open back window.
With a quick stop at a carwash to wash off the water soluble white paint and remove the car’s hard top, they were on their way and untraceable before the police even arrived at the bank.
“Yeah, they’re probably not having all that much fun. I’m sure it can’t beat hanging out with a friend and dusting vamps. We get the adrenaline and the laughs, without dealing with a lot of cigarette smoke and clanging slot machines.”
Willow grinned. “That’s the spirit and now that we’ve finished your nightly round, let’s go to the Bronze.”
“And deal with cigarette smoke and a clanging band. I’m in!”
A fledgling, that had just crawled his way out of his grave and was still dripping grave dirt everywhere, paused at their laughter and in a singularly intelligent move, decided that cheerful young girls walking in a cemetery were probably bad news. Quickly vacating the scene, he promised himself that he’d only feed on the old and ugly.
The sound of the transporter activating broke up the impromptu wrestling match (J’onn was winning) and deposited four of the world’s greatest heroes and one obviously disturbed visitor on the materialization platform.
Etrigan spoke up before anyone else had a chance to, “One of the downsides of this dimension, is the warping of time’s fixture. From the look on your face, I see that you noticed Chronos changing his pace.”
Xander nodded dumbly. “I don’t suppose you can explain that in words of less than three syllables, cause I’m not quite sure what I saw.”
The yellow horned demon sighed and scratched a horn idly while he thought of the best way to explain it.
“Something happened,” Superman asked, wondering what he could have missed, considering his senses were much sharper then Xander’s.
“I didn’t notice anything,” Batman growled suspiciously, eyes darting around the room.
“Are you ok,” one of the two duplicate Galateas asked.
Xander seemed to come out of his stunned state at the sight of two identical blonde aliens staring at him with concern. “Tea?”
“I’m Galatea,” the one on the left replied.
“No, I am,” the one on the right argued.
And just like that, the wrestling match was restarted.
The four original leaguers just stared at the clone and her doppelganger, as they wrestled on the floor of the teleporter chamber.
Etrigan cleared his throat and when that failed to attract Xander’s attention he slapped him on the shoulder.
“Demon,” Xander yelled and embedded his axe in Etrigan’s skull.
“Heheh, sorry about that,” Xander apologized, “but I was in my happy place and then you kinda brutally ripped me out of it and might I add I’m still kinda edgy.”
The demon prince giggled a bit as Xander removed the axe, revealing unblemished skin.
“Tickled,” he growled, daring anyone to argue with him.
“Anyway, what did you want to tell me,” Xander asked, as if he hadn’t just attempted to cleave Etrigan’s skull in twain.
“A simple explanation for the dimensional shifting is the task that I am set upon, very well then I have just one word to say... Retcon,” Etrigan ended with a growl.
Xander whimpered, “I’ve been reconned. I so need a long, hot shower right now.”
While the leaguers were wondering what was going on, Xander walked straight up to one of the Galateas. “I need a hug.”
Galatea carefully wrapped her arms around him, a bit nervous at both how fragile he was compared to her and the unfamiliar emotions involved. She had to admit that the arms he wrapped around her felt anything but weak though. In fact, she felt rather warm and a little weak herself. It was a nice feeling she decided, as she melted into his embrace with a happy sigh that he mirrored.
“How’d you figure out that I wasn’t her,” J’onn asked, still in a copy of Galatea’s form.
Xander shrugged not even attempting to move from Galatea’s embrace. “You did a decent impression, but the eyes were all wrong.”
“What?!” J’onn turned to the other leaguers, “I did the eyes right, right?”
Batman and Superman nodded, seeing nothing out of place.
“Looks fine to me,” Flash chimed in.
Etrigan snorted, “souls shine through their mortal shell, if you have eyes that can see through the veil.”
“I still need that shower. Want to scrub my back,” Xander asked, his spirits restored.
Flash sped off to check the monitor room, while Wonder Woman slipped out of the room covering a smirk. Neither had any desire to see Clark in ‘Big Brother’ mode.
Superman nudged Batman and they interrupted Galatea’s reply, dragging the two protesting teens off in opposite directions.
“I have some strength control exercises that you’ll need to learn, for dealing with close physical contact with the more fragile races,” Clark offered, figuring that the exercises would slow things down between the two and were likely to be needed anyway. Lord knows, he was still trying to master some of the more difficult ones.
“Alfred will have dinner ready at seven sharp and I have no desire to upset him, considering he’s making it especially for you,” the caped crusader stated, not loosening his grip on Xander till they were both out of sight of Galatea and Superman.
Martian Manhunter cursed in his native language to the empty room for a couple of minutes before sighing. “Damn it, there goes about twenty pranks I had planned.”
Xander quit protesting and rubbed his arm a bit from where Batman had gripped it. “Fine, let’s go. I still need a shower anyway. Got any liquid nitrogen?”
“Why would you need liquid nitrogen?”
“Cause I don’t think cold water is going to cut it at the moment,” Xander complained.
Batman actually snorted, shocking Xander speechless.
“I’m still human,” Batman pointed out, “and I’ve been in your situation before.”
“With Galatea,” Xander asked, arching an eyebrow at him.
“Wonder Woman,” he riposted.
“Touché,” the demon hunter muttered, conceding the point.
The two came upon John walking between Vixen and Hawk Girl and Xander let out an evil chuckled, while slipping the faux Green Lantern ring onto his finger.
Batman watched curiously, but made no move to interfere, as he’d learned enough about his house guest’s behavior patterns from J’onn that he felt he could reasonably predict his actions wouldn’t be hostile, but he made a mental note to question Xander about where he’d gotten the ring from.
Carefully concentrating, Xander sent a thin green thread to John’s ring and two rather large green arms, complete with hands, seemed to grow from the GL’s ring and goosed both the girls, causing them to jump and look at the emerald construct that seemed to come from John’s ring.
“One of us alone isn’t enough for you,” Vixen asked, eyes narrowed into a feminine glare that promised pain in his future.
“Just because I was interested in you before, doesn’t mean I’m willing to share,” Shayera seconded.
John stuttered and protested, having no clue what had happened and putting up a really feeble defense.
“Yeah,” Xander chimed in as they caught up with the three, his ring stowed away in his pocket, “it’s not like they’re from cultures where more than one wife is common.”
The two girls fell silent as they considered their respective cultures.
Throwing back another comment before they passed out of sight, Xander said, “or like the lifestyle you three share needs some extra help to make sure any children are protected and cared for in case something should happen to one of their parents.”
Once they were safely out of earshot, Batman asked, “so why did you do that? I was under the impression you didn’t like him.”
“I like happy ending and it’s mostly his attitude I dislike. Besides, I like the two girls and they deserve some happiness.”
“And you think the three of them have a better shot at it then just two of them? Relationships of that type usually require more work not less.”
“Ahh, but the outside forces that usually break up those relationships will likely just bind those three closer together.”
“Of course he won’t know whether he’s in heaven or hell for the first couple of weeks.”
“I’ll see about giving him light duty,” Batman said, curious as to whether the life of a superhero would be easier with more emotional support then a traditional relationship would supply.