Yes, it's exactly what you're thinking. No, it's not just me doing a random 'gay now' moment for Gwen or something. While I've got nothing against gaying up the place - and statistically speaking, 25% of high school cheerleaders and 40% of their college counterparts have had sex with another girl - this actually will serve a purpose in the greater story. Trust me. What else? Oh, we're finally getting to meet Sheila and Ira Rosenberg in this chapter. And we find out some interesting things about Willow's heritage and the Rosenbergs' employment history. I guarantee that while the former isn't really a surprise at all, given her powers and all, the latter most definitely will be. So, grab your glasses and your glass of some spit-take compatible fluid and read on, True Believers!
November 20, 2011
Another of Sunnydale's Many Cemeteries
"Remind me again why we're wandering around a graveyard in the middle of the night? Especially since we know vampires exist? Wouldn't it be safer to slice your leg a few times and then jump into a pool full of sharks?"
"I cut myself to feel!" The exclamation earned Betsy an odd look and the purple-haired girl - now completely purple-haired, and a much richer shade at that - giggled. "Sorry. Ellie. One of the girls in my telepathy class. She's… take every single stereotype about goths and emo kids, squish them together, and give them an X-gene. Ellie in a nutshell."
Ah. Surprisingly enough, Sunnydale didn't have much in the way of goth, punk, or emo cliques. Maybe because there was a subconscious recognition of the town's darker side, Gwen mused, and nobody wanted to even remotely emulate the town's predators? Especially given one of their classmates hunted them? Back to the topic at hand, though… "Seriously, though. Why are we doing this?"
Betsy shrugged. "When you're in Paris, you try to see the Eiffel Tower before you leave. London? Big Ben. Sunnydale's supposedly got vampires and I want to see some before I leave. And then kill them." Without warning, the British teen yanked her t-shirt up and over her head before tossing it back over her shoulder at Gwen. "Too bad boomboxes died off a decade ago. That's one of my favorite parts of working out in the Danger Room: having a good beat to kick arse to."
"Ah." Not much else she could say to that, Gwen decided. She was a bit curious as to why Betsy seemed so sure that she'd be 'kicking arse', though; would telepathy even work on vampires? They were corpses, weren't they? On the other hand, if their brains were as dead as she'd previously assumed, how could they do all sorts of vampire-y things? Hmm. Another thing she was curious about? Why Betsy was hopping up and down as she forced her jeans down her legs. "So… where does the public nudity come into things?"
Shifting from one leg to the other, Betsy stepped out of her pants before holding her hand out and flicking her wrist, her jeans jumping up into the air before flying back to smack against Gwen's chest. "I'm wearing more than you probably do when you go to the beach, luv. And I'm stripping down because… well, the last time I didn't go into a fight properly dressed, Willow headbutted me and then I got shot from behind and knocked out. I think it's a sign."
Gwen's jaw dropped. Unlike Harmony and her… unique… assessment of their friends' powers, Gwen at a minimum was fully cognizant of exactly how dangerous the new mutant version of Willow could be. Not just because of the claws, either, although they were pretty scary. But… how could one defend themselves against someone who could recover from something as serious as brain death? At the same time, she'd assumed that Willow's overall temperament would negate some of the threat. After all, mutant or not, Willow was still Willow. Except it turned out that Willow was evidently now a Willow who liked to get into fights and headbutt people. She wasn't sure what to make of that.
Another thing Gwen wasn't sure what to make of? The fact that her eyes seem to have a thing for drifting south as Betsy walked in front of her. It had occurred with distressing regularity when the girl was in street clothes, but now that Betsy was down to the odd, purple leather leotard thing that she evidently thought was suitable fighting attire? Gwen was having a serious problem getting her eyes to rest anywhere else. For a fairly petite white girl, Betsy had an awfully plump ass.
That… wasn't the kind of thought she'd ever had about another girl before. It also didn't make sense given her earlier thoughts regarding Xander turning into Michelle; if she was capable of having those sorts of thoughts about girls, did it really matter if the boy she'd had a bit of a crush on was now a girl? And she was pretty sure she'd felt a brief flash of jealousy when Michelle had made that joke about ogling Cordelia in the shower. Now she was ogling a girl herself. Maybe… was she bi, then?
Or wait. Didn't the fact that she actually had to ask herself that mean she wasn't? If she was, wouldn't she just… know? Gwen shook her head in disgust. This was not what she needed to be thinking about while she was wandering through a graveyard with someone obsessed with finding vampires to fight. Being this distracted was an easy way to end up dead. So she'd save analysis of her sexual orientation for when they were somewhere a bit safer and less creepy. For now, rather than fight with herself, she'd just go with it. Enjoy the scenery, as was evidently her wont. 'Oh, and you give it all you got…'
"Fat bottomed girls, you make the rockin' world go round!" Betsy shot a grin back over her shoulder at Gwen, her hips swaying from side to side as they continued deeper into the graveyard. "Ah, Classic Rock
got it right when they named Freddie Mercury the greatest singer of all time. I've got all Queen's albums on my phone. Like the ones from the Seventies more than their later stuff, though." Suddenly the purple-haired girl halted, holding up one hand as Gwen came to a stop beside her and staring off into the distance at… something the blonde couldn't see. Before she could ask a question, glowing violet energy erupted into being around Betsy's head, creating what looked a lot like a pair of butterfly wings and illuminating her grinning face. "Be a dear and try to think more quietly for me? It's time to go sightseeing…"
Huh. That was a whole lot of vampires. A barrel full of vampires. Which was nowhere near as much fun as a barrel full of monkeys, Buffy decided, probably because they were bloodthirsty, homicidal creatures of the night instead of… well, monkeys.
Eyeing the group of vampires she'd stumbled upon, Buffy held her sword up in front of her at the ready as she ran a quick inventory. There was the sword she was holding, of course, and then… three stakes, two wooden chopsticks in her hair, and a knife tucked into the back of her pants. While she'd only brought the silver-bladed knife along in case she ran into a particular species of demon for the third time in as many nights, she was sure it'd be just as stabby against vampires as it was against anything else. So a handful of weapons and her natural abilities against a dozen or so vampires. Not the best of odds but hey, at least there wasn't a prophecy foretelling her death this time. That was something, right?
Buffy drew one of her stakes with her free hand, an inkling of a plan forming in her mind… and then blinked as the leftmost vampire exploded, creating a shower of gore that thankfully disintegrated into grey ash before reaching her. A second vampire exploded, then a third, and then a half-naked girl with purple hair was throwing herself into their midst and Buffy was confused. Had someone changed the dress code for slaying and forgotten to tell her or something? And how come she couldn't make vampires explode from a distance? So many outfits, unnecessarily ruined…
It quickly became apparent that the mystery girl was no Slayer, though. If the strange outfit and mysteriously exploding vampires didn't make that obvious, the fact that her head was glowing violet and she could throw vampires around by waving her arms were pretty good clues. Either that, or Buffy really needed to start paying more attention to Giles's lectures and attempts at training her. Because long-distance, no mess slaying? Definitely something she could get behind.
As Buffy watched, the girl thrust both arms out in front of herself, causing two vampires to jerk and rise up off the ground. Spreading her arms wide for a moment, the girl let out a rather manic-sounding cackle before bringing her arms back together, the vampires slamming into each other with horrific force and exploding into twin clouds of dust. It was then that the blonde thought back to Friday and her ill-fated trip to Willy's. Mutant menace. Hole in the wall. Glowy girl who could make vampires fly around and explode. If she could explode vampires… could she blow holes in walls too?
…come to think of it, if the girl could make vampires explode, could she make Slayers explode? Buffy took two big steps backward, doing her best to sink into the shadows of a nearby crypt. Best to wait things out, she decided, and then make contact. The last thing she needed was the girl deciding that anything moving was a target and blow her up too.
"Don't worry, Summers, I can tell the living from the dead. I don't even have to kiss you to figure it out, either." Buffy's jaw dropped; not only had the girl known what she was thinking, but she knew about Angel. And how she'd found out he was a vampire. Did that mean- "I'm reading your mind? Just a bit. Tends to happen when you're around a telepath. Oh, and I'm not 'girl'. I'm Betsy. And I didn't do anything to any wall." Spinning around, Betsy's foot pulsed with the same violet light as the butterfly-like construct around her face as she kicked out at a vampire that had been attempting to sneak up on her, sending it flying away across the graveyard. How- "Tactile telekinesis: for when you're a psi talent who loves to get her hands dirty."
Scowling, Buffy slammed her sword tip-first into the grass at her feet, freeing up her right hand so she could cross her arms over her chest more easily. "Can you please stay out of my head? You answering stuff I'm not even asking is really wiggy."
The request earned her a rather lackadaisical shrug from Betsy. "No problem. I mean, it's not like your head is a very interesting place to be. Kinda reminds me of Harmony's, to be honest, just with more death, violence, and necrophilia." As Buffy sputtered in indignation, Betsy thrust both her hands out in the blonde's direction. The sputters became a squawk of surprise as her hips jerked forward of their own accord, the two stakes tucked into her skirt's waistband pulling themselves free and tumbling through the air. Before the stakes even reached her, Betsy was spreading her arms wide and redirecting them through the air to stab into the chests of two more vampires. They didn't even have a chance to register that their unlife was over before Betsy was spinning, sending the stakes off into the chests of two more vampires, and then the last two. "Not quite done yet." Calling the stakes back to her hands, Betsy tossed one to Buffy and then made a beckoning motion with her free hand. There was a few seconds of silence and then screaming as the vampire the purple-haired girl had kicked off to God knew where came flying back through the air to them, only to receive a stake to the chest.
And just like that, it was over. A minute tops from start to finish, for this one non-Slayer girl to tear through a group of vampires that Buffy herself had been dreading taking on all by her lonesome. Jesus Christ.
"Betsy Braddock, actually. Although I will tolerate 'God' sometimes. You know, 'oh God, yes!'. That sort of thing." Smirking as the glowing butterfly wings around her head dissipated, Betsy closed the distance between them and pressed a kiss to Buffy's lips before shoving the borrowed stake back into the blonde's hand. "Thanks, Summers. Couldn't have done it without you." Stepping back, she shot a glance back over her shoulder and whistled. "You going to come say hi, or spend all night lurking and staring at my arse?"
Before Buffy could ask Betsy who she was talking to, a blushing blonde emerged from the shadows. Gwen… something. Ditka? No, that was the football guy. Dit-something, though, Buffy was sure of that much. A junior like her. Assistant captain of the varsity cheerleading squad. Cordette. Previously, Buffy might have added 'not the type to be hanging out with mutants' to that list, but considering Gwen and Willow's shapeshifting cousin Michelle seemed to be joined at the hip these days… well, a purple-haired girl with freaky mind powers almost seemed normal by comparison. "I'd argue the staring part, but you can read my mind. Seems like a waste of time to me. As for lurking… there were vampires. There's still Summers. I'll stay over here, thank you very much."
Betsy looked skyward as she shook her head and mouthed something silently, before turning away from Buffy and making her way over to Gwen. "At least at Xavier's we just hate each other. None of this stupid high school clique nonsense. Oh well. So much for my hopes of a blonde cheerleader threesome."
Scoffing, Gwen nonetheless allowed Betsy to turn her around so they were walking back the way they'd come, her arm dropping down to wrap around the British teen's waist. "Hah, no. Even if I wanted to go anywhere near Summers? Three problems with your idea. First of all, she's not a cheerleader. Second of all, the blonde's fake. And finally… threesome? Who says you're even getting a twosome?" After blinking owlishly, Buffy stuffed her stakes into the waistband of her skirt and pulled her sword out of the ground, giving chase so she could keep listening. While she had absolutely no interest in doing anything with Gwen or Betsy… hey! What was so wrong with her that Gwen would dismiss her so quickly?
"You're a sexy blonde cheerleader who won't stop staring at my arse. Unless my boyfriend's porn collection is completely wrong about what happens next in a situation like this, I'm thinking my odds are pretty good." Peeking back over her shoulder, Betsy winked at Buffy before shooting a glance downward and then returning her attention to Gwen. "Also, your hand is on my arse and you've been thinking about finding out how flexible I really am ever since you saw me kick that one vampire."
"Just because I think something doesn't mean I'm going to do it, you know."
"Hand on arse."
"…oh yeah, it is, isn't it? I could move it if it's really bothering you that much."
"Did I say that?"
Buffy just shook her head as she continued to trail the pair. It didn't look like she'd be learning anything new about this Betsy Braddock girl tonight, but at least she could get some decent entertainment out of her and Gwen before she moved on to patrol another cemetery…
November 20, 2011
Rosenberg Household - Living Room
Someone was about to get kicked. Hard. With her foot claw extended. She just wasn't sure if it was going to be Rachel first and then one of her supposed friends, or vice versa.
Willow growled, flexing her legs and jumping into the air for the umpteenth time. And - just like every other time - the peach floating over her head gained altitude at the last possible second, evading her hand once more. Landing, she glared at the laughing telekine before launching herself back into the air. As she reached the apex of her jump, the peach hovering mere centimeters out of her reach once more, she ejected one of her claws and speared the peach clean through. "Hah!" Dropping to the floor, she brought the peach up to her mouth and bit into it. "Victory is mine!"
"Willow Danielle Rosenberg!"
Full names were always a sign of impending badness and holy poop, when had her parents gotten there? Activity in the room ground to a halt, from Jean's discussion of sports medicine with a handful of the cheerleaders, to Cordelia and Michelle's quiet murmurs, to the blare of the television that had previously been a background buzz as she fought with Rachel over her dessert. The redhead backed away, slowly moving toward where her mother was sitting and leaving Willow alone to face her parents. "Mom. Dad. Did you have a good trip?"
Her mother stepped forward, eyes narrowing as they swept up and down Willow's body. "Don't you 'mom' me, young lady. Why are all these people here at this hour? And what in the world have you done to yourself? Your beautiful hair is gone, you're showing off your body, and… are those leather pants?"
Willow looked down at herself. She was only wearing a red tank top and the aforementioned leather pants. How did that count as 'showing off her body'? Everything was the right size, meaning she didn't have cleavage spilling out of everywhere or half her stomach showing or something. Then again, she didn't exactly have the chest to create spilly-out cleavage even if she wanted to go for the Michelle or Cordelia look. And she had the proper undergarments on, so it wasn't like she was suffering from the same embarrassment that some of the other girls did while wearing a thin shirt on a coolish California night. Oh. Parent questions. She should really answer them before they got angrier. "Yes? But don't worry, I'm pretty sure Michelle ate the entire cow it came from, so it's not like the cow was killed just to be my pants."
"Don't talk back to your mother, Willow." Her father's attention was over her head, sweeping back and forth around the room. "Now, who are all of these… individuals… that you've invited into our home?"
Willow could tell from his tone of voice that her remarkably level-headed father was having a hard time staying civil, and suddenly found herself regretting going along with this plan. The last thing she needed her friends to see was her father losing control for the first time in recent memory. "Um, my friends from school. Mostly. You know Michelle, obviously…" Actually, they didn't, but if things went according to plan her parents wouldn't be able to share that fact with her friends. "The green-haired girl next to her is Cordelia. Then there's Harmony, Aphrodesia, Aura, and Janet." She went around the room, pointing at each girl as she named them, before moving on to the out-of-towners. "Oh, and we weren't unsupervised. Cordelia's friends Ivette and Rachel were in town, so she invited them over and they brought-"
Before she could manage to introduce their chaperones, her father's eyes dropped to the peach still impaled upon Willow's extended claw. Oh. Oops. Retracting her claw, Willow snatched the peach out of midair before it could fall to the floor, but the damage had already been done. As he rounded on her mother, Willow mused that it was a bit like watching a blood transfusion in progress: her mother growing increasingly pale as her father turned redder and redder. Finally he snapped, jabbing a finger accusingly at Willow. "I told you, Sheila! I told you this would happen! The doctors all warned you that the odds of her inheriting the X-gene from her father were upwards of ninety-five percent but oh no, you knew better than them. 'I'm sure James has gotten other women pregnant over the years and there aren't other clawed mutants running around. Our daughter will be as normal as you or I'. Well those are Howlett's damn claws, Sheila! Tell me, in what universe is that considered normal? Because it's not this one!"
"It's not my fault you're an inadequate lover, Ira. You knew what I was like when we met; it's not my fault you got squeamish and I had to go looking for attention elsewhere. James knew how to give me what I wanted, even if his social graces were a bit lacking." Moving forward, Sheila slowly tugged the peach out of Willow's hand, shoving it blindly back at Ira. "Would you… can you control them consciously yet or do they emerge on their own?" The dark-haired girl nodded at the former and then shook her head at the latter, slowly extending the claws in the hand her mother was staring at before bringing up her other hand and presenting a matching pair. "Interesting. James had three but you only have two." Oh. She wanted to see all the claws? Kay. Willow peered down at her feet, making sure that they weren't too close to her mother's, before ejecting her foot claws and making her mother stumble back in surprise. "Oh! Hmm. Well, I suppose it could be worse. You could have Victor's nails…"
This was not how Willow pictured this going. At all. Her parents were supposed to be freaking out about the fact that she was a mutant. They weren't supposed to be arguing about the cause of her mutation or comparing her to other mutants or examining her claws curiously, as her mother was at the moment. And… "Who's Victor?"
Sheila looked up at the question, blinking. "Victor? Oh, did I say that out loud? Victor is another former coworker of your father's and mine from the same job where I met James. They were half-brothers, as a matter of fact, although you never would have known that just by looking at them. James was a man with a bit of beast in him. Victor, on the other hand, was a beast with a bit of man in him."
"Victor? Victor Creed?" Emma's question against disrupted Sheila's inspection of Willow's claws, her mother nodding hesitantly as Emma smiled wickedly. "Small world. I first met him fifteen years ago, give or take? Right after my daughters were born, a loose end from an earlier point in my life decided to rear its head. I paid him to… clip it." Head lolling slightly to one side, she stared off into space as she reminisced. "His rates weren't quite what I was expecting, to be honest. Not at all like any of the other mercenaries I contacted regarding the job. Not that I minded…"
After staring at Emma for a few more seconds, Sheila gave a full body shudder. "I'm fairly certain I know exactly what you're talking about and I don't think we need to continue this line of discussion any further. Especially in front of impressionable young minds." Emma shrugged before waving dismissively and Sheila crouched down, tapping her fingers against Willow's bare foot in several spots before running them along the claw. Crouching down, she tapped at Willow's bare feet before sliding her fingers along the claw. "Amazing. Well, I suppose some evolution in the X-gene was to be expected, since you're his daughter and not his clone. My genes are in there too, after all."
Willow couldn't believe it. She'd spent all day arguing with Ivette about how unlikely Darth Vader Syndrome was… and in the end, it turned out the blonde had been right all along? This Logan guy, who had apparently gone by the name James Howlett at some point, including back when her parents had known him. Logan, who worked at the school for mutants that Emma and Jean and the others were from… he was really her father? Not Ira Rosenberg?
That meant her parents… they'd lied to her all her life. And it wasn't due to ignorance, as if they believed Ira to be her father because they didn't know any better. Nor had they lied by omission, leaving her to assume the man in the house married to her mother was in fact her father but never specifically saying so themselves. They'd known he wasn't. But told her he was.
Why the charade? How had they known her real father? Well, beyond 'worked with him'? What had they done that had brought him into contact with the man? Had it been before or after Logan had gotten the amnesia Ivette had mentioned? How did they know so much about mutants? Why was everything getting all swirly?
Eyes rolling back in her head, Willow fainted dead away.
Smirking as Willow toppled over backward, Rachel threw out her hand and slowed the girl's descent so she wouldn't crack her head against the floor. Not that it'd cause any irreparable damage, but she doubted the Rosenbergs wanted to deal with blood on the carpet. After setting Willow safely on her back on the floor, she reached out to Michelle with her mind. 'Oh, she'll accept the time traveling lesbian baby no problem. But her dad not being her dad? Blows her mind. Did it not occur to her that I might know a little something she didn't? Or at least didn't know yet?'
Michelle looked from Willow's supine form to Rachel and then shrugged. 'Denial. It's not just a river in Egypt.' 'If she'd actually thought it through and asked, I could have shared images of her with James. And Sarah and Laura and…'
Trailing off, Rachel winced at the curious expression on Michelle's face. 'Right. It's only November 2011. Forget I mentioned them. Just… I had the proof in my head. I could have prepared her for this.'
Shaking her head, Michelle turned back to where Sheila was leaning over Willow's slumped form, Ira standing nearby with his arms crossed over his chest and a disapproving look on his face. 'And she knew this how? Maybe if you'd offered to show her some proof instead of using it as a chance to test screen your autobiopic.'
Rachel winced; good point. It wasn't really fair to blame Willow for how things had gone when she was just as - or more - guilty, was it? 'At any rate, how about you get to work now and we can play the blame game later? And while you're in there adding memories of me as their niece, can you…'
Rachel just waved her hand dismissively, plucking the thoughts from Michelle's nearly unprotected mind as fast as they could form. 'Don't worry about it, Michelle. We went over everything earlier, remember? Why don't you go talk to Cordelia and leave the mental manipulation to the professionals?' '…all right.'
Giving the redhead one last look, as if she knew something was off but couldn't put her finger on what, Michelle turned away to talk to Cordelia as Rachel had suggested. The redhead just smirked as she reached out with her mind, linking up with Ivette before bringing their combined power to bear on both Rosenbergs simultaneously. She did indeed know everything she was supposed to add to the adults' minds to ensure that Michelle could continue living at the Rosenberg residence. They both did.
They also had a few ideas for tweaks that their mother had suggested, just to… mix things up a bit. After all, what was life without a little bit of excitement?