Jesus Saves


Moxie_icon.gif Seth_icon.gif

Summary: Moxie finds Seth drinking in the park, and is followed by a Creepy Stalker.

Date It Happened: December 12, 2001

Jesus Saves

Ernest Debs Regional Park

Many of the few who know of this 300-acre sprawl of land describe it as "a gem", and a rarely touched one at that. On the west side of the park is an Audubon Society Center, but other than this and a few roads and trails, the area is virtual wilderness. Nestled somewhere amidst the native trees and brush is a pond that offers a breathtaking view of the city's Downtown not more than ten minutes' drive to the southwest, and there is yet another body of water that offers fishing prospects. Native migratory birds can often be found here (hence the Audubon Society Center in the west), creating a wonderful place for birdwatchers of all calibers. Despite its beauty and serenity (or perhaps contributing to both), Debs Park is largely unused by the general public — but those few who do frequent it don't seem to mind this.

The paths that snake through the mostly-deserted park are peppered with lights here and there, each lamp a small beacon in the darkness that bathes a yellow glow beneath it. It's after dark, but Seth Ward hasn't obeyed his normal chicken-instincts and is seated under a well-lit bench, his cane laid on its side with its handle hooked over the bench's arm. A silver cross worn around his neck on a sturdy chain has been pulled out from its normal resting place underneath his shirt and hangs prominently displayed on the front of his chest, a small bit of protection in an otherwise almost-unprotected situation. The man is more or less sprawled in his seat and his arms are hooked over the back of it, one hand holding a bottle wrapped in a paper bag. True to form and word, it's a bottle of wine.

This isn't exactly Moxie's usual sort of haunt, but it's quiet, and sometimes even those scared by inertia need to slow down enough to think. Or maybe it's the thinking that comes on first, unwelcome, and then the slowing down happens by consequence. Either way, Moxie is wandering these quiet walkways, and she's thinking, both feats unusual for the girl. It's grown later than she realized, but she isn't exactly pressured by a curfew. Her hands in the pockets of the black hoodie that she wears, she scuffs her feet along as she walks, watching them as they meet the pavement. She's drawing nearer to Seth's bench, but hasn't yet looked up to take in her current location.

Seth isn't in much of a mood to notice anything but himself, since he too is doing his thinking for the night. It's just as well - at least in the opinion of the tall, somewhat musty-smelling man who has appeared on the path behind Moxie. His footsteps hit the ground in time with hers, though his longer stride brings him closer to the girl with every step he takes. It's really almost predatory, the way he's moving, and he looks like a man who's seen better days. His blonde hair is greasy and falls in stringy clumps around his face, some pulled back behind his ears, and there are some suspicious dark stains on the front of his jacket and shirt.

Moxie might be distracted and a little clueless at times, but she's still a girl who grew up in a rough part of LA. It takes a little longer than it might normally, but that creepy feeling begins to sink into her conscious mind and realization dawns that someone seems to be dogging her steps. Ducking her head, she picks up the pace, walking quickly, though she doesn't break into a run. Her jaw clenches, and inside her pockets, her hands ball into fists. For all the good they would do her in battle. Finally, she risks a quick look back over her shoulder, shooting the guy a dirty look which then fades into something a little more confused and concerned as she takes in that brief glimpse of him. Walking more quickly now.

Step, step, step. When Moxie speeds up, so does the Sleazy Man. He continues to close the distance between himself and his chosen prey; to those more experienced with supernatural neckbiters, it should be obvious that the blonde man is one of the 'thrill of the chase' junkies. After the girl turns her back again the man's face contorts, eyes yellowing and teeth growing, clearly visible in the grimace of pleasure that's stamped on his face. Seth's gaze is finally drawn towards the walking pair due to their speed and their proximity to himself, and then he looks away again - only to pause and snap his head back around, mouth dropping open.

Moxie misses the sudden change in the man's visage, but what she has seen is enough to get her to break into a jog once she's turned back to face front, hands coming out of her pockets, though still balled in those tiny fists of fury. "Leave me /alone/!" she exclaims, that edge of panic in her tone. Of course, she still thinks he's just a sleaze in the park, maybe interested in getting a little too friendly, or mistaking her for someone with anything worth stealing. She might book it a little faster if she had any idea what she was really up against - of course, in that case, she might also realize that running isn't likely to do her much good.

"Oh, jesus, don't lead it this way!" That was Seth's voice breaking mid-sentence as he starts clambering to his feet. The louder pounding of footsteps on gravel should tell Moxie well enough that the vampire is still keeping pace, keeping up his creepy silence and only breaking it with an odd, high-pitched little giggle. The demon is hunting, and the demon apparently has a dessert buffet lining up right in front of him. He's confident that he can kill both girl and man without any trouble. Seth stumbles his way out to the center of the path, his bottle smashed and forgotten by the bench and his cane clutched in both hands, its tip pointing outwards at chest-height. Is he bracing himself? It sure looks like it.

Moxie looks abruptly over at the sound of Seth's voice, her first instinct to assume it's someone /else/ out to get her, in cahoots with the one chasing her. A girl really can't catch a break around here! But wait, recognition dawns, gives way to momentary confusion, and then to relief. In childish naivety, she assumes that one grown man should be enough to scare off another - it's what society teaches, after all, to find a grown up when things get bad. The footsteps and the giggles from behind send shivers down her spine, and so of course she does the exact opposite of Seth's request (well, he knew she was contrary), and alters course to make right for him, picking up the pace, now somewhere between a jog and a full-out run.

Seth is really not the first adult that someone should run to in an emergency. He is far, far more likely to run screaming from the problem and leave everyone else to slow down the threat, but in this particular case he's too wobbly on his feet to trust himself with stopping the thing chasing Moxie through the use of magic. Instead he holds his ground, hands trembling, and waits nervously for the girl to reach him. It shouldn't take very long, especially when he adds the incentive to "Run!"

He doesn't have to tell her twice. There's something about the panic of the very grown up she's running to for aid that spurs Moxie finally into a full out run, though it isn't easy in those silly shoes of hers. At least she's in relatively good shape, and has enough practice on the platform soles that she doesn't turn an ankle as she finally closes the distance between herself and Seth. "This guy's messed up!" she exclaims breathlessly as she finally catches up, and this is before she glances back over her shoulder to take another look at him.

"No shit," snaps Seth as soon as Moxie is close enough to hear him without the need to yell. He shoulders her behind him as the vampire advances, all stereotypical hissing and teeth and "Augh, bad breath!" The vampire looks rather offended at Seth's comment but is not about to let himself be put off by a guy with a cane and a little girl. He slows down in order give the pair the full effect of his sauntering, blood-spattered self, licking at his teeth as he eyeballs the cross on the warlock's chest. He makes a few false starts towards Seth and Moxie, trying to spook them into running again or at least into making funny noises. As far as Seth goes: it works. He shrieks. But he doesn't run! Moxie should at least be thankful for that.

It's perhaps telling that Moxie /allows/ herself to be shouldered behind Seth without so much as a sound of protest. Now that she's able to finally get a good look at her pursuer, she has no idea what to make of this, staring at him with wide eyes, chest heaving as she tries to catch her breath. She doesn't quite shriek; no, hers is more of a squeak - a funny, high-pitched noise that comes from her nose rather than her chest. She steps more fully behind Seth, though can't help but peer around him to keep looking at their assailant with those wide eyes. "/Do/ something," she urges him breathlessly, in case he hadn't thought of it himself.

Seth has thought of it. He's not all that certain of what it is he might be able to do, especially thanks to the smell of wine on his breath and the lack of impressive muscles that all demons unfairly seem to have. "I'm not that good with vampires. They don't like me." This is hissed at the girl behind him without a care for whether or not he is believed, and the man makes an attempt at brandishing his cane at the vampire. "Shoo! The power of Christ compels you!" It totally worked in the movies.

Moxie isn't entirely sure what to make of the v-word. The first time someone told her, she flatly disbelieved; but she's seen enough over the past few days (to say nothing of the very compelling evidence snarling in their faces!) to make it a lot harder to brush off. "I'm not telling you to take it on a date! Just get rid of it!" she grits out through clenched teeth, as to whether or not vampires like him. She can't much take her eyes off of it, but Seth's attempt at exorcising it is enough to at least get an incredulous look from the girl - but then she does look back to see if it's working.

It is not working. The vampire is, in fact, giving Seth the exact same dumbfounded look that Moxie is. But that was the point! Seth takes advantage of the distraction to take a lunging step forward with his cane in the lead, jabbing it with all the force he can muster at the would-be attacker's chest. Normally this probably would not have worked so well, but Seth happens to fall when his bad leg buckles under him - which gives the cane the leverage to send it right through the vampire's stomach and up into the more fleshy bits. The vampire's look of shock is transferred from the grounded warlock to the cane in his front, and then: POOF. The cane clatters down to the path next to Seth's head, just barely managing to avoid whacking its owner on the skull. "…Ow."

This time, Moxie lets out a shriek - a few of them in fact. The first when Seth suddenly lunges at the creature, taking the kid completely by surprise with the bloodthirsty attack. And then another as Seth's leg buckles and she's left standing with nothing between her and the attacker. At least for those few seconds until the attacker turns to dust, which is what earns the third shriek of the evening. Moxie continues staring at the space the creature had just occupied, her eyes wide, breathing still coming quickly. Finally, she stirs and looks to be about to offer Seth a hand up … but just ends up sitting down heavily upon the ground herself. On the plus side, this whole thing seems to have shut her up for once.

Seth does not seem to mind being sprinkled with vampire dust, mostly because he is not dead and has actually managed to fend off a Creature Of The Night in hand-to-hand combat thanks to his Clever Tactics. With a painful groan the warlock rolls over onto his back and starts brushing gravel off of his front, sitting up slowly and carefully. He's not too worried about Moxie, since she seems to be alive too, and instead starts rubbing the sides of his knee with something that could be called a sulky pout.

"What… the /hell/?" Moxie finally speaks after a minute or two, though her tone is distant and she's still got that thousand yard stare that suggests her brain has reached critical overload and shut down to prevent itself from shorting out. She's drawn her knees up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them as she holds herself protectively in what's almost a fetal position. No, she's not quite coping so well.

The man continues to massage his aching knee with a frown. He does manage to summon the interest to look over at Moxie, and he looks her over for a few moments before just smirking. "Vampire. I told you. And I also told you not to lead him this way, didn't I? Jesus. You don't listen well at all." Seth is not the most sensitive guy in the world.

Moxie finally swings her gaze over to look at Seth when he answers her, her eyes remaining blank for a moment before her expression starts to harden again. It seems getting her a little annoyed or angry is doing the trick for breaking through the shock or whatever it is that has her flagging. "Gee, sorry I didn't just /die/ and spare you the trouble," she replies wryly, though her usually bold tone breaks a little in the middle there.

"It really would've been far more considerate of you," Seth agrees. "I wouldn't be in pain if you had. Go get yourself a pocket-sized crucifix to carry around and you'll be fine. You'd also be fine if you stopped wandering around alone in the middle of the night, or if your parents kept an eye on you." The word 'parents' is emphasized because it is something that Seth is definitely Not, even if he has been unintentionally thrust into some semblance of the role. "Help me up."

"I don't /have/ parents!" Moxie exclaims in frustrated anger, the events of the evening making her emotions a little rawer than usual, which is to say she has any other than her default smugness. Realizing that she's been more honest than she'd meant to, she heaves a frustrated sigh and pushes abruptly to her feet, offering a hand to him, even as she grouses. "So that's it? You're telling me vampires are real, but I'll be fine if I'm a good girl and I, what, accept Jesus as my personal saviour?"

Seth reaches up to take Moxie's hand with one of his, the other picking up his fallen cane. It's rather difficult to get him upright but it's managed after a bit of effort, and the crippled warlock stays wavering in one place, a frown directed at the girl in front of him. "No. I'm saying that if you stick a cross like this-" He lifts the chain that holds the cross hanging from his neck to make the silver thing jingle "-in a vampire's face it'll run like a baby. And if you press it into their skin they'll burn. Where are your nonexistent parents?"

"Oh my God, you need to go on a diet or something," Moxie comments as the waif of a girl struggles to help the fully grown man back on his feet. But maybe it's just as well that it gives her something to focus on instead of that tiny little fact about almost dying. "What's it matter? They're not around," she replies in an abrupt tone, not pausing before switching topics, "That really work? The cross thing? You're not just trying to convert me to some creepy cult or something…" Once she's sure he's back on his feet and not just going to go right back down again (because she doesn't want to have to help him back up), she steps back and casts a quick look around, crossing her arms over her chest.

Seth smiles. "I've never been religious, much as my mother likes to believe otherwise. The holy symbol deal works. So does throwing blessed water. Or, as you've seen, staking them." He steadies himself with the aid of his cane, leaning his weight onto it as he slowly relaxes, heartbeat returning to a saner pace. The warlock glances down at the pile of dust underfoot and then gives one edge of the little pile a kick, scattering the stuff into the path. "This isn't something you should run around telling people, by the way. Unless you want a demon to eat your soul or something."

"Who the hell am I going to tell?" Moxie points out with a shrug, frowning down at the ground as she watches him kick the dust aside. It's still a little hard to believe that's the guy who was chasing her, even if she did see it with her own eyes. "So wait, you're telling me demons are real too?" Somehow, she's still a little skeptical about that, though why demons are harder to believe than vampires, heaven knows.

A sigh. It's an impatient sound; Seth's social circle usually comes ready-packaged with knowledge of the supernatural. "Yes, Julie. Vampires, demons, magic, warlocks, witches - all that." He takes a look down the path and then jerks his head, suggesting movement. Whether or not Moxie comes is up to her, but the man has already started walking.

"No way!" Moxie exclaims, trying to remain doubtful even in spite of herself. He manages to get a few steps away before she comes scurrying after. "Oh my God," she adds, as new realization dawns. "So that … monkey thing. At the Observatory. That was real too?" she asks him, despite his not having been there, and 'monkey thing' not being the most descriptive passage in the English language.

What. What. "Monkey thing?" No matter what it actually was, though, Seth feels safe with offering his bet as: "It probably was. There are lots of creepy-ass things running around Los Angeles, and I suppose some could be monkey-shaped, although I can't think of anything off the top of my head." Obviously Moxie is not going to be leaving the warlock alone, so he just continues on his way and rolls with the addition of a teenage sidekick. "—And if you ever call me fat again I'm going to feed you to the next vampire I meet."

"Yeah, there was this, well, I thought he was just some dude in makeup, but he seemed sort of like a monkey, you know?" Moxie explains eloquently, squinting sidelong up at Seth as she walks along at his side, attaching herself not unlike a barnacle. Hey, if these things /are/ real, at least she knows he knows how to get rid of them - by accident or not. "Geez, man, you're touchy," she mutters as he threatens her. "/And/ heavy."

Oh she did not. Moxie suddenly finds herself with Seth pointing an index finger right in front of her nose in the manner of overly stern schoolteachers everywhere. "Hey. Another word about weight and I'm going to hex you, and it won't be pretty. Got it?" He does not bother with an answer, instead picking up his pace a little. This does not do much. "Do you even have a home, or do you lurk in the streets and wait to get eaten?"

Moxie blinks benignly at the finger as it's pointed right in her face, going almost cross-eyed in order to look at it. "Wow, you really /are/ touchy. Can you really hex people?" It's a pertinent detail to learn before she dares mentioning his weight again. But as he starts asking after her personal life, she turns more sullen, jamming her hands back into her pockets. "I have a place." Not a home, but a place, anyway. "I can take care of myself." Not that he's asked whether or not she can.

"I should hope I can, since it's how I make my living." Yeah, that's right, little girl. Seth can back up his threats, even if it's pathetically easy to outrun him. The warlock continues on his way, heading for the outskirts of the park with the intention of hailing a cab and heading home. "I hate kids."

"Really?" Moxie asks, now more amazed and almost curious than freaked out as she considers that. Though it's still a little hard to believe all this stuff. She rolls her eyes and then gives him a Look. "That's great. 'Cause I'm not a kid." She has every intention of tagging along, at least until they're clear of the park, thereupon, maybe even to head homewards herself.

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