Having written the original descriptions of Willow - and therefore how Michelle differentiated herself from her 'cousin' - from memory instead of pictures of Alyson Hannigan, there were a few things that were backwards in the original version of this story. Michelle being the one without freckles, for instance. Also a bit of updating was done as I bump the timeframe forward into the modern day, both in terms of fashion and accessories. Nothing earth-shattering, but it does ripple forward through the other chapters.
November 1, 2011
Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants - Main Level Concourse
"So, explain to me again how I ended up getting roped into this? Because last time I checked, I didn't like Xander at all and… well, Xander liked staring at me but that doesn't exactly a friendship make. And with how things have gone so far, I'm not sure I'm going to like 'Michelle Flaherty' any more than I liked Xander."
Rolling his eyes at Cordelia's repetition of the same question for the sixth time since they'd arrived at the mall, Xander decided to fall back on the same answers he'd thrown her way the last five times she'd asked. "You got 'roped into this' because you jumped out of your seat, volunteered, and then dragged me out of the library when I mentioned I should probably buy some clothes of my own so I wouldn't have to keep stealing Willow's. Probably because your choices were sitting there researching a cure for our weirdnesses with Giles and Willow or coming to the mall with me." Cordelia let out a noncommittal hum at that and Xander decided to feed her ego a bit. "Besides, who should I have brought with me? Willow's all for me buying my own clothes and is even willing to pay for it using her parents' credit cards because she's in one of her 'if they didn't want me doing whatever I wanted, they'd be here to stop me', rebellious for Willow moods. But, as you love to point out, she isn't exactly fashionable."
A little snort of laughter escaped Cordelia at that. "Willow isn't exactly fashionable? That's like saying Charlie Sheen isn't exactly sane. Bit of an understatement."
"…nice. Moving on… Buffy? Giles needs to know so he can research a cure. Willow walked in on me in her body. You walked in on me blue. I can't change that. But that doesn't mean I want Buffy - or anyone else - knowing about my little problem unless they absolutely have to. That's why I lied and told her I was Willow's cousin. Which should actually help keep her at arm's length until we can fix this, since she'll think she needs to hide her Slayer-ness from 'Michelle'. So that means she's out, Willow's out, and that leaves… Harmony, Gwen, or one of the other Cordettes that I don't really know? And would have no excuse for cornering and dragging on a shopping expedition? Or, you know, you. You, who already knows my deep dark secret and won't blink if I say something boy-ish. Who has forgotten more about fashion than most girls twice our age have learned in their lives. Who knows a thing or three about racking up hefty credit card bills, which Willow wants me to do for some reason." Reaching out, Xander batted at Cordelia's long green hair, making the taller girl scowl and lean away. "And who probably needs to pick up a thing or two to go with her new look. So here we are."
Cordelia paused for a moment before nodding. "Ah. Well when you put it like that, it makes a lot more sense." Standing in the middle of the mall, she looked back and forth, trying to choose between two stores on opposite sides of the concourse. "So anyway, I've got a basic idea for what I want to do with you for a makeover but I figure I might as well ask… anything to contribute?"
"What, you mean like where we should shop or something? Don't know what you were expecting, considering how much you pick on what I usually wear. But no. The mannequins in the windows look the same to me, Cordy." Xander shrugged helplessly, looking first at Abercrombie & Fitch and then over at American Eagle. Yeah, essentially identical as best he could tell. Well, one had a wall up behind the mannequins that was covered in a massive mural of half-naked guys posing in their products, while the other allowed shoppers to look directly into the store itself. But the clothes on the mannequins didn't seem any different to him, no matter how hard he looked. "I don't know, are we a few inches closer to one store or the other? Eeny, meeny, miny, moe? I'll be one, you'll be the other, and we can do rock-paper-scissors?" Actually, he was kinda favoring American Eagle on account of the 'no half-naked guys' thing, but-
Letting out a groan, Cordelia grabbed Xander by the wrist and tugged him towards American Eagle. "Fine. We'll go here. I'm more of an Abercrombie & Fitch girl when I slum it and shop at stores that you and Willow might actually be able to afford, and tolerate Harmony buying most of her clothes there to try and imitate me. So if we get most of your clothes here at American Eagle, it means there's less of a chance of you showing up for school in the same outfit as one of us by accident." Stopping in the entrance, she looked around the store to orient herself before guiding Xander over towards a section with brightly colored tops. "Well, assuming you're planning on coming back to school, that is. You probably should, since I don't think Giles can fix you. Which would also be the reason we're picking up more than two or three outfits for you, by the by."
Xander blinked a few times at that. "Wait, what? Why-"
"I'm not human, Xander. I'm a mutant. Homo sapiens superior
. If you've been turned into one too… if you've had your DNA and your genes and your cells and everything that makes you you changed by whatever happened? Do you seriously think the school librarian is going to be able to fix it?" Cordelia looked uncommonly serious for the first time in ever, and Xander soon found himself looking away from her bright green eyes. "I'm not like, trying to crush your soul or something. I hope he can. I'm doing a damn good job of faking it, but I'm not exactly comfortable in my own skin right now. I'd love to have my own body back, or at least something closer to it." They stood in silence for a moment, and then Cordelia let out a soft hum. "Speaking of closer to normal, what's up with your whole 'dude looks like a lady' vibe?"
Even as his mind reeled at her words, Xander let out a soft gig… snicker at her final comment. Not a giggle. Even if he was a girl on the outside, he wasn't on the inside and he most certainly did not giggle. "Aerosmith? Never saw you as the classic rock type, Cordy. More Billboard Hot 100, flavor of the week and all."
"Shut up, dork. You said it yourself, Aerosmith is classic. Everyone knows Aerosmith." Reaching over, Cordelia jabbed Xander in the ribs with one well-manicured finger. "And avoidance much? Answer the question."
Rolling his eyes again, Xander pulled away so he could examine a rack of t-shirts. The fabric was a bit lighter than what he was used to and Xander knew from past viewing of girls around school that white t-shirts came with their own issues, but the bright floral patterns were kinda cool. Like a girly version of the Hawaiian shirts he loved to blind people with. "Nope. And I didn't exactly need your pep-talk-that-wasn't, FYI. Willow's pretty handy with a computer and has a thing about skipping school. She was already plotting how to create 'Michelle' for me when we left. I'm pretty sure she'll figure it out. I mean, it only needs to be good enough to get me into Sunnydale High, not pass a Secret Service background check. Hopefully she'll run with the story I gave Buffy earlier to explain why I'm showing up all of a sudden. Would be a little awkward if she didn't, but I could probably make it work…"
Cordelia let out a little snicker at that. "Still can't believe how easily she fell for that. And she's supposed to be the one standing between us and the end of the world? We're so screwed." Pulling the shirt Xander was examining from his grasp, she batted at his hand when he let out a whine of protest and reached for it. "I hate to break it to you, but plunging v-necks are for girls with cleavage. Willow, and therefore Michelle, does not fall into that category."
"You do realize I can fix that, right? Shapeshifter and all?" Cordelia arched a brow and Xander looked both ways before concentrating and doing his best to 'misremember', as he'd called it earlier. With one of Willow's fluffy sweaters on, going small time and adding a cup size or so would be visible but not especially dramatic and so Xander decided to go overboard like he had in his library demonstration, melding his favorite feature of Cordelia's onto Willow's body. "Tada. Look familiar? Or have you already forgotten the good old days when you could still see your feet?" And ow. Crap. He really needed to stop doing that while wearing one of Willow's bras.
The green-haired girl stared at Xander's chest in disbelief as he went from having molehills to mountains before looking up to meet his amused gaze. "I have never hated you more than I do right now. Do you know how much it's going to cost me to get these things shrunk back to normal? And you can do that kind of thing just by thinking about it." Then Cordelia went from a pout to a scowl and smacked him on the shoulder. "And shut up. I can too see my feet." Xander shot her a disbelieving look at that. "What? I can? My breasts aren't that… okay, fine, I can only see my toes." He raised an eyebrow. "My big toe." The other rose. "Okay, fine, the tip of my shoe and only when it's something nice and pointy. Happy now?"
Now that his ability to properly wear it had been established, Xander returned his chest to normal and then reclaimed the floral shirt from Cordelia. "Well, you have neat powers too, Cordy. I'm sure that when I need to get metal things down off shelves over my head, I'll be very jealous of you. Besides, who says you need to have surgery? I think you look perfect just the way you are." Cordelia reached out to smack him again and Xander dodged away, looking around more. Rifling through the racks of shirts, Xander found another blue and white shirt like the first, then one in shades of red, and then a blue and purple one. That was about as girly as he was willing to go, though, passing up on the pink shirt, as well as the yellow. He moved on to another display of similar t-shirts, these in solid colors with logos printed on them, but Cordelia pushed him past them and onward to some regular tees. "What?"
Cordelia pulled a black t-shirt with the store's name across the chest in beadwork off a shelf, holding it up to Xander's chest before tossing it onto the pile that was growing in his arms. "We're going into rainy season. And it does get a little chilly at night during the winter. You'll probably want stuff a bit more covering for either of those times. Not to mention that you can pass it on to Willow when you get fixed." Good points all around. "Seriously, though, answer the question. Or… or I'll start giving you bad fashion advice." Xander snorted at that and she quickly relented. "Okay, maybe not bad, but you'll be barely passable. C'mon. I'm curious. This is kinda fun because it's probably the closest I'll ever come to turning Willow into a real girl, but why are we doing this? Why 'Michelle'? Why not 'Bob' or 'Joe' or 'Mike'?"
Sighing, Xander continued on and selected a few more t-shirts and even a tank top that matched the floral ones he'd picked out earlier, before turning and heading for the large selection of jeans on the far wall. He was tempted to ignore her, but since she'd probably just keep nagging him… "Forgot you missed the two times I've given this speech. I don't know about your Mystique, but my powers seem to work off of how familiar I am with someone. I can't turn back into myself for some reason. Maybe because I don't spend as much time staring in the mirror as you? Dunno. I can't do it; does it matter why? As for other guys, I don't really pay much attention to them and so I do even worse as other guys than I do at turning into me. I guess I could change that, but… I'd feel kinda gay."
"And running around in drag isn't gay?"
"Does this count as drag? Since I'm a girl under the girl's clothes and all?" Xander and Cordelia paused to ponder that one for a few seconds before shrugging almost in unison and resuming their journey. "Besides, if you think about it, I'm kinda living the dream right now. I can get to second base all by myself. Guys would kill to be me." Cordelia let out a groan of disgust, flicking her hand and slamming the arm of a nearby rack against Xander's shoulder. "Ouch! Anyway, couldn't be me, couldn't be another guy… that left me with three choices: girls, girls, and additional girls. Willow made the most sense at the time since I needed someone I could picture well and I had easy access to her house to get clothes from. Now, we have a backstory and so I'm just, you know, going with it. I think I'm going to make a few changes, though. After all, we're cousins not identical twins."
Cordelia smirked, looking over at Xander before letting her eyes drift down a bit. "Changes like your chest."
"Like my chest. So shoot me, I'm male." Xander looked down at himself, chuckling as he realized the irony of that statement. "Well, sorta. Going to do my eyes, too. Add some freckles. I want to change up my hair a bit but I don't know how yet. I'll probably hop on Willow's computer later and go looking for ideas." Coming to a halt in front of the rather intimidating wall of denim, Xander frowned before looking over at his green-haired fashion consultant. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to check my tag and then go find some jeans in the same size? Because… are those jeans actually different from each other? I mean, I see four or five shades of blue, but if there's something else going on there, I'm missing it."
Blinking, Cordelia stared at Xander in disbelief for a moment before pointing towards a section near the back of the store marked 'Aerie'. "Just go, before I start ranting and attract attention. Go on. Shoo. And just for that, I'm buying you a skirt. A miniskirt."
"Two miniskirts. Emphasis on mini."
Xander decided to cut his losses and run, giving Cordelia a moment to check the tag on the jeans he was wearing before heading to the back of the store as directed. As he got closer, though, he started to wonder if tempting fate with Cordelia in the jeans section might be safer. Because while 'Aerie' hadn't really told him anything, he couldn't possibly mistake where he'd been banished to. He was in the underwear section.
Steeling himself, Xander took a deep breath and entered No Man's Land. He helped Buffy save the world from vampires and demons on a regular basis, and had survived encounters with a praying mantis woman and an Incan mummy girl. Not to mention that hyena spirit incident.
If he could survive those things, Xander told himself, he could survive this. Reaching one of the displays, he sighed in relief. All right, this wouldn't be so bad. Safer than going through Willow's underwear, at least. Especially when he stuck to the 'five for twenty-five' section, there were lots of options that didn't completely offend his sensibilities: dozens of colors and patterns each in briefs, boy shorts, and something called 'tangas'. A moment's examination of the 'cheekys' was enough to convince him that they were not his sort of thing, though; all-lace backsides that left his butt exposed were a definite no. Not quite as bad as the bikini and thong styles, but still a great big no.
"Excuse me, can I help you?" Holy sneaky salesgirl, Batman! Hmm. The store had no windows. Was… Xander squinted, checking the girl's name tag… Emily here a vampire? The only other person who had that level of sneakiness, at least that he knew, was Angel. Oh wait, sneaky girl was talking. He should probably pay attention. "Miss? Do you need help? Because no offense, but I haven't seen someone look this lost since I brought my girlfriend Liz in to try and convince her that she could be the one 'wearing the pants' in our relationship and still dress like a girl."
Xander let out a snort of laughter at that as he began to pick out pairs of boy shorts at random, sticking mostly to blues because… well, even if he was a girl, blue. There would be no pink or purple or other soft, girly colors in his future, thank you very much. "No, I'm fine. Just sorta had a 'bwah?' moment because I didn't know these were on the shopping list today. Although bras are going to be difficult because I don't know what size I want yet…"
That earned him a strange look from Emily. "Uh, you get the size that fits, silly. Or is that the problem? We have a measuring tape in the back; I could do a fitting for you real quick like so you can buy the right bras."
"No, my problem is I don't know what size to buy because I don't know if I want to keep them this size or go up or down a…" Xander trailed off, realizing exactly who his audience was. Emily was staring at him the same way most people would stare at a two-headed snake or a three-eyed fish. The same 'what the hell?' expression he was pretty sure he'd had when he found out about the Slayer dating a vampire. Shit. Xander decided to fall back on an old standby: weird people out so they go away. "Hi! I'm Michelle! This one time, at band camp…"
November 1, 2011
Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants - American Eagle
Cordelia frowned as she looked back and forth between the six different styles of jeans that the store offered. If she'd been shopping for herself, things would have been easy: their Skinny jeans were the closest to what she tended to wear. But she wasn't shopping for herself. She was shopping for a girlified Xander. He would probably do better with the intentionally more masculine Favorite Boyfriend look. Grabbing a pair in each of the four washes offered, she hesitated before grabbing two pairs of the slightly more feminine Artist jeans as well, going for the extreme opposites of Painted Super Light and Rinse Indigo to give Xander the most flexibility when it came to putting together outfits.
An almighty crash made Cordelia look back over her shoulder. Xander was still over in the underwear section, although he hadn't klutzed out and caused the awful noise, surprisingly enough. No, that distinct honor went to a brunette salesgirl who was fleeing Xander's presence like the hounds of hell were chasing her. Their eyes met and Xander offered up a sheepish grin. Sighing, Cordelia looked away and counted the pairs of jeans in her arms before moving on towards the skirts. More than likely, she really didn't want to know.
November 1, 2011
Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants - Main Level Concourse
"Oh no. Hell no." Digging the heels of his new Keds in, Xander came to a stop and refused to move one more inch. "I am not going into Frederick's of Hollywood with you. Having to sit there picking out girl underwear for my new body? Awkward enough. Standing around in there while you pick out all sorts of sexy stuff and ask me for my opinion? Infinitely worse." Actually, to be honest, it sounded pretty close to heaven in Xander's opinion. But it was that fact that told Xander that him going through with it was a horrible idea: he knew he'd inevitably slip and say something he shouldn't, causing Cordelia to unload on him. Falling into a wood chipper was one thing. Sticking your arm into it voluntarily was something else entirely.
Cordelia just rolled her eyes before giving another tug at his arm. "Listen, I just spent two hours of my life helping you get every possible item of clothing a girl might need. The least you can do is come along so I can see how bad squeezing these monsters into what this place calls an F-cup might be. There's a boutique in town for girls my size, but replacing all my bras there would cost me… well, it'd cost Willow her first and secondborn, and just because I have money doesn't mean I like wasting it for no good reason. And they're not much cheaper online. So even if I'm a bit too big for anything at Freddy's, if I can find anything that fits well enough for now, I'd rather go with that. Especially if there's a chance we might fix this soon. Besides, giving fashion feedback is part of being a girl. You want to wear the form, you've gotta learn how to play the role."
Shaking his head, Xander continued to strain at Cordelia's iron grip as he attempted to flee the latest indignity she seemed intent on making him suffer. "Fine then. From this point forward, Michelle will be a butch lesbian who likes sports, carpentry, and… and monster trucks! So there! No fashion discussions for me!"
"You're pathetic." Releasing Xander's wrist, Cordelia opened her purse and held a hand over the top, a pair of nail scissors shooting up to slap against her palm. Handing them over, she pointed off down the concourse. "Fine. Go to the food court and make yourself useful. If you clip your tags here, you can get straight to unpacking when I drop you back off at home. I'll meet you there in half an hour." Finally. Food, relaxing, and small amounts of menial labor. That was a plan he could get behind. "And don't you dare eat any of the junk they serve there. Unless you want to be the fat butch lesbian. We can start in on proper diet lessons tomorrow."
Xander grinned as he raised a hand and wiggled his fingertips, turning them blue to remind Cordelia of his new nature. "Shapeshifter, Cordy. Who's to say I get fat?"
Jaw working, Cordelia scowled as she failed to come up with a counter to his argument. "Hate you. Now get, before I decide to drag you in with me anyway." That was incentive enough for him and Xander hustled off towards the food court before Cordelia sank her claws into him again and dragged him into No Man's Land with her. Picking the nearest empty table, he dumped his pile of bags in a rough half circle around one chair before sinking into it with a groan. Only Cordelia could turn shopping into an aerobic exercise.
Eyes wandering back to the predominantly glass storefront of Frederick's, Xander's brow furrowed as he thought back to that morning. Seeing the store in person reminded him that he really did need to ask Willow about her new shopping habits. Maybe when he got… or not. Bringing up the contents of her underwear drawer would just remind her that he'd been digging in it, something she'd been distinctly unhappy about. Probably safer to remain quiet and curious for now.
Returning his attention to the food court, Xander tried to keep from drooling as his stomach rumbled unhappily and the tantalizing scents of fast food tempted his nose. No. The last thing he needed was Cordelia talking his ear off because he'd decided to have it his way. As his eyes wandered, not really in that big a hurry to get to work on tags, his eyes landed on a boy at another table. A boy who seemed to be staring at him rather intently… or rather part of him. Oh great. Xander sighed. He'd hoped to avoid this particular part of being a member of the fairer sex for at least a little bit longer.
Neither the returned stare nor an intense glare seemed to catch his attention and so finally Xander rolled his eyes, lowering one hand in front of his cleavage and making a rude gesture. The boy jerked upright in shock before offering a sheepish smile. And then, much to Xander's surprise and horror, the boy got up and wandered over to take the seat across from Xander at the table. "Sorry. Normally I'm not that bad but… wow. You're so gorgeous, I just couldn't help myself. So, I haven't seen you around before. My name's Scott."
"Uh, Michelle." Crap. Now what? Right about now, Frederick's was sounding like paradise. Finally, Xander decided on a variation on the truth… after all, he was into women and was a woman at the moment. "Listen, before this gets far enough to be really awkward? I'm just gonna come out and let you know I'm a lesbian. I mean, if you wanna sit here with me and stare at other girls' chests and be like 'wow, she's hot' or something, that's cool. If you want to sit here staring at my chest and tossing out bad pick-up lines… yeah, we're going to have problems."
Scott blinked before slowly rising from his seat. "Oh. Um. Uh. Sorry to bother you. I'm just going to… go somewhere that's not here. Yeah. Bye."
As he beat a hasty retreat, Xander just raised a brow. "Was it something I said? Hmmph. I didn't even get to make that joke about converting one more girl and getting a toaster oven."