Previously: Welcome to the Hellmouth
The rest of the school day passed in a blur; Rochelle had never been interested in her studies and she was less interested now than ever. But her attention sharpened once she got to the Dragon's Cove and started unpacking some new shipments.
"Hey, Boss?" she asked casually. "What do you know about the history of this town?"
The shopkeeper sighed loudly, hanging his head briefly before turning away from his ledger and saying, "I was afraid you'd ask that."
"Sunnydale's not like other towns, is it?" Rochelle pressed, turning to face him. Not even for this world, she didn't add.
"Well, no," he replied.
"How old is the town?"
"It was founded in the 1800s, but I don't know the specifics," he admitted. "Before that, the Navajo and the Chumash lived here."
Rochelle nodded pensively, turning back to the boxes.
"The energy is here is a bit...different, I'll admit," he said.
"That's why the demons are drawn to it?" she asked, turning again.
There was a dark flicker in his eyes. He paused before speaking again, "You know about them?"
"I may have crossed paths with few," she nodded. "I mean, I'm no Slayer or anything, but it would help to know as much as possible."
"Listen, Rochelle," he lowered his voice, even though they were alone in the shop, "you don't want to get mixed up in that life."
"I'm already in that life, remember?" she frowned.
"No," he shook his head. "What you're talking about is far more than being a young witch who can move things with her mind. This is not our fight; it's not our struggle. We cast our wards, we wear our amulets, and we defend ourselves when necessary. And you might find it easy to take out a vampire or two, but if you keep pushing, you will come across something you cannot defeat...especially in a town like Sunnydale."
Rochelle shrugged. "What if the trouble comes to me?"
Her boss had turned back to his books. "It won't."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because," he said grimly, "you just revealed that a Slayer has finally arrived in Sunnydale. Evil is about to become preoccupied."
Rochelle returned to the loft just after the sun went down. Her roommates were already up, all standing around the kitchen, drinking from leftover blood bags, and looking very serious.
"You hear about the Order of Aurelius?" Kyle was asking.
"Who's the Order of Aurelius?" Rochelle asked, coming in and grabbing a bottled water from the fridge.
"Vampire sect in Sunnydale," Samantha replied.
"Old as fuck," Josh added.
"And tough," Chris nodded sagely. "Even those assholes from Sunset Ridge don't mess with them."
"Yeah, well a bunch of them got dusted at the Bronze last night," Kyle continued. "Apparently there's a new hunter in town."
"Oh, she's no mere hunter," Rochelle snorted. "Those vamps crossed paths with a fucking Slayer."
Now, Rochelle had been debating all afternoon what to say to her roommates. Truth be told, she liked the idea of living in the loft by herself. An unapologetically selfish part of her was willing to keep her mouth shut and let her roomies find out the truth for themselves, but then she realized she needed to at least appear to be on their side. Sometimes, that would mean sharing crucial, possibly life-saving information.
It's not like she was about to tell them she also found the Hellmouth.
Josh scoffed, "Slayer's a myth."
"No, she's not," Rochelle shook her head. "Her name is Buffy Summers and she's a new girl at my school. And she's not alone. The librarian is new too, and I interrupted him reading about Slayers and vampires this afternoon."
"So the rumors are true," Samantha whispered. "Every Slayer has a Watcher."
"A what?" Kyle blinked.
"A guide," Samantha answered impatiently. "Trains her, teaches her or whatever."
So that's what he is, Rochelle raised an eyebrow. Good to know.
"So we kill the Watcher," Chris shrugged matter-of-factly.
Samantha rolled her eyes. "You kill the Watcher, you piss off the Slayer, she hunts us down, we end up dusted. She gets another Watcher.
"You kill the Slayer, you get another Slayer," she continued loudly, when she knew one of the boys would interrupt. "The new bitch comes to town, finds out who killed the last bitch, hunts us down...we end up dusted."
Rochelle kept her face neutral, but her eyes glowed with intrigue as she watched her undead roommates panic. Fascinating.
Kyle looked particularly tense. "So what do we do?"
"We keep a low profile," Samantha grumbled. "Lower than usual. If we put together enough cash, we can buy blood bags on delivery day."
"Or," Rochelle suggested, "we can just start a den."
Like the rest of them, Josh looked confused. "A what?"
"Something I read about today in one of my boss's history books on vampires," she told them. "Let's face it, there are two Sunnydales: there's the sunny, happy, suburban façade we all know and loathe, and then there's Sunnydale." She paused for effect, flashing each of them a skeptical look. "You're telling me there aren't a bunch humans in this town who know what's really going on?"
Samantha's tone was clipped. "What are you getting at?"
Rochelle wanted nothing more than to set her on fire, but instead coolly replied, "You start a den, spread the word to every dive and demon bar--which I'm assuming we have--and before long, you have humans flocking to pay you to suck their blood."
Samantha cringed. "Like...a fetish thing?"
"A very old fetish thing," Rochelle clarified. "Been going on forever, probably since the first vampires. Everything's consensual though. Bonus points: you get warm blood and cash."
Chris's face brightened up. "That's genius!"
"That's dangerous," Samantha objected. "We can't bring people here, not after we put up all those wards to keep them out!"
Rochelle's eyes narrowed fleetingly. Who the fuck is "we"?
"Then we do it somewhere else," Josh shrugged. "I mean, this is Sunnydale. There's no shortage of abandoned spaces."
Chris raised his hand. "All in favor?"
Kyle, Josh, and Rochelle raised their hands, while Samantha stubbornly folded her arms across her chest.
"Majority rules," Josh told her playfully. "I know a spot where we can set up."
"And I know a joint where we can advertise," Kyle piped up. "Willy the Snitch runs a demon-friendly bar."
"Sounds good," Rochelle nodded, taking a swig and then closing her bottle. "I'm out."
Chris looked surprised. "You just got home. Where you headed?"
She gave him a big, bright smile. "The Bronze."
Next: Mirror Image
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