Given that Janet's a manifested mutant in this version and the girls know about Michelle's powers already? This version of their little get together will obviously be different. That being said, the differences will go beyond the obvious and so I'd suggest not taking anything for granted or else you might end up having to double back because you're stuck going 'wait, what?'. And if you were one of the ones who loved how Harmony ended the last chapter? You're going to adore the next few chapters. Might wanna put down anything you're drinking, though. All right, ready? Go!
November 20, 2011
Rosenberg Household - Living Room
Moving to sit off to one side, Michelle gestured for Cordelia to get on with it. The green-haired girl rolled her eyes before moving to stand in front of the television with Willow. Conversation slowly petered out as the Cordettes noticed her presence, and Cordelia took a deep breath before smiling nervously. "Okay, so, I called you guys here because Willow and I have been hiding something important from the rest of you, and we think it's finally time to come clean. It… kinda has to do with Michelle, too. You see-"
"Oh! Oh!" Harmony bounced energetically on the couch, pointing at them wildly. "Lesbian threesome! I knew it! Gwen, you owe me twenty bucks!"
Cordelia's eyes bugged out and she looked to her left before shuddering and taking a step away from Willow. "What? No! We're mutants like Michelle!"
Deflating a bit, Harmony looked Cordelia and Willow up and down slowly, and then shot a glance over at where Michelle was sitting before perking up and offering a new guess. "Lesbian mutants like Michelle?"
"No, Harmony, I'm still straight. The news is just the mutant thing. Honest." Cordelia furrowed her brow before eyeing Harmony oddly. "And, uh, did you not get a memo or something? You know, that one about Willow and Michelle being cousins? What the hell would make you think anything involving the two of them would be sex-related?"
Shrugging, Harmony reached into her purse and pulled out a twenty, passing it to a rather smug-looking Gwen. "Unno. I mean, isn't that kind of thing still legal in like, half the country? And we all know Michelle is about as straight as Ellen. You? Your last date with a boy was on Halloween. Two days later, you've got this new girl that you're dragging around with you everywhere and she gets you to do a one-eighty when it comes to how you treat her cousin. You haven't been on a single date since then. What are we supposed to think? Closet lesbian was a lot more likely than mutant from where we were sitting."
Cordelia groaned as she reached up to rub her temples, only to come up short as her fingers were deflected by the green tiara she was wearing. "What the… oh, right. But seriously, Harmony, for the last time? There is nothing going on between the three of us, or any combination of the three of us. The big secret is that we're all mutants. That's it. Honest." Pausing, she looked back and forth between Willow and Michelle before amending her statement. "Well, they could be doing incesty things when I'm not around. I wouldn't know because hey, not around for it. But as far as I know, there's no incest. Have you or Gwen seen anything?" Harmony and Gwen shook their heads. "There you go then."
"Moving on from the lesbianism Harmony's obsessed with seeing? And the awkward but potentially hilarious questions that it probably raises about her own sexuality, if she's trying so hard to find lesbians in our little group?" Harmony let out a squawk of outrage at Janet's accusation, but the diminutive Asian didn't even slow down. "Was I supposed to get a text about Coming Out Day or something? And does this mean you're going to tell them about Michelle's blueness, too?"
All attention abruptly shifted Michelle's way and the blonde groaned before burying her face in her hands. "Cordelia was trying to respect your right to come out when - and to who - you wanted to. Figured we'd get the same courtesy. And no, we weren't planning to tell them about my 'blueness' today. Damn it, Janet-"
Before she could continue, a pair of girls that Michelle barely recognized and was pretty sure didn't belong there hopped up out of their seats. And then, much to Michelle's disbelief, the blonde proceeded to burst into song with her Latina companion accompanying her. "I love you! The road was long but I ran it…"
"There's a fire in my heart and you fan it…"
"If there's one fool for you than I am it…"
"I've one thing to say and that's damn it, Janet, I love you!"
There was a long moment of silence and then Cordelia sighed. "…how long have you two been waiting for an opening to do that? And why are you two even here? This is a Cordette gathering. You're not Cordettes."
Brittany Pierce and Santana Lopez shrugged before retaking their spots on the stairs, the latter opting to offer the answers Cordelia was looking for. "Britt's been sitting on that one since… when did we meet Janet? Second day of sophomore year? Third?" Brittany shrugged, and Santana continued on. "And if you want to get picky about who shows up where, either buy your minions cars or hire someone to drive them around for you. Aura called me looking for a ride while I was out with Britt, so we picked her up, brought her here, and decided to stay and see what was so important."
"Actually, I wanted to get back to our… stuff… but now I'm kinda glad San talked me into staying. Oh, and by the way, I'm totally with Harmony. I thought this was going to be a rainbow party too." That earned Brittany odd looks from everyone, Santana included, and she furrowed her brow in thought for a second before amending her statement. "I meant gayness. You know, gays? Rainbows? It's this whole thing? Not the other kind of rainbow party."
"Cute." Cordelia eyed the pair for a moment, and Michelle let out an audible groan at the wicked gleam in her friend's eyes. Ah, here came her favorite part of being a girl in a group of popular girls: the requisite catty back 'n forth sniping that came whenever someone found an exploitable opening. "Although from what I hear, the two of you are pretty familiar with that kind of rainbow party too…"
Rather than get angry, though, Brittany and Santana exchanged looks before snickering. "Really now?" Resting her head on Brittany's shoulder, Santana reached up to twist some of the blonde's hair around her finger, grinning impishly at Cordelia. "Is that what people seem to think?"
Michelle frowned as she rolled that one around in her head. Something she'd quickly learned after her transition from Xander to Michelle was that there was a lot more to the school's cheerleaders than met the eye. Not only were there three separate squads of cheerleaders - one for freshmen, a mixed freshmen/sophomore junior varsity squad, and then the varsity squad populated by juniors and seniors - but there were distinct and separate circles of friends within the different squads, along with a handful of outliers who chose to spend their free time with friends who didn't wave pom-pons.
The first and most prominent clique was Cordelia and her Cordettes, which was anchored at the top of the social pyramid through a combination of factors: the presence of the captain and assistant captain of the varsity squad within the group, Cordelia's status as the richest girl in the school, and enough blackmail, backstabbing, and backroom dealing to make Congress proud. With all of its members occupying the same grade, what would happen come September of 2013 was anyone's guess… but given she wouldn't be around to see it, Michelle doubted Cordelia cared.
Ranking just below them was a far larger group that, as best Michelle could tell, just didn't care enough to try and usurp Cordelia. Spanning both the varsity and junior varsity squads, it encompassed both squads' fliers and most of their spots and bases… the 'real athletes', as Michelle had once heard a girl named Heather snidely comment. They had no real leader, they had no real goal… they were there to cheer, be friends while they did it, and that was about it.
And then there was the pack cooperatively helmed by Santana and Brittany. Both girls were notorious for being almost as sexually active as Harmony, with the added twist of tending to pass boys back and forth the way most girls shared clothes. Their followers were likewise walking embodiments of some of the worst cheerleader stereotypes out there. Michelle knew from several long rants that Cordelia found it all repulsive but given that Brittany and Santana were amazing cheerleaders - and their minions were competent enough - she was forced to tolerate their antics. That enmity, though, had limited Michelle's exposure to them up until this point, leaving her with little to go by as she tried to parse the oddly precise little rejoinder. Given mutations were the subject of the hour, it almost sounded like Santana was implying…
Focus. Given that Santana wasn't running up to join Cordelia and Willow, she either was playing word games with Cordelia or was going to let the others have their moment in the sun before coming out at a later point. Either way, it meant that things needed to be redirected back onto topic. "Janet: up front with Cordy and Willow. They'll go, you'll go, and then we can talk about my… blueness." Janet offered a little salute before hopping up, wandering over to stand beside Willow. "All yours, Queen C."
"Well duhh. They're the Cordettes, not the Chellettes. Of course they're mine. Although if you want to start your own group of minions, you can have Britt and Tana. I don't want them. Getting back on topic…" Holding out her hand, Cordelia dragged her purse across the floor before making her iPhone jump up into her hand. "I'm a magnokine." That just earned her blank looks and she sighed, making her phone float a few inches above her palm as she gestured to it with her free hand. "I can move metal things with my mind, fly, and do a few other things that have to do with magnetism. Not very good at them. Don't want to wreck Willow's house trying to show them off, either. Speaking of Willow, though…"
With that, everyone's attention promptly jumped to Willow, who looked around nervously before raising a hand, balling it into a fist and ejecting her claws. "I have two of these in each hand and one in my foot. And evidently I heal really fast now. Not just scrapes and bruises, either; according to… someone… I got my brain shut off last night and my body managed to reboot itself on its own. Oh, and my senses are better than a normal person's. Which reminds me, Harm? You've been a great friend and all, but from now on can you tone it down a little on the perfume? Maybe stick to just the body wash, or go to a plainer-smelling body wash and wear a little perfume? I can smell you all the way from here and it's not a bad smell as in 'eww you stink' or anything but it's a little overpowering and if it's overpowering from here, can you imagine what it'll be like when I'm right next to you? Like, blurph. All over your new sweater or something. And then I'd feel really horrible because I puked on you but it wouldn't be my fault because it's not my fault the smell-"
"Err, yeah. Sure. Start putting on less smelly stuff in the morning so I don't get puked on. I can do that." Willow's claws slid back into her hand, the girls letting out little noises of appreciation as the twin wounds immediately healed over, and then all attention shifted to Janet, who promptly pulled off her shirt before reaching for the zipper of her jeans. "Um, I thought this wasn't going to be a lesbian thing?"
Pausing, Janet shook her head before pushing her pants down far enough for gravity to take over. "Seriously, Harm, we need to talk about this weird lesbian obsession of yours. I'm taking my clothes off because this is going to be a show instead of a tell, and I'm not in the mood to dig my way out of a pile of clothes." With that, she abruptly lost a foot and change in height, making Michelle lean forward to get a better look. She'd heard about Janet being a mutant from Cordelia, sure, but seeing it in person was something else entirely. Four diaphanous insect wings rose from Janet's back, vibrating for a few seconds and making her hair flutter about her head before flattening down against her back once more. "I'm part-wasp, I guess. No better way to explain it. I can shrink all the way down to wasp size, fly, shoot energy out of my hands to 'sting' people, and…" Trailing off, Janet grimaced. "I, uh, seem to have grown a taste for caterpillars since my powers showed up. Oh, and I'm officially putting you all on notice: nobody's allowed to whine about their period around me anymore. Because woo, you have cramps. I shoot bug eggs out of my crotch once a month. Suck it up."
"…why? Why would you feel the need to share something like that?!"
"Mehh, I live through it. You can survive hearing it."
Cordelia shuddered as Janet offered her best innocent smile and a shrug, and then the green-haired girl pointed at the doorway imperiously. "Since you already know about Michelle's 'blueness', go get dressed and then ask our guests in the kitchen how much I'd have to pay them to wipe the last minute or two of my memories." Janet offered a cheerful salute before shrinking down a bit further, bending down to grab her clothes before flitting off in the direction of the first floor bathroom. Shuddering again, Cordelia shook her head. "There is something wrong with that girl. I'm not sure what, but I hope that whatever it is, they make meds for it. Michelle? Would you like to distract us all by explaining your 'blueness'? Please? For the love of God?"
Ignoring Cordelia, Michelle raised one hand and stared at the back of it. She'd wondered sometimes… why blue? If she could turn into anything, what was the point of making her natural appearance hideous seeing as how she could change it at a whim? Eventually she'd settled onto what seemed like a plausible theory: it was encouragement. God, Mother Nature, whoever was responsible for mutants existing… it was their way of pushing her - and Mystique before her - to discover and master her powers. Now that Janet had shared that lovely tidbit of information, though? Michelle couldn't help but wonder if she'd overthought things considerably. Maybe there was no logic to mutation. Maybe she was just blue for the sake of being blue.
Cordelia cleared her throat, yanking Michelle from her thoughts. "Sorry. Just… thinking. Well, most of you have compared me to Tonks from Harry Potter
at one point or another. Have you ever wondered what she looks like underneath it all? In my case…" Holding out her hand, she relaxed her shift partially and allowed blue to spread from her fingertips up along her fingers, over her hand, and then all the way up her arm to her elbow. "Blue. With scales in some places. My hair is pretty close to stop sign red, and my eyes are yellow."
As the blonde leaned forward in her seat, Michelle could practically see the light bulb going on in Gwen's head. "So are you really Willow's cousin? Or did you talk her into going along with that story and pick a look that would sell your lies? Who are you, really? Why won't you turn all the way back to normal? What are you hiding under there?"
Eyes widening, Michelle recoiled from the barrage of questions, holding up her hands in surrender. "Okay, woah, one thing at a time here. Um, we just covered what I look like under here: blue skin, bright red hair, creepy yellow eyes. And yes, Willow and I really are family." …okay, that last part was stretching things a bit but she'd always thought of Willow as a little sister. And some people thought that there was more to family than blood. So it wasn't technically a lie… right? The real question was why Gwen was suddenly so obsessed with seeing her… oh. She probably thought she'd known Michelle as someone else, before the blue. That seeing Michelle's real face might help her figure it out. Well, while Gwen had in fact known Michelle before Halloween, nothing about her face would give it away. So there wasn't any harm in letting her see, was there? Making sure to keep her current proportions intact to avoid unwanted pains or damage to her clothing, Michelle reverted to her base form before rising to her feet, pirouetting slowly before striking a pose with one hand on her hip and the other over her head. "Tada. Me. Happy?"
Gwen continued to stare for a few more seconds before evidently concluding that she wasn't going to find what she was looking for, shaking her head and leaning back. "Ever thought about mixing some blonde hair into that look? You'd make a kick ass Smurf." Michelle let out a snort of laughter at that before flopping back into her seat and resuming to her normal appearance, opting to return to her normal coppery hair instead of Frost blonde but growing it out to longer than she normally wore it. After all, she'd gone short to contrast with Willow and now that Willow was even shorter and spiky, long could be her thing until Willow changed her mind. "Hmm…"
Hmm? Hmm was… not necessarily a good thing. Gwen wasn't Willow-smart or anything, but she was smart enough. Too smart for Michelle's comfort at the moment. She definitely needed to be distracted before she got any closer to the truth than she already was. "So. Pizza and movies. Aura, you brought movies, right?" Nodding, the dark-skinned girl reached into her purse and pulled out a trio of slim Blu-ray cases. "Cool. That just leaves pizza. We need to figure out what we all want and call it in, and then-" 'I'll have the girls pick it up for us. As long as they're wandering around town on my dime, they might as well make themselves useful.' '…I thought Cordy's barrettes were supposed to keep you out of my head?' 'I'm Emma Frost, darling. Rules don't apply to me. That and you managed to dislodge them when you shifted.'
"-some friends who are running late can pick them up for us." Michelle shot an annoyed look at the doorway leading to the kitchen, since the actual reason for her irritation was currently out of sight. Maybe it was time to start singing 'The Song That Never Ends' in her head. A sharp spike of pain made the redhead gasp and grip the arms of her seat. Or maybe not. Casting about for something else to think about before she won herself a free lobotomy or something, Michelle eyed the two uninvited girls. "Britt, Tana, you might want to think about kicking in some money, or at least offering. The person footing the bill offered to buy pizza for the Cordettes and, well-"
"If we swear allegiance to you and become Chellettes, will you buy us pizza?"
Michelle tapped her fingers against her knee as she thought that one over. On one hand, having minions had the potential to be fun. On the other hand, Cordelia would probably kill her for adopting those two in particular as her minions. "Think I'm going to take a pass on that. Do you seriously need pizza money? Brittany, I thought you were-"
Standing, Gwen scoffed and waved a dismissive hand at the blonde. "She's being a mooch. Ignore her. Is there somewhere we can talk, though? Alone? I have something I want to ask you."
Aww shit. Well, this is what she got for not distracting her friend sooner. Michelle sighed before nodding and jerking her head towards the stairs. "You know where my room is. I'll be right up." As the blonde wandered up the stairs, Michelle turned her attention to Cordelia. "We doing Pizza Hut or CPK?"
"As if I'm going to eat that greasy mess Pizza Hut claims is food. CPK, of course."
"Put me down for a Meat Cravers, then." Harmony let out a snort and Michelle looked over at her. "What? It's the best pizza ever. Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, salami, whatever the heck 'Capicola ham' is…"
Harmony's twitching lips gave way to outright giggles. "Meat Cravers? Maybe I was wrong about you being a lesbian after all. I mean, you sure seem to love stuffing meat into your mouth…" As the others tittered at Harmony's joke, Michelle opened and closed her mouth a few times before scooping up the green barrettes Cordelia had loaned her and retre… advancing in a different direction. Namely? The stairs.
It was a very good thing that Willow had gotten over her Xander-slash-Michelle obsession and grown up a bit in the last month, Cordelia mused, and was 'merely' extremely protective of her supposed cousin. Otherwise, they'd probably be calling for an ambulance right about now to haul away a dumb high school girl suffering from several pairs of evenly placed stab wounds. As it was, Willow was glaring at her friend and growling softly, the tips of her claws poking out of her hands. "Hey." Willow jumped, the tips of her claws receding back into her hands. "Let's go get some plates and silverware. I know I don't like eating pizza with my hands and I don't think Aura or Janet do either. We can put everything out on the coffee table, call in the order, and start up a movie while we wait."
The pair retreated into the kitchen, finding Janet perched on one of the counters while Emma and Jean sat the kitchen table, the redhead shifting to the right every few second as Emma's hand crept across the wooden surface towards hers. Emma's attention was elsewhere, her eyes glowing blue as she stared off into space. "Your friend Gwen suspects and is going to attempt to trick Alexander into revealing the truth; we might need to deal with her before they return if the conversation goes badly. As for the rest of your minions, they genuinely seem fine with the fact that there are now four mutants among them… although two of them would be hypocritical to think otherwise. Granted, their easy acceptance might be due to them being too stupid to properly grasp the scope of your abilities and how powerful you are."
Opening her mouth to defend her friends, Cordelia paused when Harmony's loud voice drifted into the kitchen. "Okay, so, I'm thinking… best to worst for powers? Michelle, Willow, Janet, and then Cordy's in last place. I mean woo, messing with metal? How useful is that in day-to-day life? Grabbing cans of soda when you don't want to get up? Opening your locker? She gets a few cool points for being able to fly, but not enough to move her out of last place. Janet's powers are a bit cooler; I mean, imagine being able to sting geeks for staring at your boobs? Or shrink down and fly under furniture if you drop stuff? The caterpillar and eggs thing, though… gross. Willow? Not sure about the claws; can she paint those to match the rest of her nails or are they stuck that ugly white color? But they can disappear, so I can't really hold them against her. Being able to heal really quickly would be all sorts of cool. I mean, raise your hand if you've had to cake on the foundation because your boyfriend left a really bad hickey on you. Aphrodesia… I don't see that hand up. Thank you. Michelle, though… Michelle's still in first place. Can you imagine what it'd be like to have her powers? Even if you are blue underneath, no more zits, no more roots when you change hair colors, and best of all… no cosmetic surgery! I could give myself a flat tummy, better lips, and bigger breasts, all with a thought. And then shrink my girls back to normal for gym so I'm not killing myself when I run laps. Ugh. She's so lucky. Best. Powers. Ever."
Cordelia shut her mouth.
November 20, 2011
Rosenberg Household - Michelle's Room
Letting Michelle guide her along, Gwen Ditchik blinked as she was pulled into a room that - while not as girlish as Harmony's unicorn-infested domain - was undeniably feminine. It was another nail in the coffin of her theory, just like seeing Michelle turn into a girl with scaly blue skin downstairs. But even then, she couldn't shake the feeling that she knew the answer to this particular mystery… that there was more to Michelle than met the eye. And while she bowed to Cordelia's will in public to maintain her rank in the hierarchy, courage was much easier in private and so she decided to just go for it. Worst that could happen, she reasoned, would be that she'd embarrass herself horribly and need to apologize a lot. "Hey, Xander. My leg's hurting from a fall at Friday's cheerleading practice. Can I sit on your bed?"
"Yeah, sure. Are you okay? What happ…" Michelle trailed off as she processed Gwen's entire request and then she paled. "How did you know?"
Gwen smirked as she flopped back bonelessly onto the bed before rolling onto one side so she could keep an eye on Michelle. Xander. Whoever. "I didn't until just now. Suspected it, but didn't know it for sure."
Groaning, Michelle - it was easier to just keep using that name for now, Gwen decided - brought one hand up to cover her face. "Dial D for Dumbass."
"To be fair, it's not all your fault. And I don't think anyone else has figured it out; when it comes to the Cordettes, I'm the exception and Harmony's the rule. But think about it." Raising a hand, Gwen began to tick off the various points of evidence. "Xander Harris disappears - without his best friend Willow even batting an eye or seeming upset or anything - and Michelle Flaherty appears a day or two later. Plus there's the fact that it took Willow a bit of time to grow into looking at you in a cousinly manner, which is probably why Harmony jumped to her conclusion. Although Cordelia taking you under her wing… that nearly killed the theory entirely for me. I mean, you hated each other. The second she said she was a mutant, though, it all made sense: you were our mutant training wheels. She used you to see how we'd react before risking coming out herself. I just didn't know how to prove it, especially when you turned into a blue girl."
Michelle let out a sigh, flopping onto the bed next to Gwen and stretching out. The redhead's hip nudged against her and Gwen obligingly moved over to make more room, rolling onto her back as well. "So, how pissed are you at me? For pretending to be a girl and all? And are you going to tell the others?"
Staring up at the ceiling, Gwen pondered that. How pissed was she, really? It wasn't like Michelle had tried to sneak her way into the Cordettes; Cordelia had dragged her in and was in all likelihood the architect behind the specifics of Xander's transformation into Michelle. Unless Michelle had faked her interests and pretended to enjoy the time they spent together, their friendship was genuine. Granted she had her own reasons for being a little peeved that Xander was gone, but those technically didn't directly impact this discussion. So in the end, really, it boiled down to… "Depends how good a story you have as to why you're wearing a skirt instead of pants with that jersey?"
"Long story short? My self-esteem was the only thing lower than my GPA and so when I got caught up in the Halloween magic and turned into the blue girl, my brain decided that since I hated my life, there was no reason I should be allowed to turn back into Xander. Well, things are slightly more complicated than that, but I'm trying to keep this short." Michelle raised her right arm, waving it over Gwen's head so the blonde could watch as the skin turned blue and then back to its normal pale pinkish color. "Since I didn't want to run around blue, I had to pick a new look. Boys as a whole were hard for me at that point; I could have changed that but it would have been… difficult. And awkward. So I turned into Willow because I had a key to her house and I could get in and borrow some clothes that fit. Cordelia found out about my problem, decided to play Barbie with me, and the next thing I know? I've got a full Michelle wardrobe and cheerleader friends and I'm eating salads every damn day."
Gwen blinked, looking over at Michelle in disbelief. "…that's the short version?" The redhead nodded. "Wow. Oh, as long as I've got you at my mercy… why Michelle Flaherty? Meaning that particular name; you already told me how you ended up being Michelle-shaped."
"Um, thin air. The name just slipped out when I was messing with Buffy the first time I ran into her, and decided to stick with it. It's just a really lucky coincidence that there was a baseball player in my supposed father's age range who had that last name. Saw him on YES when I was trying to put my fake life together and inspiration struck." Turning her head, Michelle regarded Gwen uncertainly. "But I think the real question is… how good is my story? Does it score high enough to prevent mad Gwenage?"
"I… I guess so, yeah. I mean, I kinda have to take you at your word about genderbending being necessary. Not a telepath or anything. I mean, I wish I'd known sooner because now I have an entire month I have to look back at and wonder about the realness of, but… you made the best of a bad situation, your friends helped support you, and things have just gotten really complicated." Staring into Michelle's brown eyes, Gwen voiced the question that had been rattling around nervously in her mind for the last few minutes. "If you could turn back into him… like tomorrow you were fixed… would you?" If she could return to being a he, would he abandon them? Did any of them mean anything to Michelle? Did their friendship mean anything to her? Did she?
"To be completely and totally honest? I… really don't know."
"…good enough. For now."
"Cool. Hey Gwen?"
"How good are you at styling hair?"