Previously: New Girl
Her birth name was actually Rochelle Anna Marie Zimmerman, which she never could stand. "Danaia" sounded so much sexier and "Zimms" was short and sweet.
"That's me," she beamed. The principal was a chubby brown-haired man in glasses, wearing what was likely a toupee. His suit screamed "cheap" and had a tiny mustard stain on the shirt of his pocket. He reeked of cigarette smoke (and possibly scotch).
The file he was reading from was a blank sheet of paper in a manila folder. But since glamour was one of the first spells Rochelle mastered, he thought he was reading whatever he needed to read to know that Rochelle Danaia Zimms was just a nice, normal girl he needn't focus on.
"Sophomore, 2.9 GPA...," he murmured, skimming the page. "I see you were on the swim team at your old school."
"I don't compete anymore," she told him hastily. It looked good on paper, enough to seamlessly get her in the door, but that was all.
"Are you sure?" he asked, frowning slightly. "The girls' swim team could use another member. Not to mention, it could land you a scholarship at UC Sunnydale."
|Ken Lerner as Principal Robert Flutie|
"I have an afternoon job, Mr. Flutie," she began cautiously. "As an orphan living with roommates, I have to make ends meet."
"I got a friend over at the social services," he assured with a nod. "As a ward of the state you're entitled to certain benefits like health insurance and a monthly stipend. I'm sure they'll let you keep your job."
Rochelle blinked. I hadn't thought of that.
"You could probably also get help with college," he added helpfully. "It's never too early to think about that, you know. Should I call and make you an appointment?"
"Sure," she nodded avidly. Extra money wouldn't hurt.
"Now, you've got a good course load here," he nodded, giving the blank sheet one last glance. "But you'll need textbooks, so I recommend heading to the library and showing Mr. Giles your class list. He's new too."
"Thank you, Mr. Flutie."
"I hate to cut things short, but it was good to meet you," he told her. "If you need anything else, the counselor's door is always open. He's the one out there to the right."
Rochelle exited the principal's office, but as she headed down the hall, she suddenly remembered she hadn't asked where the library was.
As fate would have it, she was near the counselor's office and a teary-eyed girl was coming out. She was pretty, with light brown skin and long, wavy brown hair pulled back in a ponytail.
"Excuse me," Rochelle asked delicately, "can tell you me how to get to the library?"
The girl was surprised by her for a moment, before saying, "You're new."
Rochelle blinked. Either this school is smaller than I thought, or they really do pay attention here.
"Rochelle," she nodded. "Just moved here from L.A."
"Aura," the girl introduced. She paused, the snorted softly, "Another L.A. girl?"
"Yes, yes," Rochelle nodded, trying to remain patient. "Apparently Sunnydale is the place to be right now."
"Hopefully you're not mental like that other one," Aura said, giving her the once over.
Rochelle's ears pricked up. "Mental? She's mental?"
Aura gestured for Rochelle to follow her, presumably towards the library. The halls were empty at this time. Rochelle realized Sunnydale High was such a simple school, with tacky colorful paper posters and small trophy cases.
"She got booted from her last school for starting fights," Aura said. "We didn't mind that at first, but then Cordelia says Buffy attacked her with a sharp wooden stick...of all things. And then last night at the Bronze, these gangs were, like, fighting over turf, and Buffy totally fought them."
Rochelle raised an eyebrow. "Gangs?" That didn't sound like the Sunnydale she was getting to know.
"Oh, yeah," Aura nodded. "They were wearing these really weird masks and friggin' fangs. Sunnydale's a lot crazier than people realize. Just yesterday I found a dead guy stuffed in my locker."
Vampires, Rochelle realized, working to keep her face sufficiently intrigued. Sounds like this Buffy girl is some sort of hunter.
"Now, I still don't mind that Buffy's into gangs and fighting and stuff, but Cordelia says we can't hang with her type."
Rochelle's brow furrowed a little. "Cordelia?"
Aura nodded again, her face lighting up a little. "Cordelia Chase, most popular girl in school."
Rochelle smiled, relaxing. Now there's a clique I don't mind joining. She'd never been popular before.
"This is the library," Aura stopped. "I have to get back to class, but we'll be at the Bronze tonight if you wanna hang after school."
"Count on it," Rochelle nodded, before heading into library.
|Sunnydale High School library|
At first glance, the library was nothing to write home about. It was small, with tile floors and very dim lighting. Everything seemed old, and not only that, it felt like there was something else here.
One might chalk it up to the library simply being dark and creepy, manned by a lone librarian, but Rochelle was an expert on creepy. She had done enough channeling and invoking to recognize the energy of an external force.
The librarian was tall, handsome and British, with slowly thinning dark blond hair. His gray eyes were pensive behind his glasses, and his suit was just so...tweed.
"Mr. Giles?" Rochelle asked.
He looked up from behind the counter where he'd been deeply immersed in a giant book that looked really old.
"Yes?" he asked, his voice soft. "Miss...?"
"Zimms," she helped him out. "Rochelle Zimms. I just transferred here and I need books for class." She handed him a list.
"Right, yes, of course," he nodded distractedly. "I can assemble these for you."
Rochelle was also distracted, turning from the counter and wandering, as though drawn, towards the center of the library. Her heartbeat quickened as she slowly approached a small table surrounded by chairs. When she stopped, the hair on her arms, legs, and the back of her neck stood on end.
It's here, she realized, eyes widening. This is the Mouth of Hell.
It radiated pure, trans-dimensional energy, like what she felt passing through the mirror, but a thousand times over.
The power of Manon was nothing compared to this.
The realization rocked her whole world, making her alternately nervous and giddy. She actually had to suppress a giggle before turning back to the counter where Mr. Giles had been. She didn't have to explore everything right now; she had the rest of the school year.
Mr. Giles was off putting the books together as requested, leaving Rochelle's eyes to roam across his counter. All of his open books looked old, ancient, in fact. They were massive tomes bound in leather, with aged pages. On a whim, Rochelle peeped the cover of the book he'd been reading. Her heart stopped when she saw the title.
|The Slayer Handbook|
Startled, she placed it back as she found it, and took an involuntary half-step away from the counter.
What the fuck???
Rochelle's heart thudded in her chest as her dark eyes skimmed the library. Mr. Giles was back in the stacks, out of sight. She leaned back over the counter, turning the book around slightly and skimming some pages.
Apparently the book was some sort of guide, not just to vampires, but to magic and the demon world overall. It was intended for a being known as the "Slayer", a female hunter who was apparently born with special abilities.
Rochelle pushed the book back, her mind racing. A new girl had just come to town, where she promptly started wielding sharpened sticks and getting into fights with vampires. And now, here was the school librarian, reading up on vampires.
He's new too, Principal Flutie had said. Rochelle wasn't sure if the British gentleman was some sort of hunter too, but whoever he really was, she suspected he and this "Slayer" girl were in on this together.
Next: Being Switzerland