Previously: Welcome to Sunnydale
There was being rendered invisible...and then there was being deliberately invisible.
After all, Rochelle wasn't going to sign up for the hell that was high school without doing some recon first. Unlike St. Benedict's, Sunnydale High was a public school, filled with all walks of life. Sure, the building wasn't as old and the students not as rich, but it was a refreshing change for Rochelle, as she quickly spotted multiple brown-skinned kids other than herself, and even teachers.
Pro, she raised an eyebrow, milling through the throne of students in the hall. She took her time, checking out their outfits and hairstyles, eavesdropping on their conversations. Sunnydale kids were small town, and it definitely showed. In the space of five minutes she learned the town only had one Starbucks, and that the Bronze was the only place worth going to after dark.
Another pro. Rochelle smirked. She liked the idea of being the "worldly" girl from L.A. who wasn't so easily impressed. It was likely to put other people on the defensive for a change.
As she turned a corner to head down another hallway, she almost collided with a really pretty Black girl who had dark skin and long black braids.
Startled the girl jumped back, but then smiled as she looked Rochelle. "Say," she greeted cheerfully. "You're new."
"I am," Rochelle nodded, also a little breathless. "Rochelle Zimms. I just moved here from L.A."
"Lisa Campiti," the girl smiled brightly. "So what brings you to Sunnydale? I'd kill to live in L.A."
|Natasha Pearce as Lisa Campiti|
Rochelle and Chris had actually spent the better part of the night crafting a believable backstory.
"I'm a foster kid," she shrugged. "I got tired of being shuffled around so a friend invited me to move out here with him and his roommates."
Her story had the predicted effect. "Wow," Lisa's eyes widened. "So...you have your own digs? With roommates?"
"Yep," Rochelle grinned. "I just wanted to check out the school. I have to go find a job after this though."
"I'd kill to live on my own," Lisa sighed. "At least then, I wouldn't have to go to band practice." She lifted up a giant instrument case which Rochelle hadn't previously noticed, but now that she did, made her cringe. "My dad's a jazz musician," Lisa shrugged. "Says it'll help me build character."
A bell rang out, summoning students to class.
"See you around?" Lisa asked, eyes alight with hope.
Oh no, Rochelle told herself, not again. She wasn't going to befriend any geeks or freaks of any kind this time around, regardless of who they were.
"Uh...yeah," she blinked awkwardly, fingering the cross around her neck. "It was nice meeting you, Lisa."
She turned and left as quickly as possible, hoping no one had seen them together. If she was about to make her grand debut at this school, she only wanted to be known for having made the right connections.
It was Chris's idea that Rochelle get a part-time job at Dragon's Cove, the local magic shop. He said it changed owners frequently (something about a high death rate in Sunnydale), but he was sure she could still land a gig.
The shop was smaller than Lirio's and a lot weirder. Lirio focused on books, herbs, candles, and incense. This place had a bunch of things floating in jars that Rochelle didn't recognize.
And holy water. For some reason, there were tons of bottles of holy water.
Oh, wait, she remembered. The vampires. Which meant that whoever owned this place was no charlatan, and likely very much "in the know."
The owner turned out to be a tanned, portly man with a shaved head and receding hairline. He wore robe-like clothes and spoke with a thick accent that Rochelle was pretty sure had to be fake. It was like he wasn't sure if he was trying to sound Spanish, like Lirio, or generic Middle Eastern.
|Richard Assad as the Dragon's Cove owner|
"What can I help you with today?" he asked in a voice full of false cheer.
"I need a job," Rochelle shrugged. "Part-time, preferably under the table."
That seemed to take him by surprised. "How old are you?" he asked, eyebrow raised.
"Seventeen." If Manon was going to skip her ahead a year, she was just going to go along with it. Seventeen meant being a junior in high school, closer to eighteen, closer to graduation.
He seemed to relax a bit. "Why would a young girl like yourself want to work here?"
She figured he'd ask that. Rochelle turned to the crystal ball on his counter and with a slight gesture of her right hand, levitated it.
The owner's eyes grew round. "Holy shit," he gasped, completely dropping that ridiculous accent.
"Let's just say I have a vested interest in the occult," she told him.
His eyes skipped from the floating ball back to her. "When can you start?"
By the time Rochelle got home, all of her vampire roommates were back. Chris was actually in the middle of chastising one of them.
"You were all late coming home, Kyle," he scowled. "You got back long after the sun was already up."
"I used the sewers and came through the basement," Kyle protested. "I'm fine."
"Had a run-in with the Sunset Ridge crew," Josh shrugged. "Otherwise I would've been back sooner."
"I had something I needed to take care of," Samantha replied tightly. "And need I remind you, Josh and I've been doing this a lot longer than you."
The bickering stopped and all heads turned when Rochelle came through the front door.
"Guys," Chris introduced with nod in her direction. "This is Rochelle. She's why I wanted you back sooner."
Kyle and Josh looked at her with a mix of amusement and curiosity, but Samantha was visibly alarmed. Her head snapped back towards Chris.
"You brought a human here?" she scowled.
"We discussed this," he reminded her. "We need a human roommate, remember? Between the Sunset Ridge crew and Mr. Tall, Dark, and Hates Us, we need a way to keep unwanted vampires out."
"That was an idea we floated," Samantha hissed. "We never agreed." She added lowly, "She's not safe here."
Chris flashed a dazzling grin. "Try to attack her," he snickered. "Trust me. It'll be funny."
Samantha turned back to Rochelle. "A hunter?"
"A witch," Rochelle clarified. "I'm, uh, not actually from your dimension. I arrived by portal last night, where I crossed paths with Chris. He got me up to speed."
"Rochelle," Chris said, "this Kyle, Josh, and of course, Samantha."
Kyle had dark blond hair that fell down to his chin, and brown eyes. He was the shortest of the group and possibly the gangliest. Josh was a ghostly pale creature, same height as Chris, but with pitch black hair and sparkling blue eyes. The longer she looked at him, the more Rochelle realized Josh was basically Nancy Downs if she'd been a much taller boy.
Last came Samantha, a gray-eyed vampire with long, blond hair. She was a little shorter than Chris and Josh. As Rochelle drew closer, she noticed Samantha was the only vampire who didn't smell horrendous.
"How did you like the school?" Chris asked.
"I dig," Rochelle replied honestly. "I think I could be happy there. I, uh...I also landed the job at the Dragon's Cove. Boss said I could take all the samples I want, so I can start casting some protective wards around the building if you want."
"That would be helpful," Josh shrugged again. He opened his outer shirt to reveal an unsightly gash across his chest. "Know any healing spells?"
Magic in this world felt different from her own. Before, it was definitely like channeling energy from an outer force. But here, it was like tapping into something from within, something Rochelle had never even known was there.
Water was still her element; as it turned out, healing flesh wounds merely involved dripping water on them and willing the blood to withdraw, and for the flesh to close. Her new roommates watched her work in awe, while Josh lay on the couch, stunned to see his chest heal so quickly.
"How long have you been doing this?" Samantha asked softly, eyes fixed on Josh's wound.
"I've always been a witch," Rochelle shrugged. It suddenly occurred to her that she could say whatever she wanted about her previous life, and no one would know if she was lying. "Magic's a bit different in this world, though," she admitted. "It's like your universe vibrates at a different frequency."
"Why'd you leave your old universe?" Samantha asked, face slightly scrunched, as though her sarcasm was mixed with curiosity. "Did a spell go wrong?"
"I got bored with my universe," Rochelle replied. "We didn't have vampires or demons of any kind where we came from. All we had was Manon." It made her cringe to say his name aloud.
"Manon?" Kyle asked tentatively, sounding the strange name out.
"Our creator," she explained. "All-knowing, all-powerful, yet never bothered to create anything interesting other than himself." She stood up. "I'm willing to be your roommate, and help protect you from other vampires and whatnot. However, I have some ground rules of my own. For starters...three of you smell like sewers, probably because you travel through the sewers. You need to burn the clothes you've got on now, and shower."
Samantha flashed the boys a look. "Told you."
"Secondly, I need to know everything you guys know about Sunnydale," Rochelle added strictly. "Chris told me the basics last night, but he's pretty young for a vampire and something tells me your species is fucking old."
"Fair enough," Samantha said. She was clearly the real leader of this pack. "Josh and I are the oldest. We've been vampires for five years. We're originally from Sunnydale."
"Something tells me Sunnydale is anything but a normal town."
"It's pretty much demon central," Josh chuckled. "You won't be bored here. This city was literally built on the mouth of hell."
Rochelle gave them all bewildered look. "The mouth of what?"
Next: New Girl