5:04 AM

Union Square 
#1
Azariah found himself once again restless. Tossing and turning in the early morning hours, he was quick to decide against further hours wasted. It was still dark, dawn still a solid two hours away, and he was at the park, jogging before he would have to go to work.

This had been the ritual he'd found easier and easier to partake in over the last week or so. It did not seem to help him tire enough once his day was through. It felt largely as though his brain was a ticking watch, gears grinding toward a goal he had not even begun to put into motion yet. Only toyed with the idea of.

But it was difficult. It required chance and luck to play to his favor. He was indeed a patient man, willing to let the sticks fall where they may rather than force them too much, but he wished they would simply fall a little faster.

He jogged until he was out of breath, and then found his way to a park bench to drink water and rest. As far as he could see, no one was around, and he busied his rest period with rolling a pair of acorns along the ground from one side of his bench to the other.

No hands, of course. He could blame it on a passing breeze if caught.
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#2
Appearance certainly wasn't everything for the average trial attorney, but it was foolish to think that it didn't help. Juries tended to side with lawyers that they trusted, that they sympathized with -- and everyone tends to more readily sympathize with an attractive person, whether they'd care to admit it or not.

Moira honestly found the entire escapade draining and shallow, but it was as good an excuse as any to stay in shape. That's why she had established a long-standing tradition of waking up at 4:30 in the morning to run a mile or ten.

On this particular morning, though, something changed; a man appeared on a bench that was normally empty at 5:04 a.m. Most curious.

Of course, it wasn't really curious at all. Not every human being clung so desperately to the tenuous boundaries of a routine like Moira did. But Moira did so this occurrence was noteworthy in and of itself. She slowed her pace to a quiet walk some fifty yards out, hands placed behind her head as she approached the man rolling the acorn about.

"Thought I was the only one who ran this street in the mornings," she observed, breathless.
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#3
Lacking hearing that wasn't decidedly average, he missed her approach until she was merely yards away. The acorns stopped their roll immediately, and his eyes lost their metaphysical color, not that it might have been particularly noticeable in the darkness of the hour.

She was a woman with a hawkish look, her face severely defined. Her words might have even been interpreted as annoyed based on her bone structure alone, though he doubted heavily that she owned Union Square.

He chuckled, his voice tired even if his mind refused to follow suit. Whether she was bothered by his presence remained to be seen.

"It would appear we have missed each other every day, then," Azariah answered in good humor. Never mind that aside from the last week, she would be correct. He usually worked out later in the morning, if not in the day entirely.

Would she join him? He moved over on the bench a touch, leaving her a respectful half of it if she wished to take a seat for the moment.

Company was always welcome, and despite the lack of sunlight he had little reason to suspect every stranger who crossed his path.
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#4
The man had made an effort to allow her space to occupy should she wish to. That alone was sufficient kindness to entice her to remain; the past few months had been a veritable onslaught of professional contact-forging, so it was nice to be shown such a courtesy by an individual who ostensibly stood to gain nothing, save for companionship.

"So it would seem!" she intoned, hoping that her sleepy pleasantness would bleed through her usual case of resting bitch face. She stepped carefully towards the bench, lowering herself down onto it with a contented sigh. After taking a moment to collect herself, she reached a hand out for introductions.

"Moira Callahan," she said, the faintest lilt of her Irish parentage coming through in the pronunciation. "Pretty new in town, all things considered. It's a pleasure to meet you."
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#5
She was amiable enough, and not the ornery type of girl he'd come across so often anymore. It was refreshing, and his smile only grew more genuine for it.

She gave her full name, and he was struck by the businesslike nature of doing so. But he would return the favor, odd as he found it, tickled by this encounter already.

"Azariah Timatua," he answered, taking her hand in kind and offering a firm but not destructive shake. "You can stick with Ozzy, Miss Moira Callahan. I've been here quite a while."

All lightheartedly spoken. "Are you enjoying Mountainside so far?"
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#6
"It's certainly lively," the woman replied. What was she supposed to say? 'oh, well the curfew is a pain in the ass and I'm pretty sure my neighbor likes his wine shockingly red and full of hemoglobin, but other than that it's great'? That would go over swimmingly with her first real chance at a non-work-friend.

"That said, it's a nice place to be right now. It's kind of at the center of things, you know? Bustling economy, lots of growth -- and the legal questions are interesting." That last bit was certainly true. How exactly does one prosecute a vampire? Do werewolves get constitutional rights? "I work for the D.A.," she thought to add after a moment.
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#7
Lively was an amusing word to use in a city that had become partially commanded by the dead, and he chuckled. She went on to what she did, and he looked at her with newfound respect.

"You must be enjoying the circus this town has become," he said with continued lightheartedness, and he wondered on which side she found herself. The blood drinkers? The skin changers? The sorcerers? Or perhaps she championed the humans.

"Have you met any, yet? Vampires or weres." There he went using that word again. He wondered when it would earn him trouble.
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#8
Moira shook her head. "I haven't," she said. "Or at least, not that I know of. I do not think that any of them are exactly wandering about wearing signs quite yet."

"And honestly?" the woman gave a little shrug of her shoulders. "I think that's for the best. I don't know a darn thing about how these folks operate -- but they're still human as far as I'm concerned and in the eyes of the law. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't get the ACLU in here offering to represent the world's first vampire defenda--"

the woman stopped herself, cheeks radiating with embarassment as a hand moved to press against her lips. "Ah, I'm sorry," she muttered. "I get very excited over this sort of thing, I suppose. Sure, the news is making it out to be like Dawn of the Dead, but I can't help but think it's more along the lines of To Kill a Mockingbird. Gideon's Trumpet. That sort of thing."
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#9
He chuckled to her enthusiasm, and her apparent honesty. She was either a competent actress or an actually honest lawyer. Perhaps the former was more believable, but he would rather enjoy the latter.

"By all means," he said through a hearty laugh, "it is quite refreshing to see someone love their work at five in the morning."

Not that he did not! But at five in the morning, most people loved their sleep.

Additionally, he only knew about one of those references, but movies weren't entirely his thing, and books were confined mostly to school offerings.

"Shall we jog?" he asked, finding himself rested and not wanting to entirely kill her exercise time.
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#10
"I thought you'd never ask," Moira responded with a pearly white grin. She pushed herself up off of the bench, bouncing from side to side on the balls of her feet as she threw a few off-center jabs followed by what appeared by all accounts to be a mean left hook. This was a woman who honed herself well; probably a proper level of grit coming from a prosecutor in Vampire Land.

She beckoned for the man to follow, setting a steady but manageable pace so that the pair could entertain some modicum of a conversation as they moved.

"So what do you do, Ozzy?"
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#11
He did not expect her to be a martial artist, and her punches were met with brows raised in surprise.

He might have commented on it, but she was starting to go ahead, and he set off to match her pace.

"Soccer coach. PE teacher. Not as much valiance as a lawyer perhaps."

A pause to regulate his breathing some.

"Your hobbies?" he followed up, and the question was missing a few words but he was certain she'd get the message just fine.
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#12
"Valiance? Bah." The woman shook her head and managed a breathless laugh to punctuate her dismissal of the notion. "It's a job like any other. I'd argue that teaching kids is way more important." She continued to speak with a market sincerity, though it was hard to tell whether that was a testament to her character or her lawyerly skill.

"As for hobbies -- well. I work out a lot. Read a lot. I'm pretty into whiskey?" Another laugh, stark as the mid morning winter breeze but not nearly as unfriendly even if it was punctured by the pace of the jog. "Not as into it as I'd like to be -- public servant salary and all -- but still. What about you?"
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#13
Reading was an acceptable hobby. He huffed with companionable amusement he did not entirely feel at the second one. Alcohol was not a hobby.

Obviously, he did not hate it. He just did not approve of a fixation on it.

"Exercise. Meeting others. Keeping track of the things going on lately."

The latter, mostly.

He saw a sizeable branch in the way several yards up, and, feeling increasingly bolder, his eyes went amber as he decided to gently roll it to the side of the path. With his brain.
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#14
Moira was an attentive sort. You had to be to succeed in her profession. So when the branch ahead of the pair lurched out of the way, seemingly of its own accord, the woman nearly tripped over her own feet.

Her eyes flashed about the horizon. The sun had not yet begun to peak over the treeline; as far as she could tell, it was still night time. "...Did you see that?" she asked, voice harsh and nervous in the dwindling starlight.

She didn't know a damn thing about vampires, but she did know that branches didn't tend to move on their own. And in a world where mythological creatures roamed the earth, it wasn't hard to attach supernatural solutions to otherwise inexplicable phenomena.

Keep the pace, she thought. If something was following them, then they had to keep moving. Avoid any routes that went away from the main boulevards. Ensure their mutual safety -- just in case.
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#15
Ah, perhaps his little trick had been, once again, poorly timed. He rose a brow to her question, and he huffed.

"Wind, I assume, " he said through an exhale, and really, when you're jogging, perhaps it was a little easier to be unsure if you felt a breeze or not.

Though, a branch of that size would have needed a fairly strong and focused blast of air...

He did wonder at those who were so very attentive.
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#16
"Must have been," Moira agreed after a pause.

It most certainly had not been the wind. That branch had moved of its own accord -- or rather, of the accord of some other actor who exerted influence upon it without so much as a glance in its direction.

"Tell me, Ozzy, what do you know about vampires?" she asked quietly as they ran. "The ones that were caught on film were -- monsters. Hardly looked human. But of course, they can't be like that all the time. They're like... Magic." The redhead glanced behind her, towards the branch once more.

"Makes you wonder if it's safe to go running before daybreak," she murmured. The wariness was evident in her voice. "But I'm probably being paranoid. That was definitely the wind, wasn't it?"

The woman's gaze remained forward as specks of yellow exploded into a vibrant change of color that her running mate would hopefully be too distracted to observe.
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#17
She let it go, and he found himself relieved and disappointed at once. There was enjoyment in being caught by the right type of person.

Then again, perhaps she wasn't letting it go. She had a lot to say while they jogged, and he focused on her words as his feet hit the pavement. He was running, so he couldn't quite chuckle when he was focusing on his breathing, but he could give a hard huff of amusement.

"Never met one," he said, and that was the truth, for all the suspicion in her tone said otherwise!
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#18
The yellow flare of Moira’s eyes died down. As far as her particular talents were concerned, the man was being truthful. Inwardly, the attorney chided herself for treating a new friend with such suspicion. It had probably just been the wind, after all.

"No, I suppose that makes sense," she responded, her tone apologetic. "Forgive me for being a bit on edge. Moving to a city like this – at a time like this – carries with it a certain set of concerns."

And so the pair continued to run, in relative silence unless Ozzy decided to break it once more. The soft red tint of Moira’s cheeks may have been from the cold or from the embarrassment of having probed too brusquely and too far forward. It was difficult to tell.
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#19
Did it? He would have liked to hear her concerns, perhaps even fill her in on some of them, but she did not elaborate.

Silence to run in peace was, in the end, okay for a time. He'd break it after a minute or so.

"Have you?"

Met a vampire, though she may or may not have gotten that.
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#20
Moira had thought the issue closed. Apparently, Ozzy was more curious than she had originally anticipated. A kindred spirit -- though that in a regard that was perhaps all the more dangerous for both of them in a city like this.

Still, she had no reason to lie -- if only because the truth in this case was not particularly interesting. "I haven't," she confirmed. "...Not yet, anyhow."

Another thirty seconds or so of running; the sun had just begun to peak over the treeline, cascading the city block in shimmering sheets of orange-and-pink light. It reflected off of the multifaceted faces of the buildings that surrounded the pair, and shone with a particular vibrancy off the more auspicious high rises out in the distance.

"I'd like to, though," she added quietly.
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#21
What a conclusion. Disappointing, but it was not her fault. He would accept it.

He would not patronize her by telling her to be careful of vampires. Everyone knew how their tastes ran.

But he would wait until they had come back where they started, panting and walking an easier pace, and he would gesture in the air. "Should you. Happen to meet one. I would like to hear of it."
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#22
Moira flashed the man a wry grin. It was nice, not being the only curious person on the planet. All of her coworkers seemed far too gunshy to go digging for leads on the supernatural community in Cordova. It struck her as rather ironic that the long arm of the law dare not tread where her new friend Ozzy far more readily expressed interest. "I'll keep that in mind," she said with a happy little nod.

The pair had run a nearly complete circle at this point; they were approaching the same bench by which they had first met. Moira slowed her pace as she approached, her breathing sufficiently labored for having run and talked for so long in tandem. Hands went to rest behind the back of her head as the attorney stretched out the muscles of her back, eyes cast towards the rising sun.

"I have to say, this was a pleasant change of pace," she chimed. "You don't need a more regular running partner, do you?"
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#23
He chuckled, evening out his breathing.

"Of course not. I cannot promise I am always here at this time, but perhaps we could keep in touch?"

That is to say, he was very happy to give her his number if she wanted to go ahead and take it down.
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#24
Moira chuckled in term. Fair enough; the message, at least, had been received.

She withdrew her phone from her drawstring bag and passed it across the way towards her impromptu morning exercise partner, the screen already tuned to her contacts list.

"I usually work pretty late," she conceded. "Still, we should definitely grab dinner some time."
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#25
Moira chuckled in term. Fair enough; the message, at least, had been received.

She withdrew her phone from her drawstring bag and passed it across the way towards her impromptu morning exercise partner, the screen already tuned to her contacts list.

"I usually work pretty late," she conceded. "Still, we should definitely grab dinner some time."
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#26
That worked splendidly. Entering his number into her phone, he nodded.

"Most of my evenings are free. Dinner is always a good decision."

Had to keep up the calories for all this morning jogging, after all.

They would part soon, and he was happy to have made a new friend.
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