by Jared Ornstead
The question was, what if Xander had dressed as a certain time-traveling mad scientist?
Xander looked up from the wig he'd just bought to see some old guy approaching him. The teen barely had time to register the old gentleman had a stand-up shock of white hair an awful lot like the wig in his hands before his attention got drawn to the older gentleman's eyepatch and slightly crazy smile. But he didn't get time to say anything before the older guy was already upon him.
"Say, that's a nice wig you've got there." The old guy gave a slightly demented smile that was somehow meant, and yet failed utterly, to be reassuring. "With a wig like that and a lab coat, easily obtained from any high school chemistry class, you could dress yourself rather effectively as a famous character from a popular series of films. Doctor Emmett Brown from Back to the Future, wasn't it? But it looks like your costume is incomplete. Fortunately, it just so happens that I have with me the requisite accessories."
The guy spoke faster than ordinary people, almost Willow-babble fast, although he was perfectly understandable, and gave the sense he spoke that quickly all of the time. Before Xander knew what was going on the older guy had already exploded into motion, reaching into a carrying pack and removing a plastic hoverboard prop, looking just like it did in the movies, and the strange silvery glasses and cowboy gear worn by the actor in the later two films, piling them all in the stunned teen's arms, who was too shocked to resist the presents.
"There you go, young man," he said, again too quickly, proving that he probably did say things that rapidly all of the time. "I was going to wear it myself, but I couldn't bear there to be two of us. Now, you must excuse me, as I have another costume to buy. Oh, and don't forget this!" With another one of those smiles that more or less completely failed to be reassuring, the old man carefully placed a set of old style keys in the young boy's hands, before twirling and striding away, with an absent, "Enjoy your party!" tossed over his shoulder as a passing remark as he disappeared back in the costume store.
Somewhat dazed by the encounter with the intense oddball of a man, the teen headed home in a haze. On arriving, he was able to sort through the gifts. It was, Xander reflected in a somewhat stunned way, along with the white haired wig he'd just bought from that new costume shop and the lab coat he'd borrowed from the chem lab, exactly what he needed to play the mad genius as he was at the trilogy's end. There was even a book on sports statistics to stick in one of the lab coat pockets!
Grinning over his prizes, the young man rejoicing in his good fortune proclaimed, "Heh, am I the two-dollar costume king or what?"
"Is the costume I ordered in stock?"
Ethan glanced up from completing the purchase of his latest customer and saw a taller older man staring at him with a somewhat demented smile, made even creepier by an eyepatch.
Ethan liked him at once.
The Brit asked politely, "What name was it reserved under?"
Again that smile hinting the man behind it was somewhat unhinged. "Dr. Emmett Brown."
Nodding, the chaos mage excused himself and shortly came out of the back with a plastic wrapped bundle of clothes and a list. Presenting them, and ringing up the price, Ethan casually asked, "So, what are you dressing as?"
Dr. Brown just gave him that demented grin. "Oh, just a mad scientist."
After he was gone, Ethan whistled behind his cash register. "Don't need a costume for that."
Half an hour later, an eighty year old man, stooped over and almost bald, came in and purchased a Wolverine costume he'd had on reserve. After that, Ethan closed up the shop.
It was showtime.
Xander looked up and saw a musclebound adult with close-cropped hair bearing down on him, giving the teen an immediate and intense look over the plastic gun in his hands before staring at him with a disapproving frown. "Where is the wig you were going to buy? Nevermind that now, I have an alternative costume choice I was going to offer." Snatching the plastic gun out of the stunned teen's hands and breaking it under his foot in one smooth motion, the guy pressed a large box into the young man's unresisting arms.
"There you go. I was going to wear it myself, but see that you could use it more. I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty of opening it and removing one piece, but no one but yourself should ever notice. Have fun now!"
Xander stared at the back of the man who disappeared off into the costume store. Carefully setting down the box, he opened it to find a complete costume inside, and quickly sped off home with a nerdy gleam of comic book delight in his eyes.
The only thing missing was the chest piece that would indicate the prosthetic heart under the armor, and the guy was right. No one but Xander would know it wasn't there.
The teen began to dress as Iron Man in elated, comic book geek, bliss.
"Are you the proprietor of this establishment?"
Ethan looked up from checking out his latest customer to see who was talking. Immediately upon seeing the gentleman's demented and not-quite-sane grin, the chaos mage not only dismissed his faint fear of a cop, but immediately felt himself put at ease.
Anyone that crazy had to be a kindred spirit at heart.
"Yes. What can I do for you?"
If possible, the customer's grin got even wider. Placing a color drawing and small plastic model on the checkout counter, he stated, "I lost a bet, and now have to dress as this character. I was wondering if there was anything you could do?"
Ethan looked from the very female figure of both the photo and the model up to the very masculine man standing before him. The way the girl character dressed, there was no hiding that she was every inch purely female. Classically attired, and yet daring too. There was no human way of fitting the male bodybuilder standing in front of him into any costume that could pass itself off as the girl portrayed in the flat glossy and plastic statue.
Oh, yes. A kindred spirit indeed.
Ethan picked up the little, plastic statue. "Yes, I think I can do something. I'll just borrow this as collateral against the loan of the costume pieces, if you don't mind?"
The crazy man gave him a very reassuring series of nods, and Ethan went to the back of his shop, where he used magic to transform the plastic model into the required costume. It would fit even over a bodybuilder of that size, yet it had enough magic it would also shrink him down proportionately to make for a very convincing double of the female character.
In short order, Ethan was back out front ringing up the sale.
"Wow! Hello, Mrs Robinson!"
Joyce Summers giggled, but any further conversation was interrupted by her eldest daughter coming downstairs to demand of her guest, "Where's Willow?"
Xander frowned, even though no one could see it under his Iron Man mask. "I thought she was with you."
Before either teen could misinterpret, Joyce provided, "Willow's father called and explained they would be having a family outing, and she won't be able to make it. So, you two are to go out on your own this evening."
Xander blushed, thoughts of it being just the two of them, even if only on the walk to and from school, drawing this close to date-like territory to his mind and driving out any fear over the missing Willow.
Buffy grimaced, having followed exactly the same train of thought, and not having any of the same enthusiasm for it, her heart belonging instead to a corpse older than the country she was born in. "C'mon, Iron Man, let's get this over with," she groused, already unhappy with the evening.
After they'd split up to get their kids, Xander never felt the tranq dart that hit him in the neck.
Chaos magic swept the town, and in a small basement lab a rather fashionably dressed young woman woke up, already seated at an old-style computer system, whereupon the monitor sprang to life and a man's image began speaking. "Good evening, Madam. Or, I should say, Doctor Stingray. My name is Doctor Emmett Brown, and this is an alternate universe to your own where the current year is 1997. I initiated this contact because I believe we each hold the answers to each other's problems. Your world languishes under the heels of a tyrant you cannot possibly destroy, and this world is about to be merged into a nearby dimension that can only be described as Hell. Demons out of Earth's myths, including vampires and less savory creatures, already stalk this town, and you are currently sitting not far from a dimensional weak point that is going to be key in that collapse."
Dr. Sylia Stingray blinked as several pieces of monitoring equipment flashed. And, though the energy readings and underlying theory were unfamiliar, the projection graph results were indeed dire. The picture recordings of stalking demons were not comforting either, and the strange, non-human DNA strings flashed alongside each image provided evidence this probably wasn't a hoax.
It would just be too costly and complicated to fake, all for uncertain results. Con artists would usually try to craft the most credible tale possible, not tell some outrageous story that most would probably not believe even if it was true.
And the implications of that were somewhat frightening to the young mechanical genius.
After giving her only a second to assimilate the data, the man's image spoke on, "The way I am using to contact you is flawed, so my presentation must of necessity be brief. We are only able to make contact due to a unique occurrence that I only knew of by living through, and was able to travel back in time to take advantage of again. You're currently possessing my body, in point of fact."
Startled, Sylia glanced to where a mirror had just then become illuminated, and saw that while the resemblance was close, this wasn't her own form. Part of her immediately began to suspect the worst, that her mind was now inhabiting a replacement body built by Genom and that this was all set up for her to be a form of psychological torture, but the man's voice hadn't finished speaking. "As evidence that our worlds are not the same, I have provided recordings. In this world the events of your own are a rather popular, but short-lived cartoon series. You will find those recorded on the machine you are sitting at. If, as I think, you are a cyborg, you can download those for full review later. Otherwise, I beg you to watch them, but be brief, for our connection is not going to last much longer than two hours, and we have much to do."
The man's face leaned closer to the camera he'd been using to record this proposal. "The way I believe we can help each other is simple - a trade of technologies. I have mastered Time Travel, which you could use to go back to prevent your father's murder, and stop his discoveries from ever falling into the hands of those who'd murdered him to gain economic control of your world. But, unfortunately my discovery does nothing to help my case, as I've learned through multiple attempts that what I need is some method of fighting the forces of Hell to save my world. To do that, we have to be able to face off against thousands of superhuman monstrosities, and this world doesn't have anywhere near that capability. What I need, in short, is technology not unlike your combat hardsuits and robot designs."
With the daintily manicured fingers of one hand, Sylia took up a pen, and wrote on a handy piece of paper. "Nice offer, but I don't give those secrets to just anyone. If you could take advantage of this 'unique occurrence' to contact me once, you can do it again if you have the technology you say you do. In fact, next time you contact me, leave the time machine where I can test it."
Then the young mecha genius and hardsuit designer sat back in the comfy chair and began to watch the lives of herself and her close friends, as reduced to an anime show.
Sylia blinked, expecting to be back in her lab underneath the lingerie store where she kept her secret workrooms, only instead to find herself back in an unfamiliar basement, a different room than the last time but the same ancient computing equipment around her. Just as she came to that awareness, a monitor sprang to life with the same man's face on it. "Greetings Madam, or should I say Doctor Stingray? If you have seen this recording before, please switch to the second program." A button flashed on the keyboard. "Otherwise, allow me to introduce myself, for I am Doctor Emmett Brown..."
Dr Stingray switched to the second recording after it became evident the first was just a simple replay of the original proposal she'd seen.
The second tape was a very short one. It only showed the same man standing next to an ancient automobile, nervously rubbing his fingers through his tall hair. "Well, Madam, this is the time machine. You'll find it parked out front, already charged. The keys are in the drawer of the desk before you. To use it, simply set this control panel, and accelerate the vehicle to eighty eight miles per hour. I only ask that you make a short trip, as I haven't got very much fuel for the nuclear reaction to generate the one point twenty one gigawatts of electricity I need, and that you don't travel more than an hour to the future - for only twenty years into the future of *this* world, the planet is entirely overrun with superhuman monsters. Without your hardsuit, I fear you'd not survive, and that *is* my body you are wearing. To say nothing of the possibilities of what could happen to me if you jump outside of the two hour window that generates the contact between us. Oh, and I forgot to mention, thanks to a previous experiment I have practical anti-gravity among the technologies I have to offer you in exchange for yours. Well, I do hope this convinces you."
The recorded man's image reached toward the camera and the image faded.
Taking the key out of the top desk drawer, and rooting around the rest of the makeshift portable lab he'd installed down here, recognizing most of the equipment from the first time he'd called her, the young lady walked outside to find the car exactly where he had left it. The control panel was laughably simple, already set to what would be one hour into the future if what he'd said about today's date had been right.
Nice, but that wasn't the experiment she wanted to run.
Sylia Stingray reprogrammed the device to take her back instead of forward, engaged the engine, and pulled away from the curb.
Thirty years seemed a nice, round number.
Earlier that Evening:
Ethan Rayne looked up from his sales counter to see an elegant older lady of about fifty come inside his store. She asked for costumes she'd pre-ordered, and made her purchase.
He thought nothing of it.
The man currently calling himself Doctor Emmett Brown came awake with a groan, looked down at his withered hands, and wondered aloud, "How did I become fifty again?"
Looking down at the desk he'd been sprawled out on, he saw it was a completely utilitarian office filled with highly advanced computers completely unlike the small setup he'd built out of available computer parts he'd scrounged to carry in his trunk as he made his trips through time, and not a window to be found to let him to get his bearings. He couldn't even tell if it was day or night outside. Checking out the sleek desk again, he saw it covered with data disks and unfamiliar machines, but atop it all was a stack of handwritten documents. The first was a note, to him, presumably from the lady he'd just dressed as last night.
It read: "Doctor Brown, next time *always* store more fuel in the time machine, if you please. I went on a trip, and found out only after arrival that not only did your technology work exactly as advertised, I didn't have the means to get back to when I started. Since I aimed back in time thirty years to escape any pre-planned deception on your part, as an hour forward would be too easy to fake, I now know more about the world you are in than I care to. And yes, I confirmed that the demon menace was very real. Sorry about the old wounds. Not only did I confirm the demons, but, as you say, your people are completely without useful methods to fight them. The one organization that even claims to try sends only one girl, who at best can make one city slightly safer, when your entire world teems with demonic threats. So, yes. I agree. You need my help. Don't bother calling me up again, as I've already had thirty years to study your notes and reconstruct your technology, including not only the time travel machine, which you should have built into a truck or a bus for extra carrying capacity by the way, but also antigravity, and the dimension sliding device you built after dressing as the scientist Quinn Mallory. So I consider myself well paid."
He flipped the page over as he'd finished the first side.
"During those thirty years I used your cash reserves to start a small company, computer peripherals for the most part. I kept the public front limited to ordinary things that would be available to a society of this tech level anyway, or a few months ahead in some cases when I needed to capture market share. But I used the proceeds to buy the parts I needed to reconstruct machinery of a tech level I am more familiar with, and secretly built a mainframe and an autofactory to produce boomers - the robot combat devices on my world that you'd asked for, and hardsuits much like my team uses. I suggest you use only those boomer types that are able to disguise themselves as human, if you wage your war clandestinely. If not, I'd certainly understand, but once this technology gets exposed, I expect you'd have every government on your planet fighting you trying to get control over it. Still, that is your choice, as it is your fight, not mine. So I have kept my end of our bargain. You have my technology, and I have yours. And you were right, we both needed what the other had to offer. I leave you the company I set up for you as a bonus. After all this time the only thing I am after is a return to my own world, to set it right and see my friends again."
Finished with both sides of the first, the very ancient man flipped over to where Sylia's note continued on the second page.
"One of the prime technologies you wanted from me was one created by my father for recording purely mental data onto computer storage devices so that information can be copied and transferred from brain to brain. Now you not only have my notes the theory, I have built a couple of those devices for you. You are seated at one now. My knowledge of science and technology I have recorded for you on a data unit like my father left me, that will flash-program you with everything you need to know once you touch the red button before you. You should already be wearing the headset, unless the girl I dressed as overcame the anesthetic I took and left our shared secret headquarters."
Coming to that part of the note, the fifty year old man touched his forehead, and was indeed reassured to be wearing a metallic headpiece of presumably advanced construction.
Before activating the now flashing red button, however, he read, and the note continued, "As I stated, I have had more time than I liked to read over your notes and journals. So, I know about your past, and about the enchanted costumes you used both to contact me and acquire extra knowledge and powers for yourself. Armed with that knowledge, I took the chance that a second costume would do the same for me, hopefully providing me with extra memories and abilities for me to take home. I hope you do not mind. I know I took a risk, as you left no indication you knew what happened when one person wore two costumes - and yet between the one that made you me, and the one I put on myself, that is what we were doing. But I had to have those abilities, if possible. You possess my regrets if anything went wrong."
The old man sighed, as checking downward confirmed his guess that Sylia Stingray had dressed as a sorceress. Lina Inverse, if he didn't miss his guess.
He'd tried that himself a few times. But so far without the results he'd wanted. A quick self-grope revealed that he was still male, however. That confirmed past experiences. So, shedding the costume and running a relieved hand through his long white hair again, the fifty year old man flipped over the second page and continued reading.
"As recompense for the risk I put your body through, I used the same technology I have for recording purely mental data onto a computer format to render a copy of this sorceress for you while she was presumably asleep. And I also know from your notes that you'd hoped to do the same to the younger version of you native to this universe, in an attempt to learn the technology behind the real version of the costume you gave him. So I went ahead and recorded Tony Stark's memories for you while he was asleep. I hope that leaves us even.
"P.S. I saw the Back to the Future trilogy as it came out, by the way, and rather liked it. It certainly gave me ideas on how to use the technology your devices taught me. "
Doctor Brown sighed and smiled and touched the red button on her machine.
Xander Harris groaned as he woke up, only to discover he was securely strapped down to some kind of medical table. "Oh, great. I can only hope this is some kind of kinky foreplay in a fantasy I am dreaming."
"No. I am afraid that would be too close to masturbation. Besides, you do not represent an example of my preferred sexual tastes."
Startled by this almost too-quick response, Xander turned his head quickly to find the source of the voice, and found an old man with a tall shock of white hair looking like he licked electric plugs as a passtime standing in the door with a mug of hot cocoa in one hand.
"Allow me to introduce myself," the old man gave a half-bow. "I am currently going by Dr. Emmett Brown, but you and I both know that can't possibly be my real name, because that is a movie character who doesn't exist in the real universe. Instead, let me tell you the truth, I only dressed as Doctor Brown out of the Back to the Future trilogy. For me, that was somewhat around sixty years ago, or ninety I suppose, now. For you, however, that was last night. And that is only significant because last night a chaos mage cast a spell turning everyone into their Halloween costumes."
The man gave a smile that was more than somewhat mad.
"Aaaannnd, why did you cast that?" the young teen ventured, fearing the guy was nuts.
The old guy gave a disturbingly birdlike cock of his head. "Oh. I am afraid you are laboring under a misconception. I am not, nor have I ever been, a chaos mage. Indeed, most every style of magic I've tried hasn't worked. No, young man. Sixty, or rather ninety, years ago I dressed as a mad scientist who knew how to travel through time. But even knowing how, it took me thirty years to assemble a working device and get the needed fuel. The reason this is important to you is, I was born Alexander LaVelle Harris."
Xander was now officially freaking out as the old guy gave him a creepy, unhinged smile.
The mad scientist took a seat. "Now, be assured, I am not you. No, I suppose I have to take this explanation in order. First, I would like to say that the experience did not do a great deal to change me. I found math slightly easier, but that was all. So I stayed devoted to demon hunting. Considering that my future, I gave school little effort and less thought, did not go to college, and became a carpenter. I told my friends carpentry was 'saving the world one stake at a time'."
Again with the creepy grin. What freaked out the younger copy of Xander even more was, he could see himself quipping out a line exactly like that one.
The smile fell off the older man's face. "Then everything went to Hell, literally I assure you. The world got dragged down a pit because we'd missed one little apocalypse out of I can't even tell you how many. Giles, Buffy, Willow... they all died, or worse, became demons themselves. It was as horrific a failure as anything you could imagine, plus fifty percent. And what is worst of all, I can tell you our group was more than partly responsible for it."
Now the young Xander really began creeping out, but he could tell the old guy believed it.
The older Xander rubbed under one eye. "I'd become crippled along the way, lost one eye and parts of both legs, the eye to an evil preacher not too many years from now, and both legs got bitten halfway off to a swamp monster not too long after I completed a term in Africa. As a result, I was off the active duty list, so was not involved in the catastrophe, only in the aftermath. Somewhat obsessive about my friends, I had ways to keep tabs on them, so was able to get warning and flee before the real destruction hit our base. Too crippled to fight and too loyal not to, I persevered. Saving our friends was all I could think of. At last my desperation awoke the lingering memories of our possession by Doctor Brown, and his time machine."
Again with that creepy smile, and yet the young Xander could see *exactly* how he could come to think such a smile was reassuring, having gone around the bend watching everything he'd ever loved disappear, vanishing into the worst of all possible futures.
The doctor went on, "And that, my friend, is the real start of our story. Twenty years from now, our world will be dragged down into Hell. It took me ten years of scrounging amidst the ruins of an Earth ruled by demons to find all the parts I needed. In a strange twist of fate, I even got the plutonium I needed from a group of Libyans who wanted me to build them a bomb. Naturally, I felt time travel a more rewarding purpose for it."
"So you went back?" The younger Xander asked.
"I went back," the mad doctor agreed. "By my first costume transmutation, I only gained the skills and knowledge of Doctor Brown from the very early parts of the first movie. Our only aim in dressing as him was that he was a famous character in a movie that we liked, and we could get the wig cheaply. But since our own future produced only Hell, damnation for our world, and suffering for our friends, when we finally produced a functional time machine and went back to our youth, I gave my younger self the accessories he needed to become the Doctor Brown from the very latest parts of the movie trilogy, after he'd learned about the secrets of antigravity and fusion out of a movie future than was so much more pleasant than our real one. But it didn't help, not even that I left a genuine guide of sports statistics we could use to generate money to create our inventions faster. That money all went to Buffy. At one point she had to buy a second house just to have a place to keep all of her shoes."
The young Xander snorted. He could see that. "Why not just pick a better costume?"
"Believe me, I tried that too." The older one cupped his cocoa in wrinkled hands. "I've been Superman, The Terminator, wizards, super soldiers, mutants, space marines and dozens of others. But our problem is, after the spell is over nothing ever stays but the knowledge you've gained, and even then the only person I know who remembered anything was us. Me that is, and now you. We dressed others in every costume you could think of, but only I could recall anything from when I'd been costumed."
"So, super-soldiers..." the younger man tempted.
"You're not listening." The older scientist Xander reproved. "I told you, nothing stays but a few memories. Beam weapons and armor out of science fiction all revert back to plastic the moment the spell is over. Super powers go away. Magic learned out of being Sorcerer Supreme turns out to be useless, as laws of magic seem to be different with every world having their own - much like a local language having different words and rules of grammar. I am expert in half a dozen magical styles, and cannot even float a pencil in our own world. Likewise, fighting styles taught to warriors who rely even partially on magic or super science are completely useless without those advantages. I only messed myself up by becoming half a dozen mystic warriors, desperately searching for one whose abilities would still work after the spell was over. And most superheroes are all but worthless without their powers."
"Batman?" the young man prodded.
The older Xander didn't even blink. "I don't believe you have any concept of how reliant he is on the vast infrastructure his wealth provides. Think about it for a moment. Without his costume, specialty devices, secret headquarters loaded with tools and supplies, allies, vast contact list and infrastructure supporting him, what is he? A gymnast with a keen mind. His power, in this sense, is his vast wealth - wealth that our Halloween experience does not provide. Even his business skills demand you start out wealthy. Yes, he trains rigorously. However, in the absence of his unique tool set he becomes somewhat less impressive. Also, his aversion to killing can be a real hindrance in a kill-or-be-killed environment." Again the Doctor gave that mad grin. "Besides, I still haven't overcome the desire to reach for a Bat-Something-Or-Other whenever I am faced with a crisis."
The younger Xander nodded in sympathy. "Yeah. That could be a pain."
The older Xander put his cup down. "All of these experiments I had to perform on myself, of course. The younger version of me still had to dress as Doctor Brown, or else I would endanger the future with the result that the me who was helping him would not exist, and he would then follow blindly our original path into the future, without my ability to go back in time to fix it. You've watched the movie. You know how easy it would be to wipe myself out of existence entirely. I knew our course, and without time travel we had no hope."
"Sooo, you are here again, why? Not messing with the younger version is a rule, right?" The younger Xander stretched as well as he could tied on a bed with restraints.
The mad scientist snorted. "I am here because you are not the younger version of me, but an analog. Attempts to alter my own past failed. Paradox prevented any alteration in our own past extreme enough to matter, which meant I could not only not change myself in any meaningful way, but because of my obsession with being involved, I could not change the group, either. And it was their fault our world essentially died. So, unable to save my own friends, I decided I could at least preserve a version of them, and dressed as the scientist Quinn Mallory from the show Sliders."
Realization began to dawn on the younger Xander.
The older version put aside his now-empty cup of hot chocolate. "It took me another thirty years to understand and reconstruct the science I remembered from him. By that time I was old, and nearly out of plutonium, and the world had gone to hell again - this time as I was carefully watching every step along the way. Still, I made one more trip into the past to put on a Wolverine costume, knowing that even during the short time I was him the regeneration he is known for would reverse my old age, and correct all of my accumulated injuries. After so many years of practice, I was pretty spry on my prosthetic legs, and had gotten used to having only one eye, but that doesn't hold a candle to having the real body parts back. As an extra bonus, being that character even gave me his impressive build!"
"So, shouldn't you be younger?" the young one asked. After all, Wolverine had never looked this old.
The older version of Xander gave a slightly cracked smile. "I was, up until last night. I was making a deal with another scientist, one who had ability to help me. But she wanted to know the time machine wasn't a hoax, and accidentally kidnapped my body for another thirty years doing so. Her note was quite sharp that I ought to maintain an extra fuel supply in the vehicle. But frankly, Doctor Stingray used the last of my plutonium proving to herself that my technology works. Fortunately, according to the recorded memories she left, since that time she has outfitted the vehicle to work on fusion. "
The young man currently strapped to the table crossed his eyes. "But, couldn't you do that yourself?"
"Unfortunately, no." The older Xander shook his head. "The devices that would allow for a fusion-powered time machine have never been invented here. For that matter, the parts to invent the parts have never existed on this world, and while Doctor Brown knew the general theory and was able to install parts he'd purchased, he had to have something to work with. He was never enough of an expert on the field to create fusion power from scratch. Just like you've heard of transistors, and have probably used some, but couldn't invent one if your life depended on it. No scientist I've known could invent all of the technology he uses."
"So, back in time to do Wolverine again?" the younger guessed, knowing what he would do if he were in his older double's place.
"I believe you've captured the spirit of it, young man!" The older him cheered with another of those too-wide grins. "Yes, I think another trip through enchanted costumes to be in order for both of us. What do you say?"
The younger Xander smiled. "I'd say yes, Doc!"
The older Xander leaned forward and began undoing the younger one's restraints. "Good. You might as well continue to call me Doctor Brown, as that will eliminate confusion. And, it is a name I've grown used to."
We've seen just about every other costume. And most of them are lazy, and take the shortcut that any prop that would be cool or interesting, the character keeps.
Well, what if he didn't? What's more, what if easy power wasn't so easy? Or, given the character flaws of some of the main characters, it is an easy question to ask: what if things did not end happily?
This chap was all character setup. Next starts the real plot.