Normally I'm not one for the whole 'dun dun dun!' cliffhanger thing, but while I knew exactly where the scene was going up until that point - and where I wanted things to be by the end - I needed a moment to stop and gather my thoughts. Accordingly, things to look forward to in this chapter? The rest of Santana and Michelle's chat… some power-related hijinks involving Anya… a scintillating Career Week test… and the return of drunken Jean. Because she's hilarious.
November 21, 2011
Sunnydale High School - Small Gym
Michelle sucked in a breath as the air next to Santana wavered before solidifying into someone she hadn't seen in close to a month. Smirking, Xander gestured first at her and then down at himself. "I know who 'Michelle Flaherty' really is."
"Don't worry, this isn't where I go 'do what I want or I tell people'…" Xander trailed off, looking down at his hands before glancing over at Santana. "Or she goes… you know what, I'm just going to dissolve now. I've made my point." And just as quickly as he'd appeared, the form of Xander Harris dissolved into thin air, leaving Michelle and Santana staring at each other.
"As I was saying through Xander - who nobody else could see, by the way - this isn't about blackmail or anything. Much. I just kinda wanted to speed things up. Get past the denials and the 'yes you are', 'no I'm not', 'yes you are' part." Letting out a sigh, Santana reached up to run a hand through her hair. "I just… you seem to be in the center of everything in this town. You were one of the Slayer's helpers before that fell apart - don't look at me like that, you know I can read your mind - and now you're a Cordette and part of Cordelia's little X-positive clique-in-a-clique. Britt and I don't want to be Cordettes any more than Cordelia wants us as minions. But that doesn't mean we want to be in the dark. Which brings us to… Chellettes. How about it?"
Michelle let out a nervous chuckle, scratching the back of her head as she glanced over at where Brittany was harassing the rest of Anya's audience, using tendrils of hair to stealthily tap other girls on the shoulder, pulling them away just in time to avoid detection each time. "I, uh, what does that even mean? I've never had minions or followers or… whatever you'd be… before."
A snort drew her attention back to Santana. "And I've never been a follower before. Neither has Britt. So it looks like we'll all be making it up as we go. Just look at it this way: do you think Buffy's smarter than you?" Michelle let out a snort before shaking her head. Perhaps before Halloween she would have answered differently, but their time apart had given her some much needed perspective. "Cordelia?" That… was a bit more difficult. As much as Cordelia liked to play dumb, Michelle knew from firsthand experience that the girl was a devious and capable schemer. Ultimately, she shrugged. "Yeah, I'll give you that one. Um, not going to ask about me because I doubt I'll get an honest answer. Um… Britt?" Michelle shook her head emphatically. "So if you're smarter than Buffy and Britt, and they can do it… what are you worried about?"
"The fact that I have no clue what to do?" Michelle gestured over at where Cordelia had cornered Aura and Aphrodesia, gesturing at the girls' skirts emphatically as she talked. "Maybe it's like, hardwired into girl DNA and it's missing because I'm… me?"
Santana groaned, burying her face in her hands. "Ugh. Fine, I'll top from the bottom until you get your shit together. For now, just keep spending most of your time glued to Cordelia's very shapely ass like you already do. At least twice a week, you and Gwen and Britt and I will get together for some girl time, and you can pass on anything important that we should know. Since Savannah's spilled our beans anyway, we'll come out to the rest of the school and use that to clean up our rep by claiming the slut thing was all this big complicated beard scheme of ours. Which is actually the truth; the hard part will be seeing if we can sell it without revealing I've mindfucked half the school. Hopefully, that'll keep you from looking bad for having us as minions and keep Cordelia off your back about it too. Questions? Comments? Concerns?"
None of that was inherently disagreeable to Michelle. Well, she wasn't too sure about having to hang out with Brittany at least twice a week, since the girl's bulb was lit only marginally brighter than Harmony's. Then again, Gwen would be there to keep her from going insane. Hmm. Gwen. Given this was probably going to cut into their 'friends outside the Cordettes' time, maybe she should… but the blonde wasn't… and her phone was in her locker and so Michelle couldn't even… grr. Well, a leader had to be capable of making decisions on the fly. Brittany and Santana were hoping she'd be their leader. Was she a leader? "…fine. But there's one thing I want to know first. Who's 'Lord Tubbington'?"
Santana blinked at her owlishly, quite obviously caught off guard by the question. "…what?"
"Lord Tubbington." Michelle frowned as she thought back. It was Tubbington, right? She was pretty sure that's what Brittany had said earlier… "When Marti asked you about moving to Sunnydale. You mentioned that your dad got an offer he couldn't refuse from Sunnydale Memorial, and then Brittany said something about getting her dad to rent in Sunnydale to stay near you while her mom and 'Lord Tubbington' were at Passages Malibu for rehab. Who the hell is Lord Tubbington?"
Santana bit her lip but after a few seconds, snickers emerged anyway. "He's Britt's scary smart cat. Turns out he was getting into Missus P's stash and got himself addicted to ecstasy. So they shipped him off to rehab too. Britt's hoping they can help him with his weight problem while he's there, and maybe get him to give up smoking…"
An overweight cat who smoked and did ecstasy. Michelle thought about that for a few seconds before shrugging. She'd heard weirder over the last year. "All right. Um, one more thing. I would have said I wanted to know two things before, but I just thought of this one. When you two were at Willow's house and did the whole 'Janet' song… can you two actually sing that well or do you use your powers as like, mutant Auto-Tune?"
"Oh no, that's all us. Remember how I mentioned the glee club at our old high school? They tried to get us to join. Because, you know, being a cheerleader evidently just means throwing a uniform on once in a while and showing up for a game. It wasn't like I had practice every day after school or anything that I was already committed to…" Santana shook her head disgustedly. "Whatever. But yeah, I've never used my powers like that. Yet. I wasn't thinking Auto-Tune, though. My idea was to like, turn my life into High School Musical
. Picture it: the day's just poking along and then someone says the magic words and… bam! Music! Singing! Dancing! Wouldn't that be cool?"
Michelle pondered that for a moment before shrugging. "As long as you don't 'mindfuck' me and turn me into one of your backup dancers? I could be persuaded to allow my Chellettes to do something like that." Santana narrowed her eyes at the word 'allow'…
…but before they could continue their conversation, shouts from over near Anya caught Michelle's attention and she looked over to find Harmony and Brittany facing off. "…waste all that time in front of the mirror after gym doing your hair when you don't even need to." Scowling, Harmony stomped her foot before reaching out to shove the blonde. "Do you know how many times I've had to go to class looking like-"
Sniffing, Brittany tossed her head and let her hair come flying forward to slap against Harmony's face, driving the smaller girl back a step. "You are so full of it. But fine. Let's pretend that it's all my fault and not any of the other thirty-something girls trying to get cleaned up after gym. I hate to break it to you, but even if you had the locker room to yourself for those fifteen minutes? You'd still come out looking like a hot mess. You know why? Because you're you."
"Not for your entire stuffed unicorn collection."
Harmony let out a cringe-inducing screech before hurling herself at Brittany. Things quickly devolved into a stereotypical catfight full of cursing, clawing, slapping, and hair-pulling. Well, the latter was a rather one-sided affair: Brittany quickly got a good grip on her opponent's dyed black locks and yanked harshly, all the while taking advantage of her powers to keep Harmony from returning the favor. That left the smaller girl to rely on the rest of the catfight classics for offense, not that she seemed to mind terribly much. As the other girls began to form a circle around the two combatants, cheering on their respective favorites, Michelle sighed and looked over at Santana. "We should probably help break that up, huh?"
"I dunno, I think it's kinda hot. I mean, Britt's Britt and Harmony's… passable. And if someone stops it, I can pretty much guarantee Britt's gonna whine about it. If we let them fight it out? Fifty percent chance of whining about losing, but fifty percent chance of bragging about winning. I like those odds better." Santana turned her attention back to the fight, smirking. "Besides, you know what they say. It's all fun and games until someone loses a shirt…"
Looking back over just in time to see Brittany's shirt give way under Harmony's persistent assault, Michelle finished the thought. "…and then it's awesome!" Raising her hand, she grinned as Santana high fived her.
And then both girls rocked forward as Cordelia slapped the pair upside their heads before pushing her way between them. "I swear to God, it's like I'm hanging out with frat boys…"
November 21, 2011
Sunnydale High School - Hallway Near the Small Gym
"I can't believe you just did that!" Buffy watched the brunette's retreating back before abruptly looking away as Missy Pantone shot a glare back over her shoulder. Shuddering, the blonde returned her attention to Rachel. "Now everyone's going to think I'm gay! Not that there's anything wrong with that, but-"
One red brow rose and then Rachel jerked her thumb in Missy's direction. "Do you want me to chase her down and give her back her original memories?" Buffy shook her head rapidly, eliciting an amused snort from the redhead. "Seriously, you grabbed her, pinned her to the wall, demanded she say 'five by five', and then started rambling about she didn't sound like she did in your dream. Having that floating around the rumor mill would be a lot worse than people thinking that you tried to ask Missy out."
Scowling, Buffy crossed her arms over her chest as she glared at the redhead. It wasn't her fault, damn it. Slayer dreams always made her edgy, and Missy looked identical to a girl who'd appeared in a number of her recent dreams. It was an honest mistake… right? Not to mention… "Couldn't you, I don't know, rewrite her mind with a version that's not embarrassing at all?"
Rachel thought about that for a moment before shrugging. "Could. But you wouldn't learn anything from that, now would you? Although she had a… oh right, you didn't actually get to hear her shooting you down. She's not into girls but even if she was, you're too skinny for her. She had a point. What's your diet like? Because if you're anything like a mutant, your body needs-"
"I can't believe you… do you know how much that outfit cost?" Buffy looked over as the doors to the small gym burst open and Cordelia stalked out, trailed by a smirking brunette clad in red. Her problem was immediately apparent: somehow, Buffy doubted the girl had actually shown up at school wearing a very… shiny… ensemble consisting of a green patent leather corset along with matching pants and boots, and a strange, M-shaped green tiara. How she'd ended up in that outfit instead of what she'd been wearing, though, Buffy had no idea. "Turn my clothes back! Now, Anya!"
Oh. Mutant hijinks of some sort. Fun.
The girl in red - Anya, presumably - shook her head before letting out a snort of laughter. "Um… how about no? I mean, you thought it was hilarious that Mom stuck me with this." It was then that Buffy realized their outfits… had a little bit in common. Like Cordelia, Anya was wearing a corset. But while Cordelia was fully covered from the waist down, Anya was wearing a pair of thigh high red boots that matched her corset, along with some extraordinarily short red shorts and… Buffy tilted her head to the side. It was like someone had been making a skirt and got bored halfway through, leaving it with a back and sides that descended almost to her ankles but nothing in the front. She'd seen a lot in LA, but nothing quite like it. Hmm. Did they sell stuff like that? Because she would never wear it like Anya, but combining it with a regular miniskirt might- "This should be a laugh a minute to you."
Scowling, Cordelia stamped her foot, setting off a wave of jiggling in her chest that Buffy found impossible to look away from. Not that she was gay or anything. It was just… hypnotic. A perpetual motion machine of tanned flesh. Or maybe a- "Okay, fine, I'm sorry I made fun of you. But this so isn't funny! I can't see my feet like this!"
"You haven't been able to see your feet since Halloween, Cordy." The familiar voice emerged from an unfamiliar face, and Buffy shuddered as one of the white-clad blond girls transformed into Willow's cousin Michelle. The shift was quick, smooth, and visually unoffensive - it wasn't like the creepy skin bubbling thing in that Harry Potter
movie she'd watched with Willow - but something about it just gave her the wiggins. Maybe the fact that people weren't supposed to turn into other people? "And you can get in line. If anyone's getting their clothes fixed, it's me. Because I'll wear some weird stuff, but even I don't do white after Labor Day."
The conversation quickly devolved into bickering: Cordelia versus Michelle about who deserved to be 'fixed' - whatever that even meant - first, Cordelia then appealing to Rachel for help for some reason which in turn set off arguing between Rachel and Anya, the strange white-haired boy eventually jumping into the middle of things between Cordelia, Anya, and Rachel. All the while, Willow stood a few feet away between Harmony an an Asian girl Buffy didn't know the name of, speaking too quietly to be heard as the trio eyed the pair of bony claws jutting from her fist.
While Buffy wasn't the smartest girl alive and was willing to admit as much, even she could put two and two together. Rachel was a telepath. She could have found the small gym on her own. Instead, she'd insisted on Buffy accompanying her. The redhead wanted her to see… if not this, then at least the people. Why? Perhaps… were these the 'personnel' that Missus Frost wanted to send her way in case of major emergency? Buffy shuddered. Frost might not like her, but the idea of the fate of the world resting in Cordelia's hands should have terrified… well, anyone who'd ever met her.
…also, since when did Willow have claws?
November 21, 2011
Sunnydale High School - Lounge
"Do you leave your options open when it comes to making a decision or do you prefer to have matters settled one way or another?" Cordelia stared at the question for a few seconds before making a small gesture with her pen, lowering her floating clipboard so she could stare over it at where her Cordettes were grouped around her in the school's lounge. And she was so going to kill Anya next time she saw the girl because damn it, she couldn't even see things resting in her lap anymore! Short of spending the whole day in her gym clothes, though, there was nothing she could do about it and so she was making do as best she could. Like with her flying clipboard. "Wait, that's a question with two possible choices. Why are there five different options to pick from?"
Chuckling, Michelle looked up from her copy of the career aptitude test. "You think you have it bad? What are the rest of us supposed to put? We let you make the decisions for us." Her comment was sarcastic, which the others evidently missed as they nodded in agreement. With the exception of Willow, of course, who just rolled her eyes.
Cordelia turned her attention back to her test, frowning. All five of the options seemed to center around decision-making; she could definitely see where Michelle's problem was. "Hmm… there should be a box that says 'None of the above' for you guys."
"That would introduce too many variables into their mushroom head, number-crunching little world." Michelle returned her attention to her clipboard before chuckling. "Do I like shrubs? What the hell kind of question is that?"
From her spot on a couch next to Willow, Janet waved her pen back and forth until she caught the redhead's attention. "Well, it could be important if you want to be the next Martha Stewart. Or work at a nursery. Um, the plant kind, not the kid kind. Or…" Twisting, she grabbed Willow by the wrist with one hand before jabbing two fingers of her free hand into the taller girl's side. Willow let out a squeak of surprise and then the claws in her hands ejected, which was evidently exactly what Janet was going for. "Think we could sharpen these somehow? Willow Scissorhands?"
Cordelia sat back in her seat, watching and waiting to see how the next few seconds would unfold. Nobody had been brave enough to question her about the… interesting… outfit Anya had stuck her with, and she'd purposely positioned herself so that passersby would have a hard time seeing her floating clipboard. But Cordelia knew exactly what kind of gossipy little bitches she had on the squad with her. They'd dispersed rapidly as soon as the meeting was over; by now, news that a good half of the Cordettes - including their leader - were X-positive should be all over school. But so far, nobody had said anything to them. Then again, apart from her flying clipboard, none of the newly-outed girls had done anything remotely mutant-like yet, either. Now Willow had. And the reaction was…
Was her power over her peers really that great, that as long as she approved of something, it was cool with them? Because if that was the case… Cordelia had been meaning to try a few new things fashion-wise that weren't strictly 'in' at the moment, but if nobody would give a crap then why not? On the other hand… if the school - or even the entire town - just didn't care about mutation? Then not only would she and the others be safe from persecution, but maybe Emma was wrong about how stupid her minions were. Granted she wouldn't be able to fulfill her experimental fashion dreams, but-
"We want… a shrubbery!"
Someone was interrupting her inner monologue… why exactly? Cordelia looked up to find Michelle and Willow snickering, the dark-haired girl pointing at her cousin. The redhead let out a gasp. "A what?"
"Ni! Ni!! Ni! Ni!" Willow was bouncing up and down in her seat by now and whatever she was missing out on, Cordelia realized that at least some of her Cordettes knew what the hell was going on. Harmony of all people was biting her fist to avoid laughing as Janet joined Willow, bouncing and letting out the same obnoxious noise.
Michelle raised her hands in surrender. "No! No! Please, please, no more! We will find you a shrubbery!"
"You must return here with a shrubbery or else you will never pass through this wood alive."
"Oh Knights of Ni, you are just and fair, and we will return with a shrubbery."
"One that looks nice."
"And not too expensive."
Finally, Cordelia couldn't take it any more. "Is there a point to this stupidity? Because I don't know what your malfunction is, but I'm seriously considering trading you guys in for new friends right now."
The four girls involved looked at each other and then back at Cordelia, nodding sagely. Holding up her clipboard, Michelle pointed her pen at one particular question. "If you like shrubs, you could go on to have a very fulfilling career as a Knight Who Says Ni."
Cordelia just shook her head in disbelief. Why had she let this lunatic near her friends again? Oh right. Mutant solidarity. It made her wonder… now that she knew about Willow and Janet, should she put in more of an effort with them? Become closer friends with them, like she had with Michelle in the days after Halloween?
She let her eyes wander, coming to rest on Brittany and Santana as the pair wandered into the lounge. The blonde's right hand was either on Santana's ass or somewhere in the general vicinity as she gestured with the other. But while her hands were free, her hair was easily picking up the slack, tendrils of hair holding her clipboard, a pen, and… were those other two actually doing something halfway useful with her cell phone? And was she going insane, or had Brittany somehow managed to acquire a handful of rainbow-colored braids in the past hour or so? Cordelia blinked, and then blinked again as the phrase 'gay sharks' drifted through the air to her.
…there was nothing saying she had to be best friends with every mutant that popped up, Cordelia instantly decided. Willow could keep an eye on Janet, Michelle could keep an eye on Willow, and nobody needed to go near the girl who thought the square root of four was 'rainbows' or her girlfriend. As for the one that was already her best friend? "I'm just going to banish these last few minutes to the same place in my mind that holds memories of walking in on my parents or Harmony in compromising situations and move on to… are you a detail person or do you go with the flow?"
Her butt was vibrating.
Michelle squirmed around in her seat, tugging her iPhone out of her back pocket as Cordelia and the others debated whether it counted as 'aspiring to help their fellow man' if they didn't want to go near smelly, dirty, or gross people. Personally, she was pretty sure the answer was no but remaining silent meant she could avoid the inane argument. And check to see who was texting her at this time of day.
'so duz bn yor minion mean i git 2 mAk out w u?'
Oh God, her brain. As hard as she tried to be a typical teenage girl, textese was one thing that Michelle just could not get used to. Highlighting the message, she copied it and then tapped another icon on her home screen, bringing up a website she'd bookmarked specifically for times like this. Tossing it into the input box, she waited for it to come back with a translation… and then blinked. Hopping back into Messages, she opened the conversation with Brittany. 'minion = fwb? tana didn't mention anything like that…'
Eyes wandering around the lounge, Michelle found Brittany and Santana sitting at a nearby table working on their aptitude tests. The blonde looked up from what she was doing and winked, and then her hair began to poke away at her phone again. Michelle had seen it out of the corner of her eye as the pair had passed earlier but hadn't gotten a good enough glimpse to appreciate it. Brittany's head was down, eyes on her test, and yet she was evidently still capable of manipulating her phone. That was pretty damn cool, even to someone who someone who didn't really like smartphones. After a few seconds, Michelle's phone vibrated a few times in rapid succession as a series of messages came pouring in. 'well, i wz santana's minion & fwb b4 we started d8ing. nw we're yor minions. wouldn't mind doin somTIN lIk dat agen. evN figured out how it wouldn't b cheating.'
While she had absolutely no desire to wedge herself into the middle of an established couple - even if it was a pair of smoking hot cheerleaders - the last bit intrigued Michelle. 'oh? and how would that work?'
'i git U 2 turn in2 her & so dat way it's not cheating.'
'so why don't you just make out with tana?'
'because I can't hav a 3sum w jst her. i nEd U 4 that.'
'while i look like tana.'
'so it's not cheating.'
That was some fascinating logic right there. Michelle sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose before opening up a new conversation. 'tana? are you close enough to read my mind? last minute or two?'
Looking up from her work, the Latina eyed her for a moment before nodding. Unlike the telepaths Michelle had met so far, Santana's eyes didn't glow as she worked but the unnatural sensation of ethereal fingers poking around inside her head let her know the brunette was hard at work. After a few seconds, that tapered off and… 'I'd be down for it. After all, I am really pretty.' 'Seriously?' 'Well, depends. Britt and I have talked about spicing things up now and then, but we wouldn't do it with a girl who's taken. Drama city there. And I can think of at least two girls who'd like to take you off the market, even if one won't admit it to herself yet…'
First of all… facepalm.
Second of all… why was she always the last person to find this kind of stuff out?