Previously: Doing It Over
Her roommates spent the rest of the day cleaning everything they touched. What couldn't be salvaged was tossed while everything else was scrubbed and disinfected. Then they all took turns in the showers. Unlike Rochelle, the vampires didn't care about bathing in cold water.
They ordered her a pizza for dinner, lit the fireplace, and gathered round to tell her a little about their human lives. Kyle had been a freshman on the Sunnydale High swim team. One night, while coming home late from a meet, he was attacked by a vampire.
Josh had been a senior. He'd also been in a Nirvana cover band that often played at the Bronze. Josh was also a bit of a druggie when he was alive. As such, he had no recollection of being attacked and sired.
Samantha was in the same year as Josh and would've been valedictorian. They were lifelong friends who occasionally got high together. Like Josh, she couldn't remember being attacked either, so figured it was during one of their drug-induced hazes.
"Like we said before," Samantha explained, "Sunnydale's on the mouth of hell. At least, that's what the rumors say. The thing about this town is that everything is a little 'fuzzy'. If you try to dig into the history, the timelines are all there, but you get this feeling you're not reading the whole story."
"People die all the time," Kyle nodded. "We've got, like, a dozen cemeteries already, and likely more on the way. But the high death rate is so normal that nobody really stops to question it."
"It's almost like this town was designed for demons," Josh shrugged. "I don't mind it. The only problem is that it's not big enough for everyone. Our crew doesn't believe in killing humans. Don't get me wrong, we feed, but we don't kill. People in this town get attacked by a vampire, they develop some sort of amnesia, and they move on."
"Other crews don't agree," Samantha added. "That's why we're always in fights. They want to kill, but creating bodies creates problems. It attracts hunters."
"As long as there have been vampires, there have been hunters," Chis told her soberly. "They are human, but they are disciplined, ruthless, and most of them live for the thrill of the kill."
That was a lot for Rochelle to take in. "And witches?" she asked. "What about the witches of this world?"
"We've heard of them," Samantha nodded. "But you're the first real witch we've met. Most practitioners aren't witches; they need incantations, they have to channel energy from an external force. Witches draw their power from within." She paused, tilting her head. "What was it like in your world?"
"All power came from Manon," Rochelle replied quietly, dazed as she stared into the fire. "If you invoked him, he'd grant you great power. But if you offended him, he took it away."
"Is that why you left?" Samantha asked. "Because he took it away?"
Rochelle tried not to shoot her a deadly look. "If he'd taken my power away, then I wouldn't have been able to leave," she lied.
Samantha refused to relent. "So why'd you choose this world?"
"I didn't," came the honest reply. "I was experimenting. I had no idea where I'd end up."
Samantha's head ever so slightly rose and fell, her pale face seemingly full of color in the fire's light. "Sounds pretty risky, just jumping from one world to another."
Rochelle gave her empty smile. "With great risk comes great reward."
After pizza, she cast the wards, drawing on the floors and walls in chalk. She'd done a quick study on wards at the magic shop; they were a lot easier than she'd expected.
"I need you all to step out before I cast the spell," she told them. "After that, I can invite you in one by one."
The vampires complied. The boys walked out without question, but Samantha had a look of curiosity mixed with subtle disbelief.
Rochelle stood in the center of the living room, the focal point of the whole loft. She'd drafted an incantation earlier, choosing her words very carefully. Her time in her own world had taught her that it was best not to channel an outside force if it could be helped. In all honesty, she really liked the loft, and wouldn't mind living here alone, which meant that from hereon, everything which happened here needed to be on her terms.
"Walls of this premises, harken to me
From floor to ceiling, and every beam
Bound to my will, a ubiquitous presence
Within every brick, bolt, and hidden seam
"Entrance granted only
Upon express invitation
Invaders to be welcomed
With immediate immolation."
First, there was silence; it dragged on so long Samantha started to smirk but then the air around Rochelle rippled, bubbling around her at first before sweeping through the whole building.
The vampires' jaws fell open, but then their faces contorted in pain, and their clothes began to smoke.
They may be outside the apartment, but they're still in the building, Rochelle mused. She walked to the door and stated, "Chris, I invite you in."
He hurried across the threshold and sure enough, the pain subsided and his clothes stopped smoking.
"Kyle, I invite you in." Kyle practically dove in, patting down his body as though to quell flames.
"Josh, I invite you in."
"You better," he mumbled, clutching his recently healed chest. "You can't stitch me up just to sear me, girl."
"Hello," Samantha barked impatiently. "A little help?"
Rochelle was sorely tempted to watch the blonde burn but she knew it wouldn't go so well with her other roommates. Besides, this was Sunnydale. Like humans, vampires died all the time.
"Samantha, I invite you in."
The vampire irritably shoved past her into the apartment. Once inside, as her body began to cool, she turned to the boys. "Sun's going down soon. We should head out."
"You coming out with us?" Chris asked Rochelle.
"No," she shook her head. "Tomorrow's my first real day at school."
She had thought of everything.
First she planned out her outfit to the letter: "borrowing" some of Samantha's clothes she went full-on Catholic school, with the plaid skirt, the knee-high socks, open-toe black heels and a short-sleeved white blouse one size too small, that she planned to wear with a cropped cami and no bra.
Before she'd known about vampires in this world, she'd planned to toss her cross necklace but figured it was best to keep it handy.
She went to bed early, finalizing the details of her new persona. She was a foster kid now, which gave her an edgy quality, but she didn't want to be the "troubled" kid. She didn't want to be a "loser" by any stretch of the imagination. She wanted to be a cool kid for a change. She was seventeen now, with a job and apartment she shared with roommates. She planned to be stable, not into drugs, but still be a social smoker. If a boy wasn't an athlete or in a band, she would refuse to speak to him, much less be seen with him.
What about my friends?
No geeks, nerds, freaks, or misfits of any kind--that was already decided. She wasn't sure what all that left, but she figured she'd have to suss out the prospects on her first real day.
Eventually Rochelle fell asleep, even as her mind whirled with thoughts and plans, and she didn't wake until she heard her roommates coming in around dawn.
This is it.
Rochelle had never felt so excited about starting a new school. Before at St. Benedict's, she'd been terrified. Eventually, the terror of the newness gave way to a sort of daily dread.
She practically sashayed down the sidewalk and skipped up the stairs, her honeyed curls bouncing, her brown skin moisturized, and body drawing looks wherever she went.
This is it. This is finally my time.
She'd always wanted what Sarah had, to be the new girl at a school and have one of the most popular guys walk right up to her. She took her time heading to the principal's office, letting her hips roll and making sure to lock eyes with--and smile at--every good-looking boy she saw.
As she was nearing Principal Flutie's office, she began eavesdropping on conversations again, hoping they'd be about her.
"You hear about that new girl who started yesterday?" one boy was asking another. Rochelle slowed her pace, ears straining to hear more.
"Yeah, but I haven't seen her," his friend replied. "What's her name again?"
Rochelle immediately. The fuck? My name's not Buff--
No, she gasped to herself, feet coming to a screeching halt. Not again.
"Riiiiight," the second body nodded. "What she look like?"
"Short," the first boy shrugged. "Blond. Perky," he added with relish.
No...no, no, no, no, no, no!
Rochelle closed her eyes, reminding her heart not to pound. This was just a tiny setback. After all, she consoled herself, this "Buffy" chick was technically the new girl yesterday. She was the new girl today.
And today is still young.
Next: Welcome to the Hellmouth