He was not fond of Cordova proper, and this fact only seemed to solidify every passing night. It was loud, unkempt, catering to the irresponsible and undignified, and it was sorely lacking in greenery. Parks were small after thoughts in a sea of iron and steel. Why the damned vampires felt the urge to camp in such drear was beyond him, but it was evidently the safest place for him to be. With a clutch.

The idea rankled him, as did having to hunt where he lived, and yet he would have to accept that over moving elsewhere and facing the same torture he had in Crestview.

He resisted the urge to call up on Cris. She would no doubt prove expensive, and likely soon ask for more than he had generously given her. His wealth was vast, but he would rather not form a dependency on her if he could help it. She had made her boundaries clear, and it would be a purely businesslike transaction. Once, perhaps twice a month at most was plenty. She would, after all, die within the century. It was best for all of these reasons not to form an attachment.

Tonight was clear and rather chilly, but early enough after sunset that quiet was impossible. An ambulance blasted past him, and he bared his teeth to cringe to the noise. Unpleasant. Unpleasant, unpleasant.

He would walk, attempting to suss out scents and a personality that could be wooed away from the throng. So far the clutch had not descended on him, and he would find it difficult to be the one to seek them out, but he wagered it was only a matter of time.

A matter of time indeed.

It was a popular park -- particularly at this time of year, when couples abounded for moonlit strolls through the selectively appropriated greenery of the small citybound refuge. It was indeed difficult to find anyone that had been separated from the pack; solo wanderers had been, naturally, considerably more difficult to find since the recent supernatural revelations. Groups and couples wandered by, and the night perhaps may have seemed lost at one point or another.

That was, until a voice rang out from behind Osvald of all places. He may have heard or smelled her approach; still, she seemed all too ready to call out to him.

"Bit of a chilly night to be standing out here alone, don't you think?" she said simply. "I've heard it's not safe to be all on your lonesome."

He would have smelled her only briefly before hearing her. Eyes a cloudy grey, he thought he might have been visited by a vampire by that tone of voice. But, no, just a human. A talented one.

The old man turned on his heel, adjusting his cane to support himself out of habit, and Iooked to her with a kindly smile.

"My dear, unless you are lucky, you'll find that after a certain age all your friends tend disappear before you do. Alone is a constant state."

Hunger, too.

"We are so very rarely alone," Moira countered, stepping closer to the man. "Solitude is something to be treasured, in so far as one is able to find it." The stark-looking Irish woman gestured about the park, presumably at the various other couples meandering about. "Then again," she mused with a quirky little smile, "I am hardly one to talk. All it takes is a move to an unfamiliar city to warrant at least some degree of loneliness. Alas."

The attorney smiled, coming to a stop alongside the kindly, cane-toting old man. "I’m Moira," she said. "Are you waiting on someone, sir? Do you mind if I keep you company in the meantime?"

What a chirpy sort of woman. She would speak to him on loneliness, as if he did not know hundreds of years of it.

No matter. It was her blood that concerned him. She was kind enough to offer him company, and he would take it where freely given.

"No, but I do not mind at all. I was just heading to that bench there," he gestured, and he hadn't but it was along the path he had been walking and there was no need to hobble on unnecessarily.

"My name is Osvald," he introduced as he began to head to the bench.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Osvald." the woman said, taking care to mirror the man’s own pronunciation of the name. She followed him at a fair distance, not wanting to crowd her new friend’s careful, cane-assisted gait. Eventually, though, she found herself alongside the bench. She waited for the elder man to sit before claiming her own perch.

"I have to say, I’m surprised to see someone like you here," Moira said as she sat. Her knees crossed themselves prim and proper, one over the other with her hands folded and placed atop both. Her tone was not accusatory; merely curious. "Admittedly, I’ve only been in Cordova for a few weeks. And yet, the citizenry seems to trend rather young. I suppose to a certain extent, that makes sense – we’re in the heart of Mountainside after all – but still…"

"It is not my choice," he admitted, the subject a sore one for him. And what should he care of sharing that? It tended to make others more open.

"But this far, it seems the least likely place to find those damned beastly monsters. The city is too busy for their like."

And more for her to feed on, in the hopes she could return the favor.

Moira's eyebrow arched. Most curious indeed; the man not only knew readily of Cordova's supernatural denizens, but seemed nonchalant at best regarding the risk they posed to a human wandering about at night.

"We do what we must, I suppose," she agreed with an affirming nod. "As for the monsters, well... I cannot help but wonder."

Moira turned her gaze more directly towards Osvald. She nibbled upon her lower lip as she thought about the best way to phrase her interrogatory. "It is all rather frightening," she agreed, "but I've found myself in something of an argument with some of my coworkers of late. These vampires and werewolves and what have you -- surely they have legal rights? Surely they are still -- at least under the gaze of the law -- human?"

Needless to say, it was a heavy question. But it wasn't like Moira could find anyone else who would listen to her speculative jurisprudence without laughing or running away. And Osvald, curmudgeonly as he may have seemed with regard to the presence of those 'beastly monsters', at least seemed calm and curious enough to talk about them.

She had a businesslike manner but lacked the rancor of Cris. Still, he wondered where the romantics had gone away to.

"Legal rights?" Osvald mused. When was the last time he'd given a damn about legal rights? What cell could hold him when he'd outlive every sentence? Ah, but only if he had the sustenance to do so. And yet, he was a Vampire. He could break out by force and never be heard from or seen again.

"I doubt such things concern the monsters. Perhaps a younger one might need recourse, but any who have outlived their generation tend to handle such matters before the law can be involved. Or die trying."

Was he saying too much? Possible.

Moira’s blood ran cold. She hoped that her expression did not betray her sudden fear – or her sudden curiosity – but there was little doubt that there were subtle signs of her instant anxiety. The way that the corner of her lip twitched, or the way that her eyes shone with flecks of anxious, black-cat yellow as she prepared to respond, would perhaps give away her change in demeanor despite her attempt at maintaining a steady tone.

"That’s quite the speculation." she observed. "Still, it is worth discussing – even if what you say is true. The law isn’t punitive, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a matter of due process, and of keeping the peace. Somehow I doubt a vampire would ever face a nonbiased jury – but to me, that does not seem fair." She paused, her expression faltering, growing softer.

"Of course, very little of it seems fair," she concedes. "Whatever – whoever -- these people are… Their revelation has changed the world. I can only hope that they are all coping. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to live like that."

Or not live.


The yellow died away, gift unutilized for now. To her, it felt like a breaking of trust. She wanted to trust Osvald, even if it was foolish to do so.

In the end, her concerns were narrow, and to him would have been but a blip in existence. What mattered was the rise in her heart rate, the sweet scent of her blood pumping through her veins.

"Coping, indeed," he responded simply. "How did you come across such sympathy for monsters who would sooner kill you than not?"

He had never seen a human, talented or not, so overtly concerned for the supernatural kind. Perhaps whatever power she held endeared her to them.

He toyed with questioning that, next.

Moira shrugged her shoulders. "I do not think it is any particular sympathy for the monsters, as you describe them," she said. "I am a prosecutor by trade. I've spent my young career working with killers. Many of them have reasons for the crimes that they commit." She sighed, resting back against the bench and casting her gaze skyward as she reflected for a moment.

"I cannot imagine a reason more pressing than biological need," she considered after a time. "That does not make it right -- but it is a... Mitigating factor, I suppose." She turned her gaze back towards Osvald; there was compassion there, but there was also a sense of justice that flickered alongside it.

"More importantly," she said, "I've yet to speak to a vampire, in court or otherwise. Our legal system rests upon the right to state one's case, amongst others. If I did not believe in those rights, regardless of circumstance, then I would be a rather poor attorney."

She said a lot for him to be amused over. "Is that so?" was a phrase repeated several times in his head in succession.

"Ah, but there is never a need for death."

This was, of course, debatable, if it meant protecting your identity. But that seemed a thing of the past. Even he had managed to win Cris' favorwith his honesty.

"Vampires do not need to kill to feed, and if a brute beast does it, it is because he is no more than a rabid idiot. They do not need death to live."

The question he wanted to ask lingered on his tongue, but there was no need to rush a conversation. The night was very young.


Moira peered in confusion across the way, scrutinizing her well-spoken partner with a newfound and growing curiosity. He spoke about such things as if he knew of them. It all ran rather contrary to the brusque dismissal of the 'monsters' from the earlier portions of the conversation.

Something did not add up here.

"That is reassuring, at least," she conceded. "It speaks of some modicum of hope for the future. If indeed they can --" the word caught in Moira's throat. "If indeed they can feed safely, then perhaps some brokerage of peace can be pursued. Something more civilized than this... Whatever this is." Moira gestured around the pair of them.

Amusement glinted his eyes grey.

"Have you not heard? The vampires run a bar where people volunteer their blood for feeding. There is plenty of peace where the brute beasts do not run, at least."

A slight chuckle as he thumbed the handle of his cane.

"It is why I find it safest to live here. I have been attacked outside of Cordova by such animalistic demons."

Moira stared in wonderment. This man knew far too much for the casual passerby, and she did not believe in coincidence.

"I had not heard," she admitted. "At least, not so specifically. I did hear that the Vampires tended to frequent the center of the city. It is, after all, why I came all the way out here in the first place." The woman huffed, looking a bit put off by something -- perhaps her own foolishness, even as the moon climbed further towards its apex -- barely visible as it was behind the shadow of the very earth that it circled.

"I had hoped to meet a vampire -- to ask them their opinions on these very peculiar matters. It is, after all, my job to stay abreast of all criminal activities taking place here in the city." Moira frowned, uncrossing her legs and crossing her arms instead. "And as far as my superiors are concerned, the very existence of vampirism or lycanthropy constitutes a crime unto itself."

"That is, of course, absurd," she sighed. "But it is difficult to advocate for the rights of a population that I have no access to." At this point, the woman's eyes flared a bright, unmistakable yellow. "Fair enough. We all keep our secrets, I suppose. Tell me, Osvald; you wouldn't happen to know any vampires I could speak to, would you?"

Perhaps she had been living under a rock. The bar was, as far as he was aware, public knowledge. Then again, she did say she was new to the city.

For all she spoke, she had nothing to say on his attack, and that irked him greatly. So bull-headed to advocate a beast in the face of a man who had just shared his incident with them.

Her eyes brightened, and he reminded himself that she was sustenance in his presence.

"I do, but you are not likely to get anything out of a vampire without paying the toll."

What plethora of chatter would she say to that?

Well, he was honest, at least. That did not exactly make Moira feel better about its contents, but such was the nature of discerning truth from fiction.

Moira's eyes dimmed down; she remained silent for a long moment as she contemplated his statement. It was not difficult to interpret: vampires had need of humans, and if Moira had need of a vampire then she would need to respond in kind.

"...It is not lethal," she confirmed quietly. "You said that already. Are there... Consequences that I would need to be aware of?"

How marvelous. By her words alone, he surmised she'd guessed him for what he was. Or had she?

Only one way to find out. He smiled kindly, willing to see her again as pleasurable company despite the insult he'd just felt. He would get to feed, in any case.

"No consequences other than the mark made by feeding. It will heal immediately, but the mark itself will fade within a week. You may feel some slight dizziness.
That will go away in time. "

He moved to stand. Feeding in the cold was barbaric to those who gave him their blood.

Moira had never been one for hesitation, and she was not about to start now. She stood alongside the vampire, giving him a pleasant little smile in return for his candid answers.

"Well, that doesn't sound so bad," she conceded. "Very well, then. It seems that you and I can reach something of an amicable accord after all." The woman's voice was confident; but her hands trembled and her teeth clenched. The nerves were apparent, despite her bravery. Whatever it was that Moira sought to acquire from the vampires, it was clear that she was willing to circumvent her own better instincts to acquire it.

Surmised indeed.

He pulled out his phone, calling Stephen, and letting him know where he had wandered to. Location confirm, it would be but minutes. At the human pace he walked at, he never truly went far from home.

"My driver will be here soon. In the meantime, perhaps you can tell me what makes your eyes glimmer gold?"

He gripped his cane, hunger already setting him to salivating for it.

Well, at least the elderly vampire was attentive. She had not exactly been subtle with her talent, but all the same she was glad to see that he had picked upon its usage.

"I am but an attorney," she responded, deciding in the moment to be a little bit coy. If she were going to willingly walk into the proverbial lion's den, then she may as well have a little fun with it. "and attorneys are expected to have a keen nose for the truth. It just so happens that my sense for it is better than most others'."

An obvious and glib understatement, but one that would get the point across just fine.

"...Were you really attacked by one of the lycanthropes?" This question, leveled more quietly than the conversation that surrounded it. "I have heard that your kind are quick to heal. Am I correct in postulating that injuries borne of -- altered humans -- are exempt from that rule?"

Ah, a truth-seeker. Though, amusing that she would promote her position as one of traditional truth-seeker. Traditionally, he knew lawyers to be the type to argue doggedly whatever side they represent, whether they truly believe that side or not, and facts were... liquid rather than solid assets.


"Then you will sense it any time I lie to you. Very well," he nodded, understanding for all she tried to disguise it. He was too old for most games.

Interesting that she called them "lycanthropes." He himself had rarely heard that word used. Less interesting and more threatening was her follow-up question.

"Why ever would you assume that?" he asked gently, wanting to see where her logic lay. She knew much for a human. Even a talented one.

Two minutes.

"It's a logical conclusion to reach," she responded evenly. "That is, assuming the truth of the premise. If indeed vampires cannot be hurt by conventional means, then it stands to reason that something unconventional would follow different sets of rules." Moira turned to face the street, hands in the pockets of her well-fitted slacks as her eyes searched out for a car that might possibly be their ride.

"Of course, that is assuming that the premise is even remotely accurate," she conceded in quick succession. "To be honest, it is difficult to know much of anything for sure about Cordova's supernatural population. All we have to work with are the bodies of supposed victims, when they pop up here and there -- and the verbal testimony of every single scared hiker who has happened upon a particularly large fruit bat in the past few months."

The woman chuckled, a pair of fingers pressed upon the bridge of her nose as she shook her head from side to side. "Honestly, you would likely find the stories somewhat droll, if not outright endearing," she said. "I've heard tales from some colleagues on the civil side of things -- there was one woman who turned herself in for the murder of a vampire because a bat collided with her kitchen window and died."

It was amusing how, by permitting her to simply think out loud, he was able to skirt by directly answering that question. Tact, she had not enough of it. Opening an interview by asking how to destroy a man, to relive such anguish. Tsk tsk.

The last bit earned a chuckle as well, and he mused.

"There are some of us who take such forms, you know. Not like the shifters - we only acquire the look of the animal. It is not an ability I possess myself, however."

One minute.

"Is that so?" There was surprise in Moira's voice -- but no small amount of admiration, as well. Despite her lack of tact relative to the ancient creature, there was at least curiosity in spades.

"How does it all work?" she inquired. "It is as simple as... As magic? I mean, my gift could be scientifically explained away. Chalked up to pheromones or brain waves or something equally esoteric. But taking on the form of an animal... It seems impossible." And obviously, it was not. She did not need her gift to take Osvald's words for truth.

"Forgive me for seeming... Overwhelmingly interested," she then apologized, somewhat sheepishly. "It's just -- so far beyond anything I've ever learned or heard before."


Why was everyone so goddamn stupid?

 It was hardly an earth shattering thought as far as she was concerned - and yet still there remained moments in time where the volume in which it screamed left her stunned and fuming. Why, was everyone so goddamn stupid? An unsolved mystery, a case for some specialized task force that worked in the shadows - a mystery that continued on even for the virtually immortal, it seemed.

 She had felt it not too long ago - the distinct itch of rogue in what was clearly defined Clutch territory. Wrapped up in meetings and feedings, she had let the investigation fall to the wayside. But tonight it was back and more of a punch to the gut than ever before. And her curiosity had been rewarded with this - a breakdown of their kind to some inconsequential human.

 Credit where credit was due, she supposed there was something to be said for the possibility that he was playing with his food. But that was a stupid game to play to this degree, especially on someone else's property - particularly in public. So she inched in, all but bristling as she prepared for the night ahead of her, for the possibility of a fight mere seconds away. For now at least, the cat settled across the way - cold eyes focused on the centuries older between the two as she sat still as a statue, waited for the next footfall of colossal misstep.

He smiled to her wonderment, amused. "It is something I have never truly understood myself," he conceded, and was going to say more when he was given pause.

Stephen's car would, of course, pull up right on time, as promised, just as he was suddenly aware of a greatly humbling presence. Uncharacteristically, he opened the door for his dinner rather than let the chauffeur do it, but he was still as his eyes scanned the area around, finding himself rather silenced.

It had to be a vampire, and the poor timing irritated him.

Moira's smile faltered, if only slightly. Hardly a satisfying answer. Ah, well. The night was young; one way or another, she was certain she'd be learning more about this strange world soon enough.

She stepped into the car, oblivious to the presence of the Domina or the effect that it had upon her undead companion for the evening. Though she would have liked to think of herself as an expert, at the end of the day she was still human. No matter how eagerly she attempted to interface with the supernatural world that had built itself up within Cordova, she still remained an outsider . An ant. A foodstuff.

Ah, well. If one was to become prey, then one may as well be well-informed. Hopefully this night would not turn sour. The door closed to her left, prompting a deep breath and a steadying exhale as she prepared herself for the night to come.


Whatever it was, it was staying its distance. Perhaps it was invisible.

Osvald would waste no time in getting in the back with her, casting a last glance out before looking to her as Stephen began to drive.

"Forgive me, my dear, I do not recall where we were in our conversation."

Moira blinked. Enraptured as she had been in the sheer absurdity of the situation, she too had lost track of her line of questioning. "Sorry," the woman apologized. "I suppose I am a little out of my element. People in my profession do not make a habit of asking questions they don't already know the answers to."

The red-haired woman made herself as comfortable as she could within the plush leather interior of the chauffeured vehicle. It was, all things considered, a perfectly pleasant ride -- context notwithstanding.

He smiled, finding her pleasant company, all things considered. Still, the presence he'd felt was not so readily forgotten. It had to be a vampire, and he had to have been watched.

He did not enjoy the feeling. Six hundred years alone, and now he was on a leash he had not even consented to. Yet.

"I neglected to ask if you would be more comfortable here or at my home. I am happy to permit you the choice."

Moira winced. "Here?" she repeated, quietly. "In the car?"

On one hand, that seemed dangerous. What if -- what if they hit a pothole?

but Osvald seemed rather nonchalant about the whole thing. She figured that he would know better than she the risks and circumstances to be taken into account with regard to the venue. That, coupled with the intrinsic interest that Moira had cultivated in getting this thing over with...

"So long as you're not worried about the upholstery," the woman responded with a shrug.

Her heart beat more quickly still.

Stephen was nonplussed with her decision, and in the end, neither was Osvald. Eyes cast at the door to be sure it was locked, he gave a small nod to her comment.

"Present your wrist, dear. I am hardly of an age to be sucking on necks."

He spoke gently, soothingly as Stephen elected to drive away from home. Intelligent man. Osvald would have to give him a bonus for putting up with this.

Moira arched a brow. This all felt so -- businesslike. Surreally so.

Very well, then. The woman took the time to remove her form-fitting pantsuit jacket, slipping her arms out of the sleeves before shrugging it off to be folded and set neatly upon her lap. The sleeve of her crisp white oxford followed, being rolled up to the elbow so as to minimize risk of staining.

She held her wrist out towards Osvald; her eyes never wavered from the presumed point of transaction. If she were going to do this (and indeed, she doubted that she could back out now), it would be under her own terms. As a willing and engaged participant, rather than a victim.

Giving her an option of allowing him to feed in the car was perhaps greed on his part. At home, he would have had to permit her a chance to relax. Perhaps some wine to ease her into it. But her heart was beating, and he was hungry. Gnawing for blood.

He took her wrist with a gentle hold that would slowly firm up so that she need not feel additionally threatened. She seemed to thrill from watching, and that was an added interest from him.

Osvald bared his teeth, bringing them to her skin, and would attempt to puncture her skin. But there was always a chance she would struggle. Part of him, stirred by the nearing of the new moon, nearly yearned for it.

Moira winced, reflexively drawing her hand back away from the predatory creature as he leaned down and sought to drink. And who wouldn't? As businesslike as the redhead liked to imagine this situation, it was -- as the kids might say -- pretty fucked up shit.

The woman's jaw set as her arm jolted backwards, towards the door. It would earn her a large, angry gouge as the woman accidentally raked Osvald's fangs down and across her wrist. It likely hurt a great deal more than the gentle puncture that would have resulted had she not resisted.

Rivulets of blood burst forth, akin to an unholy river upon which the souls of the damned might be ferried towards a grim and eternal fate.

Oh, that was a poor move indeed. The new moon merely two nights away, his bloodlust ran high. It thirsted for a struggle. Violence.

He managed to keep it at bay only barely, though his grip on her wrist tightened intensely. She would likely bruise, and he lacked empathy amidst his self control. He reminded himself that Stephen did not deserve the sight, sound, or mess that followed.

Osvald drank with near abandon, as if she might rip herself from him again. Unfortunately, she might perhaps end the experience feeling far more faint than she was promised.

Again, he lacked empathy. She'd been an agent of her own will up to this point. There was no further turning back. And in the back of his mind, the heavy presence from the park seemed to loom.

His grip would loosen unwillingly several seconds after he decided he was sated.

Pain radiated up the woman's arm. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Her head swam; little black spots speckled her field of vision.

"...My apologies," she stammered out, bracing herself against the little triangle formed by the car door and the seat back. "Natural reflex, I guess." It seemed a little counter-intuitive, the food apologizing to the connoisseur. All the same, Moira did not want to upset the man whose car she had just splattered in droplets of blood.

He sat back against the seat, head tilted up to the ceiling as he breathed somewhat heavily. In the back of his mind, the presence. It sent an itch in his very thoughts, when he should have been celebrating the high from her blood.

"It was a... poor decision," he agreed.

Do it, Osvald. Attempt to cover your tracks, if you can.

He pushed himself through the tainted high and looked to her, seeking her eyes.

"I need your attention for a moment, dear," he said, breath attempting evenness as he strove for a gentle tone once more.

Moira was disinclined to acquiesce to that particular request -- though not because she did not want to. Rather, she was rather distracted; one hand was clamped onto the substantial wound upon her arm, while the other continued to clench and unclench in a sequential attempt to assert some sort of calm over the situation.

"...What?" she said, feebly. The blood rushing through her ears pounded like the beat of timpani drums, making the rest of the world seem to slow down even as the outdoors sped along just beyond the glass pane of the car's window. The woman was vaguely aware of the presence of the man in the front seat -- she would have apologized for the mess to him more directly if she could quite find the will to ease her tongue out of its state of cotton-mouthed panic.

She was weak, while he... was feeling the high of her blood, but slowly gaining strength. Her blood staining the car tempted further; he could end her here if he wished, though it was not his way.

But she answered without looking at him, and it stirred a latent frustration. He did not appreciate having to repeat himself.

"I do prefer conversation face to face," he prodded. It would hopefully end far less violently if she gave him that respect.

And opportunity.

The man's sentences settled in -- eventually. She was being rude, which was a strange thing to think about in response to the man who had just cut her arm open with his teeth.

"M-My apologies," she says, slowly turning to face the vampire -- though her proper gaze remained planted firmly on the bloodied floor of the vehicle.

What had she been thinking? Knowledge -- a connection -- was worth a great deal. But this?

She utterly refused to look him in the eye.

Osvald was a patient man, but even an old man's patience could wear thin. One more time, he would ask, his grip on his cane tensing. Do not be a fool, woman.

"If you would look me in the eye, dear. I have an important request."

She was not a child. Why she chose to act like one was beyond his sympathy at the moment.

Moira frowned. A request? What else could this man possibly want?

She turned her gaze upwards, towards Osvald, finally meeting his eyes with her own. "And what else might I offer you, sir?" she inquired, a small amount of fire in her quavering voice. "I believe this was meant to be an equivocal exchange. Or are you breaking your bargain?"

This was a dangerous path that Moira was walking -- she knew it in the back of her head. But sometimes it was important to take risks in pursuit of a grander justice.

Such attitude. She was quick to name him untrustworthy. It did not sit well with him, and he was tempted to show her what happened when she challenged a vampire.

If she already doubted, why not finish the job, Osvald?

"Such accusations?" He asked, gently, and rhetorically. "I merely request that when you depart from this vehicle, you forget everything you have learned from me tonight."

A pause, and then, he tacked on in a sincerely regretful tone, "I'm afraid that if what I told you found its way out into the world, I would suffer the wrath of many, and my six hundred years would find their end in ashes."

A simple plea from an old man. She could keep her knowledge. He would simply ask that she never shared it.

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