Chapter 1: Prologue: Have an Awesome Best Friend
The first day of Junior Year. Another milestone hurtling towards him. It is more than a bit overwhelming, if Liam’s being honest.
The halls are bustling around the beta werewolf as he strides towards first period English, mind wandering. It’s been a couple weeks since Scott and the rest of the older members of the McCall Pack have left - and Scott decided to leave Liam in charge.
That conversation had left Liam off balance. It’d been a couple days before Scott had left for college, a private conversation between the two of them under the full moon. Scott had rested a hand on his shoulder and did that soft-Scott-smile that had the ability to make you feel warm and cozy on the coldest night. “You’ll do a great job,” He’d said, and in that moment Liam had totally believed him.
Now, however...the impending stress is mixing with teenage anxiety and causing a tsunami of self-doubt. Can Liam do this, be the protector Beacon Hills deserved? He doesn’t know.
“You’re making that face again.”
The werewolf glances over and smiles slightly at the appearance of his best friend. Mason’s arms are full of heavy books, and at least a quarter of them don’t even look like school textbooks.
“I don’t make a face.”
“Oh, no dude...you have like fifty of them. At least,” The human says as they walk up the stairs. “A face for every single emotion and event. Right now...let me guess. Self-doubt about leading us in Scott’s absence?”
Liam sighs, shoulders tensing slightly before he forces himself to relax. “You’re scarily observant for a human, you know.”
Mason practically smirkz as they turn a corner, weaving through the mass of students in the hallways. “Nah, I’m just your best friend. I can read you better than anyone, human or not. It’s practically my job. And don’t try to distract me, Liam Dunbar! Scott left you in charge for a reason.”
Liam rolls his eyes and easily holds the door open as they slip into classroom 214, finding empty seats near the back windows. “I know he did, but...” He trails off before abruptly changing the subject. “So, what’s up with all the books? You gonna be my badass researcher? My better version of Stiles?”
Mason quirks an eyebrow at him, but allows the subject change (at least for now) as he drops the books on his desk. “Maybe? I’m looking into doing some things to be more helpful, but I don’t want to make any commitments yet. Also I’m totally down to be your Stiles 2.0. Lydia left me the Bestiary, and it’s a fascinating read-“
“Mase,” Liam interrupts. “You-you know I couldn’t do this without you right? You don’t need to be more helpful, you’re doing so much already.”
His best friend is quiet for a moment. “I know. But it’s just you, me, and Corey. I need to do more. You two are going to be on the front lines and I need-“ The human breaks off. “I feel useless.”
Liam eyes him, and then the clock that shows class is about to start. “We’ll talk about this at lunch,” He decides, bumping his best friend with his shoulder lightly.
Mason nods just as the bell rang, and their attention turns towards the front of the classroom and their teacher.
Scott (10:47am): How’s it going?
Liam (10:50am): still quiet. it’s been two hours since you last asked
Scott (10:50am): ...
Scott (10:51am): How’s Senior Year
Liam (10:53am): before first period mason borrowed like fifty books from the library
Scott (10:54am): He’s definitely your Stiles.
It’s lunch; the first half of the first day of Junior Year is over. Liam, Mason, and Corey are sitting around a big tree in the outside eating area, books piled in leaning towers around them.
The two supernatural creatures exchange amused looks over Mason’s head. “What’d you find, Mase?” Liam asks, picking idly at the sandwich in his hands.
“You know fae are real? And there’s like fifty different kinds, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, although apparently a lot of them can’t touch iron-“
“Mason,” Corey says, fondly. “Breathe.”
The human huffs, but gently closes the book in his lap. “There’s so much I have to learn.”
“You should talk to Chris Argent,” Liam speaks up. When both of them turn to look at him he shrugs. “We need someone hitting the books, coordinating things, but I do agree you need to be able to defend yourself.”
His best friend tilts his head in thought. “I kinda wanted to approach Deaton,” He says quietly. “Being a druid sounds awesome...”
“Well why can’t you do both?” Corey asks. When Mason’s head snaps towards him, the were-chameleon blushs lightly. “Being a druid won’t come in one day. And if you’re ever in a position where you can only physically defend yourself, Argent training you will save your life.”
“...babe, I love you,” Mason practically launches himself at his boyfriend, nearly sending books flying.
Liam saves a teetering stack, rolling his eyes fondly as Mason sticks his tongue down Corey’s throat. “GUYS,” He says loudly. “Still here.”
“I know,” Mason says with a smirk, not even turning to look at him. “You’ll just have to deal.”
Liam groans. “Mase, you’re practically my brother. Please stop making out in front of me.”
Needless to say, Mason doesn’t listen, still enthusiastically sucking face with Corey, so the werewolf grabs his backpack and practically sprints back towards the school.
Mason (1:32pm): Want a ride home?
Liam (1:34pm): yes
Liam (1:34pm): i forgive you
Mason (1:36pm): Oh, thank god you forgave me. I would never have survived without your forgiveness. The horror!
Liam (1:37pm): sarcasm is not appreciated
Liam (1:38pm) about earlier
Liam (1:38pm): you’re awesome the way you are
Mason (1:39pm): Already have a boyfriend, thanks anyway
Liam (1:46pm) i hate you
Chapter 2: Chapter One: Spend Some Quality Friendly Time with Your Were-Chameleon Packmate
Liam and Corey become more friendly over burgers and inhumane amounts of fries.
As I was rereading the prologue to spark inspiration again for the latter half of this chapter (I was struggling okay, I’ll admit it) I came to the conclusion that it felt awkward to me. And then I came tothe conclusion that was because I had written the prologue in past tense, which I hate doing. So I’ll be editing that.
Speaking of editing, some minor research for latter parts of the story reminded me that Liam is two years younger than Scott, which means he should be in his Junior Year during this fic. Whoops. I’ll fix that, too.
Hope you guys enjoy - there’ll be some more important-ish stuff in the end notes if you guys are interested in giving me feedback. <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“You want to hang out this afternoon?” Corey asks a little over a week later.
It’s a Thursday, and Liam has plans to do a patrol around the county before burying himself in his bed, maybe bring some dinner to Melissa before that. All in all, nothing exciting. Nothing that can’t be moved around in his schedule for his friends - for his pack.
“...yeah, okay,” The beta says. He and Corey are friends - you can’t survive supernatural apocalyptic-like events and not be friends. “You have something in mind?”
Corey shrugs. “Go get something to eat, maybe video games? If we’re gonna be watching each other’s backs, we should get to know each other more.”
Liam can be on board with that. “Sounds good. Just you and me or is Mason coming?”
“He’s got a lesson with Argent tonight,” Corey slams his locker shut.
“Oh, yeah.” Mason had eagerly taken to their suggestion of asking Chris Argent for training, practically pounding the hunter’s door down a couple days ago, the first Friday afternoon of the school year. Since then it’s been almost daily afternoon lessons, and Liam hasn’t seen his best friend outside school at all. “So, just us.”
“...is that okay?” Corey asks and Liam winces a little on the inside at the question.
“Of course it is,” The beta rests a friendly hand on Corey’s shoulder. “We’re pack. That means we’re practically family.”
The chameleon gives him a brilliant smile, perking up. “You mean it?”
“Yeah. I mean it.”
Stiles (12:47pm): *slams hands on desk*
Stiles (12:47pm): I HEARD YOU WERE TRYIN TO REPLACE ME
Stiles (12:48pm): WE’RE GONNA HAVE SOME PROBLEMS IF THAT’S TRUE
Stiles (12:56pm): Liam
Stiles (12:57pm): liaaaaammmmm
Stiles (12:58pm): LIAMMMMMM
Stiles (12:59pm): LIAM DUNBAR
Stiles (1:00pm): LIAAAMMM DUNBARRRR
Stiles (1:10pm) RESPOND TO ME WHEN I’M TEXTING YOU
Stiles (1:15pm): DON’T MAKE ME CALL YOU AND LEAVE 30 VOICEMAILS
Stiles (1:30pm): You asked for this
53 missed calls from Stiles
21 new voicemails
Liam (2:37pm): i was literally in class
Stiles (2:38pm): ...
Stiles (2:39pm) oh
Liam (2:41pm) mason isn’t replacing you, he was already better
Stiles (2:42pm): ur dead to me
“I’m really feeling burgers and milkshakes,” Corey admits as they sling their practice gear in the back of Liam’s beat-up old car.
The beta shoves his hair out of his face, yanking the driver side door open. “Same, honestly,” He says in a deadpan voice, enjoying the little upward quirk of Corey’s mouth as they buckle in, the vehicle rumbling - loudly - to life. “Which diner?”
Corey contemplates this question with seriousness as Liam pulls out of the high school parking lot. “Hangry’s is closest.”
“Triple bacon burger yes,” The werewolf says, holding out a fist. Corey bumps his own against it quickly, letting Liam drop his hand back on the steering wheel.
“I’ve been thinking about their deluxe jalapeño burger for a month almost,” The werechameleon admits. “Onion fries and a milkshake-“
“-or five,” Liam finishes, making a right turn. The neon Hangry’s Diner sign is just visible in the distance, pulsing brightly.
“Exactly,” The chimera beams, running a hand through his hair. “I just got really hungry.”
“We were working up an appetite at practice,” Liam pulls into Hangry’s parking lot, sliding into an empty spot. “Lucky we’re here.”
Corey rolls his eyes but unbuckles and practically falls onto the concrete in his haste for food.
Liam slides out of the car and steps into the diner after him. Upbeat, pulsing music echoes through the restaurant, and the beta slides into a booth opposite Corey, shedding his jacket.
“Welcome to Hangry’s,” Their waitress smiles, brilliant. “What can I get you boys?”
“Triple bacon burger-“
“-deluxe jalapeño burger-“
“-two orders of curly fries-“
“-two orders of onion rings-“
“-a mint chocolate chip milkshake-“
“-and a double chocolate milkshake,” Corey finishes.
Their waitress stares at them for a long moment, and then begins to hurriedly scribble on her pad as she speed-walks towards the kitchen.
Liam smiles as he leans back against the booth seat. “So,” He says, turning his attention back to the chimera.
“So,” Corey repeats. There’s a beat of silence as they both stare at each other, and then Liam groans.
“This is ridiculous. We fight the supernatural together, but we can’t hold a conversation?”
“So we talk about the supernatural,” Corey pushes the water glass in front of him around the table. “I have something to say on that subject, anyway.”
Liam’s curiosity is spiked, and he tilts his head ever so slightly. “Oh?”
“I...” The were-chameleon clears his throat. “Since Mason brought it up, I’ve been thinking about it. Feeling useless. Invisibility’s great, don’t get me wrong, but I need to know how to fight. How to win.”
“...we’ve been lucky,” Liam admits. “But you’re right. So...” He sigh-groans.
“I’m going to have to ask Scott for help,” He huffs, forehead meeting the cool laminate of the booth table, as Corey laughs. “This is going to be awful.”
Liam (7:37pm): i need your help
Scott (7:37pm): What happened?
Scott (7:38pm): Are you hurt?
Scott (7:38pm): I can be in Beacon Hills by Saturday and Derek can be there tomorrow
Liam (7:40pm) corey and i need to learn how to fight as supernaturals
Scott (7:41pm): Parrish can teach you!
Liam (7:42pm) i totally knew that
Scott (7:42pm) So you’re okay?
Liam (7:43pm) yes dad
“Fuck wendigos?” Corey finishes, breaking an onion ring in half and popping it in his mouth.
“Exactly,” Liam points at him with a curly fry (it’s not as effective as he wants it to be). “They’re assholes.”
“And cannibals,” Corey says, slowly.
“Yes,” Liam raises his eyebrows back. “I’m just saying.”
“That them being assholes is worse then them being cannibals?”
“No, that’s definitely not what I meant. But like - obviously they’re cannibals. But, they’re surprisingly bigger assholes then you’d expect.”
“...if you say so,” Corey says. Liam just groans and signals the waitress for another basket of fries.
Mason (8:29pm): Are you guys still out?
Liam (8:30pm) busy, important argument of what our superhero names would be
Mason (8:35pm) Why do I hang out with you guys?
Liam (8:36pm) you love us
Mason (8:38pm) This is becoming a debatable fact
Liam: (8:39pm) corey is telling me to send you hearts so <3 <3 <3
Mason (8:41pm): Go home you nerds
Mason (8:46pm): <3
Scott is such a dad, worried over his supernatural kid(s). Stiles is not much better.
The whole puppy pack are turning into sassy little shits. I’m not even sorry. >.>
1. This fic will shortly become part of a series! While creating a rough outline for this fic, I decided on some scenes I want to write that wouldn’t fit here, and so you’ll all get a series instead. :)
2. I’m thinking about including some of the other older characters who left Beacon Hills before Scott graduated! Isaac is my obvs choice (he was my favorite early on) but I’m open to suggestions for other characters.
3. So people won’t ask me this constantly: Theo should be here by chap 3! So you all only need to wait a little longer for our favorite, grumpy formally-evil chimera. Rejoice.
4. In case anyone wants to know, my tumblr is thefaebae. I’ve only recently re-breathed life into it, and it’s a hodge-podge of all my fandoms, but I’m happy to answer any questions here OR there.
Kudos and comments fuel me. Please leave feedback, if you are so inclined. xoxo
Chapter 3: Chapter Two: Crash Your Alpha’s Mom’s Place
The puppy pack descend on the McCall home to get some studying done (it doesn’t go well).
Hello, my darlings! I’m back with another chapter. I’m actually surprised they’re coming so easily to me, so I’m not going to decide on an update schedule just yet.
We have another fluffy-ish chapter, surrounding all three current puppy pack members. Next chapter, however, we’ll start heading towards action, and the chapter after that is THEO. I’m so excited :D
Couple important story-related things at the bottom of the chapter. Hope you guys enjoy :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“What’re you guys up to tonight?” Liam asks on a Wednesday, dropping his backpack on the library floor as he sits down across from Mason and Corey.
“Studying,” The were-chameleon says easily. “Mase?”
“I’m actually free, Argent’s off doing...something. He didn’t explain. Why?” The human asks.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen Melissa, and I know she’s not working tonight,” Liam scratches the back of his neck. “I just-“
“You want to check in on her?” Mason finishes knowingly, eyebrows climbing a bit.
Liam huffs, shoulders hunching in a little. “I know it’s stupid,” He grumbles. “But I need to know she’s okay. She’s Scott’s mom.”
“It’s okay, Liam,” Mason reaches over to pat him on the head. The werewolf whines, batting his hand away, a slight pout on his face.
“Study party?” Corey suggests with a smile. “We have Chem and US History tests next week. We could get pizza.”
“God, I’m not going to end up watching you guys devour five pizzas am I?” Mason asks.
There’s a beat of silence.
“I mean, probably, yeah.”
“Do you guys just have hollow stomachs?” Mason asks, frustrated.
“...technically all stomachs are hollow-ow!” Liam yelps, pout coming back full force at Mason’s playful kick.
“Oh, don’t even, that healed in like a fraction of a second,” The human says.
Liam’s pout deepens - he’s not wrong.
Liam (10:07am): i need someone to be inspirational and help me not feel like i’m failing chem
Lydia (10:08): You’re lucky I like you, puppy. E-mail sent your way. Do me proud.
Liam (10:09am): this is literally a life saver
Liam (10:10am): can i say i love you
Lydia (10:11am): Yes.
Liam (10:12am): i love you
Lydia (10:13am): You and everyone else I’ve ever met ;)
Lydia (10:15am): Or they love to hate me. Same thing.
“Hi Mrs. McCall,” The three chorus in semi-unison.
Melissa McCall looks at them, seemingly torn between being amused and resigned, her gaze flickering from Mason (arms full of books), Corey (plastic bag with several cartons of ice cream in one hand, twelve-pack of soda in the other), and Liam (balancing five pizza boxes in his arms).
“Boys,” She finally says. “To what do I owe the honor?”
“We need a place to study -“ Liam starts.
“-where we can talk about the supernatural freely -“
“-and Liam wanted to check on you,” Mason says, innocent smile on his face. Liam barely manages to refrain from kicking the human lightly as Melissa’s gaze sweeps over to him, her eyes narrowing in on the werewolf.
The boys shift awkwardly for another long moment before the nurse’s face softens and she swings the door open, standing aside so they can file in. “Well, come on in then,” She says. “Some of that pizza better be for me.”
Liam sprints in the house so she can’t change her mind, Corey and Mason on his heels.
“Go take over the living room,” She tells them, reaching so she can ruffle Liam’s hair. “Drop the food in the kitchen first, though. Liam, you know where the cups and plates are.”
“Yes Mrs. McCall,” He says, just to be cheeky. She frowns.
“It’s Melissa, you know that,” She steals one of the pizza boxes. “I’ll be upstairs if you boys need me - try not to need me.”
Liam waits until she’s ascended the stairs, busying himself with fetching plates and cups from the cupboard as Corey organizes the food and Mason drops off his mini library in the living room. “She seems okay,” He says.
“Maybe a little tired,” Mason adds. “It’s been quiet since Scott left. So she’s just stressed from the hospital, if she’s stressed at all.”
Corey plops down on the living room couch, plate overflowing with pizza and a soda sat on the coffee table in front of them. “You guys think it’s been...too quiet?”
“Babe, why would you say that!” Mason cries out. “You probably just jinxed us!”
The were-chameleon blushes a little. “I’m just saying, this is Beacon Hills. It’s never quiet unless something bad’s about to happen.”
“Corey/Babe!” Liam and Mason chorus together. “Dude, no, why!” Liam continues.
“Right, in a couple days when everything’s gone to shit again I’m blaming you,” Mason points his pizza accusingly at his boyfriend. “Now, why don’t we get to some studying before the apocalypse happens?”
“Good idea,” Liam grins, and pulls out his history book. “Okay, we’ve got chapters six, seven, and eight to tackle, so we should probably get started.”
Scott (7:08pm): Why are you at my house? Is everything okay?
Liam (7:09pm): studying
Liam (7:10pm) how’d you know we’re here
Scott (7:12pm): Corey’s instagram
Liam (7:13pm): we’ve got tests next week and they’re killing us
Scott (7:16pm): I’d rather you guys not die by tests OR bashing your heads in with textbooks
Liam (7:17pm) duly noted
“I swear,” Mason finally says an hour later. “If I have to read one more thing about atoms I’m going to dissolve into a bunch of them!”
“...Mase you’re already made of atoms,” Liam points out, science textbook in his lap and a single slice of pizza in his hand.
“Stop pointing out holes in my complaints!” The human says. “My point remains.”
“I think it’s time for an ice cream break,” Corey agrees, shoving his own textbook onto the coffee table. “If we’re going to keep looking at these diagrams, I need sugar. They look like the artist was drunk when they drew them.”
Liam snorts, already discarding his own textbook to retrieve the cartons of ice cream and spoons. As he’s rummaging in the cabinets for three bowls, the doorbell rings.
“Liam, can you get that?” Melissa yells from the second floor. “I’ll be down in a minute!”
The werewolf abandons the dessert and heads to the front door. Mason and Corey are hovering out of sight in the entranceway to the living room, pretending not to be eavesdropping.
The front door swings open, and Liam almost winces when he sees who’s on the other side. Behind him he hears Mason smack Corey lightly and say, “You jinxed us!”
“Good, you guys are all here,” Sheriff Stilinski says. “We need to talk.”
Beacon Hills’ Awesome Protectors
Mason (1:13am): You jinxed us
Mason (1:14am): This is me officially blaming you
Corey (1:16am): ...sorry
Liam (1:21am): go to sleep. apparently we’re going to need it. we’ll talk more tomorrow
Corey (1:22am): You mean later today?
Mason (1:22am): Am I going to need my books?
Liam (1:25am): GO TO S L E E P
Mason (1:29am): ...I’ll just bring my books, then.
I couldn’t figure out how to end this chapter. /sigh. This was the best I could do.
Melissa and the Sheriff are here!! Some adults to wrangle in the puppies haha.
Important Story Things:
1. Someone asked if Nolan would be making an appearance. Thoughts? I’m not inclined either way, but it might be nice to expand the puppy pack roster a little.
2. I’m thinking about making Brett Not Dead. I’m literally so salty he’s dead. Your guys’ opinions would be amazing.
As always, feedback fuels me. You guys have been so nice so far and I’m so grateful. xoxo.
Chapter 4: Chapter Three: Work With the Local Sheriff
The quiet in Beacon Hills has been shattered.
I know I updated less then 24 hours ago but honestly I’m so into this fic.
This chapter marks the transition into action, although there will be plenty of fluffiness and pack bonding as we continue. We get a mention of our first Baddie here, and next chapter harks Theo’s arrival. I’m honestly so excited.
I’ll talk a little about the lore mentioned here in the end notes. Enjoy, dears. :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Ew,” Mason says the following afternoon, immediately followed by, “Intense.”
The three of them are in the Sheriff’s office with the blinds drawn, Melissa and Noah (Liam will never admit outloud he calls Stiles’ dad by his first name in his mind; never) also present as they pour over the files of four recent murders, all gruesome and -
“They’re all missing a different organ or body part,” Melissa says, taking the file that Corey is pushing towards her. “Why do you think they’re related?”
“This,” Noah pulls open another file, points to certain spots around the edges of each wound where a body part was taken on several different photos. “It looks like a normal burn at first glance, but it’s not. It’s almost red-purple under the black.”
Mason instantly perks up. “Can I see that?”
The Sheriff slides the folder across the desk. The human pounces on it, eyes narrowing in on the odd, dark burns.
“Mase, you know what this is?” Liam asks, leaning over his best friend’s shoulder to get a better look at the burns.
“Maybe, I think - babe, can you pass me the Bestiary?”
Corey lifts the book out of Mason’s bag, carefully setting it in front of the human. Mason kisses his cheek in thanks, and begins to flick through the pages quickly while still being careful with the book.
The other four members wait a little impatiently, watching as Mason mumbles to himself, before finally saying “A-HA!” and tapping a page. “I knew it. Bloodfire burn.”
Liam and Corey both lean over his shoulders; the werewolf frowns. “A witch?” He asks. Noah makes a sound in the background that sounds like ‘Witches?’, all defeated and resigned.
“A blood witch,” Mason clarifies, pointing to a general paragraph on the main witch page before flipping several pages to a more detailed account of blood witches. “Technically, there are a few things it could have been, if not for the missing organs, like a mare - a nightmare - but! Listen to this.”
He takes a deep breath before quoting from the Bestiary. “‘Dabbling in the darkest of magics, blood witches use the blood of their victims to bind their prey and fuel their magic, and eventually begin to practice medicine murder to prolong their lives as they get older.’ Medicine murder, it’s why they’re all missing different body parts instead of the same one.”
“Jesus Christ,” Noah says. “Witches.” Melissa pats his shoulder, before turning to Mason.
“So, how do we kill it?” She asks.
The three juniors glance at her, surprised.
“I’m assuming we can’t save something called a ‘blood witch’ who practices ritualistic medicine murder,” Melissa says. “And I doubt a prison will hold a witch.”
Liam sighs. “She’s right,” He says softly.
Mason looks at him, and then back down at the Bestiary. “Okay, well...a witch bottle of course, but that’s not a guarantee kill, they can misfire.” His finger trails down the pages. “A pure silver knife soaked in the blood of a white witch-“
“Yeah, because we happen to have a pure silver knife just laying around the station,” The Sheriff sighs, rubbing a hand over his face.
“And we don’t know any white witches anyway,” Corey says. “What else, Mase?”
“Hmmm, let’s see...” There’s a long pause, and then, “Fire.”
They all stare at him.
“Fire?” Liam asks. “Does it have to be specific, like Hellhound fire?”
“Or a flame carried from a volcano?” Noah suggests sarcastically.
“Nope,” Mason shakes his head. “Just fire.”
“We can definitely do fire,” The werewolf looks over at the Sheriff. “Can we borrow Parrish?”
Noah looks pained. “He’s at crisis response training for a couple days.”
“...you guys have blowtorches?” Corey asks.
The Sheriff sighs, drags his hand over his face.
“I’m so going to regret this,” He mutters. “We’ve got two...”
Liam (4:27pm): mason is playing with fire
Scott (4:28pm): I’m not sure I want to know, but you should probably tell me anyway.
Liam (4:29pm): blood witch. ask your mom
Scott (4:42pm): Stay safe
Liam (4:43pm) ok...dad
Scott (4:44pm) I’m just going to forget you said that
“I figured we might need this.”
Liam looks over to see Corey holding a fire extinguisher.
“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.”
They’re in Melissa’s backyard, preparing to take on the blood witch. There’s the two borrowed blowtorches laying on the back porch, surrounded by a mountain of lighters. Corey’s adding the extinguisher to the pile, which also include Mason’s crossbow and (currently empty) quiver.
“So, anything?” The werewolf asks.
“Nothing,” Corey says. “Couldn’t find her - them - it - the witch anywhere. You?”
Liam shakes his head. “Couldn’t pick up a whiff of a potential scent. It’s like she doesn’t exist.”
“Then I guess it’s a good idea I’m so awesome,” Mason grins, dropping on the porch next to his boyfriend. He waves a sheet of paper in the air. “Locator spell.”
Corey and Liam stare at him.
“You dabble in magic now, too?”
“No,” The human says. “It’s just something Deaton showed me. It’s a small magic, so anyone can do it if they have the ingredients. I’ve got to make a stop at the supernatural shop Deaton told me about, but it won’t be hard to do.”
“We have a supernatural shop in Beacon?” Liam asks, amused.
“Apparently it’s a druid-witch thing,” Mason says. “It’s actually two cities over, so the Sheriff’s going to take me right after school tomorrow.”
“So we do this tomorrow night?” Corey asks, turning to Liam.
“We do this tomorrow,” The werewolf agrees.
Beacon Hills’ Awesome Protectors
Mason (1:13am): We’re gonna be witch hunters tomorrow. Intense.
Corey (1:15am): Hopefully. If we don’t die.
Mason (1:16am): You have no faith in us, babe, it’s honestly worrying
Corey (1:17am): It’s called being realistic
Mason (1:18am): I’ll show you realistic ;)
Liam (1:19am) PLEASE S T O P FLIRTING IN THE CHAT AT ONE IN THE MORNING
Mason (1:20am): We need to get him laid
Corey (1:21am): Agreed
Liam (1:22am): i hate you both
Mason (1:23am) Love you too fearless leader
Liam regrets making the puppy pack group chat so much. Sheriff regrets giving them blowtorches. Rip their lives.
On the lore:
1. When first planning this fic, I figured a witch was a pretty safe bet for the puppy pack’s first Baddie, and it’s going to lead into the first Big Bad quite nicely. Unfortunately for me, witches are like...never mentioned in Teen Wolf. After doing some research (reading the witch wikipedia page like five times) I discovered that no sub-category of “witch” listed fit my needs. Annnnddd so I turned to the fantasy genre.
2. The name “blood witch” is borrowed from multiple sources, but most of my version of a blood witch’s powers are pretty standard for your average evil witch. Medicine murder has been synonym with some form of witchcraft for a long time, and dark magic is obviously a given - I just decided to crank them up to 10,000.
3. On the ways Mason says you can kill a blood witch - witch bottles are actually a thing, but they usually need to be buried in a fireplace, which brings us to the second way. Fire. I obviously don’t need to explain that. As for the third way - a pure silver knife soaked in the blood of a white witch - that was all my idea, for reasons I cannot yet disclose. :)
Okay, lore lesson over. As always, comments and kudos fuel my soul. Thanks for all the support you guys have shown this fic, it means a lot. xoxo
Chapter 5: Chapter Four: How (Not) to Hunt a Witch
The puppy pack fight the blood witch.
Hello my lovelies! Here it is, the chapter we’ve all been waiting for. *rubs hands together in glee*
So, action sequences are not a strength of mine. This chapter has been gone over multiple times to make the fight less awkward, hopefully. Take it with a grain of salt.
Also, MAGIC. I love magic yo. We won’t see much “big magic” (except from the baddies), but we will see a lot of “small magic”, because I can’t resist.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Right, let’s do this,” Mason says, and lights a match, dropping it.
It burns bright in the rapidly-darkening twilight, dancing merrily until it lands in the silver bowl sitting on the hood of Liam’s car. The fire roars to life as it catches onto the ingredients in the bowl, and all three of them stumble back as it grows and grows until it’s twisting in a giant funnel above their heads.
“Mason, what the fuck!?” Liam shouts over the fire, ducking as a stray strand whips by.
“It must be reacting to the witch - they’re close!” The human says. As soon as he’s finished speaking, however, the fire suddenly whooshes out, ash and soot blowing over them.
Lism coughs and inhales, hearing his pack mates do the same. “Hey, Mase?”
“Never use that spell again.”
“Absolute last resort,” The human agrees, putting one hand on Liam’s car.
“Guys,” Corey says, lifting the silver bowl up and tugging the map underneath it away - there’s a burned-out circle surrounding a part of the preserve, not that far from where they are.
“Right,” Liam fetches the blowtorches out of the back of his car. “Let’s try not to light ourselves on fire,” He says, passing one to Corey. “Just the witch.”
“That’s why I brought the extinguisher,” The were-chameleon lifts it in his free hand.
“Babe...” Mason says, lifting his crossbow into his arms like it’s his precious child. “How are you going to carry and use both at the same time?”
“...oh,” The chameleon bites his lip. “I didn’t think about that.”
Liam resists the urge to facepalm. “Seriously, Corey?”
“You got any spare rope?” The were-chameleon asks, sheepish.
“I do!” Mason says. When the other two turn to look at him, the human smirks. “First rule of being a hunter - always be prepared for anything.”
“I thought that was Boy Scouts,” Liam teases.
“Well I was that too, if you remember,” The human pulls rope out of his backpack. “The best fucking Boy Scout in the county.”
“I’m so turned on right now,” Corey says, and the werewolf groans as he watches Mason smirk.
“Oh yeah, Core? Didn’t know that always being...prepared turned you on,” Mason says, tying a rope harness for Corey’s beloved extinguisher.
“Guys, honestly, do you have to flirt right now?” Liam asks.
“There’s never a wrong time to flirt, Li,” Mason says. “Okay Corey, put those sexy arms up so I can tie this on you.”
Liam half-wishes the witch would appear and just put him out of his misery, just so he doesn’t have to watch this.
Liam (9:47pm): shoot me. just shoot me
Scott (9:48pm): What now?
Liam (9:49pm): mason and corey are being sICKENING
Liam (9:50pm) we’re here to hunt a witch not flirt every FIVE SECONDS
Scott (9:52): Just go with it. I never got anyone to stop flirting unless we were literally about to die
Liam (9:54pm): that was the least helpful thing you’ve ever said to me
Scott (9:56pm) Have fun.
“LIAM! On your right!”
Black spell fire whooshes past him in a spiral, burning the tree beside him. Liam curses as he hits the ground in a tumble, bringing the blowtorch up and releasing a stream of flames.
“INSOLENT PESTS,” The witch croaks. She looks terrifying, straight out of a nightmare from when he was little. Dead, cracked skin, jagged yellow teeth stained in red, and a half-full head of limp hair.
“YOU CANNOT HOPE TO BEAT ME,” She continues, hands glowing with black-red-purple light, weaving her fingers in a complicated pattern until a giant, runic circle is twisting in front of her.
“Uh...what the fuck is that,” Corey’s voice echoes somewhere from Liam’s right.
“Nothing good.” The flames of the blowtorch are bouncing right off the circle. “It’s a shield. Fuck. Fuck,” Liam says, before he’s rolling out of the way of more spell fire, wincing as he watches the ground decay.
“I need five minutes!” Mason yells, and Liam hears his feet crunching over the leaves.
The witch hears it too, turning his way slowly, a disgusting smile on her face as she lifts her hands, spell fire curling out from broken, yellow nails.
“Mason!” Corey yells. The blowtorches come to life, burning up the spell fire before it can touch the human.
Their opponent screams. “I WILL ENJOY FEASTING ON YOUR BODIES,” She screeches. “YOU WILL GIVE ME SO MUCH POWER.”
“Not tonight, witch,” Liam says, and swings the torch back towards her, flames licking at her shield. “Corey, cover me! I’ll see if this can eat through her circle before Mason’s done doing - whatever!”
“Got it,” The were-chameleon says, flickering in and out of view. “I’m really wishing we had Parrish right about now!”
“You and me both!” The blowtorch is hot in his hands, but Liam can’t let go. He needs to buy time for whatever Mason’s about to pull out of his ass to - hopefully - save them and send the witch up in flames.
His heart’s beating fast in his chest as he ducks and dodges rogue spell fire, little strands Corey’s not able to catch fast enough. The blowtorch is starting to splutter a little, which is not a good sign.
“Mason, any day now!” He yells.
“Almost - just a little longer!” His best friend’s voice echoes from up in the trees.
“We don’t have a little longer!” Corey calls back, because the witch is raising her hands, chanting faster, and hundreds of strands spit out of her fingers, flying across the clearing, shooting straight towards him and-
Liam screams as a strand of spell fire wraps around his waist, lifting him up and tossing him into a tree. The spell fire burns, almost worse than anything he’s ever felt, almost like it’s eating through his skin.
The witch laughs and Liam thinks this is it, this is how it ends and then -
Red-orange flames streak through the clearing, catching onto every bit of spell fire, burning it all to pieces. The witch turns and disappears on the spot, but Liam barely notices that, not when his skin is burning and the ground’s freezing underneath him.
“Liam!” Corey’s voice echoes from above his head.
“Liam!?” That’s Mason, sounding absolutely worried and terrified.
“Don’t touch him,” A third voice says. Liam recognizes it, but he can’t remember how he recognizes it.
He blinks, and blue eyes swim into blurry focus above him. Liam groans, squinting. “...T-...theo?”
The chimera frowns above him, a lighter in his hands. “This is going to hurt, baby wolf. Try not to move.”
His hand disappears and -
Theooooooo. He’s here. :)
Please don’t maim me guys, things will be fine. Okay? Okay.
I finally finished s6 and immediately had to come write this chapter. I was also *thoroughly* confused by the decisions made for the timeline of season 6 so, fuck that. Liam, Corey, and Mason are two years younger than the older pack. Everything with the Anuk-Ite happened the summer before Scott & the older pack members went to college.
Feedback fuels the writing monster that lives in my head. xoxo
Chapter 6: Chapter Five: Rest, Recovery, and Regrouping I
Spell fire sucks.
So Theo IS HERE, which of course means the Thiam can properly start. *cackles in glee* It is going to take a while for them to figure things out, because it’s Theo and Liam. They think punching each other is an appropriate way of showing affection.
By the way, real quick, big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment. I get so ridiculously happy every time I get an email notification. You guys are the best.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I swear to god I’m going to punch you in the face,” Liam groans after what seems like an eternity, voice hoarse. “What the actual fuck, dude?”
“I’m an atheist,” Theo reminds him coolly, little smug smirk on his lips as he shuts his lighter, pocketing it. “And I saved your life. Again. You can thank me now or later, timing’s no big deal.”
Mason, hovering behind the chimera, takes a step forward. “Are you okay, Liam?”
“Everything hurts,” The werewolf groans, struggling to sit up. “I feel like an over barbecued burger.”
Theo snorts at his words. “You kinda look like it, too, Dunbar,” He says as Corey helps Liam sit up.
“Whatever. The fuck are you even doing here, anyway?” The werewolf asks.
“I saw that fire funnel and knew it had to be you guys,” The chimera pushes his hair out of his eyes.
“And so you came...to help us?” Mason says slowly, hefting his crossbow in his arms.
“Put too much work into making sure babywolf survived over the last year to watch him die idiotically,” Theo replies, bending down to pick up something off the ground, slinging it over a shoulder. It takes Liam a minute to realize it’s a flamethrower.
He thinks about wondering why Theo has a flamethrower, then decides he doesn’t actually want to know.
“Riiiiiiight...we should probably get out of here before she comes back,” Mason says, giving Theo a look. “Liam...can you stand?”
“Probably not,” The werewolf admits, cheeks tinging red.
“In that case,” Theo strides over to him and practically yanks him to his feet. Liam stumbles a little, grabbing hold of Theo’s shoulder to steady himself. “Where did you guys park?”
“Northwest,” Corey points the way they’d come.
“Got it,” Theo says, and then he’s bending down and Liam is growling as he’s lifted into the chimera’s arms.
“WHAT THE FUCK,” He shouts, flailing a little. “Theo, PUT ME DOWN!”
“You can’t walk, it’ll take us too long to help you hobble back to the car. Now shut up before I drop your ass,” The chimera says, tightening his grip around Liam.
The werewolf hisses through his teeth, and reluctantly throws his arms around Theo’s neck. He can hear Mason typing on his phone furiously and Corey struggling to hold in laughter as they follow Theo, weapons in tow.
“You two are terrible friends,” Liam pouts.
“Sorry, bro, I can’t carry you myself,” Mason is way too cheerful. “You look comfy, anyway.”
Liam will never admit it, but Theo is surprisingly warm and comfortable - but that’s probably only because he’s suffering from a magical injury and his head’s all swimmy.
“Hey, Theo?” Corey says, easily catching up with his fellow chimera. Theo’s head turns, and Liam blinks at the outline of his jaw. “Thank you for coming, honestly.”
“Don’t mention it,” The older boy says. “Seriously, don’t mention it. To anyone. Ever.”
“It’s good to remember there’s an actual human in there somewhere,” Mason’s tone is full of amusement, and Liam attempts to tip his head back to see his head.
Theo growls, but Liam ignores it. He feels all floaty suddenly, full of affection that he just needs to let out.
Mason comes into his line of sight. “Li? You okay there bud?”
“You’re my bro, you know? Know bro. Bro ther. I love you mannn.”
“I think the spell fire might be affecting him,” Corey appears next to Mason, and Liam grins at both of them. “We should probably take him to Deaton.”
Liam feels Theo’s pace quicken, and he yawns. “I’m tired. I’m gonna take a nap.”
“Liam, no, don’t-“
The werewolf rests his head back against Theo, yawns again, and falls asleep, Theo’s heartbeat thudding in his head.
Beacon Hills’ Awesome Protectors
Mason (12:16am): I ship it
Mason (12:17am): We’re totally getting them together.
Corey (12:19am): I’m not saying no, but why are we talking about this now while Deaton’s working on Liam?
Corey: (12:20am): Also where did this come from?
Mason (12:21am): C O R E Y Theo is hovering WORRIEDLY OVER LIAM. THIS IS REAL
Mason (12:22am): HE LITERALLY BRIDAL-CARRIED HIM BACK TO THE CAR
Corey (12:23am): He had his flamethrower strapped onto his back, so he probably couldn’t carry him any other way
Mason (12:24am): You are not ruining this for me!
Corey: (12:24am): I love you, but you are ridiculous sometimes.
Mason (12:25): I’m choosing to take that as a compliment
Mason (12:25am): So - awwww, thanks babe :) xo
Liam wakes up to cold metal under his head, soft lighting, and voices talking quietly close by.
“-needs to take a - days of rest. -Parrish comes back -again. You - preventative measures.”
“Torches on the edge of the preserve. Mountain ash may not stop her, but it will slow her down and deter her until Liam’s healed.”
Liam groans, blinking his eyes open. There’s an influx of movement, and then Mason’s visible in front of him, Deaton behind his protégé.
“How do you feel?” Deaton asks slowly. Liam blinks, counts the heartbeats in the room to steady himself. Four - meaning Corey and Theo are out of his line of sight.
“Kinda nauseous, mostly tired. Sleepy.”
“A blood witch’s spell fire can be a hypnotic thing,” Deaton says, hands coming to help him sit up. “Open your eyes for me?”
Liam does, groaning at the light flashing in them.
“Your werewolf healing and Theo’s quick thinking saved you,” The druid finally says. “Bring Parrish and Argent next time you go after her.”
“Roger that,” Liam croaks, while Mason mutters “Oooh, fire bullets.”
“Liam, I don’t feel comfortable sending you home unless you have someone in the know watching over you, making sure you’re safe. Just for the night.”
“My parents don’t know...my mom’ll lose her mind if not there the morning,” The werewolf sways lightly, leaning against his best friend.
Mason snorts a little at the slurred/forgotten words in his sentence, but quickly adopts an innocent facade when Deaton gives him a look.
“I guess that excludes Melissa then,” Corey says. “I could probably-“
“I’ll do it.”
Dead silence, as everyone turns their heads to look at Theo. The chimera’s leaning casually against the wall, unfazed by their looks.
“Puppies need as much interrupted sleep as they can get,” Theo says, smirk on his face. “His parents won’t even know I’m there.”
“Liam, is this okay with you?” Deaton asks. The werewolf blinks, locks gazes with Theo for a long moment, and nods.
“Yeah, s’all fluffy and fuzzy now.”
“I am not,” Theo hisses, but Mason ignores him, squeezing Liam’s shoulder affectionately.
Beacon Hills’ Awesome Protectors
Mason (4:31am): IT’S REAL
Corey (4:33am): Yeah, okay, it’s real.
Mason (4:37am): They’re gonna be so cute and I am gonna lose my damn mind
Corey (4:38am): You know what else is cute
Corey (4:39am): You
Mason (4:42am): Let’s have date night tonight
Corey (4:43am): :)))))))
Mason, Captain of the S.S. Thiam.
Feedback fuels my mind and writing. If you have the time - if you feel so inclined - please fuel my creativity! xoxo
Chapter 7: Chapter Six: Ask for Help when You Need It
Liam recovers, regrets making the pack group message, and reaches out for more help.
Hello my lovelies! Time for another chapter.
I was overwhelmed and absolutely thrilled at the response to last chapter. You guys are phenomenal.
I’m sure some of you have noticed the change in chapter count, seeing as there wasn’t one previously. After finishing a very basic outline, this is my projected chapter count, subject to change. We’re gonna be here a while.
I may have gone a little overboard with the puppy pack chat but I honestly couldn’t help myself.
Enjoy you guys.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When Liam wakes up again, he’s sweating, hot all over.
The noise that comes out of his mouth is a pained groan, confusion thrown in, and he almost feels trapped in his own skin.
“Don’t move,” A voice murmurs from nearby, and Liam squints, Theo’s frame coming into focus. “You’re still healing.”
The werewolf swallows, sinks back into his bed, tries to relax his muscles. “When...”
“You passed out halfway here in my truck,” Theo smirks. “One minute you were slurring about how it smelled good, the next you were snoring. It was kinda cute, babywolf.”
Liam growls, but it cuts off, throat dry. Theo makes a sound, one the werewolf can’t quite place, and then Theo’s helping him sit up, placing a glass of water in his hands.
“Slow sips,” Theo says, just a hint of a smirk curling at his lips. “Don’t want you undoing all my hard work.”
Liam doesn’t have the energy for a proper scathing look,(not that it would phase Theo in the least, really) so he settles with narrowing his eyes while doing as instructed.
Theo doesn’t seem too interested in small talk, instead keeping one eye on Liam. Just as the werewolf’s finished his water the glass is being snatched away.
“Go back to sleep,” The chimera says. “Your body needs more time to recover.”
“Dun tell me wha’ to doooo,” Liam grumbles, voice still rough, but he’s already curling back into his covers, smooshing his face into his pillows.
Theo’s chuckle echos in his head, and then there’s a light pressure on his head.
“Sleep well, babywolf.”
Chris Argent (6:37am): Kid, heard what happened. Heading back to Beacon Hills.
Liam (9:25am): thanks. got our asses handed to us.
Chris Argent (9:27am): Next time there’s a blood witch kicking around and I’m not in town - CALL ME.
Liam (9:30am): got it.
Liam (10:34am): so I heard you have fire bullets?
Chris Argent (10:39am): I have a lot of things
“Wow, how do you still look like shit?” Mason greets him.
Liam scowls. It’s the following Monday morning, and he’s mostly healed, but he’s still desperately trying to catch up from interrupted sleep/pretending he was perfectly healthy in front of his parents.
“Don’t give me that look,” The human says, wiggling a thermos in front of his face. “I brought you coffee.”
Liam stares at it, and then snatches the thermos out Mason’s hands. “Thanks,” He mumbles, taking a long sip as they head towards English.
“So,” Mason says, lips curving upwards. “How was your weekend with Theeeooo?”
The werewolf’s heart jumps. “You’re a horrible best friend,” He says instead of replying.
“That wasn’t an answer, Li,” Mason pokes him in the side, making sure to steer clear of the area where the spell fire had wrapped around the werewolf.
The beta grumbles. “He just made sure I didn’t kill myself while recovering. It wasn’t a big deal.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Liam growls instantly.
Mason holds his hands up as they climb the stairs. “I’m just saying - this is Theo we’re talking about. He was our enemy for the first half of sophomore year.”
“He’s changed. He helped us-“
“I know,” Mason says in the same voice he uses when tutoring them in science. “But he’s not exactly soft and cuddly-“
“I get it,” Liam cuts him off. “But I...I think he could use some friends. I think he deserves recognition for the fact that he did help us.”
“...okay,” Mason squeezes his shoulder. “Then I guess we’re all going witch hunting together.”
Liam squeezes his right hand, tenseness stiffening his body. “Yeah. I guess we are.”
Beacon Hills’ Awesome Protectors
Mason (1:12pm): So we’re def bringing Parrish this time, right?
Mason (1:13pm): I think our chances of success are like + 267% if we bring the fire-breathing Hellhound
Corey (1:15pm): Does he really breathe fire? I thought it just erupted from his body
Mason (1:16pm): It does that because he’s so HOT.
Liam (1:16pm) g u y s
Mason (1:18pm): I know how to appreciate a fine piece of art, that’s all I’m saying
Corey (1:19pm): He is nice to look at
Mason (1:20pm): THIS IS WHY I LOVE YOU, BABE.
Corey (1:21pm): Love you too ;)
Liam (1:21pm): G U Y S PLS
Mason (1:22pm): You’re such a spoilsport, Li.
Corey (1:23pm): Is it uncomfortable in that closet, Liam?
Mason (1:24pm): OH MY GOD, SLAY HIM CORE
Liam (1:25pm): you guys are the worst. can we please get back to discussing the evil blood witch we need to deal with?
Corey (1:26pm): Fine.
Mason (1:28pm): Spoilsport. I think we should all have flamethrowers this time around, and I’m going to have a couple fire arrows right off the bat.
Mason (1:30pm): For a plan: corral/weaken her with fire until Parrish can deal the final blow?
Liam (1:31pm): sounds good. argent’s coming w/ us this time.
Corey (1:32pm): I’ll text Melissa to text Sheriff about the flamethrowers
Liam (1:33pm): awesome. we really need his #
Mason (1:34pm): So where are we meeting everyone?
Liam (1:35pm) entrance to preserve, just like last time
Corey (1:36pm): Got it
Mason (1:37pm): I’ll bring snacks
Liam (1:45pm): also i have been comfortably bi for like two years so fuck you
Parrish and the Sheriff are already present when Mason pulls up to the meeting spot.
“Boys,” Noah says as they all pile out of the car, Liam stretching to get out the kinks from sitting in the backseat. “I brought the flamethrowers, although I don’t see how this is going to end well.”
“The witch will be gone, for one thing,” Mason says.
“No more dead bodies you have to explain away to the town,” Corey adds. “At least for a while.”
The Sheriff looks at them, and then sighs. “Why did I have to get involved...”
“Because you care about all the citizens of Beacon Hills, human or supernatural,” Liam says, and flushes a little when all attention turns to him.
The Sheriff just looks at him, before smiling, just a little. “Hit the nail on the head with that one,” He says. “How many more are we expecting for this little hunting trip?”
“Argent and Theo,” Liam says, practically daring the Sheriff to question his choices.
Noah doesn’t, just looks amused. “Five flamethrowers it is,” He says, moving towards the back of Parrish’s car.
“I’ll be fine without.”
“Holy shit,” Mason says, looking at the hunter/his mentor, who had appeared out of nowhere. “You’ve got to teach me how to do that.”
Argent looks amused, slinging a shotgun over his shoulder. “In time,” He says, vaguely.
Liam stifles a snort at Mason’s not-quite-a-pout, before his ears catch the sound of Theo’s truck rapidly approaching.
“Theo’s here,” He says. “And he’s got his own flamethrower.”
“I don’t even want to know,” Noah says, placing one of the flamethrowers in Corey’s arms. “Be careful with these, I don’t want you to end up roasting yourselves.”
“And I don’t want to explain to Scott why I let his puppy pack charcoal themselves,” Theo says, climbing out of his truck.
“Theo,” The Sheriff says. “Been a while.”
“Not long enough, right Sheriff?” The chimera smirks.
Liam resists the urge to both roll his eyes and yell ‘WE’RE ON THE SAME SIDE STOP’, but it’s a near thing, not helped by the looks Corey and Mason send his way.
Taking the last of the flamethrowers from Parrish, the werewolf looks around the group. “Everyone get the text with the plan?”
“I honestly feel so left out right now,” Theo says as everyone else nods, Argent even loading his gun as he did so.
“Shoot her with fire and don’t let her escape before Parrish can incinerate her.”
“That sounds like a wishlist more than a plan,” Theo says. “Why do you guys never have well, thought out plans?”
“Because plans go wrong,” Argent says. “Are we gonna yap all night or hunt ourselves a witch?”
“Let’s do this,” Liam says. “Be safe.”
With that said, their makeshift hunting group spreads out, sneaking into the trees, and Liam exhales, extends his senses out, and makes a fervent wish for everyone to come back whole.
Liam (11:31pm): going after witch tonight
Liam (11:32pm): if i dont text again by 3am send help
Scott (11:34pm): Be safe
Liam (11:36pm): yes dad
Liam Dunbar, President of the Theo Raeken Defense Squad.
If you enjoyed this chapter (several hundred words over my usual 1k!), your feedback would be super appreciated. xoxo
Chapter 8: Chapter Seven: Your Allies are Your Strength
Dealing with the witch & Theo.
Hello my lovelies.
I’ve had a shitty week, creativity wise, which is why this hasn’t been updated sooner. On top of that, this chapter decided to fucking fight me until I was almost in tears. Stupid writing. Why do I do this.
Okay...this is the final action-y chapter for *consults outline* about seven-nine chapters. Instead, fluff, pack bonding, training, humor, and Thiam are on the menu. Hope that’s okay with you guys. ;p
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They’ve been searching carefully, watching each other’s backs, for about half an hour when the witch makes an appearance.
In the blink of an eye she’s there, hurling spell fire, and it’s only Parrish’s reflexes that protect the Sheriff as the clearing starts lighting up, fire shooting every which way.
“Remember the plan!” Liam yells, aiming directly at the witch. She hisses at him, fingers weaving together in more shield-magic.
“You mean the wishlist?” Theo yells from where he’s fucking up a tree, aiming his flamethrower’s streams behind her shield.
Liam hates him, and does not feel impressed when he manages to light her hair on fire for a few seconds. Not at all.
“I WILL FEAST ON YOU ALL,” The witch sneers.
“Pretty sure you said that the first time, lady!” Mason yells, letting loose a fire arrow that cracks her shield.
Without needing to be told, everyone with flamethrowers focuses on the crack, Argent shooting bullets at her that force her to move into the flames path.
“As soon as you get a chance, Parrish!” Liam yells. “Let’s not draw this out!”
“Amen to that,” Mason lets loose another fire arrow which shatters her shield. There’s a moment of surprise, but then Corey disappears and the witch shrieks as two of Argent’s bullets hit her in the shoulder.
“YOU WILL NOT DEFEAT ME-“ Her voice echoes, but then Corey reappears, hands digging into her shoulders and visibly trying not to gag from her smell.
The hellhound roars, bursting into flame and charging the witch, hands burning her as he shoves then through her chest.
Her screams fade to nothing as they all just watch her burn into ashes in a pile at Parrish and Corey’s feet.
“Well, that was anti-climatic,” Theo says, still in the tree.
“Speak for yourself,” The were-chameleon says, looking green. “I touched her. I need like fifteen showers.”
“I’ll help with that,” Mason says, completely forgetting their adult audience.
“Okay,” the Sheriff says, loudly. “I’ll wrap this up with Parrish; you kids go on home.”
“Theo, that means you have to get out of the tree,” Liam looks up to where the chimera is still lounging.
“I dunno, I kinda like it up here...”
Liam rolls his eyes, turning his gaze to Corey. “You okay?”
“As soon as I wash decaying witch off me I’ll be fine,” The chimera says, giving his hands a disgusted look. “Everyone else?”
There’s a chorus of agreement and reassurance from around the clearing, and something inside Liam loosens.
“Okay, let’s go home.”
Liam (12:35am): we’re alive. no injuries
Scott (12:35am): That was fast
Liam (12:37am): ...were you glued to your phone the entire time?
Scott (12:39): I’m just worried about you. All of you
Liam (12:41am): we can take care of ourselves
Scott (12:42am): I’m not saying you can’t.
Liam: (12:43): yeah...ok
“Theo...wait,” Liam says once they reach the cars, gesturing for Corey and Mason to go on ahead of them.
The chimera stops, pushing his hair out of his face. “Time for one of your little pep talks, babywolf?”
Liam eyes him. “You didn’t know the plan,” He says. “Because I didn’t have your number.”
Something in Theo’s eyes flickers. “What makes you think I’m planning on staying in Beacon Hills for you to need it?”
“You could’ve left the moment the hunters and the Anuk-Ite were beaten,” The werewolf pulls out his phone, holding it out. “And yet, you’re still here.”
There’s a moment of stillness between them, before Theo sighs and snatches Liam’s phone. “This doesn’t mean I’m in your puppy pack or anything, Dunbar,” He says, thumb swishing over the screen.
“If you say so,” Liam holds his hand out. “Yours, now.”
The chimera grumbles, but slaps it in Liam’s palm. “Pushy little babywolf.”
Liam makes a face at the nickname, but enters his number hurriedly in Theo’s phone before passing it back over, taking his back as well. “Theo?”
“Thanks for your help today.”
“...you’re welcome,” The chimera says, and starts heading for his truck again.
Liam smirks, turning towards Mason’s car, success thrumming through his body.
I.C.E., I.C.E., Baby
Mason (1:08am): new phone who dis
Corey (1:09am): Babe I love you but no.
Mason (1:10am): Babe yessss
Theo (1:12am): I gave you my number for emergencies, Dunbar.
Mason (1:13am): Oh shiiiit it’s Theo
Liam (1:14am): if you’re going to be helping us out then you have to be part of the group chat.
Mason (1:15am) THEM’S THE RULES
Corey (1:16am): brb Shower
Mason (1:16am): Y e s
Liam (1:17am): guys seriously s t o p flirting in the chat
Mason (1:18am): I never stop flirting
Theo (1:19am): I’ve noticed this. Unfortunately.
Liam (1:20am): if i have to deal with this you have to deal with this
Theo (1:21am): You’re lucky I like you, babywolf.
Ding dong the witch is dead.
If you guys have potential funny/punny names for the pack chat, send ‘em my way. I’m thinking about Theo and Liam eventually having a pack chat title war.
Feedback feeds my soul and nourishes my creativity. I’ve ever so grateful every time I get a notification on this fic. xoxo
Chapter 9: Chapter Eight: Watch Out for Your Packmates
Odd things are afoot and Liam defends those important to him.
Hello everyone; welcome to the official start of the first Big Bad arc. Things won’t be wrapped up for a while - projected chapter count says #31 is going to be our “Midseason Finale” - but things are starting to happen. Yay?
Thanks for all the ideas for pack chat titles! I was giggling over a lot of them. Special thanks to manic, who let me bounce title ideas off her. <3 Feel free to keep potential titles coming!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Did you hear what happened?” Mason asks when Liam gets to school on Thursday.
The werewolf blinks, looking at his best friend. They’re barely a few steps into the school, which means Mason was waiting for him. “What happened?” He lowers his voice, casting glances around to make sure no one else is listening in.
“Ms. Albert’s dead,” Mason hisses, dragging him down the corridor. “Stephanie said she overheard a deputy saying it was...’freaky’.”
“...our kind of ‘freaky’?”
“I don’t know.”
“I don’t either,” Corey appears behind Mason, leaning casually against a wall. “Apparently all the details are being locked down tight with the sheriff department.”
“And he hasn’t called us?” Liam grumbles, already pulling out his phone.
“You know his policy is ‘human crime until proven supernatural’,” Mason tries to joke, but it falls a little flat as he peers over Liam’s shoulder.
“It’s Beacon Hills, it should be ‘supernatural until proven human’,” Corey says.
The werewolf hums in agreement, already pulling open a new message to Theo and typing quickly. “It’s a good thing we have someone not in school to check these things out.”
“Is Theo going to want to even do errand work?” Mason asks as they watch the message swoosh into life.
Liam pockets his phone after a second. “He agreed to help, so he can’t complain.”
This earns a snort from Corey before he leans over to kiss Mason’s cheek. “I’ll see you guys at lunch,” He says, before taking off down the hall.
“I wonder who our substitute is going to be,” Liam muses, pushing off the wall and heading towards the stairs, running a hand through his hair.
“Well, we’ll find out shortly,” Mason’s following him, typing on his phone furiously. “So, Core was right - this whole thing’s locked down tight. No statements to the press at all.”
“Guess we’ll just have to get our own statement,” Liam says. “Station after school, regardless of what Theo finds?”
“Maybe we should talk to him first,” Mason suggests as they walk into English.
“Phones away at the door, please,” A musical voice says, and Liam blinks in surprise to see someone sitting on the teacher’s desk.
She’s beautiful, with golden locks and soft blue eyes. It takes Liam to figure out that this is their new sub.
“Right, sorry,” Mason pockets his phone. “My bad.”
“Take your seats, I believe class is due to begin any minute now,” She says, glancing pointedly at the clock.
Liam practically flees to his seat, Mason on his heels. “Dude,” Mason hisses. “She looks so young.”
Their substitute’s gaze flickers towards them, but then the bell rings and she smiles.
“Hello class. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the...unfortunate demise of Ms. Albert,” Her lips twist oddly for just a second, so quickly Liam almost thinks he imagined it. “Mrs. Martin is searching for a permanent replace, so for the next semester you’ll be stuck with me.”
She laughs; it’s musical, almost enchanting. Liam shakes his head, trying to clear his mind.
“My name is Ms. Marey...I hope we can all get along.”
Liam (7:52am): english teacher dead. scene described “freaky”. sheriff dpmt tight lipped. check it out ??
Theo (8:31am): I just woke up, babywolf.
Theo (8:38am): I can feel your self-righteous eyes from here. Fine. I’ll go check it out.
Theo (9:51am): At the station. Something is going on. Sheriff & Parrish evading.
Liam (10:03am): meet at hangrys @ 330 ?
Theo (10:16am): Only because I hate being lied to.
Liam (10:17am): good enough for me. try to do some more DISCREET digging
Theo (10:18am) I am offended. Discreet is my middle name.
“We’re meeting Theo at Hangry’s after school,” Liam says as soon of the three of them are far away enough from (human) prying ears, settling at a table at the edge of the courtyard.
“So he found something?” Mason asks, pulling at a notebook that Liam’s come to recognize as the one that holds all his notes and thoughts about the supernatural.
“More like the Sheriff blocked him at every turn,” Liam offers his phone up to his packmates.
“That’s not suspicious at all,” Corey says after he’s read through the conversation.
“So we’re on the case?” Mason asks. “Should we tell Argent?”
“...let’s talk to Theo first, okay,” Liam decides, setting his phone down on the table. “If it’s nothing I don’t want to put out a false alarm.”
“There’s no such thing as a false alarm in Beacon Hills,” Corey says, but sighs and drapes an arm around Mason, kissing his cheek. “Are you just gonna bury yourself in your grimoire all lunch?”
“It’s not a grimoire-“ Mason starts, but Liam’s attention is pulled from the conversation by the sound of a scoff.
“Gross. Fags. No one wants to see that,” The voice says, and Liam growls, feeling his anger flare up.
“Liam, leave it,” Corey says softly, but the werewolf’s already on his feet.
“What-“ Mason starts. “What did I just miss?”
“You wanna say that again, Jefferson?” He says, loudly, hackles raised. “Because I’m sure no one minds Corey giving Mason a brief kiss more than they mind you all but fucking Sarah in the locker room.”
Jefferson flushes red as some of his friends laugh and the other students nod in agreement with Liam. “We don’t need their kind contaminating the school-“
“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY,” Liam yells, launching forward, only to be stopped by Corey and Mason’s hands on his shoulders.
“You heard me,” The asshole says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they contaminated you as well-“
“Enough, Mr. Jefferson.”
Silence falls over the courtyard as Ms. Marey steps between them.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy here, gentlemen,” She says, adjusting her glasses. “Both of you will report to Mrs. Martin during your free periods. Do not make me fetch you.”
“Yes, Ms. Marey,” Liam says, echoed by Jefferson.
“Everyone, back to your lunch,” She says, and Liam lets himself be steered back to their table by his friends.
Mason sneaks an around his shoulders and squeezes. “Thanks, Li.”
“Anytime,” Liam says weakly, but manages to return the smiles they offer him. “Jefferson’s an asshole anyways.”
Corey just gives him a knowing look. “We appreciate it anyway, Liam. Thank you.”
Liam ducks his head. “Any time,” He repeats. “No matter what.”
I.C.E., I.C.E., Baby
Liam (1:21pm): im going to be late to hangrys, more like 4-430
Theo (1:24pm): What did you do now
Mason (1:26pm): Almost punched a guy defending me & Corey, got detention
Liam (1:27pm): he was an asshole!!!
Corey (1:28pm): We just don’t want to see you get suspended/expelled for us.
Liam (1:29pm): i would fight the apocalypse for you two
Mason (1:30pm): Bro
Mason (1:30pm): B r o
Corey (1:31pm): I’d fight the apocalypse for you too
Mason (1:32pm): B R O IM TEARING UP
Liam (1:33pm): ily <3 assholes get punched. period.
Theo (1:34pm): That explains so much
Liam (1:35pm): don’t make me punch you again.
Theo (1:35pm): You want me to order for you?
Liam (1:37pm): ...yeah sure.
Theo (1:38pm): Just text me what you want right before you head over
Liam (1:39pm): thanks. tell corey & mase what u found out when they get there, don’t have to wait for me.
Corey (1:40pm): Yes we do.
Mason (1:41pm): You’re the leader
Theo (1:42pm): Easier to only tell it once anyways.
Theo (1:43pm): It’s potentially a lot.
Mason (1:44pm): Fuck there went my mood
Corey (1:45pm) Just think of the milkshakes.
Mason (1:45pm): Can I think of you instead
Liam (1:46pm): mason w h y
Mason (1:47pm): Can’t stop won’t stop
Mason (1:48pm) That’s going to be the title of my autobiography one day
Theo (1:49pm): If we survive that long
Mason (1:53pm): Touché my friend
Mason (1:53pm): T o u c h é
Theo your middle name is definitely not discreet. Don’t lie.
Alright who can find the hints? Who’s going to discover what I have planned from this chapter? I’m curious.
Feedback fuels the writing monster that lives in my head. Thank for all the support. xoxo
Chapter 10: Chapter Nine: Search for the Truth
Things are hinky.
Hello my lovelies!
The plot content for this chapter took an unexpected left turn, so that’s why it took longer than normal to get a chapter up. I’m thinking about trying to aim for two chapters a week, we’ll see how that goes.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It’s four-thirty by the time Liam manages to make it to Hangry’s, irritable and ready to punch the next bully he comes across.
The bell above the diner’s door signals his arrival, and the werewolf smiles when Mason and Corey’s heads turn to him in unison.
“Hey guys,” He says, sliding into the booth next to Theo and giving him a slight nod.
The older boy just smirks, leaning closer to ruffle his hair. “How was detention, angrywolf?”
Liam scowls, knocking away his hand. “It was detention. So, mind numbing and boring.”
“Did Jefferson stare at you the entire time?” Mason asks with just a little bit of a smirk.
“Pretty sure he tried to glare a hole through my brain,” Liam says, taking off his jacket and reaching for the fry basket in front of Corey; the chameleon nudges it across the table. “So, what’s the deal?”
All attention focuses on Theo, and the chimera frowns a little. “The atmosphere at the station was definitely...odd. All the deputies kept repeating that they could not reveal any information at this time. When I asked to see the Sheriff, Parrish just looked at me, eyes focused but...”
“But what?” Mason asks, already scribbling in his notebook.
“I don’t think he was focused on me,” Theo says. “He was...disinterested in talking to me.”
There’s silence from around the booth, stretching until a waitress places a burger, a milkshake, and fries down in front of Liam.
“So this seems like our kind of thing,” Corey says, taking a sip of the mostly-empty milkshake in front of him.
“I’m not convinced, but it definitely seems odd,” Liam agrees. “Theo, did you find out anything else?”
“They’re bringing someone in from San Francisco to do the autopsy.”
There’s another beat of silence, Liam and Corey exchanging looks as Mason furrows his brow, pulling the Bestiary out of his bag.
“Mase, what are you going to find in there? We know nothing that would point to what this could even be,” Liam points out.
“Well, it makes me feel better if I’m researching,” The human says.
“Liam’s right. We need to know more,” Corey drums his fingers on the table. “I could go invisible at the station?”
“Take Theo,” Liam says. “Mase and I will go to the hospital and see if Melissa knows anything.”
“We’re going to bribe her with food, aren’t we.”
“Bribe is such a...harsh word,” Liam says, flagging down their waitress.
Theo snorts. “Why am I going with Corey?”
“You have a problem with me?” Corey asks.
“No, I just assume you’d like to be with your boyfriend,” The older boy says.
Liam watches them out of the corner of his eye, while he’s talking to their waitress. After she leaves he turns back to them. “You’re going with him because you’re the most morally flexible of us.”
“You want me to do the breaking and entering.”
“...if that’s okay?”
Theo smirks, pulling his Coke towards him. “Yeah, babywolf. It’s okay.”
Liam (5:08pm): your mom likes burgers, right?
Scott (5:14pm): Why are you trying to bribe my mom
Liam (5:15pm): bribe is such a harsh word
Liam (5:15pm): i’m not bribing her
Scott (5:16pm): Uh-huh
Liam (5:17pm): lets just call it persuasive incentive
Scott (5:18pm): Please just don’t bribe my mom
Liam (5:20pm): PERSUASIVE INCENTIVE
Melissa’s at the nurse’s desk when they arrive, and she gives them a bright smile before spotting the plastic bag in Liam’s hands.
“Is that food or bribe food?” She asks as he sets it down on the counter. Mason makes an amused noise behind him, but Liam does his best to ignore it, focus on the nurse.
“It’s a little bit of both,” He admits. Honesty is the best policy. “We’re worried about Ms. Albert’s case.”
Melissa’s face goes a little pinched and she sweeps her gaze across the entry room of the hospital. “Not here,” She says, grabbing the plastic bag and a clipboard. “Follow me.”
Liam and Mason exchange looks, and both hurry after Melissa until she ushers them into a patient room.
“You think the Ms. Albert case might be supernatural?” She finally says, after shutting and locking the door behind them.
“We have no idea,” Liam confesses. “The Sheriff won’t tell us anything. Neither will Parrish. We’re running on a hunch.”
“They haven’t let anyone here see the body,” Melissa says, voice low. “The Sheriff is insisting on a specialist from San Francisco.”
“So you don’t know anything either,” Mason says, fingers twitching like he’s desperate to write this conversation down.
“I do know one thing,” Melissa says. “Her neighbor was here earlier, she was pretty shaken.”
The boys exchange glances.
“What did she say?”
I.C.E., I.C.E., Baby
Mason (6:45pm): And the plot thickens
Corey (6:47pm): I hope that means you found something out
Corey (6:48pm): All we found was an EMPTY file
Theo (6:50pm): The Sheriff really doesn’t want anyone to see whatever’s in that case file
Theo (6:51pm): There was nothing about the case on their computers either
Mason (6:52pm): According to Melissa, apparently Ms. Albert died in her sleep. That’s all the neighbor who found her got to say before the Sheriff took her in for more questioning
Corey (6:53pm): How is dying in her sleep ‘freaky’
Theo (6:54pm): The witness wasn’t at the Sheriff’s station.
Theo (6:55pm): Did you see her, Corey?
Corey (6:57pm): ...no.
Liam (6:58pm): i’m officially calling it. we need to look into this w/ argent and melissa.
Theo (6:59pm): You know what we might have to do?
Liam (7:01pm) don’t say it
Theo (7:02pm): Break into the Sheriff’s home.
Mason (7:02pm): He said it
Corey (7:03pm): I’m free tomorrow afternoon!
Mason (7:04pm): Babe, maybe be a little less excited about breaking into a government employee’s home
Corey (7:05pm): You know I use exclamation points when I get nervous!
Liam (7:08pm): if we’re going to do this we do it on monday. next couple days we act normal. pretend nothing’s wrong.
Theo (7:09pm): ...That’s actually kinda smart
Mason (7:10pm): LIKE SPIES?
Liam (7:12pm): sure mase, like spies
Mason (7:14pm): I’m going to need a codename.
The plot thickens. I hope I’m setting the mood right.
Feedback fuels my soul. If you’re so inclined, feel free to leave a comment. It makes my day.
Chapter 11: Interlude I
Attendance is mandatory.
So the first interlude. This was supposed to be a full fledged chapter, but I found I could only write this in texts/the puppy chat, so here we are. Hope you guys enjoy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
I.C.E., I.C.E., Baby
Liam (5:06pm): my house tomorrow at 2. attendance mandatory
Mason (5:08pm): Will there be pizza?
Liam (5:09pm): yes
Corey (5:11pm): Pow-wow session or hanging out
Liam (5:14pm): both. theo, attendance is mandatory
Theo (5:16pm): What if I say no
Liam (5:17pm): i will drag you
Theo (5:18pm): Fine. Pushy babywolf.
Mason (5:20pm): Can I bring anything? Snacks? Games? What???
Liam (5:21pm): ...whatever you want. don’t go overboard
Corey (5:22pm): I’ll keep him in check
Mason (5:23pm): There is nothing that can keep me in check
Mason (5:24pm): Loveyoubabe
Theo (5:25pm): Smooth save
Mason (5:27pm): You know you might be a chimera with claws and fangs but I think I could take you
Mason (5:27pm): I have a bat
Theo (5:28pm): You think a bat is going to stop me?
Mason (5:28pm): MAYBE WE SHOULD FIND OUT
Corey (5:29pm): What is happening
Theo (5:30pm): Maybe we should
Liam (5:32pm): no killing each other
Liam (5:33pm): attendance is
Liam (5:33pm): M A N D A T O R Y
Corey (5:35pm): Are you ok?
Liam (5:36pm): a very good question
Liam (5:47pm): how do you be a good leader
Liam (5:48pm): nvm you’re just gonna quote cliche shit at me
Liam (5:49pm) asking lydia
Scott (5:54pm): Are you okay?
Liam (5:55pm): i a m f i n e
Liam (5:50pm): i need your wisdom
Lydia (5:51pm): You may speak, Liam.
Liam (5:52pm): how do i lead. idk, i feel like i’m drowning
Lydia (5:53pm): I heard about the blood witch. You are doing just fine - you know Scott never knew what he was doing.
Liam (5:54pm): how does that manage to make me feel both better and worse at the same time ?
Lydia (5:56pm): That’s just the magic of Lydia Martin.
Lydia (5:57pm): You’re welcome.
Stiles (6:17pm): so i heard you need advice about being a good leader
Liam (6:20pm): not from you
Stiles (6:21pm): R U D E
Liam (2:21pm): youre laaaaate
Theo (2:22pm): About to leave. Work ran late.
Liam (2:23pm): you WORK?
Theo (2:24pm): Got to make a living some how, little wolf.
Liam (2:25pm): where
Theo (2:26pm): Getting in the truck. See you
Liam (2:27pm): W H E R E
Scott (4:31pm): Why did you send me twenty-seven photos of Mason and Corey
Liam (4:36pm): we had sugar and mason stole my phone
Scott (4:38pm): By sugar do you mean alcohol?
Liam (4:39pm): ooh that’s a good idea
Scott (4:40pm): Liam Dunbar!
Liam (4:41pm): K I D D I N G DAD
Mason (5:37pm): We’re out of pizza
Liam (5:38pm): you honestly couldn’t have waited until i came back downstairs?
Mason (5:38pm): PIZZA LIAM
Liam (5:39pm): why are you my best friend again
Mason (5:40pm): You looooovvveee me
Liam (5:41pm): just order more
Mason (5:41pm): <3
I.C.E., I.C.E., Baby
Mason (9:41pm): Thanks for the pizza Li
Liam (9:42pm): you’re welcome last place
Mason (9:43pm): YOU GUYS HAVE SUPERHUMAN REFLEXES
Corey (9:44pm): Babe you came in last place in every game we played
Mason (9:44pm): SUPERHUMAN REFLEXES
Theo (9:45pm): Sore loser much
Mason (9:46pm): You. Me. Bat. Claws.
Theo (9:46pm): Any day of the week.
Liam (9:47pm): is this what wrangling children feels like
Corey (9:48pm): Worse, children don’t have claws and fangs
Liam (9:49pm): you right
Theo (9:50pm): There will be payback for that, babywolf
Liam (9:51pm): not that worried
Corey (9:52pm): I’m worried about, you know. The thing.
Liam (9:53pm): it’s our only option
Theo (9:54pm): I’m corrupting some of your morals. I didn’t know it was possible.
Mason (9:54pm): I’ll moral this bat into your head.
Mason (9:59pm): That sounded better in my head
J Parrish (1:19am): We need to meet. In person.
Liam (1:22am): i’m trying to think why you suddenly want to talk to us now and all the outcomes are basically “it’s a trap!”
J Parrish (1:24am): Bring everyone, including Argent if you must.
J Parrish (1:26am): The bunker, 4:30pm.
Liam (1:47am): we’ll be there
who wants to guess where theo works
Feedback fuels my inner writing monster. You guys are all awesome, btw. xoxo