November 26, 2011
Chase Household - Backyard
An hour and a half later, the girls were all awake, fed, showered, and dressed. In the case of all the non-Cordelia members, the last involved donning their outfits from the night before, which had been carefully cleaned by the Chase family's servants. Having opted to eat before showering so that she could have second dibs on Cordelia's ensuite rather than using a smaller guest bathroom, Michelle was the last girl to make her way down to the living room. There she found not only her companions from last night, but also the first arrivals for what was evidently going to be a full squad gathering. Including Gwen, who quickly hauled her away so they could talk privately.
"I am really tempted to point out that emails aren't going anywhere and bug you about that look Cordelia gave me when I hugged you… but eh, that story's not going anywhere either." Frowning as her fingers flicked back and forth over the screen of Cordelia's iPad, Gwen opened the attached PDF bearing her name and began scrolling through the information it contained. Michelle had taken the liberty of reading it earlier, just in case there was anything in there that she thought might require a follow-up email from Emma to clarify. Given that she could understand most of it and Gwen was as smart as her - if not slightly smarter - she thought they were in good shape. "So, long story short is that I'm probably a mutant and my power is that I'll turn into something that's not perfectly solid?"
Michelle nodded; she too had caught that little bit of idle speculation by Doctor Banner at the bottom of the file. Evidently there were commonalities between the blonde's X-gene and the one possessed by the Frosts and someone named 'Colossus', but she had even more in common with 'Dust' and 'Husk' and 'Iceman'. And so while his limited sample size at present kept him from offering anything he was comfortable calling conclusive, Banner had enough data points available to be able to do some informed guessing. Namely, that those additional shared sequences - which weren't far removed from parts of Raven and Michelle's X-genes, as a matter of fact - pointed to Gwen sharing in certain known mutants' ability to assume non-humanoid forms while in their transmorph state. "Yer a mutant, Gweny." The blonde rolled her eyes at Michelle's terrible Hagrid impression before chuckling softly. "So… does this mean you're going to join the rest of us in the White Leather Brigade?"
As she continued to prod at the iPad, Gwen peered over the top at Michelle. "One: we kinda need my powers to activate before I can do the kind of stuff that you and Cordy and the others are doing. Two: I think Cordelia's planning to revolt and take back that thing called 'color' if the discussion going on when I showed up is anything to go by. And three: if you personally want to see me in leather? That has nothing to do with my genes and everything to do with how well you play your cards."
…and now Michelle knew that not only was Santana telling the truth about there being two girls who were interested in her, but who that second girl was. It made Gwen's recent behavior… if not totally understandable, at least slightly more so. While Michelle's sexuality was no secret, going 'hey, you like girls and I might like girls, wanna fool around to see if I actually do?' could have blown up spectacularly in Gwen's face in any one of a number of ways. The inevitable awkwardness that would have come from kissing a girl and not liking it, for instance. So when Betsy had come along and made an offer, Gwen hadn't been able to pass up the chance to get an answer to her question. Or at least Michelle was assuming that Betsy had been the aggressor; she couldn't see her friend throwing herself at anyone, much less a veritable stranger. Now that she knew, on the other hand… and knew that Michelle knew she knew… "Cordy kissed me this morning." What the fuck, brain? "She likes me too. We, uh, had a talk about a bunch of things before you guys got here."
"Oh. Well then. That explains the glare when I hugged you. And the glare when I pulled you away from the group. And… well, the glares in general. There were lots of glares." Reaching up, Gwen groaned and ran her hand through her hair before meeting Michelle's gaze once more. "Can we pretend I didn't make that comment about you, me, and leather, then? And forget all about where my hand ended up when I hugged you earlier? Because I really don't need Cordelia crushing my car into a cube because I hit on her-"
Her brain was getting stabbed with a Q-tip at some point in the very near future, Michelle decided. Because it was being decidedly unhelpful today, and seriously needed to be taught who was in charge around here. "I'm not her anything. We're not dating. We talked, and while she likes me and I like her? She's into the 'real me' but not exactly a fan of my public body, which could make dating each other kind of hard, you know?" That earned her an incredulous look and a slow nod from Gwen. "I just wanted to come clean, before we started getting into the actual flirtation portion of the program. You know, let you know where everything stands? I mean, her and I are officially just friends for the time being and she doesn't have the right to tell me who I can and can't date… but we both know that's not going to stop her from being really pissy if I date someone else. Even if she doesn't want to date me herself. Date this version of me. Whatever."
Gwen bit her lip before giving in and snickering softly, holding the iPad out for Michelle to take before crossing her arms over her chest and eyeing the redhead speculatively. "Someone I'm into likes me but not the form I usually shapeshift into. Hashtag 'shapeshifterproblems'."
"Well, there's also hashtag 'sunnydaleproblems'. She's into me, but not Xander. Considering I'm not really sure where one ends and the other begins, or what I'd do if I discovered a way to go back to the way things used to be…" Trailing off, Michelle shrugged awkwardly before frowning. "Just out of curiosity, where do you stand on that? The Xander versus Michelle thing, that is."
"There's a difference?" Okay, Gwen definitely earned herself a few points with that reply. "I mean, yeah, sure. I didn't catch on right away because I really wasn't expecting the new 'girl' to be a guy I'd gone to school with for years. But now that I know to look? You really haven't changed that much. And so… problem? What problem? Other than the one Cordelia's creating just for the sake of having one?" Yes, there was definite point scoreage occurring here. "The same with her whole 'I only like you when you're blue' schtick. Or maybe it's just 'I only like you when you're not remotely Willow-ish'. Either way, it's who you've been most of the time Michelle has existed. How can she possibly, seriously, legitimately have feelings for you… but not like who you are?"
Torn between the urge to defend her friend and a resurgence of the indignation she'd felt earlier that day, Michelle settled for simply offering another shrug in reply. "Like I said, she says that she's into the 'real me' and that the forms I take on are kinda like clothes. So according to her, me having a problem with her position is like saying my favorite dress is more important than dating her."
Gwen's eyebrow slowly rose. "Clothes? Seriously? Okay, two can play at that game. Let's turn that one back around then. I think goths look creepy as hell so I stay away from them. I don't flirt with a goth and then go 'yeah, you're awesome, but I'm not hooking up with you unless you start shopping at Old Navy like me."
"You don't flirt with goths because we have no goths."
"Well, Sunnydale High might not, but the other two high schools do. I see them at the Bronze all the time."
"Not goths, Gwen."
"What? Then… oh. Oh! Yikes." Gwen appeared to ponder that for a few seconds before shuddering and moving on. "You get what I'm saying though, right? I might have missed something, not being there to hear everything for myself and what not… but it sounds to me like Cordelia's just claiming to be into some kind of split, warped, idealized version of you. Rather than who you really are. And so you have to ask yourself, how healthy of a relationship can you possibly have with someone like that?"
It was actually startlingly reassuring to hear her own thoughts emerging from someone else's mouth, Michelle decided. Because she'd been pondering the matter ever since her brain rebooted from her impromptu make out session with Cordelia, and that was pretty much the conclusion she'd come to herself. "And how healthy of a relationship could I possibly have with… I don't know. You?"
Gwen raised her hand and began ticking off points on her fingers. "I like blue you. I like Michelle Flaherty you. I even liked you as Xander, but I never said anything because while I would have dated someone who wasn't as popular as me, I wasn't going to date someone who was constantly being an ass to my friends. I'm evidently going to turn out to be a mutant like you, so we'll have that in common on top of all the normal things we already have in common." Glancing from Michelle to her four fingers and back, Gwen grinned. "Looks like I outscore Cordelia four to two, eh? Well, as long as I don't lose a point for saying that I wouldn't mind seeing you spend more time with that curly ginger mess you debuted after our chat in your room last Sunday. Then it's only three to two."
Actually, Michelle had been pondering that sort of thing ever since the last time she'd gone poking around the 'Honks' subfolder of Willow's Harry Potter
fanfic stash. "Well, first of all? You're allowed to have opinions about my looks and share them, just like if I was a normal girl. I may not like them - and I may have an opinion about your opinion - but you can share them. And second… there's a huge difference between 'I like you with this other hairstyle' and 'I'd prefer you look like someone else entirely'. I mean, hair-wise? I think you look the prettiest when you wear the low pigtails. Does me saying that piss you off?" Gwen shook her head. "All right then."
They shared a minute of companionable enough silence as Gwen slid a pair of hair ties off her wrist and proceeded to pull her hair up into the aforementioned pigtails. Once she was done, their eyes met… and then both girls began laughing. After a few seconds, Gwen sobered enough to ask another question. "So then if she's not into your outsides or even some of your insides, how did you two end up kissing? Not that I really want to hear about you and someone else, but… intelligence gathering. Don't do what she did, do what she didn't, et cetera."
"When I'm around people who know my big secret, I sleep in the blue. So I was in my 'good' look for most of our conversation. She made me switch back to this just before we kissed, though, just to prove a point. The kiss… here's some feedback you can think over before you try anything. I didn't really enjoy being tackled onto the bed and pinned down as part of a first kiss. Especially since she didn't ask me first. That's a tad bit more assault-y than I tend to like my romance. If it had been anyone other than her - or maybe you - I would have kicked the crap out of them. Still, if you're looking for a way to widen the points gap between the two of you? Don't do that." Michelle leaned against the landing's railing, the shock of green hair allowing her to easily pick Cordelia out of the mass of girls below them in the living room. "Also, keeping the ego in check afterward is important. She knew there was a theoretical second girl, so she was all 'bet you won't get it better from someone else'. That doesn't encourage me to stay, that's more… challenge accepted."
Sidling up on Michelle's right, Gwen slipped an arm around the redhead's waist. "I wouldn't know; I've never tried any of her sloppy seconds and so it's not like there's someone out there we can ask about how my kissing skills measure up next to Cordelia's." There was a momentary pause and then she bumped her hip against Michelle's. "Wanna be the first?"
…hmm. On one hand, Gwen had in fact asked for permission, unlike Cordelia. On the other hand, it was a pick-up line that made Michelle's 'can I have you?' to Buffy look positive suave. On the other-other hand - and Michelle wanted to try forming extra arms for herself one of these days, because her mother had seemingly implied that it was possible for her during one of their chats - Gwen was someone that Michelle had a lot in common with, they got along spectacularly, there was obviously mutual attraction at work… and even though she was now past the point of 'first kiss', Michelle mused, a first decent kiss would be nice. Then maybe more, if things went well. So… "Sure. Why not?"
Gwen let out a soft snicker as she used the hand resting on the small of Michelle's back to turn the redhead to face her. "Not exactly the enthusiasm I'm used to getting… but I did use that horrible pick-up line on you, so I guess it's forgivable." The two girls stood there staring at each other in companionable silence that slowly turned awkward as time stretched on, and then Gwen cleared her throat. "So, I like you and you evidently like me, but I honestly have no idea how to go about this. My only girl experience was Betsy, who was pretty Cordelia-ish about it all. Are you gonna kiss me or do I kiss you? You used to be a guy; do you want to keep that role or-"
"Not sure who actually said it, but there's a picture of Ellen floating around Tumblr with a quote that seems appropriate right about now. 'Asking who's the man and who's the woman in a same-sex relationship is like asking which chopstick is the fork'." Not to mention that Michelle's time as Xander had also generally seen her serving as the kissed rather than the kisser, leaving her with little to contribute on that front. And while her old self hadn't exactly been a paragon of manliness, it felt… odd… to admit something like that.
"I see. Michelle?"
"Fork you." And, leaning in, Gwen pressed her lips against Michelle's.
Boom.Just so you know, there were minor tweaks made to the latter half of Chapter 6 to bring it more in line with the movieverse costumes, Chapter 10 scene with Tony and Pepper was redone from scratch to accommodate me bringing Iron Man 2 and The Avengers into the timeline where they belonged, and then both Spider-Clan scenes were subtly adjusted to bring the source material from the Raimi movies to the more recent Amazing Spider-Man. Introducing a known cause for Gwen being in a wheelchair, for instance.Up next is mixed cheerleaders and a TARDIS, then Cordelia and Aphrodesia, then Miriam and Victor and Raven, and finally Michelle and Cordelia. Hopefully by then Sammie will be done redesigning Hank's assistants and I can tweak and post Chapter 36. From there, we'll begin merging the adventures of Thrúd and Kate Bishop into the timeline as well…