What You Ought to Do is Sing

Magic Hollow 
 Minerva stared at the chain as Ashley worked it off, willing it with all her mental might to behave. She didn't even have much faith in that!

 Fortunately, it seemed to get put away without much issue. Unfortunately, the chain was probably the least of their problems! The sidewalk splintered beneath and around them, and Minerva watched helplessly with big purple eyes as thick rails of rebar broke free from the cement. They groaned as they twisted, curling up towards the girls and then away, tangling in on themselves, surreal and eerie.

 That would be lights out for the girl who was helpless to her power! Gracelessly, her body went slack, and it would be a long twenty-six minutes of the human version of dead sleep.

There wasn't much time to say anything, wasn't much to say except to give a frightened yelp as the world quaked beneath their feet, and like angry tentacles, twisting and curling with incredible noise and concrete carnage. Her hand moved to grasp Minerva on the shoulder, wanting to pull her up and away, but it was an effect that surrounded them.

And then it stopped, but with an immediate consequence. Minerva slumped away, and Ashley sought to grasp her before she fully it the ground, holding her awkwardly as she twisted at the hip.

"Hey," she said, shifting where she sat to properly lean her friend against her. But there was nothing. And not after a few gentle shakes. Panic rose, and Ashley awkwardly set her bag onto the concrete, easing Minerva to rest her head on it in their tangle of twisted rebar.

Still breathing. Heart still beating. With little else to do, afraid to call an ambulance, she did what she knew how to do.

Apply water to her hands, and try to heal. But nothing would happen, even as Ashley moved damp palms from one spot for another, searching for anything that could be fixed.


Bystanders turned good samaritans drew nearer to help, and she could only explain that things were okay, that her friend had fainted from the shock of everything. Because... if 911 was called, and Minerva woke up in an ambulance, did she rise sending the whole thing collapsing on herself in surprise?

She would miss when Minerva finally roused, her eyes on the concrete, expression tight with worry.

 Fainting was weird. At first it was like cascading down through a dream, everything real was happening but was blurry and muted. "Hey," and then nothing! Just sleeping. Just need to rest for a little bit.

 Reality slowly came wobbling back to her after almost half an hour. She felt strange and disoriented, and weak, and very hungry. Her eyes registered the dark sky, the tangles of rebar, Ashley hovering over her. There was something lumpy but softer than concrete under her head.

 Suddenly, the memories rose in her brain. Oh yeah. Wow.

 She reached out to tap Ashley gently, probably on the leg again. "How long was I out?"

The relief that rolled in as Minerva awoke overcame the initial startling with ease.

"Hey," she greeted, feeling almost a little tearful in thankfulness. She blinked that away. "It's been..."

She glanced to her phone.

"About half an hour. How do you feel?"

 She was so glad Ashley was here. She was so kind. Half an hour! Wow! That was practically a nap. How did she feel!

 "Tired?" she said, her voice inflecting upward as if she wasn't totally sure of herself. "Hungry. Scared," she confessed with a nervous laugh that threatened to burst into tears. How long would this go on? When was the next time it would happen? When could she safely eat or sleep or do anything, really?

 She pressed herself up with a grumbly sort of noise, feeling something like shame. The rebar looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. What would happen if someone found out she'd done that? Would she become some kind of government science experiment?

 "What do I do?" she asked, of maybe no one in particular. What would she do!

Tired and scared, Ash couldn't necessarily fix. But hungry she could help with, and she dug into her bag for some generic brand granola bars to offer out.

"I'm not sure," she admitted quietly. "I'm trying to think if there's anywhere we can go without metal, but."

A huff.

"Kind of takes a car to get there."

Poor, poor Minerva.

"But whatever we do, I'll stay with you until something is figured out at least."

 Minerva wanted to tell Ashley she didn't expect a solution from her - she didn't want to put that pressure on her friend! But the words wouldn't form right, so all she could really say was "thank youuu," as she took the offered snack. It was better than nothing.

 Well, cars were definitely made of metal! Minnie laughed wearily. Yeah. This sucked. Ashley was so kind. It was mind-blowing!

 She crunched the granola bar thoughtfully. Walking was sort of an option, but it was literally across town. She wouldn't get home until dawn, and honestly walking through the city at night was a huge nope. This felt like a dead end.

 "Horse and carriage would be real convenient right now," she said as an attempt at a joke. But seriously. "You are a really good person, Ashley." She didn't know if it could be said enough. Maybe after a while she could see if her power was still... alive. Could it run out of energy just like her?

She huffed to the joke. Did carriages have metal? Probably not worth overthinking, Ash.

But then came something very nice, and Ashley gave a shy smile to her sneakers before looking to Minerva.

"Thank you," she said. "I try to be. You're a really good person, too. I'm glad we're friends."

Returned compliments maybe never felt quite as impactful, but she was very sincere. Ashley did not naturally make or keep many friends, either, and that made the ones she had worth extra gratefulness.

 She tried to be! Minerva wondered if it didn't just come naturally. She was pretty sure it did - at least, it was hard to imagine Ashley as anything close to mean. But she was glad they were friends, and Minnie was too, and she also sort of teared up for it! Which was not unusual, but could also probably be attributed to her groggy brain. It was hard not to get weepy after all this! "Me too," she peeped. Ultimately, she would just try not to get tears on her granola bar.

 After a while, Minerva took a shot at getting to her feet, and it went pretty smoothly! She was a little dizzy, but mostly she just felt very heavy. Like a sleepy sack of potatoes.

 She looked guiltily at the rebar again, and wondered if she could sneak back here the next night and try to fix them. But that felt like a long shot - maybe she wouldn't be normal by then. She rubbed at her face.

 "Okay," she breathed finally, one hand clutching the crumpled up granola wrapper. "I think... a hotel is the best idea." There was metal in hotels, but it felt infinitely safer than getting into a car. Probably. Hopefully. She looked to Ashley, wondering if she could find some affirmation in her as to whether that actually was a good idea or not.

She recognized that tone of voice, kept her response to a smile. Neither of them really needed waterworks right now!

Minerva rose, and Ashley would too, one hand hovering a little close to catch her friend should she find dizziness anew. But all seemed well, and to the suggestion, Ashley nodded.

A hotel was was maybe not a bad idea, though there was a lot of metal in them, too. And would Minerva get in trouble for the cost.

"Unless we can camp somewhere," she half-teased, but. They didn't have a tent. Or anything. "I can Google a hotel nearby maybe."

 Minerva chuckled a little, but it was almost a breathless sound. They could camp! Tent poles were probably not that dangerous, right? But going to get a tent meant going into a store and somehow that was much more threatening than a hotel.

 "Okay," she agreed simply to Ashley's offer. She was struck again by how kind this chick was! Mind-blowing! And it wasn't that she had never experienced such kindness in her life - it was just this overwhelming every time. It made her sure that, if she survived this, she would do anything Ashley needed.

Pleaaaase be close. Pleaaaaaase be close. Please please please.

Ashley typed "hotel" into her phone and nearly bounced in place as she saw one. Less than a mile away! Zero point seven eight miles!

"Oh there's one really close!" she said, looking to Minerva with a smile before she looked back to her phone. "Less than a mile! And it's-"

Oh, no.

She clicked on Yelp, and the very first photo was. Um. Well. A condom. Visible inside a pillow case from the outside?

"Oh. Um. The reviews are... pretty bad. There's another one two miles away that's better?"

 Normally, Minerva would never lean to look at someone else's screen without being invited to do so. But, weary and wandering close to delirium, she would do just that, trying to peer at the hotel Ashley was talking about as she paused mid-sentence.

 Oh! Oh boy. Okay.

 "Uhhhh let's do that one," she voted with a sheepish, sleepy smile. "Gotta get our steps in!" As if they'd been lazy tonight. Ha.

Probably a good call. She set her GPS to "walking" and tried not to pay attention to how much later the arrival time would be.

They'd be fine. If anyone weird approached them, Minerva could, um, superpower them or something!

"Let's do this," she said, trying to stay cheerful. Two miles wasn't really that far! And it looked like they had sidewalks and it was mostly lit and... yeah! It would be okay. "At least this area is pretty nice!"

 Okay, this would be fine. Everything was going to be fine. Minerva gave her big smile to Ashley, trying to rally her own weary spirits. "Yeah, it could be worse," she tried with a quiet sort of "heh heh" on the end of her encouragement. Because really, it could be worse, right? Definitely. Totally. She just hoped it wouldn't get to that point.

 Still, sapped of her usual chatty energy, Minerva would focus much of her energy on walking rather than talking. Also trying to do the math in her head. Humans walked like.... twenty miles an hour, right? No. A mile in twenty minutes? That sounded right. So that put them at like forty minutes of walking. Which sounded exhausting and daunting! But there was no choice. It would build character. Or something.

It was a lot of walking. Ashley felt her bag grow heavier on her shoulder, and it wasn't even very heavy, just... all kind of tiring in general. She let the quiet fall and hoped it wasn't uncomfortable for Minerva.

They were both just pretty tired, and she could imagine her friend especially so. Occasionally her phone blurbed out directions. Turn right here, turn left there.

A topic did, eventually, come back to her brain. She asked it quietly.

"So you met a... talking pug vampire."

 Minerva was close to dead on her feet! If it was possible to sleep and also walk safely, she would have chosen to do that. But Ashley's question breathed a little bit of new life in her! She remembered Marybeth's face, both dog and lady alike, and grinned a little. Maybe talking about her as a human was disrespectful of her privacy, though.

 "Yeah. She was super nice. We just like, talked! And she said she's an amateur naturalist, which I thought was pretty cool. Like. I guess I never would have thought vampires were actually like people." She paused, gestured sleepily. "Well, I mean. I don't know. Having hobbies and not just being monsters." Like some vampires!

That was hard to wrap her mind around. The dog she'd met had been a vampire. Threatening her. Probably?!

But this one sounded so friendly. it was hard to picture vampires being the same as people, but before wearing her cross, Ashley wouldn't ever have known if someone was a vampire or not. Maybe she'd met some before and liked them and just had no idea.

"That's so wild. The one I met was... out in daytime. Maybe they can be out in daylight just like us after all?"

 Bleh. Sorry, Marybeth, but Minnie really didn't like the idea of that. It would be okay if only the good vampires could be out during the day, though! "Oh, boy," she sighed, unable to fully accept the idea of it in this state. Her brain just decided "okay that's possible!" and kept rolling. "Maybe so." She reached for her necklace, but it wasn't there for her to zip back and forth around her neck because it was in her pocket! "He was mean to you??" It was not hard to imagine, unfortunately, but it upset her anyway. How dare that dog!

"Just gruff and snarly," she said. "I think he was upset about the cross. And that I knew what he was, I guess."

Had he wanted to drink her blood? You couldn't do that as a dog, right?! The whole thing was a little upsetting if she thought too much about it.

It felt a little embarrassing, in a way, that Minerva had such a nice vampire dog experience and hers had gone so, so poorly. Maybe it was just a rude vampire. Or maybe Ash had approached it wrong.

 HmmMmMmm. Minerva bit at her lip pensively. It would make sense for a vampire not to want people to know about crosses, or to have their covers blown. That was like... the complete opposite of Marybeth, but. Who liked being vulnerable? Was it weird to see both sides of this?

 "I uh," she began, almost chickening out on herself, but forging on without much gumption in her voice. "I got bitten one time. And the cross hurt him when he touched it, of course, and he got pretty upset about it." Which was largely an understatement to the whole evening, but Minerva was almost... embarrassed about it. "So I guess it would make sense for them to not want it to be common knowledge."

That was so upsetting to consider. A vampire not only biting Minerva, but getting upset about her cross. He had to know about it going in, right? They glowed, after all!

Ash felt a rare ache of anger in her for it. It was just so... messed up.

"He didn't have any right to be upset at you," she frowned quietly. Minerva probably already knew that, but it felt worth repeating. "I'm really sorry that happened. He sounds like a real jerk."

 Whewwww, Minerva felt some cross of relief of saying this stuff to someone new but also some sort of guilt. It was messy. Kinda complicated. She thought of Niamh, about how her will had been stripped from her, and about how she'd chastised her for not going to the police. She should have. Maybe it was too late now. She wondered if Niamh knew that vampire was still in the area.

 "Yeah," she said with an airy sort of chuckle to her voice, shrugging. "He was a jerk. He also said something about erasing my memory, but he didn't. I don't know if they can actually do that or not, but. Probably can't be too careful." Minerva said this slowly, feeling like she was saying too much about it already. It was scary to think about - what a vampire could do to someone's mind, that they could walk around in the sunshine with bad intentions. Why couldn't it just be the good ones who got to do those things?

Erasing memories?

Ashley blinked, brows furrowing, the frown on her face deepening.

"Surely they can't just..."

Could they? In a world where Ashley could heal people with touch, was wiping away memories so outlandish? It was upsetting, though, on a deep level. Would she know if it had happened to her? Would she feel that something was missing? Or would she just... not remember?[/q]

"I guess it's a good thing we have our crosses, then."

What a strange and scary world this could be sometimes. She'd be glad when they got to the hotel, momentarily forgetting the danger of metal within.

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