Going Home Again
“OK, everyone needs to calm down,“ Kara said, the complete lack of fear in her voice at odds with her words. “Let’s just put the weapons away and talk this out.”
They were in the library still. Standing over the spot which corresponded to the Hellmouth. The portal that brought them here had snapped shut behind them. The other Xander lowered his baseball bat. Giles lowered his crossbow. Buffy didn’t lower her sword. Willow stood behind the library desk, fidgeting with a second crossbow, looking nervous.
“OK. I’ll bite. Demons don’t usually make with the ‘splainy,” Buffy said. “You’ve got thirty seconds to explain why I shouldn’t introduce you to the pointy end.” She indicating her sword.
“Besides the fact that it wouldn’t do anything?” Karen asked sarcastically.
Kara gave Karen an annoyed look. “Not helping,” she muttered.
Twang! A crossbow bolt flew across the room and hit Kara dead center in her neck, but bounced off harmlessly. Everyone looked to Willow at the library desk, who drew her hands away from the crossbow she’d been fidgeting with, looking sheepish. “Sorry!”
“Not helping,” Kara repeated, her irritation this time directed at Willow.
Buffy looked from Willow to Kara and back. “You’re imperious to harm?”
Giles looked pained. “... Impervious...”
“Something like that,” Kara replied.
“Huh,” Buffy said. And then she took her sword and drove it into Kara’s chest as hard as she could. The sword warped visibly, bent, and snapped in half a few inches above the hilt. Buffy lowered the broken weapon.
“... hey guys, let’s do that thing where we listen to what they have to say,” Xander said.
Buffy nodded faintly.
by P.H. Wise
A Buffy the Vampire Slayer crossover fanfic
Chapter 1: Going Home Again
Disclaimer: The DC Universe and its associated characters is the property of DC comics. The Marvel Universe and its associated characters is the property of Marvel Entertainment LLC. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Joss Whedon's baby. This is the second part of the ‘New World’ series and the sequel to ‘New World in my View.’ It will make little sense without having read part one.
“You want the short version?” Karen asked.
“Go ahead,” Buffy said.
All eyes went to a mortified looking Xander, then to Karen. “... OK, let’s try the long version,” Buffy said.
Karen looked to Xander, then. “Remember Halloween?”
Xander blushed. “Er...”
Willow blinked. “Xander lost that bet to Cordelia, and had to go dress as... oh. OH!”
“Dear Lord!” Giles said. “When Xander turned into Power Girl, it never occurred to us that Power Girl might be a real person beyond the context of the spell. Spirit possession by a living being is all but unheard of. As far as I know, the only tradition to actually practice such a thing is the Primals...”
Both Karen and Xander shuddered at that. “I thought we were done with hyena spirits?” they both said at once, then looked at each other, then glared.
“We are,” Giles replied. “The hyena spirit was driven out. There’s no trace of it left. I made certain of that.”
Karen and Xander both breathed a sigh of relief.
“... so how can there be two of us, and one in... is that Divine’s body?” Xander asked.
Karen nodded. “Er... yeah.”
“I always thought that part of the writing was kind of weak,” Xander said. “I mean, why introduce this character if you’re never going to use it again? Stupid continuity reboot.”
“Tell me about it,” Karen muttered.
Kara Zor-L’s eye twitched slightly. “Continuity reboot...? OK, can we stop talking about my life like it’s a comic book?”
And then it really occurred to everyone exactly who Kara was. Well, everyone who wasn’t Giles. Willow’s eyes widened. Xander blushed. Buffy stared.
“... something I said?” Kara asked.
“Y...y... you’re Power Girl!” Willow squeaked.
The corners of Kara’s lips twitched upwards in a ghost of a smile. “Yes, for many years now.”
Xander twitched slightly at that. “... You told her about Incan mummy girl?” he asked faintly.
“I was stuck in her body for three months,” Karen replied. “I kind of told her everything.”
Xander started to hyperventilate.
“OK, not EVERYTHING.”
Xander seemed to calm down. “I think we need to take a step back. How do we know you are who you say you are?”
Buffy nodded in agreement. “Yeah. You’re Power Girl? Prove it!”
“You’re wearing a black bra that’s a bit too big for you,” Kara said.
“So what, you can see a strap or something...”
“Uh, Buffy?” Willow asked. “You’re wearing a sweater.”
Buffy looked down at herself and blinked.
“X-Ray vision,” Kara said. “Want me to freeze something or light it on fire, or are we good?”
“I’m...” Xander began. Karen and Kara both looked at him. He glared. "OK, maybe she's really Power Girl, but no way are you me. Tell me something only I would know."
Karen met Xander's gaze. "Yellow bra," she said.
Xander blinked. "... What?"
"We finally figured out Willow was a girl in September of freshman year. We bent over to look at her paper while she was tutoring us and there was some neckline gapage on her t-shirt, and really pale chest, and she was wearing a yellow bra, and then it hit us: 'Wow, Willow's a girl'. Not that we did anything about it, because we're an idiot, but yeah."
Xander turned beet red. Willow did the same.
"You mean I..." Willow began, "And you... and then... grr!" She punched Xander on the arm, then Karen, and then immediately clenched her teeth in pain. "... oww."
Totally mortified, Xander looked anywhere in the room except at Willow. "OK, I'm convinced. This isn’t... this isn’t so bad.” He turned to Power Girl. “I’m Xander. That’s Buffy, she’s Willow, and that’s Giles.” He indicated each one when he spoke their name. “Er, it’s nice to meet you?”
Kara smiled bemusedly. “Nice to meet you,” she replied.
“Yeah,” Karen said, “No offense or anything, but why aren’t you an empty shell of a body that’s been comatose for three months waiting for me to come back and jump into the body again?”
Xander’s eyes widened at that. “Er... can you DO that?”
“Not anymore, no, but the point still stands.”
The Scoobies exchanged glances. “... I assure you, Xander,” Giles began, then frowned.
“She-Xander?” Buffy suggested. She brightened. “Ooh, how about Xandra?”
Xander shuddered, and then Karen shuddered. “I’ve been going by Karen for a while now,” Karen said. “Might as well keep it going.”
“...Karen,” Giles continued, “That we shall do everything in our power to discover exactly how and why you became, well, yourself.”
“In the meantime,” Buffy said. The bell rang. “...We’ve got class to go to. You two should lay low and try not to let Snyder see you. He’s not the most understanding guy when it comes to non-students wandering around on campus.”
“Got it,” Karen said. “Low profile. Avoid Snyder while we’re out and about.”
“You two can’t just walk around the school, can you?” Willow asked. “People would notice.”
Karen exchanged glances with Kara. “... Notice what?” she asked. Kara looked pained.
“I hate to break it to you, Xande... Karen,” Buffy amended quickly, “But you’re not exactly, you know, Xander-shaped any more.”
Xander and Karen both looked uncomfortable with that reference. Each remembered quite clearly the circumstances of the last time Buffy had used that particular phrase. Neither really cared to be reminded that Buffy totally saw them as ‘one of the girls,’ though Xander was more uncomfortable with the idea than Karen was.
“OK, yeah, I’m a girl now. But...” she caught sight of Kara, then, and saw what her body looked like - really saw, instead of just the standard ‘that’s my body’ reaction. “Oh,” she said, blushing. “This IS still Sunnydale, though, isn’t it? People totally ignore vampires and werewolves, right?”
“Ignoring supernatural evil in your midst is one thing,” Willow said, “Ignoring that body? That’s kind of impossible.” All eyes turned to Willow, and she blushed. “I may be straight, but I’m not blind!” she said, and blushed even deeper.
Giles cleared his throat. “I’m afraid I have to agree that we should make an effort to not cause a scene, and two, ah, Power Girls would certainly do that.”
“Giles, appearances to the contrary, it’s me!” Karen grinned. “I can be totally discreet.”
Giles sighed. “... just use the back exit or the skylight, please?”
“Di-screet,” Karen repeated.
The others filed out, leaving Giles, Karen, and Kara behind as they went off to class. Karen exchanged glances with Kara. “... Come on, I’ll show you around town,” Karen said.
Kara smiled. “Sure.”
They flew up to the skylight, opened it, and slipped out into the afternoon sun.
Now alone, Giles walked back to his office, sat down, poured himself a cup of tea from his thermos, and downed it in one shot.
It was funny how small Sunnydale seemed from the sky. It only took a few minutes to get from one side to the other. It felt liberating to be up here, the whole town beneath them, their Kryptonian eyes able to focus on every detail as easily as single points. They’d flown the length of the town three times in twelve minutes before Karen finally descended, Kara following close behind.
They landed in front of the Harris residence. “OK,” Karen said. “Hopefully they wont be home, but we better check.” She glanced Kara-wards. “You sure you want to see this?”
Kara smiled. “Afraid to show your sister your old house?” she asked.
Karen shook her head. “No, I just...” she shrugged, walked to the door, and knocked twice, hoping for no answer.
They both saw Tony Harris coming. X-Ray vision plus super hearing. Karen was visibly disappointed. Soon enough, he opened the door, looking unusually sober, stared at the two girls for a moment, then asked, “... Who’re you?”
Karen smiled a fake smile, the impact of seeing her father again hitting her like a punch to the gut. “We’re, uh, friends of Xander’s. Is he home?”
Tony Harris rubbed his head and scowled. “He’d better not be. It’s only one thirty. School doesn’t get out until...” he trailed off, seeming to take in the two gorgeous young women at his door. “You’re friends of Xander’s?”
Karen nodded. “Yup. I can definitely say that we’re familiar with the guy.”
Tony grinned. “I never thought he had it in him.”
“Mind if we come in, Mr. Harris?” Kara asked.
“Hell,” Tony said, “Sure. He’s still at school at the moment, but you can wait for him downstairs if you want. He’ll be home in about an hour.” His grin widened. “Twins!” he said, stepping out of the way. “And here I was worried he was gay.”
Karen tried very hard not to glare at the man who had been her father.
“Hey Jess!” Tony called. “Xander’s dating identical twins! Come meet them!”
“What?!” Jessica Harris shouted from further inside the house.
Kara was trying not to laugh. Karen was trying and failing not to glare. Tony didn’t seem to notice.
After about twenty minutes of embarrassing questioning from Xander’s parents, Karen and Kara finally made their way down to the basement, shutting the door behind them. Karen sighed with relief, and floated down to the bottom of the stairs.
“Your parents are... interesting,” Kara said as she followed Karen down the stairs.
Kara glanced about at the basement room. “So, this is where you lived?”
Karen looked embarrassed. “... yeah. I know it’s not much to look at, but once you get used to it, it’s still exactly as much of a dump as it looks.”
“Ah,” Kara said. A pause. “You have a... cartoon Superman poster?”
Karen blushed. “...Don’t judge me.”
Kara walked to the bed and scooped up a comic book from Xander’s bed, spotted a picture of the Flash on the front, and looked at it as if it were a snake. “This is one of those comics you were talking about,” she said.
Kara looked at the cover. “Everything you know will change in a flash, huh?” She dropped it, spotted several issues of Power Girl lying on the bed, picked up the first of them, opened it. “This is...” She paged through the comic book, then picked up the next one, paged through, then the next one. She frowned. “Is it just me, or does this Amanda Conner person really like drawing me naked?”
Karen smirked, but kept her mouth shut. A moment later, Kara picked up the next Power Girl comic and blinked. “Holy artistic style change,” she said.
“Batman,” Karen said.
Kara glanced Karen’s way. “Huh?”
"You're supposed to finish that statement with 'Batman.' Like, 'holy artistic style change, Batman!'"
Kara Zor-L raised an eyebrow. "Why would I say that...?"
"... Never mind."
“Hello?” asked the man’s voice on the other end of the line.
“Yes, this is Rupert Giles calling. I should like to speak to Quentin Travers, please.”
A pause. He waited for nearly five minutes before Quentin picked up.
“Rupert? Has something happened with your Slayer?”
“Mr. Travers, forgive me, but this is... something unprecedented has occurred, and I felt it prudent to take it to you directly.”
“You have my attention.”
“Are you familiar with the Rites of Janus?” Giles asked.
The sudden stillness on the other end of the line was all the confirmation Giles needed. He took a breath. “Three months ago, a chaos mage by the name of Ethan Rayne performed the Rites of Janus. He was... interrupted before they could be carried to their conclusion, but the chaos he created in the meantime was significant.”
“My God, man,” Quentin said. “A chaos mage performs one of the most dangerous rituals in existence on top of an active Hellmouth, and you waited three months to tell us?”
“It took this long for any long term consequences to show themselves,” Giles replied. “Now, the next bit is somewhat difficult to believe, but I’d ask you to bear with me. … tell me, how much do you know about American comic books?”
Quentin’s incredulity could be heard through the telephone line quite clearly. “... Go on,” he said.
Giles did. And what Quentin told him afterwards was not what he wanted to hear. Truth rarely is. Which brought him to one of the most difficult decisions he had ever made.
A young man approached his desk. Short. Spiked blonde hair. Rather scrawny. Nervous looking. “... You wanted to see me Mr. Giles?”
Giles turned. “Yes, Mr. Wells. It appears I am rather in need of information about...” he cringed internally. “Comic books.”
Andrew Wells lit up with a grin. “Oh. Oh! You’ve come to the right person!”
Giles smiled politely. “Yes, well. Tell me about Power Girl, if you please.”
“Pre-Crisis, post-Crisis, or modern?” Andrew asked.
Giles sighed. “Start at the beginning.” Those were words he would regret saying.
The school bell had just rung signalling the release of students for the day, and Karen was back on the campus of Sunnydale High. Kara Zor-L had promised to meet her at the library.
For Karen, walking the halls of Sunnydale High once more was... odd. It wasn’t that everything was different. Some things were different. Like being followed by the eyes of almost every guy (and some of the girls) in the hallway, and having most of the girls size her up like she was competition. That was, ok, that was really disturbing, and it had happened at the Xavier Institute, but that hadn’t been HER school. … And so much was still the same. The surfers were still the surfers.
“... and then she was all, ‘like, no way!’ and he was all, ‘yes way!’ and then I’m like, ‘I saw it! He caught the most radical wave and surfed it all the way to shore! I was so stoked for him!’ and she was like, ‘woah.’ He’s so totally getting some tonight.”
The jocks were still the jocks.
“Dude! If we take three more games, and we can avoid having any more of our key players mysteriously die, we could take the state championship this year!”
And the Cordettes were still the Cordettes.
“Can you believe Cordelia? I swear, every time she’s seen with that boy, her social status falls a little lower. I mean, Cordelia with Xander Harris? It’s like she’s deliberately trying to be uncool!”
Karen walked into a trashcan, almost tripped over it, managed to recover, and turned to stare at Harmony, ignoring the giggles of the Cordettes at her display of inattentive clumsiness. “...What?” she asked. “Go back to the part where Cordelia is dating Xander Harris?”
Harmony gave Karen a disparaging look. “Is there some reason you’re talking to us? You must be new, because no way are you cool enough to be talking to us.”
It was funny. Before she’d gone away, as Xander, he’d hated the Cordettes. Now, though, they just seemed... well, kind of sad. She looked Harmony in the eye. “Xander,” she said, “Dating Cordelia. Details. Now.”
“Fine,” Harmony said, giving her friends a look that said, ‘God, can you believe this girl?’ “She started dating Xander like back in November or something, all right? They tried to keep it secret, but everyone knows they’re totally connected at the lip now. It’s kind of gross.”
“Right.” Karen walked off down the hall towards the library.
“Um, you’re welcome!” Harmony said, trying for sarcasm but coming off more as petulant. She looked to her friends, then. “You know what this school doesn’t need? More crazy girls like Buffy.” The others all nodded in agreement.
Karen walked into the library. The Scoobies, plus Cordelia and Jenny Calendar were already there waiting for her.
“Hey,” she called. Then she raised an eyebrow. ”... Cordelia? What are you doing here?”
“Besides practicing downward social mobility?” Cordelia asked.
“Same old Cordy,” Karen muttered.
Cordelia gave Karen a searching look. “Do I know you?”
The others exchanged glances, and Karen gave Giles a pleading look. “Does she really have to be here?” she asked.
“Hey, if something apocalypty is going on, I’ve got just as much a right to know as the rest of you,” Cordelia said.
Giles sighed. “I think you should sit down, Karen.”
Karen grimaced. “Can we wait for Kara? I kind of want her to be here.”
Giles nodded his assent.
An awkward silence descended.
“OK,” Cordelia said, looking annoyed, “Spill, people. Who’s tall dark and busty?”
Xander, Buffy and Willow exchanged glances. Buffy was the one who spoke. “Cordy, do you remember when you won that bet with Xander on Halloween?”
Cordy grinned. “And he had to wear that Power Girl costume?”
“Right, so you remember. Well...” Buffy gestured to Karen. “That’s, er...”
Cordy put two and two together, her eyes going wide. “... Xander?” Then she looked at Xander, then back at Karen, and she grinned a Cheshire grin. “Oh, wow. So which one’s the real Xander?”
“We were kind of trying to figure that out,” Willow said.
Cordy walked up to Karen, then, looking her up and down with an evaluating eye. “So this is Xander as a girl, except hot, and with a passing grade in fashion sense?” she asked.
“Hey!” Xander and Karen said simultaneously.
“Wow,” Cordy said. “And someone had work done. Not a bad job, though. Can I have your surgeon’s number? You know, just in case?”
Karen followed Cordy’s gaze to her own breasts, blushed, and muttered, “... They’re real.”
“Seriously,” Karen said.
Cordelia copped a feel, her expression going from disbelieving to jealous in the space of a few seconds. “Huh. Lucky bitch.”
Karen stared at Cordy, her eyes as wide as they could go, feeling kind of violated and weirdly turned on, the feel of Cordy’s hand on her breast through her clothing lingering long after the hand was removed. “...”
Xander fainted, and was saved from hitting the ground head first only by Buffy’s quick action.
“Cordy, that was mean,” Buffy said.
Cordelia grinned. “Fun, though.” She turned to the others. “OK, so Xander’s got a girl copy. Or a boy copy. Or something. Anything else I’ve missed?”
The skylight opened, then. A moment later, Power Girl descended in full costume, landing next to Karen. “Hey,” Power Girl said. “I miss anything?
“Besides Cordelia copping a feel?” Buffy asked.
Power Girl’s eyes went from Karen to Cordelia and back. “... Besides that,” she said.
“Nope. We were just starting.
“OK,” Cordelia said, “Xander’s got two girl copies.” A pause as she considered the new girl, “...One of which is wearing a Power Girl costume.” Another pause. “You’re Power Girl, aren’t you?”
Power Girl smiled at that. “Yup. If you see some really weird news reports tonight? Sorry. There was a bus full of school children, and I couldn’t let it crash into that jack-knifed semi.”
Giles looked up from the conversation he’d been having with Jenny Calendar. “Are we all here, then? Good.” He turned to Karen. “I think you may wish to sit down.”
Karen exchanged glances with Kara, then looked back at Giles. “Not the best way you could have started the conversation,” she said.
“I thought it appropriate,” Giles said, “In light of what I’ve managed to piece together.”
Karen grinned, though it was more to hide her own discomfort than anything else. “If you’re about to tell me that he’s dating Cordelia,” she gestured to the only just recovering Xander, “I already know.” A beat. “Are we sure your Xander isn’t an evil robot? Evil shape shifting demon?”
“We checked,” Willow said. “100% Xander.”
“Hey,” Cordelia said, “Don’t talk about me like I’m syphilis. You’d be lucky to get a girl like me!”
Karen immediately thought of Irma, then of a combination of Irma and Cordelia, was rather disturbed by the thought, and shook her head. “OK Giles. Hit me.”
“... I’ve just had a long talk with Mr. Wells,” Giles said.
The others blinked. “Tucker?” Buffy asked.
“Andrew,” Giles replied. At the uncomprehending looks of the others, he sighed. “Tucker’s brother.”
“I didn’t know Tucker had a brother,” Willow said.
“Apparently, he sent a pack of flying monkey demons to attack the school play,” Giles said.
Buffy blinked. “Oh. … I thought the director was just being really ambitious. You know, giving a new spin on an old top. Romeo and Juliet, with flying monkeys.”
Giles looked pained. “Yes, well, as I was saying, it appears that Mr. Wells is something of an expert on all things comic book related. Between what I was able to learn from him and what I was able to glean from my conversation with the head of the Watcher’s Council, I think I have an idea of what happened to create two Xanders.”
He had their attention.
“Miss, ah, Power Girl, correct me if I’m wrong, but are you not the only survivor of a dead universe?”
Power Girl looked down. “... Yeah. It was... a long time ago.”
“According to Mr. Wells, after the death of her old universe, the new universe did not quite know how to incorporate Power Girl into itself. She was... unique. A being who transcended universes. Not simply the last of her kind, but the last fragment of her entire reality.” Giles paused. “Until Ethan Rayne performed the Rites of Janus. One of the most dangerous rituals in all existence, performed by a chaos sorcerer over an active Hellmouth.” He looked to Karen, then. “Immediately after Halloween, were you in this body, or in hers?” he gestured to Power Girl.
“... I was stuck in her body for months,” Karen said. “I only got this one recently.”
“As I suspected,” Giles said. “I’m afraid this is not good news for you, Karen. When the Rites of Janus were performed, the ritual latched on to the original Power Girl. Ordinarily, it would simply have created a copy of her consciousness, and one that would fade as soon as the spell had ended. In this case, the being being copied is singular, unique within the multiverse. I suspect that her actual self and physical body were drawn across the void that separates realities, merging the two of you for the duration of the spell. I suspect that when the spell ended, Xander and Power Girl separated, but at that moment, Xander’s consciousness was... copied, I suppose.”
“... So... what?” Karen asked, her voice thick with emotion. “I’m... a copy? A side-effect of a really unlikely chain of events?”
“A perfect copy,” Giles confirmed. “I am sorry. Chaos magic has always been known to have... unanticipated side-effects. At the moment of separation, well, two minds in one body became two minds in two bodies. The perfect copy of Power Girl’s consciousness in Xander’s mind immediately faded into the background as intended, but the version of you in her mind... stayed.”
The Scoobies were looking at her with pity in their eyes. Karen couldn’t meet their gazes.
“... I need to...” Karen began. There was an emptiness inside her after hearing those words. An awful terror rose up within her belly, flowing up into the top of her head. “I need to get some air,” she said. She flew away through the skylight.
Power Girl glanced at the assembled Scoobies. “I’ll go after her,” she said, and followed.
Power Girl found Karen sitting on the roof of the PE building, staring down at the now mostly abandoned campus.
“I feel real,” Karen said as Power Girl set down beside her.
“You are,” Power Girl said. “Don’t ever doubt it. No matter what your origins, you’re here now, and you’re alive. You might not have been, but you are. You’re alive.” She drew Karen into a hug. “That’s a complicated thing, and sometimes a sad thing, and it’s the best thing in any universe.”
Karen wept. Tears flowing down her cheeks. It was something she hadn’t done since before all of this began. There was no pretense, here. No defensiveness. She cried, and Power Girl stayed with her, murmuring words of comfort until she had cried her last tear.
Sundown. A time looked forward to by Vampires and Slayers alike. The beginning of night’s dominion. The moment when residents of Sunnydale felt that thrill of danger go through them which quickened their steps towards one another, seeking shelter in numbers and behind thresholds. Tomorrow was Friday, but many would not live to see it.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” Power Girl said. “Remember when you were out for six days after you wound up in that body?”
Power Girl produced something black, red, and silver. Held it out. Let it unfold.
A costume. A mirror of her own. Karen stared.
“I had them made while you were out. Dr. McCoy said they were made of unstable molecules. Neat concept. Short version: these costumes will stand up to pretty much any punishment you can throw at them.”
Karen took the costume. Stared at it. “... I think I’d be embarrassed to wear...”
Power Girl raised an eyebrow.
Karen smiled. “Thanks, Kara.”
“Come on,” Power Girl said. “We need to find a place to …” she trailed off as her super-hearing picked up a scream for help. She exchanged glances with Karen.
Karen nodded. “... Go,” she said. “I’ll... I’ll help as soon as I can.”
Pretty girl on the wrong side of town takes a wrong turn and ends up raped, murdered, or worse. It was a depressingly common story in Sunnydale, but even so, Rachel Myers had never expected it to happen to her. She’d been walking home from a music lesson after school. She played the clarinet. She wore her backpack, carried her instrument case, was whistling as she walked.
The sun went down, and its setting brought with it that familiar sense of cold dread. The knowledge that predators waited in the night. The shadows lengthened. She could see movement out of the corner of her eye. She needed to get home, right now!
Rachel took a short cut. It was stupid. She never should have left the main road, but she did. She cut through a back alley that would cut two full blocks off the distance she needed to walk. There was a manhole halfway down the alleyway, a high fence on either side. Her parents’ apartment was close. Once she got to the far end, she’d be able to see it. She just needed to...
The sound of metal grinding against concrete right next to her send chills through her body. Panic rising, she sprinted away. or tried to.
A cold hand seized her by the ankle, and when she tried to run, she fell flat on her face.
She was screaming. She could feel its breath against her ankle. Feel the second hand grabbing her other, frantically kicking leg. Feel the cold concrete against her skin. “NO! NO! LET ME GO! HELP, SOMEBODY, PLEASE!”
Nobody was coming. Calling for help in Sunnydale was a joke. Nobody was coming.
The sun was setting. She could see the sunlight fading, barely hitting the tops of the buildings now. She looked back, saw the monster that had grabbed hold of her, and she screamed in utter despair.
A figure in red white and blue descended from above.
“... what?” she asked. Her breath caught in her throat.
Power Girl descended, seized the vampire which had been attacking her, and flung it headlong into the fading sunlight. It burst into flames in mid-flight, and then ashes.
Rachel looked up into the most perfect blue eyes she had ever seen.
“You all right, miss?” Power Girl asked.
Rachel giggled. “... I... you... you’re Supergirl?”
“Power Girl,” Power Girl corrected with a smile.
“You’re real! And you’re here!”
“Just for today,” Power Girl replied. “Come on, let’s get you home.”
All across Sunnydale, the reports began to come in. Something was happening. Something very strange. Something wonderful. Two girls. One in red white and blue, one in red, black and silver. Saving the day. A collapsing crane at the Sunnydale docks, its operator saved by a dark haired girl in red, black and silver. A greyhound bus being attacked by vampires, the people on it saved by a blonde girl in red white and blue. Two teenaged girls about to be sacrificed to a serpent-demon unexpectedly saved, the demon slain. Dozens of ordinary lives which otherwise would have ended, saved. Saved by two figures out of a dream.
Mayor Richard Wilkins the third read each report as it came in, and he frowned, deeply disturbed by what he had read. “Well now,” he said. “That’s just unacceptable.”
Across town, Drusilla shrieked in terror, extracting promises from Angelus and Spike alike not to set foot outside of their lair until the sun-girls were gone.
It was hours before tiredness drove Power Girl and Karen to seek shelter. Around one in the morning, Willow Rosenberg awoke from a fitful slumber to the sound of someone tapping on her window.
Two figures floated in the air outside. Her scream was halfway out of her throat before she recognized them: Power Girl and Karen. She rubbed her eyes, went to the window and opened it. “Karen?” she asked. A pause. “What are you wearing
Karen blushed. “Er... not much, apparently. Look, Willow, old buddy old pal, can we, er, we kind of don’t have anywhere to sleep, and I was wondering...”
Willow rubbed her eyes again. “I’ll get the sleeping bags,” she said. She didn’t invite them in: she was a Sunnydale resident, after all. She just stepped away from the window and went over to the closet to dig out a pair of sleeping bags. When she’d gotten them and unrolled them on the floor, she fished a couple of pillows out and tossed them down before turning back towards the two superheroines in her home. “Does Buffy know you guys were out there doing her job?” Willow asked.
“I doubt she’d mind,” Karen said.
“Er, you don’t happen to have...” Kara began.
“Clothes that would fit you? … No. But you can take a shower if you want, and if your costumes need to be washed, laundry’s downstairs.”
“Thanks,” Kara said, and headed out. The sound of the shower began a few moments later.
Willow was awake now. Kind of hard not to be with a naked Power Girl in your shower. She gave a mental frown at that. That was kind of a funny thought to have. “Have you eaten at all today?” Willow asked.
“Er, sort of. And by sort of I mean ‘no’.”
Willow rolled her eyes. “Come on.” She led Karen downstairs, more than a little aware of Karen’s scantily clad, very female body only a few feet behind her. “... So what’s it like? Being a girl now? And being a superhero? Which is weirder?”
Karen grinned. “They’re both pretty weird, but... I dunno. You get used to it. Being able to fly never gets old, but after a while, you can kind of forget that you’ve got x-ray vision if you really... ok, that’s a lie.”
Willow blinked. “X-Ray vision?” she asked. Then Willow panicked. “You keep your eyes somewhere else, Mr! Miss! … Xander!”
“Karen,” Karen corrected. “And I’m not actually looking at you naked, Will.”
“Yeah, but you COULD be.”
Karen opened the fridge. Only thing that was ready was potato-pancakes with applesauce. Karen raised an eyebrow.
“... My parents kind of weren’t here for Hanukkah, and when they were here a few days ago, my mom wanted to...” Willow trailed off. “Want some latkes?
Karen smiled. “Sure,” she said. “The rest of that, though... being a girl? I dunno. It’s like being a guy, I guess, except different.”
Willow served up some latkes on a plate and stuck them in the microwave. “That’s not helpful. You’re one of the only people ever to experience life as both genders, and the best you can do is ‘it’s the same, but different’?”
“They should have sent a poet,” Karen deadpanned.
Willow rolled her eyes.
The timer soon dinged, and the latkes were served with applesauce. Karen dug in with relish.
“So what’s your superhero name?” Willow asked.
Karen paused between bites. “... Huh. Good question. Probably not ‘Divine’.”
“Too self-serving?” Willow asked.
“Long story,” Karen replied.
“Oh, oh, how about Nightwing? Cause you’ve got a black costume and everything.”
Karen raised an eyebrow. “Pretty sure that one’s taken.” She frowned. “Unless it’s not. Is he Batman now? Or Red Robin? Or... you know, comic book continuity was way more fun before it became real life.”
“Hey,” Kara said as she walked down the stairs, wrapped in a towel that hid her assets only poorly, walked into the laundry room, and deposited her uniform in the washing machine. “You’re gonna want to hurry up and take your shower, Karen,” Kara called. “I’m gonna leave it for you to start when you’re ready.” She walked back out into the kitchen. “Hey, I’m gonna dry off and get ready for bed,” she said. A pause. “You going to eat that?” she asked, gesturing to the other half of the plate of latkes.
Karen handed the plate to Kara, whose towel slipped down around her waist as she took it.
Willow stared. “... um... hi... er, I’m...” she began to blush.
Kara made short work of the plate, then headed back upstairs. “Night!” she said.
Willow continued to stare.
Karen looked at Willow, then towards Kara’s departing form, then back to Willow. “Will, don’t take this the wrong way...”
Willow looked at Karen. “Huh? What is it?”
Karen trailed off. “... Never mind.”
Sunrise, and the double Ks woke with the dawn. They couldn’t not at this point. Stupid Kryptonian physiology. Willow looked like she’d finally fallen asleep. Karen had been kind of worried about her, what with all the restless shifting she’d done in her sleep, plus the trip she’d to the bathroom she’d made to take a shower at 4:00 AM.
Taking care not to wake Willow, Karen and Kara, naked as the day they were born, rose to their feet and walked downstairs to get their costumes out of the laundry.
“... You ever think maybe we should carry around backup costumes for when one needs washing? Like in a ring or something, like the Flash?” Karen asked as she put on her costume.
Kara shrugged. “We could look into it,” she said. “I bet Hank could figure something out.”
Karen nodded. A brief breakfast and a note for Willow later, they set out across the town, each with different destinations.
“Hey Cordy,” Karen said as Cordelia emerged onto the front porch of her home. It was getting towards eight in the morning, and the Chase estate was shining with the morning dew.
Cordelia turned, raised an eyebrow. “Xand... Karen? What do you want?”
“Just, you know, saying goodbye. The spell that brought us here is only good for twenty four hours.”
“Twenty four hours, huh?” Cordelia asked as she walked to her car. Karen followed. Then, standing in front of her car, Cordelia turned, took Karen into her arms, and kissed her. Karen’s eyes went wide. Then they went a bit wider as Cordelia’s tongue... Oh hell, her toes were curling.
Cordelia broke the kiss. “... Nope, still straight.”
Karen stared. “What the HELL?!”
“I was curious,” Cordy said. “And it’s not cheating. I’m dating Xander. You’re Xander, sort of. And hey, it’s not like you can tell anyone.”
“I … OK, I get that, but ‘nope, still straight?’”
Cordelia shrugged. “Seemed like my best chance to check without perving on someone in the locker room who I might actually see around school.”
“I... you can’t just... gah!”
Cordelia got into her car, started it, and drove away, leaving a spluttering, confused, and kind of turned on Karen in her wake.
It was over almost too soon. Hour passed to hour, and soon Karen and Kara stood over the spot corresponding to the Hellmouth at Sunnydale High once more.
“I guess this is it,” Karen said.
“Guess it is,” Xander replied. “Hey, listen, for what it’s worth, I’m...”
“Don’t apologize,” Karen said.
Xander nodded. “Right. Anyways, I guess, try to avoid getting retconned out of existence, OK? And good luck.”
Karen smirked. “You too.” Then she looked to Giles. “Take care of yourself, Giles,” she said, “And of the others, ok?”
“Be well, Karen,” Giles replied.
Then Willow was there, hugging her within an inch of her life. “Stay safe, Karen.”
Then it was just Buffy. “Take care of yourself, Karen,” she said, giving the much taller girl a hug. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Karen grinned. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Is Cordelia coming?” Xander asked.
“Already talked to her,” Karen said, and blushed.
Xander raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Then he blinked. “Oh! Right! I almost forgot!” He pulled out an extra backpack and offered it to Karen, who took it with a dubious look. “It’s... well, it’s a bunch of issues of comics you might find, er, useful.”
Karen passed it over to Kara, who frowned. “That’s pretty dangerous...” Kara said.
The glow rose up around them, then. The portal formed on top of the two, helped along by the presence of the Hellmouth.
“Say hi to Superman for me!” Xander called, “And watch out for the continuity reboot!”
Karen blinked. “Oh, we haven’t actually been in the DC...”
The portal took them.End Chapter 01