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Laura has office hours Tuesday and Thursday mornings, from eight to nine. Dr. Morell had given her complete autonomy over scheduling office hours and recitations this semester and Laura doesn’t like undergrads enough to cater to them.

Understandably, then, Laura has yet to see a single one of her recitation students show up to her office hours. Sometimes the truly wretched ones will come by her lab at two or three in the afternoon and whine about their miserable, terrible grades, but Laura always tells them to come back during her office hours or not at all.

It’s a real shock, then, that Laura looks up in the middle of scanning the invited reviews of the February issue of Molecular Ecology to see that there’s an honest to God undergrad framed in the doorway of the miniscule office that Laura shares with three other E&E graduate students.

“Um,” says the student, almost inaudible, even to Laura’s ears, under the high-pitched strains of Ellie Goulding coming from Jun-min’s speaker system. “Laura? I’m in your—Evolution recitation.”

According to the clock on Laura’s dashboard, it’s 8:03 AM and a positively balmy 23°F outside. Laura is not easily impressed, as both of her younger siblings can attest, but she is slightly impressed by this girl nonetheless.

“Come in,” Laura says, leaning back and smacking the flat of her palm down on Jun-min’s desk. “Can you put on headphones? I’ve got a student.” She tilts her head towards the girl in the doorway.

“Seriously?” Jun-min replies skeptically, but he obediently fishes a set of earbuds out of his desk drawer and plugs them in. A year ago, when Jun-min had joined Alan Deaton’s lab, Laura hadn’t had many opinions re: Ellie Goulding. She’s got a lot of them now after eleven months of sharing a closet of an office with Jun-min.

The girl stops loitering in the doorway when Laura points to Nathan’s empty chair. “Take that, he won’t be in until eleven,” she says. “What’s up? You don’t have a test coming up, do you?”

“No,” the girl says nervously, stepping into the room. She smells sweet, floral and citrus and ivy, with the faint scent of talcum and gunpowder underneath it. Marksman? Her upper arms look beautifully sculpted under her sweater. “I mean. I don’t think so.” She has to fold a dark blue parka at her feet as she settles into Nathan’s chair, her bag draped across her lap. Because she does actually have a responsibility towards her students, Laura pulls up Dr. Morell’s syllabus and checks the exam dates on the last page.

“Nope, clear through ’til March,” Laura announces. “Thank god. Why are you here, then? If you want your participation grade bumped up, you shouldn’t have bothered. I don’t even recognize you.”

“I’m—around,” the girl says vaguely. “It’s a big recitation.”

She’s not wrong, since Laura’s Tuesday recitation clocks in at around fifty people, but Laura’s got a good memory for faces, especially ones that look like they should be carved into a cameo brooch. “What’s your name?” Laura asks.

“Heather,” the girl replies. She’s a pretty good liar, but Laura has the benefit of supernaturally enhanced hearing and fake-Heather’s heart is close to jumping out of her throat. She’s wearing her dark hair up, away from her face and neck, and Laura can see her accelerated pulse in her throat. “I’m not here about my participation grade, either.”

It’s eight in the morning and Laura’s bored of trawling through Molecular Ecology, looking for the names of people she knows from her masters program. This is way more interesting. “Okay?” Laura prompts. “How can I help you, then?”

The girl breaks what had been up until now admirably steady eye contact and hunches forward a bit, wrapping her fingers around the metal clasp of her bag. “It’s actually not—completely relevant to the class. But I know that you’re studying serpentine soils at the Beacon Hills Reserve. You are, right?”

A little zing goes down Laura’s spine; her instinct is to straighten up and start asking probing questions, but she’s more evolved than that. Maybe if Derek learned not to follow every fucking instinct relayed by his spinal cord he wouldn’t be such a hot mess. “Yeah, I am,” Laura says, striving to keep her tone even. “Are you interesting in doing undergraduate research with Dr. Morell?”

After four years of reluctantly TAing various Ecology & Evolution undergrad courses, Laura’s developed a sixth sense about which degrees undergraduates are pursuing; she can narrow down the humanities students to department and most of the life scientists to sub-discipline. This girl has ‘civil engineering’ all over her, but there’s something about the way she carries herself that says she’s a double-degree. History, maybe?

The point is, this girl is going to want to intern with an E&E professor sometime in the middle of never.

“Maybe,” the girl says distantly, and Laura has to give her points for not getting in over her head. “I was wondering if you can identify plants grown on serpentine soils by physical characteristics? Not just by heavy metal testing? You, um, mentioned that once that you mostly do ICP-MS, but I was wondering if—do the flowers look different?”

Laura pretends to think about her answer, to give the girl time to squirm. She looks really young, probably a sophomore. Laura feels like some kind of decrepit vampire, perving on Mina Harker, even though the girl is lying through her teeth about why she’s here. “That’s species-dependent, actually,” she says eventually. “I’m doing paired studies between serpentine and non-serpentine plots in the reserve and I’m focusing mostly on two sets of sister species. The mimulus have a clear size difference, but my other sister species aren’t significantly different. It’s why I’m doing the ICP-MS.”

“Oh,” the girl breathes out. She’s still fiddling with the clasp of her bag, clicking it over and over. It’s only slightly less annoying than Ellie Goulding, which is why Laura hasn’t broken any of her fingers. “But, say, generally? There isn’t a—trend, maybe? Like, most species have smaller flowers, the ones that grow in serpentine?”

She’s beginning to smell desperate, which always burns like sweat and Pine Sol in the back of Laura’s nose. Laura pretends to think again, frowning exaggeratedly and tapping her index finger against the edge of her laptop, and the girl lasts seven seconds.

“Like,” she says, aiming for airy, probably, and failing so badly, “like, um, sister species of—well, aconitum?”

Against her will, Laura’s shoulders tighten. “What?” she says, forgetting to sound disinterested and academically removed.

“Like, um, delphinifolicum?” the girl says. Her Latin pronunciation is flawless, and Laura distantly registers her second degree as probably Classics. “Versus—say,” here she laughs, awkwardly and a shade too loudly, “oh, napellus. Just—hypothetically. If you needed to differentiate between them. Um, quickly. Not—enough time for ICP-MS.”

This farce has gotten supremely out of hand. Laura drops her head a little and presses a thumb to her temple. “Who did you shoot?” she asks, mostly to the palm of her hand.

“What?” the girl squawks. “Me—nobody! What? No! Ha!” She jerks backwards slightly in Nathan’s chair. Her eyes flick to Jun-min’s back.

“He can’t hear us,” Laura says. “Tessellate” is pouring through his earbuds at such a volume that Laura is pretty sure even humans can hear it. “So who the hell did you shoot and why don’t you know what was in the bullets?”

“I shot no one,” the girl stresses. She looks slightly offended. “I would never shoot someone with an unidentified bullet.”

“Yeah,” says Laura, frustrated and getting angry, “okay, great. So who did?”

The girl’s mouth tightens and she looks over Laura’s left shoulder instead of into her eyes as she says, “My dad is kind of—I mean, I’m not living at home and I’m not even—like, guys, right, I have way too many classes and I don’t even like guys that much, anyway—but. My dad doesn’t really believe in questions first.”

“Hunter,” Laura says neutrally.

The girl looks right at her. “Yes,” she says. Her eyes are human, steady and brown. Most of the hunters Laura has run across, in meetings of limited duration and questionable peacefulness—“truce,” as it turns out, can be interpreted a vast number of ways by surly migrant hunters and irritable werewolves who just wanted to go for a jog, not have to bleach blood stains out of yet another Humboldt State hoodie—have flat, reptilian stares. The eyes of someone used to not blinking, to staring down the scope of a rifle, waiting for the perfect shot.

On the one hand, Laura hates hunters. On the other, she doesn’t know that many hunters who try to save the werewolves they “mistakenly” injure. “The guy your dad shot,” Laura finally says. “Is he a friend?”

The girl’s heartbeat is steady as she says, “Yes. A good friend.”

Like every Tuesday, Laura has a ridiculous number of things on her to-do list. She has time reserved at the department’s ICP spec tomorrow and her samples still have to be prepped. She’s only halfway through the manuscript revisions she should’ve finished last Friday. She still has forty-five minutes of office hours left.

“Fuck,” Laura sighs. “Okay, fine. Let’s go.” She stands and grabs her coat from where it’s draped over the back of her desk chair. For a few long seconds the girl stares at her, slightly open-mouthed, and then she jerks to her feet, her skirt whirling around with the force of her movement. Now that Laura knows the girl is a hunter, she can see martial arts training in the grace of the girl’s limbs. Peace is great—Laura is happy not to be constantly at war—but it’s made her soft. This probably isn’t a trap, but Laura palms her phone and texts Derek and Cora anyway.

Helping hunter who accidentally shot up ww w/ aconite. Probably not trap, but if I don’t call in three h, send cavalry/Mom.

“I’ll drive,” the girl says, sounding less like a mess now that they’re moving. At quarter past eight in the morning, most of the biology department building is deserted; the clack of the girl’s heeled boots is very loud in the empty hallway. “I can’t believe that Stiles was right. You’re—a werewolf, right?” She’s buttoning up her parka as they make for the rear exit, which empties into the nearest parking lot.

Laura can’t help laughing. “Yeah,” she says, looping her scarf around her neck. “I’m a werewolf. If you’re a hunter, you must’ve recognized my name.”

“Actually—sorry, I didn’t?” The girl takes the next corner at a brisk walk and is by now almost sprinting for the double doors at the end of the hallway. “Stiles just gave me a room number and a first name.”

Do I still get your KitchenAid if you die? Cora has texted back, that ungrateful brat.

“Hale,” Laura tells her absently, pushing through the doors first—it’s not showing off if her speed is being used practically—and holding them open for an extra second, for the girl whose name is definitely not Heather. Laura doubts she’s in Laura’s class at all, although the other kid, Stiles, sounds familiar. There’s a mouthy junior in Laura’s recitation who has an unpronounceable mess of a first name and he goes by something like Stiles. “Laura Hale.”

Laura replies, If I die b/c you didn’t send Mom to rescue me I’m leaving it to Derek.

It takes Laura a few seconds to realize that the girl is still standing in the doorway, holding the swinging door away from her face with the palm of her hand. “Laura Hale?” she says. “Like—like Derek Hale?”

“Yeah. Do you know my useless mess of a brother? He’s an Enviro E.”

The girl says, “Oh my god, I am going to kill Stiles.”

Laura is intimately familiar with that level of exasperation, since she wields it against Derek with depressing regularity. “Seriously?” she says flatly. She can’t even find it in herself to be very concerned, since Derek seems to end up in this kind of scrape once a semester.

“I’m so sorry,” the girl says. Her big brown eyes have gotten even bigger, somehow, which is something Laura doesn’t feel capable of really dealing with right now, considering that apparently her brother’s been shot.

Laura says, truthfully, “I wish I was actually surprised.” If he dies, who the hell is she going to threaten to leave the KitchenAid to? Uncle Peter? Gross. “He—does this. Gets into stupid sitcom hijinks. If anything, I’m surprised it took him this long to get shot.” With a sigh, she jerks her head towards the nearest car, which is a stereotypically hunter-esque black SUV. “Is this you, Heather?”

The girl rolls her eyes as she hits the remote access on her car keys and, lo and behold, the massive black SUV chirps receptively. “I know a Heather in your class. It made sense.”

“Yeah,” Laura points out, “but Heather is blonde.”

Apparently with nothing she can say to that, the girl says instead, “I’m Allison. Derek and I have Fluid Dynamics together.”

“Right,” Laura says, sliding into the passenger’s seat. “Nice to meet you, please take me to wherever my brother is bleeding out.” No wonder he hasn’t answered her text. He’s probably fainted somewhere, or whining piteously at anyone willing to stand still long enough to listen. Cora may be the youngest, but Derek is definitely the biggest baby.

Allison looks vaguely embarrassed. “I’m sure he’s—not going to die?” she offers, although she still sounds worried.

“No, definitely not,” Laura agrees. “He’ll probably want to, though, since he’s gone out of his way since the eighth grade to make sure that I never get the chance to meet any of his friends. Once I’ve found the right species of wolfsbane, you and I are sitting down and going through, like, hideous baby pictures and all of my favorite stories. The time Derek pulled down the tree and ruined Cora’s first Christmas. The time Derek decided first grade was pants-optional. The time Derek got caught buying condoms at CVS by our grandmother.”

“You know,” Allison says thoughtfully as she peels out of her parking space at a speed slightly below that of one suitable for a Die Hard sequel, “Derek doesn’t really mention you by name. He usually just calls you the Antichrist.”

“He’s such a drama llama,” Laura replies dismissively. “I’m great.” Laura tends not to leer, since it makes her feel uncomfortably like Uncle Peter, so she settles for smiling suggestively across the gearshift. “I promise.”

Allison laughs, finally, her hands relaxing from their death grip around the steering wheel. “Yeah,” she says, flicking Laura a sideways glance out from underneath her truly spectacular eyelashes. “He mentioned that too.”