I guess this is the chapter where you all realize that the art in the first chapter is a bit of a red herring… whoops? I wouldn't want to make things too obvious and boring for you, now would I? But even more than that… I only really did it because of canon X/C. The problem with that? By this point, not only do we not have the canon Xander and Cordelia of canon, but the events of the story make it nearly impossible for those people - even disregarding the breast factor in Xander's case - to ever exist. So 'because it happened on the show' became a less viable reason in my mind, and I decided to do something a bit different. What am I going to do? You'll just have to wait and see, I suppose.
November 20, 2011
Rosenberg Household - Living Room
With the Rosenbergs firmly under Rachel and Ivette's control and the need for a distraction over - and their hostess still unconscious on the floor - Michelle decided it was time to bring their pizza and movie fest to an end. A few quick barks from Cordelia had the girls condensing the remaining slices of pizza into two boxes in an attempt to minimize just how much of the Rosenbergs' fridge would be taken over by yellow cardboard, Janet and Gwen lugging plates and cups into the kitchen to be washed as Aura ejected the movie they'd never finished watching and sorted each disc sitting atop the BluRay player into its proper case.
Despite knowing it would make more work for her - what with Willow still out and she couldn't even picture Emma sullying herself with manual labor - Michelle decided it would be best to get the girls out sooner rather than later, just in case something weird happened during the reprogramming. With that thought in mind, she waved off offers to stay longer and help with the cleaning, shooing the Cordettes out toward their cars and standing watch on the front stoop to ensure that everyone loaded up and got underway.
When she turned back to face the house, Michelle found Emma standing in the doorway, her eyes blazing the same blue that accompanied Ivette's use of telepathy. Removing the tail end of the party, she assumed. As the glow faded, Emma gave her a nod before turning and wandering back into the house, allowing Michelle back into the house. She'd gotten them out without a second to spare, the redhead discovered; just as she stepped through the doorway, Sheila rose from where she was crouched over Willow and began walking almost robotically toward the stairs, Ira close behind her and the telepathic teens trailing behind him. Her attention on the adults, Michelle almost slammed the door in Cordelia's face as the green-haired girl returned from her car, a bag slung over one shoulder. "Umm..?"
"I brought clothes with me just in case this ended up turning into a 'Willow got ditched by her crappy parents and is all depressed now' pity part slash sleepover. I'm too tired to drive home. So… 'Willow's unconscious because her parents shocked the hell out of her' sleepover. Lemme in." Cordelia gave a gentle push against Michelle's shoulder and the redhead moved aside, allowing the taller girl to slip past her and tug the door shut behind her with her powers. "I know the girls either sleep down here or in the floor of your and Willow's rooms, but I'm gonna take a pass on that I think. Mostly because… you mentioned a guest room, right? Why sleep on the floor or a couch when there's a spare bed somewhere? So point me to it, I'll try to keep my bathroom time to only an hour in the morning, and then we can all carpool to school together. Capisce?"
Michelle shook her head as she realized the major flaw with that plan; it was nice to know Cordelia actually listened to her when she talked, though. "I mentioned the guest room being full of… well, everything. I mean, if you want to climb over a complete second bedroom set to fight your way to a place to sleep, go ahead. After you scrape all of Willow's old clothes off the bed and find somewhere to dump them since you can't really see the floor, that is. It's where all the furniture from guest room number A - also known as my room - ended up when we ordered new furniture that was more teen girl's bedroom for me."
Frowning, Cordelia pondered the problem for a moment before snapping her fingers. "Your room." Michelle blinked. "Your bed is at least a double, right? That's enough room for two people to sleep in. Hence the name double."
"I've got a queen, actually. Just sorta hanging up on the fact that you want to sleep with me." Michelle blinked again and then pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming. Ouch. Nope. Still awake. Well, for a bit longer. "You're kidding, right?" Cordelia shook her head. "Huh. Dear Penthouse
, I never thought things like this really happened, but-"
That earned her a hard punch to the shoulder as Cordelia rolled her eyes. "God. Even when you're a girl, you're such a boy. Mind out of the gutter, Red. I want to sleep. In a bed. That just so happens to have you in it. If you don't think you can handle that, I'm sure we can find some blankets and put you on the couch or something…"
Michelle snorted. "Oh hell no. You sat on that couch, with the built-in recliners and all. Can you imagine trying to get comfy lying across that monstrosity? Oh wait. You can. That's why you're trying to talk your way into my bed." Sighing, she pinched the bridge of her nose. For all her exterior femininity, she was still very much a boy in certain ways. Cordelia was a really hot girl. There was no way this could end well. But since Cordelia seemed so damn insistent… "Fine. Go upstairs and figure out what side of the bed you want. I'll finish up down here and then come steal it from you." Cordelia made a rather unladylike gesture before turning and heading up the stairs, leaving Michelle with Emma and Jean. And Willow, who was still passed out on the floor. They should probably do something about that, huh? But first… "So, do you want me to stay down here with you for now, or-"
"I'm a grown woman, Michelle. I dare say I can occupy myself for a bit without your assistance. Just out of curiosity, has this couch been Scotchgarded?" Emma winked before looking back over her shoulder at Jean; both Jean and Michelle realized what the blonde was implying at the same exact moment and blushed nearly identical shades of red. "Oh, calm down. I have no intention of letting our first time be some sort of tawdry, juvenile romp on a stranger's couch, darling. That's the sort of thing that should remain in the domain of pornography and t.A.T.u. music videos." That just made Jean blush worse and Emma gave her a pat on the shoulder before turning her attention back to Michelle. "In all seriousness, though, Jean and I will wait for our daughters to finish and then head back to Cordelia's house for the night. In the morning, we'll take care of a few final errands, collect Betsy, and be out of town by the time school lets out. Although there are a few things I want to discuss with you before you go to bed, if you don't mind?" Michelle shrugged before wandering over to sit on the couch; Emma tended to do whatever she felt like, so trying to direct her somewhere was probably an exercise in futility. "Thank you. Now… oh, Jean, would you be a dear and go put Willow in her bed?"
The thinly veiled dismissal made Jean frown for a moment before sighing and nodding. "Fine. But only because it gives me plausible deniability. I can't get in trouble for not knowing about… whatever it is you're up to."
Emma shrugged before moving to sit beside Michelle on the couch. "And here I thought you'd do it for me because it'd be mean to leave the poor girl lying on the floor for God only knows how long." Jean rolled her eyes at that before stretching out one hand and using telekinesis to lift Willow up into the air as he walked toward the stairs. "Now, where was I? Ah yes. Tomorrow's errands. I plan to speak with Rupert Giles regarding the… nightlife… here in Sunnydale. I don't like the idea of the fate of the world resting in the hands of a former cheerleader with a hilariously awful name."
"It's not actually short for anything, it turns out. I thought maybe her real name was Elizabeth and it was a 'her little sister couldn't say Beth and she became Buffy and it stuck' sort of thing. Nope. Her parents actually named her Buffy." Michelle shook her head; how whacked out on painkillers had Joyce been when she'd told them to put that one on the birth certificate? "Am I supposed to come and make introductions or something? Or-"
"No, I just thought you'd want to know why you'll be seeing me around the school tomorrow. Although given I'll be asking him to inform you of any sort of emergency on the Hellmouth… perhaps you can use your role as ambassador of sorts to negotiate a return to slaying? I know you've been pondering that." How… oh, right, telepath. Duhh. Emma let out a soft chuckle at that. "Duhh indeed. While I'm speaking with Mister Giles tomorrow morning, Cordelia is going to call a meeting of her friends and squadmates. I'd like you to attend using the form of one of my daughters and help Ivette harvest hair from as many of the girls as are willing to donate. I'll have them tested for the X-gene when I return to Westchester so you won't have any more surprises like you did with Willow."
That… okay, it had sounded creepy at first but made a whole lot of sense to Michelle. Especially if any of the girls turned out to have a destructive power. The last thing they needed was Aura bursting into flames and taking out half the school or Harmony getting pissed and mutating into a female version of that hulking green beast who'd torn up Culver University. Why she had to turn into one of Ivette's sisters… well, she assumed Emma had a reason. Either that or the blonde had a strange sense of humor. Possibly both. Considering she'd imitated plenty of her friends and classmates in the past month, though? She'd roll with it. Michelle nodded, waiting for Emma to continue… and waiting… and waiting. Finally, she decided to give Emma a nudge. "And?" The blonde arched a brow and Michelle blushed faintly. "Not trying to be rude, but I have a feeling that's not all. You could have told all this to Cordelia and had her tell me what I needed to know. You didn't. Which means there's probably something me-centric you want to talk about too."
"Mmm. If we didn't know you were a magically created teenage clone of Raven, I would suspect Raven of sneaking into my old school and having her way with Miss Phimister." The randomness of Emma's statement left Michelle staring at her in confusion until the blonde deigned to elaborate for her. "A student of mine who possessive precognitive abilities in addition to telepathy. Sadly, her powers don't include the ability to pick a decent post-human name for herself. 'Negasonic Teenage Warhead' indeed. But you're right in thinking I have more to discuss with you." Reaching over, Emma tapped one finger against Michelle's temple lightly. "While Ivette and Rachel were looking at your memories, they found memories that aren't yours. Raven's memories, to be precise. But because you never lived any of the moments yourself, there are no links connecting to them, leaving them floating in the ether. Orphaned, for lack of a better term. If you wished, I'm reasonably sure that I could create the needed links between them and the memories that are genuinely yours, giving you access to what was left behind. And, through those memories, better control of your powers."
It took Michelle a moment to connect the dots and realize that Emma's Raven and Cordelia's Mystique were two names for the same person, and then she began contemplating what was being offered to her. There was definitely more to this offer than met the eye, she was sure of it. The Transformers
theme song picked that moment to pop into her head and Michelle blushed at the odd look Emma shot her. Please, brain, back on topic. She'd known there was a lot of random stuff rattling around in her skull; the way she'd fought with Cordelia in the library the day after Halloween was proof enough of that. But while having better control of her powers sounded like a good idea, there had to be some sort of drawback. Nothing good was ever free. Hmm. There was the fact that said memories came from the right-hand woman of a scary mutant terrorist. Who knew what Mystique had gotten up to while working for Magneto?
Well, if she let Emma connect those memories to her mind? Michelle would. Was taking the easy road to control of her powers worth it? Would she be the same person once she had a great big chunk of stranger brain grafted into her own? Did she want to find out? Not really, no. And the more she thought about it, the worse an idea it sounded. She could always learn how to use her powers. She couldn't unlearn a major personality shift. "Thanks but no thanks. I think I'll set aside some time each day to practice. See what I can learn on my own. Who knows? I might even figure out a trick or do that Raven… Mystique… whoever… doesn't have up her sleeve yet."
Emma's lips quirked upward. "Good answer, especially considering I already wiped Raven's episodic memory from your brain. I left behind some of her semantic memory, so you'll have an easier time of mastering certain skills of hers… if you're willing to work and make the connections yourself."
Opening and closing her mouth a few times, Michelle finally settled for crossing her arms over her chest and scowling at Emma. "So why even bother asking if it didn't matter?"
"Because she's Emma and the idea of not playing mind games never occurs to her." Michelle looked over at where Jean was descending the stairs, raising an eyebrow at the redhead's words. "Willow's in bed. Clothed. Emma, if you want to go up and take care of that again, be my guest. Unlike you, I can't transform into diamond if she wakes up and freaks out." Lowering herself into the chair she'd been occupying earlier, Jean sighed. "As for your question, Michelle… a more honest answer would be that it was a test. We can read your mind, your thoughts, your memories… guess how you'll react to any given situation. The problem is that humans have free will. And so none of that is as accurate as sitting back and watching how you react to something in real life."
"And I enjoy messing with people."
"Yes, Emma, we covered that."
Well, at least she'd passed the test. Or at least Michelle thought she had. Hopefully Jean, Emma, and whoever they reported to would agree. Otherwise… well, she was the magical clone daughter of the right hand of a mutant terrorist, who just so happened to be good friends with said terrorist's granddaughter. Bad things might be in her future. Then again, even if she had failed the test… she wasn't in charge. Cordelia was. And even if she was the slightest bit like Magneto, what was the worst that could happen? She'd take over Rodeo Drive and declare it her kingdom?
Raising her hand to her mouth, Michelle yawned. That was a question for more important people than her to ponder. She had one more thing to ask and then she was off to bed. It was a school night, after all. "So, what's this going to cost me? I mean, you guys came all the way out here, stayed even after you found out the truth, helped us out with the Rosenbergs instead of leaving me to twist in the wind… Cordelia even mentioned something about introducing Willow to her real dad, which I assume either means flying us out to New York at some point or bringing him here. I know I can't even pay for a one-way plane ticket for one person right now. Cordelia's not going to pick up the tab from any of this even though she helped organize it. So what's in it for you? What are you getting out of this? Or… what do you want to get out of this?"
Emma smiled, a dark smile that reminded Michelle of a shark and filled her with unease. "If Jean was in charge, I'm sure she'd do it out of the goodness of her heart or some such drivel. Thankfully, she's not. I am. And you're right, this won't be free. But it won't cost you anything… for now, at least. But you're a shapeshifter, Cordelia has the potential to become a very powerful magnokine, Janet has all sorts of interesting abilities, and if Willow has inherited all of Log… James's abilities? She'll be practically immortal and exceedingly deadly. I simply ask that in exchange for this, in the future you remember who helped you when you needed it if I ever come to you asking for help."
Ah. So they'd be doing the 'favor to be named later' thing. Swell. Michelle sighed; what was done was done at this point. No use in crying about it. "All right. I guess I'll see you in the morning. Or at least you, Emma. If not… Jean, it was nice meeting you. And yeah. Good night." Rising to her feet, Michelle offered an awkward wave before turning and heading for the stairs.
November 20, 2011
Rosenberg Household - Michelle's Room
Absently running a brush through her hair, Cordelia sighed. As much as she'd wanted to dye her hair green to match her mom's natural color in the past, now that she had it… she kinda missed her pre-Halloween look. She'd never really thought it through, to be honest, too fixated that combination of self-expression and pissing off her mom. But the green didn't go with the tanned skin she'd inherited from her father nearly as well as it went with her mother's paler skin tone, and was a nightmare when it came to clothes shopping. There was plenty of fashion advice out there for blondes, brunettes, and redheads. Nobody wrote guides for green-haired girls looking to buy clothes that complimented their natural coloring.
Cordelia had to admit, though, that it wasn't all bad. At least she still had the same thickness and curl as when she'd been a brunette, instead of inheriting the wig's thin, straight strands or something else altogether. So there was some familiarity, even if the color was new and different. It'd taken the better part of two weeks, but people had finally gotten used to seeing her around the school with green hair instead of doing a double-take each time she walked past. Cordelia set the brush down on Michelle's dresser before peering down at the purple silk camisole she was wearing. While her mom no longer had green hair of her own, she had been a green-haired teenager back in the day and so she had a few tips on how to dress to impress with green hair.
Purples, blues, gold, and certain shades of green it turned out. Cordelia could live with that. For now.
"Are you sure this isn't going to end up turning into something I need to write Penthouse
about, Cordy?" Raising an eyebrow, Cordelia stared at Michelle's reflection in the mirror as the redhead entered her bedroom, shifting back into her base form as she closed the door behind herself. "What? A silk cami and short-shorts isn't your usual sleepover wear. And you normally don't force your way into someone's bed, or drag someone into yours when we're at your place." Gasping, she adopted an exaggeratedly shocked expression. "Miss Chase, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"
"Oh definitely. You have no idea how turned on I get by the lovechild of a Smurf and a stop sign. Not. God, I'd ask if sex is all boys think about but we already know the answer to that one. This is the kind of stuff I normally wear to bed. I thought I'd be in the guest room in my own bed, so… you know what, I don't need to justify wanting to be comfortable, damn it. And we've already covered the bed thing: no other bed to put myself in, I don't do floors, and your couch is horrible." Turning to face the redhead, Cordelia eyed Michelle critically. "Is that the form you usually sleep in? I know you stay pink at sleepovers…"
Looking down at herself, Michelle shrugged. "Well, I kinda had to stay 'pink' to avoid freaking out the others before today. Here at home, I try to shift back into at least my half 'n half form for bed if I can remember to. I tend to sleep better that way. Um, half 'n half being Michelle physique, Mystique looks. If I go all the way down to my base form, nothing fits but holding a full transformation when I sleep… I don't know the how or why, I just know I don't sleep as well. Does it matter?"
Cordelia took two steps forward, closing the distance between them before reaching out and running her finger along a patch of exposed blue skin on Michelle's neck. "Just wasn't sure what the scales felt like. I didn't want to wake up with a rash or something because you rubbed me raw in the middle of the night." Michelle opened her mouth, only to pause as Cordelia pressed a finger to her lips. "Tell it to someone who hasn't seen you and Gwen at sleepovers."
Snorting, Michelle batted Cordelia's hand away before stepping back, turning and heading for her dresser. "Hey, I sleep on my stomach. Move like, two inches in either direction all night long. The only way you're going to have a Gwen problem is if you come scooching over in your sleep to snuggle up against me."
"Smurf plus stop sign equals nope." Cordelia turned away as Michelle began to unbutton her Yankees jersey, wandering over and flopping down on her back on the bed. The rustle of fabric drew Cordelia's attention over to her friend before quickly redirecting her eyes back up to the ceiling. While she couldn't quite put her finger on why seeing Michelle's blue form unclothed unnerved her when the same wasn't true in the case of other girls, it did. So she wasn't going to look. And she was going to make a concerted effort to think about something else entirely. "Speaking of Gwen, though, you know her better than me. Any warning that this her and Betsy thing was going to happen? I mean, apart from her need to snuggle the group's token lesbian in her sleep?"
There was a long stretch of near-silence broken only by the rustle of fabric, and then Michelle was throwing herself down on the bed next to Cordelia. "You know, I've been wondering about that. Am I the token lesbian or what? I mean, girl outsides but boy insides. Does that make me straight or a lesbian?"
Cordelia blinked a few times before turning her head toward Michelle. "If making out with you would involve my boobs squishing against another pair of boobs, I'm pretty sure it's lesbianism."
"Oh?" Grinning, Michelle raised an eyebrow at that. "Sounds like you've put some thought into the idea."
"I'm sorry, what was that? It sounded like a little voice saying 'make me sleep on the floor tonight'." Cordelia smirked as Michelle grimaced before rolling onto her side, holding up her hands in surrender. Good. Girl knew who was in charge here. "And I'm serious. Did I miss all kinds of signs with Gwen or is this completely out of the blue for you too? Wondering if I'm a bad friend who missed something obvious going on, or if we're both bad friends for not knowing."
Michelle shrugged before rolling onto her stomach, turning her head to look at Cordelia as she snuggled into the pillow. "Or neither of us are bad friends because Gwen was keeping a secret from everyone? That's what I'm leaning towards, by the way, because I'm pretty sure I would have noticed Gwen checking out other girls or something. Noticed, teased, and then joined in."
That sounded about right, yeah. Probably would have made an awkward pass of her own, Cordelia assumed, considering the only out lesbian in their school was a train wreck of epic proportions. "Yeah. I guess. And… you know what, I'm going to pretend to be really sleepy all of a sudden now. Because I have a feeling that if this conversation goes much further, I'm going to end up the butt of another Penthouse
joke or three. Or coming off all weird and lesbian-obsessed like Harmony did earlier."
"There's nothing wrong with talking, Cordy. If you want, you can tell me… something good. Tell me that you love me, yeah. Tell me something good. Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me that you like it, yeah…" Michelle let out a laugh as Cordelia grabbed the pillow lying near her own head, rolling over and swinging it at the redhead. That laugh turned into a shriek as Michelle ran out of room and plummeted over the edge of the bed, landing on the floor with a thump. "…ow."
"You deserved it. Dork."