Title: Sunnydale Heroes: Parallels – Part 2 of 2
Author: Wicked Raygun
Summary: AU. Jonathan, the Time Master, visits a bleak future that isn't his, but very well could be. It's time for him to learn from his future mistakes. Sequel to Sunnydale Heroes.
Disclaimer: Based on characters created by Joss Whedon. I am merely borrowing them to put on a puppet show. Watch them dance.
Notes: This is not a crossover with the show 'Heroes.' This is merely me borrowing a concept I find intriguing and adding it to characters I love.
You really should read Sunnydale Heroes before you read this, but I guess it works well enough as a stand alone.
Also, thanks go out to my beta reader, Greywizard.
Distribution: Ask and you shall receive. Just email me and I'll get back to you quickly using new-fangled technology. See, I get email on my phone now. Surely jet packs and flying cars are just around the corner.
Fallout Shelter, Underneath City Hall
Jonathan was on the cusp of hyperventilating. Here he was, in an alternate universe, far into the future, staring at, well, his future duplicate.
"Look, based on past experience, it's really best if we establish what to call each other first," his duplicate said. "It helps to think of each other as different people, which we are."
Jonathan nodded, looking wide-eyed and moments away from fainting.
"Okay, uh, what – what do I call you?"
"You look pretty young, so you probably haven't even decided on a codename yet. So you can be Jonathan, and I'll be Stopwatch."
"Wait, Stopwatch? That's your codename? That's – that's – that's so much better than what I got, so far."
"Oh, really? What do you got, so far?"
"Uh, well, the – the Time Master," Jonathan said, sheepishly.
The man who was making the eggs laughed at that. And Stopwatch winced in sympathy.
"Yeah, I wouldn't go around telling people that," he said.
"Uh, well, then can I take yours? I like it a lot."
"Sure, go ahead. That's how I got my codename, too."
"You got it from another me?"
"Yeah, I did. When you meet future or past versions of yourself, it's best to refer to them as doubles, or duplicates. We're separate people, with separate lives, in separate dimensions. Similar, but different. I'm not the future 'you.' I'm not even a possible future 'you'. You could go out of your way, to do everything like me, and you still wouldn't come close. It's the nature of the multiverse."
"Holy crap! There really is a multiverse?"
"You're here, aren't you? And try to focus on what I'm saying, okay?"
"Right. You're from a different universe than mine. So you're like me, but not me?"
Jonathan took a couple moments to think over that.
"Wait. Then how come you guys won't tell me anything about what happened to you? I mean, it seems like it wouldn't matter, anyway."
"Because, inevitably, you'll try to find the divergence point, and try to either recreate it, or change it. And that never works out well. It's best if you just don't know anything."
"The divergence point?"
"That's the place in time where, in theory, one universe becomes two. An event of some sort will cause a timeline to split. Do you stay home from school because you got a cold? Or do you try and tough it out, and go, anyway? That kind of thing."
"Only, the multiverse doesn't really seem to work that way."
"Uh, why not?"
Stopwatch looked at him amused. Why not? Was he really asking that?
"Okay, you're assuming I know everything about the multiverse. I don't. And neither do you. And that's kind of the whole point."
"You are being pretty heavy on the cryptic there, Time Piece," the man with the eggs said. He handed a plate to Jonathan filled with scrambled eggs, and bacon-flavored Spam.
"Stopwatch," he corrected.
"The best I can figure out is that something is trying to shape the nature of each and every universe in existence. This isn't a science thing – it's about destiny. And when you screw with destiny, it screws with you right back. So you can't change the universe. Or, more accurately, you can't change the Universe using information you get from another one."
Jonathan looked horrified.
"But I don't want to change the universe."
"You're young and stupid. Of course, you want to change the universe. But the point is, you can't. At least, not yours. You can, however, screw with other universes pretty thoroughly. And when you do, the changes you make will always lead to something bad."
"But what if—"
"Okay," Jonathan said, meekly.
Stopwatch looked at Jonathan, and spoke harshly.
"I don't think you're fully comprehending the scope of what I'm talking about, here. People can live or die based on what time they wake up to go to work. A baby could be born or not, based on where a guy decides to tie his shoe. Fate is messed up, and the important thing to remember is that it doesn't work for you. You work for it."
"Your power," he continued, "it allows you to see infinite possibilities in infinite worlds. But no matter how much you think you have a handle on it, how simple you think the chain of events are, you can't introduce these changes into your universe. Destiny gets pissed, and pays you back with interest."
"If I even gave you an example, you would face something worse than even that. Trust me, ignorance may not exactly be bliss, but it's a lot better than the alternative."
"So I shouldn't time travel?"
"As a point of fact, you can't time travel. You cannot go forwards or backwards in your own universe. But you can go to alternate universes. Do yourself and the multiverse a big favor, and don't do that. Stopping time, teleporting – that's okay. Although, you should know that there's a cost."
"A cost?" Jonathan's voice raised to a very high pitch.
"You age normally when you mess with time." Stopwatch pointed to his face, and balding grey hair. "I'm supposed to be twenty-three. I'm probably really in my mid-forties."
Jonathan went pale.
"Relax. Stopping time for a couple minutes every now and again to save the day, won't really affect you all that badly."
"Won't affect me? Look at you!"
"I spent a very long time trying to predict everything and fix my universe. I was obsessed. Trust me, a few grey hairs are the least it's cost me."
There was a phone call then, and the tall man, who had been inhaling his eggs, swallowed quickly and answered it. He picked up the phone and disappeared into another room.
"So you really save the day," Jonathan asked, when the silence had become uncomfortable.
Stopwatch screwed up his face as if he was trying to consider his answer.
"Sometimes," he finally said.
"What does that mean?"
Stopwatch just shook his head.
At that moment, the other man walked in and he was cursing.
"I cannot believe this! I hate cults!"
"Is there a problem, Nighthawk?" Stopwatch asked, his tone sounded professional. Jonathan was impressed that his voice could sound like that.
"I just got confirmation from the new oracles. Some jackasses are trying to resurrect Glory!"
Stopwatch suddenly looked very pale.
"Is that possible?"
"Apparently, even Goddesses have souls," Nighthawk answered, his eyes rolling. He seemed to look at Stopwatch, sizing him up. After a moment, he seemed to come to a decision.
"I could use back-up, if you're willing?"
Stopwatch suddenly beamed like a little kid opening presents.
"And wipe that look off your face. It creeps me out. This isn't your first rodeo, for crying out loud."
Stopwatch cleared his throat, and steeled the features of his face, looking authoritative again, Jonathan noted. Apparently his duplicate was still as much of a dork as he sometimes was.
"First thing I need you to do is teleport to the Cleveland HQ, and see if you can round up any other metas, or at least some hunters. A slayer would be nice, but I'm not expecting miracles. Otherwise, just leave a message, and get back here."
Throughout his orders, Nighthawk was strapping various weapons to himself that he had retrieved from a metal locker. He put on a brown leather jacket, zipped it up, and then seemed to expertly arrange a strange holster on top of that. He then grabbed what had to be the most vicious looking axe Jonathan had ever seen in his life and strapped that to his back.
Nighthawk grabbed an all black motorcycle helmet from the locker as well.
"And bring an axe this time, damn it!" he said, scolding Stopwatch. "I swear to God, if you bring that stupid katana again, I'm shoving it down your throat. I don't know what we're up against here, exactly – some of Glory's old minions, to be sure, and a covenant of level three magic users, at the very least. A meta-vamp or three would not be unprecedented, so pack heavy!"
"Now, summoning Glory's soul from whatever Hell she wound up in is the easy part. Attaching it to a baby, so she can have a physical form, however, apparently takes time. The oracles weren't exactly specific on just how much time, though, so finish up with your mini-me and get your ass to Mars."
"Where is the ceremony taking place?"
"Under Kingman's Bluff."
"Wait, under it? There's an 'under it' now?"
"Apparently," Nighthawk answered with dismissive shrug of his shoulders. "It looks like the locals have been keeping this from me. I'm not really happy about that."
Nighthawk put on the motorcycle helmet, went over to a ladder, and climbed out.
Stopwatch had gone over to a locker next to the one Nighthawk used, and began testing out the weight of a few different axes.
Suddenly there was a loud boom.
"What the hell was that?" Jonathan asked, feeling like he was seconds away from panic.
"The sound barrier. Xander's pissed," Stopwatch noted, absently.
After a about a minute of weighing the axes, he chose one. Then he turned to Jonathan again.
"I'm going to have to leave now. Try not to touch anything that looks like it might be important." Stopwatch sighed. "The world could be about to end, and I'm going to Cleveland to hope someone might care. I really screwed this world up. None of this was supposed to happen."
He spent a long moment, looking at Jonathan.
"Please, listen to me about the universe hopping. And – and just try to be better than me. Maybe you could actually be the hero that I never quite was."
Jonathan nodded slowly. And then he watched his duplicate close his eyes and simply disappear.
Jonathan continued to stare at the spot his duplicate had disappeared from with such intensity that he barely noticed that he was disappearing himself.
One moment, he was there.
The next, he was gone.
Nighthawk dodged each blast of electricity with relative ease. After all, this wasn't the first time he'd fought someone with that ability. The trick was to hover a couple inches off the ground and accelerate in a random direction, just as she was about to fire. The electric types always seemed to need to charge up their attacks before they could fire, so it wasn't like they were ever subtle.
Honestly, the hardest part had been not laughing at her, once she told him her name.
Raiden. Yeah, right.
Nighthawk didn't know just how powerful she was, but she had been firing at him for a couple minutes already and didn't seem to be slowing down. And while dodging the blasts was easy enough, getting near her to take her down wasn't.
The meta-vamp sent another blast that Nighthawk dodged. But then suddenly, her eyes widened comically, and she crumbled to dust.
Behind her was Stopwatch, with a sarcastic little smirk on his face and stake in his hand.
"Need a hand?"
Nighthawk took in the fact that he was alone.
"Am I to understand that the army I asked for is in your pocket?"
Stopwatch suddenly sobered.
"There's an apocalypse going on over there, too. Cleveland couldn't send anybody. I couldn't even get one of the Watchers to come with me."
"Well, whatever. We'll just do it ourselves. I really hope you brought an axe."
"What is it with you and axes, anyway?"
"They're sturdy, reliable and unlikely to snap like a twig when you're trying to kill a demon with particularly hard skin."
"I nearly lost my eye, Swatch."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever," he said, with a friendly smirk.
Nighthawk walked toward an entrance to a cave. That was bad, Stopwatch noted. Underground, he wouldn't be able to use his powers much. As he was just about to enter, he turned toward him.
"You coming, or not? I'm gonna need you to save the baby and teleport the hell out of there."
Stopwatch took a moment to realize how sad the situation was. Only two of them to stop an apocalypse? At one point, Nighthawk had been a member of a team of the most powerful superheroes on the planet. They'd saved the world at least twice a year since high school.
The Sunnydale Avengers.
But, now, they were broken, scattered, dead and bitter. The original three were still alive, but they hadn't been a team since the Sunnydale Hellmouth had been destroyed.
And, to be honest, they were barely a team by then, either.
And Stopwatch knew that it had mostly been his fault. He had tried to play god with the future, and had lost. And, unfortunately, the world had paid the price. He only hoped that his duplicate would heed his warnings.
"Yeah, Xand. I'm coming. Avengers assemble, right?" he had said, with a sad note in his voice.
Nighthawk gave him an odd look.
"Uh, right," he answered, awkwardly.
When Stopwatch walked into the cave, he didn't notice the small smile on his face.
None of the police officers noticed when a short teenager suddenly materialized out of thin air. So Jonathan had a good opportunity to see some of the bodies. In particular, he stared into the dead eyes of a teenaged girl with an obviously broken neck.
He was suddenly glad that he didn't know her name. And that thought made him feel sick.
Jonathan closed his eyes, and tried to focus his powers.
When he opened his eyes, he was in his bedroom.
He walked over to his bed and laid down, without bothering to change his clothes or even take off his shoes. He simply grabbed the sheets and wrapped them tightly around himself.
That had been the first time he had ever been able to accurately control his powers. But, frankly, at this moment, he couldn't care less.
Those people at the Bronze were killed by monsters. And he hadn't done a thing to help. He panicked, just like everyone else, and tried to run away. He even forgot that he had superpowers.
How many of those people could he have saved, if he hadn't been such a coward?
Before now, having superpowers had felt like some sort of game. But, now that the stakes had been made clear to him, he didn't want to play anymore. It was some sort of sick, twisted joke. He had spent his entire life wishing he was special. Now he was. And all he wanted to do was be ordinary again.
He didn't want this responsibility. He didn't want to feel like this. Guys like him weren't meant to be heroes.
Jonathan sniffled loudly, feeling like he was on the verge of crying. But he didn't. He held it in.
And the worse part wasn't what he was supposed to do, but what he wasn't. If he could control his power, he could travel the various universes and see the possibilities. He could prevent tragedies like the one at the Bronze from happening, at all.
But that would just mean that something worse would come along, wouldn't it? Something that would somehow be worse than six people dying in a club; that idea was terrifying.
Destiny shouldn't be interfered with that directly.
Jonathan suddenly realized how powerful he was. He would never be able to save people, but he could doom them from all across reality.
He had never been particularly religious, but that night he prayed. He prayed that God would take away his powers.
But when Jonathan woke up the next morning, he found that he still had them.
He did cry then.
Sorry about the delay in putting this up. I've had this ready for a while now. I just didn't have a chance to actually post it.
I'm currently working on an AXIS story. It's a challenge from one of my favorite authors. Basically, take three random ideas from three random episodes and wrote them as one story. I'll post that when I've completed three or four parts of it.
For those who want a continuation of Sunnydale Heroes, you will get it – eventually. I need to sit down and write out the plot, before I start posting.
Anyways – Coming Soon: "Sunnydale Avengers: Season 1"