Previously: Being Switzerland
Lost Angeles was full of clubs of every type--even ones Rochelle could've easily gotten into as a minor--and even in the darkest, grittiest ones, there was an air of edgy L.A. glamour. She always wanted to be bold and sexy enough to get into those clubs, but she never felt comfortable enough to do so.
That said, there was something cozy, unpretentious, and unthreatening about Sunnydale's Bronze club. The two-storied club was small, dark, dingy, and unremarkable, yet to Rochelle it seemed like the most fun and magical place in all the world. She wanted to spend as many evenings there as possible. Even though she knew some of the patrons were likely demons (and even though she knew someone was likely to run afoul of a vampire tonight), she felt like she fit right in.
|Busy night at the Bronze|
At the sound of her name, she turned, thinking she might be imagining things, but sure enough, there was Aura sitting at a table with three other girls. Aura waved her over and Rochelle obliged, interested in finally meeting the famous Cordettes.
"Guys, this is Rochelle Zimms," Aura proudly introduced. "She just moved here from L.A."
High school cliques were like solar systems; the leader was the sun everybody else revolved around. In this case, it was Cordelia Chase.
|Special Appearance by Charisma Carpenter |
as Cordelia Chase
Cordelia was a tall brunette who looked like she belonged on the cover of a teen fashion magazine. Except for Aura, the other girls just looked liked they wanted to be Cordelia; they wore their hair in a similar style as hers, even though it didn't frame their faces the same way. And their clothes were all some sort of variation of hers.
Cordelia was also the cynic of the group; she eyed Rochelle warily for a moment before saying, "L.A.?"
"Yes," Rochelle nodded. "But I won't be stabbing anyone with pointy sticks or getting into fights with gangs." It felt oddly good to be able to say that. She was so glad to finally not be the biggest loser in school.
"Oh, good," Cordelia replied strictly. She looked at her friends. "Because the last thing we need is another psycho running around the school."
Her friends laughed, while Rochelle offered a tight smile.
"What brings you to Sunnydale, Rochelle?" Cordelia asked, turning those eyes back to her.
"I got tired of L.A.," she honestly shrugged, "so I skipped out. Moved in with a friend."
"Rochelle has her own place," Aura bragged. "With roommates and everything."
"I'm almost eighteen," Rochelle shrugged. "I figured why not?"
"So you're a junior?" Cordelia inquired.
"Yeah," Rochelle nodded. "You?"
"We're all sophomores," Cordelia said, "but it wouldn't hurt to be friends with a junior who has her own place."
Yeah, we can't be friends, Rochelle inwardly cringed. If she was going to play the part of a seventeen-year-old junior, she wasn't going to fill her social circle with sophomoric mean girls who only wanted her for her place.
Also...her roommates were vampires and that was likely to cause all sorts of problems.
"I guess not," she smiled noncommittally. "I'm gonna go grab a latte. Aura?"
Aura followed along. "She likes you," she cheerfully told Rochelle in a low voice.
"Yeah, feeling's not mutual," Rochelle replied grumpily. "Latte, please. Decaf." She turned back to Aura, who looked hurt.
"I thought you wanted to meet my friends," she said, blinking as though confused.
"Those are not your friends," Rochelle sighed. "You think I haven't been here, Aura?" She looked over at the three white Cordettes sitting at the table, and then back to Aura, the lone biracial. The whole scenario brought back her worst memories. "Exactly here?"
She turned to pay for her latte, served in a large mustard yellow cup. She clutched it with both hands and savored the aroma.
We really need a coffeemaker at the loft. She made a note to pick a cheap one up on the way home.
Meanwhile, Aura's confusion briefly gave way to incredulity. "You were popular at your old school?"
Rochelle took a tentative sip. "More like infamous," she blinked. When Aura remained uncertain, she asked, "Do they ever talk over you? Seem irritated by your presence, yet not enough to stop taking credit for your ideas? Do they forget to call? Are they conveniently unavailable whenever you call? Forget to invite you shopping or to parties?
"When they do remember to bring you along to a party, do the boys come up and talk to just them, not you?" she continued with a humorless smirk. "And when they finally remember you exist and deign to introduce you to people, do those other people--by any chance--look at you like, 'Dear God...who invited that?'"
Aura was looking wounded now and Rochelle took no pleasure in it. It was essentially the same talking to Nancy Downs had given her at the asylum, and she remembered how awful that felt. She didn't like making someone else feel the same way.
"The other girls are shallow and selfish, and I'm pretty sure some of them are even racist," Aura nodded. "Harmony Kendall has all the intelligence of a hair clip, but Cordelia? Cordelia is a real one. She never forgets to invite me anywhere, she never skips my calls, we talk for hours sometimes, and whenever other people treat me the way you just described, she always has my back. Because when shit goes down, she's the type who steps up."
"I believe you," Rochelle nodded, even though she really didn't. "But if it's all right with you, I'd like to limit this friendship to just us for now."
As Rochelle got ready for school the next morning, she noticed her roommates were still up well after dawn. She felt a pang of irritation, because she was about to spend her morning in darkness with the blinds of her--their--big beautiful loft drawn.
With the clothes Chris pilfered all across town, Rochelle had crafted a look which suited her. She favored platform shoes, thigh highs, fishnets, with short flared or pleated skirts, and tops that clung to her body. It was reminiscent of her original schoolgirl outfit, modified just enough to be sexy but not enough to get her sent home.
She liked to wear her curls down, and her eyes darkened with eyeliner and shadow. But since she wasn't trying to go full Goth, she painted her lips dark brown.
She had just finished blending out her eye shadow when Chris barged in.
"Seriously!?" Rochelle bellowed. She had to turn to yell at him since he didn't cast a reflection in the bathroom mirror.
"How come there's never any sound coming from here?" he asked curiously. He hadn't showered yet and still reeked of sewer.
"Vampires can hear just about anything anywhere in a building like this, remember? So how come we never hear anything from inside this bathroom?"
She flashed him a baffled look. "Why would you want to hear me in the bathroom?"
"It's weird, Rochelle," he rolled his eyes. "No water running, no shower, no humming--ever."
"I placed a soundproofing charm on the bathroom," she replied. "I almost did the same for the whole upper floor, which is mine, remember? You promised."
"So I did," he nodded. "Anyways, we're gonna finish setting up our den tonight, and I wanted to thank you again for the idea."
"You're welcome. Out."
"We'll need some wards, of course, to keep out other vampires."
"Fine," she sighed.
"Oh, and...we drank your coffee."
After he left, it suddenly occurred to Rochelle while her roommates couldn't hear her, she couldn't hear them either. She locked the bathroom door before turning back to the mirror.
"Window of glass
Reflection to show
What happens whenever
I'm not below."
Her reflection rippled and faded to show her roommates sitting at the dining table, each of them enjoying a cup of her coffee. Chris was rejoining them as Samantha was speaking.
"The place is protected," the blond vampire was saying. "Why is she still here?"
"She's our roommate?" Kyle blinked. "Who, like, has a real job?"
"And is a witch," Josh reminded them, absently touching his chest. Josh was quite a looker, with those black curls and blue eyes. Rochelle was developing a crush on the carefree, grungy vampire, but didn't dare admit it aloud. She also worked very hard not to look at him too long when they were in the same room.
"Besides, is having her here so awful?" Chris asked. "Your lives are literally night and day."
"I don't like having a human at the loft," Samantha insisted. She had the audacity to sip and savor her coffee, bought and brewed by Rochelle.
"The place smells better, we're about to make a ton of cash, and look," Kyle raised his cup, "coffee! What's not to love?"
Samantha has to go, Rochelle decided. The timing was actually perfect. The vampire was still refusing to be a part of the den, which meant the next time her roommates went out, she would be hunting alone.
Next: Dust to Dust