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Hamilton Center 
She had tons of experience slurping drifters and drunks, yes! That was true. But there was an idea digging in at the back of her brain, that being in a populous area might afford better meals, because she could both be picky and abandon bad odds and still find a new person a few blocks away. It was an alluring prospect, no less so at the memory of the old man she had endangered back in Magic Hollow - an ideal target for eating, but not in ideal condition to survive. And she did want everyone to survive these things.

It wasn't late out, 8PM or so. She had outfitted herself drably but put on shimmery eyeshadow. And she had parked herself at the bus stop outside the mall, to observe patterns for a bit and to scope out a likely meal.

Being in the city after sunset was not her preference, not after her experience in the Heights. Not after that night with the girl at her neck, protecting her from the shifter. A trust for her methods remained, but she did not want to repeat it.

Alas, she had a job to do, items to sell. She also had a chronic condition. And some days, the two collided very, very badly.

She'd been sitting in her truck for hours, her head pressed to her palm. The lightheadedness was dissipating slowly, and she felt if she could get herself something to eat and drink, she'd be able to start driving soon. And so Agostina opened the door, sliding out carefully. Her head stung sharply with a stab of pain, but she held the handle and closed her eyes and waited it out a few seconds.

It was enough. She made her way to a Dunkin Donuts, giving a small and entirely unintentional nod of her head to a woman at a bus stop. Tea would help.


Marybeth the Predator thought, there is a lady alone who seems obviously weak. She had seen Marybeth, which was not ideal, but she thought she could still make this work. She wiggled her toes inside her boots for a moment before hopping up, and making her way inside the shop after the woman.

Standing in line behind her, Marybeth tried to catch her eye for non-vampire reasons. "Rough day, huh?"

The lighting in the store was too bright, too flourescently cheery, like Dunkin Donuts was some sort of welcoming, happy place. It panged at her head, and made the line seem twice as long and inconvenient as it already was. That said, there was already someone behind her, talking... to her? Agostina looked back, the sort of glance that might be played off as accidental if she was wrong, but she was... very clearly not.

It had not been a long day, but it was easier to say so than to make some sympathy-seeking figure of herself.

"Mm, yes," she nodded with reserved politeness, doing her best not to stare at the woman's... attempt at makeup.

Not easily deterred by cool courtesy, Marybeth persisted with a gentle suggestion. "We're having a nice night, though, aren't we?"

At some point, probably, someone would clue Marybeth in to the idea of erasing memory. But her own pattern was to cushion vampire feedings with pleasant feelings, whenever it was possible. And you know, you experimented with these sort of things. The words that would seem innocuous if they failed but result in an easy meal if they landed. She watched the woman to see if there was any change in how, exactly, the night was striking her.

success maybe?


To be so delicately human. The suggestion tangled easily into her thoughts and she would never, ever know the cause.

It was a nice night, despite how she felt, and then realized she hadn't taken a moment to appreciate that before. "Yes, I think so," she agreed with a small nod, a faint smile growing on her face as she thought it over.

Certainly, she was tired and achy, but she was still doing what she loved, and the sales today had been enough to cover groceries.

Even the walls of the coffee shop seemed to look warmer, and she glanced to them in appreciation of colors she often avoided.

She could see the woman sort of soften, a good sign, and hugged nervous-happily at her sides. "Have you been up to see the aspens start to change?"

Oh, no, she had brought up aspens!! Good luck keeping Aspen Facts out of the center of this interaction, you dumb vampire!

"I have not," she murmured, but that was enough talking now as the line moving forward enough that she was called up next.

"Tea and an English muffin, please," she specified to the register, pulling out her wallet to pay for it. Given her receipt, she moved aside to wait for her order and so the talkative woman behind her could go ahead.

:'( No aspen talk.

Marybeth let the woman go, asking for a bottle of water and paying for it with two rumpled dollars. She cracked it open and took a swig for verisimilitude, her little brain working furiously for the best approach to this tired, uncommunicative woman. Frowning, she dug into her purse for one of several crumpled fliers.

She approached the woman shyly, a little pamphlet in hand, her thin lips tilted into a nervous smile. "I don't want to bother you more, but we have a church right in this neighborhood-" Her eyes sought to make contact. "You should come check it out. I think you'll like it."

Suggestion 2 success!


It took a moment to get her things and go outside. She wasn't sure why this woman was so fixated on her, and despite the niceness of her night she was rather hoping to shed her company.

But she spoke. Agostina looked to her.

She did not entirely care for attending mass, and she was about ready to decline, when she then decided against it. What was the harm, really?

"Alright," the woman decided, clutching to her too hot to drink tea. Her vision was not its best, but perhaps they could sit inside wherever this church was.

She motioned the other woman to lead the way.

Marybeth let out a nervous, giggly smile, skipping forward a step before settling into a normal walk. "Wow, great! Let me know if I'm walking too fast." She proceeded to trudge toward a back street that got precious little foot traffic once the sun was well set.

She thought, should she try one more suggestion? Maybe she could make the last of this a little more pleasant for the poor lady, especially since she wasn't feeling well. She smiled hopefully back. "Did you go to church growing up?"

A normal walk pace was a bit fast, but Agostina was never the type to complain. She would let the woman decide if she needed to slow herself down.

At the question, she gave a slight head tilt.

"I was raised Roman Catholic," she answered, and revealed nothing further. Not how she'd fallen from the faith, or why. Simply not a discussion for a stranger whose name she did not even know.

Though a disastrously slow study in most human behavior, Marybeth at least knew how to match pace, and walked beside the woman with the conscientious patience of a good nurse. There was no real destination, and she didn't mind ambling. "We were Lutheran growing up," she replied thoughtfully, one part of her remembering church basements even as she looked over the back of her, to a windowless staff entrance beside a darkened furniture store.

All right, well. With barely a blink, Marybeth reached out one bony hand and then the other to grasp Agostina's wrists behind her back, bully-marching them both into the dinner entryway. Sorry, lady!



Lutherans. She did not think much of other denominations, but weren't those the ones that had rebelled against the Catholic Church the most? Something in her history studies, a lifetime or so ago. She hummed without much need for comment.

One moment, they were walking along. And then in a flash, her wrists her behind her, gripped firmly. She gasped as she dropped her tea, and her croissant, and the former would splatter on her pant legs unkindly. "What are you doing?!" she demanded as her senses caught up to her, jerking at the woman's grip and finding it unyielding. "Let me go! HELP!"

This yelled with all the energy she could muster as she struggled haplessly against the hold and found herself being pushed in anyway.

"I know," she replied with sincere regret, carefully mashing the woman to the door with her own bony bird body. She could feel her teeth drawing out already. "I'll do this quick." And she did, biting neatly into the side of the woman's neck, holding her wrists steady with the confident, competent grasp of a cattleman. Hot blood splashed against her soft palate and made it very difficult to feel too bad about terrifying some lady — she could think about how to do better afterward.

Rolled another hit for successful hold


It was a terrifying, tearful affair to be held against a door like this. Such violence hadn't been a part of her life for many years, but such distance from her past mistakes did her no services. It was still hurtful that such a woman might prey upon her after coming across so harmless and wholesome.

Agostina struggled in vain, weaker and feebler by nature and by design, before she fell into older habits. She'd become useful; she would be still. Wait this assault out, eyes screwed shut for however much longer this would have to last.

The cold, cold lips against her neck brought thought of that other girl in the parking lot, the night of the shifter. There had been no such thing here, not that she knew, but here she was nonetheless, being marked once more. But she'd trusted the other one even through it; there had been no such feeling allowed to take root first here.

She felt nothing of the fangs piercing her skin, of course. Her wrists, held sharply, hurt more than anything else.

Glup glup glup.

The woman held still, which Marybeth appreciated, and in return she fed abstemiously, withdrawing her mouth and licking her lips with a fastidious, mouselike gesture of grooming. She still stayed close, though, chest to back, and listened to what the woman's heart was doing. "I'm gonna let you go in a second, and you won't have to deal with me anymore. Probably you don't want to, but if you like I can give you another suggestion, to forget this or not feel scared about it. D'you want me to try?"

She tilted her head to peer at the side of the woman's face; this was a long shot, but Marybeth did always try to be sort of fair.

Agostina did not know what suggestions were, and she understood this... entirely differently from how the woman intended it.

A suggestion. To forget or not feel fear. How kind of her to suggest that, as if Agostina could simply erase her own mind or trick it into feeling something it didn't.

The entire act was unsettling. This idea of... others suckling at her neck, like some sort of fetish. Twice now it had happened, and now she was wondering just what it all meant. Vampires, her mind decided weakly, even as she sought for other explanation. Something more real than this supernatural circus.

But it was coming to the point where it would make more sense.

She didn't know what the woman meant by her final question. Try what, exactly? Agostina would rather not know whatever else she might have in store to "try."

"Please just leave me be," she murmured, not even tugging at the wrist anymore. She needed to sit down. Here. Perhaps for... a while.

Marybeth nodded, the little bob of her head transferring to a small jiggle of her hands on her wrists. "All right."

And she stepped back, hands releasing, and was gone before the woman could turn around, soft-shoeing invisibly backwards so she could wait a moment and be sure that her poor feeble target didn't need more help. It was easy to be nice on a full stomach!

Also she felt kinda guilty!

How easy.

Agostina kept her eyes closed, but when she heard no sounds of departure she dared a look back and saw... nothing.

Nothing and no one. She might have almost thought she'd hallucinated it, but the woman's voice in her ear was as fresh as the ache in her wrists.

She brought a hand to her hide her face and let herself sink against the door, feeling even worse than she'd been and holding her breath so she wouldn't make any more of a scene, even if she'd perhaps be the only one around to hear it.

Just a woman sitting on the ground because her knees were too shaky to stand.

Marybeth wrung her fingers invisibly, wracked with a particular, fretful sort of worry that, as the feedings stacked onto each other, had begun to replace guilt-feelings by increments.

She thought for a moment, then flipped around and trotted back the way they had come, clipping back into view as she rounded a corner. Moving quickly, she re-entered the doughnut shop and ordered a hot tea (something herbal) and a croissant with a nervous, blinking smile.

If Agostina should make it back to her truck, the offering would wait atop the roof above the driver's side door, to be accepted or refused at the woman's discretion. Marybeth was on her way back home.

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