Hester’s Hedge Maze Hotdog and notdog
#1
Dude caught a bite of hot dog and bun in mid-air, chomping it down with gusto. "How are you so good at that?" Joaquin huffed accusatorially, but also with pride. The answer came in the form of a chop-lick and happy panting, Dude's body stiffly walking alongside him, head turned in focus for the next tossed bite.

Joaquin was prepared not to look like himself, if someone found him — and he hoped for that too. He wanted an easy meal to bring home to Minnie, always. People weren't all that worth much otherwise to him. At least a maze was a decent place to catch hold of someone wandering.

He looked at the pup, huffing, tossing another bite his way. "You can't tell Min I gave you a whole hot dog. But these were my favorites, you know."

:) Dude probably knew.
#2

fit



Bree was hoping for a faerie or a ghost. She'd accept a zombie but was pretty sure the apocalypse was a ways off yet.

She'd entered the hedge maze around sunset, marveling at that perfect time of day when it felt like the lines between life and death were thin as fuck. Then she kept wandering. Even as night fully fell. There was still the odd visitor so she didn't feel totally alone, and her eyes were mostly trained upon the bottoms of the hedges. If she saw little breaks in the brambles, she tucked in a sugar biscuit brought from home. Like a hedge cabinet.

"Bon appétit, little buds."

If there were any wee folk here they were well fed.
#3
He heard her on the other side of a hedge. Human blood, the least problematic kind. Joaquin eyed Dude with a hand sign to sit and wait, then nodded to himself. Dude would stay. He was abundantly well trained by now.

He circled to where the turn in the hedge would be to get to her, and then threw an illusion of pitch black flickering shadow over himself, letting only his eyes be visible through what appeared to be vaguely human shaped smoke.

Only the eyes were needed for suggesting.

"Was that for me?" he lilted in a voice of near playfulness.
#4
So she was looking low. 'cause 'wee folk'. And ghosts manifested so rarely in her presence that her best successes happened when she didn't intentionally look for them. No spirit had ever fuckin' spoken to her before.

She turned her head in the direction of the playful voice, seeing dark smoke and no feet. Some kind of specter...

Only, why the eff was a ghost asking for a biscuit?

Oh fuck nuts was this something else? Banshees (doubtful, no screeching), Hungry Ghosts (preferred water), Dybbuk (this didn't seem like a possession), egg ghost (not an egg, and she was still alive--whoopee!) The list of possibilities was near endless and this could still be something she'd never read about.

Never once did 'vampire' cross her mind.

"Sure."

High off a ghost-hunting trip, feeling reckless and desperate to know, she raised her eyes to look at the specter's face. Seeking any telltale signs of identification while she extended the biscuit. A small offering in her hand.
#5
So quick was she to give him what he wanted. He did love the trusting ones, as much as he hated them. But at least this time he couldn't fault her: Joaquin had brought himself into the town limits this night.

"You'll keep your time with me a secret," he began, felt it falter. Grasped the offered biscuit as though it was anything he cared for and mimed eating it. "Won't you?"

Another try, please. Nights of failure were so fucking annoying.


FAIL

#6
Aaaaand with that command, 'vampire' was sure as fuck crossing her mind now. She dropped her gaze to the grass when the biscuit handover was done, under the pretext of digging around in her bag for another one.

She'd never met one who could change forms beyond animals. If this was a vampire...what the hell was he doing?

"Do you have a favorite food besides biscuits? I can bring something better next time."
#7
No, dear. Joaquin knew this game enough to know to kill her phone, and in that moment he reached out for each piece of digital technology he could feel around her and bricked it utterly. It was tempting to grab her by her hair and force her gaze back to his.

He could simply wait to see what she'd do when she found out, but instead he took it all a step further: washed her entire visual world with darkness. All except for his eyes, which gleamed in comparison with the moon's directed light.

Scream, girl, and he was ready to force the issue if needed.
#8

CW: drawing parallels to SA



Bree watched with a weird disconnect as her phone died in her hand and the last bit of light was swallowed up. Her other hand fumbled a bit further into her bag and found the gift from Kesi, the ring of Anubis. Hey, whatever might help get her through this. It was slipped on.

She really, really didn't want to die. So go along with it.

She also didn't want to wake up somewhere unknown, terrified, drained, covered in injuries (or worse), with no clue how they got there.

"I won't tell anyone. Just...just let me keep the memories of what happened." Willing her voice not to crack and betray fear. The plea felt cowardly and wrong and likely something he'd mock. She'd probably come up with a million things she should have said later. Mock herself later. Yeah. Later.

His gaze was met with no fanfare.
#9
Poor little thing. He flared continued dark around her, his eyes the only place her eyes could see anything, and he tried again.

"You will keep your silence." She would not, she would not. He snarled a hiss to himself. There was only one option left. He reached for her hand with his, a test to see if she'd pull away. If not, he'd figure it out after that.


failed AGAIN this man is doomed

#10
"You can drink from me, okay? Then leave me here. I can't identify you and my phone's dead."

Breathe in, breathe out. Grasp at tendrils of logic. She was sitting on grass. She could feel her bag. She could feel the ring.

She hoped to fuck that he wasn't keen on committing a murder in a hedge maze that wasn't totally vacant.

Bree did not extend her hand yet but she wasn't far from doing so. After learning whether or not she was going to get any say in this at all.
#11
One last ditch effort that could, hopefully, lead to a success on Minnie's end.

"I don't need your blood. My friend does. You'll provide it to her tonight willingly."

"Friend who would equally be bathed in darkness once he got her there." Joaquin's tension fell with a final relief as he finally managed it. Hidden in his illusory dark, he aimed to circle her, to place a hand on her shoulder.

"I will guide you from behind on where to go to get to her. There will be a long drive there. You will not look at me. Is that clear?"

He expected compliance. She needed to feed his sister, after all.


success

#12
Her brain was grasping at anything--anything--to help ground her, and he gave her something. A friend needed her blood. Okay, she could do that--

She would do that.

Totally. Comply. Comply. Comply. Stay alive. Go home.

She didn't feel as strong a need to not look at him as she felt to feed whoever his friend was. But her insides were launching red flag fireworks of warning. Don't push it, human.

"Yeah. I'm going to get my bag and stand up now. Okay?"

At least he'd lead her out of the fucking maze. Silver fucking lining.
#13
No word of response.

But he let her have her sight back to see, once he was settled behind her. A low whistle brought Dude to heel, and he grasped his leash. The aussie mix sniffed in her direction, behaved but as curious as most dogs would be.

She would find Joaquin to be a rudely silent guide as he steered her by the shoulder out of the maze of maize. She was, however, welcome to break the silence.
#14
She was gonna play it safe and announce every single minute movement. No sudden anything. Getting her sight back was a fucking relief.

Oh, a dog.

She'd been determined to maintain silence and not risk stumbling neck face first into the wrong thing, but now there was a dog.

"What's their name?" A little nod to doggo.

Give her something normal to talk about, please, while she was fully being kidnapped.
#15
Being welcome to break the silence did not mean that he would answer. But while his inclination was to provide her nothing, instead he offered her some trite guidance, lest she try to pepper the air with more.

"Make up one. No more questions."

Dude was happy enough with any attention honestly.
#16
She was too fucking tired to even humor the condescending tone with fight or banter. That was it for talking for her, though her hand shifted to show an open palm to the dog, in case it wanted to sniff. In case it felt like putting her at ease when no one else did.
#17
It was in her favor that she said nothing more. Food didn't need to talk.

When they exited, he cloaked the Subaru on illusion as well, making it less distinctly shaped, unbranded, all in black rather than its natural white. There were no license plates to be read. He was, by all rights, leaving her nothing.

Nothing but Dude, a mixed mutt that could easily be confused with any other mixed mutt.

He let her into the back seat. She could sit with Dude. "Do not raise your eyes from him. He likes attention."

It was not meant in humor, but as motivation to continue to do as he demanded, even as he'd cut off most options she had.

He settled into the driver's seat, certain to check on her behavior frequently. It was true that she could see him in the rearview if she leaned just right. He'd have to scramble his appearance from time to time.

In the end, the one that needed most protection was Minnie.

They would meet not at the house, having learned that lesson already; instead it was a ways away from it, along Minnie's creek, but not by the special tree that she shared with her other mystery vampire friend.
#18
She set little challenges for herself the whole way. Get into the vehicle using only her left arm and leg. Count the number of trees as they started driving. Try to identify the car by--okay nothing on the outside--anything distinctive in the interior.

But namely it was a determination to get the dog to love her that kept her sane as they drove away from her car, away from a place with people, and she threw herself completely on the mercy of this guy and his 'friend' who was probably a corpse in a chair in a basement he called 'Mother'. She'd call the driver Norman in her head as the saddest, pettiest revenge ever.

Anyway, back to the doggo. Doggo received pets, scritches; any particularly beloved scratching spot was found and given extra attention. Belly rubs if he allowed (the dog, not the driver).

All the while, she murmured things just for the dog's ears, understanding full well that nothing spoken out loud in a car was safe from vampire ears.

"Hey bud...I'm Ana. You're a freaking stunner. Yeah..." The scritches continued, occasionally becoming full nuzzled hugs (because she was used to those and they brought comfort), and she counted trees until there were too many trees.

When they did (finally) arrive, she waited to be let out. Instructions were followed silently.

She was covered in dog hair.
#19
He parked some ways from where they were going. Having listened to her heart and her murmurings all the way here had been terribly tempting, even in the absence of the scent of her. Small mercies.

"It will be dark again," he warned her, and abruptly it was, only his eyes for her to see when he exited the vehicle and opened her door. Only would be Minnie's eyes, when they reached her. And then Ana herself, visible to them, but not herself. It was differently challenging, distorting senses differently for all present. He reached from within the illusion of pitched black for her hand, to lead her towards the one she was intended to satisfy.

And there was more to it. He wanted Minnie to practice on her. Even if he could not offer any more to help — especially, even.

It would be as they neared where Minnie was that the illusion of all but their dinner and his eyes reached her too.
#20
She pulled strands of pride in herself out of the darkness. Not easy. Easy to think of herself as an utter fool in this second. But she tried, really really hard.

The fake name meant nothing tied her to the flyers with her actual fucking phone number and email.
The dog was a fan of her. She was pretty sure.
The imagination that got her into this mess was going to get her through it.

She started weaving a delulu fantasy of going on a date with Darkness. Oh look, he was opening the door. That's nice. Oh, he was taking her hand (she wanted to scream but she didn't scream) and they were gonna go to a spot with, like, candles and a homecooked meal (she was the meal--shut up).

And there was the goal. The unwavering knowledge that she was going to feed whoever this friend was. A goal was something to work towards, something to know when she had no other part of herself to see and fall back on.

She watched for the second set of eyes. That was the goal.
#21
Minerva busied herself with a book in the absence of Joaquin and Dude, a battered copy of Shel Silverstein's Every Thing On It. Flipping many little stories ahead, and then back, admiring the scratchy drawings and whimsical poems, but they were all easily abandoned at the sound of the car approaching.

She stood, waiting keenly, hands clasped behind her back. When the figures appeared - and what figures they were - she smiled in greeting, but only briefly. Joaquin was a cloud of black smoke, holding hands with a girl who looked frightened, but composed. Minnie understood that they would not always be calm, or eager; still, she hated the fear. It hurt to know that she had a hand in it, and yet, her alternative was starvation, or worse.

"Hello," she said gently as they came nearer, her thirst like a pulse of its own, beating steadily in her head. When they were afraid like this, she wished she could soothe, or give something in turn. Maybe she would start doing that. Sodas, or cookies, something sugary to help after losing a bit of blood.
#22
Ever a proper foil to the cold brusqueness that overcame him when they were apart. Even shrouded in pitch and formlessness, Minnie was a calming sense of light. His grip on the girl even softened some.

"She will feed you. The rest is up to you. You might want to... try, before you commit to the bite."

Minnie would likely know what he meant, given the cloaked context. Ana could figure it out after the fact, or before.

He did keep his hand over hers.
#23
The second set of eyes said something, a gentle 'hello'. It almost made her laugh in a detached, out-of-body kind of way.

His next words were the cause for some alarm. She fixed her gaze on the 'friend' with the soft voice and tried to claw some agency back.

"Um, hi. You're gonna get fed. I'd prefer my inner arm but, you know, diner's choice. And I want to keep my memories. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how thorough your friend here was in protecting your identities, and how terrifying it would be to wake up somewhere with a bite and not know how it got there."

She was kinda proud that her voice only wavered once, at the end.

There. Enough. The eye contact was made and held. She was ready to tilt her head and expose her neck if that was demanded. But let the gentle voice know what she, the human being 'Ana', wanted. Let Ana lay down her boundaries and let the one playing nice have to consciously cross them.
#24
Joaquin spoke, a gentle nudge in his words. And then the human spoke, at length, and Minnie felt some twist of sympathy for her. She made requests, and made eye contact as well. It made her wonder just what combination of suggestions she was under.

She reached to carefully pull the other girl's hand from Joaquin's, and folded both of hers around it, straining against the desire to simply bite without speaking at all. "That would be scary," she agreed, voice soft. "I know this is already scary enough. I am sorry." She smiled some, for all Ana would only be able to see it in the shift of the shape of her eyes. "You will think of this night as an adventure instead of frightening."

Alas. Nothing. She was sorry for that, too.


she fail

#25
Bree wanted to yell with relief when her hand was taken from that awful, condescending grasp. The ones that replaced his were about as warm as cold hands could be.

And there was some degree of acknowledging that she was an actual person with, like, feelings. So that was cool. But her entire body tensed with the command that this night be given a positive twist.

"Uhhhh...no. Please. I--yeah. I get what you're trying to do and it's a nice gesture but I want to remember this exactly as it is."

She hoped to fuck the compelling hadn't worked. Guess only tomorrow would tell. Fun.

In hopes of just inducing the fucking drinking already she rotated her arm so the inner flesh was facing up. Though the eye contact was maintained with a somewhat exhausted expression. Like, 'try again, if you must'.
#26
Incredible. This human negotiating like she had any choice in the matter, and Minnie giving into it enough to stop trying. If he had some way to painlessly knock either of them out he would have, if only so he could deal with the other one.

"You need to keep trying," he sought to impress upon his soft sister. He could not be the only one shouldering this forever.
#27
The rejection stung, even as Minnie could understand where it came from. She thought of the last time she’d ever been attacked, and the way her memory had been altered only to remove any grasp of faces. She understood why they’d done it.

Joaquin had effectively done the same thing here, if through a different means. But he prodded her all the same, and that stung, too. She wasn’t getting this right by either of their standards, was she!

Of all the human bodily functions she’d lost, crying was not one of them. There was no lump in her throat, or blood rushing to her face, only a prickling in the corners of her eyes. She did not want to cry in front of stranger or in front of her brother, and there was a distinct edge carving against the side of her mind like a threat.

Minnie said nothing. She closed her eyes so that she might crush the tears back before they could fall, and bowed her head to the woman before her, pricking her painless fangs into her inner arm to drink before she became some ferocious nightmare.
#28
There was no verbal acknowledgment from the one before her. Nothing but a condescending af egging on from the guy. They really should consider switching places for future abductions. The soft one would do a thousand times better, in her books.

All other thoughts were cut off as fangs made contact and broke her skin. At her inner arm, just as she'd requested. This small gesture of...respect? Comfort? Mercy? Whatever it was, it touched her. Even as she felt her blood move from sustaining her, to sustaining someone else, she had the insane thought of wanting to offer comfort of her own.

So with her free hand, the one still holding the other's, she offered a gentle squeeze. Ummm hey, friend. This sucks. Literally and figuratively. But I appreciate you treating me as more than a blood bag with legs.

She'd stroke her hair if she didn't think it would get her throat torn out by the guy.
#29
There was no more attempt made. How many times did he have to have this conversation with Minnie before she'd commit to it? Had he made a mistake in changing her? Yes, undoubtedly. And yet he was too selfish to let her go, to let himself become human, to let his world exist in any other way but this because it did not seem possible.

Forcibly stubborn, he still saw a future where Minnie reached his heights or even higher, and he refused to let go of that. Even if she didn't think she was capable, he intended to push her. He intended to make it happen. Even if he had to-

Peace, he reminded himself. He needed this woman to be fed from and then gone. It was a lot of illusioning, in the end, and though he'd had some minor respite during the drive, he knew a warning of failure would come soon.

And then he'd just have to pick her up and throw her somewhere else.
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