What Goes Up

Magic Hollow 
#1
Outfit.
@kiew-boo


 "Mother fucker!" It was more of a bark than anything else, a quick outburst that was out of character as she pushed the turn of the key in the ignition and listened to the automotive equivalent of a heart monitor flat-lining. It wasn't surprising after how far she'd pushed the damn thing, it just wasn't the time for it. She thought about all she'd done so far, the items sold and the fine skirted. It all came down to a financial gain and while this could have been a case of run of the mill misfortune, it was hard to shake the feeling that this was her own doing.

 It was just shy of three and things had been going decently enough. Off work at a reasonable time, no rain overhead, hot but not oppressive - and she had even treated herself to a pint of mint chocolate chip. A pint that would probably turn to some sort of milk-based ooze. As well as a handful of frozen dinners and a half-gallon of almond milk an- her hands bunched into fists and she sneered, face-pulling as she resisted the urge to growl out her frustration and kicked the passenger side front tire once before she lifted the hood.

 She rubbed down her face, mindful to avoid her eyes to make a mess of her makeup as she looked over - well, that was the engine. And somewhere in the tangle of wires and tubes was a radiator and ... something about belts. She glanced sideways to the meter that said she still had eight minutes left. It took an act of God to not scream. Again.
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#2
 Severin had only recently started taking up those yoga classes that Naz had offered him so many months ago. She was never around, and while he had anticipated never landing one of her classes, he was still a little sad about it. Where had his crocodilian heroine gone off to?

 He was also keenly aware that he was the one and only old white dude in these classes. It was not too weird, not really, not with all the encompassing things he thought he knew about yoga. But a little bit weird.

 This was the aftermath of one such class, Severin stepping out feeling like he probably sweat more than anyone else in the room, yoga mat tucked under his arm, when he heard a very loud and pointed curse from some young woman. He considered her, all curly hair and a summer dress and apparent fury!

 His shirt and shorts were all sweat, not the neatest appearance he'd ever sported, but he figured it was nothing to keep him from seeing if he could help. Slowly, but not too slowly, he'd approach from the side, already sporting a small, friendly smile. "Hi, excuse me - do you need some help?"
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#3
 And then just as the heavens rumbled their discontent and a drizzle threatened to turn to a downpour, the clouds parted and from the beams of sunlight slid down ... an old man. She turned, looked him over and pouted a bit to herself, lost in thought as she glanced briefly back to the mess of car parts in front of her. He looked like some b-actor from a commercial for the newest ED prescription, here to show you could continue your lifestyle in every facet.

Still, beggars couldn't be choosers and there was only so much she could press, well, her luck.

"You could say that. I don't know much of anything about cars other than mine won't start. If you think you could help with that, I'd certainly owe you one."
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#4
 Severin was no licensed mechanic, but after so many years sticking his hands into the innards of countless airplanes, he had a pretty good idea of what to look for. He smiled a little for her response, eyes crinkling gently with the expression. "Sure," he responded, genial. "I've got a volt meter in my truck. I'll be right back."

 His truck was only a few spaces away from her sad little car, and he'd go to it to put his mat away and rummage around for the volt meter - a little yellow rectangle with a screen, a knob, and two wires with sharp prongs on the ends of them. With that, and a handful of universal tools in hand, he would saunter back to her car with that same old guy soft smile.

 "Oookay," he said thoughtfully, poking at the terminals on her battery. "Go ahead and turn the ignition."
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#5
 She imagined he owned a lake house and worked on some old rust bucket of a midlife crisis muscle car while the grand kids beat the shit out of one another with sticks on the peer. Wholesome, and in turn it made her accepting of the idea of a stranger poking around the innards of her car. Nodding as she went to settle back in the driver's seat and left the door somewhat agape.

 Per his instruction she turned the key, made a face to herself at the sound all over again. A death rattle, the sharp and then absent breathing pattern of a patient on their final wind. She hoped she was wrong for once.
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#6
 Sensitive ears picked up the different sounds - the clinking of her key as it turned in the ignition, some automotive whisper, the sad choking noise from the car. He kept his eyes on the volt meter, and found that the numbers did not climb up to the proper twelve point six volts. It read at eleven seventy-five instead.

 "Looks like you've got a dead battery," he called to her, bent around the raised hood. He didn't know if she had roadside assistance - this car looked worthy of little more than liability, honestly - but also, maybe offering to give her a ride to the store for a new battery was creepy.
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#7
 A dead battery - that was common ... commonish? She remembered it happening in the past to Gideon and her father far before that, the stupid little things that you didn't need to hold onto but did all the same. Leaning to the side to stick her head out the window she frowned as she got a look at a slice of his arm and shoulder and not much else. "Is that expensive? It sounds expensive, Mister ...?"
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#8
 He began to wrap the wires around the meter, chuckling a little as she responded. "Severin," he informed her, with the same congenial smile. "And it's probably not too bad. I think you can get a decent battery from Walmart for about fifty bucks." Which, really, who was he to say whether or not that was expensive for her - maybe that was the grocery budget. He looked at her with an expression of uncertainty, still teetering between moral ideas. "Is that.... feasible for you?"
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#9
 "Well, it's not exactly cheap but it's not going to make me break down into tears so, take from that what you will." The true horror was the idea that she would soon be setting foot inside of a Walmart. A generally unsavory stroll through a hell that she tried to avoid as much as possible. "Sorry, Severin - Loretta." She waved with just her fingers, a drumming sort of wiggle to replace a shake as he seemed hard at work packing up from his quick performance of hero of the hour.

 "Not to pester you some more, but you wouldn't by chance know the way to the closest Walmart on foot, would you?" She thought to reiterate that she was new to the area, relatively speaking, but decided it should have been more or less implied if he cared enough to pay attention.
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#10
 Severin chuckled under his breath for her response, eyes crinkling softly again. It sure wasn't the same as spending fifty bucks on something you really wanted. He nodded his head in acknowledgment for her name - Loretta, like the old country singer. Hard to forget that one, probably.

 "Uh, well. It's about..." he trailed off, staring absently down the street as he tried to think about his commute here from the Glenn, grasping for the memory of where exactly he'd seen the big blue and white atrocity. "Ten or so miles back north. Off the interstate a little ways." His gaze tilted back to her, and he decided that maybe at this point, telling her good luck and toddling off was the more rude option here. She could turn him down if she wanted. "I would be happy to give you a ride, if you're comfortable with that." Maybe it was old fashioned of him, but the idea of some pretty young lady in a dress hoofing it along the highway just didn't sit right with him.
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#11
 She was quiet as she looked down at her keys while he thought it over, the distraction enough to mask her horror at his final answer save for the lift of her brows. Ten miles. Pardon the French, but, fuck. And while normally she would make the logical assumption that someone (particularly some relatively random man), offering a free ride, was most definitely interested in sawing her into little bitty pieces and sprinkling her across the map, he felt safe.

 Or perhaps that was just the fact that he had a nice smile - clean cut even if he was disgustingly sweaty. It didn't hurt that he seemed to be older, made her think it would be that much easier to fill him with some crippling sense of dread, drive a fist into his throat, and run like hell.

"... It wouldn't be too much of a hassle?"
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#12
 She agreed, with some hesitation, and Severin wasn't sure whether it was concern for her own well-being or concern for actually inconveniencing him. Maybe both. The man shook his head a little. "Naw, not at all," he said warmly. He thought to tell her that he was retired and had all the time in the world, but opted not to. "I'm in that For pickup two cars behind you. I'll go get the AC turned on for you." Closing the hood gently as he spoke, he'd nod to her and make his way down the line to start it up, ready to execute his good deed for the day.
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#13
 "Thank you, Severin." She looked down to the screen of her phone as she spoke, thought to text home and decided against it as she slid her phone into the pocket of her skirt. On one hand, it would have been a comfort to text the man's license plate and make sure someone knew where she was allegedly going. On the other, the last thing she wanted or needed was an unnecessary fuss surrounding her civilian struggles.

 A quick check to make sure she had her keys and her wallet, to be certain she locked up behind her, and she was off. Coming round to the passenger side and testing the door as she flashed him a quick grin. "So, you live around here?"
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#14
 The air conditioning was certainly on by the time she got in, and hopefully it would be enough to stir up the air and keep the smell of old man sweat from assaulting Loretta's senses during the drive. He buckled his seat belt with a smile as she climbed in, gently backing the truck up some before he pulled out into the street.

 "Oh, no, I live in North Glenn. I go to yoga class here though." It felt funny to say to someone, like he probably didn't look like the type of nearly-geezer to do that kind of thing. "What about you?"
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#15
 North Glenn was ... well, north from here - clearly. She adjusted how the strap of her seatbelt laid against her collar and stretched her legs out as much as she could. "I just moved to Magic Hollow not that long ago. Bit of a trip from North Glenn, isn't it?" Fairly confident she'd heard about some brand of ski resort up in those parts.
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#16
 "Clear across the map," he confessed with a chuckle, keeping his eyes on the road ahead of them as he navigated out of the bustling little neighborhood towards the interstate. "A friend of mine runs the studio back there, though." At least, she had. He wasn't so sure anymore. "Trying to support the little guys, you know." He grinned over at her briefly. "Anyway. Welcome to the neighborhood. Anything special bring you up here?"
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#17
 "That's very noble of you." Frugal enough that she personally wouldn't think to waste the gas, but the pissing of money worked in her favor in this particular situation. "Just where I ended up I guess, Mountainside built a little reputation for itself and I needed the change in scenery." She shrugged her shoulders, kept it light and friendly.

"Are you from around here? Or, well, North Glenn?"
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#18
 Ah, yes, so noble, Severin the jaguar. His eyes crinkled with a soft smile in response. He nodded his head to her regaling of her arrival story - Cordova and all its surrounding neighborhoods had been a shiny gem on the map, so here she was.

 "Oh, I moved down here from Washington state last Christmas-ish," he informed her with a grin, winding up onto the interstate's feeder road. "Guess I needed a change of scenery too." Something other than the constant reminders of his dead wife, and now look what he'd gotten himself into. Something ugly enough to overshadow that pain, at least.
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#19
 "And how has that been going for you, Severin?" The first name basis foreign on her tongue with who was, ultimately, a complete stranger. But still few things sat as uncomfortably as silence, so small talk would suit the car ride just fine as far as she was concerned. "The view, I mean - seems like you've been here longer than me."
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#20
 Severin chuckled again. He was not about to unload even a hint of his woes on this young lady, a perfect stranger, and very much a human. "Eh, trees and mountains are about the same," he said, somewhat amused. He glanced over his left shoulder as he spoke, checking his blind spots as he accelerated onto the ramp. "New faces are pretty refreshing, though." Another brief look at his passenger before he focused on the highway before them. "And lots of exciting supernatural sightings to keep the rest of us on our toes." Ha, ha. :)
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#21
 Following the adrenaline of her last encounter in the realm of the supernatural, that last one snagged her like a bramble on a silk skirt. A small closed mouth smile as she looked towards her window and closed her eyes to sense the car, to get an idea on what precisely she was dealing with. In an odd to place way it was almost upsetting to realize that Severin was not human. It served as some sort of humbling reminder that perhaps she was not a new variegation, a subspecies but not an anomaly.

"And what do you personally know about the supernatural?"
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#22
 Her question plucked some dreary nerve in the man who often wished with all his might that he was still an oblivious human. Severin sighed, chuckled almost sadly. "Not very much," he said, tone bordering remorseful. It was a vague answer, but mostly true, right? He was still relatively new to this game. "Ah, well - I say that, but. I know that Were people are swayed by the moon, and vampires can mess with your mind." Driven by some instinctive urge to drive her away from furrier facts. There was at least a sense of self-preservation to him, to keep the more important things secret.
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#23
  She encouraged a sense of calm, of ease, tried to avoid any startled nervousness or paranoia. Pretended it was something that filtered through the cars ac vents and hit them both in the face. " And which are you? Were person or psychic? I assume you aren't a vampire with, you know, the sun and all."
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#24
 Severin was effectively soothed, but it wore some at the edges as she questioned him. Was he a Were person, or a psychic? His brow furrowed as he looked through the windshield, not at her. As if making eye contact with her would give him away. "What do you mean?" he asked, playing dumb to some extent. He wasn't even sure what she meant by psychic, so there was genuine confusion there!
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#25
 "Oh, come on it's alright - your secret is safe with me." Scoffing at the idea as she waved it off. "Do you have any supernatural abilities or do you turn into ... something? A tiger? A jaguar? ... A bull, perhaps?"
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#26
 There was no way to know that his secret was safe with this woman - they hardly knew each other! Some skepticism mingled with his confusion and wariness. He strained his eyes on the horizon for the big Walmart sign, as if he could will it to be closer than it actually was. Supernatural abilities? His heart stumbled on itself as she said "jaguar." What the hell was going on here?

 "I really don't know what you're talking about," he said with a laugh that was sort of breathless. "What makes you think I'm... supernatural?"
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#27
 "You just feel supernatural." She shrugged her shoulders and waved it off. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable dear, I didn't mean to make ripples I just thought we could talk about something actually interesting." No telling what he could do after all, best not to push that button. "The weather has been very favorable lately, hasn't it?"
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#28
 What did that even mean, feel supernatural. She apologized, strangely aloof about all of this, and called him dear. Who was the elderly person here?? She'd just wanted to talk about something interesting, and as if to drive her point home, she'd bulldoze on about the weather. Except now, he didn't really want to talk about the weather.

 "What do you mean, I feel supernatural?" More confusion. He couldn't feel anything of the sort about her - at least, as far as his metaphysical feelers went. She had no beast, was all he could tell.
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#29
 She sighed, a heavy sound as if she was living a burdened life and his voice just added to the true weight of it all. "How far is Walmart?" Content to wash her hands of all of it when she realized he wouldn't be as fun of a conversationalist as Asha had been. "I can arrange my own ride back to the car, by the by." Just in case he felt some sort of now strained need to be a gentleman about all of this mess.
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#30
 She went on as if he hadn't asked a question at all. How far was Walmart? "Shouldn't be long now," he said, even, swallowing his displeasure. To her remark of finding her own way ten miles back down the road, he only nodded. He might've insisted otherwise if he wasn't certainly uncomfortable now. Maybe it didn't matter how she could tell he was something special - only that she could at all. A note written in sharpy and tacked to the front of his mind.

 If she had no other attempts at pithy small talk, he'd remain quiet until they rolled into the parking lot of their destination, pulling to a stop a few yards from the sliding door entrance. His hazards blinked as a gentle flag for others to go around him for a few seconds. "Best of luck, young lady." And good riddance, honestly, so that he could get the hairs on the back of his neck to stop standing upright.
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#31
 "You as well Severin, take care of yourself and I hope all your supernatural encounters are warm ones." She opened her door before she glanced his way. Still focused on the calm even though it hurt something terrible by then - enough that the corners of her eyes watered a bit. A glimpse of purple as she forced a tight smile and shrugged off her seatbelt and headed out.
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#32
 Ha, ha. If only. He watched her go, oblivious to the purple gleam of her eyes, but as soon as she was moving through the doors, he felt a colder sort of fear wash against him. What exactly had just happened, he couldn't be sure - but if he gave himself a chance to think she knew more than he wanted her to, he might lose his shit in this parking lot.
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