A/N: Alex’s powers and new knowledge will make more sense if you go read the first story in this series: “The League of Extraordinary Women”. The disclaimer, spoilers, and other information are in chapter 1.
Willow stared at the computer monitor.
She hadn’t done anything except work on Alex’s problems, ever since Larry Ellison said he’d give her the company name and website and 1-800 number and the rights to the freeware and shareware for fifty K total, if she’d make the PR blast to get the press corps off his neck. She’d already called Mindi and told her she had her old job back with a small raise, but she would get to work out of her home, and she would only have one company officer to deal with. And Mindi had agreed to drive over to the building Monday morning with her husband and pick up what was probably about forty or fifty boxes of giveaway stuff and store it in her basement so she could mail stuff out to people or have stuff ready for the next computer conference.
Willow had even checked with Jerry, but he pointed out she didn’t really need him now and he could do more interesting work staying with the bigger company. After all, Jerry wasn’t a programming guy, he was a marketing guy. When Willow was a timid, nerdy, thirteen year old, she really needed a guy who could say ‘yes Willow you really can do it’ and ‘yes Willow people really will want this’ and ‘yes Willow I really can help you market this so people will use it and some of them will even pay you for it out of the goodness of their hearts’. He was the VP in charge of marketing for Red Tree Software, and now he was going to be a higher-up in Oracle’s marketing group. That had to be more fun than pretty much not doing anything anymore as Red Tree’s marketing person.
Ever since then, she had been working away at her computers, hardly even stopping for soda and potty breaks. She had forgotten how much fun
it was to be S4l1x680. To outwit everyone else. To be the very best in the world. But she was going to keep it under control. She was going to play it smart, and stay highly protected, and not cause any problems. She had her company back. Her baby. Maybe the only baby she’d ever have, since she hadn’t even had a real date in years, and she was still a virgin. She wasn’t going to screw up and ruin Red Tree Software. Not when it had been so hard on her to lose it.
But she was going to help Alex. Alex wasn’t just one more nice kid that Willow did the meet-and-greet with once or twice a month. Alex was a superpowered hero who was trying to do the right thing.
Willow had checked up on Terawatt and Paradise Valley, just to make sure she wasn’t getting conned. And Terawatt was a real, live superhero. She did nothing but stop robberies the police couldn’t handle. The whole mess with Danielle Atron and GC-161 and the diet foods? It looked like Alex had been fighting a really bad person for years. How old was Alex when she started? Twelve or thirteen? That was even younger than Buffy Summers in those stories Alex told her.
Honestly. Her and Buffy Summers? Maybe that was even harder to believe than the whole ‘alternate universes with other physics’ deal.
So then Willow had tried to track Alex down. That was really easy. And Alex had vanished for five days. ‘Home sick’ according to the computer records of the school. But no doctor visit, no nurse practitioner, no trip to the hospital, no filing with her dad’s HMO, nothing. And the Mack family food bills dropped dramatically for that week. So Alex really could have been out of this dimension, or at least not in Paradise Valley.
Willow had taken the time to obscure Alex’s trail a little bit, just so the next person searching for computer records to point their way to Terawatt would end up looking in the wrong places. It was really surprisingly easy if you understood how relational databases worked, and how computer software did joins.
Then Willow had pulled up the city records, while making it look like the governor’s office was doing it. If anyone checked back through all the fake red tape Willow tossed around, they would find a fancy government task force that wouldn’t admit one way or another whether they tried to get those records.
After that, it was computer searches. Colonel Jonathan Angus ‘Jack’ O’Neill was a hard nut to crack. Just getting through the DoD databases without getting caught was really tricky. Getting more was next to impossible, even for her. Because Jack O’Neill had a lot of blacked-out files and files with large, blacked-out sections. That spelled Special Ops, maybe even Black Ops. A couple of those files were just stubs, sitting there with tripwires attached to alert someone that a hacker was looking for data on Jack O’Neill. But Willow had played this game since she was eleven and a half. She dodged the tripwires and looked for what she could. And there was something really suspicious. A highly decorated colonel with tons of medals and no black marks on his records goes from Spec Ops to retirement and back into the Air Force, only to take what was supposed to be a desk job in something called Hazardous Waste Assessment, Amelioration and Abatement. The HWAAA. Yeah, right. The more she looked, the more she figured the HWAAA was some sort of cover, because there should have been lots of environmental scientists and environmental engineers in something like that, and they had something else. They had medical doctors and biochemists and biophysicists. They had chemists, but in the wrong specializations. And their scientists didn’t work on hazardous waste issues, and didn’t publish journal articles on handling hazardous waste. She didn’t know what the heck Jack O’Neill was doing, but if it was assessing hazardous waste spills, she would go lick Larry Ellison’s bald spot.
Eww. Maybe not that, but something dramatic.
After that, she had searched for the other people Alex couldn’t find. Hermione Granger was already working on a doctorate in ethnography and social policy at Cambridge. Alex was right. This Hermione was smart as heck, just like the other one. Willow just couldn’t find out where Hermione was going to work when she completed her degree in a little over a year, according to emails to and from her major professors.
Then Selina Kyle. That had taken more effort. But never let it be said that S4l1x680 could be stopped. Willow had found Selina Kyle. Only she wasn’t a Kyle anymore, and hadn’t been for a long time. At age nineteen, Selina had married a thirty-something Greek shipping line heir, and was now living la dolce vita on a private island off the coast of Greece. Some sleazebag photographer had managed to sneak close enough to get telephoto shots of Selina cavorting nude on her own private beach with her slightly less photogenic hubby. And Alex was right once more. Selina was maybe the most gorgeous brunette Willow had ever heard of.
Willow was staring at the pictures, and her mouth was dry with fear.
Selina had the looks and shape to make Playboy Playmates and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models go crying back to their plastic surgeons. Selina was so gorgeous that…
Selina was so gorgeous that Willow was sitting there with damp panties. The nice Jewish girl who had never gone all the way with a boy was having sexual thoughts about another girl.
Alex had been right again. Willow had never admitted it to herself, but there was no mistaking this. She was having the hots for another woman. She was gay. Or at least, really bisexual. And Alex had known.
It was one thing to know the ‘green crayon’ story that no one else should know about, but Willow had told herself that there was a remote possibility Jesse had told someone, somewhere. Or maybe Xander had told someone long before he died. But this was impossible to know. No one knew Willow wasn’t het. Even Willow hadn’t known.
Alex had known. Alex had known, because she knew a different Willow. A different Willow who was more like she was than any alternate universe Willow had a right to be.
The ‘travel to another dimension’ story was looking really, really probable, despite everything. And that meant Alex had really risked her life to fight a hellgod and save the whole freaking multiverse. Alex had met an alternate universe Willow. And Alex had said she would be there for Willow if Willow ever came out of the closet.
It was looking like that closet door was falling off its hinges.
Willow stared at the computer monitor…