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Generated: Aug 25, 2021 9:19 PM
Post last updated: Aug 25, 2021 9:19 PM
not that there's anything wrong with that
Judy in False-Daisy
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Being able to go places that people can't normally get to is not the reason Judy's put basically all her magic into being able to teleport.  It sure is a neat bonus, though.  As is just being able to be places, pretty much instantly, whenever she wants.

Caves are spooky, but less so when you can leave immediately at any time (which is the reason she put basically all her magic into being able to teleport).  She fills her jacket pockets with her habitual going-teleporting stash, triple-checks the functionality of her flashlight, walks to one of her usual no-people-no-cameras spots, and disappears.

She doesn't turn on the flashlight immediately, because what's the point of going to a cave if you don't use the opportunity to experience true pitch blackness.

 

And she stays like that long enough that, when she's suddenly somewhere else, not by her own action, she's blinded as well as stunned.

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She is sitting on the sidewalk in Muncie, Indiana. She has startled six pigeons, a toddler whose mom is on her phone, and a homeless guy sitting in his pile of belongings in a church's side door.

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Hey magic, what the heck.

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Well don't look at it, it didn't have anything to do with this.  Also all her usual spots seem to be out of range now.

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. . . That's . . . . alarming.  Uh, she's just gonna sit here for a minute about that.  - It's really very sure she's out of range?  Yes?  Gosh.  Okay.

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The toddler tugs on his mom's hand. She ignores this. The homeless guy looks at his bottle-shaped paper bag, shrugs, and takes another swig.

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Cool.  Fine.  Hey, phone, where can a gal find a - no signal.

Okay.

Okay.

She'll?  Get up and walk around looking for a library??  Or failing that somebody to ask where she can find one???  Or if she happens upon a Red Cross she'll just go straight there she guesses.

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When she asks for directions to a library she is directed to the nearest branch some eight blocks' walk That Way!

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She thanks the direction-giver warmly and hoofs her way over there.  Hey publicly available computer, what the heck.

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She is in Muncie, Indiana! It is 2018.

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At first she's confused because Columbus should definitely be in range from here and then she's significantly more confused, but differently.  And - when she thinks about it from a different angle, Columbus is in range, just none of her spots are.

Welp.  She still doesn't have a better idea than seeing if more blood will somehow fix this - hey magic you do think home is out of range, right, and not gone forever or something?  Awesome, great - hey computer where is the nearest Red Cross branch and is it walkable-to.

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It's That Way. She can walk it if she's determined.

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It happens she is.  . . . She stops at a dollar store and picks up a sheet of girly stickers and a nail file on the way, or tries to; can she buy those okay with her 2014 cash?

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The cashier is not paying nearly enough attention to notice any discrepancies! A sticker sheet with butterflies and flowers, and a cheap pack of emery boards, are presently hers.

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Awesome.  Once she's outside she puts a few of the butterflies on her student ID, making sure to not cover up any information except for the last digit of the year.  Then she goes at them, gently, with the nail file, trying to make them look less obviously new.

Hello Red Cross people she is here to give you some of her blood so she can feel less bad about taking some of yours later, will you let her, she hasn't got a donor card (that she's willing to risk having your system not recognize) or a driver's license (no really) but she's a totally legit student at OSU here see look it's got her picture on it is that enough?  Also do you even take walk-ins.

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Sure, they take walk-ins, she can go over there and get the usual blood tests and also a test that involves... having a wand pointed at her... by someone in a white hooded cloak?

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Yes of course just like usual haha this is totally normal.  Though does she have to do anything for it besides just sit there?  It's her first time.

(Also wait does she count as having traveled out of the country recently???  Probably it doesn't matter as long as she tells her blood not to have any diseases in it; she does that.)

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The lady with the wand and the hooded cloak pronounces her free of potions! They will take some of her blood.

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Goodbye, her blood!  She pays attention to where you look like you might be going as much as she can without seeming suspicious and then heads outside.

. . . Now what.

She guesses she'll walk back to the library and continue to ask What the Heck at its contents until it closes.  If she can even get there before it closes; that was a bit of a hike.

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The library is going to be open for another twelve minutes.

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Ughhhh probably this is worth being slightly rude to service people about; she goes in anyway.  And getting a book to check out and read elsewhere would make more sense than computering but she probably doesn't have time to set up a library card - actually she can just ask the person at the front desk whether it's too late in the day to get one, assuming there's not a line; otherwise she will in fact computer.

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It's not too late but apparently they require proof of a local address!

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Well you see she's in town visiting her friend for a few weeks so she doesn't - but of course she understands if they need a local address then they need a local address; she'll (very speedily) computer.

Hey Google: 'red cross white robes people potions'?????

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The Red Cross appreciates the volunteer work of the Society of White Arts to ensure that blood donors are not under the influence of transmissible potions. If your location does not have a white arts witch providing this service your blood will be screened with a drop of Indicator III, but as this makes it impossible to freeze, it's much better when there's a witch on hand at the point of donation.
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Ooooookay.

'society of white arts'??

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The Society of White Arts is the largest witchcraft society in North America. See also our sister organizations White Craft Eurasia, White Witches of Australia...


The Society of White Arts is a fellowship of practitioners who support each other in the development, understanding, and use of exclusively white arts witchcraft. What is white arts? Where is my local chapter? How can I support the Society?


"The library's closing," says the librarian who wanted proof of address for a card over her shoulder.
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"Okay thank you sorry!"  She leaves as quickly as she can and finds a bench to sit and think on.

Now what.

Well she's pretty tired from all that walking, first of all, and has a bunch of hours to kill until it would be reasonable to be confident that the Red Cross is abandoned, and she definitely should ration her magic pretty carefully until then, and all that means she should probably acquire some food.  And she should also be rationing her money - she has $224 in bills in her wallet plus some change, all of it together in a ziplock, after her dollar store purchases - plus her debit card which is presumably useless - so that means fast food if she can find anything vegetarian close by and convenience store snacks on another bench if she can't.

After that, if she still can't get home even with the extra blood . . . well, all of this Ohio is still in her range.  Maybe tomorrow she can look up her parents and see if they exist here.  She hasn't told her set about vampirism but that - fundamentally left her with more resources, even if it was pretty awful, and anyways apparently there's non-masqueraded magic here, so maybe extraworldly visitors are a known phenomenon.  - If that's the case then maybe there's some sort of official handling for that sort of thing; she should keep an eye out for anything like that, although not in a way that tips her hand if it isn't.

Probably any further plans should wait until she has more information.  She rests another twenty minutes and then will - ow oof sore legs sore foot - go in search of food.  Very nearby food.  And coffee, since without a place to sleep in mind she's going to be pulling an all-nighter.

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There's the usual range of fast food options, though they're starting to approach closing time. On her way toward a prominently posted macaroni and cheese sign associated with a diner, there's a sound of screeching tires behind her and a scream that cuts off suddenly. A heavily injured pedestrian lands ten yards away from her on the sidewalk; the car - it's a blue sedan - screams off in to the night.

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Holy sh - crap - shit -

She has a very very brief moral dilemma, but there's non-masqueraded magic here, and even if there wasn't, really - hey magic -

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The person gasps, jackknifing on the ground in shock as Judy heals her injuries. "Ah - ah - what - I -"

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"Are - you okay . . . ?"  She tries to catch the car's plate number, though not very effectively since she keeps snapping her vision between it and the person on the ground.

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It has a 6 in it. Now it's gone.

"I - I - he hit me -"

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"Yeah - uh.  Yeah."  Judy crouches down next to her.  "Is there - I don't have a phone, do you?  I'll call you an ambulance - "

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"I have a - do I need an - it doesn't hurt anymore -" She reaches for her purse, which miraculously stayed on her shoulder, with a shaking hand. "I'm in shock probably - blood, there's so much blood -"

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"Right, no, you wouldn't, I - I mean - probably I should - "  She's shaking rather a lot herself.  "Here.  Take my jacket."  She shoves her ziplock in the too-small pockets of her skinny jeans and removes her coat and drapes it over the victim's shoulders.

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The woman wraps it around herself on automatic. Gets her phone out. "- so I don't - need an ambulance?" she asks uncertainly. She's looking up at Judy now; she's black, with her hair in a puff at the nape of her neck, and dressed in business casual, pencil skirt and silky butter-yellow blouse.

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"Uh - I mean?  You're the one who knows how you feel.  Maybe it wasn't that bad."

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"...I bled a lot but I can't - find from where -"

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"Maybe some of that was there before," says Judy, lamely, of the obviously-still-wet blood on the pavement.

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"...I, uh, I don't think so.

I just want to go home, do you know if that's safe -"

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"Yeah."

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"- can you walk me there, it isn't far." She gets to her feet, wobbly.

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"Yeah."  She shouldn't run off without her jacket, anyway.  Judy gives the person wearing said garment a hand up.

 

(If the victim puts her hand in the pocket opposite Judy, she'll notice that there is a phone there, and if she checks it, that the lockscreen has a lovely autumnal nature shot for its background and thinks it's 3:27 pm on October 6th, 2014.)

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The victim was not especially planning to put her hands in Judy's pockets, but the phone bumps against her and she feels for what did it and pulls it out. "- oh, you have one and it's - broken?"

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- She should more thoroughly check the pockets of articles of clothing she hands off to strangers!  Even when dealing with strange terrible emergencies!  Normally she would cut herself some slack about that but her life is increasingly made up of strange terrible emergencies lately so probably she should just get used to it!

"Yeah."

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"Huh." She puts it back where she found it. Gives herself a little shake and strikes out for home. "It's that building there - the upstairs unit."

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Well, she can have Judy's arm on the way to at least the front door, and then Judy will?? see whether she gets handed her coat back???? or is expected to come inside?

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The woman has forgotten totally about the coat and is wearing it right into the stairwell and up the stairs. "I need a drink - do you want anything - I have good whisky -"

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". . . I'm eighteen."  She'll follow, she supposes.

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"Oh, I'm sorry. I have, uh, hot chocolate. - I'm Millie."

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"Hi, Millie.  Judy.  I - could probably go for a hot chocolate, yeah.  Thanks."

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Millie pours herself a whisky and sips it while fixing Judy hot chocolate. "Thank you for - whatever that was. Are you a witch? - I won't tell anybody if you're black arts, my great-uncle was black arts."

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"Uh.  'Proximately."

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"...is there like a, gray arts...?"

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"Ye . . . es?  I don't know."

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"How would you not... know." She presents Judy with hot chocolate.

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It is both very comforting and useful for covering up pauses while Judy thinks with sips.

. . . She still doesn't come up with any better questions, though.  Well, worst case she can teleport out of here and still go with her original plan.

"What like, are witches."

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"...what do you mean what are witches."

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. . . . . . . . siiiiiiiiip hot chocolate.

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"...sorry. Witches are... people who cast spells? I'm not a witch, my college didn't even have craft classes."

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"And there's?  Black arts and white arts?  What are those."

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"Uh, black arts are the illegal traditions and white arts are the legal ones, basically..."

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"Oh.  Then, yeah, gray arts probably I guess."

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"What do gray arts... do?"

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"Uh, heal? ing?"

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"...yeah but the other kinds do that too, I mean, what's the specific deal -"

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" - I'm not really from around here," Judy starts.

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"...yeah, okay. Where are you... from."

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"Uh, northernish Ohio, originally.  But like - I don't know what sort of - fictional creatures?  Or, uh, not fictional?  Creatures, that you have here."

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"..........narwhals?" offers Millie after a silence.

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- Judy sporfles.  "Uh, no, I mean - don't freak out - " she is so totally ready to teleport away if Millie freaks out, and she's taking the hot chocolate with her, " - vampires?"

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"...you're a vampire?"

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"I mean - I don't know what your tropes are like here - or if they're real how those are - I'm not like evil or anything?"

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"I guess I - heh - I invited you into my house -"

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"I don't actually think you did in words explicitly but that doesn't actually matter for my kind; we're a lot - human-er, than most I've read about or seen in movies or whatever.  Er, more human."

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"Oh. And also you're drinking the hot chocolate."

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"I'm also drinking the hot chocolate, yeah."  She sips demonstratively.  "It's good; thank you."

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"You're welcome. So if you can go in houses and don't drink blood..." She leans over to get out a spoon and consults Judy's reflection in the spoon.

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It exists.  It waves.

"I mean I do definitely drink blood.  I just also drink hot chocolate."

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"- ah.

I'm not - sure how much blood I have after you, uh, healed me..."

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" - Oh!  Oh, no, I didn't mean - I'm not evil - "

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"That's... good..." She finishes her whisky in one gulp, makes a face, puts the glass in the sink. "I'm going to... change... into less bloody clothes..."

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"Yeah."

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Millie goes and gets changed into yoga pants and a T-shirt with indecipherably faded writing on it. Comes back. "So, uh, is vampire-world - invading, or -"

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"I didn't get the memo if so.  - Sorry, that was really flippant, uh - I think probably not?  Like, I would be really surprised.  I just, like - so, we can teleport, and that's kind of my main thing, so I went to this cave because why not right, and I was there for a little while and then all of a sudden I was sitting on the sidewalk, like, a bunch of blocks that way, a couple hours ago.  And like, I didn't do it, and I don't have any idea what did?  Maybe the cave was magic."

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"...huh. Teleporting vampires."

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"The magic's pretty versatile."

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"What else does it do?"

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"Uh, lots - healing, obviously, and like aging and stuff too; shapeshifting; flying; reflexes and better senses and stuff; making yourself smarter . . . uh, and there's some messed up stuff too, but I - I don't - "

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"Wow, that's so cool... how'd you turn into a vampire?"

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"If you go put hydrogen peroxide on your clothes right now I bet you can still get the blood out of them," is apparently the deflection her brain supplies.

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"The skirt had a big rip when I looked but the blouse I did that already, yeah - but how'd you -"

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"I don't really prefer to talk about it?"

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"Oh..."

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Awkward time-filling sip - oh no she's out of hot chocolate.  She will . . . pretend . . . to sip.  This is fine.

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"...do you want another? Are - are you okay, actually, just having - teleported here -"

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"I mean I'm not the one who got hit by a car . . ."

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"Yes, but you fixed me and I can't really - fix you."

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"Well, I don't think I really need much fixing.  On account of not having been hit by a car."  (This time.)  "I guess I could use some food if you have any around?"

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"...like blood or like tunafish."

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"Definitely more like tunafish although I'm actually vegetarian.  But it's okay if you don't - I saw a diner - "

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"You're a vegetarian," giggles Millie. "I have, uh, frozen pizza?"

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"Pizza sounds really good.  Thank you."

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Millie starts the oven. "What do you usually do, at home - you're eighteen, you in school?"

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"Yeah.  Business major."  She doesn't sound thrilled.

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"What are you going to do, uh, here - how long have you been here -"

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"A few hours.  Mostly I'm hoping that the next time I have some blood it'll be enough of a boost that I can get home?  And I haven't really planned much beyond that.  Probably'll see if there's versions of my parents around if - it turns out I'm stuck here."

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"Where... do you get blood?"

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"Uh, well so I - donated a pint earlier today, since I got here, and then I was going to?  Steal one?"

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"...that shouldn't... work. Should it? Donating one and then drinking one?"

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"Well it's not for like, sustenance; it just powers the magic.  And I don't even need the whole thing for that.  Maybe like a quarter of it."

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"Huh. And vampire blood won't - turn somebody into a vampire if they get it? Or anything."

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"No, it's only - something else.  Transfusions won't do it."

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"And drinking from people doesn't?"

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"Not - under all circumstances."

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"It might be risky to break into a Red Cross."

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"I mean I can teleport in, but - yeah.  Just don't really have better options."

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"If your healing put all my blood back and you don't even need a whole - however much the Red Cross usually takes -"

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". . . I don't want you to feel obligated just because - "

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"I could have died."

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"Well if you're sure."

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"Does it hurt -"

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"I can do anesthesia."

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She nods. "Then - yeah -" She tilts her head.

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"Uh!  No thank you, not like that - I'll just, uh - "  She heads for the sink to wash out her mug.

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"...like what, then?"

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She holds up the mug and clinks her fingernails on its side illustratively.  " - do you have like, a knife . . ."

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"Yeah, uh -" She pulls a utility knife out of her knife block. "I don't want to watch, I'm still cool with it I just don't want to look." She puts the knife on the table and sits down and closes her eyes.

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"That's fair."  (Judy didn't look either, earlier today.)  Hey magic how about you numb this here forearm.  "Uh, let me know if it hurts at all and I'll stop - how's this - "  She positions the wrist over the mug and gives it a squeeze.

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"Wow, better than Novocaine, huh?"

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"Yeah."  She hovers the knife in front of the arm and can't quite make herself - oh, maybe if she - "Okay.  Three, two, one - " slice.  Okay.  Set wrist on mug go wash knife.

And then, somewhat belatedly: "Uh, you doing okay?"

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"I think so?" Millie still has her eyes shut.

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"Yeah fair."  Judy peers into the mug to make sure there's a reasonable amount of blood coming out; there is.  Lets it run a while longer.  Heals.  Finds a paper towel and cleans off Millie's arm.  Stops the anesthesia.  "Okay, uh.  Done."

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Millie looks at her arm. "Wow, it doesn't even look like you did anything," she marvels.

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"I feel like this is strictly less impressive than other healing you've received today!  But it makes sense if it - feels more real, than the other one."

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"Yeah, I didn't have time to - psych myself up or anything for the car, it came out of nowhere - I wasn't even jaywalking."

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"Yeah.  Uh.  Yeah."

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"Thank you. Again."

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"I mean I couldn't not - I mean, you're welcome.  Uh, if it bothers you to watch me drink this you should probably turn away or something."

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"I think that part will be fine." Millie doesn't reclose her eyes.

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"Cool."  Judy's kind of weirdly reluctant to drink the blood and she can't pinpoint why, but she sits down and starts on it anyway.

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It seems to be normal blood. "I hope the whisky isn't going to, like, affect you, since you're 18," says Millie.

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Yummy.  "Oh man, I hadn't thought of that.  Probably it'll be fine either way?  It's not like there can be that much of it . . ."

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"Yeah, I only had one. Do you sleep -?"

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"Yeah."

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"If you can't get home after you've had your... drink... you can crash here. My roommate goes home during the summer, she's okay with me putting guests in her room."

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"Thanks.  That's really nice of you."

There isn't really very much drink, and so she's already basically done, and - oh.  That's why she was reluctant.

Most importantly: her magic still isn't enough to let her go home.  And she kind of already knew it wouldn't be.  She'd been treating this like something which unexpectedly zapped enough of her magic that she couldn't port back, because that was a contingency she'd already spent time planning for, even as she encountered evidence that and was on most levels modeling this as having been transported to an alternate universe.  The mug of blood wasn't a waste, especially with what she spent on the healing, but she wasn't running super low before and -

She was maybe hanging a lot of her being-okay on being able to pretend that she didn't know this.

 

 

"I think I'll be taking you up on that."

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"- oh, it didn't -? Oh."

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"Yeah."

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The oven beeps. Millie puts the pizza in it.

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"Do you - have Facebook - "

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"Yeah. You can borrow my laptop."

Millie provides Judy with a slightly elderly Acer.

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"Thanks."

Hey Facebook - her parents - ?

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Not on Facebook.

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Aaaaaaaaaa.  . . . Her?  Her, Judy Jenkins?  Any of her friends from school?  College?  . . . Sara?  Her parents?  - Mark Zuckerberg.

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No no no no no yes.

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. . . She returns the laptop.  She - isn't crying, but -

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"Do you want a hug?" Millie murmurs.

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"Yes please."

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Millie sits down next to her and leans over to give her a hug.

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Hug.  "Thanks.

I - 'm probably just being dramatic.  But like.  I kind of thought I was going to save my world.  And now I'm not there anymore and - I don't know if anyone else will - "

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"Save it? What from?"

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"Well.  I'm not evil but - I kind of think all the other vampires maybe are?"

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"...all of them?"

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"I - haven't met very many.  But.  . . . I guess I should probably tell you how I became a vampire now."  She takes a deep breath.  "A while back I was riding home from a party with some of my friends, and we got T-boned, and, uh, now I'm a cyborg," she starts, and leans forward to tug up the cuff of her jeans enough to expose a bit of roboankle.

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"...huh, cyborg vampire."

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"It's like a regular prosthetic; I just call it that to - make myself feel better.  But yeah I guess."

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"Okay... so you lost a leg, and..."

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"Yeah.  Uh, I guess I really could have left that part out; I'm maybe just stalling, sorry - for reasons sort of tangentially related to that, like a month later I got - attacked?"  Judy's voice is squeaky and strained, and she's started hugging herself -  "By this girl who I'd known since like preschool - and I probably would have died of it except I - madeherloveme - and she healed me and got herself back to sane, and then later I blackmailed her into making me a vampire too, because if that could happen once it could happen again, and I needed - steering power - and I was going to try and like - take over things and make sure it couldn't - " and then she's too shakey to say any more.

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...Millie's sort of frowning at this point.

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That's fine.  Judy's going to . . . curl up and flop on her side into the arm of the couch.  With a care to keeping her shoes off the upholstery; she's not a monster.

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"How much blood do you need usually?" Millie asks after a while, puttering around in her kitchen.

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. . . Talking is very hard but probably it's been long enough that she can manage - "About that much every few days - three or four - or a bit more every five or six.  It's not very exact."  She sounds a bit strangled but is basically comprehensible.

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"Okay... well, you can stay here," Millie says decisively, "and I'll feed you, at least for now, okay?"

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" - Thank you - that's really nice, I - I can spend magic on not needing regular food, if that's better?  Or maybe it would make more sense for - is there any obvious way for me to become obscenely rich, here, then I could just pay you back and not impose on you for very long - "

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"You could go work at the hospital?"

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"Yeah, that sounds - really good.  I haven't done a lot of healing before; I, um, actually felt kind of guilty about healing you, in a way, not - because I could have not, really, but - prioritizing the people who happen to be in front of me, and - it didn't make sense to do it when I was at home, because there was so much else going on, but - I think it would be good to do that now, maybe."

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"There's a good hospital, here in town, Ball Memorial."

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"That's good - do you know if I'd be able to pass as a witch, or . . ."

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"I'm not sure, really - it might depend on if any witches take a close look at you. I could ask my roommate, she's not a witch but her sister studies craft."

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"That sounds okay assuming you trust her to also not freak out."

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"I wasn't going to tell her you're a vampire cyborg from another universe, I was going to say, like, how good are the best witches at healing."

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"Oh.  Sure."

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Millie grabs her computer, composes an email.

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. . . It occurs to Judy that she should probably save her phone battery until she finds out whether chargers here work with it.  She really doesn't feel like standing up at all but with some determination she retrieves it from her coat pocket and powers it down.  Plops back down on the couch.

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The pizza timer dings. Millie goes and gets it and cuts slices and gives Judy two.

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"Thanks - "  She's still hungry enough even after the drinks to have trouble going slow enough to not burn her mouth - should she heal that?  If she's going to specialize in that now maybe it makes sense to - but no, things are still uncertain enough that she wants to hold on to as much of her magic as she can.  Om nom nom nom nom.

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Millie has some pizza too, though she isn't as ravenous. "- wow, were you hungry already when you got put here?"

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"Not very but like, this has all been really stressful, and I did a whole bunch of walking, and I didn't stick around for juice and cookies after donating blood because I was trying to get back to the library, and, like - pizza's just really good right now."  She does slow down a bit (but only a bit) once she hits the crust of her first slice.

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Millie puts a third one on her plate. She only has two, herself, and then goes to do some dishes.

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"Do you want me to do those - "

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"You're a guest," says Millie.

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"Just checking."  She will stay plopped.

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Millie finishes the dishes and goes and makes up the guest room.

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She does at least wash her own plate once she's done.  Standing up is somewhat less onerous post-pizza.

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"Room's all set. Uh, you can use my roommate's shampoo and stuff, I'll replace it for if she's mad about it when school starts up again, she's white so her stuff will work better for you," says Millie, "the ones in blue bottles. Red towel's mine, the white one's clean."

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"Thank you so much.  Are there - clothes?"

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"...good question. Do you think you'd fit into my stuff? You're taller, but I can find something that wouldn't look ridiculous as capris...?"

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"Probably picking up a few outfits is an okay use of my cash as long as I'll be able to get more later and probably poor fit doesn't matter too much for like, one night of pajamas?

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"Yeah, I can get you something to use as pajamas." Millie finds sweatpants and a BSU T-shirt.

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"Thanks again."  And then Judy will shower and have only a very small breakdown therein and emerge pajama'd.

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Millie has changed into her own pajamas - they're a matched set, lacy - and is watching TV when Judy comes out of the shower.

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Millie's pajamas are pretty.  It would be kind of ridiculous to feel comparatively underdressed under the circumstances, though.  Is it a show she's heard of?

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Has she heard of Supernatural?

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She has!  Hasn't watched any of it before, though.

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Mercifully, this isn't a vampire episode.

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Then she will observe the exploits of the brothers Winchester without any particular strife.  It's a nice distraction.

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When the episode is over Millie yawns and turns off the TV. "I'm going to bed."

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"Goodnight!  Thanks again."  Judy heads for the guest room.

It takes her quite a while to get to sleep; she's pretty physically tired but the timezone mismatch isn't doing her any favors.  But she should try to adjust.  She lives here now.  (She has another breakdown.  Still doesn't cry, but comes closer than she has in a while about any real things.)  Normally she would distract herself on her phone or at least put on some music but she can't do that now, can she, so she lays there and hugs the pillow and plays songs in her head.

But she does eventually manage to drop off.  She'll sleep in pretty late assuming a quiet environment but is more sensitive than usual to any noises.

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Millie gets up before Judy does and isn't especially loud but does pour herself frosted flakes and start scrubbing her kitchen counter.

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Yeah, that'll do it.  She tries to go back to sleep but not very hard, and a few minutes later pads yawnfully into the kitchen.

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"Morning," says Millie.

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"Good morning."

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"Sleep all right? - there's cereal on top of the fridge." She has Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, and Honey Nut Cheerios.

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"Yeah."  It's not a lie because basic social niceties don't count.  Ooh, Cheerios.  "How about you?"

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"I slept like a rock, actually, probably some kind of - stress crash, I don't really know. Uh, I have to go to work in a few..."

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"I can go to the library?"

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"I mean, you can stay here, if you want, I just won't be around. Library works too."

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"I kind of want to look up some stuff anyway.  When do you get out?"

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"Not till seven. I've been picking up extra hours."

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"I can keep occupied till then."

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"Okay. I'll see you then?"

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"I assume just lock the door on my way out?  Is there anything else I should know about what state to leave the house in?  - Is it the sort of lock you need a key for on both sides; should I head out now - "

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"Oh, you can have my spare key." She fetches it from a bookshelf. "And yeah, lock up behind you." She puts her cereal bowl in the sink and goes to get ready for work.

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" - Oh.  Thank you."  Judy personally wouldn't immediately trust another person with a spare key, she doesn't think, but maybe she's not weighting the trust Millie must already be putting in her appropriately.  It's probably a solid step down from closing your eyes and having someone bleed you in most people's books.

Judy pours milk in her Cheerios and eats leaning against the counter.

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Millie waves goodbye and goes out.

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Judy finishes her cereal, washes both her and Millie's dishes, and goes back to bed.  When she wakes up around noon, she changes back into yesterday's jeans and bra but keeps on the borrowed tee, makes the bed, rearranges the contents of her ziplock to fit better in her pocket, and heads to the library, locking the door behind her.

What does Wikipedia have to say about witches?

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Wikipedia says that witches are people who cast spells; in order to accomplish this, you need to be in or draw on a suitable mental state, and various white arts traditions cultivate repertoires that require calm, agape, or joy. Black arts witches are those that use negative emotions, usually not their own, and they can store them for later use if they are also potionmakers. Accordingly they have a much worse reputation; black arts are illegal in most places. Different emotions are suitable for different applications; witches are most frequently employed as healers, detectors of various conditions and states, and luck-suppliers.

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Hmm.  Do witches have a wiki of their own?  She checks the sources at the bottom of the page.

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Wikipedia does not cite other wikis but it does direct her to some craft-oriented webpages.

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Yeah, she'll take a look at those, especially any ones about healing.

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Apparently agape is the emotion of choice for healing. A lot of it honestly sounds pseudo-religious. Judy's level of healing quality would be exceptional but not implausible.

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Convenient!  That sounds like she can do some real good hopefully without having to be out as an extraplanar teenage cyborg vampire.  Or, two of those things.  And maybe she can actually become a witch and stack things in cool ways.

Speaking of, how does one become a witch?  And is there any hope of her just being able to walk into a hospital and demonstrating she can heal people and having that be that or does it look like hoop-jumping is going to be necessary.

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One usually studies craft in school like any other major, but some covens still do apprenticeships. However, most employers will want a degree or a coven reference.

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That still sounds maybe workable without too much inconvenience; she might be able to show up to a coven but execute basically the same plan.

. . . Anything on black arts running on witches' own negative emotions?  She sure . . . does seem to have a lot of those . . . and is probably likely to continue having them in the future.  Waste not want not and all that.

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There is less reliable-looking information on black arts on account of them being illegal.

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Uh-huh.  Well, maybe she can at least sell hers to a different black arts witch or something?  But possibly there are actual ethical concerns in play and it is in fact bad for some reason which just isn't immediately clear.  - Is there anything about, like, doing witchcraft causing you to have more of the relevant emotions or anything like that?

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Mostly in a "practice is habit forming" way and not in an actual feedback loop way.

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Has anybody written a convenient treatise on why black arts are bad or is it just something everybody takes for granted?

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It seems sort of like discourse about drugs, where the pro-legalization side has reasonable sounding arguments and the anti-legalization side has a bunch of ruined lives to blame on their bugbear.

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Well.  She'll be mindful of that.  She looks up and tries to memorize the contact information for a few local leads, and then - most of the public libraries she's familiar with have like, a cool hangout area for teens; does this one seem to?  Beanbag chairs, she's looking for beanbag chairs.

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There are some in the YA section.

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Oh cool, that's where she was going to stop by anyway.  She grabs a copy of a new release in the genre and reads a few chapters, with frequent breaks for just sort of staring at the wall and one longer one for half a nap, before heading back to the computer to test whether she succeeded in memorizing the leads and do more research.

Hm, can witchcraft do teleportation?

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It does not seem so!

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What-all can it do?  With a particular eye towards stuff it will be real conspicuous if she can't replicate.

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Basic 101 witching you can get in a sufficiently classy highschool includes some fortune telling, like a step and a half above bullshit horoscopes but apparently good practice; simple luck charms; a spell called "deescalation" which calms the emotions of everyone around you; a contraceptive spell (if your school district isn't abstinence only); and a cold cure.

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Those seem like she shouldn't have too hard a time navigating around them.  Uhhh she does not actually seem to be able to think of more witchy questions right now.  Thrift stores near me?

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Goodwill over that way.

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She's doing so much walking these days it's terrible.  But she doesn't know of any good spots to be sure no one will see her from here yet and so walking it is.  Probably porting to Millie's apartment after this will be safe at least?  - Maybe that's why the key, since she could totally just get in there anyway.

Anyway.  She'll try to get enough outfits for two days as cheaply as she can, jeans and T-shirts (ideally nicer ones, fitted v-necks if she can manage it) and some pajamas and - it's definitely too much to hope for but she'll at least look to see if they have an old MP3 player or a tiny radio or something for like five dollars.

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The clothing selection is not great but she can find pants that fit and T-shirts that don't not fit and pajamas that are only the fourth worst kind of plaid. Ancient Walkman?

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She carries the Walkman around while she shops with the intention of buying it but realizes that she shouldn't actually bet money that her phone doesn't work here and puts it back.  She really ought to have looked into charger types at the library.  And yeah, she's just looking for like, the girl type of T-shirt; these are fine.

. . . Ugh, this plaid.  Does she have better luck if she just goes in for like, regular comfy shorts and another T-shirt?

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If she's okay with the shorts having unicorns embroidered on them!

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She's so okay with that, actually.  Any backpacks of sufficient size and quality to like, live out of?

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Bulky hiker backpack with weird stain?

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Ehhn okay.  How much does all this run her?

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$45.

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. . . How much of that is the backpack; if it's more than like ten dollars she's putting it back and she'll get like one of those reusable grocery bags for a dollar somewhere.  Or more than a dollar.  She doesn't have a good sense of how much inflation she should be expecting over four years.  Maybe she should just live out of the bags things come in for now.

Once she checks out from there she heads to a Dollar General or equivalent to pick up deodorant and a toothbrush and other things in that approximate category of necessity, and finds somewhere secluded, checks it even more thoroughly than she usually does, and teleports back to Millie's apartment.  She brushes her teeth and hair and spends the rest of the time till Millie gets back moping in contemplation.

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The backpack is $11. She can keep the bag the rest of it comes in if she wants. The Dollar General has everything she needs if she doesn't mind smelling like lilac.

Millie gets home when expected. "Hi! How are you doing?"

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Lilac's fine and yeah she will make do with these bags.

"Good!" chirps Judy.  - Possibly she should tone that down a little for believability's sake.  "As much as can be expected.  You?"

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"Oh, same old. Except people kept asking me how I was doing and I couldn't say anything about, uh, getting hit by a car and having a vampire crashing here, so I think I said something about my mom? I don't remember."

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"Not being able to say what's really up to people is really rough, yeah.  What's your job like?"

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"I'm a hotel receptionist. I'll find something better when I'm out of school."

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"That sounds kind of cool though, at least as like a medium-term thing.  What're you studying?"

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"Well, uh, hospitality, but you can actually manage a hotel with that."

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"Neat!"

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She shrugs. "I didn't want to major in English or something, I know I'll need a job."

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"That makes a lot of sense.  I was going to go into medical research before, viruses, and then had to switch for - dumb world-saving reasons - but I guess I don't have to worry about that now, and doing direct healing is probably even better for the things I wanted anyway."

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"Better how?"

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"Well, I didn't want to be the regular kind of doctor because - it's not that there's enough of them, really, but I wasn't likely to make a huge impact.  But from what I saw earlier it seemed like my kind of healing might be different enough here that I could actually have an effect at scale.  Especially since I can get stronger at it."

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"You get stronger at magic?"

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"Yeah, by lots.  My teleporting range is way bigger than it used to be."

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"Gosh. How big is it now?"

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"Well, I haven't hopped the Atlantic yet, but I've gone further than that across the Americas in segments."

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"Wow. Can you not do running water, would something bad happen if you stopped in the middle of the ocean for a sec?"

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"I don't want to be like, wet?  Or in freefall above it, really.  - Sometimes I've gotten wet teleporting anyway, but not on purpose.  I could do it if I had enough of a reason to try, I'm pretty sure."

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"Oh. Not a swimming fan? I like swimming."

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"Isn't the ocean like, cold?  I dunno, I've never been.  And like, it'd just be one more thing to have to explain, a reason why I was wet, which isn't prohibitive on its own but things add up and I was trying to keep a low profile . . ."

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"Yeah, that makes sense, if you didn't have a place in Europe you wanted to be specifically." She starts rummaging around in the fridge for dinner fixings. "Does couscous and peas sound good?"

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"Uh, I was actually thinking that maybe I should - " no, think of a less concerning-sounding way to frame this, "practice healing?  And that an easier way to do that than like hurting myself or whatever would just be to use it instead of eating.  And then also - you've been so nice, but it's one less thing I need until I can support myself at all, so like, win-win - "

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"- I guess? Couscous isn't - expensive or anything - I'm kind of surprised your healing lets you not eat actually -"

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"I just really don't want to overstay my welcome, especially while I'm not very capable of stopping doing that if I start.  What's surprising about it?"

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"I don't know, being hungry doesn't seem the same as getting hit by a car. You saved my life and you don't have anywhere else to go, I don't know what'll make sense when my roommate comes back but til then you can stay and I'll feed you."

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"I really appreciate that.  The point about practice stands, though, and in any case I already did it this time."  Or is about to; hey magic.

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( - Judy does know that healing and being self-sustaining are in fact different things, right; it can heal the damage of starvation but Millie's right that it won't catch everything about it - )

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Yes yes she knows that, just get rid of the tiny amount of hunger damage kthnx.

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If she says so.

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Millie makes one serving of couscous and peas.

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Judy sits quietly and out of the way until conversation seems called for.  "So when is your roommate getting back?"

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"September. - in like six weeks."

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"Cool, um.  Cool."

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"She's nice. If you're around then you'll like her."

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"Oh, that's good.  - For you?  And also for me if I'm still here, which.  Yeah."

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"Yeah," says Millie. "Uh, were you comfy last night, do you need anything?"

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"Yeah, it was great.  I went shopping earlier and picked up everything I should need for a while, though I guess I'll need to wash the clothes before I can wear them?"

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"Oh, yeah, laundry is in the basement, my quarter stash is over there -" She points at a mini-totebag near the door.

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"Awesome.  Uh, I'll probably like wait a bit so I can wash these too," she pats her jeans, "but like good to know."

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"People sometimes swipe clothes, I bring a book and sit on the machine if I have anything that would be annoying to replace," advises Millie.

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"Gosh, okay.  I guess I should start sooner rather than later, then."  She gets up to change.

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"It's not like super common, it's just happened once or twice," Millie clarifies.

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"Suresure.  Be enough of an issue given - everything, that I should probably err on the side of caution, though."  She swaps pants and gathers the rest of her clothes and exchanges quarters for bills and - if Millie offers a book she'll take it but she's not going to give any overt indication of wanting one and otherwise she'll just head downstairs.

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Millie has a bookshelf but doesn't recommend her anything off it.

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Then Judy will sit alone with her thoughts and try not to fall too far into a pit of despair.  Eventually she thinks to start quietly singing with the noise of the machines serving as a metronome and muffler, and more eventually than that her load is done drying and she can fold things and return upstairs.

 

 

The next few days pass similarly to that one, with Judy spending most of her time at the library and continuing to heal off starvation rather than run down any more resources than she absolutely absolutely has to.  This leaves her feeling kind of nebulously, undefinably off - or maybe it's that she still isn't sleeping well, or just the horror of being trapped away from her entire world - but in any case it's not in a way that makes her a worse houseguest so it's fine.

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Millie seems perfectly willing to have her as a guest indefinitely and does occasionally offer her food, and ask questions about vampires and Judy's grand plans to change the world.

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Vampires are thus and such with these abilities and these creepy side effects that she has to be careful to avoid and also some features that Judy is really evasive about for reasons of perceived safety and/or her personal baggage.  Her plans back home involved a lot of gaining social status (and money) in an attempt to earn the esteem of other vampires, who she seems to think are mostly rich jerks, so that she could set up some sort of regulation for who can get turned and maybe even make vampires go extinct before they take over the world or something?  But here she mostly wants to focus on healing in at least the medium term.

She doesn't make much progress on getting hired at a hospital, though, before the next time she timidly asks Millie for some blood.

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"Oh yeah - sure, let me, uh, get some juice and cookies like it's the Red Cross, huh?" She rummages in cupboards, pours herself cranberry juice and adds something in. Pulls out a package of Milanos.

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"Good idea."  And - numb squeeze slice set drip wash heal, that's all still good?

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Millie chugs the juice first, and shuts her eyes when she holds out her arm rather than watch.

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Valid; unsurprising.

Drink.

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Wow.

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" - You're like, one of the prettiest people I've ever interacted with on a regular basis, you know that?  Like obviously celebrities exist and stuff but like for just people you see around in real life - before it was this girl at my school, Raquel, but I think you beat her out actually; do you have, like, makeup tips, or?"

(Three years ago Judy realized that she could just actually say out loud all the nice things she happens to think about people (or at least girls, who aren't going to take it the wrong way), and now the world is a very slightly better place than it was before she developed this habit.)

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Millie smiles, eyes still shut. "I go hard on the eyeliner. And moisturizer."

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"Well.  It really works for you."

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"Thank you." She prods at her arm, finds it undamaged, opens her eyes. "Not that you need it," she beams.

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"Aw thanks!  You have to change your face a little to become a vampire and I think it kind of suits me less maybe but it's probably like objectively prettier than how I was before."

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"You had to change your face? Oh... I wonder what you looked like before..." Millie reaches tentatively for Judy's cheek.

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"I have pictures!"  Judy turns obliviously away from Millie's hand to fish her phone (which she picked up a working charger for yesterday) out of her pocket.  She scrolls back through her photo reel until she reaches the ones from when her face was, in more than one sense, less pointy.  It takes a while after that to find any adequate to show Millie but aha, here's some from last year's winter dance; she likes how her hair looks in these.

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"Huh, yeah, I can see the difference but it's not that pronounced..."

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"Yeah, I didn't have to like uproot my life or anything so people wouldn't find out."  She gets kind of distracted just grinning at Millie for a moment.  " - What's your life like; I just realized that I know basically nothing about you except like what your job is - what's your story how's your family like; favorite color movie book song food all that stuff - "

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Millie smiles at her. "I have a mom and two sisters and a grandma, no dads in the picture, couple uncles come around Christmas. Burgundy, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Color Purple, Halo, linguine with clams."

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"Wow."  Don't say 'I want to know everything about you' you can't just say that to people.  "We should like - if I'm going to be around here for a while we should get to know each other better.  - You're so nice for letting me be around here for a while; I know I said that before but I really really mean it, it means a lot.  You're really nice."

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"It's no trouble, I really like having you around! Do you want to, like, go out, have dinner -"

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"I don't want to be - " starts Judy on inertia.  But she was just saying how nice Millie is and she did mean it, and probably people as nice as that aren't just going to get fed up with her one day and kick her out with no warning once she hits some invisible threshold of resource use.  ". . . Only if you're very sure."

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"I mean, I don't have the budget for a five-star meal with a, a soup course," laughs Millie, "but we can go get Italian?"

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Oh wow that's such a lovely laugh.  - She should say so.  "You have a really nice laugh.  Um, Italian sounds great if you happen to feel like it?"

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"I do actually!" She grins, kind of bumps her shoulder against Judy's, and goes to collect her purse and shoes.

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The shoulder bump is weirdly nice; she probably hasn't been getting enough human contact here.  Or since leaving for college, even.  - Yes, right, shoes.

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Millie leads her to an Italian restaurant. She wants to know if Judy is short for Judith, whether Judy wants to learn actual witchcraft one day, what her favorite movie/book/color/song are.

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"Just Judy!  - My last name's Jenkins; my parents are pretty great in most ways but like come on; I've been excited to get married since forever just so I can change it - maybe I can do that now, since I'm already not going to have a legal identity, just say it's something different - witchcraft sounds pretty cool if I can manage picking it up without that being suspicious with me allegedly already knowing a bunch - ummmm Singin' in the Rain, Catching Fire, the literal color purple, uh, Radioactive and Astonishing from the Little Women musical are tied right now; it changes a lot.  - Radioactive from like, pop music, Imagine Dragons, not also Little Women."

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"You don't like alliterating? I don't like my first name, Millie's short for Miller, there were like four Sarahs in my first grade -"

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She doesn't quite flinch.  "I don't inherently mind it; my best friend's Mariana Madison and she did okay, but like, I feel like 'Judy Jenkins' in particular is just really easy to say sneeringly or whatever."

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"Aw, I'm sorry." Shoulderpat.

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"It's okay, I wasn't actually like bullied or anything.  Although I have heard every Hey Jude joke and every Scooby-Doo 'old man Jenkins' joke.  And one or two admittedly clever combinations of those."

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"I won't repeat 'em," promises Millie. Here is the Italian place. It doesn't have a hostess; they can sit in a two-top little booth, feet nearly touching.

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Judy politely tucks her feet out of the way the best she can.  She's in the mood for alfredo, and also for staring dreamily at Millie, though she only really notices the former.

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Millie gets gnocchi al pesto with chicken in it. "Do you wanna split a cup of soup of the day -?"

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". . . I don't have any idea how hungry I actually am underneath the - thing, right now.  If you want to get it you should and I might have some but I might not?"

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"Okay. We can always take leftovers, though." She orders the soup.

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"Sure, 'course."  It turns out that the amount of hungry she is is VERY and her pasta is HOLY CRAP DELICIOUS for like half the plate, and then she feels way too full and has to pause for a few minutes, and then she has a regular amount of appetite after that which leaves her room for a little soup but not too much.

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Millie keeps smiling at her.

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ee.

"Were you going to get dessert?"

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"Oooh, maybe - do you have room for some of a tiramisu - do you like tiramisu -"

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"I do like tiramisu but I'm fullllll.  - I could probably manage just a little."

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"We can bring the rest home if we can't finish it," says Millie. A socked foot brushes Judy's ankle as she twists around to flag down the waitress.

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Such is life in a tiny booth, Judy guesses?  She exercises great restraint in having One bite of tiramisu, and contentedly watches Millie eat her share, and puts down a few bills for the tip when then check comes.

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"Aw, you're a good tipper," says Millie approvingly, chipping in too. She pays for the rest of the dinner.

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"Well, tipping's important.  Thanks for taking me out!  I had a good time."

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"You're welcome!" grins Millie.

Does Judy possibly want to hold hands on the way home. Millie's going to innocently link pinkies with her and see what happens.

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Judy looks down at the hands and back up at Millie's face fast enough to be a double-take of sorts.  " - Hm?"

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"Used to do this with my best friend in middle school - is it too weird -"

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"Oh - no, not at all; sorry."

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Smile! Pinky-linked, they walk back to the apartment.

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This is so nice.  She's been so, so worried and stressed since she got here and it's so good to finally know she has at least one person on this planet she can trust and rely on -

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- Why does she know that.  Actually.

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. . . Well.

Millie let Judy drink her blood, twice - without even knowing that there's the potential to earn her own magic - and gave her a key, and in general has been nothing but helpful and kind and sweet and perfect.  And, it's the sort of thing where you can't possibly accurately compare yourself to other people from the inside, but Judy thinks she might be at least a little more paranoid than the general population.  And she sure has been under an absolute boatload of stress, which wasn't likely to be helping, and so probably what's going on here is that she either just ran out her supply of unjustified paranoia, or something happened to make her decide she doesn't need it anymore; possibly just the comfort of confirming she can keep her phone did it.  Or the marginally better sleep quality that came with being able to put on music.

Which is good!  It was exhausting being that alone.  She's glad that part of this - adventure - is over.

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Having come to a satisfactory conclusion, Judy swings the arm hooked to Millie's back and forth a little, playfully.

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Millie giggles at her.

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"You know," says Judy, still swinging their hands, "That was actually better than someplace fancy, because I would have been super underdressed and self-conscious and stuff."

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"I know, right, one time my ex invited me to a very swanky dinner courtesy of rich grandpa and I didn't have anything nice enough not to feel like I stuck out even though no one said anything."

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"Oof.  - Any word from, who was it, your roommate's sister?  About witchy stuff?  It would be nice to be able to get started at the hospital soon."

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"I should check again, when we get home I'll have a looksee."

When they get home she has a looksee. "She says the best witches are super good at healing, and they can't tell somebody's a witch, that's why they dress distinctively."

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"Awesome.  I saw that most places want a recommendation from like a coven, do you have any idea how I could get one of those or work around that - "

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"I don't, sorry. You could make one up? Especially if you speak another language and say it's somewhere nobody'd speak English."

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"I don't, really, not enough to fake fluency.  Maybe I could find somewhere that doesn't ask for one.  - You said your uncle was black arts - is there, like a market - just to build up a little slack - "

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"Yeah but it's the black market, you know, like drugs or streetwalkers."

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Judy nods.  " - Is there like, a limit on how much stuff witches can do in a certain time period, do you know?  Because I definitely do, and if that's going to be suspicious then I - will need some sort of plan to deal with that."

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"I can ask Valerie - that's the person I'm emailing -" Type type.

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"Thanks.  Do you mind if I - "  Judy leans towards (and a little bit onto) Millie as if to read along while she types, without actually looking in a privacy-violating direction.

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"That's totally fine!"

Millie writes Can witches just keep doing spells all day long or do you run out of mana like a video game character?

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Judy stays a little bit leaning even after that's sent.  She must be very touch starved.

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Millie snuggles right up.

Valerie's response is There's no mana, but you need to be in the right mood and practically no one can keep it up all day.

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- Goodness.  "That's promising for it not being suspicious that I can only do so much right now while also leaving lots of room for improvement."

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"Yeah, I think you'll be fine!"

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Happy agreement noise.  Judy wouldn't have been so forward with the physical contact, herself, because she'd be scared about it being easy to misinterpret, but it's good that Millie went for it.  Millie's so good.  So cozy and smart and good.

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Very cozy!

"Do you wanna watch a movie or something?" Millie murmurs, switching her browser from email to Netflix.

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"Mhm!"

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Netflix recommends "Into the Spider-Verse" and Millie accepts this suggestion.

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Woahhhhhh people have done cool things with animation in the past-slash-next four years.  She cries at just about everything it's even a little reasonable to cry about, but seems kind of weirdly cheerful about doing so.

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Millie thinks that's adorable and will grab the box of tissues for her!

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That's good because she ends up needing a bunch of them!  Not enough to get in the way of enjoying the action and comedy and visuals, but enough to provide plenty of excuses for sniffleleans.  Not that she even needs the plausible deniability because Millie is the greatest!  But there's something appealing there in its own right.

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Millie doesn't cry but she is very receptive to leans.

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Judy rests her head on Millie's shoulder as the credits roll.  It kind of feels like she could fall asleep right there even though the included music is not at all conducive to that.

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"I've gotta pee," Millie murmurs, extracting herself, but as she gets up she plants an apologetic li'l smooch on Judy's forehead.

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Well that wakes her up. "Wh - uh - "

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"Be right back." Millie nips into the bathroom.

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"I - okay."  She can wait that long for an explanation.

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Millie comes back and tucks herself back into the snuggle.

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Judy - lets this happen, and takes a while to work up the courage to squeak out, "I like guys?"

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"- yeah, me too."

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"Um."  aaaaaaa  "And not.  Girls.  In that way."

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"Me either, not - usually - but sometimes -"

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"You're really great - really great - but I'm.  Not gay."

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"Not even sometimes?"

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"I think I would have noticed!"

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"Lots of people haven't noticed by the time they're through college, let alone high school..."

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"I already would have.  Pretty sure."

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"Oh..." Millie looks - confused, more than anything.

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Probably Judy should remove herself from the cuddle so she can stop leading Millie on.  That sounds really hard, though.

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Millie certainly isn't helping.

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Then Judy will fail to muster the willpower to disentangle herself before she starts drifting off again.  She makes a sleepy little hum as she does.

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They can fall asleep together cuddled up on the couch, then.

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It's a better night's rest than she's had since she arrived; she's not going to be the one to wake up first.

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When she wakes up Millie is petting her hair.

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- oh.

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Pet pet pet.

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"Millie."

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Her hand stops moving. "Morning."

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"Hi . . ."

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Millie looks at her, then gets up and goes to change clothes and get some breakfast started.

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Judy stays on the couch to sit and think but then falls back asleep almost immediately.

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Millie is gone for work when she wakes up again.

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Oh no now she's all alone again - no.  This is fine.  It's been like this every day.  Though she does wish she'd been able to resolve things a bit before Millie left.  What if she's sad?  That would be terrible.

. . . What if she's mad?

 

Millie's great and so nice and probably isn't going to kick her out over this, however it shakes out.  But.  It would be pretty reasonable for her to be less enthused about hosting someone who's in this sort of awkward situation with her than someone she's happily dating.

(Judy's better-rested than she has been any other day but in a way also more tired; she doesn't feel like walking to the library.  Probably it's the same thing as why she started trusting Millie; she felt like she had to be on all the time and now that the initial panic is over and she's relaxed even a little it's all caught up to her.  She occupies herself with singing and minimally disruptive cleaning and Millie's bookshelf.)

 

There's one obvious solution to this, isn't there.  She'll just have to pretend to be gay.

Millie deserves better than this from her but it kind of seems like her only choice here.  And if she keeps it up forever then Millie won't ever find out; no harm no foul and all that jazz.  And this way Judy'll get more cuddles, too, which is an awfully selfish consideration but judging by last night she doesn't actually have the willpower to resist them.

 

(For the last hour before Millie's scheduled to come home, Judy can't concentrate very well, and instead of her previous activities she frets and hopes and misses.)

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Here's Millie! "I'm home! How're you doing?"

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"Millie!!  Hi!  I'm good - are you okay did you sleep okay; I had to heal off a crick in my shoulder do you need anything like that - "

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"Oh, my arm was asleep but it cleared up after a minute. But I did get a paper cut." She holds out a bandaged finger.

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Hey magic that's unacceptable!  Judy gestures a flourish as indication even though Millie should be able to feel what she did.

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Millie grins at her. "Thanks." She peels the bandaid off.

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"You're welcome.  How was your day?"

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"Oh, mostly fine, but there was some guy who said he lost his credit card, and half the time that's a scam and half the time you're ruining somebody's week, I always hate it when that happens..."

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"Oh no, that sounds really stressful," Judy replies earnestly.

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"Yeah! And none of the standard things to get them to try work, and he winds up going somewhere else."

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"Gosh."  Maybe Millie should be ushered to the couch for consolatory cuddles.

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Millie is very usherable. Snug.

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. . . Tentative backpet.

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"Mmm," sighs Millie.

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Less-tentative backpet!  Which if uninterrupted may evolve into a backrub or even a full-on massage.

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Millie doesn't object in the least!

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When Judy's done she rests her chin on Millie's shoulder and hugs her round the waist from behind.  "I changed my mind."

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"- about?"

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"I - think I probably am gay.  At least a little."

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"At least sometimes?" says Millie, smiling shyly.

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Squeezecuddle.  "Sure."

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"Does that mean I can kiss you?"

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"I think it does!"

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Kiss!!!

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Gosh.

 

Well it's going to be much less hard to pretend about this than she was worried about.

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Kiss kiss kiss Millie is so happy.

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Judy hesitantly tries giving one back, then pulls away and grins.

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Millie beams at her and takes Judy's hands in hers.

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Judy will KISS the HANDS.

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Millie laughs with delight, and kisses JUDY'S hands, so there.

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Oh no!  She is defeated!  She flops backwards onto the couch, keeping ahold of Millie's hands but not tugging her down after Judy.

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Millie plops down right next to her and resumes smooching.

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Mmmm~

Millie can get Judy quite squirmy and elicit many small gasps from her, and Judy bit-by-bit grows bolder about kissing Millie back.

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Millie is sufficiently engrossed in this activity to forget about dinner until her stomach grumbles.

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- Judy pauses, and pulls back, and giggles.

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"I guess I should eat something," laughs Millie. "Do you want any -"

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"Mmmmmmmyes please I think."

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Millie makes them mac and cheese.

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Can they . . . feed each other bites of it?  That's a thing that couples do sometimes, right?

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It is! Millie thinks it's cute and will happily feed Judy bites and vice versa.

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This is because Millie's the beeeeeeeest.

"What day of the week is it?  Or - do you work weekends sometimes - I mean when's your next day off."

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"I have the day after tomorrow! Do you want to go on a date then?"

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Judy squeaks.  "Yes."

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Millie beams. "Minnetrista's nice if you haven't been - or if you have, they keep changing the exhibits -"

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"Never heard of it!"

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"Minnetrista day after tomorrow then." Smooch.

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Ee.

". . . I've kind of been wondering what would happen if I just.  Walked into a hospital and started healing people."

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"...gosh, I don't know. Sounds like it could wind up being kind of a mess."

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"Probably, yeah.  Tempting though.  It just feels like I'm wasting so much time - I'm probably only going to be able to get three or four people as badly hurt as - as you were, per drinking session, to start with; the sooner I start scaling up the better - "

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"I wonder if real witches ever use blood transfusions and if you could kinda -" She makes a vague gesture.

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"Huh, maybe - it's all cooldowns though; I could drink blood constantly and it'll still only do me as much good as if I only drank as often I already have been.  Like, I healed you more blood last time; that's not really the limit if I," her face develops a shy smile, "have . . . you . . ."

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"You have me," says Millie, smiling softly.

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"I was so worried, you know, before; I thought I was all alone with no one in the world, and now - "

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"Luckiest car accident ever," says Millie.

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"An awful start to the best possible thing."  Judy raises her cup of water in cheers.

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Clink!

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What else should she cover there's so much catching up to do - "I'd never dated anyone before this, just so you know.  - Um, we are dating now, right, that's what this is?"

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"That's what this is," confirms Millie.

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"Well.  First time," says Judy, jazzhandsing.

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"Welcome to the world of romance!" chirps Millie.

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(eee)

"It's different from how I imagined."

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"Just because I'm a girl or something else?"

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"I thought I'd be - more nervous - but you're just not scary at all; it's like we skipped straight to the comfortable phase.  And, um, it's been going kind of faster than I imagined, physically, but that's probably just the same thing as the first one."

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"We can slow down, if you'd rather, I don't mind."

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"No, it's pretty great.  Just not what I expected."

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"Oh, good, I'm glad it's great."

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Oh would you look at the time it seems to be staring-adoringly-at-Millie o'clock.

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Well if she's going to do that she will just have to be kissed.

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Terrible.  Terrible, she declares.

(She does not in fact declare this, because that would involve using her mouth for things other than kisses and why would she do that.)

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Why indeed.

"I have a queensize," Millie murmurs. "I mean, if you're worried about going too fast you can stay where you've been staying, but like, by the time my roommate's back."

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"No - please, I want to sleep wi - oh gosh, um, in the same bed as you - I haven't been able to sleep basically at all except last night - "

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"Oh no, you poor thing - okay, I'll go dig up a spare pillow -"

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"Thank you so much - do you mind falling asleep to music; I have this instrumental piano album but I probably don't actually need it, if I'm with you - "

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"We can try it and see how it goes?"

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Her album turns out to be all showtunes covers.  'Music of the night' and 'Memory' and 'Maybe this time' and other quiet ballads which start with different letters of the alphabet.

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When Millie is ready to slide under the covers with her she plops herself right on Judy's shoulder and flings a leg over her.

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oh dear

 

 

- Millie is the greatest and so it's dumb that this is reminiscent of things which were not the greatest and Judy should probably just try and get over it; Millie would never hurt her, this is fine, it's nothing like -

 

- it's been probably at least a couple minutes and she still hasn't managed to calm down.  . . . Maybe she should admit to herself that this does in fact seem to be hurting her.  Millie would never hurt her on purpose, but it's up to Judy to communicate when things do -

 

 

- trying to say something lighthearted hasn't worked; trying to say Millie's name hasn't worked; trying to make any noise at all hasn't worked - putting a palm on Millie's shoulder and pushing her off, no matter how gently, feels like a greyed-out UI option -

- there is a reason she put all her magic into the thing she put all her magic into - Judy internally counts down from three, and does nothing, and ten, and does nothing, and thirty and - teleports out from underneath Millie, dropping her onto the bed.  She herself lands on the floor, still on her back, still looking blankly up at the ceiling and not otherwise moving.

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"Yeep! Judy??"

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. . . she should . . . say . . . . . something . . .

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"Judy? Judy are you still in the apartment -" Millie sits up but she's not looking in the right direction.

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Judy manages to flop her arm up onto the side of the bed.

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"There you are - why are you on the floor -"

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Judy grabs Millie's hand and holds it.  Still doesn't look in her direction.

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Handsqueeze. "Are you all right?"

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Headshake headshake headshake.

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"Is there something I should - do - is this a vampire problem, do you need blood -"

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Judy manages to sit up and haul herself onto the bed.

"No," she croaks, positioning herself beside Millie and wrapping her arms around her.

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Millie rubs her back soothingly. "What happened?"

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"I just - have bad associations - with - people laying.  On top of me."

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"- oh, I'm sorry - I didn't know -"

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Hug hug.  "I know."

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"You can be the cuddle-top. Are you sure you don't need anything?"

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"I don't - " her voice catches; she clears her throat " - think so?

It's not that I want to talk about this but maybe I - should - "

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"I mean you don't have to explain to me like right now, at least."

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"It's just from - the first time I had my blood drank.  And maybe also the car crash a little.  Just - being trapped . . ."

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"Yeah that makes so much sense. I'm sorry."

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"It's okay - did dropping you on the bed hurt at all - "

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"No, the bed's soft, I'm fine."

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"Oh.  Good."  She takes a deep breath, and sighs.

"Did you ever go to sleepovers, and have conversations really late at night with the lights off, and everything felt less real?  And you said more than you would usually say, and could be more serious than you usually are, and it's fine because you're going to sleep soon and don't have to deal with it, and in the morning it doesn't really matter anymore, except - it still really does?"

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"...wow. Uh, I did sleepovers and I guess it was sort of like that?"

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Judy nods.  "I don't know if talking about the thing would just be bad or if it would be like that."

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"I don't know either." Pet pet.

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Judy lays back down and fumbles around for her phone, hits pause on a very legato rendition of 'Not While I'm Around'.  Closes her eyes.

 

"I don't . . . cry?  Anymore?"

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"- vampire thing?"

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"No.  - Sort of.  And I mean like actually I cry a lot, still.  Just.  Only at movies and stuff, not anything - actually important.  I think I might've . . . broken it."

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"Oh no. Do you wanna - not right now probably but like do you wanna watch a sad movie and when you start crying switch to talking about important stuff and see if that fixes it."

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Judy sporfles a little.  "I don't think so.  And like I mean, it's kind of useful.  I sort of did it on purpose; there's - when you have magic, it feels really cheerful, to start off, it's all like, 'woah, you have magic, there's so much stuff you could do with this magic isn't it exciting - ' and so sometimes when I was still in school I'd get upset, but I couldn't - in front of people - and so I'd just think really hard at it but not actually use any and it would sort of . . . bleed off.  And now it's way quieter and not really cheerful at all but the thing stuck.  And - it's not even that I don't like it, I just.  Nobody else knows; I'd never told anyone before."

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"Okay." Pet pet.

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"And now I also cry way more at movies now but like, that's fine, nothing wrong with crying at movies."

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"Had a friend once who'd rate movies by how many tissues she went through."

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" - That's a good one; maybe I should try it."  She pets Millie back a little, on the shoulder.  Doesn't say anything for a while, just syncs up her breathing with Millie's and lays there.

 

"I think saying that one helped instead of being terrible or anything," she eventually determines.  "So probably I should - actually, how early do you have to be up - I'm fine now I think, I could just go to sleep - "

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"I can stay up a little longer."

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"You're so nice."  Judy beams, briefly, in spite of herself.

"So, um, an important thing I haven't mentioned is that - both the times we've done the blood there's been the mug, right?  And if you skip that part, just like, face on body - both people get magic."

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"Oh. That's - that's really weird? I thought you were, like, converting blood into magic."

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"It's defs really weird.  Um, so I guess that's on the table now that I've - already put my face on your body and stuff, and trust you as a person - but anyways I - " words are hard but probably this is an important step on a path to healing or whatever, ugh.

"I - it was springtime.  And I'd just had the wreck and a bunch of people decided they were gonna vote me prom queen, which was kind of a sweet gesture even though it's not actually something I was big on, and it turns out that like some people wrap their entire identity around that or something?  I dunno, she probably had other stuff going on.  But that's why - I've already mostly told you that part.  But I didn't say that it was right when she attacked me that I got the magic and - it was all really fast and I was bleeding a lot and - missing chunks, out of my throat - and I could have knocked her out but it didn't seem like it would last that long, and I don't remember whether I didn't think of teleporting away or if it didn't seem like I'd be able to go far enough or that I could but I thought I'd just die wherever I went instead - "

And now she's shaking enough that her teeth are chattering and it's hard to keep talking.

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Millie pets her and hums sympathetically.

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When Judy's composed herself a bit: "And - it was all really fast but I remember thinking that healing probably wouldn't work because she'd just do it again.  And I probably considered some other things but the one I ended up going with was - with the magic, you can change how much people care about you, and I just - pulled as hard as I could on that, which I know is horrible but I didn't know what else to - and, she - "

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"Is - changing how much people care about you, uh, another thing you have trauma stuff about -"

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"I mean, I don't think anybody can do it here, right?  - Or - can witches - "  She presses up against Millie.

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"- not as far as I know."

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"Then I probably don't have to worry about it, really."  Hug hug hug hug.

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"But it's a trauma thing too?"

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"I mean - I - she -

That might be enough of this sort of thing for tonight, for me."

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"Okay." Pet pet.

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"Thanks.  For listening, and - everything, just everything.  I'm really glad I found you."  How much of her body can she put in contact with Millie's.  She has not studied topology so probably less than is technically possible.

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"Of course," says Millie fervently. Millie tries to help with the snuggle aspiration while not being on top of Judy at all till they are maximum coze and then she drifts off.

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Judy does too, not long after.  She gets up when Millie does, kisses her goodbye, and heads out for the day determined to actually make some progress on getting a source of income and people to heal.

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The hospital Millie mentioned does ask for a recommendation but does not actually require one to submit the form. It does require a phone number, though.

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Well darn.

. . . If she walks to a convenience store and looks for a TracFone or equivalent?

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TracFones exist!

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Are they prohibitively expensive?

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She can afford it.

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Awesome.  She buys one and gets it all set up and puts that number on the application.

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That afternoon some hours later she gets a call!

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Gosh, how prompt.  She spent the intervening time hanging at the library and healing random people of various tiny ailments from afar, and she still has three quarters of her magic, but she hopes that wasn't a waste - she scurries outside to answer it.

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"Hi, is this Judy Jenkins?"

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"That's me!"

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"We got your application for working magical healing - you left references blank? -"

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- Probably the best angle here does not involve opening with customer service voice; nice move, Judy.

"That's correct."

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"Can you say a little more about your background in healing?"

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Oh wow this is awful.  Maybe she can just tell . . . the truth?  Approximately???  "For the most part it's been relatively minor things - cuts, mostly - but recently I witnessed a car collision with a pedestrian and healed her of all injuries, and thought I should look into doing more in this field."

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"Wow, okay. Can I have her as a reference, did you get her number?"

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"I don't have it on me but I could get it to you by tonight."

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"All right. And once that's sorted out can we have you in for an interview eight tomorrow morning?"

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Oh no their date.  - Probably it won't take all day.  "That sounds excellent."

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"Great." She provides directions to the correct office. "I'll see you then!"

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"Thank you for your time."

That was surprisingly non-terrible but Judy's still going to go back to Millie's apartment and hang out and do nothing for the rest of the day.

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Millie is home that evening and kisses Judy hello. "How was your day?"

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Kiss!  "I need your phone number so you can be a reference about how I saved you for a job that I have an interview for tomorrow morning!  - I'm sorry about it being tomorrow morning; I panicked - but hopefully it won't take that long and we can still do the thing?  How was yours!"

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"Yeah, the interview isn't gonna be all day, we can go after - my day was pretty good, there was drama among the housekeeping staff but it didn't affect anything important -" She writes down her number.

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"Goodness, drama - can I use your laptop to email this to the people?"

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"Yeah-huh." Millie laptop. She will chatter about the housekeeping drama while she fixes dinner.

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Judy tries to make an account for judyjenkins@gmail.com since she ultimately decided against changing her last name and there's not another her here; failing that she tacks on a '1952' - send.  She 'gosh'es and 'oh wow's appropriately at the drama and helps out with the cooking where she can without getting in the way.

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Millie's doing chicken and potatoes but Judy doesn't need to have the chicken if she doesn't care to.

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She does not.

And hopefully their conversation counts as having already used up all their drama for this evening and there's none left for bedtime?

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Millie doesn't bring it up! Millie is happy to snuggle her to sleep, spoonstyle, without talking about any drama at all.

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It's not the talking Judy minds, just her own baggage popping up at inconvenient times - but there's really only the one thing that's likely to come up in sleeping sorts of situations, and spoonstyle routes deftly around it.  She sleeps fine.

Does Millie know things about the public transport here or should Judy walk to her interview?

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Millie can help her figure out which bus to take!

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Fantastic!  - Gosh, probably this isn't the sort of job you interview for in jeans but oh well she'd rather be early than well-dressed; she heads out.  Kiss.

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Kiss!

The bus gets her there, though she has to sit next to a guy who has no teeth and smells weird. The office is findable and she is greeted with a limp handshake from the person on the phone. "Hi, I'm Tracy Whitehead, sit down. - oh, your leg. You made it sound like, uh -"

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" - Like?"

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"Like you'd probably have been able to put your leg back? I shouldn't make so many assumptions, sorry."

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"I'm okay with being a cyborg.  Nice to meet you, Tracy."

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"You too!" There follows a fairly standard job interview, complicated mostly by the fact that Judy is not in fact a witch.

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Well, would they like her to demonstrate healing.  Presumably that's the important part.

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They are not legally allowed to do that until she's hired but they do want to do a trial period, of, say, one week. Is she willing to work nights?

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. . . Can she decide that once she knows a bit more.  What does working here actually look like, with something as fickle as emotion-based healing?

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So they currently have two witches on staff, an old lady named Zasie and a man barely older than Judy called Graham. A staff witch gets her own room for meditation and meals and so on, though they're also totally welcome to mingle in the break room for both; Judy'll have to do her meditating in the courtyard to start out for her trial period but they can clear an office for her if they keep her. Witches are most called for in trauma cases, but there aren't enough of those coming in regularly enough to keep her busy, and of course witches often find it hard to respond to sudden emergencies, so she will probably spend more time patching up surgical recoveries and working with oncologists.

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That makes sense.  She has reason to believe she might be at least a little unusually good at handling sudden emergencies, what with her one big case having been one of those, although of course she won't know for sure until she's been in more situations like that - when would she be starting, if accepted?

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Her trial period can start in two days, shadowing Zasie and matching her schedule (Zasie takes Tuesdays and Wednesdays off).

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Sounds great.  Is there anything else they want from her now?

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"When is it okay to call this reference?"

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"I think after seven pm generally, or also within the next hour or so."

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"All right, great. That's all I need today."

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"Thank you."  And bus back home to her GIRLFRIEND for their DATE.