A/N: This is a Twisting the Hellmouth Challenge “The League of Extraordinary Women” sequel, third in the series after “Cross Purposes”.
Spoilers: All of “The Secret World of Alex Mack”, plus some more stuff to be named later. There are hints of spoilers from other dimensions, because Alex will sometimes think about things she learned from Hermione (Hermione Granger of Harry Potter) or Sam (mid-season five Major Samantha Carter of Stargate SG-1) or Willow and Buffy (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or Selina (Catwoman of the DC universe, specifically the Catwoman of Chris Dee’s ‘Cat Tales’ universe) or Jaime (Jaime Sommers of the original Bionic Woman). And, of course, there are spoilers for “The League of Extraordinary Women” but not for “Cross Purposes”.
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”.
Disclaimer: I don’t own “The Secret World of Alex Mack”, nor do I own any of the other properties referenced in the first story of this series. All disclaimers for the aforementioned works of fiction are listed there in full.
Crossover: This is a Multiple Crossovers universe, and there will be constant references to other universes in this story, but it is going to be primarily focused on the Alex Mack ‘verse, with a few familiar (and possibly unfamiliar) characters eventually added in when we get to later chapters, starting in chapter 18. Yeah, I have it planned out in that much detail.
Chapter 1 – Return
Alex got up and ate a big breakfast. She was planning on skipping lunch. Her mom had covered for her while she was gone, by telling the school she was out sick. Fortunately, she had been on a team with the smartest women on earth. No, even smarter than that. She sort of felt like she had met three women, each of them the smartest person in their own universe. And the other three women on her team were really smart and clever, just not ‘World’s Most Uber-Brilliant Scientist Ever’ levels of smart.
And she was intent on using everything she had learned from every one of them. Starting with a lesson from Selina. So she was going to play ‘sick person’ all day today, and maybe most of tomorrow too. If you had a cover, you had to make it stick. If you had a secret identity, you had to keep it secret outside your team. Selina and her boyfriend the Batman had shown her that one. And Buffy had plenty of stories that taught her the downside of being really sucky at preserving her cover.
So today she was going to be ‘still not completely recovered Alex’. She was going to eat a tiny lunch in the school cafeteria or skip it entirely, and just not tell anyone she was eating a couple energy bars for lunch. She was going to act like she still felt lousy. And she was going to use some of Selina’s acting tips.
She checked with her mom. “You sure you got everything taken care of with the principal?”
Her mom nodded patiently. “Yes, Alex. And I made sure that your friends checked with all of your teachers. And I’m going to chat with your principal about what you and your father wanted.”
She nodded unhappily. Finding days of homework assignments waiting for her was hardly the reward one of the saviors of the multiverse was supposed to get. Having Ray kiss her for ten solid minutes before he had to go home? Definitely the kind of reward she was supposed to get. And her friends had left copies of their homework, so she didn’t have any trouble getting through her math and English and history and Spanish. The science homework was easy, because she was taking the easy earth science course. Still, it had taken her until nearly eleven last night to get it all done for all her courses. She would have complained about it, but Annie said college was way more work. On the other hand, Sam and Willow and Jaime and even Buffy agreed college was also way more fun. And Buffy had to be The Vampire Slayer the whole time she was in college, so Alex figured she should listen to Buffy about college.
Next step, proper disguises. Disguises needed to be perfect, and they needed to not look like disguises. Selina knew all about this stuff, even if most of her knowledge seemed to come from her boyfriend. Alex carefully applied the wrong color foundation, so she looked washed out and sallow. A little taupe eyeshadow in the wrong places, and her eyes looked sunken and unhealthy. Perfect. She looked like she should still be home in bed. She sprayed a little washable color into her hair, so her hair was a shade or two darker than usual, and she left a note for her mom to pick up some hair dye so she could make it ‘permanent’ from here on out. She pulled her hair back, slapped on a fishing hat that didn’t go with her coloring, and she looked ready to be sent home from school for being too sick to attend. Selina was totally expert on stuff like this. Okay, it was probably impossible to make someone like Selina look sick, but if anyone could do it, it would be Selina herself. Or her boyfriend. Selina said Batman had a bunch of different disguises that were so good he had entire other identities going on that no one had spotted.
Her mom drove her in, and they met for a couple minutes with Principal Wilson. She liked him. And he hadn’t been connected with her junior high, so he had no idea there was anything weird about her.
And there wasn’t going to be anything weird about Alexandra Louise Mack. Nope. Not one thing. Alex was going to be dating Ray and working on the yearbook and taking pictures for the school paper and being in the photography club, just like always. The only change was that she was going to be working even harder in school.
That, and she was going to be proactive, as Sam put it. So she was going to spend some time tonight finding ways in and out of the school so no one would see her, and that was going to give her an alibi for the next time during school that The Unnamed Superheroine had to put in an appearance.
She really needed to come up with a superhero name too. Selina had told her the names of half a dozen lightning-based superheroes and supervillains in her world, so Alex had some ideas. Plus her mom was going to pick up a wig that was a couple shades lighter than her normal color, and she was going to start wearing the wig when she was out fighting crime. In a few months, she’d switch to a wig one shade lighter than that, and in another few months, she’d switch to a wig one shade lighter than that. Within a year, Superhero Girl was going to be a shimmering vanilla blonde with long hair, just like everyone would ‘remember’, and plain old Alex Mack was going to be a light brunette, maybe with short hair in a cute little bob. If the change was gradual and only occurred when Alex got haircuts, it would probably go unnoticed, except among her close friends. Also, Superhero Girl was going to be about five inches taller than Alex Mack, because Alex was sticking to flats and she was going to get some platform heels for Superhero Girl to wear. And Superhero Girl was going to be wearing a padded bra so she was at least a cup size or two bigger than Alex. In a year from now, maybe three cup sizes bigger.
In a year from now, Alex Mack was going to be more boring and more studious and more uninteresting. Meanwhile, her superheroine persona was going to be more blonde and more curvy and more dynamic. She was going to make sure that no one connected Alex Mack with some superheroine.
Which was going to be tough, since Danielle Atron and her sidekick Lars knew about her powers, and maybe a couple of Danielle’s goon squad could figure it out if they tried, and Louis had blabbed to too many people. Fortunately, the only person who actually believed Louis was the girl he had dragged along to the plant, and that was Robyn, who could keep a secret.
Okay, the Atron goon squads didn’t really know she was Mystery Kid who had gotten doused with GC-161, just that she was one of the people Atron had them kidnap. None of them had seen Alex Mack and also ‘puddle of liquid girl’ both. And also, they were going to be in prison for another twenty years. Still, Danielle Atron knew, and Lars knew. That made both of them threats to her and her family. Also, some other people knew it was a teenaged girl in Paradise Valley. But Louis had been telling everyone for like a year now that Superhero Girl had to be someone like Libby, and so pretty much everybody had forgotten the whole ‘Alex Mack’ thing. And pretty much nobody believed Libby would bother to help other people, so nobody believed Louis about any of it anymore. No one but her and Ray and Robyn and Nicole knew just how much Louis was helping by making himself look bad, and no one was going to believe a guy like Louis would do that.
Now she just had to figure out how to get Superhero Girl a lot of martial arts training while Alex Mack supposedly had none. That was likely to be tricky, unless her mom had an idea. Or maybe Annie could dream up something.
And she was whittling down her list of cool superheroine names. She was going to talk to her mom and dad and Ray over dinner tonight. She was leaning toward Shock. But maybe Livewire or Lightning or Thunder. Even if Selina said the Livewire from her world was sort of a crazy lady.
Alex left the principal’s office with her backpack over her shoulder, and she headed for her homeroom. She made sure to walk slower than usual, and she sort of trudged along like her backpack was really heavy.
“Wow Alex, you really look like crap.”
Alex slowly turned around at Libby’s voice. Alex had made sort-of-friends with Kelly, and had made friends with most of the rest of the girls she had trouble with in junior high, but not with Libby. Not with Jo the bully either, but Jo got expelled last year, so Alex wasn’t worrying about her anymore.
Libby still spent all of her time being Miss Popular, and trying to be the next head cheerleader, and parading around with her posse. Alex still hadn’t figured out how Libby hadn’t flunked out of school two or three times, but it seemed like Libby was still scraping by and taking the easiest courses she could. And it wasn’t like Libby was stupid, she just couldn’t be bothered with studying and stuff. She probably spent more time touching up her dark brown roots of her currently blonde hair than she spent doing schoolwork, and that shade of blonde was really not as good a look for her as her original dark brown, which Alex thought was actually really pretty, even if high school guys seemed to stare at blondes more. Blondes and boobs. Libby now had both covered. Or uncovered, depending on how you felt about the sort of lowcut top she was wearing today, which Alex was pretty sure didn’t meet the school’s dress code.
Well, it was time to work on the ol’ secret identity. She said, “Hi, Libby.” She looked at Libby’s girl posse and said, “Hi Carli. Hi Mandy. Hi Tylea.” Then she turned back to Libby. “Don’t you need to stay away from me so you don’t catch anything? I mean, you can’t afford to get sick if you’re that Superhero Girl. That is you, right? That’s what Louis said.”
Libby opened her mouth to contradict her, and froze as her brain had a tiny war inside. She obviously wanted to get to tell Alex she was wrong. But more than anything, she liked being the center of attention. Finally Libby said, “Umm… maybe, maybe not.”
Carli and Tylea turned and stared open-mouthed at Libby, as if she had just publicly announced that she was, definitely, the Superhero Girl who had been stopping supercrimes around town. Mandy just stood there, somewhat aware that something important was going on, but not figuring it out. There was a reason Mandy was going to be a fifth year senior next year.
Alex smiled to herself as she walked off to homeroom. It really wouldn’t take much effort to have the whole school suspecting Libby instead of Alex. That did mean that she was probably going to have to rescue Libby sooner or later, but she’d cross that bridge when she came to it.
Maybe she could stuff a version of her ‘uniform’ into Libby’s gymbag, or hide it in the back of Libby’s closet just before Libby had a sleepover, just to provide a little more ‘evidence’ to Libby’s posse. It would be fairly entertaining if Libby’s girl posse started spending their time protecting Libby’s ‘secret identity’.
She got to homeroom without any other trouble.
The jocks said hi to her in the halls, and she said hi back. But that happened pretty much all the time. Hanging with Ray meant that she was in with the basketball team, and that meant she was okay with the other jocks. She had run track a few times and made friends there, but the whole superpowers thing kept coming up, so she had needed to fake a recurring knee injury to get out of it altogether. But that was okay. She wasn’t the only kid who was out of sports because of injuries. Paul Preston had to have knee surgery and was off the football team until next year. Maybe longer. And Jerry Brady had to have shoulder surgery, and probably wouldn’t play baseball anymore, at least not as a pitcher. And Nicole said Marti said Maci told her that Rondi Meyers used to be a super-good gymnast until she had so many operations on one knee that she had to quit. And Rondi was nice. Really short, but nice. Rondi was like a sophomore, and was still about 4’9”, not counting the five inch heels she wore when she could get away with it so she didn’t look like someone’s baby sister.
The goths and emos nodded to her, too. Lindsay was still one of her friends, even if Lindsay was a senior and didn’t have any classes with her, so Lindsay’s fellow ‘outcasts’ were nice to Alex. And Lindsay ate lunch at the goth table way off to the side of the caff, where they could make fun of the jocks and the popular kids without anyone hearing them. Actually, Lindsay probably wouldn’t be eating in the caff today, because she was supposed to be getting her tongue pierced over the weekend, and it was probably all swollen and gross and painful now. Alex had chickened out on getting her nose pierced a couple years ago, and she couldn’t imagine getting her tongue pierced.
Okay, at one time or another, Alex had done pretty much everything around the school, and made friends doing it. She had even done the cheerleader thing before she found out how much work it was, and how boring it really was, and how you had to put up with every dumb thing any of the athletes did. But she was still friends with a bunch of the cheer squad. And she liked the extracurricular thing, so she knew lots of kids in lots of different groups. And through Annie she knew a ton of the people in the Science Club and the Computer Club and the Robotics Team and the Quiz Bowl team.
Alex slipped into homeroom and sat in her regular seat between Robyn and Nicole, right behind Ray and Louis and some of Ray’s other buds, and right in front of Hannah and Ethan and Margo. Kelly walked to her seat across the room and gave Alex a little wave. Kelly used to be her ultra-arch-enemy, back before they made up and became sort-of-friends one summer while they were both camp counselors. Even if Kelly was still sort of a pain. Kelly was just not really good at opening up and being nice to people.
But Willow and Buffy had explained that it was a huge waste of your time to bother having arch-enemies in school when you had real
arch-enemies out there who wanted to do way
worse than say mean things about you behind your back. When Buffy was in high school, she had enemies who wanted to torture her to death and then drink all of her blood. Or worse. And Alex already had an arch-enemy who had tried to kill her and her parents and Ray, and would have happily cut her up into little pieces as she experimented on Alex, if she had captured Alex a year or two earlier than that. Alex had seen vampires and demons and a real hellgoddess and Dark Willow, and she still thought Danielle Atron was the evilest thing she knew.
So it was just a big waste of time to be bothered by people like Libby, even if Libby was still really annoying. Well, that was the idea. Making it work was a lot harder. Buffy had explained how hard it could be to ignore the dinky high school stuff while dealing with the really serious stuff out there, especially if you stunk at the whole secret identity part.
The thing was, Alex had important stuff she needed to do. She needed to separate Alex Mack from Superhero Girl. She needed to put Danielle Atron and her creepy nephew and Lars and her minions behind bars. For keeps. She needed to get out there and help every other person in the world who got contaminated by weird chemicals or turned into a science experiment or worse.
And she wanted to track down some people who were the alternate universe versions of the greatest heroes she had ever imagined meeting. Even if it might turn out that someone like a this-universe Buffy Summers couldn’t possibly be as awesome as the Buffy she had met. Or Willow. Or Jamie. Or Sam. Or Hermione. Or Selina. Or Selina’s boyfriend or Sam’s teammates or Buffy and Willow’s friends. She just really hoped that none of them turned out to be badguys in this universe, because that would stink. And since some of them were super-geniuses, having them as supervillains could really stink on ice.
Her homeroom teacher Mrs. Finnegan walked in and put her notebooks on her desk. “Alex? Could you come up here?”
“Yes ma’am,” she said. She walked up. She didn’t make a big production out of being unable to move, but she moved slower than normal. Selina had stressed that being subtle was important. Don’t ham it up. Be Meryl Streep, not William Shatner.
How weird was it that pretty much every one of their worlds had Meryl Streep and William Shatner? And William Shatner was a gigantic ham in every universe? And Willow thought that was hilarious, because William Shatner was Jewish, and lots of Jews didn’t eat ham.
Mrs. Finnegan was nice, and was also Alex’s English teacher, so she was expecting some homework. But when Alex came up to the front desk, Mrs. Finnegan stopped her and said, “Alex, I don’t want to sound mean, but you don’t look well. Are you sure you should be in school?”
Alex nodded, “Yes ma’am. The doctor said I could go back to school, and mom has work to do.”
“Well, did you get your homework assignments?”
Alex nodded again. “Yes ma’am. I got all of ‘em done.” And she took them out of the right spot in her notebook and handed them in.
One of the things she had learned from Sam – well, one of the many
things she had learned from Sam – was that organization made everything easier, even if it took you a little longer to get organized in the first place. So, while she was doing homework in everything last night, she emptied her backpack and notebook, swiped some dividers and notebook pockets from Annie’s old high school junk, and re-did her school notebook. Now she was going to be able to keep track of everything, and find all the handouts, and keep all her homework where she could find it. And she had Annie’s really big three-ring binder at home, where all her class notes and handouts were going to go, so she could keep everything together so she could study easier.
Not that there was a lot of studying in English class this year. Mostly, it was writing papers and reading ‘important’ books. And writing papers on what she read in ‘important’ books. Okay, there was the whole ‘making notes on the reading’ part for when they had exams, because Willow had given her really good advice on that. And Willow had given her some really good advice on writing papers, so she was looking forward to using that advice too.
Mrs. Finnegan took them and put them in her ‘inbox’, where all the stuff to be graded went. She said, “Now if you start feeling poorly, I want you to go to the school nurse’s office, all right?”
“Yes ma’am,” she said. “And I think I’m pretty okay. And my sister sent me a DVD on how to write college papers and I watched it over the weekend while I was just laying around not feeling good and really bored, so now I’m all ready to write a paper for you.”
Mrs. Finnegan smiled gently and said, “That’s good, because I’m going to assign a paper in class today.”
Alex went and sat back down. She knew why she got that smile. Nobody ever thought she would do as well as her big sister Annie. Annie was a science super-genius like Willow or Sam, but without the heroism and bravery and kick-ass abilities. Alex had a good gradepoint average, but it was nothing like Annie’s A-plus-plus-plus average.
Alex told herself that she needed to step up her game, because someday the difference between knowing stuff and not knowing stuff might be the difference between living and dying. Buffy had told her the story about the Praying Mantis Demon Teacher, and how their science lessons let her save Xander. Willow had told her about all the books she had studied, and all the stuff she had memorized, and all the computer stuff she had taught herself, and how sometimes that saved the day. And Buffy told her how Xander’s soldier memories helped save everybody a couple times. And every story Sam had told pretty much came down to her knowing a ton of science so she could save the day, or her friend Daniel knowing a ton of linguistics and archaeology so he could save the day, or her commanding officer Jack knowing a ton of stuff that he liked to pretend he didn’t know, so he
could save the day. Okay, a couple of Sam’s stories came down to Teal’c being totally badass and saving the day with raw power and a century of training.
So Alex was going to focus more on memorizing important stuff. She didn’t see how knowing about plate tectonics would ever help her, but that was the section they were studying in science, and she was going to study it like someone’s life might be at stake some day. After all, there was no way Buffy could have known that learning about bat sonar and bugs would help her in her job as the Vampire Slayer.
She so needed to squeeze a computer course in somewhere. And a better science class too, even if Earth Sciences was pretty easy and fun. She wondered if she could do physics as one of those self-study courses, like Annie did for social studies in high school. It was either that, or fit it in next year. Or maybe AP chemistry. Although it would be nice to take a course like that and NOT have every teacher say “ooh so you’re Annie’s little sister, are you going to be as incredibly brilliant as her, or a total loser instead?” At least Mrs. McGurty hadn’t had Annie in a math class and didn’t act like that around Alex. But Mister Hooper, the chem teacher, was like Annie’s biggest fan ever. Taking that class would be horrible.
Maybe there was a way to take chemistry over the internet and make do without a bunch of cool lab experiments. Or maybe she’d wait and take it in college when no one was going to know she was Annie’s little sister. Assuming she lived long enough to get to college.