Sep 26, 2021 8:54 AM
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"Hey to you too," Scott tells the newcomer, delighted with this new development. Wow. He is the man tonight. So many hot girls! So Soph and- what was her friend's name, Alli?- aren't his normal type. (Does that Alli girl have to wear quite that much black?) Whatever, they're still hot, and he's always down to dance. "Wanna join us, sexy?"

The cheerleaders look even less pleased about this. They storm off in something of a huff. Scott ignores them. They're cheerleaders; he'll see them every day at practice, and there's always more when they came from. Just look how well he's doing tonight!
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Soph takes full advantage of the space left by departing cheerleaders.

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And then the door to the Bronze opens and in stalks Bella.

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"Ohhhh crap I'm in trouble."

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Alli is facing entirely the wrong way for this. "Huh?" She cranes her neck around. "Ohhhhhh. ...Luck?"

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"Can't hurt. Hey, Scott, gimme a kiss for luck," dares Soph.

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Who is Scott to say no to an offer like that? He has no idea what they're talking about, really- and alcohol and dancing aren't exactly improving his mental acuity- but that he gets. Since she asked so nicely, Soph can have a rather enthusiastic kiss for luck!

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Yay! On that happy note Soph shuffles sheepishly over to her sister.

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Her sister is not amused, but doesn't chew her out in front of the Bronze patrons, because the chewing-out is going to involve phrases like "not until you can set things on fire with your mind".

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Alli eyes Soph as she shuffles off. If Soph could do it... She looks up at Scott. "Awww, none for me?"

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Scott is extremely pleased with today. And more than happy to help Alli balance the scales. Dancing while making out it is.

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The Swans, meanwhile, are leaving.

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Well, no one in the Bronze is going to stop them.

The following day, there is something of a commotion in the hallway. Two of the cheerleaders seem to have gotten into a shouting match, which only devolved further from there. Between the screeching and slamming-into-things, bits of dialogue can be heard: "-don't deserve him-" "-better than you, you tramp-" "-look who's talking, you-"
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Okay, this is going to get somebody hurt. Bella gets between them and straightarms them apart from each other, avoiding exacerbating their accumulated bumps and bruises. "What in the hell is going on?" Girls don't usually get into shoving matches. In school hallways.

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"She's trying to steal him, he's worth four of her-" one girl starts.

"Steal him, he's not yours, you don't deserve him, he's wonderful-"

This degenerates quickly into more screeching, though the actual fighting is still blocked by the Bella in the middle. For those paying attention, though, the word "Scott" can be caught multiple times.
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"Scott? That football player? You're hitting each other over him?"

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"Of course! I mean, haven't you seen him? He's soooooo wonderful and she's being so selfish about him-"

"Not half as selfish as you, you bitch, I saw him first-!"
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"Right, this looks like a matter for the principal's office, let's go," says Bella, and she marches the girls there.

She has seen Scott. He's not, like, a burn victim, but nor is he the sort of kid who grows up to be a movie star heart-throb. There's hotter guys. There's hotter guys on the football team. What the hell? She wasn't going to fuss with Soph about her taste, but...

She drops off the girls in the principal's office and then risks texting during Latin to email her Watcher.

Is there any reason to suspect supernatural hijinks if some apparently totally ordinary high-schooler is causing an oddly large number of girls to crush on him, to the point of getting into physical altercations with each other about him? I wouldn't think it was that weird but my sister's acting out of character and I (complete with my immunity-to-things) can't see anything remotely appealing about the boy.
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It's not that late in England yet. She gets a fairly prompt response.

I'm afraid I haven't been in high school in quite a few years now. If you say they're acting strangely, I am inclined to take your word for it. Slayer instincts are nothing to scoff at, even with your immunities.

There are, unfortunately, quite a few ways to cause such effects. By far the most common is a love spell. This could be a one time casting by the boy, but the effects should then be more widespread, with a faster onset; I would expect the situation to be much less ambiguous. More likely is a talisman of some kind, and attraction is strengthened by proximity.

If you can rule out a love spell, or if you're curious, I can also research some more obscure methods of supernaturally inducing affections. Do let me know.
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Let's say I'm curious, for a value of curious that means "grossed out", Bella writes back. But meanwhile, how do I identify a talisman from among objects on his person?

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A talisman is emotionally significant to its holder, and from the sound of it, is regularly with him when attending school. That should help narrow it down? For instance, it's unlikely to be his Chemistry notebook or his left sock. Women often use jewelry; I'm unaware of common objects for men. A pocket watch perhaps? That might be too British of me.

The rest of the email covers a variety of alternate possibilities of increasing unlikeliness. This includes, but is not limited to: spells with appeal as a side effect instead of the intended purpose; wish demons, a couple of insect demons with applicable pheromones (these are marked *Unlikely as your immunity probably does not cover smell) and a variety of mischief-loving demon species; some environmental effects of old spell castings or historical locations; and so forth. No item is particularly detailed, but it's a still quite a list.

That's everything I could find offhand. I have more details on all of the above if you need them. Do let me know how it goes.
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Right.

Bella decides to attempt to corner Scott after school.
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Scott has been enjoying his popularity. He is easy to find; he's on the front steps, leaned against the bannister, chatting up a senior girl. For all that she's two years older, the senior looks minutes away from swooning and Scott just looks some combination of pleased and smug. A senior likes him!

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Bella considers waiting for the senior to go away, but it doesn't seem likely that she'll do that of her own accord. Maybe if she loiters over here and peers at Scott to see if she can identify a talisman the senior will become jealous and start a fight and give Bella an excuse to interrupt the conversation?

He doesn't look like he's actively doing anything right now.
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Scott is currently bragging (with liberal exaggeration) about his football prowess. The senior strokes the arm of his letter jacket and coos admiringly.

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