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Time May Change Me

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All the nightmares came today
And it looks as though they're here to stay

--"Oh! You Pretty Things" - David Bowie

So far as Ian's aware, there's nothing more to it than a certain amount of uncanny resemblance. People have asked about it for as long as he can remember (even in the parts that are fuzzy, now). Probably it's just as well he never wanted to make a career out of music; it's hard enough just trying to act every now and then, when people think he's just a copycat.

Or that they'd have to pay him far more than he's asking.

In any case, he gets by, and makes the most of LA on a budget - winning friends, influencing people, all that good stuff. It's better than London on a budget, anyway, and some of the people he meets are better suited to his interests, in all possible senses of the world.

It amuses him, sometimes, that the queer community's more open than the loose association of evil-minded people, but he encounters a handful of like minds nonetheless. There's even a researcher affiliated with UCLA who falls into both categories.

All the same, things don't get truly interesting until the accident. No doubt the fact that it leaves him clinically dead has more than a bit to do with that.

***

He comes to on what has to be the most comfortable hospital-style bed in existence, though the absolutely nasty headache that's got a grip on him does a bit to offset that. Still, it's no fault of the mattress; he tries to sit up, but the headache gets worse, so he settles back again with a grunt. It's far too bright in here, wherever 'here' is.

That question's answered in short order by the sound of a door opening and his - well, 'friend' works, though their mutual idea of recreation doesn't often lend itself to actual friends - the researcher saying, "Oh, good. I was beginning to wonder if that had worked out."

He winces. "Stop bloody shouting, I know you're here."

"I'm not shouting, I'm just not surprised you've got a headache, all things considered. Unless it's a side effect of the procedure, which is entirely possible. I've never tried it on anyone who could offer feedback before."

"What exactly happened, anyway? I seem to recall a rather more horrific explosion than you'd been expecting."

His friend - Ian has only been able to assume 'Professor Normal' is meant to be highly ironic, especially for a mad-scientist sort - nods. "The concussive force of the blast took you down, but it also made following that 'resuscitate by any means necessary' order a bit easier to follow. I'm afraid you're still clinically dead, but I doubt that would stop you entirely, all things considered."

"An analgesic wouldn't be out of the question, would it?"

"I can't promise it'll work, but you're certainly welcome to try. And do let me know if you feel any untoward cravings for human flesh; I should be able to provide some without bringing the matter to that sort of public attention."

Ian sighs, and takes the aspirin when it's offered. "So. What do we do now?"

"I doubt you'll be able to keep your apartment, under the circumstances, but I've got room in mine, and we can come up with some kind of arrangement for your assets. Beyond that, I would think the only limits are your rather boundless imagination. Perhaps a certain uncanny resemblance of yours might be good for something now."

He considers that for a moment, then smiles. Perhaps it is about time he played it up, even though it's likely nothing more than coincidence. His unusual circumstance might make it a bit more fun than it would have been otherwise, and it's not as though he doesn't know the requisite discography.

***

He decides he might as well play around with the Dead Bowie thing, and it proves unexpectedly fun - to say nothing of useful, in distracting people long enough to get something done. Given that, he runs with the idea.

Being dead even turns out to have a few advantages. Do-gooders relying on thermal cameras and heat-seeking devices miss him entirely, and there are far fewer limits on his strength than there used to be. He doesn't have to worry about falling to bits, either; the Professor does solid work, as bizarre and morally dubious as it is. And he does not find himself hankering for human flesh - or much of anything, really, which is a bit odd.

But then, the heroes... well, they don't organise, as such. That many strong egos competing for the glory of 'saving' the world couldn't work together effectively if they tried. But they're getting a lot more active, and taking advantage of the fact that their counterparts aren't very cohesive, either.

By the time he and the Professor get to talking about it, he's got an idea. "Maybe it's time we started the League up again."

"The Evil League of Evil?"

"Do you know of another?"

The Professor sighs. "How do you recommend we do that? The League's glory days left with the FBI sting during Prohibition. We don't have a Hedley Lamarr - who's going to persuade anyone to work together for more than five seconds?"

"I've heard the henchmen are unionizing. They'll be more than glad to fill the power vacuum if someone else doesn't, I'm sure, and this isn't the sort of thing we ought to leave to amateurs."

"...You have a very good point there. I suppose we can put out feelers and see if anyone might be interested, though it might take a while."

It does take a while, but when Bad Horse makes his way to town - having heard good things about the local racetracks, apparently - and catches wind of the idea, he knows they've got their Lamarr. It doesn't matter that this one has to communicate through henchmen; in fact, perhaps that might help keep the League's message in line.

***

There's some debate over which of the old League's rules to revive and which to scrap. Obviously, a stringent application process will be necessary, once they move beyond the re-charter members; they wouldn't want to accept someone who's only of henchman quality by mistake and then be stuck with them.

On the other hand, the old League had frowned upon admitting women. Lamarr's theory, according to the old papers, was that women lacked the proper disposition to hold their own in the world of villainy. But not even Bad Horse wants to be the one to tell Fury Leika she can't even apply; she would kill them all and take up restarting the League herself. So that rule's out the window almost as soon as it's mentioned.

Going co-ed brings them Leika, as expected. But it also brings them Tie Die, which is a surprise. She's got quite the intriguing application, which Ian attributes to her unique approach to crime. It'd be much like any confidence trickster or infomercial salesman, if not for the fact that after she dazzles people into giving her what she wants, she often has them help with whatever mad pursuit she's got in mind. She may not always take the murderous approach, but that's all right; she knows what she's doing, and doesn't hesitate to move in for the kill when she has to.

Her acceptance makes the League's existence official, as things work out. Tie Die may not have the notoriety that Fake Thomas Jefferson does, but she also lacks the bombastic speeches; as such, Ian tends to view the presidental impostor as the added bonus, and the psychedelic hippie chick as what brings the League its renewed legitimacy.

After all, she's a girl after his own heart, in terms of inspiration.

***

It's not a perfect working relationship, by any means.

Bad Horse barely tolerates the rest of the League on the best days; it's a wonder he puts up with his henchmen, necessary as they are to his communication. Leika repeatedly tries to turn Tie Die - and Snakebite, once she's accepted - against the men so they can stage a takeover. Fake Thomas Jefferson wants to pack up operations and move to Boston or Williamsburg, partly so he's less of a sore thumb and partly to get closer to politics. The Professor has a hard time selling his mad science ideas, even with a success story sitting right next to him - and to that end, everyone else seems worried Ian's going to gnaw their arms off after all. They regularly abandon each other on group missions and sabotage each other's work.

But the general public doesn't know that, and while some of the heroes have guessed, they're not organised enough themselves to really do anything about it. The psychological impact works in the League's favor like little else could; people fear the group, never mind that the group's individuals are sometimes too caught up in internal machinations to play that up.

And because it looks like a success, after a while, it is.

***

He doesn't see Dr. Horrible's first application, only hears that it was rejected out of hand for breaching the League's email protocol. But he does see the second one, and he's not at all sure that he likes it.

"I don't know," he says, "do we really need another mad scientist? Granted, he's got a different methodology, but we've already got someone in that general line of work."

Bad Horse shakes his head and snorts; the henchmen are out playing singing telegram posse to someone or other, so Ian's left to interpret that for himself. Fortunately, it's been a few years, so most of the League's had time to practice.

"Well, it's not only that, to be fair. But nothing truly stands out, about this one. So he and Captain Hammer annoy the hell out of each other. Anyone might pick a fight with their supposed nemesis. He hasn't even killed anyone - how are we supposed to get a good metric of his style, without a murder to turn to?"

Bad Horse eyes him for a moment, then whickers. It's not the Terrible Death Whinny by any stretch of the imagination, but that hardly means it's not slightly intimidating.

"If he amuses you that much, you pursue his application, then. He's not ready for the League now, I can say that much. Hardly even gave us any notable references to contact."

Bad Horse stamps a foot in a way that means impatience, no matter one's species.

"Yes, you can go to your race now. That was the last of this batch of applicants anyway."

After Bad Horse leaves, Ian sighs. Whatever it is about this upstart that's caught Bad Horse's attention, the League hasn't seen the last of him yet, that much is certain. Perhaps with time he'll improve; it's difficult to say.

But for now, this Horrible fellow's strongest point is that he happened to run afoul of Captain Hammer. Otherwise, he might as well be a hero, really.