That Halloween night, Bruce Wayne had found himself in his Batman regalia next to Kara Zor-El in a small American suburb, with no memory of how either had wound up there, and with their personalities now inside quite different bodies. Plus, at that exact moment, there seemed to be some sort of riot or attack upon the citizenry of this place by strange beings with unearthly abilities.
Naturally, Batman had taken it all in stride, quickly snapping orders that had Supergirl flying throughout the town at superspeed, protecting the normal humans, and using her superstrength in subduing and imprisoning the uncanny creatures while leaving these unharmed. The Dark Knight himself hadn’t physically joined in. While his partner could use her Kryptonian abilities even in her new form, Batman couldn’t perform at his highest peak stuck in a junk-food-consuming teenager’s body.
*Hey, Twinkies are nature’s perfect snack.*
That did it. Using mental defenses the Martian Manhunter had taught members of the Justice League for dealing with telepathic probes and attacks, the Batman had promptly restrained the personality of Alexander (*Xander!*) Harris and quickly conducted a thorough interrogation of that person now sharing the same body as the son of Thomas and Martha Wayne.
By the time a very confused Supergirl had come back to report that the town seemed secure, if having the weirdest people she’d ever seen, plus she was now sure someone else was also in her head, Batman had reviewed this Xander’s recent memories and had quickly deduced the costumes the boy and his girlfriend had been wearing actually turned them into the DC superheroes. Wayne himself had been staggered about his entire life in this reality being the result of artists and writers creating comic books for over sixty years, but the fact remained in all that time, the Batman had devoted his existence to protecting the innocent.
Now, this town and its people, especially the children, was in peril, and it was all caused by someone named Ethan Rayne.
(At that point in the story when that name had been mentioned, Rupert Giles had come out of his chair with a roar of rage, standing with clenched fists at his side and his body quivering, with a furious face. It took several minutes and a threat of Xander to stop talking unless the Englishman sat back down, before Giles took his seat again, to stonily listen.)
A quick journey by superspeed to Ethan’s costume shop ended up with the pair of superheroes confronting that Chaos mage, who’d in all his demon-summoning life had never met anybody as scary as a furious Batman. It took thirty-eight point six seconds after the first icy threat before Ethan mentioned a certain Janus statue.
“Supergirl, stop.” Holding the bust of a Roman god in her hands just before crushing it out of existence, the young Kryptonian froze, and looked curiously at Batman, as that human stared ahead, and said impatiently, “What, Xander?”
Deep inside another’s overriding personality, Xander Harris gave a mental gulp, and opened himself up totally. No secrets, all of his life exposed, not the slightest bit of privacy:
Sunnydale Tony Jessica Willow Jesse Buffy Skateboarding Slayer Giles Joyce Cordelia Angel/Angelus Darla Spike Drusilla the Master Amy Ms French Hyena Flutie Malcolm Jenny Snyder Larry Marcie CPR Ampata Harmony Melody
Fear, joy, terror, longing, death, compassion, sacrifice, lust, pain, friendship, acceptance, fury; it was all there, with three final components:
Life. Family. Love.
*Can you help?*
(At that, Giles shot out of his chair again, bellowing, “You asked a comic book character inside your head for aid?! What in God’s name were you thinking, you young idiot?!” The two girls sitting at his side had disbelieving looks on their features, agreeing with the librarian’s opinion.
Identical faint smiles were on Harmony’s and Xander’s faces, as he inquired, “Do you want to yell at me, Giles, or do you want to find out what happened?”
The Englishman reluctantly subsided back into his chair, and glowered at the younger man sitting across the table, as Xander started his story again.)
In the costume shop, a girl in a colorful red-blue-yellow outfit and a native of England now bound and gagged both watched a man in a costume as dark as night rub his palm over his face and sigh.
“Supergirl, put down the statue and do another patrol of the town. Make sure none of the transformed people can harm themselves or others, and also use all your super senses to check for beings with….no heartbeats and much lower body temperatures. These are considered prime threats, but don’t yet move against them, unless they’re actually attacking humans.”
“Okay, Batman. Are these potential enemies some kind of aliens? Shapechangers? What, exactly?”
“Trust me, vampires are real. I’ve encountered them before, and they’re infesting this town. We need as much information as you can pick up. Look at EVERYTHING, and be careful. There’s extremely strong magic in this place, and it can affect you just as well or even more than ordinary humans. Just consider how we were brought here by this idiot.” Batman ended his statements with a jerk of his thumb at Ethan Rayne, who expressed muffled indignation through his gag at this insult, which was ignored by the pair.
“All….right. Um, before I go, I want to ask you a favor. It’s not from me, kind of….”
Batman merely looked at Supergirl, who had a slightly worried expression on her face, as she reluctantly continued, “Er, Harmony….that’s who’s in my head….well, she wants you to not yell at Xander. He’s a really good guy, from what she tells me and how she feels about him.” A flush rose in the Kryptonian’s cheeks, as the girl deep inside her mind promptly and clearly expressed her feelings about Xander Harris.
Under a black cowl, the stern features of a teenage boy, who rarely presented to the world such a serious expression, relaxed into his normal friendly smile. Supergirl blinked at this, both at such an atypical look on the Batman’s face, and at someone else’s surge of joy that had welled up inside her at seeing this. For a moment, Kara Zor-El was actually jealous.
The last daughter of Krypton was diverted from her unexpected feelings, as a voice she’d never heard before came from the Dark Knight’s mouth. Instead of the severe coldness familiar to those who had long experience with the Batman, she heard a lighter, warmer voice affectionately say, “Hey, Harm, he’s not busting my chops all that much, which is coolness, considering he scared the Hyena” (both Supergirl and Harmony were baffled by this) “so, even though this has to be the weirdest part of life in Sunnydale for me for at least a couple of months, maybe, it’s kinda okay. Um, Kara -- can I call you that? Supergirl seems so showy -- sorry! -- uh, would, could you take care of Harmony? Please?”
Total incredulity overcame Supergirl over this babble, while at the same time a young woman trapped inside the superheroine’s mind sent an ecstatic message to the entire universe: MINE! ALL MINE!
Kara felt her unfamiliar lips curve into a smile she was sure that could only be described as totally goofy, as she just managed to suppress her giggles. She….liked them both, Xander and Harmony, so she let her face fall into a wide grin, as she said right at the teenager’s face while her right hand unthinkingly came up to touch that person in comfort. “I promise, Xander.” As if that name had been a command, the face and body language of the male before her shifted back into severity, along with a raised eyebrow as the Batman bemusedly glanced at Supergirl’s hand about to touch him.
Supergirl promptly blurred out of the costume shop, leaving only the gleam of her smile behind her as she went off chuckling at the surprise of her partner. At superspeed, she now had the chance to have a good talk -- conversation, rather -- with the girl in her head, as she traveled through the frozen-in-time streets of Sunnydale.
*You are SO lucky, Harmony.*
*I know!* (Mental giggles) *Would you like me to tell you about Xander?*
*Yes, everything! It’ll stay just between us girls.*
*Okay, it started off as a really horrible day….*
Back in the costume shop, the Batman blinked at the spot where the girl (girls?) had vanished, and then the man in the black costume shrugged and sank to the floor, his legs curling into a lotus position with the expertise of a Zen Master, as he shifted into a meditative pose, and began to discuss plans with the boy sharing his head.
*Xander, we need to start this logically and strategically. Plus, there’s a time limit. Whatever we do has to be done as quickly as possible, if only to lessen the effects on the others who changed due to their costumes. Understood?*
*Good. Now, tell me more about this town, especially the authorities. It’s most suspicious how vampires and demons manage to roam about without attracting any attention.*
*Well, I told you about the Hellmouth and Sunnydale Syndrome--*
*That’s itself extremely irregular, Xander. It just happened that a city-wide suspension of disbelief occurred, for the advantage of unearthly creatures? No, it’s more likely it was created or formed by someone. Or something.*
*Wow. I never thought of that, sir.*
*I think you yourself were affected by this condition, at least until tonight, when I appeared in your head to give you a fresh perspective. Oh, and call me Bruce.*
*W…what?!! You…you want me to use your name? BATMAN wants me to use his name? Urghh….*
*It’s what my parents called me, Xander. Considering we’re sharing the same head, it seems rather absurd for us to be so formal.*
*Ahhhhh…..could you give me a couple seconds? I need to do something in another part of my brain.*
*What? All right, go ahead.*
*Are you done?*
*Yessir -- Bruce.*
*What WAS that?*
*I just gave my comic book inner-geek a moment of total happiness.*
*I meant the other part of the whole thing, Xander.*
*Oh, that was the Snoopy Dance.*
*Ah. Try not to do it again, will you? The only thing I’ve recently experienced in your head more horrifying than that was how Adam West looked like in his version of my costume.*
*Okay, Bruce. (Willow likes it. It can‘t be that bad.)*
*Yes, it can. Now, back to business. I’ve been reviewing your memories, and what nobody else in your hometown seemed to notice was the fact that the man holding the position of the town mayor has evidently done so for about a century.*
*Mayor Dick?!!! That can’t be right! Uh….wait a second….I can’t ever remember anyone else running for office….um, I can’t even remember any elections…. Are you sure?*
*Richard Wilkins the Third. Richard Wilkins the Second. Richard Wilkins. Plus, from what photographs of that person are shown in your unconscious, which you promptly forgot from your conscious mind, they’re all the same individual.*
*Oh, boy. We’ve gotta be talking serious mojo here. Longevity or immortality, plus the mind-blanking, and maybe other stuff from the Hellmouth.*
*I suspect he might be controlling the Hellmouth itself. Looking back over your past memories, there are subtle signs of manipulation -- not just of that dimensional nexus and the city itself, but of your own group.*
*You can’t be serious!*
*Do you really want me to run it all down for you? For one example, why was Ms. Summers so convinced she was going to die that she sacrificed herself to the Master?*
*Buffy was really bummed about being the Slayer then….*
*So that girl listened to the first prophecy she heard and went willingly to her death? The Slayer’s a predator, whose first instinct is to fight, which she did well enough once you got her out of that pool. I think her mental state was manipulated during the whole thing, which was easy enough considering her nearness to the Hellmouth.*
*All of the Scoobies have to be close to it. It’s under our freakin’ high school!*
*Didn’t anybody ever consider homeschooling for all of you?*
*Sunnydale Syndrome again, I suspect. However, this leads us to our main problem. We’re going up against extremely powerful magic. Unfortunately, the best offense against that is just as powerful magic, which we’re lacking. I have some experience of magic in my reality, but I personally don’t have any talent or powers, and I don’t want to.*
*Yeah, the comics say you’re pretty down on the whole mojo stuff--*
*Quite. Now, our main weapon, Supergirl, is regrettably vulnerable to magic, even more so than normal humans, so she can’t act directly against those mystical forces.*
*Plus Harmony’s in there, remember? I’m totally against anything where she might get hurt--*
*MATE! KILL ALL WHO HURT MATE! KILL BAT!*
*Shut that thing up, or I will.*
*Down! Down! Don’t make me get out the big paddle! Go back to your place, and stay! Good boy! Go on!*
*I thought you had it under control.*
*Well, you brought up the whole thing about Kara -- Harmony -- in danger, which really sets Hyena off now--*
*Harmony’s fine! Harmony’s fine! Back! Back! Good puppy! Goooooood puppy, puppy, puppy-pup.*
*Now you know why I dislike magic. I have some strategies that we can attempt, but there’s a strong element of risk in them with no experienced magic-user on our side. While your Mr. Giles does show some skill and past proficiency with magic, I’m reluctant to take the time to seek him out. Well, as soon as Supergirl gets back and reports, we can refine our plans--*
*Uh, Bruce, what about Bondage Boy over there? I mean, he’s gotta have major mojo chops, considering what he did here, so why not see if he can do anything?*
*He created this whole situation! You’re actually thinking he had a change of heart and wants to make up for what he’s done?*
*No. But you might persuade him to.*
*Xander, I think with the proper training, you’d do quite well in Gotham.*
*(I can die now. I’ve just been complimented by the Batman.)*