The last of Xander's transformation is at hand as Cordelia helps turn a Willow-shaped-Xander fully into Michelle. No, I'm not really aiming to pattern Xander's girl self after the character from American Pie
; I originally hit up IMDB for a list of Alyson Hannigan's other roles with the goal of grabbing the name of one for Xander to use. Then I saw an opening for the infamous line and decided to go with it. From there… I could have changed it, I suppose, but as I was sitting down to map out the future of this fic, I realized why the last name sounded familiar and that I could quite easily construct an entire character background and some hobbies for Michelle from just that. In the end, I think everything turned out rather well but your mileage may vary.
November 1, 2011
19 Blue Salon & Spa
"Are you sure you haven't already killed your reputation before your first day of school? Because I mean, I wasn't stupid enough to think you'd suddenly grow an interest in men when you turned into Ministique and I'm down with you swinging whichever way you want, but I don't want to get pulled under with you because people assume that anyone who spends time with you must be gay too."
Xander didn't even look up from the new iPhone that Cordelia had insisted he buy, trying to figure out how to use his first cell phone ever. Talk about getting tossed into the deep end; he'd wanted to get a nice simple phone that was a phone, with buttons to push like a real phone was supposed to have. Instead, Cordelia had insisted on the 'in thing': a two hundred dollar touchscreen toy that was so far beyond him, it wasn't even funny. Then again, Willow had wanted him to run up the Rosenbergs' credit card bill. A two hundred dollar phone that came with an eighty dollar a month, two year Verizon contract certainly qualified as such in his book. "For the last time, Cordy, he was wearing a UC Sunnydale hoody and looked a bit too old for high school. Looked a bit too old for college, too; he's either on the six or seven year plan or clinging to the glory of the half a semester he lasted before dropping out. Either way, I'm sure he was just a scuzzy twenty-something who decided to try his luck with what he was hoping was a naïve little high school girl. You know, the Harmony type who's so impressed by the older college guy thing that the 'worthless sack of crap' factor doesn't sink in until he's pulled the hit and run?"
Sighing, Cordelia made an abrupt left turn that sent Xander bouncing off the door of the Escalade. "Whatever. Let's just hope for your sake that he doesn't have a little brother he drops off at school because he still lives at home or something. Oh, and good job working the Harmony insult into the middle of all that. You'll get the hang of this girl thing in no time."
Joy, Xander thought. Just what he always wanted. Silence descended as they rolled onward, Cordelia deftly negotiating the maze of streets as she navigated toward their destination. When they finally came to a stop and she elbowed him to get his attention, Xander looked up to find himself sitting in front of a small but fancy-looking salon, his eyes widening as he realized what Cordelia had planned for him next. "Can I ask what might be a very stupid question?"
"If I say no, will that actually stop you from asking it?"
"Ugh. All right, what?"
Xander reached up, running one hand through his long red hair. With the exception of the larger breasts he'd morphed on while shopping and kept so they could buy stuff that would properly fit Michelle, he'd left the rest of Willow's form as-is despite already having ideas for some changes. The fact that he already had a partial plan of action for morphing his form, though, just served to remind him of his metamorphic state and the unique problems it posed for him. "Considering my hair looks like whatever I want it to look like… why are we at a salon? I'll just end up paying for a haircut that will probably disappear the first time I have to shapeshift because I'll remember Willow's real hair instead when I shift back into Michelle."
Rolling her eyes, Cordelia put the SUV in park and turned it off. "God, but you are a male. Think for a second. You decided to give Michelle more chest than Willow, right?" Xander nodded. "Are you going to be a 34D when you shift back into Michelle, you think, or fall back on Willow's 32B?"
"Pretty sure I can remember I'm a 34D, especially since that's the only size of bra I own, and that…"
"All right, so try and follow me here… if we change what you think about as 'Michelle's hair' the way you've changed your idea of 'Michelle's chest'? Why wouldn't it come back when you shift in and out of this body?" She might actually have a point there, Xander had to concede. Not that he'd ever tell her as much, but the way she was smirking at him let him know she was already well aware. "Besides, think about it. You have an opportunity that no other… okay, no other non-Mystique woman does. You can have any color, length, or body of hair you want, all without the stylist having to do anything. We can start with different looks based on short, straight blond hair, then try out some long black curls, and so forth and so on until we find something just right for you."
Exiting the SUV, Xander waited for Cordelia to lock the doors and set the alarm before following obediently. She did have a point, he realized. Other girls would need chemical treatment to change hair colors… he didn't. If a normal girl got her hair cut short and didn't like it she was stuck, while he could just regrow his. But… "Won't that freak out the workers? Girl with incredible changeable mood hair?"
Cordelia shook her head, pulling a hair tie off her wrist and yanking her green mane back into a simple ponytail as they approached the front door. "I'm going to go with no. I mean, they help my mom hide her green from the world. And they've known about me being a mutant for two years or so." Pausing, Cordelia let out a rueful chuckle. "Not that I was planning to come out to them but, well, kinda hard to hide it after you wreck the place with your mind because your stylist won't dye your hair green for you."
The mental image made Xander blink a few times before staring at Cordelia oddly. "…you wanted green hair?"
"Go ahead, download some Alanis on your new phone and hit play. It's a long story that involves meeting Emma Frost and wanting to show mutant pride without coming out of the X-Closet. Considering she spends a lot of money hiding her green, three guesses how Mom took it when I told her that one. I decided to run with the whole 'forgiveness versus permission' thing and came over here anyway, Claire told me that she wasn't going to lose Mom and her friends as customers just to dye my hair for me, and then…" Cordelia waved her hands around, stirring up a few loose bits of metal that littered the pavement. "Clippers and scissors were flying into mirrors, metal shelves were tipping over… the whole place ended up a great big mess. They already knew about my mom, though, so they weren't too surprised. Just annoyed. My parents paid to fix everything up, I got yelled at when I got home, and after a few months Claire let me come back because I tip well. And I still come here because they're the best in town."
Falling back on general gallantry that was still holding over from when he was still a he, Xander reached past Cordelia and opened the door for her. She gave him an odd look but slipped past, entering the salon and leaving him to bring up the rear. As he blinked his eyes, trying to adjust to the comparative dimness after being out in the bright California sun, a high-pitched shriek made him flinch. "Cordelia Dominique Chase!" Xander had to snicker at that one. Cordelia's initials were CDC? "What did you do to your hair? Your mother is going to kill you! And then me, because she'll assume it's my doing!"
Xander was curious how Cordelia was going to explain this; mutants were a known phenomenon and the salon staff might have been accepting of Cordelia being part of Homo sapiens superior
, but how would they take magic? Not an issue, he discovered a moment later as Cordelia gave an exasperated sigh and reached up to tug on her ponytail. "I know, right? Remember that wig I had you helping me trim? For my Black Cat costume for Halloween?" The woman nodded. "Well, my aunt and uncle were passing through on their way to Baja California the other night and Aunt Wanda decided to play a prank on me." She gestured to her chest and then her hips, drawing the woman's attention to her newly enhanced figure. "I think she was trying to turn me into my Halloween costume and just… slipped? Or maybe there was alcohol involved and you shouldn't drink and bend reality? No clue. But now I'm part-Black Cat, part-Miriam, part-Cordelia, and all annoyed. I swear to God, I'm going to kill that woman next time I see her."
Grabbing Cordelia's wrist, the woman who'd greeted them with such an awful noise looked the cheerleader's arm over. "I don't blame you. I don't even know what to do here. If we dye it, your roots will show before the dye even wears off your skin. If you want, we could always go the removal route like your mother? Waxing or something a little more permanent?" Her attention drifted upward. "We can definitely get your brows and hair, but you'll need to be in here… probably weekly to get the roots touched up. Same rates as your mother, of course."
Cordelia pulled her arm away and shook her head. "Actually, I'm keeping it. Mom wouldn't let me dye it green, but she can't force me to dye it brown now that it's actually green, either. No, I'm just transportation for the real patient, Claire. Poor Michelle here is in desperate need of your help."
"I'll say. I mean, I know low maintenance is in with some crowds, but no maintenance?" Reaching up, Claire flicked Xander's forehead, making him take a step back. "And seriously, sweetie, pulling your hair back when you have such a prominent widow's peak? Are you trying to look like Eddie Munster?"
"…there's just one problem. You can't actually do anything to her hair." Claire gave Cordelia an incredulous look at that and the green-haired girl held one hand up just in time to catch a pair of flying scissors. "She's like me. Only… not." Moving to stand beside Claire, Cordelia gave Xander an imperious wave. "Show her."
Deciding to go with a big change so there was no way for Claire to mistake what she was seeing, Xander transformed from his current Willow-based Michelle form to what would have been Cordelia's twin had she not been affected by Halloween's magic. Claire gave a little squeak and jerked back at that before gaining control of herself, looking Xander up and down before frowning. "Oh. So… wait, no, I'm not getting it."
Xander sighed. "I'm a shapeshifter. Anything you can do, I can do - or accidentally undo - in a few seconds with a thought. Cutting, styling, dying, whatever."
"What she's not getting is that the opposite is true too. Anything you can show her - if she can memorize it well enough - she can create with her powers. Key words there being memorize it well enough. Seriously, if she misses a spot, she could end up with a straight red patch in the middle of wavy brown hair or something. But… I have a plan." Cordelia grinned before pulling away, turning to gesture toward the storage room at the back of the salon. "You're still teaching over at Sunnydale City College, right? And your students start on wigs before you set them loose on the poor saps who go there for cheap haircuts?"
Suddenly, understanding dawned on Claire's face. "Instead of styling her real hair, we'll give some fake hair a makeover and she can circle it to memorize it from all sides and shift her own hair into that?" That got her twin nods. "Hmm. Do we have to go with that exact shade of red? Because it's not entirely bad on you, but a nice warm copper would look so much better on you. Oh! Maybe with some blond highlights?"
Xander looked from the excited Claire to the indifferent Cordelia and back before shrugging. "If you think it'd look better? You're the expert here, not me. Cordelia likes to pretend she is, but now I'm see who the real brains behind the throne is." Bowing at the waist, he spread his arms wide. "I am at your mercy, oh wonderful Claire, Goddess of Cosmetology."
As he was hauled towards the back of the salon, Xander barely caught Cordelia's parting shot. "Well, it was nice knowing you…"
November 1, 2011
Rosenberg Household - Living Room
The rumble of an engine made Willow look up from where she was doing homework in the living room, eschewing the familiarity of her desk in favor of a spot that let her watch the street in front of her house. A black SUV was idling at the curb and as she watched, a girl hopped out of the passenger side and opened the rear door, emerging with a number of shopping bags that made Willow's eyes bug out. Holy poop! Was there anything left at the mall or had they bought it all? Awkwardly waving goodbye with the less full of her two hands, the redhead turned away and began heading up the walk as the SUV pulled away, driving off into the dwindling light.
More than a little curious about how Xander's afternoon with their least favorite girl in the world had gone, Willow hopped up and rushed over to the front door, opening it just as he reached the front step. He hustled past her with a grateful smile, making his way into the living room and dropping his army of shopping bags with a relieved sigh. After a few seconds, he turned to face her and his expression turned hesitant and uncertain as he held his arms out away from his body. "So… what do you think? Is it me?"
"Well, it's certainly not me anymore." Actually that wasn't quite true, Willow decided as she reentered the living room, looking Xander up and down slowly. The two of them definitely still looked like the cousins 'Michelle' had told Buffy they were at a minimum, or possibly even sisters. Which would come in handy, since it looked like Xander was actually to have to live out that particular lie for the time being. But for better or worse, Michelle was definitely her own person now rather than Willow's twin from another mother. Her hair was cut shorter than Willow had ever worn hers - save for the infamous gum incident back when she was eight - and she'd turned it a more coppery shade of red with distinct blond highlights. The blue eyes she'd started with as a part of her borrowed Willow look were gone too, replaced with chocolate brown irises, and the orangish freckles had returned on her face as well as the tops of her breasts. Willow frowned at the latter, realizing that she was seeing significantly more flesh peeking out of Xander's shirt than she ought to be. "Did you really have to mess with my… you knows?"
Shrugging sheepishly, Xander looked down at his chest. "Kinda. I mean, I needed to make a few changes to my body just to make us look a bit less identical, but then I found these great shirts when Cordelia and I were shopping. And as she pointed out, to make them look right, I needed to be a bit more…" Pausing for a moment, he stumbled for an explanation before gesturing to his breasts. "Cordelia-esque. So I made them bigger."
Willow huffed, looking away from Xander. "Well maybe if you wanted to look 'Cordelia-esque', maybe you should have been her long-lost cousin instead of mine, huh? And aren't you worried that Buffy's going to notice that you changed overnight?"
"Like Buffy's going to notice anything that's not undead and in possession of a penis. But if she does… so what? You had to loan me a sweater because UPS didn't drop off my boxes of clothes until after we got home from school today, and it hid my real figure. And my hair is different because I ran into Cordelia, she decided I was interested, and I got dragged to the salon by her as a 'getting to know you' thing." Frowning, Xander set his bags down and made his way towards Willow. "But for some reason, I've got a feeling this isn't actually about Buffy. What's wrong, Willow?"
Letting out a semi-hysterical laugh, Willow took a few step backwards as she stared at Xander in disbelief. Had he seriously just… "What's wrong? Seriously? What's wrong? Everything's wrong, Xander! I mean, let's start with the simple one. You're making me lie to Buffy. My best friend!"
Xander's reaction wasn't even close to what she was expecting, though. "…what am I, chopped liver? After ten years, I'm being replaced by a girl you've known for… what? Five months? What the hell, Wills?"
"Well… I mean…" Wait a second. Willow scowled. How was this turning back on her? This wasn't about her. This was about Xander and his bad behavior, wasn't it? "Second best friend, then. Best girl friend. Maybe my real best friend after all this, though. Whatever. I don't know. Whatever she is, though, you're still making me lie to Buffy for you! Why?"
Xander groaned, burying his face in his hands. "Yeah, sure, let's tell Buffy. Then we'll let Harmony know. And then maybe that group of stoners that likes to hang out behind the gym. I mean, who cares who knows that Xander's got himself turned into a girl for a while and came to school like that until he got fixed? That's not the kind of thing I'd like to keep to myself or anything…"
To be honest, Willow hadn't thought of it like that. And maybe he had a point. But then there was the whole other non-Buffy half of her grievances to air. And oh boy, was she gonna air them. "Fine. Then what about this?" She gestured to his borrowed, now modified body. "I always thought you just never noticed me. Never noticed I was a girl. But now I know you look. A lot. And what do I get out of it? Nothing. You do the stupidest stuff hoping Buffy will notice you like her, you have your weird little pigtail-pulling matches with Cordelia, you get beat up by jealous jocks for checking out their girlfriends… is that where I'm messing up? Should I find some cute boy to hang out with all the time to try and make you jealous? Or make mean comments to you all the time? Or… or dye my hair blond and wear tiny skirts and show off my chest and use 'like' six times a sentence?" Abruptly changing directions, she stomped towards him, hands coming up to push against his shoulders. His grunt and step backwards only emboldened Willow, the redhead giving him a harder shove and making him stumble back further as she advanced with eyes blazing. "And now you're doing… this… to my body. What? Is this what you wish I looked like? Is this what I'd have to be to finally get some attention from you?" Invading Xander's personal space, she fisted her hands in his shirt and shook him. "Why can't you just like me how I am? Why can't you like me, damn it?!"
Xander opened his mouth but before he could say anything to try and pacify her, Willow tugged him forward by the shirt as she buried her face in his shoulder and burst into tears.
November 1, 2011
Sunnydale High School - Library
Letting out an irritated sigh, Buffy Summers closed the book in front of her and pushed it away. For some reason, Giles had her researching transformative magic, the Roman god Janus, and especially anything that referred to the combination of those two. Why that? She had no idea. Why her? She… also had no idea. Where were Willow and Xander?
Oh, right, Willow was probably still helping her newly arrived cousin settle in. Buffy frowned as she thought back to her brief introduction with the obnoxious redhead. Was it her fault that Willow and Michelle had looked really similar at a quick glance? And at a second glance, for that matter? It wasn't just the face and hair, either; the two of them dressed… the blonde couldn't even call it 'similarly'. She'd recognized Michelle's sweater as something Willow had bought for herself during their last trip to the mall. Which meant that the only real differences between the girls were… what? Different colored eyes and Michelle had freckles? Like Buffy spent a lot of time staring into other girls' eyes. Not.
That left Buffy with two equally unpalatable choices to pick from: she could either call Willow and try to convince her friend to ditch her own cousin to come to the library and do research she didn't want to do, or she could cut Willow out of things until Michelle packed herself back up and left Sunnydale to return to… wherever she was from. Except she didn't know how long Michelle was going to be in town for. Sure, she'd said a month… but if her parents were anything like Willow's? There was no saying it wouldn't end up turning into two months, the rest of the semester, or even the entire rest of the school year.
But even if it didn't… did she want to be without Willow's help for a month? She was the Slayer, not the Researcher. That was Giles's job… and Willow's. And Xander's. And maybe Michelle's too? Hmm. Maybe they could figure out a safe and non-freak-inducing way of introducing Michelle to the supernatural? After all, if she was going to be in town and in Willow's life and taking up the time and attention of the group's best researcher, wasn't it only fair that she gave back to the Scoobies in some way?
Because doing it all herself sucked. Scowling at the empty donut box leftover from a few nights before, Buffy grabbed another book and opened it, skimming the pages as she searched for the specific phrases Giles had told her to look for.
November 1, 2011
van Dyne Household - Kitchen
Opening the sliding glass door and stepping out onto the small porch attached to the back of her house, Evelien did her best to look nonchalant as she looked around her seemingly empty backyard. Although her daughter might disagree, she liked to think she was a fairly progressive and 'cool' mom. After all, she didn't complain about her daughter devoting more time to cheerleading than academics, nor had she freaked out when said daughter had dyed her hair maroon and gold out of 'Razorback Pride'. She'd even taken the revelation of her daughter's… uniqueness… rather well, and done her best to accept the strange behavioral quirks that had arisen because of it.
Evelien let out a soft sigh as she hooked one foot under a t-shirt lying abandoned on the deck before kicking it back through the door into the house, repeating the process with a pair of jeans. She'd spent most of her third trimester reading every parenting book she could get her hands on, and yet none of them had included a chapter that covered how to handle this. She would have blamed it on giving birth back in the Nineties, when mutants were either rare or at least better at hiding themselves, but the more recently published books she'd downloaded onto her Kindle had also lacked a chapter entitled 'so, your mutant daughter likes to fly around the backyard after doing her homework'. Maybe she should try her hand at writing Raising Mutants for Dummies
, she mused. After all, the cost of higher education was going up and the family wasn't made out of money…
Suddenly, something blurry raced past her face, pulling Evelien from her thoughts as it circled her twice before touching down on the deck in front of her. As the black speck began to stretch upward, growing into a familiar dark-haired figure, she held out the yellow sundress she'd brought outside with her. "Dinner's ready. Assuming you haven't eaten yet, that is."
"Had a few caterpillars a few hours ag-"
"Perfect. Means you have plenty of room for my meatloaf."
"Did I say 'a few'? I meant a lot. I'm stuffed. Couldn't possibly eat another bite."
Evelien allowed herself the briefest of smirks before forcing herself to adopt a sad look. Really, her daughter was far too predictable. "Oh really? Wait, did I say meatloaf? That's tomorrow. Your father stopped at Kai Sushi Shabu Shabu on his way home from work today and picked up food from us. But if you're too full to eat dinner with us… maybe he can take your spicy tekkadon to work tomorrow for lunch so it doesn't go to waste?"
Scowling, Janet van Dyne snatched the sundress out of her mother's hand and tugged it on over the matching black sports bra and shorts she was wearing. "You're evil, Mom."
"I know it's hard to imagine, sweetie, but I was your age once. There's not a trick in your book that I haven't pulled myself."