Wow. That was a bit of a change from last time, wasn't it? But after talking it over with my beta, we agreed it was a good way to deal with the 'not enough shifting' problem within the story. As for the reaction of her peers? Well, I went straight to the source and asked the horse. The Starbucks I spend a good amount of time writing at is frequented by most of the cheerleading squad from the nearby high school. Thanks to boyfriends dragging them to X-Men: First Class
, most of them knew who Mystique was. Out of the two dozen girls I asked, over three-quarters said that their main reaction to finding out a teammate was Mystique would be jealousy first and foremost, followed by a healthy dose of curiosity. Maybe - as I posit later in the story - it's because they're too short-sighted to think of their peers using such power in the same was as the adult Mystique of the older X-Men
movies. Or perhaps the average high school cheerleader is truly so vapid that they would only want to use such a power for simple cosmetic changes, and therefore honestly believe that's all a friend would use it for too. I didn't have time to conduct thorough interviews, so details like that are left to the imagination, but it did give me somewhere to start when it came to the Cordettes.
November 4, 2011
Paseo Nuevo Shops & Restaurants - Jekyll & Hide
Tearing her gaze away from Jekyll & Hide's storefront, Willow tugged impatiently at the suddenly reluctant Harmony's wrist. "You're supposed to be taking me shopping to pretty me up. So… make with the prettying."
Harmony shook her head frantically, jerking her arm back repeatedly in a futile attempt to escape from Willow. "Nuh uh. We had an agreement: if you let me make you over so I could win the bet with Cordelia, I'd give you half of my winnings. Making you over as in a haircut, some makeup tips, and some general fashion advice. If you want to play bondage queen, that's your own business and you can do it on your own time. The only dead cow that comes near me is when it's two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun."
"How you can remember a commercial jingle from the Seventies but never keep your class schedule straight boggles my mind, Harmony." Deciding to change tactics, Willow slipped around behind Harmony and planted her hands at the small of the blonde's back, trying to push the smaller girl forward. "And this totally fits within the bet. Cordelia said I had to meet 'her standards', right? That means one of two things: blond and preppy or unique and collectable. Well, how many girls do you see at school wearing this kind of stuff?" Harmony looked back over her shoulder, opening her mouth to reply, only to be cut off by Willow. "Listen, you hate me and I hate you. The sooner we're done, the sooner you can ditch me. This is what I want to do. This is my resolve face. So make with the cow. Now."
Sighing, Harmony gave in and stepped forward under her own power, making Willow stumble at the sudden lack of resistance. "Fine. But you're getting some clothes made of non-animal fabrics too." Before she could reply, Willow discovered the bottle blond was one step ahead of her. "Other than any socks or underwear you buy today." Poop. Harmony wasn't supposed to outsmart her like that. It defied the natural order of the universe, darn it!
As she followed Harmony into Jekyll & Hide, Willow's eyes began to flit back and forth as she cataloged the incredible variety of items available for sale. She'd always pictured leather as black pants, skirts, jackets, and maybe vests for tough bikers. But this place had a half-dozen different styles of pants, long skirts, short skirts, shorts so short she blushed just looking at them, a few different dresses, what looked like entire business suits made out of leather, and… Willow's face went from a muted blush to flaming red as her eyes landed on the lingerie section. Yeah, she'd stick to her existing collection there. Eep.
Was underwear the only place she should stick to her existing look, though? Queen of Dead Cows wasn't quite what Willow had been picturing when she'd decided she needed a makeover but… well, it'd certainly be different. New. Fresh. Completely the opposite of the her who had failed socially in every possible way. Not to mention that the look on Cordelia's face come Monday morning would be priceless. And, she consoled herself, if this look didn't work out for her either? She could always sell everything off on eBay and use that money to try again.
As she stood there debating the future of her wardrobe, a soft cough to her right made Willow squeak in surprise, whirling to find an amused-looking brunette in a black leather dress staring at her. Unlike most stores, the saleswoman's name tag was on a lanyard around her neck rather than pinned to her clothes… which made sense, since poking holes in leather clothes day in and day out probably wasn't good for them. "Hi. I'm Elle and you're incredibly out of your depth."
"Actually, my name is Willow." Willow's mind backed up and processed the exchange and she ducked her head as a whole new wave of blushing overtook her. "Err, but you're right, though. I wanted a makeover but Harmony's not exactly into leather and so she's about as useful as a screen door on a submarine…"
"I can hear you, you know!"
"…so yeah, I'm a bit out of my depth. Like, jumping off a boat into the Mariana Trench kind of depth problems." Finally pausing to take a breath, Willow gave Elle a nervous smile. "Help?"
Elle laughed and patted her on the shoulder. "It's why they pay me. I'm here to get you from here…" Reaching in, Elle tugged on the arm of Willow's fuzzy blue sweater before spreading her arms and gesturing to the clothes around them. "…to here. Now, first things first. Are you Muslim or Hindu?" Willow shook her head. "Okay, good. Muslims can't wear pigskin leather and Hindus are against cow leather, so if you were either, we'd have to watch what you buy. Jewish?" That got a nod. "Okay, no leather shoes on Yom Kippur or Tisha B'Av. Or if someone you know dies and you're in mourning. Other than that, you're good. Moving on… is anything catching your eye? I'm here to help, not treat you like my Barbie and dress you the way I like to dress."
Coughing to get their attention, Harmony gestured to the store's entrance. "Listen, you two can sit here indulging in your love of all things made of dead animal skin until… oh, that's right, the cows can't come home anymore. You turned them into pants. Anyway, Willow, I'm going to go buy you some normal people tops to pair with your brand new dead cow pants, some makeup, and a few other things you'll need to look presentable. Kay?" Hmm. Rock and a hard place there. On the plus side, it meant getting rid of Harmony. On the other hand, it meant she was putting her faith in Harmony when it came to part of her new wardrobe and Harmony was a good deal more daring than she was. Mehh. She could always return things if she had to. Willow nodded and Harmony sighed. "Good. Because I actually have a date tonight and so I was hoping to find a way to cut this short. Size small shirts, 32B, reds and purples for the most part?"
"Red, purple, black, maybe some blue. You know, if you find anything that you think'll bring out my eyes and oh my gosh, I sound like you and Cordelia. Wow. I need to start spending more time away from you guys." Harmony stuck her tongue out at that before flouncing off on her mission and Willow turned to Elle. "Um, getting back to your question, those long skirts are kinda interesting. I'm not really a miniskirt kind of girl - knee length is about as short as I'll go - and I didn't even know they made ankle length ones but then again I didn't know they made business suits out of leather and a lot of the things in the lingerie section I can't even name so I definitely know they existed before today and…"
Holding up both hands, Elle motioned for Willow to stop and the chattering redhead quickly ground to a halt. "Okay. Longer skirts. We can do that. So why don't you come over here and we'll figure out what style you like so you can try a few on, see what looks best on you…"
November 4, 2011
Rosenberg Household - Living Room
"Jesus Christ, it's a Lion! Get in the…" Gwen trailed off as three white-clad players converged on the Denver quarterback and then began cackling as the sack caused Tebow to fumble the ball, one of the Detroit players recovering it and running all the way back up the field for a touchdown. "I thought this Tebow guy was supposed to be good. What was that, the third sack on him already?"
Blowing a strand of Honolulu Blue hair out of her face, Michelle pondered that for a moment. "Fourth sack, second fumble. He recovered the first one, though. You're right, though. I keep hearing people talk about him like he's the next Joe Montana or John Elway, but he's going down like Harmony on a first date." In the midst of taking a sip from one of two straws they'd stuck into a two-liter bottle of Diet Pepsi, Gwen abruptly snorted soda out of her nose, following up with a series of noises halfway between coughing and laughter. "Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Tip your waiter and the veal."
Gwen could only glare as she took several deep breaths, trying to fill her poor abused lungs. Just as she was finally recovering, the obnoxiously loud squeal of tires made the blonde look back over her shoulder and wince. "Speak of the devil. Sounds like Harmony's back with Willow. And not any better at driving than when I rode with her. Considering your cousin thought Cordelia was horrible behind the wheel… prepare for a green geek in five… four… three… two…" The door burst open and Willow bolted past, dropping a pile of bags at the foot of the stairs as she raced up them, disappearing from sight. A few moments later, loud retching reached their ears. "And this is why I never accept rides from Harmony. Well, anymore."
Another retch came a moment later and Michelle shuddered, looking for something to distract the two of them from Willow's gastronomic distress. Her gaze landed on the pile of bags at the foot of the stairs, most of which bore an unfamiliar logo and the words 'Jekyll & Hide' in flowing script. "Hey, let's see what she bought."
"Aww…" Latching on to Michelle's arm, Gwen offered up her best puppy dog eyes. "Can't it wait? I want to see how the game ends."
Hmm. Clothes or football? Football or clothes? What still remained of the boy inside her screamed football, even though she knew that logically a 'real' teenage girl would probably be more interested in the clothes. Then again, Gwen was a real girl and wanted to see the football… "Gwen, it's a rerun of last Sunday's game. Hence the program being called 'NFL Replay
'. You already know how it ends: Detroit beats Denver by like, forty-five to ten or something."
Gwen sighed loudly. "Yeah, yeah. Can you really blame me for wanting to watch reruns of the Lions winning, though? It's not like it happens very often."
"Seriously, though? You're not at all curious about what Harmony managed to stuff my cousin into during their happy fun mall adventure time?" Michelle bit her lip as Gwen contemplated that for a moment, and then a giggle escaped as the blonde jumped up off the couch, dropping the remote on her vacated cushion before racing over to investigate Willow's abandoned bags. Rising, Michelle followed at a more sedate pace, raising an eyebrow as Gwen quickly separated the bags into four neat piles. "Is this how snooping works out here in California? Because out in New York, it usually involves more-"
Picking up two of the piles, Gwen nodded towards the stairs. "Why snoop when you can snoop and earn brownie points with someone who's still not sure whether or not they like you? We carry the bags upstairs for Willow, help her unpack them, and we get to see what she bought while helping her out because she's sick. Win-win."
How very Machiavellian of her. Michelle shook her head as she grabbed her assigned bags and led Gwen up the stairs towards Willow's room. And here she'd thought it was just a Cordelia thing. Nope. Evidently it was a cheerleader thing. And she was allowing herself to be surrounded by them. Wonderful. Wait. Since when did she know the word 'Machiavellian', much less what it meant and when it applied to people? A remnant of Halloween, presumably, but… in that case, what else was floating around in her head, waiting for an excuse to make itself known?
By the time Willow finally emerged from the bathroom, a disgruntled look on her face and smelling like she'd chugged an entire bottle of mouthwash, Michelle and Gwen had managed to unpack all of the bags, clip tags, and separate the clothes into piles on the bed based on where Michelle guessed they might get stashed in Willow's room. The redhead stood there in the doorway, staring at them uncertainly, only to scowl as Michelle held up an ankle-length black leather skirt and raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Aunt Sheila is going to have a cow when she sees this." Michelle looked back over her shoulder at the bed and then amended her statement. "Well, assuming there are any cows left to be had. I think you and Harmony bought them all." The look she got for that could have peeled paint, but Michelle couldn't help herself. "Hey, you brought this on yourself. There's no reason to get all… moo-dy. Give me a second to think of another one; at this point, I bet you've… herd… them all."
Willow rolled her eyes before stalking forward, snatching the skirt away from Michelle and tossing it back onto the bed. "Funny. Not. Now, is there a reason you're up here bothering me instead of being downstairs doing… whatever you were doing when I got home? And why the heck do you have blue hair all of a sudden? And an ugly blue at that?"
Looking back and forth between the two of them, Gwen raised her hand hesitantly. "Err, my fault on both counts. We were watching the Detroit at Denver game and I saw a few fans in the crowd with dyed hair. Made me wonder if Michelle could turn hers colors like that, or if she was limited to 'real' hair colors. Now we know. And I thought you might like it if we helped you out because you weren't feeling well. Sorry?"
"Oh. Thanks." Wandering over to her dresser, Willow pulled one of the drawers all the way out and then dumped the contents onto the floor. "Well, if you two want to help me get everything sorted out, I could use the help." Dropping the emptied drawer on the bed, Willow frowned and then looked over at her computer. "We might need to look up Leather Care 101 though. I forgot to ask Elle a few things. Like if you can leave leather folded up in a drawer for days and days. I might have a mostly closet-based wardrobe now."
Gwen took a moment to glance down at herself, tugging gently on the hem of her skirt before offering Willow a helpless shrug. "Sorry, you're on your own there. I'm not really a pants person, much less a leather pants person. So this whole leather thing is new to you? Not a secret side of Willow that you've hidden from all of us at school?"
Nodding, Willow made her way back over to the dresser and started dumping out the contents of the rest of her drawers, setting them down on any flat space she could find as she worked. "Yeah. Cordelia bet Harmony that she couldn't bring me up to 'her standards', which meant either blond prep or special little snowflake. So I decided to go with Option B, and picked 'No More Miss Nice Nerd' since I couldn't really think of anyone who wore this kind of stuff to school." When she reached her underwear drawer, she opened it and stared at the contents for a moment before opting against dumping it. Instead, she pulled out what Michelle thought was probably the sexiest of the bras she'd found during her snooping that fateful morning, holding it up so Gwen could see. "On the other hand, what you and the other Cordettes don't know about me could probably fill… one of Cordelia's new bras."
"Huh. Yeah, I'm starting to see that. And good one. We'll make a Cordette out of you yet."
November 4, 2011
A Motel You'd Rather Not Stay At
Thousand Oaks, California
Pacing back and forth in the cheap, no-tell motel she'd chosen for their rendezvous, Raven checked the alarm clock on the nightstand again before sighing. It was just like Victor to be late, especially when he held all the power to begin with. Then again, he was terminally late even when he wasn't deliberately trying to piss her off. Damn man would be late to his own funeral someday… assuming he ever figured out how to die. Finally, twenty minutes after their agreed upon meeting time, the door rattled in its frame as someone pounded on it. Stalking over, Raven wrenched the door open and glared at Victor as he leaned against the frame, smirking down at her. "Wow. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were looking forward to seeing me, Red."
"I am, if for no other reason than to get this over with so I can send you on your way." Despite the fact that the body she was currently wearing only came up to his chest, Raven's powers allowed her to reinforce her muscles and enhance her strength, giving her the ability to pull the much larger mutant into the room before slamming the door shut. "Now, tell me what you found so we can get this over with."
Victor chuckled, licking his lips slowly. "Oh baby, you make me so hot when you talk like that." Raven held out her hand, fingers elongating into claws that rivaled his, and he let out an annoyed sigh before abruptly sobering. "If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Sunnydale is the Brotherhood's version of Westchester. Didn't run into Lorna, but her scent's all over town. So is her daughter's." Raven rolled her eyes before gesturing for him to continue; she cared little about that particular branch of the Lehnsherr clan. "I did find your daughter… and get this. She's playing house with a niece I didn't even know I had. They're 'cousins'." Victor chuckled lowly at that. "Does that mean we're family now?"
Sighing, Raven opted to ignore most of Victor's report in favor of focusing on the most important part. "I have a daughter? You're sure of it?"
"Sure as I can be without dragging the two of you on Maury
. There was something strange about her, though. Madrox's clones all smell exactly like him. This girl… she wasn't your identical twin, but she smelled closer to you than most kids smell like their parents. Almost as close to you as Wanda and Pietro smell to each other." Victor shrugged. "You've got a few other kids out there. Maybe she's your great-granddaughter from fucking your own grandkid or something? Dunno. Don't particularly care. I did my job." Moving closer, he invaded her personal space, one massive hand reaching around to cup her ass. "Time to pay up, Red."
Raven sighed, attempting to squirm out of his grip only to have his free hand come down on her shoulder and immobilize her. She knew that if push came to shove, she could break free of his grip but Victor didn't tend to take 'no' for an answer and the last thing she needed was to be stuck paying off a bill because he trashed the room while subduing her so he could collect his reward. The resulting aches and pains that would inevitably arise from that scenario weren't too appealing either. "You know, I think I liked you better back in the old days, when I could tempt you with money and more tangible rewards."
Shrugging, Victor's hand squeezed her ass almost painfully hard. "Been around for long enough that there ain't a lot of shit out there that I haven't already had and gotten bored of. If you come up with something, I'm all ears, but until then… you know the drill."
"Fine." Because the woman in question did in fact bear a scary resemblance to a mutual acquaintance of theirs, Raven had spent the last few days preparing for this encounter by reinforcing her knowledge of Christina Hendricks, hoping to keep any Emma from bleeding through. The obvious starting point had been a Mad Men
marathon, followed by some failed legal drama called Kevin Hill
, two episodes of a horrible show called Firefly
, and four episodes each from two other shows she'd appeared in. She'd also googled up a dozen or so pictures of the woman at premieres and award shows, wanting to get a handle on how the woman dressed when she wasn't playing a role. An emerald dress with a particularly daring neckline had caught her eye, and so Raven had opted to replicate it for the night. Attempting to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, she pulled herself out of Victor's grasp and took two steps to put a bit of space between them before twirling. "So, what do you think?"
Victor's eyes roamed over her body, spending a considerable amount of time on her exposed cleavage, and then he chuckled. "Nice dress, Red. Bet it'll look even better on the floor, though."
November 4, 2011
Chase Household - Kitchen
"So… you and a shapeshifter. Visiting Claire together. Anything you want to share with me, daughter dearest?"
Pausing in the kitchen doorway, Cordelia finished off her latest text to Harmony before sending it off and looking back over her shoulder at where her mother was perched on a stool at the kitchen island, watching as one of the servants made dinner. "Wow, you almost sounded like a concerned parent there for a second. Are you feeling okay?"
Miriam Chase née Lockner looked up at the ceiling and mouthed a few silent words before making a beckoning gesture. Then came a sharp spike of pain in Cordelia's left ear as her three earrings decided to try and get up and go for a walk. Son of a… why couldn't they make attractive earrings for adults out of plastic? Gritting her teeth, Cordelia stalked over to the island to alleviate the pain, throwing herself onto the stool next to her mother. "Would you rather I be a helicopter mom? Harass you about where you're going when you want to leave the house? Tell you that your skirt is too short? Grill you over every charge that comes through on your credit card? Wave each month's phone bill in your face and demand you tell me who each non-Sunnydale number you've called or texted belongs to?"
"Well no, but-"
"Good, because I don't want to be my mother either. That being said, I think I have a right to be concerned when I find out that my daughter is spending time with the right hand of a dangerous terrorist." The stool she was sitting on turned ninety degrees to the left and Cordelia found herself staring into a pair of green eyes identical to the ones she now possessed. "Why is Raven in Sunnydale, Cordelia?"
Attempting to turn and face forward again, Cordelia rolled her eyes as the stool once more rotated itself so she was facing her mother. "Maybe she likes the food at La Playa Azul as much as us?" Her mother just stared at her, completely unamused, and eventually Cordelia sighed. "It's not Raven. Not exactly. The Raven we know is in either Los Angeles or Washington D.C. right now, pretending to be a senator. There was this whole magical 'turn people into their costume' thing on Halloween, and it turned someone I know who was lame enough to dress as a senator into a mini-Raven. It's also where my makeover came from."
Miriam continued to stare at Cordelia for a few more seconds before shaking her head, flicking her hand and turning Cordelia back around to stare at where Maria was preparing their dinner. "You know, I'm really starting to hate this God forsaken town. First it was a vampire attack while Melody and I were enjoying a girls' night out, and now this. I told Robert it was a bad idea to move to the Hellmouth, no matter how good a deal it sounded like…"