"What the hell is Orpheus?"
It was amazing how simply learning something about someone could change one's perception entirely.
When Rochelle first met Josh, she thought he was beautiful. Not "hot" like a buff athlete or or rock star, but beautiful, like a model in an upscale fashion magazine. He had delicate features, ghostly pale skin, with silky black curls and stunning blue eyes that didn't even look real.
At least...that's how he used to look to her. Now he was just another lanky, grungy teenager in unwashed clothes with dull eyes and hair he didn't both to comb regularly.
He wasn't handling Samantha's disappearance well. In addition to reverting to an unkempt appearance, he was sullen, irritable, and had started heavily drinking liquor.
"Apparently, it's all the rage in the demon world," Rochelle told him cheerfully, handing him a syring. This was actually a lie; everything she'd read about Orpheus thus far had indicated that it was shunned in the demon world for its highly addictive properties and other dangerous side effects.
Josh, ever the druggie, was immediately intrigued.
Kyle was in the shower downstairs, Chris had already left to open the den, so Rochelle had lured Josh up to her magically soundproofed bathroom.
"How does it work?" he asked softly, examining the syringe. "Do I just shoot it up?"
"The human shoots up," she corrected him. "Their body acts like a filter, but both of you will get really high."
"You're learning an awful lot of weird things at that magic shop, Rochelle."
She grinned. "You have no idea." After a beat, she put on her most compassionate voice. "Still no news?"
"On Sam?" He shook his head. "Probably ran into the Slayer."
"I'm so sorry."
"Don't be," he shrugged it off. "That Buffy is a real tough bitch."
You have no idea, Rochelle smirked to herself. Giles had been describing some really wild adventures over the past few weeks. A psycho witch who switched bodies with her own daughter so she could be a cheerleader, a giant insect posing as a substitute teacher, not to mention the Slayer's own disastrous date with Owen...at a morgue.
I fucking love this town.
"Did you run this by Chris?" Josh suddenly asked.
Rochelle chortled. "Mr. Straight-Edge? Unlikely. But dens and Orpheus are like peanut butter and jelly. Sooner or later, your clients are gonna start asking for it."
"Right," he nodded. "Speaking of, I better be off. Mr. Straight-Edge will give me another lecture if I'm late."
Rochelle was making a point to actually do her homework before going to the Bronze. Now that she was getting money from the state, she cut back her hours at the Dragon's Cove. This left her free to actually do her work, rather than turn in enchanted blank papers for credit. She didn't want to graduate high school while still an idiot.
After solving for x over a dozen times, she finally headed out to the Bronze.
It was the best part of her day, spritzing her curls, doing her makeup, and choosing an outfit before heading into the cool night hair. In LA, it had taken forever to walk places, but here, traffic died out around six and everything was already nearby. By seven, the town was dead on the outside. Inside places like the Bronze, however, the party was just getting started.
And yet despite the live band on stage and throngs of young people dancing, she found Aura in a corner, still in her school clothes, looking almost distraught.
Something went wrong with the spell, Rochelle assumed as she went to next to her friend away from the noise. Aura didn't acknowledge her right away, so Rochelle followed her gaze to a really tall male student with blond hair.
|Christopher Wiehl as Owen Thurman|
"This must be the famous Owen," Rochelle blinked. Though she didn't personally see the appeal, he was exactly the type of guy Sunnydale girls would twirl their hair over.
Owen was looking right back at Aura as well. First, he was surprised, then his look softened, then he seemed to remember himself, before hastening away.
"That's been happening all day," Aura practically sobbed. "We lock eyes, and it feels like we're having a moment, but then he runs for it."
Something went right with the spell, Rochelle realized. Of course it did.
"The spell didn't work," her friend said bitterly.
"No, it did," Rochelle nodded. "He's been thinking sweet thoughts of you." He just doesn't want to, she didn't add.
"So why hasn't he asked me out?" Aura demanded, practically whirling in her seat. "Why does he...run whenever our eyes meet?"
"Because it's not a love spell," Rochelle reminded her. "You didn't want a love spell, remember? You just wanted him to notice you."
"And now that he has...he doesn't want me?"
Rochelle winced before she could stop herself. Aura literally teared up.
"That's it, isn't it?" she glared at Rochelle. "He finally noticed me, but doesn't like me." She turned back to the crowd of people who were actually enjoying themselves and scowled. "I should've asked for a love spell."
"Imagine if it was you," Rochelle said suddenly, calmly.
Aura looked at her. "What?"
"Imagine if it was you," Rochelle repeated. "Imagine if you were here, at the Bronze, and some creep you weren't into was all over you. And when you told him for the millionth time, he decided to slip something into your soda to make you more cooperative." She paused for effect. "That's all a love spell really is, Aura," she shrugged. "A date rape drug, but with candles and herbs and incantations."
Aura seemed to calm down. "You've done one before?"
"I helped a friend do one," Rochelle admitted. "I'm talking, going all the way out into nature, invoking a god, pricking our fingers, drinking each other's blood with wine--we did it all. And it worked. First, he couldn't stop thinking about her. Then he stalked her. Then he tried to rape her. And then he jumped from a building." Okay, technically he was pushed, but we're not gonna get into all that.
Aura's eyes widened. "He died?"
Rochelle's face slightly soured. "It was an improvement, believe me," she assured her friend. "But this isn't about him, this is about you and Owen. You did something my friend lacked the wisdom to do: you gave him a choice. You gave him the chance to notice you and then make his own decision...even if it wasn't the one you wanted."
Aura mulled that over. "I'm not a creep."
"No," Rochelle shook her head, smiling warmly. "You are not a creep." She looked back towards the crowd. "Can we go dance now?"
Aura dried her tears and nodded, but right as they stood up to go dance, Rochelle's pager went off.
The witch rolled her eyes, regretting every agreeing to get one. To be fair, Chis never paged her. So if he was paging her now, it was because something had no doubt gone wrong with Orpheus.
Next: The Power of One